August 31, 2015

Beatrice Six gets second chance in lawsuit against Gage County

GavelThe Beatrice Six get a second chance.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled six people wrongly convicted in a 1985 murder in southeastern Nebraska can get a new trial in their contention that Gage County officials conspired against them.

An initial trial in their lawsuit ended in a mistrial in January.

The six were convicted in the 1985 murder of Helen Wilson in Beatrice.

DNA testing cleared the six, who came to be known as the Beatrice Six, in 2008, after they had served a combined 77 years in prison.

The lawsuit claims Gage County investigators were reckless in their investigation and wanted simply to close the case. The lawsuit also claimed the county never properly train its investigators.

Guards injured in separate fights at separate prisons

Nebraska_State_PrisonA guard at the Nebraska State Penitentiary had to have surgery after being attacked by an inmate, according to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

The officer is not being named by the department at the staff member’s request.

According to Corrections, last Monday an inmate assaulted the guard on the prison yard after the inmate refused a request to be searched. The inmate hit the officer, knocking him to the ground, then hitting him several more times.

Other staff responded, restrained the inmate, and took the guard to the emergency room.

The incident remains under investigation. The results will be forwarded to the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office.

In another incident, a staff member suffered injury trying to break up a fight between two inmates at the Lincoln Correctional Center Thursday. Corrections reports staff tried to gain control of the incident and one of the inmates hit a staff members several times in the midsection. The guard was treated and released at a local hospital.

Congressman Smith makes opposition to Iran deal unanimous (AUDIO)

Congressman Adrian Smith

Congressman Adrian Smith

Congressman Adrian Smith has come out against the Iran nuclear deal.

Smith took time before making public his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the United States along with Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China.

“My conclusion after studying the issue, after going to many meetings, and just interacting on the issue itself, I’ve concluded that I think it’s a bad deal,” Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network. “I think that no deal is better than a bad deal.”

President Barack Obama has been campaigning tirelessly for the deal, making calls to Democrats in Congress to support it. The president is working a two-front strategy. Obama wants to block a bill in Congress opposing the deal, but if he proves unsuccessful in that effort, the president wants to at least retain enough support to uphold a veto.

As part of his pitch, the president has claimed that the choice is between this deal or war.

“I think the president saying it’s either his deal or war is a very irresponsible statement,” Smith says. “I think it’s simplistic. I think it’s inaccurate”

Smith, a Republican, is the last of the Nebraska Congressional delegation to announce his decision on the nuclear deal with Iran, making the delegation’s opposition unanimous.

Earlier, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican, and Brad Ashford, a Democrat, came out against the deal. Both of Nebraska’s United States Senators, Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse, oppose the deal. Both Fischer and Sasse are Republicans.

Congress is on its August recess. When members return to Washington, the Iran nuclear deal will be the top issue they face. Congress has until September 17th to vote on the measure.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

Two die in northeast Nebraska wreck

Police car lightsTwo people died in a head-on collision in northeast Nebraska over the weekend.

The Cedar County Sheriff’s Office reports 22-year-old Mollie Schieffer of Fordyce and 63-year-old Bradley Schumacher of Crofton died in the accident near Hartington.

According to the sheriff’s office, Schieffer was driving east on Highway 12 near its intersection with Highway 57 when she crossed the center line and collided with Schumacher, who was driving west in a pick-up.

Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

Backers of wind & solar energy tax credits plan to try, try again

John Hansen, Nebraska Farmers Union

John Hansen, Nebraska Farmers Union

A Nebraska agricultural group is working with state legislators on a proposed tax credit for wind and solar energy projects. The effort fell short of passing last session but backers of the incentives say they’ll try again in 2016.

Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen says there’s plenty of support for the measure.

Hansen says, “We look at poll after poll after poll and the preliminary data from the Nebraska Rural Poll, it’s going to continue to show that the overwhelming, very high percentage majority of Nebraskans, including rural Nebraskans, support more rural energy development.”

The legislation would help Nebraska keep up with its neighbors in renewable energy projects, according the Hansen. Iowa, for example, led the nation last year by generating more than 28% of its electricity from the wind.

“It would help us compete with other states,” he says, “and it would be particularly helpful for a lot of the communities that are seriously looking forward and trying to take advantage of the still-current federal incentives for community-owned wind projects or community-owned solar projects.”

Wind TurbineHansen says while wind energy has a lot of potential in Nebraska, solar energy is finally starting to hit its stride.

“Up and down the Platte River corridor where you have, first of all, you’re down in the valley, second, you’ve got a large section of the middle of the state that’s in a flyway area, so that doesn’t work,” he says. “We’ve got a lot of communities in those kinds of areas that are looking to do some things with solar. Solar is kind of coming of age.”

Hansen says the farmers union worked with Senator Jeremy Nordquist, of Omaha, on the bill last year but now are partnering with Senator Ken Schilz, of Ogallala.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton