- Associated Press - Monday, June 25, 2018

Omaha World Herald. June 22, 2018

Lake Flanagan opens up new recreational opportunities for Omaha

A growing, ambitious city like Omaha benefits from community amenities such as parks and lakes. An impressive addition to Omaha’s civic assets along that line opens Wednesday: Lake Flanagan.

The 220-acre lake and 430 acres of parkland, near 168th and Fort Streets - named after Father Edward Flanagan, founder of Boys Town - will give a tremendous boost to recreational opportunities, including walking trails, cycling and fishing.

Its central purpose is flood control. Omaha has vast expanses of pavement and development, and studies show the need for flood preventive measures. The $44 million project is the largest undertaken by the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District. With the dedication, Omaha city government will take over the maintenance. This project is a significant step forward for Omaha’s quality of life.



_______

The Grand Island Independent. June 21, 2018.

Stadium to become jewel of Grand Island

With the considerable help of alumnus Lanny Martin, Grand Island Public Schools is expanding its renovation project at Memorial Stadium with a total budget of $17 million.

Martin has doubled his original pledge to $10 million toward the project. After the addition of $1.25 million from GIPS building funds for track resurfacing, field turf and architectural fees and $750,000 from the district’s Qualified Capital Purpose Undertaking Funds levy, there is $5 million left to be raised in a fundraising campaign led by the GIPS Foundation.

This is a huge project that will result in the school district having one of the best outdoor stadiums in the state. It will include a two-tier press box, additional locker rooms and restrooms, a multipurpose room, a new and larger concession area and a ramp to provide handicapped-accessible seating.

It has been more than 70 years since Memorial Stadium was built and now, with Martin’s generous gift, the district will be able to renovate it into a state-of-the-art facility that will be an asset to the community for decades to come.

The stadium will continue to be named Memorial Stadium, but the field will be named after Martin’s father, Jack.

The district’s goal is to have design pieces and drawings in place in order to seek proposals by the end of the year. The work would start this winter so that the full project could be completed by the fall of 2020.

Even with $12 million already allocated to the project, this is a big capital campaign that will take some time to complete. But the GIPS Foundation has set up a three-year pledge system so that donors can give to the project over time. A website, gimemorialstadium.org, has been set up to provide details about the project and anyone interested in contributing to the project can set up a donation online or call the foundation office.

As the school district continues to complete the seven building projects authorized by the bond issue voters passed in 2014, it is ideal that it will be able to carry out the stadium renovation without a bond issue. All but $2 million will come from private donations and the rest is already budgeted by the district.

Athletics is an important part of high school education, but it is clear that Grand Island Public Schools put the priority on academics with the bond issue and now it is seeking private support to add all the modern amenities that are needed at its high school stadium.

We urge the community to embrace this project and help the district complete it in any way possible.

___

Scottsbluff Star-Herald. June 22, 2018

Three affordable places to call home

If you are looking for an affordable place to call home in Nebraska, the west side of our great state offers some great potential.

Three western Nebraska cities are in the top 10 of the most affordable places to live in the state, according to SmartAsset. One of our communities comes in at top of the list.

Taking into account more than just the price you and the seller agree on, SmartAsset looked at closing cost, real estate taxes, homeowners insurance and mortgage rates in their analysis. They found the total cost for each over the last five years for every county in the country and every city with a population over 5,000 people.

Coming in at No. 10, established in 1887 in the shadow of Scotts Bluff National Monument is Gering. The city on the Old Oregon Trail has an estimated population of 8,319 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those residents, there are 3,235 households with a 71.7 percent of those owned by the people living in them.

The median value of the houses in Gering is $118,700.

If you live in Gering it will take, on average, 15.1 minutes to get from your home to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Coming in at 10th in the surve,y Gering residents’ average annual median income is $52,609. Average closing cost on a home is $2,300, annual homeowners insurance is $1,199. The average annual mortgage payment is $5,503 and the annual average property tax comes in at $2,139. Putting the numbers together, SmartAsset gives Gering an affordability index of 39.14.

The cities of Papillion (ninth) and York (eighth) slip in the top 10 below our next western Nebraska town.

Traveling to the southeast, we find the seventh-place city of Sidney.

