By Owen Reimer, Lauren Penington and Hanna Christensen
Nov. 21: Lawsuits, mass shootings, and exploring Nebraska’s prison system
Jim Pillen appoints new Nebraska Department of Agriculture director
Governor-Elect Jim Pillen announced Nov. 17 the first woman head of the Department of Agriculture, Sherry Vinton. Vinton has worked as a family livestock producer near Whitman in Grant County since 1983 and has represented Nebraska’s third congressional district in the Nebraska Environmental Trust board for the past 14 years. She will be officially instated after Pillen is sworn in.
Flatwater Free Press sues Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy
Nebraska’s first nonprofit newsroom, which focuses on investigative journalism, announced they were filing a lawsuit against the NDEE on Nov. 18, following consistent failures to access records regarding Nebraska’s water. While investigating nitrates in the state’s water supply, they asked the NDEE for employee emails that used the keyword “nitrate,” among others, to make sure regulators were operating legally. They were asked for over $44,000 to receive the records, and following attempts to lower these costs had “little impact,” according to Matt Wynn, executive director of the Nebraska Journalism Trust, which led them to file the suit.
Nebraska’s LGBTQ community reacts to deadly Colorado Springs nightclub shooting
On the night of Nov. 19, police say a gunman killed five and injured nearly 30 patrons in ‘Club Q’ — the only gay bar in Colorado Springs. Nebraska organizations, like OutNebraska, reached out in support on social media, writing “we are absolutely heartbroken to hear the news out of Colorado Springs today, and want to take a moment to lift up the Colorado LGBTQ+ community and all those impacted.” Others in support included the ACLU of Nebraska and UNO’s Queer and Trans Services, who also planned a support group for students Nov. 21 with certified advocates and counselors on standby.
Second hunting accident in two days in Nebraska
Last week, experts warned Nebraskans to be careful during hunting season — this is why. On the morning of Nov. 19, an Omaha man was taken to the hospital after being unintentionally shot by another member of his party. This is the third hunting incident reported in 2022 and the second in two days. Last year, eight hunting incidents resulting in personal injury were reported. Nebraska Games and Park Commission encourages hunters to remain vigilant and cautious around weapons and machinery.
Malcolm X to be inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame
On Saturday, Nov. 19, more than 100 people gathered at the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation to celebrate the future induction of the Omaha-native human rights activist into the Nebraska Hall of Fame. When he is officially inducted at a ceremony in 2024, he will become the first Black person in the Hall of Fame.
University of Nebraska launches $3 billion fundraising campaign
On Nov. 18, the University of Nebraska launched a historic $3 billion fundraising campaign to support students, faculty, academic programs and research to address needs across campuses and Nebraska. The “Only in Nebraska” Campaign will create student scholarships in every college, raise support for first-gen and transfer students, seek endowed chairs and professorships to recruit and retain faculty and more. More than half the campaign goal — $1.6 billion — has already been given or pledged toward the campaign from more than 112,000 benefactors since its quiet start in 2018. It was announced publicly for the first time this week.
Flatwater forum explores problems with Nebraska’s prisons
With some of the most overcrowded prisons in the country, Nebraska’s correctional system is at a crossroads as the possibility of the construction of a new prison looms. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosted the Flatwater Free Press Nov. 16 for a forum titled “Nebraska’s prisons at a crossroads.” Four speakers, each representing a different aspect of Nebraska’s prison system, spoke on the lack of support for incarcerated people, which they primarily attributed to overcrowding and understaffing. Read more online at nebraskanewsservice.net