October 2, 2014

Modern factories in search for skilled workers (AUDIO)

Reinke CEO Chris Roth addresses the news media with Chamber of Commerce President Barry Kennedy to his right and Gov. Dave Heineman to his left

Reinke CEO Chris Roth addresses the news media with Chamber of Commerce President Barry Kennedy to his right and Gov. Dave Heineman to his left

Factories aren’t what they used to be and the modern manufacturer needs workers with modern skills.

Manufacturing has bounced back since the great recession and Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Barry Kennedy says it’s changed.

“The manufacturing picture of old, if you will, where people see an assembly line and people just adding a part here and there is really not the manufacturing facility of today,” according to Kennedy.

Nebraska is home to approximately 2,700 manufacturers, many outside the metropolitan areas of Lincoln and Omaha, supporting some of the smaller cities in the state. Those companies employ 120,000 Nebraskans, about 10% of the workforce.

That workforce increasingly needs a higher skill level.

Reinke Manufacturing Company is an example. Reinke makes center-pivot irrigation systems in the small community of Deshler, located in southern Nebraska.

Reinke President and CEO Chris Roth says the factory in Deshler needs workers for fabrication, welding, engineering, and purchasing.

“So, they have to be very educated as far as math. They really have to understand that. A lot of sciences, because we do a lot of metallurgy,” Roth says. “So, they need to understand those kinds of things. And, again, they have to be able to run those computers. So, they have to have some pretty good computer skills.”

Manufacturers have been scrambling to recruit those skilled workers, according to both Roth and Kennedy. Pay has increased with the skill level and many of those manufacturers now try to lure more young workers with paychecks that can reach $55,000 annually.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [1 min.]

Lincoln man charged in wreck that seriously injured 11-year-old

A young Lincoln man has been charged with driving under the influence as well as leaving the scene of an accident in wake of a wreck that left an 11-year-old with serious injuries.

Lincoln police report 24-year-old Jared St. Louis of Lincoln has been charged with DUI-serious bodily injury and leaving the scene of an injury accident, both felonies.

According to police, a young Lincoln boy was critically injured after his bike was struck by a pick-up as he went to school this morning.

Lincoln Police Department spokeswoman Katie Flood says the 11-year-old boy was riding his bicycle to school when a pick-up driven by St. Louis ran over him.

“The driver left the scene of the accident,” Flood tells reporters, but witnesses told police officers where the truck went. Officers pulled St. Louis over not far from the scene of the accident.

Flood says the bike was still wedged underneath the truck when officers pulled it over.

The boy has been hospitalized with serious injuries.

Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.

Spotlight falls on manufacturing in October (AUDIO)

October has been declared Nebraska Manufacturing Month.

Gov. Dave Heineman said the declaration has been made to showcase the opportunities available for young people looking to land a good job.

Nebraska is home to 2,700 manufacturers, which employ approximately 120,000 workers; 10% of the state workforce.

Reinke Manufacturing CEO Chris Roth said factories have become a life-line for some rural communities in Nebraska.

“The economic impact that these manufacturers have in these rural areas is tremendous,” Roth said during a news conference in the governor’s Capitol office.

Reinke makes center pivot irrigation equipment in the small town of Deshler. Many of the state’s factories are located outside Lincoln and Omaha.

Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Barry Kennedy said those factories provide an economic lifeline for rural communities.

Kennedy says manufacturers often have close ties to Nebraska’s strong agricultural economy.

“We obviously have some manufacturing entities here in Nebraska that specialize in items, products, related to the ag sector,” according to Kennedy. “But we also have some very good manufacturers that go outside of that realm and produce products that are used universally, not only here in Nebraska, but throughout the world.”

Nebraska exports manufactured products to more than 170 countries, selling products worth more than $7 billion.

AUDIO:  Gov. Dave Heineman declares October Nebraska Manufacturing Month. [10:30]

11-year-old seriously injured when run over biking to school

A young Lincoln boy has been critically injured after his bike was struck by a pick-up as he went to school this morning.

Lincoln Police Department spokeswoman Katie Flood says the 11-year-old boy was riding his bicycle to school when a pick-up ran over him.

“The driver left the scene of the accident,” Flood tells reporters, but witnesses told police officers where the truck went. Officers pulled the truck over not far from the scene of the accident. “He is currently in custody and officers are investigating whether he was impaired at the time of the accident.”

Flood says the bike was still wedged underneath the truck when officers pulled it over.

The boy has been hospitalized with serious injuries.

Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.

Sec. of State Gale rejects claim politics motivated Foley decision (AUDIO)

Secretary of State John Gale denies politics played any role in his decision to remove Lavon Heidemann’s name from the Republican gubernatorial ticket in favor of Mike Foley after the deadline for making changes to the ballot had passed.

Gale, a Republican, says he didn’t allow Republican gubernatorial candidate Pete Ricketts to replace Lavon Heidemann with Mike Foley to help the Republican ticket.

“I know people have accused me of being illegal and unlawful and arbitrary and capricious and lots of other language; cronyism, hyper-partisanship,” Gale tells Nebraska Radio Network in an interview. “Politics had nothing to do with it.”

Democrats accused Gale of playing politics, arguing that the move helped the Republican ticket by removing Heidemann and replacing him with Foley on the ballot.

Heidemann stepped down as lieutenant governor and withdrew as Ricketts’ running mate when his sister received a protection order against him following a heated family dispute. Heidemann’s action came after the September first deadline to request changes to the November ballot.

Ricketts replaced Heidemann as his running mate with Foley, the state auditor, and filed a request with Gale to officially change the name on the ballot, a request that came to Gale’s office at the Capitol in Lincoln while he was on the road in Alliance.

Gale says he first had to decide whether to accept the request for a ballot change. Then, he reviewed legal documents sent from his staff and the Ricketts campaign and reflected on the situation before reaching his conclusion.

Gale calls it a legal, pragmatic decision reached not for the benefit of the candidate, but to eliminate voter confusion; a decision he says he would have made if requested by Democrat Chuck Hassebrook.

“But it had nothing to do with being a Republican or Democrat. It simply had to do with what was right for the citizens of Nebraska who are going to vote in this election,” according to Gale.

Libertarian Party candidate for governor, Mark Elworth, Jr., filed a lawsuit claiming Gale had violated state law and that Heidemann’s name should remain on the ballot.

Lancaster County District Judge Lori Maret dismissed the lawsuit a day after holding a hearing on it, stating she could not order Gale to reverse his decision, because state statute provided Gale no clear legal duty to refuse the request.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]