- Associated Press - Monday, November 18, 2019

Omaha World Herald. Nov 15, 2019

Dog-training program offers worthwhile rehabilitation opportunities for inmates

A program called Second Chance Pups, now in its 15th year in partnership with the Nebraska State Penitentiary, is beneficial for humans and canines alike.

It’s a terrific idea: Inmates selected for the program train dogs that have been taken in by animal shelters and rescue facilities. The canines are vaccinated, groomed, spayed or neutered and micro-chipped. Once the training is completed, the dogs are adopted out. The program recently completed its 50th rotation of dogs.

So far, Second Chance Pups has enabled adoption of more than 450 dogs, and some 350 inmates have helped the creatures.

Anyone who has worked with animals understands how they have the potential to draw out one’s best self. “I like the fact that we can save five or six dogs every few months,” said Robert Dunkin, who has taken part in the program for two years. “Having a dog to wake up to really makes a difference in my mood and has changed my life. It’s well worth it.”

Scott Frakes, director of the Department of Correctional Services, is right that the effect can be “transformational” for participants in the most positive sense. This creative approach to rehabilitation is well deserving of the public’s salute.


The Grand Island Independent. Nov. 15, 2019

State plan for memorials balances tribute, safety

When a tragedy happens on a state highway, there typically are many people who are stricken with grief and struggling for a way to remember their loved one. Many also ask what they can do to prevent this from happening to another family.

A new roadside memorial policy from the Nebraska Department of Transportation may have caused some concern among families who want to memorialize a loved one who died in a traffic crash. But families should see this as a way to ensure that they have a way to do just that while ensuring they do not pose hazards to people driving on state highways.

The state has started a process for families to apply for a memorial that will be created by the state and placed as close to the scene of the crash as possible. Immediate family members can now apply for a NDOT-produced sign to be erected in a requested location in the state right of way as a memorial for two years after installation.

“We want to recognize grieving families while balancing our responsibility of increasing safety on Nebraska’s highway system,” said Kyle Schneweis, the state’s transportation department director.

Each memorial sign will include a safety message chosen by the family from five available options: “Please Drive Safely”; “Seat Belts Save Lives”; “Don’t Drink and Drive”; ”Don’t Text and Drive”; “Don’t Drive Impaired” and will also display the name of the individual being memorialized.

The department has emphasized that it will continue to work with family members who currently have private memorials on the state highway system. Those families are encouraged to contact their local NDOT office to discuss the memorial and get information regarding installation of a new memorial sign.

There is a $50 charge to cover cost of making the memorial. The application and information about the memorials can be found online at dot.nebraska.gov/safety/. Applications can be completed electronically or printed and filed with the Nebraska Department of Transportation, Communications and Public Policy Division.

It’s understandable that memorials created by individual families in the past could have created safety hazards. This new process will ensure that they can be placed safely and help grieving families memorialize their loved ones.


Lincoln Journal Star. Nov. 14, 2019

Success on field, court will take time, patience

Five, maybe 10, years from now, we might all be smiling about that momentary bit of hyperbolic behavior in autumn 2019.

Almost two seasons into the Scott Frost era and two games into Fred Hoiberg’s reign, a certain segment of the fan base is growing restless with the up-and-down football program and a slow-starting men’s basketball team.

Husker fans in all sports are invested - emotionally and financially. We see the passion in our Journal Star and Husker Extra commenting forums. Fans have earned the right to question a play call, a strategy or a personnel decision. However, fan reaction - and overreaction - contributes to the sports culture, which feeds into success or failure.

Armchair quarterbacking is part of the game, but premature calls for a coach’s head don’t help our fans’ investment.

We might someday look to this November with great pride because we collectively took a deep breath and realized that rebuilding football and basketball programs would not happen overnight.

Someday, we might smile brightly with the knowledge that the time granted to rebuild was provided and repaid tenfold.

Of course, that’s a perfect-world scenario. There are no guarantees. If a return to glory in football is meant to be, it will take time. Same thing for basketball. We knew that and were warned that patience would be required to see it through.

Patience is simple in theory and harder to practice. It requires understanding, restraint and trust. At times, it’s bite-your-tongue painful. It’ll test one’s faith and resolve. But remember that it was promised without condition and without an expiration date.

Husker Athletic Director Bill Moos shot for the moon and hired two of the hottest coaching prospects on the market to fill these marquee positions. These rebuilds might take five years. They might take 10. They may never happen. It’s too early to tell, but, in the moment, most fans rejoiced in Moos’ picks.

Frost has spent his first 23 months - and 21 games - trying to get the right people on board. That should tell you the state of the program he inherited and level of neglect that had built over the last decade.

Hoiberg was hired last spring with the same kind of fanfare – and the same kind of heavy lifting in rebooting a program that has just one NCAA tournament appearance in the last 21 years. In fact, Nebraska is the only power-conference school never to win in the NCAA tourney.

This season, Hoiberg is starting from scratch with a virtually new roster, and it’s shown in the first two games – losses to unheralded UC-Riverside and Southern Utah.

This portends to be a long season for the Huskers on the hardwood. And that shouldn’t be unexpected. Anyone who thought Hoiberg’s resume alone would be enough to turn around that program hasn’t been paying attention.

It takes time. It takes patience. And it takes the right blend of talent.

No one ever said the move to the Big Ten Conference was going to be easy.

It’s been 20 years, back in the glory days of the Big 12 Conference, since the Huskers last won a conference championship in football and the last month has shown that they are nowhere close to competing for a Big Ten crown.

But there’s still something for which to play. Two wins in the final three weeks of the season – Wisconsin, at Maryland and the annual Black Friday tussle with Iowa – will make the Huskers bowl eligible for the first time under Frost.

That would be a small step forward – a reward for patience showed.


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