Nebraska News

Novartis announces layoffs at Lincoln plant
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Novartis has announced more layoffs at its manufacturing plant in Lincoln. Company spokeswoman Julie Masow tells the Lincoln Journal Star that 75 jobs were eliminated Thursday. That includes 31 positions that were open. The cuts represent the third phase of restructuring at the plant that Novartis announced in April 2013. In January, the company laid off 27 people and eliminated 58 open positions. In May 2013, it laid off 72 people and eliminated 41 open positions. The layoffs were in response to the plant shutting down for a year and a half after the Food and Drug Administration found numerous quality-control problems. The Lincoln plant manufactures Excedrin, TheraFlu and the animal health product Sentinel.

Wind farm project dedicated in Broken Bow
BROKEN BOW, Neb. (AP) — Central Nebraska officials have dedicated a new wind farm project near Broken Bow. The North Platte Telegraph reports that the Broken Bow II wind has 43 turbines, doubling the number in an area northeast of the city. Construction began in January. The wind farm was placed into commercial operation on October 1st. Power from the facility will go the Nebraska Public Power District, which bought it under a 25-year contract. Custer County now has the second-largest concentration of wind turbines in Nebraska. Melissa Garcia, president and CEO of Custer Economic Development Corp, says the project will benefit local businesses.

Judge: State inmates not entitled to minimum wage
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a Nebraska prisoner who argued that he should be making minimum wage for his work behind bars. Stephen Cavanaugh sued several state prison officials earlier this year, saying that over the past year, he was assigned to work as a food server, window washer and maintenance worker and paid between $1.21 and $2.25 a day. His lawsuit says he should have been paid minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and asked a federal judge to award him nearly $3,400, plus $350 for his legal costs. U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp dismissed the lawsuit Wednesday, saying that while state law sets minimum wage, another state law specifically allows the prisons director to determine the hours prisoners work and their rate of compensation.

Lincoln police arrest 3 in connection to shooting
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Authorities in Lincoln have arrested three men in connection to the August shooting death of a man. Nineteen-year-old Joshua Nootenboom-Carr and 23-year-old Derick Lewis each face charges of first-degree murder and attempted robbery in the death of 21-year-old Maurice Lamont Williams. Nootenboom-Carr also faces other citations. Twenty-three-year-old Jason Holmes faces charges of accessory to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery. Police say Holmes was waiting in a car when Nootenboom-Carr and Lewis entered an apartment for a robbery. Police say Williams was shot in the chest during the home invasion. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Holmes was arrested Wednesday. Nootenboom-Carr and Lewis were already incarcerated on unrelated charges. Court records do not list attorneys.

Police: Iowa man accidentally shoots himself
RED OAK, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a southwest Iowa man is in critical condition after accidentally shooting himself in the face. Red Oak police say 28-year-old Cody Allen Keith Tunnell was handling a weapon Wednesday night when it went off. He told authorities he thought the weapon was unloaded. Authorities say they also interviewed witnesses. Tunnell was taken to a local hospital before being airlifted to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. The Omaha World-Herald reports Tunnell is listed in stable but critical condition as of Thursday morning. The shooting remains under investigation.

Omaha man found guilty in girlfriend's death
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An Omaha man accused of fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend last year has been found guilty of first-degree murder. Jurors in Douglas County District Court deliberated more than two hours Thursday before reaching a verdict on 33-year-old Robert Grant. Prosecutors said Grant stabbed 43-year-old Trudy McKee in September 2013. She was found with more than 40 stab wounds. Grant was not present when the verdict was read. Sentencing is scheduled for December 3rd.

Kum & Go chain settles disabilities lawsuit
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Kum and Go convenience store chain will spend millions of dollars to make changes at more than 400 stores in 11 states to settle a lawsuit that claimed its gas stations failed to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. A Clinton, Iowa, man who uses a wheelchair filed the class-action lawsuit in April 2013 on behalf of all Kum and Go customers who use wheelchairs or scooters. A federal court judge on Thursday approved the settlement negotiated by attorneys for the company and the man, Gary McDermott. It specifies the company will bring 100 stores into compliance within two years and 75 additional stores each year until modifications are made at all stores. Modifications include fuel assistance calling devices at gas pumps and relocated fuel pump controls.

Stops yield nearly $560K in suspected drug money
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska sheriff says deputies have seized nearly $560,000 in suspected drug money in recent traffic stops. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the money was confiscated in three separate stops in Lancaster County. The biggest bust came on Saturday, when a deputy stopped 31-year-old Matthew S. Crothers of Palos Heights, Illinois, and 50-year-old Jeffrey Larkin of Orland Park, Illinois. Authorities say a search of their pickup yielded nearly $439,000 in a spare tire and a small amount of marijuana. Deputies also seized nearly $54,000 in a Sunday stop, and arrested 33-year-old Wing Lun Lau of Minneapolis. On Friday, they confiscated $67,000. The sheriff says deputies arrested 21-year-old James Milton Atkinson of Mankato, Minnesota, and 22-year-old Erik Joseph Felsheim of Waseca, Minnesota.

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