Sidney has gotten a bad rap recently with the sale of Cabela’s to Bass Pro Shop. The sale resulted in the closing of the Cabela’s headquarters, the loss of a number of high paying jobs and a number of people moving out of Sidney. However, the cozy community of about 6,620 people along I-80 is still a great place to call home.

There are 3,146 households in Sidney, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The median value of a home in town is $125,700, with 67 percent of the homes owned by the people living in them.

If you live in Sidney it will take, on average, 9.9 minutes to get from your home to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The seventh place city’s residents have a median income of $57,609. Average closing costs on a home is $2,333, annual homeowners insurance is $1,270. The average annual mortgage payment is $5,828 and the annual average property tax comes in at $2,438. Putting the numbers together SmartAsset gives Sidney an affordability index of 40.02.

Five other cities find themselves in the top 10 before our next, top ranking western Nebraska oasis. In sixth place is South Sioux City, Chalco (fifth), McCook (fourth), Schuyler (third) and Lexington coming in at No. 2.

Then we come to the top ranked, the most affordable place to live in all Nebraska, according to SmartAsset. To get there we travel north from our number seven city 79 miles to find the beautiful Nebraska city of Alliance.

With an estimated population of 8,491 people, Alliance has 3,591 households of which 65.6 percent are owned by the people living in those homes. The median home value comes in at $95,400, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

If you live in Alliance it will take, on average, 9.2 minutes to get from your home to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The people living in SmartAsset’s top city have a median income of $52,609. When you buy a home your average closing costs will be $2,518 and your annual homeowners insurance will run you about $964. You will pay, on average, an annual mortgage payment of $4,423 and dish out $1,734 on average for your annual property tax bill. Putting the numbers together Alliance’s affordability index comes in at 48.66.

There are some great places to call home out west; these are only three of the many.

______

Lincoln Journal Star. June 24, 2018

When will state stop fighting losing battle on execution?

For months, Journal Star editorials have repeatedly blasted state officials for the culture of secrecy surrounding Nebraska’s hastily drawn execution protocol.

A judge’s ruling Monday in a lawsuit initiated by the Journal Star and others affirmed that the majority of the documents sought by journalists and advocacy groups were, in fact, public records that should be released.

Once again, though, the state has said it will appeal the decision to the Nebraska Supreme Court. At what point will this costly charade end?

Whether it’s this latest appeal or Attorney General Doug Peterson suing almost a third of the Nebraska Legislature over its subpoena of Corrections Director Scott Frakes, the state is waging a war against the public release of information to its citizens - the very same people who reauthorized the state to perform lethal injections two years ago.

That vote, though, did not give Nebraska carte blanche to kill the men on its death row in violation of the law.

Nebraska taxpayers remain on the hook for seemingly interminable legal fees to defend a policy whose shoddy implementation and tired excuses have been just the latest embarrassment for this state in its never-ending quest to execute 12 convicted killers.

The editorial board’s opposition to the death penalty is no secret. But this fight, the subject of many opinions in this newspaper, now focuses squarely on accountability and transparency, not the state’s ability to accomplish capital punishment.

Nebraska’s high-profile humiliation with Harris Pharmaceuticals, the shadow broker from India who disappeared after cashing a $55,000 check from the state as the execution drugs were snagged by federal agents at the border, should have cooled the state’s jets.

Instead, the state has doubled down.

Denying multiple public records requests a judge has ruled should have been honored. Refusing to disclose where the death penalty drugs were purchased or how they were tested. Writing a single draft of the execution protocol without external input where no paper trail exists.

These are not the actions of an entity that has learned from experience as it pursues its first execution since 1997.

Nebraska has already demonstrated its willingness to break the law to perform an execution. They’ve yet to prove this hurried process has been performed in accordance with the law, erecting a constant supply of roadblocks at taxpayer expense.

A looming expiration date on Nebraska’s supply of one of the four execution drugs isn’t sufficient grounds to rumble ahead at warp speed. Instead of hastily completing a lethal injection, the state must provide evidence it has followed the letter of the law before it’s permitted to do so.

Even though this week’s verdict was a victory for transparency, progress will be slow, at best, as long the state remains as intransigent and entrenched as ever - cost be damned - to hold its line on this unwarranted secrecy for the death penalty.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide