Nebraska News

Winter storm advisory issued for eastern Nebraska
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Eastern Nebraska could see freezing rain, sleet and snow overnight through Monday evening. The National Weather Service issued a winter-weather advisory Sunday for most of eastern Nebraska. Accumulations will likely be greatest in northeast Nebraska. Forecasters say precipitation is likely to be a mix of ice and snow around areas around Seward, Lincoln, and Omaha. The advisory will continue until 6 p.m. Monday.

2 Nebraska officers wounded, man dead in confrontation
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Two Nebraska officers were wounded and a man fatally shot during a confrontation Sunday evening, police said. Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong said one of the officers was shot and the other physically assaulted but neither injury was life threatening. A police statement said the confrontation happened when officers responded to a report of suspicious activity. They found a man with a felony arrest warrant. While he was being taken into custody he drew a gun. "There was a confrontation and exchange of gunfire. The man was fatally wounded and two Lincoln Police Department officers were injured," the statement said. Police surrounded a nearby home and took five people into custody. The identities of those involved were not immediately released. Local resident Robert Lenzen told The Associated Press that he could hear the shooting from his home and saw a person down in the street.

2 men arrested following Lincoln's first homicide of 2015
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Police have arrested two Lincoln men in connection with the city's first homicide of 2015. Authorities say 21-year-old Brandon Ray Benson was arrested Sunday and charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony. Twenty-year-old Joseph L. Bratt was arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting in a first-degree murder. Both men were booked into jail around 11:30 a.m. Police say officers were called to a residence shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday, and that one person was pronounced dead at the scene. A second person was injured, but details about the person's condition were not immediately available. An incident report says police found bullet holes in the front of the house and in the front door.

Experts will discuss Syrian refugee crisis
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Syrian refugee crisis will be discussed this coming week by a panel of experts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Tuesday panel at the Nebraska Union auditorium will feature several people with direct experience in the crisis. Abla Hasan came to UNL on a Fulbright scholarship in 2007, but she always expected to return to Syria one day. The ongoing civil war in Syria has eliminated that option. Hasan now oversees UNL's Arabic Language and Culture program. The panel will also include two representatives from the Yazidi community in Lincoln. They experienced religious persecution in Iraq and Syria before fleeing to the United States.

Final hearings set for Nebraska roads-funding options
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Two final legislative hearings are scheduled to hear input on ways to pay for Nebraska's roads and bridges. The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee is meeting on Tuesday in Bellevue and Thursday in Lincoln as part of its study of the state's highway system, bridges and city streets. Nebraska lawmakers voted earlier this year to increase the state fuel tax, but some have argued that it won't be enough to address the state's infrastructure needs. Local economic development groups are also pushing for the completion of highway projects that have languished in their areas for years. The Nebraska Department of Roads has also created a task force that will look at transportation issues and how they can benefit the state economy.

Nebraska prison riot damage could cost state $1.5 million
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Fixing the damage caused by a southeast Nebraska prison riot cost far more than initially predicted and will take until mid-2016 to complete. The Department of Correctional Services says it needs nearly $1.3 million from lawmakers to replacement equipment, supplies, walls, doors and window grilles that were destroyed during the May 10 riot at the prison in Tecumseh. The state previously paid a $200,000 deductible to its insurer, which has already covered slightly more than $1 million in expenses. The estimate far exceeds earlier tallies of the damage total that wasn't covered by insurance. Corrections director Scott Frakes told a legislative committee in May that his best cost estimate was between $350,000 and $500,000. Corrections spokeswoman Dawn-Renee Smith says inspections after the riot revealed "much more extensive" damage than expected.

Nebraska law enforcement concerned about mental illness
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Law enforcement and mental health officials in central Nebraska say the problem of people with mental health issues isn't getting any better. Grand Island Police Chief Steve Lamken tells the Grand Island Independent that people get health care treatment if they can afford it, but many others haven't problems that aren't addressed. Lamken says a large number of homeless people in the city suffer from some level of mental illness or chemical dependency. Lamken says that since he became police chief 10 years ago, the number of homeless people in Grand Island has steadily grown. Lamken says Nebraska's associations of police chiefs, sheriffs and county attorneys have put together a working group to try to address the issue.

Nebraska farmers reaping bounty from cover crop seeds
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A central Nebraska farm is tapping into the growing national interest in cover crops, which were popular in organic circles but a rarity among mainstream row-crop producers. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that Green Cover Seed in Bladen is selling cover crop seed mixtures to farmers across the nation. The company supports 14 employees, about half of them family members of brothers Keith and Brian Berns. The brothers started experimenting with the crops in 2008, after hearing discussions about growing rye or radishes to cover and condition soil. They liked what they saw, and ordered more the following year. They sell the seeds in mixes to mimic the biodiversity found in nature. The brothers still grow soybeans and corn, but income from the seed business has eclipsed the farm.

Authorities find gift-wrapped marijuana in vehicle trunk
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska authorities say they seized more than 11 pounds of gift-wrapped marijuana from the trunk of a car in Lincoln. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that Lancaster County sheriff's deputies arrested 27-year-old Garrett Scott Brasel of Cambria, Ill., on Wednesday. Brasel had been sitting in the Honda outside a convenience store just off of Interstate 80. Authorities say Brasel gave them permission to search the car after they received a tip during another traffic stop a few minutes earlier. Deputies say they tore open two gift-wrapped boxes and found 34 heat-sealed packages of marijuana. Brasel was jailed on suspicion of possessing marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of a controlled substance. Online court records did not list an attorney for Brasel.

New president chosen for Nebraska State Bar Association
COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) — A Columbus attorney chosen as the new president of the Nebraska State Bar Association says he hopes to address the declining number of lawyers in rural communities. The Telegram reports that Tom Maul has taken over as president of the state's largest association of lawyers. Maul runs a solo practice in Columbus and works in the area of real estate, probate, estate planning and guardianships and conservatorships. Maul received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Administration and law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press