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The Omaha News Page

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Election Coverage from The Omaha News Team

Behlen Observatory, by Sam Petto

OMAHA- Cars pull into the Behlen Observatory- just outside of Mead- for a chance to see the stars close up.

The event is one of a handful of open houses during the fall that opens its telescopes up to the public. This particular night features a speech from Dr. M. Eugene Rudd, a man who was at the dedication of the Observatory over 30 years ago.

“All these objects moving in the sky and people have wondered for centuries how the move, how large they are, where they go, and so on,” says Rudd, explaining people’s interest in astronomy.

Though crowded corridors come with the tight fit territory, Observatory Director Dr. Ed Schmidt says it’s a sacrifice most people are willing to make.

“Well I think everybody is curious about the universe,” says Schmidt, “curious about where we fit into the universe. Everybody likes to look through the telescope because it’s beautiful and interesting.”

Aside from science presentations and star gazing, Behlen Observatory public nights give people a chance to connect, either waiting in line for the telescope, or just taking in the great outdoors.


Veteran’s Day Parade, by Melissa Ballarin

The Bellevue Veteran’s Day Parade took place on Mission Avenue in old-town Bellevue on Saturday, with many participants and attendees. The theme for the parade was “Defenders of Freedom.” Some of the participants included members of the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the Bellevue East and West bands and cheerleaders, and members of the Boys and Girl Scouts of America.

Participants handed out pamphlets, candy and American flags as part of the celebration.

U.S. Naval Officer Kelly Kirby says that Veteran’s day is an important day to remember those who gave their lives for this country.

Henry Lopez of the U.S. Air Force says that his travels while serving taught him to appreciate the opportunities and freedoms that we have in America.


6th Annual Heritage Ball, by Felicia Mesadieu

OMAHA- The urban Omaha community recognizes its leaders with a ceremony filled with sentiments of gratitude for their service to the community.

Members of the National Council of Negro Women Collegiate Section orchestrated their 6th annual Heritage Ball Friday evening at UNO. An event created to acknowledge the achievements and contributions of community leaders. The night was full of glamour and appreciation as participants gathered around for food and music to celebrate the honorees.

NCNW President, Brandy Alexander, says there is a need to support the efforts of community leaders. “We want to make sure the honorees we honor, tonight, keep doing the work they do.”

Community service advocate honoree, John Voner says the event reflects on the positive activity happening in the community. “In a time where we see social ills happening, it’s good to know that there are still good things happening in Omaha, Nebraska.

The ladies of NCNW are preparing for their next annual Heritage Ball, with big hopes to bring in the nation’s First Lady, Michelle Obama as the guest speaker.


Graffiti Abatement, by Ben Bohall

It’s a part of Omaha that some have turned their backs on, but for volunteers, it’s time to do something about it.

Members and volunteers of the Association of Latino American Students at Nebraska-Omaha had no problem doing just that. About 30 students filled their paint trays, grabbed a paint brush and got to work. It’s the fourth time annually that the group has gone to different areas around South Omaha to clean up graffiti, and so far it’s made a difference in areas that have as many as 400 graffiti tags in a six-block area.

Although those numbers may seem overwhelming, students are remaining determined to make a difference; one wall at a time.


Writers Project, by Jacqueline Skarda

Omaha writers are hard at work for a book about hope. But what makes this book so special is that it is written by seniors at Omaha South High School.

The book is part of a project called the Omaha Young Writers Project. Allison Lopez, director of the project, says Omaha South was chosen because of the school’s overwhelming interest. “It couldn’t have come out better,” she says.

Each student has a mentor that guides their story and helps edit their work. Ferial Pearson, the teacher helping coordinate the project in her classroom, says the project has helped break down stereotypes.

Students like Jesse Ortiz chose hope as a theme because they want their stories to inspire those who are struggling. “I hope I can be an example for them,” Ortiz says.

Pearson says the project will boost students’ resumes and writing skills. The students have yet to confirm a title for the book, but they're using a working title of In Our Shoes for the time being.


Digital Piracy, by Sam Petto

OMAHA- Keith Kizaki is a zombie killer.

He’s also an intergalactic warrior and a spiky blue hedgehog.

But one thing he will never be is a pirate.

“Because you can’t play online. You don’t get all the features if you pirate. So there’s definitely a lot of incentive just to buy it,” says Kizaki.

According to a global piracy survey the Entertainment Software Associated (ESA) conducted in 2009, over 10 million copies of games were illegally downloaded per month.

