April 16, 2014

Nebraska veteran says DC’s cold & snow reminded him of Korea (VIDEO)

 

Nebraska Korean War veterans in Washington, D.C./Photo by Karla James

Nebraska Korean War veterans in Washington, D.C./Photo by Karla James

A Korean War veteran from Dodge County was among those on this week’s Honor Flight that flew out of Omaha.

Dwayne Lundy was one of over 450 veterans on the Honor Flight on Tuesday. Lundy says it was snowing in Washington D.C.

“It was so cold in Korea,” he said. “It just reminded me of being right back there. I can’t describe how it made me feel. It was a touching day, that’s for sure.”

The group was given a tour of the nation’s capitol’s major monuments, including Arlington National Cemetery.

“There was 680 acres of national cemetery, just acres after acres of stones, and that really got to me,” he said.

Most of the veterans are in their 80s and returned to Omaha late Tuesday night to cheering crowds.

“There was thousands of people to welcome us home,” Lundy said. “It was really a great welcoming.”

Lundy referred to the Korean War as the “Forgotten War” and that may be its historical designation, but at least he and the other Honor Flight participants now know they are not forgotten.

By Connie Green, KHUB, Fremont

Corps: Repeat of 2011 Missouri River flooding “highly unlikely”

Missouri River near Council Bluffs in 2011

Missouri River near Council Bluffs in 2011

The experts say major flooding on the Missouri River is not likely this year, but the runoff forecast in the basin above Sioux City has risen to 121% of normal, according to the U-S Army Corps of Engineers.

Jody Farhat, chief of the Corps’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division in Omaha, says while mountain snowpack is above average, they don’t expect a repeat of the widespread flooding of 2011.

“Runoff in the Missouri basin comes from three sources: plains snowpack, mountain snowpack and rainfall,” Farhat says. “It’s important to remember that the 2011 flood was the result of high runoff from all three of these sources. Currently, only one of those three conditions exists today, the above-normal mountain snowpack, so a repeat of the 2011 flood is highly unlikely.”

Farhat says there is better communication now compared to three years ago.

“We do a lot more coordination now with the other federal agencies, the state climatologists and local folks on developing our runoff forecast and that’s a pretty significant change,” Farhat says. “We’re working with all of the folks that are gathering data and making sure that we’re all singing of the same sheet of music.”

Dennis Todey, the South Dakota state climatologist who works with the Corps on forecasting, says the heavy rain storms that kicked off the massive 2011 flooding were very unusual.

“We can’t give any kind of a long-range outlook to say that something like that kind of storm in Montana in 2011 could or couldn’t happen again, but from a climatological perspective, that was a freakishly large storm where you had 50% of your annual rainfall in one event,” Todey says. “People need to understand that about how bizarre that precipitation event really was.”

Farhat says the only areas that may see some minor flooding this year are downstream in Kansas and Missouri.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton

 

Fischer military sexual assault bill moves forward in Senate (AUDIO)

Sen. Deb Fischer’s bill to crack down on sexual assault in the military moves ahead in the Senate, toward expected passage.

Fischer says her bill protects victims, addresses their needs, and makes military commanders accountable, claiming it and not a competing measure by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York gets to the heart of the issue.

“No, I believe it’s a stronger bill. It addresses the problem,” Fischer says.

Fischer acknowledges the issue became quite emotional during debate on the Senate floor in Washington, with senators telling horror stories of sexual assault in the military.

Fischer co-sponsors the Victims Protection Act with Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.

Gillibrand fell short of the votes needed to move forward on her bill, which would have taken sexual assault and other criminal cases out of the military chain of command. The Senate then took up the Fischer measure and moved it forward unanimously. It is expected to receive final approval Monday.

Fischer says her bill will aid victims, which she says has not been the case with a Senate measure passed a few years ago which she calls a reaction.

“It didn’t help victims. In fact, it delayed justice.”

Fischer says passage Monday won’t be the end of the issue.

“This is just the beginning and we’re going to make sure that victims are taken care of and that we move forward in solving this problem.”

Congress earlier approved a change in the military legal system that ended the statute of limitations on assault and rape cases, made it a crime to retaliate against victims who report assaults, and required the dismissal of anyone convicted of sexual assault.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Fortenberry sees Europe as key to easing Ukraine crisis (AUDIO)

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry says Congress is united against Russian military moves toward Ukraine.

Fortenberry says Republicans and Democrats alike have been shocked by the developments in the Ukraine.

“Well, the talk in the Capitol is absolute, bipartisan outrage that in this day and time, in the 21st Century, the leader of one of the major super powers would act like a 19th Century ruler,” Fortenberry tells Nebraska Radio Network in a telephone interview.

Fortenberry says Russian President Vladimir Putin must pay a price for threatening Ukraine.

Russia has moved into the Crimea, where unidentified armed men threatened a special envoy for the United Nations. He left the region by air.

The United States has announced it will sent more F-15 fighters and a refueling plane to the region to support F-15s already flying the airspace in the Baltic.

Fortenberry sees Europe as the key. He says Ukraine is a linchpin between Russia and Europe. Europe relies on energy from Russia. Russia needs currency from Europe. Economic sanctions by Europe, supplemented by economic sanctions from the United States could severely hurt the Russian economy.

Europe also has pledged $15 billion in financial aid to the Ukraine. The United States has offered economic aid as well.

“All of these are more than symbols,” according to Fortenberry, “What they’re saying to Putin is if you’re going to try to be a member of the responsible community of nations you must act responsibly or you will pay a price.”

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:40]

Attempt to block move of veterans home to Kearney is rejected

Sen. Mike Gloor

Sen. Mike Gloor

A state senator from Grand Island has failed in his attempt to keep the state veterans home from moving to Kearney.

Senator Mike Gloor originally introduced a bill to prevent moving the home from leaving Grand Island, along with any similar future moves statewide, but it was voted down.

A new version of the bill (LB-935) passed in committee this week. It would require the Unicameral, not the governor, approve any future moves of major state facilities.

Gloor says it prevents pitting cities against one another in the bidding process, like what happened with the Central Nebraska Veterans Home.

“That’s really not economic development, it’s pouring water from one bucket into another without any net gain in jobs or economy for the state and it leaves a hole in another community,” Gloor says. “We’ll have a chance to talk about this being an inappropriate model when it comes to moving around state programs and services.”

The first bill would have been retroactive and applied to any state facility moves that were okayed after January 1st of 2013. That would have included the governor’s plan, announced last July, for the proposed new veterans home in Kearney. The new bill does not include the retroactive move.

The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee advanced the bill to the full legislature this week with a 5-3 vote.

“I’m pleased it’s out,” Gloor says. “I’ve been working it pretty hard ever since I’ve gotten down here so I’m pleased we have it out but obviously disappointed that the look-back provision that affected the Grand Island veterans home is out of it.”

The veterans home has been in Grand Island for 127 years.

The bill would require a legislative review of any proposal to move a state service or agency from one community to another if the cost was $15-million or more.

By Jeniffer Berry, KHAS, Hastings