July 28, 2014

Saturday marks 25th anniversary of the crash of Flight 232 in Sioux City

A new permanent exhibit and garden that pays tribute to the crew, passengers and the Siouxland response to the 1989 crash of United Airlines Flight 232 is now open at the Mid America Air Museum in Sioux City.

Museum director Larry Finley says he gets weekly questions from visitors about Flight 232 and how local emergency responders helped save 184 lives.

“With that type of interest, we felt that it was important for the community that we set up an educational facility. We have a great memorial on the riverfront and now we will have a great educational center here,” Finley says.

The Denver-to-Chicago flight crashed on July 19th, 1989, claiming 111 lives. The engine in the tail of the D-C-10 exploded and cut all hydraulics.

The pilot, Captain Al Haynes, was championed for steering the crippled plane onto the runway using only the throttles of the remaining two engines on the wings.

Pam Mickelsen heads the Flight 232 anniversary committee and says the new outdoor garden will be a place of private reflection at the site where the airliner crash-landed.

“There’s a line of trees and bushes that is going to grow up to be a great area that is protecting that runway where it hit down. And our guests can go out and reflect — look out across runway two-two,” Mickelsen says.

Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of the crash. Events are planned today through Sunday at the museum, including a reunion of the crew, survivors, families and first responders.

By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City


Nebraska State Patrol 4th of July special enforcement underway

Drivers – be on your best behavior this 4th of July holiday weekend. The Nebraska State Patrol will be conducting a special enforcement, “Drive to Save Lives” starting July 3rd and running through the 5th.

Lt. Kevin Bridges with Troop A in Omaha says an $18,960 grant from the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety is allowing troopers to put in the overtime for the special enforcement.

Troopers will be on the lookout violations that include speeding, following too closely, impaired and distracted drivers. Lt. Bridges says they also focus enforcement on the Nebraska State Parks and Recreation areas due to an anticipated large holiday crowd. Troopers will also conduct check points on Nebraska roadways where they will check to make sure license plates are current and vehicles are in compliance with state laws. On less traveled roads troopers conducting checks may have the vehicle pull over and do a complete inspection to make sure all lights, signals and safety features are working correctly.

Part of the special enforcement includes motorist assist. Lt. Bridges says volunteers in two specially marked vans will be traveling I-80 between Omaha and Kearney looking for stranded motorists and offer assistance. They will also help remove debris from the roadway.

The Nebraska State Patrol encourages all drivers to help them save lives by complying with all highway safety laws.

4th of July travel forecast shows boost in Nebraska, nationwide

gas-pump-111Nebraskans who are planning to celebrate Independence Day by hitting the open road will find plenty of company on the interstates and gasoline prices a little higher as they leave the state.

Gail Weinholzer, spokeswoman for  AAA-Nebraska, says the travel forecast for the 4th of July weekend calls for a boost in vacationers.

“AAA Travel is predicting 41-million Americans will journey at least 50 miles or more sometime between Wednesday, July 2nd and Sunday, July 6th,” Weinholzer says. “That’s about a 2% increase over last year and it’s about 14% more than traveled for Memorial Day.” That’s five-million more travelers on this holiday than the last one.

The motor club says most travelers, about 85% of them, will be heading to their destinations in motor vehicles, so gasoline prices will be one deciding factor in how far they go.

Weinholzer says, “Gas prices are below the national average by anywhere from a nickel to a dime but above last year’s totals that people were experiencing at the pump last year.”

The current statewide average price in Nebraska is $3.60 a gallon, compared to the national average of $3.68. A year ago, the statewide average was $3.52.

The 4th of July holiday falls on a Friday this year, making for a natural three-day weekend for most Nebraskans. She says Independence Day is usually the busiest of the summer holidays, for good reason.

“We’ve got some states that don’t let their schools out prior to Memorial Day and others that go in prior to Labor Day but obviously everybody is off around the 4th of July,” Weinholzer says. “School schedules typically keep Memorial Day and Labor Day lower than the 4th of July travel.”

The highest-ever statewide price for gasoline in Nebraska was hit in July of 2008 at $4.10 a gallon.


CWS, concert sell-out = parking snarls in Omaha

Those heading to the T-D Ameritrade ballpark today for the College World Series can expect some competition for that parking space later tonight. Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority Communication’s Director Kristi Anderson says they will try their best to accommodate everyone heading to the first championship game at TD Ameritrade Park and  the Bruno Mars concert across the street at the Century Link Center. That show is a sell-out.

She says baseball fans and concert-goers are advised to park at Midtown Crossing, 31st to 36th south of Dodge, and take a free shuttle to the events. The first three hours of parking at Midtown Crossing is at no charge.

Along with the shuttle the Metro Transit Circulator will be running tonight as well.

Those wanting to drive and park at the venue are advised to arrive very early.

Gas prices creep up in Nebraska following unrest in Iraq

gas-pump-111Militants stormed Iraq’s main oil refinery this week and were driven back by the country’s military, escalating fears of a looming Iraqi civil war. It’s prompted a modest rise in gasoline prices in the U-S, according to Gail Weinholzer, spokeswoman for Triple-A-Nebraska.

“Unfortunately, anytime there’s significant political unrest in the Middle East, it tends to have a negative impact on our gas prices,” Weinholzer says. “We’ve seen crude oil rise from $102 a barrel to $107 a barrel over the last week or so.”

The average gas price in Nebraska is $3.56 a gallon, which is up about eight-cents from a month ago. Nebraska’s average price is 11-cents below the national average.

Weinholzer says she doesn’t anticipate pump prices will climb much higher, but it’s difficult to predict.

“I don’t know that we’ll necessarily see a significant increase from where we are,” Weinholzer says. “It’ll depend upon how long the situation in Iraq lasts and whether it spreads to any other Middle East country. Iraq is the second-largest exporter of crude oil, after Saudi Arabia, in the Middle East.”

In Nebraska, the cheapest average gas price is in Omaha at $3.48 a gallon, while Kearney has the most expensive gas, averaging $3.66.