Gov. Ricketts Working on Ideas to Lower Property Taxes

taxesLINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts says his administration is working on ideas to lower property taxes in preparation for next year’s legislative session.

Ricketts said Tuesday that he continues to hear more about property taxes from constituents than any other issue. He says his staff is talking to various state senators and groups in advance of the session that begins in January.

The governor’s comments came after he held a series of town hall meetings throughout the state to hear from residents.

Nebraska lawmakers launched a review last week of school funding and its impact on local property taxes, an issue that has divided the Legislature in the past.

McDonald’s Will Launch All Day Breakfast on Oct. 6

mcdonaldsNEW YORK (AP) — If you’re one of those people who hates missing the end of breakfast hours at McDonald’s, hang on just a little longer: the chain says its breakfast menu will be available all day starting Oct. 6.

Items like Egg McMuffins, hotcakes, sausage burritos, fruit ‘n yogurt parfaits, hash browns and biscuits will be available anytime, although the exact menu will vary in different markets.

The company said core items like the Big Mac, McNuggets and fries won’t change. Other items may change on a regional basis depending on what customers like.

The Oak Brook, Illinois-based company has been testing an all-day breakfast menu in San Diego for months. It has been looking for a way to boost its slumping sales.

Nebraska Auditor’s Company Still Holds State Contracts

State Auditor Charlie Janssen

State Auditor Charlie Janssen

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska State Auditor Charlie Janssen said he’s only involved at “arm’s length” with his company that continues to receive money for contracts with the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Janssen said the company, RTG Medical, has been in a blind trust since his election and that two minority partners handle its day-to-day operations.

The state has paid his company more than $266,000 to provide temporary medical workers at the Beatrice State Development Center since Janssen was sworn into office on Jan. 8.

According to the company’s website, the business serves facilities in all 50 states. Concerns about its contracts with Nebraska arose while Janssen was campaigning for the auditor job.

Nebraska State Fair Reports Increase in Attendance

nebraska-state-fair-2015The Nebraska State Fair has seen a nearly 21% increase in attendance after the first four days of the Nebraska State Fair which began last Friday.

According to Joseph McDermott, executive director of the Nebraska State Fair, “A year ago at this time, we had welcomed just over 100,000 fairgoers and this year our attendance stands at 120,791 or an increase of 20.67%.  (Daily data included in email)

“The increase, according to McDermott, is at least partially attributable to the Keith Urban Concert on Saturday.  A total of 11,780 tickets were sold to the concert with ticket sales in 28 states and three foreign countries.” (Concert data included in email)

In the eastern metropolitan areas, the Omaha metro accounted for 1,088 concertgoers while Lincoln’s contributed 734.  The tri-cities of Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney contributed 3,564.

Ed Kruse, Nebraska State Fair Board Chair said, “With the marked increase in attendance we are staying on track with keeping all of our fairgoers happy.  Each year we survey our fair guests and use the data to adjust what we do to enhance the fairgoer experience.”

“As an example, those taking the survey gave us a 4.5 out of five points for family friendliness, and 4.5 out of 5 points saying this year’s fair is even better than 2014,” Kruse said adding, “These numbers have remained consistent since Grand Island became the home of the fair in 2010.”

“The number we keep a close eye on is the likelihood of those who have attended the fair to enthusiastically refer the Nebraska State Fair to friends and neighbors.  Right now, 88% of fair attendees are likely or very likely to refer the Nebraska State Fair to others and we are very excited about that,” Kruse said.

The remaining concert lineup at the Nebraska State Fair features Tony Orlando tomorrow for Older Nebraskan’s Day with concerts at 11am and 3pm.  Thursday, it’s NewsBoys, Friday, Huey Lewis and the News, Saturday, Terry Fator and on Sunday, it’s Jake Owen.  All concerts begin at 7:30pm with tickets available at Etix.com.

The Nebraska State Fair is going on now through Monday, September 7 in Grand Island.

Kansas Point Campground at Lake Maloney Closing for Electrical Upgrade

Google Maps

Google Maps

Starting Sept. 10 Kansas Point Campground at Lake Maloney State Recreation Area (SRA) will be closed to update the electrical units at each campsite.

The original electrical units were installed for the 56-pad campground in 1983 and are in need of updating to provide uninterrupted service to campers.

Rod Shimmer, Park Superintendent at Lake Maloney SRA is requesting that all campers and tents be removed from Kansas Point by 4 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2015. There will be no access to the campground until the updates are finished, which should take two to three-weeks.

The campground will re-open after the new electrical updates are completed.

Kansas Point sees over 35,000 visitors per year that camp, fish and boat at the SRA. Lake Maloney SRA is located just south of North Platte on HWY 83.

Mauk Resigning as NP Chamber and Development CEO; Search for Replacement Underway

NP Chamber and Development CEO Dan Mauk shakes hands with Board President Ty Lucas during a news conference Tuesday.  Mauk announced that he will be leaving his post when a suitable replacement is found.

NP Chamber and Development CEO Dan Mauk shakes hands with Board Chair Ty Lucas during a news conference Tuesday. Mauk announced that he will be leaving his post when a suitable replacement is found.

With heartfelt gratitude, the Board of Directors of the North Platte Area Chamber of Commerce and Development Corporation announced today the launch of a search for a new CEO.

