Value of Nebraska Farmland Soars 25 Percent

farmlandA new report says the value of Nebraska’s farmland soared 25 percent last year despite the drought, but experts think values may level off this year.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Bruce Johnson estimates that the average value of land in the state grew to $3,040 between Feb., 2012 and this February.

Johnson says many people believe the market for agricultural land may have topped out.

But the survey suggested that cash rents for farmland in 2013 were still higher. Rental rates for irrigated land are 13 to 15 percent higher. Dryland rental rates were up 8 percent in eastern Nebraska and about 5 percent in the rest of the state.

ACLU Warns Dawson County of Understaffed Public Defender’s Office

ACLUA Nebraska civil rights organization is warning a western Nebraska county that its public defender’s office is woefully understaffed, to the point of violating state and federal constitutions.

The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says Dawson County had only a part-time public defender with a part-time deputy to handle more than 250 cases last year.

The ACLU says the standard is no more than 150 felonies per full-time public defender each year.

The group sent a letter Thursday to the Dawson County Board of Commissioners, saying the public defender’s office must be better staffed, or the ACLU could sue.

Dawson County Commissioner Butch Hagan said Thursday he had not seen the letter and that the board will soon be voting on staffing for the public defender’s office.

Police Capture Fugitive that Caused Three Lincoln Schools to Be Locked Down

Chadrick Fitzgerald

Chadrick Fitzgerald

Officers have captured a 30-year-old man after searches that caused three Lincoln schools to be locked down.

Chadrick Fitzgerald was found in a storage closet at an apartment complex on Thursday. He’d been spotted walking out of the apartment building that morning but fled as Metro Area Fugitive Task Force officers approached.

Officials locked down Northeast High, North Star High School and Pershing Elementary schools on Thursday afternoon as officers searched for Fitzgerald after he’d run from them at another apartment complex.

Authorities say Fitzgerald is wanted on a federal warrant and also is suspected of shooting at his Lincoln girlfriend on Wednesday. She was not injured.

Online court records don’t list the name of his attorney.