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Elizabeth Valla

Projects from YouTube UNO Journalism Site & Web Stories

Weather Impact

The last couple of months this winter have seen 60 degree weather which is quite unusual for this time of year.  Brian Smith, Weather Coordinating Meteorologist at the National Weather Service, says that the jet stream is different this year due to it being split up into two levels.  One level is above the Midwest and one level underneath,  leaving Nebraska with dry ground.  This means that if it doesn’t turn into winter soon, farmers will have problems planting this coming spring. 

However, the horticulturists say that our plants at home should be okay and that we shouldn’t fear them budding too early.  Although it has been warm out, it has not been consistent enough warmth to kill off our plants, according to local nursery owner Scott Farrington.

Elizabeth Valla


Hand sanitizer next to the ATM is a good sign flu season is upon us.  But there are things you can do to protect yourself.

"It's really 24-72 hours that you're gonna be sick on the average if you get it," said Donn Dierks, director of the Council Bluffs Public Health Department.  "You have to let it run its course and practice good hygiene, and stay home if you're sick.  That's what we suggest with that."

Washing your hands several times a day can help protect you from the influenza virus 

“(People) can carry the virus and spread it to other people before they have the full blown symptoms," said Kari Love, infection prevention nurse at Jennie Edmundson Hospital.  "So if you're starting to feel kind of yucky -- that’s why we tell people, 'When you're feeling bad, stay home,' because it can be spread very easily just by using the same computer as somebody else and those types of things.”

Everyone comes in contact with so many of the same things each day without even thinking about it.  That's why officials stress the importance of sanitizing.

Keeping common household products on hand such as disinfectant wipes and sanitizing pumps can help in the fight against the flu.

Red Lights

Red light cameras have been used in Council Bluffs for over six years catching drivers racing through red lights.  So what’s the debate? Critics say it’s an invasion of privacy with steep consequences; a $107.25 fine on your first offense but city leaders comeback saying it’s a matter of public safety.

Council Bluffs City Attorney Don Bauermeister says, “What the state code says on yellow lights, you shall stop and shall not proceed into the intersection.  Well, my experience in the Omaha metro area has been that’s not what most the drivers are doing on yellows, they’re actually like continuing about at their same pace or worse, they’re stepping on the gas.”

Traffic accidents have shown a 90% decrease since the cameras have been installed.  But if the bill is passed, the red light cameras would be outlawed by July 1, 2012.

The bill has moved out of the subcommittee in the state legislature, next it goes up for debate then a vote in the house.  Iowa State Representative Walt Rogers is heading the banning bill, saying it is unconstitutional and calling it an invasion of privacy.  In early 2009 Nebraska had ruled what Rogers is now fighting for in Iowa.


Members of the Iowa Supreme Court recently visited Council Bluffs as part of an outreach to educate the public about who they are and what they do for the state.  But what does neighboring Nebraska have to offer its citizens?

On March 8, justices David Wiggins and Thomas Waterman held a session on the campus of Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs.

“It’s important that the citizens of Iowa – we’ve been all around the state – understand what the courts do and have some knowledge of who the people who work in the court system are,” said Wiggins.

Wiggins and Waterman welcomed questions from students and the community.

“(I’ve) never been to something like this before, but I figure it’s going to be different and exciting.  Something new and fun to watch,” said Patrick Moore, human resource management student.

Iowa Western’s legal professor Cathy Tresek said it’s an irreplaceable learning experience.

“This is an opportunity for us who pay taxes to actually see how they do their job,” Tresek said.

So what does Nebraska's Supreme Court offer when it comes to educating the community?

“(Supreme Court justices) go out to twice a year to the public -- once at UNL College of Law and once at Creighton Law School.  They answer questions just like Iowa did,” said Janet Bancroft, Nebraska Supreme Court public information officer.

Nebraska’s high court makes the same efforts and will hold a free session at Creighton Law School on April 5.

To learn more about the Nebraska Supreme Court’s educational outreach, visit


The trees are budding and the grass is already turning green, it may be spring but it is only March.  Spring has only been here for a few days and we are already experiencing mid to upper eighty degree weather.  Last month at this time it was nearly half of that reaching merely the mid-forties. 

The young, old, and our four-legged friends are all out trying to soak up this surprising heat-wave…The only problem is the old saying: “If you don’t like the weather in the Midwest just wait five minutes.”

Student Voting

                With only 7 months till the election for the 45th President there are currently 46 million voters ranging from 18-29 years age which can make a huge difference this November.  But the real question is, will they?

In the 2008 election when President Obama was campaigning for “Change”, students wanted to be a part of this historic event.  But it seems as though that in his second time around he may have lost his appeal under the excitement title.  But what experts want students to know is that voting should not be a “fad” or the latest “trend” to follow but rather a way to get your voice heard on issues you care about.      
With millions of young Americans eligible to vote this year, politicians are trying every trick imaginable to draw votes but ultimately the young voters will have to decide what’s most important for themselves and whether or not they think their vote will count.