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Prison mistakes cause millions in losses for the state

Nebraska prison officials say the errors made in calculating sentences for hundreds of inmates will cost the state at least $4 million, but at least one lawmaker says the cost is likely to be higher. The state Department of Correctional Services released a preliminary cost estimate on Friday.
The miscalculated sentences of nearly 600 people were discovered earlier this month after it was reported that the state was using a flawed formula in cases involving mandatory minimum sentences. Officials estimate that correcting the sentences will cost the state about $4 million over the next decade and as much as $10 million through 2064. But Omaha state Sen. Heath Mello, who leads the Appropriations Committee, says he thinks officials are understating the costs.

Hall County Jail becomes first agency to not honor immigration detentions

Fear of being sued has led Hall County's jail to become Nebraska's first law enforcement agency to stop honoring federal "immigration detentions." Other Nebraska counties may follow suit, thanks in part to efforts by civil rights organizations. The 48-hour immigration detainers are issued to local law enforcement by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. They ask that immigrants who have been arrested be held for two days after they would normally be released to give federal officials time to initiate an investigation and take the person into custody for deportation, if necessary.
The practice is under scrutiny, and several agencies around the country have stopped complying with the requests. Hall County jail director Fred Ruiz said the move followed consultation with attorneys for the county and its insurance carrier.

Johanns confronts EPA

Senator Johanns joined other Republican senators in confronting EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, arguing against expansion of the Clean Water Act which could lead to the regulation of ponds and streams on farms. Johanns says Republicans expressed frustration with what he calls a long list of regulatory burdens against agriculture. Johanns says a proposed expansion of the Clean Water Act could cost farmers in both permit fees and fines.

Keystone protesters begin walk across country

Protesters who support climate change legislation and who oppose the Keystone X-L pipeline project are marching across the country today. A group of protesters led by BOLD Nebraska will march to the state capital in Lincoln. BOLD's Jane Kleeb says they're delivering one-thousand petition signatures which ask the governor to disclose the contents of oil trains and oil pipelines. Kleeb says while opposition to Trans Canada's X-L pipeline project is growing, she doesn't expect a decision from President Obama on the project anytime soon. Kleeb says the Nebraska Supreme Court on September 5th will hear a case involving a state law that allowed the routing of the Keystone XL project through Nebraska.

Fires continue to break out in Central Nebraska

Gibbon officials say damage from the fire that destroyed several vehicle and a city shop building wasn't as bad as feared, but still will slow routine maintenance and other projects this summer. The city lost four pickups and a street sweeper in Tuesday's blaze. City Administrator Chris Rector says it likely will be months before all the vehicles and tools are replaced. A wire in the engine compartment in one of the city pickups is the suspected cause.

A fire broke out yesterday afternoon at the Sutton Bus Barn. Officials say the fire broke out around 2PM, and was under control an hour later. There were no injuries in the blaze however, two buses and the building are a total loss and the damage is estimated to be at least 500 thousand dollars.

Perkins opens in Hastings

The Perkins family restaurant has now opened there doors for customers. Nick Rayfelt the VP for Cyhawk hospitality says this restaurant is one that not only the community wanted but he believes was needed in the Hastings community. Rayfelt says this opening will provide a good boost to the local economy. The Hastings location adds to the 10 Perkins restaurants in the state of Nebraska.

Gibbon City Maintenance Building a total loss after fire

The city maintenance building in Gibbon is a total loss after a fire started in a pickup and spread. City Administrator Chris Rector in the city of 1,800 people says the building was reported in flames at 9:20 p.m. Tuesday. The fire was extinguished about four hours later. A wire in the engine compartment in one of the city pickups is the suspected cause. Rector says four pickups, a street sweeper, and the city's front end loader was a total loss. A road grader and a dump truck also have extensive damage and could also be totaled. Rector said the building is also likely a total loss. He estimates damage from $400,000 to $500,000.

Lawmaker's face a general fund shortfall

Nebraska lawmakers may have to add money to the state's general fund when they convene next year. A legislative report says the state faces a projected shortfall of nearly $4.6 million for the new budget year that began this month. Despite the estimate, state officials say Nebraska's overall finances are in good shape. The state is expected to see a record-high cash reserve of $707.8 million.

Fire in Hastings, quick thinking neighbor helps kids

Quick thinking by a neighbor Wednesday afternoon alerted two children that their house was on fire. Denise Kamper says that her neighbor then called 911. Hastings Fire and Rescue was able to put out the fire in the attached garage at 38 Sara Dr., but not before it started to spread.  Fire Chief Kent Gilbert said that even though the house didn't burn too badly, there is damage. Chief Gilbert said it was up to the five members of the Kamper family and the American Red Cross to determine if they were going to say in the house Wednesday night.

Wreck near St. Paul leaves one dead, one in hospital

Authorities say they're investigating a wreck that killed a 21-year-old Nebraska man. The Howard County Sheriff's Office says Derek Holt from St. Paul died Sunday night after his vehicle was hit by another automobile traveling in the opposite direction. The wreck occurred on Nebraska Highway 92, about two miles west of St. Paul. Holt was pronounced dead at a hospital. The other driver was 29-year-old Justin Arrowsmith of Omaha. He was taken to one hospital and then transferred to another.

Nebraska NRC prepares projects for long-term water preservation

Nebraska's Natural Resources Commission is laying the groundwork for projects intended to preserve the state's long-term water supply. The commission received $21 million this month as part of a new state water sustainability law, and is expected to collect $10 million to $11 million annually for water management and flood-control projects. The state money will pay for projects related to water management and qualify, flood control, and compliance with interstate water compacts. The law was passed in the midst of recent drought years and legal fights with Kansas over access to the Republican River, which runs through southern Nebraska.

Crews work to get fire in Clay County under control

Multiple fire crews are working to control a massive fire in Clay County that broke out late last night. Firecrews are still on scene from 8 different departments at Oregon Trail Equipment, just east of Fairfield. Darren Clarke with the Hastings Fire Department says both the Hastings Fire Department and reserves are providing mutual aid. Investigators with the State Fire Marshal's office are on scene looking into the cause of the fire.

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