And according to a study by Tokyo University, that piracy- for handheld systems alone- has cost the industry 41.5 billion dollars.

The day this story was written, one popular piracy website reported over 500 illegal downloads of a popular Wii title, just that day.

Ryan Miller, operations manager and franchise officer of Nebraska’s “Gamers” said piracy is a problem. “I’d definitely say it’s widespread,” says Miller, “but it’s a little more, ah, a little more on the down-low. You don’t hear about it as much as you would movies or music or that kind of thing.”

Miller says piracy is making the chain rethink how they distribute games and they will soon develop a Red Box-esque buying system.


2nd District, by Jackie Skarda

Excitement was in the air as elections wrapped up nationwide. In Omaha, the biggest election was the fight for the 2nd Congressional District. Lee Terry, up for a 7th term, defeated opponent Tom White in what both agreed was a very well-run election.

At White’s campaign party, located at IBEW Local 22 on 89th and L streets, supporters explained the need for a candidate who looks out for the middle class. At Terry’s campaign party at the Omaha Firefighter’s Hall on 60th and Grover, voters agreed with Terry on his stance on helping small businesses.

By 9:30 pm on Election Day, Terry was presumed the winner of the 2nd District and was able to talk about his focus to help future generations. He said he wants to “put this country on…a pathway to success and prosperity that they are going to then receive.”

The win was predicted by most pre-election polls but Terry supporter Todd Harvey says, “Win, lose or draw, as Americans we should all get out there and support something that is important to us and our families.”


28 Year-old Omaha Woman Suffers Stroke, by LaSonia Hart

OMAHA- Most people associate a stroke with the elderly or diabetics. Sometimes called a brain attack, a stroke often leaves a person dead or paralyzed.

Fortunately, Sherri Harris, 28, survived and feels grateful. Harris says she went into work feeling fine but left in an ambulance after losing consciousness. Her doctor explained that she had suffered a minor stroke because of a blood clot in her brain.

“The only thing I could think of was my infant son, 8-year-old daughter and my husband.”

Sherri is recovering well and says that in the future she will exercise, eat well and practice stress management.


Gas station theft and fraud, by Jessica De Cesare

High gas prices can already affect you pockets this holiday season, but when you pair that with identity theft and fraud that’s much worse. Deana Deegen says that the EDdys gas station on Galvin road charged over $250.00 of unauthorized charges. When asked about this, Eddys gas station manager had no comment. Although her bank will give her money back she says this has been a very valuable lesson.

Derick Tom works at Amoco Food Shop Gas Station and says that usually paying at the pump is safe. But it’s never a bad idea to get a receipt.

Next time when pumping make sure you always check to see that you don’t leave a recite behind and always take a look at your bank statements because you never know who is after your money.


Humane Society, by Alysha Ipock

OMAHA- The Nebraska Humane Society is starting to see more problems as the winter comes closer.

The humane society sees 50 or more animals come through a week and sometimes more. This is becoming a problem for their capacity numbers and they’re looking for new ideas. They have decided instead of euthanizing they would try to reach out to the community.

They’re starting a new adoption discount every Monday through Thursday where dogs are half price. Cats are discounted and sometimes can be free. Unfortunately the humane society is becoming over packed with animals that they would like to find homes for and not have to go to drastic measures.

They are always looking for new volunteers to help with the colder months. An adoption is available Mondays through Sundays. For more information on volunteering or adopting you can visit their website at


Bagel Bin by Jackie Skarda

Construction is winding down at the Bagel Bin as the Brezack family prepares for its reopening. The bakery, which boasts a New York style bagel and kosher menu, burned down January 7 after an issue with the natural gas. The large amounts of snow last winter prevented fire fighters from finding a hydrant located just across the street from the bakery. As a result, the building was destroyed.

Sue Brezack, who co-owns the bakery with her sons Dave and Scott, says the fire was a tragedy, but the family welcomed the new equipment. They also were able to rearrange the layout of the bakery to add more space for customers. Even with the new changes, Sue Brezack says there is no difference in the Bagel Bin atmosphere.

Recent issues with codes have pushed back the November 1st reopen date to an unofficial date in the near future, but the Brezack family reports that they are working tirelessly to open as soon as possible.


Old Market Crime by Jessica De Cesare

There has been a spike in the Old Market crime. Although Police say there is nothing to worry about some say otherwise.

