Photo of the winning City of Lincoln flag design contest, overlaid with the text
Winner of the City of Lincoln flag design contest. Photo courtesy of Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.

01/17: New lake, mask mandates and bed bugs

Nebraska unveils $500 million plan to claim water from Colorado

Nebraska is notifying Colorado that it plans to go ahead with a $500 million plan to develop a canal and reservoir system to capture water from the South Platte River, Gov. Pete Ricketts announced on Jan. 10. Ricketts said this plan comes in response to plans Colorado has to capture that water with up to 300 projects before it is allowed to flow into Nebraska. According to Ricketts, Colorado’s plans would reduce the amount of water coming into the state by as much as 90%. Nebraska plans to finish building a canal that would stretch 24 miles, starting in Julesburg, Colorado, and ending at a not-yet-built reservoir in Western Nebraska. Nebraska officials claim the state has a legal right to do so because of a 1923 compact between the two states. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said Colorado fired the first shot, and “there’s no way we can sit on our hands.” In a statement, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Ricketts’s comments “seem to reflect a misunderstanding of Colorado’s locally driven water planning process.” He said that any project Nebraska proposes in Colorado will receive rigorous review.

Lawmakers propose 4,000-acre lake between Lincoln and Omaha

The Nebraska Legislature’s Statewide Tourism and Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability committee proposed a new reservoir at a press conference on Jan. 10. Coming in at 4,000 acres, the lake would be larger than Lake Okoboji in Iowa. It would be situated near the Platte River at about an equal distance between Lincoln and Omaha. Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers said the new lake would help manage Nebraska’s water supply and increase tourism. He said the committee plans to ask for $200 million for the project.

Fortenberry announces bid for re-election

On Jan. 10, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry posted a YouTube video announcing that he is running for re-election for the U.S. House of Representatives. In the announcement, he said he will fight for “consensus and goodness.” He did not mention his Oct. 19 indictment, which he made a video about in October. Fortenberry, who pleaded not guilty of lying to the FBI about illegal campaign funds from foreign countries, will go on trial in February.

U.S. COVID hospitalization rates reach highest point since the start of the pandemic

On Jan. 11, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported a record number of people in the hospital with COVID-19. On that day, there were 145,982 people hospitalized with COVID. The previous record was more than 142,000 people hospitalized on Jan. 14 2021.

Officials enact emergency health measures in Omaha and Lincoln

Douglas County Health Director Lindsay Huse declared an emergency mask mandate for the city of Omaha. The mandate went into effect Wednesday, Jan. 12 at 12:01 a.m. Huse exercised her authority under city code to declare this emergency mandate. The order will last four weeks, then the health department will revisit it. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson is challenging  the mandate and stated that it needs approval from Nebraska Health and Human Services. On Jan. 14, Gov. Pete Ricketts announced a Directed Health Measure that prohibited Nebraska Medicine’s Omaha hospital from performing any pre-scheduled nonemergency surgeries until Feb. 13.

On Jan. 14, the City of Lincoln announced the return of the Directed Health Measure, which includes an indoor mask mandate, in a tweet. The DHM goes into effect on Jan. 15. “The local COVID-19 situation has moved beyond severe to extreme risk,” the tweet said.

Lincoln ranked 50th in the country for most bed bugs

Every year, the pest control company Orkin creates a list of the top 50 bed-bug cities in the country based on the number of commercial and residential treatments that it carried out in the previous year. This year, Lincoln came in at #50. It is Lincoln’s first time making the list. Click here for more information about prevention and treatment for bed bugs. 

Former Nebraska volleyball player Jordan Larson hired as assistant coach for Texas volleyball team

Jordan Larson, a three-time Olympic medalist and the captain of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal winning volleyball team, is joining the Texas Longhorns volleyball team staff as the assistant coach. “This is a home run hire,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said in a press release. “To have the most accomplished outside hitter in the history of USA Volleyball come be part of our program is so exciting.”

Winner of City of Lincoln flag design contest announced

On Jan. 10, The American Marketing Association-Lincoln Chapter and Lincoln Young Professionals Group announced the winner of ReFlag Lincoln, a contest to redesign the flag for the City of Lincoln. The winning flag, called All Roads Lead to Lincoln, was designed by Ed Mejia, a local creative director, art director and graphic designer. On Jan. 24, the City Council will vote on the adoption of the new flag.