News Archive

Historical, uncategorized news stories from Omaha Public Radio.

Des Moines, IA – The Des Moines Register is reporting that a new count of the Iowa caucus results shows former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum coming out on top. But questions remain about the results.

The certified count gives Santorum 29,839 votes, with 29,805 former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

That puts Santorum 34 votes ahead. Romney was declared the winner by eight votes in the early-morning hours following caucus night.

Omaha, NE – Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska presents its annual At Ease Luncheon on Monday, January 30th.

The event takes place at Omaha's CenturyLink Center. Bev Carlson is PR Director for LFS. She says At Ease is a program that provides therapeutic support and trauma treatment for active duty military, veterans and their families. Funds raised from the luncheon will go back into the program.

Omaha, NE – The holiday season may be over, but the Salvation Army Tree of Lights campaign continues through the end of January.

The goal for the campaign is $3.1 million. To date, the Salvation Army has raised $2.8 million, 91% of the way to the goal.

Madeline Madden is Director of Annual Funds for the Salvation Army of Omaha. She says all the funds raised through the campaign go to support programs in the Omaha community.

Omaha, NE – Almost 300 children and teens submitted essays for the United Way of the Midlands' annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Essay Contest.

Kathy O'Hara, with the United Way of the Midlands, says the four first place winners will read their essays out loud on Monday in front of family and friends. She says the contest offers kids some recognition for speaking publicly about their dreams for our community.

O'Hara says the contest invites kids to lift their voice and advocate for things they would like to see in the community.

Omaha, NE – Voices for Children in Nebraska has released its Kids Count in Nebraska 2011 Report.

Research Coordinator Melissa Breazile says the report focuses on the importance of investing in early childhood. She says the report is broken down into four key areas: health, education, safety and economic stability. Positive findings include an increase in the graduation rate and a decrease in the number of children living outside of their homes.

John Pierce is the Associate Vice President for Affirmative Action and Diversity Outreach at Creighton. He is also the chair of Creighton's MLK committee. Pierce says part of Creighton's mission is to focus on social justice and equality and respect for all individuals.

He says next week's celebration fits right in with that mission. The week begins with a Table Talk on Monday the 16th at 11:30 a.m.

David Crouse, a professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy at UNMC, is the guest speaker. He says issues related to radiation and radiation exposure have always been in the public eye. Crouse says there's a great deal of knowledge about radiation and its effects, but since radiation can't be seen, tasted or heard, the public is fearful of it.

Corps of Engineers releases 2012 Annual Operating Plan

Jan 6, 2012
image courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Omaha, NE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to use last year's record water releases and runoff in its future forecasts for water releases.

The Corps released its 2012 Annual Operating Plan Friday. The plan is based in part on comments received at a series of public meetings. It also includes recommendations from a report issued last month by a four-member panel who studied the Corps' response to last summer's Missouri River flooding.

Omaha, NE – Vocalist and pianist Ellis Hall presents a Tribute to Ray Charles with the Omaha Symphony on Saturday, January 14th.

Once dubbed Charles' protege, Hall first met Ray in 2001 while he was playing at a local Christmas party. He gave Charles his CD and the two soon began a friendship that lasted until Charles' death in 2004.

Hall's performance in Omaha will feature some of Ray Charles' most popular songs including "Hit the Road Jack" and "Georgia on my Mind." Hall started learning piano in the third grade at the Perkins School for the Blind.

The Girl Scouts are launching a direct sale program this year. When Girl Scout Cookies go on sale January 13th, the girls will have boxes of cookies in hand. Theresa Cassaday is the Chief Communications Officer for Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska.

Omaha, NE – The deadline for nominations for the 2012 Freedom Awards is January 16th.

Retired Army Major General Walt Zink Chairs the Nebraska Employer Support to Guard and Reserve Committee. He says 15 employers are recognized with Freedom Awards each year. The three award categories are large employer, small employer and governmental employer.

Zink says the Freedom Award is the highest honor an employer can receive from the Department of Defense. These employers receive award for having a culture of support that goes above and beyond what the law mandates.

Omaha, NE – Western Iowa voters were split in their support of the GOP candidates for president.

Pottawattamie County GOP chairman Jeff Jorgensen says some precincts reported record turnout for Tuesday night's caucuses. Even with the strong turnout, Jorgensen says the caucus process went quickly.

543 Republican voters caucused in Mills County, Iowa. Sharon McNutt, co-chair of the Mills County Republican Party, says things went smoothly.

Lorraine Chang, Vice Chair of the Learning Community Coordinating Council, says the Learning Community consists of eleven school districts. She says the Learning Community consists of students from all walks of life; all of whom are worthy of the best possible education. With that in mind, the Learning Community is offering open enrollment for the 2012-2013 school year.

Omaha, NE – The VA of Nebraska-Western Iowa opened a homeless Veterans Day services center in Omaha this past September.

Linda Twomey is the Mental Health Specialty Programs Manager for the VA of Nebraska-Western Iowa. She says the day service center is a clinic where veterans have access to social workers, who function as case mangers and vocational rehabilitation staff to provide a one-stop shop for homeless veterans.

Twomey says when veterans first come in, their needs are assessed. Staff will then assist them in accessing the appropriate VA and community resources.

Omaha, NE – Common Sense Media has been a national partner with Omaha Public Schools for the past three years.

