December 20, 2014

Final finalist makes pitch for University of Nebraska presidency

index_big[1]The last of four finalists for the presidency of the University of Nebraska wrapped up a four day visit this week.  Dr. Sally Rockey is currently the deputy director for extramural research for the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Rockey’s visit this week included open forums at each NU campus, meetings with key university constituents and a public interview with the Board of Regents.  One of many priorities revolves around the student.

Dr. Rockey says, “When you talk about students we often talk about students with an “s”.  Really we can talk about the student and precision education which means how do we really, for that student, get that right access to right content, at the right time, for the right value.  And we can think about what the student wants and develop programs around what the student needs.”

The other finalists that visited Nebraska earlier include Dr. George Ross, president of Central Michigan University. Dr. Hank Bounds, commissioner of higher education for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning and Dr. Michael Martin, chancellor of the Colorado State University System.

Review TSA guidelines before flying this holiday season

Transportation Security Administration agents screen about 1.8 million passengers every day at airports across the country. Air travel will increase this week as people head home for the holidays and TSA Federal Security Director for Nebraska Paul Ross suggests those flying take time to review list of items of what is prohibited to take on a plane. He says every month in Nebraska they collect about 300 pounds of prohibited items.

Ross says most of the items collected from passengers are knives but they have also found cattle prods, a cane sword, hay bale hooks and even a pair of spiked shoes. He says so far this year agents uncovered 13 firearms compared to seven in 2013. He says passengers can either surrender those items or they will be taken by agents. Those items are turned over to the State Surplus Agency. Those wanting to retain those items can give them to a family member not flying or travelers can also mail them home from the airport. Many of these items, including firearms, are allowed in checked baggage if they meet certain requirements.

For those flying this holiday season Ross has several tips. He says don’t wrap gifts. If they have to conduct a search all packages will be opened. Liquid items more than 3.4 ounces are prohibited as carry-on and that includes wine or other alcohol, syrup, jelly and jam.

Ross says airports are very busy places this time of year so allow enough time to make it through security checkpoints. They recommend 90 minutes before flight time.

Unemployment applicants urged to file online

Some seasonal employment will soon come to an end and the Nebraska Department of Labor is encouraging those needing to file for unemployment to do so online.

Acting Commissioner John Albin says, “While Nebraska’s unemployment rate remains one of the lowest in the country, we are one of many states that experiences seasonal fluctuations in claim activity. Whether it’s your first time filing or you have an existing claim, online is the quickest, most efficient method.”

Those currently receiving benefits can also make changes to an existing claim online as well as change payment method, change address or phone number, file an appeal, change federal withholding and re-open a claim for benefits. 

Albin says applicants can also search over 30,000 Nebraska job openings on There is also a mobile app that applicants can uto localize a job search, save favorite jobs and share them on social media.

To file or make changes to a claim log on to

Ethanol worries rise as gas prices fall

th3WIAPNIGTwo years ago the price at the pump hit $5 in some areas of the country.  This week there are 13 states that sell gas for under $2 a gallon.

The only ones not pleased with the drop right now are ethanol producers.

U-S Department of Agriculture Chief Economist Joe Glauber says ethanol competes with gasoline and is a big trader in world markets.

Glauber says, “Ethanol has been very competitive in world markets.  Last month we actually had a little bit there when ethanol was trading higher than gasoline.  We haven’t seen that in several years.”

Glauber is worried producers may have a difficult time finding buyers.  This could also cause a snowball effect.  According to the Nebraska Ethanol Board, there are 24 ethanol plants in Nebraska that produce over two billion gallons of product each year.  They use more than 700 million bushels of grain to produce that ethanol and farmers rely on that business.


Omaha officer rushed to hospital after fall during traffic stop

An Omaha police officer was rushed to a hospital in serious condition after conducting a traffic stop around 10:45 Wednesday morning on westbound I-80 at 36th Street.

Omaha Public Information Officer Michael Pecha says the officer was conduction a traffic stop after falling and striking his head.  The officer was responsive at the scene.

Members of the Metro Area Fugitive Task Force and other Omaha police officers rushed to the scene to assist.  The vehicle the officer pulled over remained at the scene and two individuals inside were questioned.  No further details are available.