Heavy snowfall in north Nebraska, northwest Iowa
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A wintry storm that heaped snow on the Rockies has pushed east into northern Nebraska and northwest Iowa.
The National Weather Service said Wednesday that 10.5 inches of snow has been recorded over 18 hours in Valentine, which sits near the South Dakota state line in northwest Nebraska. To the east in Boyd County, 5.4 inches was recorded in Butte.
The National Weather Service says the snow is moving slowly out of the area, but the cold remains. Wind chills of minus 20 were experienced near Rushville and Gordon in the Nebraska Panhandle.
NWS meteorologist Todd Heitkamp says 4 to 6 inches of snow has fallen in northwest Iowa. Further south in Iowa, freezing drizzle forced delayed starts for schools in Treynor, Woodbine and Underwood.
OMAHA UTILITY RATES
Omaha residents to pay more for water, natural gas
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Omaha area residents will pay more for water and natural gas service next year.
The Metropolitan Utilities District board voted Wednesday to increase its rates starting in January.
Utility officials estimate that the average residential customer will pay about $2.49 more per month for natural gas and water service.
MUD Chief Financial Officer Debra Schneider says the rate increases should generate $7.6 million for the utility.
That money will cover additional personnel costs and help the utility build up its cash reserves.
Officials say water rates will go up 5.5 percent and natural gas rates will increase 2.4 percent in January.
Neb. utility says idle nuke plant ready to restart
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska utility that owns a nuclear power plant that has been idle since April 2011 says the troubled plant is now ready to restart, but federal regulators will make the final decision.
The Omaha Public Power District submitted a 139-page report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission this week making the case that the Fort Calhoun plant is ready.
An NRC spokeswoman says regulators are still reviewing the latest repairs.
Lou Cortopassi manages the nuclear plant 20 miles north of Omaha that sits across the Missouri River from Iowa. He says OPPD addressed Fort Calhoun's problems, and it is ready to operate safely.
Fort Calhoun initially shut down for routine maintenance, but significant flooding in 2011, a small fire and a series of safety violations forced it to remain closed.
New slaughterhouse opening in northwest Nebraska
GORDON, Neb. (AP) - New owners are opening a new slaughterhouse operation inside a former kosher beef slaughterhouse in northwest Nebraska.
The Scottsbluff Star-Herald says Open Range Beef is launching its operation at the former Local Pride plant in Gordon.
The Local Pride operation closed because of legal and financial problems tied to its sister facility in eastern Iowa. Shortly after an immigration raid at the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, the Gordon plant closed in September 2008. Agriprocessors, which owned both plants, declared bankruptcy. Sholom Rubashkin, a top executive at the Iowa plant, was sentenced to 27 years for financial fraud.
The city of Gordon acquired the Nebraska plant and in June sold it to Open Range Beef, a company registered in Bellevue.
Democrat Hassebrook promises bipartisan focus
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - With a clear path to the Democratic nomination for governor, Chuck Hassebrook is promising an agenda intended to draw support from voters in both parties.
The former University of Nebraska regent says he would focus on education funding, job-training programs and wind energy if he wins the 2014 race.
He also promises to create public-private partnerships to encourage small business growth, but disputes the notion that tax cuts would help with their development.
Hassebrook became the party's presumptive nominee after state Sen. Annette Dubas withdrew from the race. He will face the winner of a five-way Republican primary. The candidates are vying to replace Republican Governor Dave Heineman, who is term limited.
Hassebrook has visited 80 Nebraska counties since June, when he formally entered the race.
Nebraska Treasurer Stenberg to seek re-election
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg says he plans to seek re-election in 2014.
The Republican treasurer announced his decision in a statement Wednesday. Stenberg said in October that he was leaning toward seeking a second term, but left open the possibility that he might for governor.
Stenberg says he wants to continue his work in improving transparency in state spending and promoting financial literacy among youth. The State Treasurer's office oversees a variety of programs, from the state's unclaimed property division to the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust.
Stenberg was elected treasurer in 2010. He previously served as Nebraska's attorney general, and has run for U.S. Senate four times since 1996.
Neb. man sentenced in online solicitation case
BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) - A Fremont man convicted of trying to meet a fictional 15-year-old girl for sex has been sentenced to probation and must register as a sex offender.
The Beatrice Daily Sun reports 43-year-old Mark Avis was sentenced Wednesday in Gage County District Court to 36 months of probation. As part of a plea deal, several charges were dropped and Avis pleaded no contest to a felony charge of enticing a child by electronic means.
The Beatrice Police Department says Avis answered an online ad that an undercover officer posted on Craigslist. The officer told Avis he was a woman who was prostituting her 15-year-old daughter.
Avis was arrested in February when he showed up at an arranged location.
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