April 19, 2015

Viral Henry Doorly Zoo gorilla video

A YouTube video taken at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo has gone viral. It shows a silverback gorilla running up to viewing window and striking it hard causing the glass to crack.

Zoo officials say the public was not in danger. The window contains three panes of glass and only one cracked. They add that occasionally happens when a window is hit just right.

That area of the zoo is open to visitors today

Omaha celebrates Earth Day on Saturday

Earth Day is April 22nd but will be celebrated Saturday in Omaha. Elizabeth Davis is the coordinator of Omaha’s 25th Earth Day Celebration at Elmwood Park near 60th and Leavenworth Street and says they have a day packed with events for young and old.

Davis says visitors can learn how to make a rain barrel and a compost pile. They will also be a kid’s tent with hands-on events like learning to cast and make a kite out of recycled material.

For those a bit more daring, Davis says, “Nebraska has an award winning swamp oak tree and we are going to put a bunch of slack lines on it and people can actually climb to the top of the tree.”

Those planning on attending the event should also bring along their old electronics for recycling. Davis says they have teamed with Goodwill Industries and there will be a truck in the park where people can drop off those items.

Davis says it wouldn’t be a festival without food and music and they will have a number of other events throughout the day.

The Earth Day Celebration runs from 11 am until 6 pm rain or shine.

Increase in Audi thefts

There has been a jump in the number of break-ins and thefts of Audis in the Omaha metro area. Officer Michael Pecha says thieves have figured out Audi’s emergency key system.

Audi owners receive a plastic wallet key that can be used to unlock the vehicle if the regular key fob cannot be used. Inside the glove box there is an emergency key holster-fob. Neither the key nor the fob alone can start the engine but when the wallet key is put into the holster, it will function as a normal key.

Officer Pecha says many owners keep both the plastic key and the holster/fob stored together in the glove box. Thieves are breaking a window to get access to the car and driving off. He says there has also been an increase in the number of destruction of property reports from Audi owners after thieves broke windows to see of the two items were stored together.

The Audis that have this emergency key system are the late models A4, S4, A5, S5 and Q5.

State and city leaders react to bills that would change sentencing guidelines and repeal the death penalty

Governor Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and other officials gathered today in Omaha to speak on proposals in the Legislature that would soften sentencing guidelines for criminals and repeal the death penalty in Nebraska.

Lawmakers this week advanced legislation that would weaken prosecution of habitual criminals and end mandatory minimum sentences from some criminals, including those convicted of child pornography, use of a deadly weapon, distribution of controlled substances in school zones among others.

Today, the Legislature will debate a proposal to repeal the state’s death penalty.

“As I have said before, I will veto any attempt to repeal the death penalty in Nebraska because its repeal represents a real threat to public safety,” said Governor Pete Ricketts. “Senator Chambers’ plan ends important legal protections that have served law enforcement and the public well. It is a long-held tradition that Nebraskans are the second house in our state’s legislative process. Now is the time for Nebraskans to make your voice heard and to stand in support of Nebraska law enforcement who work hard every day to protect public safety.”

“In addressing Nebraska’s prison overcrowding problem, the Nebraska legislature is attempting to reduce possible penalties on several serious crimes,” said Attorney General Doug Peterson. “Going soft on crime is the wrong response and not consistent with the Council of State Government recommendations. The Legislature cannot compromise safety under the guise of corrections reform.”

Others who spoke today include Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine who represented the Nebraska County Attorneys Association, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning who represented the Nebraska Sheriffs Association.

OSHA investigating deadly explosion

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking into Tuesday’s deadly explosion at Nebraska Rail Car Cleaning Services in Omaha. 

Spokesperson Bonita Willingham says the company was inspected in 2013 after employees filed complaints. She says, “Based on our investigation we found violations related to flammable storage, power and industrial trucks, noise over-exposure, respiratory protection and confined space entry violations.” 

OSHA fined the company $6,800 and Nebraska Rail Car Cleaning Services took corrective measures. 

Willingham says OSHA did initiate a follow-up inspection at the facility several weeks ago. That investigation is ongoing.