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Keystone XL developer to meet with Nebraska landowners

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The developer of the Keystone XL pipeline plans to meet with landowners along its planned route through Nebraska, South Dakota and Montana this week and will start aerial surveying of the route in all three states, a company spokesman said Monday.

ransCanada Inc. spokesman Matt John said the company will make financial offers to all landowners along the proposed route, including those who have already granted the company access to their land. Company officials are forging ahead despite pending lawsuits in Nebraska and Montana that aim to derail the project.

"It's important that all of our landowners are treated fairly, and offering these agreements to all landowners who have previously signed easements is part of our commitment," John said.

The $8 billion, 1,179-mile pipeline would transport Canadian crude through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with lines to carry oil to Gulf Coast refineries.

John said company officials will offer a "construction completion bonus" as an incentive to get landowners to sign easement agreements. They also plan to award bonuses to early signers and will give landowners time to review the contracts with outside attorneys. John said TransCanada still hopes to begin construction in early 2019.

Opponents said they're still confident they will thwart the project.

In Nebraska, landowners have filed a lawsuit challenging the Nebraska Public Service Commission's decision to approve a route through the state. A federal lawsuit brought by Montana landowners and environmental groups seeks to overturn President Donald Trump's decision to grant a presidential permit for the project, which was necessary because it would cross the U.S.-Canadian border.

President Barack Obama's administration studied the project for years before Obama finally rejected it in 2015, citing concerns about carbon pollution. Trump reversed that decision in March 2017, but John said the State Department has begun a supplemental environmental review of the route. The State Department has previously reviewed the route, but another analysis became necessary because the Nebraska Public Service Commission approved a different route than the one TransCanada had preferred.

"We know this song and dance very well," said Jane Kleeb, president of the Bold Alliance, a leading pipeline opposition group. "This pipeline will never be built. It's all P.R., and this is so typical of TransCanada."

The pipeline faces intense resistance from environmental groups, Native American tribes and some landowners along the route who worry about its long-term impact on their groundwater and property rights. But in Nebraska, many affected landowners have accepted the project and are eager to collect payments from the company.

"People here are a step above being OK about it — they're enthusiastic," said Ron Schmidt, a Madison County commissioner and farmer who owns property on the route. "I've talked to landowners who want the route to move just a little so it can go through their property."

Schmidt said he views the project as a one-time boost for the local economy that would help generate tax revenue. He said he also sees it as a way to promote the nation's energy independence, an assertion that many opponents dispute.

Farmer Art Tanderup, who has fought the pipeline since 2012, said he's still hopeful the project will never move forward and that TransCanada is "trying to appease its investors" with its announcement.

He said he opposes the project because of its potential impact on the Ogallala Aquifer, a massive groundwater system in Nebraska and seven other states, and concerns about a foreign company trying to use eminent domain on U.S. landowners.

"It's easy for us to tell them 'no' if they do come knocking," Tanderup said.


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Copy Story Share Man arrested after pot found in car after I-80 traffic stop

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Authorities say a man was arrested after deputies found marijuana in his car after stopping it along Interstate 80 near Lincoln.

The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office says a deputy pulled over the car around 11 a.m. Friday after seeing the driver fail to signal a lane change near the U.S. Highway 77 exit. The deputy reported smelling marijuana in the car, and a subsequent search turned up 114 pounds (52 kilograms) of pot and some cannabis edibles.

The man, who lives in Sioux City, Iowa, was arrested on suspicion of possession for sale and suspicion of other crimes. Court records don't show that he's been formally charged.


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Gov. Ricketts Issues Emergency Declaration to Aid Blizzard Response

LINCOLN – This morning, Governor Pete Ricketts has issued an emergency declaration to allow state funds to be used for the response to the blizzard which has affected Nebraskans statewideFriday and continuing into this morning.

 

“Hundreds of motorists have been stranded and power outages are reported in many communities,” Governor Ricketts said. “This declaration allows state funds from the Governor’s Emergency Fund to help our communities in their response.”

 

Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is working to get a temporary communications tower to Region 26 after its dispatch tower was toppled due to 60 mph winds. Blaine, Garfield, Greeley, Loup, Sherman, Thomas, Valley, and Wheeler counties make up Region 26 and are affected by the loss.

 

Road closures, including Interstate 80 and U.S. Highways 30 and 20, have affected travelers and sent them to shelters. Big Springs and Sidney report that they have opened shelters.

 

“Road conditions are still not safe across the state and travel is not recommended,” said NEMA Assistant Director Bryan Tuma. “Stay home and be safe.”

 

Road conditions remain poor to impassible in many parts of central to western Nebraska. At this time, Interstate 80 is closed to westbound traffic from Grand Island to the Wyoming state line. Eastbound I-80 is closed from the Wyoming state line to Ogallala. Keep up-to-date on other road closures by calling 511, visiting 511.Nebraska.gov, or by downloading the 511 smartphone app.


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Stratton Man Arrested After Improvised Explosive Device Found

NORTH PLATTE, NEB.) — One man has been arrested following the discovery of an improvised explosive device in a residence in Stratton.

