September 2, 2014

Omaha woman turns table on burglery suspect

A frightening ordeal for an Omaha woman Tuesday morning. Around 3 am Barb Haley woke up when she heard an intruder inside her home. With her dog by her side Hadley discovered a man had broken into her home and was inside a closet.   Hadley’s dog kept the man cornered while she grabbed a gun and called 911.

Police safely removed 24 year old Jody Kudlacz who will face a number of charges. Neither Hadley nor her dog was injured. Police are investigating to see if Kudlacz is responsible for several other recent burglaries.

Ricketts and Hassebrook talk issues, but also get personal in debate (AUDIO)

Republican Pete Ricketts and Democrat Chuck Hassebrook talked issues, but also got personal during the gubernatorial debate at the State Fair in Grand Island.

Issues included prison reform, Medicaid expansion, and minimum wage.

Both Hassebrook and Ricketts endorsed using alternative incarceration programs, such as drug courts, to reduce the state prison population. Hassebrook, though, stated he would not take building a new prison off the table. Ricketts said it wasn’t time to build a new prison.

Ricketts rejected expanding Medicaid, following the example of Gov. Dave Heineman, a fellow Republican. Ricketts expressed concern the federal government wouldn’t fulfill its promise to pay 90% of the tab of expansion. Hassebrook accused Ricketts of putting partisan politics ahead of common sense, insisting the state has forfeited $2 million in federal funding its hospitals could use to cover the working-poor.

Hassebrook endorsed the proposed increase to the state minimum wage, which voters will decide in November. Ricketts insisted there are better ways to increase the wages of working Nebraskans, including worker training.

The debate turned personal when Hassebrook accused Ricketts’ father of funneling money to third party groups to run ads against Hassebrook.

Ricketts said it is all part of the record.

“Actually, this is all public disclosure and I’m sure if Chuck had found something he would be happy to share with you all,” Ricketts stated.

“No, it’s not all public disclosure,” Hassebrook quickly countered.

Hassebrook pointed out third party groups do not have to disclose their contributors.

“It may be that your father’s laundering the money by giving some of his millions elsewhere and having someone else contribute to your race,” Hassebrook said. “But, I think it strains credibility to say that your Dad would spend $4 million on two races in Michigan and Georgia, but with his own son running in Nebraska, take a walk.”

Both Ricketts and Hassebrook claimed they would seek to lower property tax rates. Hassebrook added he would not promote a “risky” tax scheme, make a reference to Gov. Heineman’s proposal to scrap the state income tax in exchange for ending numerous sales tax exemptions. Ricketts denied Hassebrook’s claim that he endorsed the plan, stating the proposal was flawed in a couple of ways.

The Omaha World-Herald sponsored the debate.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Study: Nebraska winters will still be snowy despite climate change

Snowplow3A national report on climate change finds even with global warming, we’ll still have plenty of snow in the winters ahead in Nebraska and across much of the country’s northern half.

Climatologist Harry Hillaker says climate change is very gradual and snow blowers and shovels will remain necessities. Hillaker says the report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology didn’t exactly go out on a limb in predicting continued snowy winters for the Midwest.

“When you think about it, that’s not really much of a surprise, I guess the basic mechanism on how we get snow is not going to be changing in a warmer world,” Hillaker says. “The number of opportunities may be decreasing but the storms could be just as intense but probably not as frequent as what we’ve been seeing in years past.”

The Old Farmers’ Almanac forecasts the winter ahead will be colder than usual, then next summer will be hotter. The publication predicts winter temperatures, precipitation and snowfall will all be below normal, with the coldest period running from early December into the first half of January. Hillaker says it’s an extreme challenge to accurately predict the weather several months in advance.

“Certainly, not very easily and there’s lots of outfits out there like the Farmer’s Almanac and some private forecasters that attempt to do that sort of thing,” Hillaker says. “I don’t know if anyone’s attempted any kind of study of how accurate those prognostications are, but certainly it’s very, very difficult and we’ve got a long ways to go in those longer-range outlooks.”

While scientific advancements are making forecasts more on-target, Hillaker says no one can really predict now, at summer’s end, what the weather will be this winter.

“Certainly, the day-by-day forecasts, out a week or two, have gotten far, far better than they used to be just in the last 20 or 30 years, tremendous improvements,” Hillaker says. “On that longer range, say from 30 days on out, there’s some skill there, but still a lot of guess work.”

The MIT study predicts that some regions will see less snowfall, but the snowfall extremes may actually intensify.

Investigation into Lincoln home invasion homicide continues

Lincoln police continue to investigate a homicide over the weekend that they believe stemmed from an attempted home invasion robbery.

Police were called to the LionsGate Apartment complex very early Saturday morning. Williams had been shot once in the chest.

Witnesses reported that several suspects attempted to enter Williams’ apartment, with a struggle escalating, and ending with the fatal shot that struck Williams. Williams was transported to Bryan West Hospital where he was pronounced deceased shortly after arrival.

No day off for Dakota City, recovering from severe storms

Nebraskans in extreme northeastern Nebraska are spending today not at cook-outs, but at clean ups.

Dakota City is recovering the Labor Day after severe thunderstorms with high winds touching 80-miles-per-hour at times took down power lines and did some structural damage throughout the city.

Dakota City Mayor Jerry Yecevich says all the destruction is still being assessed.

“We’re working on the infrastructure first; getting the streets cleared,” Yecevich tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate WNAX. “We still do not have power back on in all the residents in town, yet. That’s a goal. We need to get that back up so we can get people in their homes. Last night we had some problems with gas leaks. Some of these trees were uprooted.”

The storm crossed the Missouri River and hit Sergeant Bluff, Iowa hard. It also blew over semis and blew debris onto I-29, which had to be closed for a couple of hours.

Yecevich says though the storm caused some structural damage in town, the biggest blow was to the power grid.

“A lot of it are trees; then with the downed power lines,” according to Yecevich. “There are some garages, some small buildings that got hit (by) trees, vehicles. There is some minor home damage. We haven’t been through everything yet to know exactly what all has been damage. We’re kind of early in the stages.”

Jerry Oster, WNAX, contributed to this article.