October 13, 2015

Organize a blood drive, win a college scholarship

LifeServe Blood CenterNebraska’s high school and college students with the power of persuasion can earn some money for college with a unique scholarship opportunity. Claire DeRoin, at LifeServe Blood Center, says students can earn a $750 scholarship by getting people to donate blood.

“Students will need to organize, recruit, plan and do the back-end planning to organize a blood drive,” she says. “Students will need to get at least 50 units of blood — that’s 50 people coming in the door and donating — in order to achieve that scholarship.”

Getting 50 people to attend a blood drive may not seem like a lot for young people who are involved with social media, but DeRoin says the students will have to actively recruit donors.

That will include making phone calls, hanging up posters and going to people in the community and personally asking them to come out and donate blood. DeRoin says the scholarship is a way to help students while also getting out the message of the importance of blood donation from a young person.

“I, as a public relations person, can tell you a thousand different facts about why it is good to donate blood, but it really just takes someone to say ‘Hey I am organizing this blood drive would you do this as a favor to me?’ That’ll get people in the door and then they’ll say ‘Oh I help you out but I also saved lives with this and it only took an hour.'” DeRoin explains.

She says it also gives students some experience in organizing an event. Students have until October 12th, that’s next Monday, to sign up to organize a blood drive and be eligible for the scholarship. Learn more at the LifeServe website.

LifeServe provides blood and blood products to more than 100 hospitals located across Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.


Two new homicide cases under investigation in Omaha

Crime Scene TapeOmaha police are investigating two separate weekend deaths.

Acting on a tip, police officers found the body of a woman on Friday night inside a home. She’s identified as 31-year-old Teresa Longo.

Reports say Longo’s body was found in the same house where Delbert Freemont was strangled to death in December of 2013.

Police say Longo’s death is being treated as a homicide.

On Saturday, the body of 54-year-old Roy Jennings was found in the basement of another house. Jennings’ death is also being treated as a homicide.

It’s not clear how either person died. Police have not said the deaths are related. No arrests have been made.


Bumble bee may become first added to endangered species list

Rusty patched bumble bee, photo by Sarina Jepsen

Rusty patched bumble bee, photo by Sarina Jepsen

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether to declare the rusty patched bumble bee an endangered species. The bee once flourished in Nebraska and would be the first bee to make the list and gain federal protection.

Sarina Jepsen, endangered species program director for The Xerces Society, says this type of bee has vanished from 87% of its historic range and where it still exists, its populations are as much as 95% smaller than they were just a few decades ago.

“Protecting this bee could take a wide variety of forms, from restoring habitat for the species to protecting it from diseases,” Jepsen says. “One of the concerns about this species in particular is that the cause of its decline may be from diseases from commercial bumble bees or rather, managed pollinators.”

There are as many as 4,000 species of native bees in the United States and many of them are threatened. Jepsen says many people don’t realize how important bees are to our food supply and to the economy of an agricultural state like Nebraska.

“Together, all of our pollinators provide pollination services to agriculture that are estimated to be worth $3-billion annually,” Jepsen says. “That, of course, includes our managed honey bees that we’re very familiar with as well as many other species of native bumble bees.”

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the decline in monarch butterfly populations and Nebraskans are being urged to plant certain plants, like milkweeds, to help that insect, which is also a vital pollinator.

“Planting hedgerows and flowering plants that bloom all throughout the year is a great thing to do for monarchs as well as bumble bees,” Jepsen says. “Avoiding using insecticides or being very careful about what types you use and how much you use will also help this bee.”

Earlier this year, the White House released a strategy to protect native bees, honey bees and monarch butterflies. Jepsen says the national attention being given to pollinators has been great for native pollinator conservation.

The National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators is focused on protecting, restoring and enhancing their habitat.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has launched a year-long review to determine if an Endangered Species Act listing is warranted for the rusty patched bumble bee. A decision is expected in September of 2016.

The Xerces Society is a non-profit conservation group, based in Portland, Oregon.


Popular murder-mystery writer makes one stop in Nebraska (AUDIO)

J.A. Jance

J.A. Jance

One of America’s most prolific and best-selling mystery writers will be in Nebraska tonight to promote her latest novel, with more than 50 books now in print.

During her national book tour, J.A. Jance says she’s getting glowing reviews from fans on her new book, “Dance of the Bones,” which combines two of her popular storylines by pairing two familiar protagonists.

If you attend her book-signing event, don’t expect her to read a chapter, as some authors do.

“I do not do readings at readings, I do talkings at readings,” Jance says. “I try to give people an idea of who I am, where I came from, how I came to write the books I write. I also like to give them some insights into the background of the current book, things they may not be able to discern, just from reading the words on the page.”

Fans of her earlier books will find Seattle detective J.P. Beaumont and Arizona sheriff Brandon Walker teaming up for the first time in the new novel.

Jance will turn 71 next month and has been writing two novels a year for more than a decade. She found her calling later in life, first working as a teacher, a librarian and a life insurance saleswoman before finally pursuing her dream as a writer. Jance says she knew she wanted to be a novelist when she was a second-grader, but she wasn’t published until 1982, when she was in her late 30s.

Dance of the Bones“I was not allowed in the creative writing program at the University of Arizona in 1964 because, as the professor told me, I was a girl, so it’s pretty remarkable to have 51 books out,” Jance says, laughing. “I write murder-mysteries, so I usually start with somebody dead and then I spend the rest of the book trying to figure out who killed that person and how come.”

Jance was born in South Dakota and raised in Arizona and now has homes both in Arizona and Seattle, Washington. She considers herself both a Midwestern gal and a Southwesterner.

“My stories and my life are firmly rooted in my Midwestern roots because that was the way my parents raised me,” Jance says. “We may have been geographically in Arizona, but it was definitely their values that were instilled in me as I grew up.”

Jance will do a talk and book signing at the Omaha Public Library’s branch in Millard at 6 PM.


Hear Matt Kelley’s full interview with J.A. Jance below. It runs 5:36.


Omaha police seek public’s help after likely abduction

Police CarOmaha police believe a 33-year-old woman has been abducted following an early-morning shooting Tuesday.  

Officers were called to a home invasion/robbery near Mockingbird Hills after a caller had reported a man holding a gun was outside the building.  

Upon arrival, three victims inside also reported shots were fired.  

Police believe Tiffanee Trecek may have been abducted in the incident.  

One suspect in the robbery, identified as Terry Strafford, has already been taken into custody.  

Detectives are asking for the public’s help in locating Trecek.