April 24: Google, wildfires and concerts
Wildfires kill retired fire chief, injure 15 firefighters
Retired Cambridge Fire Chief John P. Trumble was helping firefighters as a spotter in Red Willow County when his vehicle went off the road due to poor visibility from the smoke and dust, according to KLKN. He was then overcome by smoke and fire. He died the night of April 22, and his body was found early the next morning. At least 15 firefighters have been injured in the blazes, which have been reported in 14 Nebraska counties since April 22– Perkins, Dundy, Butler, Burt, Scotts Bluff, Cheyenne, Duele, Blaine, Brown, Red Willow, Furnas, Frontier, Cherry and Thomas counties. Several small towns were placed under evacuation orders until April 23, including Cambridge, Indianola, Wilsonville, Bartley and Macy. The majority of the fires were contained by April 23, but the one in Red Willow, Furnas and Frontier Counties has continued to burn through April 24 and has covered more than 78 square miles. Wildfire updates can be found on the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency website.
Trump announces rally in Nebraska with Herbster
Former President Donald Trump announced he is coming to Greenwood to rally supporters on April 29. Charles Herbster, who Trump has endorsed in Herbster’s campaign for governor, will also speak at the event. The announcement came days after Herbster was faced with eight sexual misconduct allegations, and a bipartisan group made up of all 13 women state senators signed a letter saying he is unfit to serve. Herbster has denied the allegations. Trump has stopped at a number of other states to promote candidates he has endorsed in key races.
Former Lincoln police officer sues the city for alleged discrimination
Sara Khalil, who was fired from the Lincoln Police Department in February of 2022, filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination based on a disability she sustained while working at LPD, her gender, her color and her nation of origin. According to the Lincoln Journal Star, Police Chief Teresa Ewins said Khalil’s termination, which Khalil has appealed, was lawful and that evidence supporting it will be brought forth. Over the last 18 months, officers Melissa Ripley and Sarah Williams and Sgt. Erin Spilker also filed lawsuits against the city alleging a toxic workplace culture against women.
Google to invest more than $750 million in Nebraska
Google announced plans April 21 to put more than $750 million toward data centers, offices and more in Nebraska in 2022. Google plans to construct a new data center on the northwest edge of Omaha and to expand the company’s current data center in Papillion. The data center in Omaha will be the third one of its kind in the area, joining one in Papillion and one in Council Bluffs. This is part of Google’s plan to invest $9.5 billion in offices and data centers across the nation. Apart from its $750 million commitment, Google said it will donate $100,000 to Omaha’s Central Public Library project.
Snoop Dogg performs in Lincoln, George Strait hits the stage days later
Snoop Dogg came to the Pinnacle Bank Arena stage in Lincoln on April 20 along with a DJ, four pole dancers and openers Koe Wetzel, Justin Champagne and Tye Harris. Snoop performed a variety of his hits, and he also brought in some old-school hip-hop with tributes to Nate Dogg, Eazy E, Biggie Smalls and Tupac.
George Strait performed at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln on April 23, with Asleep at the Wheel as his opener. The King of Country Music played some of his recent hits, along with songs that go as far back as the 80s. “I don’t know how many more years I’ve got left to do this, but when I walk off that stage for the last time, I’ll still be hearing your cheers and screams in my mind,” he said.
Nebraska remembers former state senator, congressman Brad Ashford
Former state senator and congressman Brad Ashford, 72, died the morning of April 19 after a months-long battle with brain cancer. Ashford served on the state workmen’s compensation court, served on the Nebraska Legislature for two eight-year stints and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014. He was elected as both a Democrat and a Republican and tended to lean more liberal on social issues and more conservative on economic matters. Ashford’s family said his death was peaceful but much too premature. “He was positive to the end and would want you to take today and every day to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, tell your loved ones you love them, read some history to learn something and reach out to lift up your fellow human,” the post said.
Police uncover nearly 500 pounds of marijuana during Lincoln traffic stop
Police pulled over Christopher Klipfel, 47, of Oregon during a routine traffic stop near Rosa Parks Way on Highway 77 April 21 and spotted THC cartridges in his center console, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. A K-9 unit sniffed the vehicle, which led to the discovery of 481 pounds of marijuana and 4,272 THC cartridges. Klipfel was arrested for possession with intent to deliver.