11/18: Pansing Brooks campaign, balloon release and Yik Yak
State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks announces run for congress
State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of District 28 announced her bid for Nebraska’s first congressional district. Brooks cannot run for her state senate seat in 2022 due to term limits. The incumbent of the first district is Congressman Jeff Fortenberry. Fortenberry is under indictment for allegedly lying to the FBI and has not said if he will run again in 2022.
Three snow leopards die at Lincoln Children’s Zoo due to COVID-19
Three snow leopards- Ranney, Everest and Makalu- died from complications from COVID-19 at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. In a statement released on Facebook on Nov. 12, the zoo described the loss as truly heartbreaking. Along with the snow leopards, two Sumatran tigers- Axl and Kumar- were diagnosed with COVID-19 last month. The zoo said the tigers have seemingly made a full recovery.
Kyle Rittenhouse acquitted of all charges
Following a two-week trial, Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and three other felony charges. In August 2020, Rittenhouse shot and killed two people and injured another amid unrest in Kenosha, Wis.
Researchers identify 102 students who died at Genoa U.S. Indian School
Researchers uncovered names of 102 students who died while staying at the Genoa U.S. Indian Industrial School, one of the largest Indian boarding schools in America. The school, which was located in Genoa and operated by the federal government from 1884 to 1934, often took students from their families against their will and employed harsh punishments and brutal labor. As with many other Native American boarding schools in the country, the school tried to rid students of their Native American culture, prevent them from speaking tribal languages and force them to convert to Christianity. According to an article by The Guardian, most of the students died from diseases, and the total number who died at the school is likely much higher than 102. The Federal Indian Boarding School Truth Initiative will investigate abuse allegations and help with the efforts to uncover burial sites. Visit Nebraska Public Media and the Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project for more information.
UNL student arrested for threatening Chancellor Green on Yik Yak
Jude Almquist, an 18-year-old freshman from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was arrested on Nov. 11 after making veiled threats against Chancellor Ronnie Green on Yik Yak, an application that allows people within a 5-mile radius to create and view anonymous threads. On Sept. 6, UNL Police Department responded to a voicemail Yik Yak moderators left on Aug. 31 about a post Almquist made that said, “just planted a 2nd B0mb the chancellors office!!! #HesMyChancellor.” UNLPD evacuated the second floor of the Canfield Administration building, where Green’s office is located and did not find any explosive materials. Almquist allegedly made several other threats against Green on the app between late August and early September. He is charged with a felony count of terroristic threats.
Nebraska State College System approves Anti-Harassment, Chosen Name and Gender Policies
On Nov. 11, the Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees passed the Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy (5007) and the Chosen Name and Gender Identity Policy (5012). It was a 4-2 vote. The policy document includes gender identity in the list of categories of which discrimination and harrassment are prohibitied.Before the policies were passed, Gov. Pete Ricketts wrote a letter in opposition, saying “Adopting the proposed policies would impose gender ideology on Nebraska State College campuses by discouraging teachers and students to speak freely and act in accordance with science and their judgments about the biologically determined nature of males and females.” The policies will take effect at Peru, Wayne and Chadron State Colleges.
Two tigers at Omaha zoo test positive for COVID-19
Two Amur tigers at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha have tested positive for COVID-19. The announcement from the zoo came on Nov. 12 and said veterinary staff tested samples from the cats after an 11-year-old female tiger began to cough. Both tigers are showing minor symptoms including sneezing, mild lethargy and a decrease in appetite. According to the announcement, zoo staff are optimistic for a full recovery for the tigers.
Nebraska 2020 teacher of the year meets First Lady
Megan Helberg, an English teacher at Loup County Public School in Taylor, received the Nebraska 2020 Teacher of the Year Award. Helberg was invited to Washington, D.C., to meet First Lady Jill Biden, who is an English professor. In an article from KHGI Nebraska TV, Helberg said, “It was the honor of a lifetime.”
Nebraska to receive money from infrastructure bill
President Joe Biden recently signed an infrastructure bill that provides billions of dollars for things such as roads, the electric grid, and other traditional infrastructure. Nebraska will receive $2.5 billion for roads and around $200 million for programs that improve water systems. The bill received bipartisan support in Congress, including support from members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation: Congressman Don Bacon and Sen. Deb Fischer.
Wildfire continues in Banner and Scotts Bluff counties
The Buffalo Creek Wildfire that started on Sunday, Nov. 14, in Banner and Scotts Bluff counties has now covered more than 2,500 acres. Fifteen fire departments have been fighting the fires, and, as of Nov. 17, the fire is at 40% containment, according to the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. Gering Fire Chief Nathan Flowers and Banner County Fire Chief Tim Grubbs established Unified Command while also coordinating with Nebraska Game and Parks and the Wildland Incident Response and Assistance Team. Firefighters Ministries, a local nonprofit aimed to provide assistance to those in need after a fire, is coordinating efforts to support those who were affected by this fire. They are accepting monetary donations with the mailing address: P.O. Box 531 Scottsbluff, NE 69363.
State senators reach summit of dormant volcano in Tanzania
Sens. Tom Brewer, Anna Wishart, Justin Wayne, Ben Hansen and David Murman departed Nebraska for a trip to Tanzania on Nov. 9 to fulfill their dream of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa. The trip started out as an item on Brewer’s bucket list, and other senators eventually joined his vision of hiking the 19,000-foot mountain. On Nov. 17 at around midnight Lincoln time, the group reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. A map-tracking site showed Brewer at an elevation of 19,315 feet. They began their descent the following night.
Elementary school teacher killed in hunting accident
Kade Reiman, 23, was accidentally killed on Nov. 13 while he was hunting deer in Lewiston. Reiman was a second grade teacher at Bennet Elementary in the Palmyra District. He was struck in the neck by a hunting partner’s bullet intended for a deer and consequently died. The Pawnee County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that light conditions at dusk along with topography and timing placed him in the line of fire.
UNL student government supports resolution to stop husker balloon release
The Association of Students of the University of Nebraska unanimously voted Nov. 10 in support of a resolution to urge the university to end balloon releases on campus and at Husker football games. A similar resolution was passed in Spring 2021. Kat Woerner, a senator on the environmental sustainability committee, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a statement back in 2015 urging people to stop balloon releasing ceremonies because wildlife such as turtles, bears and deer often mistake balloons for food. Woerner said University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s administration is planning to work with ASUN to decide on next steps.
Ricketts signs proclamation to make November Adoption Awareness Month
Gov. Pete Ricketts declared November as Adoption Awareness Month in Nebraska. Ricketts said there are currently 646 children waiting for adoption in the state and urged residents to consider fostering children.
Contributors: Ramey Vachal, Hanna Christensen, Chin Tung Tan