Nebraska News

2 killed in collision north of Norfolk, authorities say
NORFOLK, Neb. (AP) — Authorities say two people have died in a head-on collision just north of Norfolk. Norfolk radio station KNEN reports the collision occurred Sunday on U.S. Highway 81. The Madison County Sheriff's Office says a car being driven north in the southbound lane struck an oncoming vehicle, killing its driver and a passenger. Authorities say the car driver escaped before his car burst into flames. Information on his condition has not been released.

Repairs begin on cracked cross atop Grand Island cathedral
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Repairs have begun on a cracked cross atop St. Mary's Cathedral in Grand Island. The Rev. Richard Piontkowski told The Grand Island Independent that workers repairing copper and slate on the cathedral roof this past spring noticed cracks on the back side of the cross. Weather damage is suspected. The cathedral's east entrance was roped off to keep people from being injured if the cross were to crash down to the sidewalk below. Iron rods in the cross will be replaced with steel, and then the cross will be returned to its site atop the roof. Piontkowski hopes the work will be finished and the east entrance reopened by the second week of July.

Grand Island insurer settles claim filed in water park death
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Grand Island's insurance carrier has settled a claim against the city over the drowning of a 5-year-old girl at the city's Island Oasis Water Park last summer. The claim for more than $1 million was filed in September by Dumale Bariyiga, of Lincoln, the mother of the girl, Nubari Koffree. Bariyiga alleged the lifeguards on duty July 18, 2015, were negligent. The Hall County coroner has said the drowning was an accident, and city officials say personnel followed proper procedures that day. A memo from the city attorney to the City Council for its meeting Tuesday says the insurance carrier has agreed to pay $240,000 to settle the claim filed by Bariyiga. Council action is not required.

Suspect arrested in crash that killed girl, 16, in Omaha
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A man has been arrested in connection with a car crash in Omaha that killed a teenage girl. The Omaha World-Herald reports 28-year-old Tyvinn Smith is charged with suspicion of felony motor vehicle homicide, willful reckless driving and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license. He is accused of causing a collision that killed 16-year-old Janis Brown around 10:45 p.m. Friday. Authorities say minutes before the crash, Smith was involved in another collision and fled. They say he then rear-ended the car in which Janis was a passenger. The driver and a 4-year-old boy were taken to the hospital for injuries that weren't life-threatening. Smith was treated for minor injuries before he was taken to jail Sunday. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

New solitary confinement rules to go into effect in Nebraska
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — New solitary confinement regulations in Nebraska's prisons are set to go into effect. The Lincoln Journal Star News reports that the new rules call for inmate behavior to be managed through programming, initiatives, incentives and housing focused on individual and specified group needs, rather than relying on restrictive housing for disciplinary sanctions. Alternatives could also include short-term cell confinements, loss of privileges and work and restitution assignments. The new regulations, which go into effect July 1, also call for regular reviews of inmates in restrictive housing. Nebraska Department of Correctional Services Director Scott Frakes estimates there are about 350 inmates in restrictive housing at any given time in the state's prisons. Inspector General of the Nebraska Correctional System Doug Koebernick said the new regulations provide more checks for accountability.

Ricketts showered with gifts during first year in office
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Christmas comes early for Gov. Pete Ricketts, and it lasts through most of the year. The governor reported more than 400 gifts last year from constituents, friends, business associates and lobbyists. The list of items he received includes a cape, red clown's nose, a rugby shirt and Ronald Reagan candy jar. Other gifts were more expensive, including five flight packages valued at more than $1,000 for trips to Washington and meetings of the Republican Governors Association. Jack Gould of the group Common Cause Nebraska says such gifts serve no public purpose and should be restricted to trinkets valued at less than $5.

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