September 30, 2014

Firefighters who responded to Mother’s Day storms honored

Cordova Fire Dept. President Robert Pagel addresses the news media with Gov. Dave Heineman and Beaver Crossing Fire Chief Scott Petersen to his left

Cordova Fire Dept. President Robert Pagel addresses the news media with Gov. Dave Heineman and Beaver Crossing Fire Chief Scott Petersen to his left

Fire departments from Cordova and Beaver Crossing received recognition for their response to the Mother’s Day storm that did $20 million in damage to the two cities, plus Sutton.

The Cordova and the Beaver Crossing Fire Departments received the Excellence in Community Preparedness Award during the “Be Prepared” awards presentations in the governor’s office today.

Cordova Fire Department President Robert Pagel stated during the ceremony the storm took out power, limiting communications vital to helping those in need in wake of the storms and tornadoes that struck Nebraska.

“Immediately, we set up an emergency command center in the community building and that’s kind of where everybody came,” Pagel said. “We put us up a big board and wrote instructions: who to get ahold of for what, what did you need, come see us, and we can assess you from there.”

A massive storm struck Nebraska Mother’s Day, May 11th, packing severe weather, including tornadoes. The storms seemed to come out of nowhere.

Beaver Crossing Fire Chief Scott Petersen credited the tornado sirens with saving lives.

“There are a lot of people I spoke to afterward who were out grilling for Mother’s Day and had no idea about the weather,” Peterson said, adding that when the tornado sirens went off, residents headed for their basements. “Had it not been for that I think we would have lost many, many lives.”

Both Petersen and Pagel praised the work of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, which they said was vital to recovery efforts.

Volunteers from neighboring communities worked wonders as well, according to the men.

Pagel said he had been working for nearly 18 hours straight when he finally emerged from the emergency command center, astounded by the work of volunteers who came to clear trees and debris.

“I couldn’t believe how many of the trees and stuff were moved already. Those guys just went to work,” Pagel said. “They’d come in. They’d eat dinner and say, ‘Where do you want us next?’ I’d point a direction. They didn’t ask any questions. They just went to work.”

Here are the “Be Prepared” award winners:

The Beaver Crossing and Cordova Fire Departments were presented with an Excellence in Community Preparedness Award.

Ron Pughes of Edgar was presented with an Excellence in Community Preparedness Award.

Nicholas Kemnitz, Wayne County Emergency Manager, received the 2014 Local Hero Award.

The Nebraska Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster also received the 2014 Local Hero Award.

The Citizen Corps Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Ken Hermsen of Omaha.

Mark Robertson, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator University of Nebraska – Lincoln Police Department, received the Excellence in Risk Communication Award.

Tom McMahon of Omaha was recognized with the Excellence in Preparedness Education and Outreach Award.

Bicyclist dies from injuries in bike collision four days ago

A Lincoln man has died of injuries sustained during a bicycle accident four days ago.

Lincoln police report 66-year-old Ron Joyce died Monday night at Bryan West Campus hospital.

Joyce suffered severe injuries during a collision on a Lincoln bike path.

The Lincoln Police Department reports a 15-year-old bicyclist was looking down and hadn’t notice he had veered into the path of the other bicyclist, hitting him head-on. Joyce initially stopped breathing, but CPR performed by a by-stander revived him until medics could arrive.

A police spokeswoman said it appears inattention led to the wreck.

Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.

Factory accident kills worker

A manufacturing accident has taken the life of a worker in eastern Nebraska.

The Valley Police Department reports George Young died from injuries sustained when a forklift he was operating at Midwest Manufacturing pinned him against a shelving unit.

Young was freed by fellow workers who performed CPR before he could be taken by helicopter to a local hospital. He later was pronounced dead.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death.

Gov. Heineman defends work to correct sentencing miscalculations

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman

Gov. Dave Heineman said today his administration continues to work to correct miscalculations on prison sentencing that led to the premature release of hundreds of inmates.

A new report by the Omaha World-Herald discloses that 51 inmates released early committed 33 felonies and 102 misdemeanors during the time they should have been behind bars.

“Again, we gave a comment to the World-Herald,” Heineman told reporters during a news conference at the Capitol. “Again, as we look into these situations, some of them have gone before a judge since then. There’s a pre-sentence calculation. The judges gave them a sentence and those are being carried out. Now, some of this is going to be involved in litigation.”

The World-Herald also reports a Nebraska Supreme Court ruling requires prisoners to serve the skipped portions of their sentences if they committed crimes during their premature release.

Heineman says he believes most of the errors that led to the premature release of prison inmates have been corrected.

But, the governor acknowledges there might still be problems.

“Now, as I’ve said before are there going to be one or two, particularly where you have a situation where the crime was committed, then the law was changed and the sentencing was done after that law changed? But, I think even most of those have been corrected,” according to Heineman. “And I think going forward they’ve instituted new procedures to prevent that from occurring in the future, because they are going to get the judge’s sentencing order.”

Heineman insists there is more accountability at Corrections.

“Well, you know, look there were a lot of mistakes made. We’ve accepted the responsibility. We’re moving forward,” Heineman stated. “We’ve corrected those mistakes, but I’ve said over and over again, the legislature has accountability here to and so does the judiciary.”

Trooper seized 36 lbs. of marijuana during I-80 stop

A Nebraska State Patrol trooper seized nearly 36 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop on Interstate 80.

The NSP reports the trooper stopped an eastbound car driving left of center and failing to signal on I-80 near the Hershey exit in Lincoln County.

The trooper seized 35.7 pounds of marijuana stuffed in two large bags in the trunk.

The driver, 28-year-old Eric Johnson of Kenosha, WI, and a passenger in the vehicle, 40-year-old Melissa Williams of Sturtevant, WI, have both been charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell it.