NORFOLK– Work is continuing on the middle phase of the Northeast Industrial Highway north of Norfolk. Last summer, the first phase opened up, allowing trucks easier access to Nucor Steel, Norfolk Iron and Metal and the Louis Dreyfus Ethanol Plant. The first phase travels two miles from highway 35 near Woodland Park to near the entrance to Nucor. The middle phase is a two mile stretch that gets up close and personal with both the ethanol plant and Norfolk Iron and Metal. It’s expected to be finished one year from now. One of the challenges of this phase is including two viaducts and a bridge. Madison County Commissioner Lee Klein says the viaducts will go over a rail line and over Victory Road. The bridge will run over Spring Branch Creek west of Norfolk Iron and Metal. Right now, dirt work is being completed for the viaducts and beams are being driven that will hold the bridge. Klein says the highway has been talked about for 18 to 20 years and is finally seeing construction. They hope that once it’s complete it will allow for even more growth. Bidding on the final phase of the project, which is a one mile stretch that connects with highway 81 north of Norfolk, will be put out to bid in September. That phase is expected to get underway next spring and will open two years from now.
NORFOLK– Officials with the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce are back in Norfolk after traveling with various city officials and business leaders to Washington D.C. for some face time with their elected officials. Chamber President Dennis Houston says eight people from Norfolk were among a group that met with all five of Nebraska’s federal elected officials this week. Houston says the delegation shared concerns affecting the area including job shortages, housing issues and the lack of available natural gas. Houston says the group now will look at how they can turn that face time into a positive for the area. This is the second straight year that the Norfolk Chamber has participated in the fly-in organized by the state chamber. Houston says the Chamber plans on making the trip an annual occurrence in the years ahead.
NORFOLK– The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District is taking steps to address water shortages in Colfax County. The LENRD Board Thursday approved a $200,000 contract with a Mitchell-based company to perform heliborne geophysics study of an area centered mostly between the towns of Clarkson and Howells. Company officials say the study utilizes electronic equipment attached to helicopters that will gather data showing where there may be underground aquifers that can be used to bring relief to dry wells. Company officials say the study will be done over the summer, with a final report expected in December. NRD staff say they’ve received numerous calls from Colfax County residents experiencing dry wells, and that this study should help provide solutions.
NORFOLK– Most of the irrigators in the Lower Elkhorn NRD’s new irrigation management areas are complying with the new flow meter requirements. LENRD water resources manager Rick Wozniak informed the Board Thursday that of the 185 irrigation wells that were required to install flow meters by May 1st, all but nine have reported that their meters are installed. Wozniak says staff will be performing inspections on the other nine properties starting next week, and says cease and desist letters would be the next step for non-compliant irrigators. The LENRD Board approved the new irrigation rules earlier this year in response to numerous dry domestic wells in the district.
NORFOLK– Last year’s dry summer has brought about historically low groundwater levels. The Lower Elkhorn NRD Board received their annual spring groundwater level report Thursday. The report shows that of the 244 wells measured, 45 were at their lowest ever spring levels. That’s about 18 percent. The report also says two-thirds of the wells measured showed their greatest one-year drop from spring to spring. Colfax County appeared to be the worst off. Six of the wells measured their saw a drop of at least 10 inches from the previous year, with some more than two feet below their median groundwater levels.
NORFOLK– A large construction project is underway on the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska’s Norfolk campus. In no time at all a building that was once a dormitory for the Nebraska Christian College was reduced to a pile of rubble. The Ponca Tribe bought the campus a number of years ago when the Christian College made the move to the Omaha area. In the spot where the dorms once stood, tribal leaders are planning to build a 3.5 million dollar, 15-thousand square foot multi-purpose facility. Half of it will house the tribe’s vehicle fleet and maintenance while the other half will house a training and video conferencing room and tribal offices. The Ponca Tribe’s Facilities Director, Chuck Hooley says when it’s complete it will not only be available for tribal use, but also for other organizations.When it comes to the tribe’s vehicle fleet, known as the Ponca Express, there are 12 vehicles.Transportation Manager Dani Wright says some of them are used to transport any area citizen to appointments or errands in Norfolk or anywhere in the area. The fees per trip are very minimal….$2 for in town or $5 for out of town, they’ll even go as far as Sioux City or Omaha. Tribal officials say the expected completion date for the new facility is January of 2014
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – A search and rescue team from Nebraska has returned home after helping with tornado damage in suburban Oklahoma City. The Nebraska Task Force 1 arrived in Moore, Okla., on Tuesday to help in the wake of a deadly twister on Monday. The team includes firefighters from both the Lincoln and Omaha fire departments.
COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) - Columbus police are investigating the death of a man whose body was found in a south neighborhood house as a homicide. Police Capt. Todd Thalken says the man’s body was found Wednesday. Police are not releasing the man’s death or details about how he died. The house’s owner said the man had lived in the house for about eight years, but declined to comment further.
LINCOLN - A bill up for final approval in the Nebraska Legislature is putting Gov. Dave Heineman in a tough spot. LB104, which was given second round approval Tuesday, would extend sales tax exemptions to wind-energy companies. One firm, TradeWind Energy out of Kansas, has expressed interest in developing a wind farm in Dixon County. Lawmakers also attached to the bill Sen. Ernie Chambers’ repeal measure of a law passed last year, allowing cities to raise their local option sales tax as to as high as two percent. Heineman tried to veto that law last year, and says he appreciates the effort to repeal the law this time around. But, Heineman has never supported the wind energy portion of the bill, saying he doesn’t think it’s the right answer to Nebraska’s wind energy problems. Heineman says he’d like to see legislation that puts a focus on Nebraska companies and has a direct benefit to Nebraska residents.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – A proposed work-subsidy program aimed at Nebraskans who qualify for welfare is headed to a final vote in the Legislature. Lawmakers gave the bill second-round approval yesterday. The measure by Senator Sue Crawford of Bellevue would create a pilot program to subsidize employment for parents or young people who make as much as 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The subsidies would taper off six months.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – A Nebraska bill that would expand protections for human trafficking victims has won first-round approval from lawmakers. The bill that advanced yesterday focuses heavily on minors of both sexes who are coerced and sometimes forced into the sex trade. Senator Amanda McGill of Lincoln says the law should reflect that young people often aren’t entering the sex trade by choice.
NORFOLK – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry will be the keynote speaker for a Memorial Day program in Norfolk. The Norfolk American Legion Post 16 is sponsoring the program at Central Park at 10:45 Monday morning. Along with Fortenberry’s comments, wreaths will also be laid at the base of the World War II Memorial at the park. The Public is invited.
NORFOLK– A pediatric brain cancer fundraiser put on by a Siouxland business has come up empty to this point thanks to an internet prank. Norfolk retailer Prep 2 Pro Sports had recently worked with the Upper Deck trading card company to commission special trading cards commemorating 7-year old Jack Hoffman’s famous touchdown run in the spring game. The Atkinson youngster signed the cards…and Prep 2 Pro auctioned one of them off on e-bay on behalf of the Team Jack Foundation with all of the money going to pediatric brain cancer research. The winning bid was for 61-hundred dollars, but store officials say the final bidder hasn’t paid the money yet…and has told the store he doesn’t intend to. The bidder claims someone logged on to his account as a joke and jacked up the price of the card without ever intending to buy it. Since then store officials have been working to find some other type of solution to the problem. They say they don’t have anything finalized for the card yet…but that they’re working on turning this back into a feel-good story sometime soon.
NORFOLK – The story of a soldier and how a service dog saved his life after serving in Iraq is coming to Norfolk. Veteran and author Luis Montalvan and his dog, Tuesday, will be sharing their story and helping raise money for the Norfolk Veterans Home Foundation next month. Montalvan’s book “Until Tuesday” describes his struggles after coming home from the war, and how his service do, Tuesday, helped him cope. Event organizer Paula Pflueger says Montalvan’s post-war struggles weren’t just physical, but mental as well. Montalvan and Tuesday will be taking part in a dinner and silent auction on Thursday June 6. Tickets for that event are $40 in advance and $50 at the door. They can be bought at BankFirst, Edward Jones in Norfolk or Elegance Head to Toe. Montalvan will also be participating in the Norfolk Veterans Home 50th anniversary celebration on the 7th, and a book signing at Hastings in Norfolk on the 8th.
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