The organization seeks to give educators the resources to instruct students, parents and families on issues such as digital citizenship, safety and security on and offline, as well as research and information literacy.

DeLayne Havlovic, Career Education Specialist with OPS says three Common Sense Media training sessions are coming up next month. He says the program is broken up into three sections.

Omaha, NE – Work continues on the Fontenelle Park Master Plan.

Melinda Pearson is the Director of Omaha's Parks and Recreation Department. A public input meeting took place on December 15th. Pearson says the city will now take all the information they've received so far and put that into a plan or a couple of plans and bring those back to a public meeting in early February. Pearson says there are two groups: one that feels the golf course should be left as is, and another that is all over the board.

Omaha, NE – The City of Omaha's Parks and Recreation Department is holding two summer employment job fairs on Wednesday.

Bob Baber is the city's Golf Manager. He says the parks and recreation department is hiring for all areas in the department, including aquatics, park maintenance, golf courses and concessions.

Omaha, NE – With the end of the year rapidly approaching, UNO's Sustainability Force reminds people that the holidays are a good time to start creating a greener environment.

Patrick Wheeler, Senior Specialist in Environmental Health and Safety at UNO, says one thing you can do is recycle Christmas lights rather than throwing them out. He also advocates getting rid of clutter and donating items to family, friends or local needs-based charities.

Wheeler says another way to practice sustainability is to recycle that Christmas tree.

Omaha, NE – 25 agencies and projects in North and South Omaha are recipients of this year's turn-back tax grants.

Omaha City Councilman Garry Gernandt says the turn-back tax grants are generated through the sales tax that the state gets from the Hilton Hotel and Century Link Center in Omaha.

He says the city receives a percentage of that back every year and via state statute the money is put toward grants for areas with high concentrations of poverty. Gernandt says the program assists with cultural-historical projects.

David Drozd, Research Coordinator at UNO's Center for Public Affairs Research, says the data covers the state from April 2010, when the census was taken, through July 1st of this year.

He says Nebraska has had a fairly strong growth year, though not as strong as he thought it would be. Drozd says the reasons for slower growth may include the lower birthrates in the state and a slowdown in international immigration.

Dr. Davies is currently a professor and chairman of the Pediatrics and Human Development Department at Michigan State University. He says he is excited to become a part of UNMC.

Omaha, NE – A Creighton University political scientist believes the death of Kim Jong-Il is an opportunity for the U.S. to build positive relations with North Korea.

The former North Korean leader died Saturday. His son, Kim Jong-Un, is believed to be the successor.

Maorong Jiang, Director of Creighton's Asian World Center, says Kim Jong-Un will bring a new, younger perspective to North Korea. He says that could help open the nation up to the rest of the world.

Omaha, NE – CUT! Costume and the Cinema is the new exhibit on view at the Durham Museum through April 29th.

Marketing & PR Director Shawna Forsberg says each of the 43 costumes was created by Cosprop Ltd of London. She says all of the costumes were worn in the movies by actors such as Johnny Depp, Amy Adams and Colin Farrell. Forsberg says the films represented in the exhibit cover five centuries of history.

image courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Omaha, NE – A two-month review of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' operations during last summer's Missouri River flooding shows appropriate decisions were made.

An independent panel of hydrologists has been reviewing the Corps' water management practices since October. In its report released Tuesday, panel members say they believe the Corps did all it could to prevent the Missouri River flood from happening. The flooding devastated Nebraska and western Iowa, leaving behind millions of dollars worth of damage.

Omaha, NE – Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan and members of his staff spent part of the weekend in Omaha, helping to build a Habitat for Humanity house.

It was the result of a wager Hanafan made with Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle on the Iowa-Nebraska Heroes Game. Hanafan, members of the Council Bluffs city council, and other city officials helped Habitat volunteers work on a new house at 38th and Seward Streets.

Omaha, NE – A project by an Omaha social media analyst to bring Missouri River flood reports together resulted in more than 250 location-specific updates during the flood threat.

Dr. Chris Augeri created the Mighty MO River project, which operated from June to September of this year. It used what's known as crowdsourcing to pull reports from the Corps of Engineers, law enforcement, media, and disaster response agencies in to one site. The reports were matched with locations, and sent out via social media outlets.

Omaha, NE – The Douglas County Health Department recently unveiled a new online web portal,

Health Matters in Douglas County combines the most current Douglas County data, including health, environment, and education. Dr. Adi Pour, Douglas County Health Director, says it's important to look at the entire community and how issues are connected.

Omaha, NE – A program providing financial incentives for Omaha homeowners and businesses to go green is expanding in to Lincoln.

The ReEnergize Program began last year in Omaha. Right now, 500 homeowners and businesses are signed up for the program. Energy evaluators and contractors will analyze a home or business for energy efficiency upgrades.

Omaha, NE – Omaha's Women's Center for Advancement is participating in a new program based on the Green Dot violence prevention strategy.

Lynn Pollitt, Education and Prevention Director for the WCA, says the Green Dot program is about positive bystander engagement. She says the violence prevention strategy helps people overcome their reluctance to get involved when there is a crime happening.

Omaha, NE – OPPD customers will pay an extra $5.30 per month for electricity starting next month.

The OPPD board voted unanimously Thursday morning in favor of a 5.9 percent rate increase for residential customers. OPPD says the rate increase is needed due to rising costs and recovery from last summer's Missouri River flooding.