• Kearney Council adds occupation tax into city code

    (NRG)- The Kearney City Council met for less than 25 minutes Tuesday night with no public hearings, or regular agenda items on the docket. There were only a handful of items on the consent agenda and a couple of consent agenda ordinances for consideration. One of the consent agenda ordinances approved dealt with the formal addition of the recently approved restaurant tax into city code. The voter-approved 1 percent tax goes into effect next year with the proceeds designated for a baseball-softball field complex at 56th Street and Cherry Avenue. The occupation tax will begin on February 1, 2015 and sunset on, or before January 31, 2025. As reimbursement for the cost of collecting the tax, businesses may deduct and withhold 2 percent from the taxes of the amount due to the City. The meeting began with a couple of presentations, one from Barney Insurance on the city's insurance policy. Tim Hughbanks said the city had a good year with few claims. He says the premium increase will only be about four percent. The other presentation was from the UNK Criminal Justice Club and involved an awarding of a plaque to the city and county law enforcement for the dogs and their handler in the K-9 unit through the years. Read More
  • Parole head says she was pressured for more releases

    (AP) - The chairwoman of Nebraska's parole board says a former prisons director pressured her into paroling more inmates in an effort to reduce crowding. Esther Casmer testified under subpoena Tuesday that some inmates were paroled even though they hadn't completed mandatory programming to treat anger management, addictions and other problems. Casmer told a legislative committee that the board's role as a public-safety gatekeeper became compromised in 2008, when former corrections director Bob Houston started pushing to release more prisoners. Casmer also says the governor's chief-of-staff, Larry Bare, told her and another board member that they should "be concerned about losing your jobs for not paroling enough people." Casmer was appointed by Gov. Dave Heineman in 2005. A spokesman for the governor says he will respond as soon as he can. Read More
  • Pyschologist says mental health services lacking in Nebraska

    (AP) - A longtime psychologist says Nebraska has dismantled important mental health services over the last decade, effectively turning jails and prisons into the state's biggest treatment centers. University of Nebraska-Lincoln psychologist William Spaulding told a legislative committee Tuesday that a law designed to reduce dependence on state hospitals wasn't properly implemented. The 2004 law was intended to shift those patients into community settings, but Spaulding says the money to support those programs never materialized. A UNL psychiatric rehabilitation center also closed in 2009, and many highly trained experts who worked for the state left to take jobs with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Spaulding says Lincoln police reported a 60 percent increase in calls involving mental illness between 2004 and 2008. Committee members are looking at prison reforms. Read More
  • Ricketts names budget and policy directors

    (AP) - Nebraska Gov.-elect Pete Ricketts has named his top budget and policy advisers. Ricketts announced Tuesday that he will retain Gerry Oligmueller as the state budget administrator and Lauren Kintner as his policy director and general counsel. Oligmueller has served as budget administrator since 1995, under former Democratic Gov. Ben Nelson and Republican Govs. Mike Johanns and Dave Heineman. He also has been acting director of the Department of Administrative Services since July 2013. Kintner leads an office that advises governors on policy, while serving as a liaison to state agencies and the Legislature. She previously served as an assistant attorney general under former Nebraska Attorney General Don Stenberg, and an assistant to former U.S. Rep. Hal Daub of Omaha. She is married to Nebraska state Sen. Bill Kintner, of Papillion. Read More
  • Plane makes emergency landing at Crete

    (AP) - Saline County Emergency Management officials say no one was injured in an emergency landing after a small plane's landing gear malfunctioned. The plane carrying two people circled the Crete Municipal Airport on Tuesday before descending without its front wheel. The plane landed on its back wheels and nose before skidding to a stop. Pilot Mitch Edwards tells KLKN-TV he was taking his passenger from Crete to Salina, Kansas. He says he returned to the airport when he discovered the problem after trying to land in Kansas. It's unclear what caused the malfunction. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating. Read More