January 26, 2015

Former Sen. Johanns elected to Deere&Company board

Sen. Mike Johanns/Photo courtesy of Johanns' office

Sen. Mike Johanns/Photo courtesy of Johanns’ office

Former Sen. Mike Johanns, also the former Secretary of Agriculture, has been elected to the board of directors for Deere & Company, the manufacturer of John Deere tractors and farm equipment.

“Mike’s wide range of expertise in the areas of agriculture, banking, commerce, foreign trade, law and governance will be valuable assets for the Deere & Company Board of Directors,” Samuel R. Allen, Deere’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a written statement released by the company. ”We are pleased Mike has agreed to join the Deere Board.”

Johanns served as governor of Nebraska until early 2005 when he became Secretary of Agriculture under President George W. Bush. Johanns became senator after serving in the Bush cabinet. He left the senator after serving for one term, retiring from 32 years of public service.

Price at the pump plummets at record pace

Gas prices have been declining at a record pace.

Rose White with Triple-A Nebraska says gas prices have fallen every day for nearly three months.

Nationally, gas prices have fallen every day since September 25th, a record.

“The current week-over-week drop of 15 cents is the largest such decline in more than six years,” White tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “Motorists are paying 43 cents less than a month ago and 85 cents less than a year ago.”

White says 88 straight days of falling gas prices sets a new record. White says the drop at the gas pump has followed the steep fall of oil prices.

White says the drop at the pump will continue.

“Looking at today’s commodity prices and the drops continue in the commodity market, meaning that we can expect to see further declines up ahead.”

White attributes the price decline to an increase in domestic oil production and the production of more fuel-efficient cars.

White says that will contribute to a record number of Americans driving more than 50 miles from home for the Holidays this year.

Ft. Calhoun back to life after short shutdown

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Ft. Calhoun/Photo courtesy of NRC

Ft. Calhoun is back in business.

The nuclear power plant shut down last Wednesday, due to a main generator lockout. Officials believe moisture got into a transformer control cabinet, which automatically tripped the reactor offline.

The down time wasn’t wasted, according to the Omaha Public Power District. It reports workers took advantage of the plant going offline to complete some minor maintenance.

Once repairs were made, operators restarted the nuclear reactor and slowly brought the plant back to life, reaching full power early Monday morning.

OPPD serves about 350,000 customers in southeast Nebraska. The shutdown didn’t affect electrical power to any customers.

OSHA could fine Kearney plant big for worker illness

A Kearney manufacturer faces a possible $7,000 fine for an incident this summer when a long-time employee suffered a heat-related illness that required hospitalization.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Eaton Corporation after the 53-year-old worker suffered acute kidney failure when the temperature inside the plant reached 101 degrees on July 11th.

The employee recovered after being hospitalized for more than 24 hours.

Eaton is an automotive parts manufacturer based in Ireland. The Kearney plant employs about 540 workers.

Brent Wiethorn, KXPN, contributed to this report.

Survey points to good job prospects in Nebraska in 2015

JobsFor people who are looking for a job, Nebraska should be a good place to find one in early 2015.

Karen Miller, a spokeswoman for Manpower Incorporated, says a survey of business leaders across the state by finds more than 20% plan to add to their workforces between January and March.

Miller says, “When taking a look and interviewing the businesses that participate in our survey, the exciting news is that about 70% of the employers surveyed said they’re going to maintain their current staff levels while another 21% are saying they’re going to increase staff levels.”

Those figures combined mean the first quarter of next year should be a good one for the state’s jobs outlook.

Miller says, “With 91% of businesses out there maintaining or increasing staff levels, it makes Nebraska a very solid place to find employment.”

While 21% of businesses surveyed in Nebraska plan to add to their staffs in the quarter ahead, about eight-percent plan to make cuts. When you subtract one from the other, you get what’s called the net employment outlook, which Miller says is very good for Nebraska.

Miller says, “Ultimately, the net employment outlook is a positive 13% for Q1, so if you’re needing a job, make sure you’re getting out there and knocking on some doors because the opportunties abound in Nebraska.”

The situation is much better than a year ago when the state’s first quarter net employment outlook was only at 8%.

Nebraska’s jobless rate is hovering around 3.5%, which is well below the national unemployment rate of almost 6%.