Investigators with the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP), with assistance from NSP Troop D Field Services, the NSP Police Service Dog Division, NSP Hazardous Device Technicians, and the Hitchcock County Sheriff’s Office, made the discovery while executing a search warrant on a residence at 105 Howard St. in Stratton.

The resident, Fredrick A. Hamilton, 51, is involved in a legal dispute with the village of Stratton. It was reported to NSP that Hamilton has made threats to inflict physical harm or death toward one of the village officials. Investigators had also received information that one of the threats included mention of an improvised explosive device.

Upon executing the search warrant, NSP discovered an improvised explosive device that was consistent with the information given to investigators. The NSP Bomb Squad rendered the device safe.

Hamilton was arrested for possession of a destructive device and threatening to use explosives. He was lodged in Hitchcock County Jail.


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Governor signs bill to address cyberbullying in Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A measure aiming to curb cyberbullying was signed into law by Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts.

The bill approved Wednesday makes harassment or intimidation by electronic message a crime. Previous Nebraska law only applied to threatening phone calls. The misdemeanor offense is punishable by a maximum of three months in jail and a $500 fine.

Lawmakers say most intimidation now happens through digital technology, like text messages, email or online messages.

The bill will also make it illegal to own or use a card-scanning device to gain unauthorized credit or debit card information.

The measure received strong support and passed 48-0 on its final-round vote.


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13 Nebraska counties don't have primary care doctors

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new report says there are more doctors in Nebraska than there were 10 years ago, but 13 counties still don't have a primary care physician.

The Status of the Healthcare Workforce report issued Wednesday says data from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the state show the number of doctors has risen 11 percent.

The report says nearly a fifth of physicians in Nebraska are more than 60 years old and likely to retire in the near future. It also says 18 of 93 Nebraska counties have no pharmacist.

The report recommended more state support for programs and educational initiatives that provide incentives for health care professionals to practice in rural communities.


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Nebraska asks court for warrant to execute death-row inmate

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska state officials have requested an execution warrant for the state's longest-serving death-row inmate.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson asked the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to grant an execution warrant for Carey Dean Moore, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1979 shooting deaths of two Omaha cab drivers.

Nebraska hasn't executed an inmate since 1997, when inmate Robert Williams was electrocuted for killing three women. The state has since adopted a lethal injection protocol.

The court motion says Moore has no pending appeals or stays of execution in state or federal courts. Moore has had several execution dates set, most recently in 2007 and 2011, but courts have stayed them.

An execution warrant triggers a 60-day window for state officials to carry out the execution and allows them to set a date. It's not clear when or if the Supreme Court would issue it.

State officials notified Moore in January of the drugs they intend to use.


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MIP Party Busted Up by Furnas County Sheriff’s Office

On March 28, 2018 at approximately 10:58 pm the Furnas County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a noise complaint and a possible MIP party. The report was that this was occurring in the apartments on 10th Street Beaver City, Nebraska.

 
The Sheriff’s Office responded to the report and made contact with the individuals in the apartment. Upon arrival deputies observed minors drinking inside the apartment. Upon completion of an investigation several citations were issued. The citations issued included a 15 year old Beaver City male juvenile and Tyesha S. Johnson, 20, of Oxford, Nebraska for minor in possession of alcohol. Also cited was Tyeler B. Anderson, 21, of Beaver City, Nebraska for procuring alcohol to minors.
 
All parties cited were released. The juvenile was released to his mother.

 


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Damage done to the Furnas County Fairgrounds

On March 26, 2018 at approximately 11:27am the Furnas County Sheriff’s Officereceived a report of criminal mischief that occurred at the Furnas County Fairgrounds in Beaver City, Nebraska.

 

The Sheriff’s Office responded to the report and began an investigation. Upon arrival multiple tire track marks and acceleration marks were observed on the fairgrounds. A pickup had spun cookies by the north entrance as well as several places in the pit area of
the arena.
 
Information was received that an employee of Kauffman Trailers had done the damage and that it had been done by a red Chevy pickup. The pickup was located at Kauffman’s and examined. There was mud and grass on the pick and the tires that was consistent with the grass at the fairgrounds. The owner of the vehicle, Jonathon C. Speth, 21 of Beaver City, was contacted and interviewed. He admitted to tearing around at the
fairgrounds on Saturday night.
 
Speth was cited for criminal mischief, careless driving, driving under suspension and no proof of insurance. He is currently schedule to appear in Furnas County Court for arraignment on April 30, 2018 at 1:00 pm.


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Furnas County Sheriff’s Office Conducted a Traffic Stop

On March 28, 2018 at approximately 7:44 pm a deputy with the Furnas County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic stop on a blue Alero with no plates in the Tri Valley Clinic parking lot, Arapahoe, Nebraska.

The driver, a 16 year old juvenile of Edison, Nebraska, was the only occupant of the vehicle. An odor of marijuana was smelt coming from the vehicle. A probable cause search of the vehicle was conducted. A baggie containing less than one ounce of marijuana and a marijuana pipe was located in the vehicle.
The juvenile was cited for possession of marijuana less than one ounce and possession of drug paraphernalia. The juvenile was released to his guardian.


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