Dan Mauk, current CEO of the Organization, has informed the Board of his plans to step down.

Mauk plans to move to Eastern Nebraska to be closer to family and seek another challenging position. Mauk will continue as the CEO of the Chamber/Devco until a replacement is selected and the transition is completed. Mauk will also assist in the search process for a new CEO. He plans to depart in early 2016.

Mauk has shown tremendous dedication to North Platte during his tenure at the Chamber/Devco and has worked with the Board to establish a transition strategy to maximize the continuation of Economic Development Efforts and Chamber Member Services. He and his wife Linda have been an active part of the North Platte community.

Mauk holds positions on the Nebraska State Chamber Board, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce Executives,the Golden Spike Tower and North Platte Housing Authority Boards, and is a member of the North Platte Noon Rotary Club.

The Chamber/Devco was reorganized on April 1, 2008, when the North Platte Area Chamber of Commerce and the Development Corporation of North Platte (DEVCO) were merged. Mauk was hired in 2009 as the first CEO of the merged organization. Dan has worked to successfully implement the intentions of the merger.

During Mauk’s tenure, Chamber/Devco has provided direct assistance to projects that total more than $65 Million in investment. North Platte and Lincoln County saw strong economic growth despite a serious national recession. Mauk led the Chamber/Devco’s support of the Greenbrier Rail Services that brought several dozen new jobs to Hershey, NE along with more than $23 million in new investment. The most recent Chamber/DEVCO project was the successful partnership with the City of North Platte on the “Shot in the Arm” housing program. The program provided an incentive for builders to develop new workforce housing for the community. To date, six duplexes and 35 new single family homes have been approved for construction. The Chamber/Devco continues to progress the development of the Industrial Park, as evidenced by new Fed-Ex project.

Chamber/Devco Board Chair, Ty Lucas, stated “Due to Dan’s aspirations for a successful transition, he provided us with ample lead time and a devoted willingness to orient his successor.  Dan’s commitment to a smooth transition is crucial to ensuring that Staffing, Economic Development and Member Services continue without interruption. Dan’s leadership was a key factor in the implementation of the merger and creation of the bright outlook for this organization. The Board believes this transition will provide the next CEO a unique opportunity to continue the mission of increased economic develop efforts while serving local business members. The Board of Directors sincerely thanks Dan Mauk for his service to North Platte and his commitment to a fluid transition.”

Potential candidates for the CEO position can find job details at the Chamber website at www .nparea.com.

Ricketts: Wait for Validation of Death Penalty Signatures

signing-petitionLINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts says his administration is still pursuing lethal injection drugs for executions but will not decide how to proceed until state officials verify the signatures on a petition to keep capital punishment legal.

Ricketts said Tuesday that he first wants to ensure that Nebraskans for the Death Penalty has collected enough valid voter signatures to prevent the law from being repealed.

Nebraska lawmakers voted in May to abolish the death penalty, overriding the governor’s veto. Death penalty supporters responded with the petition drive that sought to halt the repeal before it went into effect and place the issue before voters in 2016.

The group announced last week that it had collected nearly 167,000 signatures. At least 113,883 valid signatures are needed to suspend the repeal.

Ricketts Unveils State Webpage to Show Nebraska’s Rankings

Pete Ricketts

Pete Ricketts

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Gov. Pete Ricketts has unveiled a new way to track the performance of Nebraska’s economy, education, public safety, health and welfare.

Ricketts announced Tuesday that the state will list various rankings on a public website to show Nebraska’s strengths and areas that need improvement.

Ricketts, a former TD Ameritrade executive, says the new tool is part of his push to apply business principles to state government. The governor says data on the page will be tracked and updated regularly to show trends.

The page ranks Nebraska among the top 10 states for its low unemployment, high labor force participation and high school graduation rates, but low when it comes to employment growth and average annual wages.

The webpage is http://governor.nebraska.gov/statistics .

 

Attorneys to Argue Scope of New Obama Administration Water Rules

waterBISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge in North Dakota is giving attorneys until Tuesday night to file briefs arguing the scope of his injunction blocking a new Obama administration water rule.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson last week issued a temporary injunction requested by North Dakota and 12 other states to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from regulating some small waterways under the Clean Water Act.

The EPA says the injunction applied only to the 13 states that filed the lawsuit. Attorneys for the 13 states say the judge’s ruling has “nationwide scope.”

The states say the regulation is an overreach by the federal government. The federal agencies say the rule clarifies the law and actually makes it easier for the states to manage some waterways.

Study: Pot More a Habit for College Students Than Cigarettes

marijuana-jointUniversity of Michigan researchers say more U.S. college students are making a habit of using marijuana.

A study released Tuesday found that pot supplanted cigarettes last year as the smoke-able substance of choice among full-time undergraduates who light up regularly.

Just under 6 percent of full-time students surveyed for the annual “Monitoring the Future” study reported using marijuana at least 20 times in the previous 30 days, a frequency the researchers said made them daily or near-daily users.

By contrast, 5 percent of respondents indicated they smoked cigarettes that often.

Lead investigator Lloyd Johnston says 2014 marked the first time the study found that pot was consumed more routinely than cigarettes in the three-and-a-half decades that the university’s Institute for Social Research has surveyed a nationally representative sample of college students.