Three tepees, overlaid with the text
Photo courtesy of Niskithe Prayer Camp on Facebook.

May 8: Coaching penalties, snow and housing development 

Husker football team hit with penalties for coaching violations

Coach Scott Frost has received a five-day suspension from all coaching duties during the upcoming football season and a one-year show-cause penalty, according to a statement by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Essentially, a show-cause penalty serves to make sure penalties stick with a coach for a designated period of time, even if the coach were to switch schools. These penalties come as a result of an investigation, which started last year, that found Nebraska was violating rules limiting the number of coaches that are allowed to work with players during practices and games. Former special teams analyst Jonathan Rutledge, who worked for Nebraska during 2020 and was fired in January 2021, provided instruction to athletes during practices and games and assisted in tactical decisions during games, the NCAA statement said. This pushed Nebraska over the limit of permissible coaches in 2020. These penalties are classified as level two on the four-level NCAA violation structure, meaning there was a significant breach of conduct. “It is important for the Nebraska Athletic Department and football program to put this matter behind us and turn our full attention to the upcoming season,” Athletic Director Trev Alberts said in a statement. “We are pleased with the outcome and believe the negotiated resolution is fair and equitable. At Nebraska, we are committed to running an athletic department that is fully compliant with all NCAA rules.”

Native group speaks out against mayor’s approval of Lincoln housing development

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird announced May 4 that she plans to approve the land annexation and zoning changes that would allow the Wilderness Crossing development to be built on approximately 75 acres of land south of Pioneers Boulevard. The land, which the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln owns, is across the street from a site used by area Natives complete with a sweat lodge, known as the Fish Farm, that is located on private property. Niskithe Prayer Camp, a group of Native community members who oppose the development, released a said in a statement that they are disappointed in the mayor’s decision “to support this project rather than protect the spiritual and environmental integrity of the land.” The group said the development would “cause irreparable harm to the land, water, and non-human relatives; and to the mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of the people who pray there.” The mayor said that some of the concerns raised by Niskithe Prayer Camp had already been addressed in previous changes made by the developer and city planners. However, Niskithe Prayer Camp said that the plan for the development was essentially completed by the time their input was considered. They said they want to have their voices heard by the city and the developers. “In her statement, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird offered a land acknowledgment. While acknowledging the original stewards of this land is important, it is hollow and performative if it is not accompanied by action that empowers, honors, and respects Indigenous Peoples. By signing legislation that threatens the viability of two ceremonial sites, we do not feel honored or respected by the city and its leaders,” they said. May 4, the mayor said she looks forward to working with Niskithe Prayer Camp in the future to build a more inclusive community.

May kicks off with 15 inches of snow in the panhandle 

Multiple traffic accidents were reported and Interstate 80 was shut down for several hours from Wyoming to Big Springs due to heavy snowfall May 2. Several towns hit double-digit levels of snow, including Kimball with 15 inches, Potter with 11 inches and Albin with 10 inches. 

Covid-19 cases on the rise in Nebraska, Lincoln mayor tests positive

Covid-19 cases in Nebraska increased by over 85% during the last two weeks of April, but hospitalizations have not. Lancaster County recorded 197 COVID-19 cases during the last week of April, which is almost double the previous week. However, there was only one COVID-19 death in Lancaster County during April, compared with 70 in January and February. Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez said the county has seen an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission due to the BA.2 variant, but that has not led to more hospitalizations. The COVID Risk Dial has stayed in the green (low-risk) range. Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird has contracted COVID-19. “Thanks to the effectiveness of the vaccine and booster, my symptoms are mild,” she said in a news release.

Nine cases of hepatitis found in children in Nebraska

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is investigating nine cases of hepatitis, a potentially fatal liver inflammation, that were found in Nebraska between November 2021 and May 2022 in children, it announced May 6. Two cases were found in Douglas County, two in the Sarpy/Cass Health jurisdiction, two in the East Central jurisdiction, one in the Public Health Solutions jurisdiction, one in the Two Rivers jurisdiction and one in the Southwest jurisdiction. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an advisory about a cluster of hepatitis cases, likely associated with adenovirus, found in children in Alabama. Three of the nine children with hepatitis in Nebraska have also tested positive for the respiratory virus adenovirus.

Nebraska Supreme Court upholds decision in wrongful death suit involving“COPS” crew member shot by police

The Nebraska Supreme Court struck down an appeal from the estate of Bryce Dion, a sound technician who was killed by Omaha police while working for the TV show “COPS” in 2014. The incident happened during a robbery at an Omaha fast food restaurant, in which police also killed the robber, Cortez Washington. Dion’s estate was appealing a wrongful death suit that was dismissed by a Douglas County District judge in 2019. The judge said the three Omaha police officers involved were acting reasonably when they fired 36 shots, one of which hit Dion through a gap in his bulletproof vest. Police believed Washington posed an imminent threat, as he was carrying an airsoft pistol, which looks like a traditional firearm but shoots plastic pellets. “Those officers were forced to make split-second decisions in their use of deadly force under circumstances that were tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving,” the judge said in his ruling.