Lately, there have been several shootings, robberies, and acts of violence occurring in the old market. This includes two shootings at the cubbies located on 13th and Jackson. These recent activities have cautioned residents and old market business patrons.

If you do see any crime being committed call local law enforcement. Make sure you do not take it into your own hands.


Mayor Suttle Recall by Benjamin Bohall

The straw had finally broken the camel’s back. As Jeremy Aspen and volunteers of the mayor Suttle Recall Campaign picked up box upon box of petition forms at the election commission office, the message was loud and clear: Some felt it was time for new leadership.

With a need for nearly 27,000 signatures and several opposing campaigns surfacing to keep the mayor in office, the road ahead for the Mayor Suttle Recall Campaign could be a long one.

Despite the opposition and tough odds, members are remaining both optimistic and confident that victory is on the horizon. Even, if it might be a bittersweet one.


Dodge for Cause Tournament by Felicia Mesadieu

OMAHA-Two student organizations join forces to give back to the Omaha community through a game of dodge ball. The Asian Student Association and Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity Inc collectively orchestrated the Dodge for Cause Tournament on UNO’s campus, Saturday.

Participants were asked to bring a non perishable food item for admittance into the tournament that would later be donated to the Omaha Food bank.

The tournament started out as an idea to have a fun competition between both organizations, but quickly turned into an event that provided the public with an opportunity to take part in service.

President of the ASA, Joe Marcel Nguyen, said the event will contribute to the less fortunate for the upcoming holiday. “We centered this around Thanksgiving.”

The event gave students a chance to perform community service while interacting with participants outside of their normal social realms.

The public can still contribute to the cause by donating food to the Omaha Food Bank located at 6824 J Street.


National Coming Out Day by LaSonia Hart

There were many in attendance yesterday as the UNO campus hosted a celebration of National Coming Out day.

This event is celebrated on October 12th each year. The university of Nebraska at Omaha is no exception. Joshua Wiley, director of gender and sexual orientation, says this event helped him merge into the gay community. “ I was a hysteric mess. My main goal was to be more comfortable in the gay community,” says Wiley.

Although this event celebrates gay, lesbian and transgender, everyone is welcome to attend. UNO professor, Meredith Bacon, says that her job allows her to be an example that one can come out and still thrive.



Condoleeza Rice at UNMC by Melissa Ballarin

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joins five others as a recipient of the Ambassador of Hope award from UNMC. The award pays tribute to those involved in cancer research both abroad and at home.

Dr. Rice’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when Rice was only fifteen. Since then, Rice has been a strong advocate of cancer research and funding. Rice says that events like these bring attention to the disease and how difficult it is to go through. She also says it’s important for those going through cancer or the cancer of loved ones to know that there are people tirelessly working at eventually eradicating the disease.

The event at UNMC also involves a book signing of Rice’s new memoir, entitled “Extraordinary, Ordinary People.” The book covers Rice’s life growing up in Birmingham, Alabama during the times of the Civil Rights Movement.


Vampires, by Sam Petto


They only come out at night.

They drink blood.

And recently they’ve been selling books, movies, and even cereal. From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to True Blood, vamps have moved from the shadows of society into the limelight.

The question is why?

Diana Abbott, manager of the Bookworm Bookstore, attributes it to the recession.

“I think it’s because we’ve got a very fractionalized community. People are afraid of the economy, their personal safety. There are a lot of fears out there and vampires are sort of above and beyond all that.”

There’s no denying vampires are a popular topic.

From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to True Blood, vampires have been moving from the shadows of society into the limelight. The question is why.

Dr. Jonathan Santo, a psychologist specializing in adolescent identity development, says the saga’s popularity depends on the connections it makes with a child’s thought process.

“Research does seem to suggest that adolescents don’t necessarily think about consequences, don’t necessarily think about death in the exact same way that adults do. I think it’s perfect for an adolescent audience because it hits all the right notes for them.”

Now, Santo and Abbott both say that as long as your adolescent balances their fandom with other elements of life it’s pretty much harmless.

So this Halloween if your son is looking to be Edward from Twilight instead of Freddy or Jason, don’t be spooked, it’s only natural.

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Omaha 10-10-10 Conference, By Ben Bohall

A decade in, a decade out. As technology continues to change, life as we know it follows. For members of the press and media, understanding how the world changes is crucial as well as adapting to it. The Omaha 10-10-10 conference worked to bring professionals in the media closer together to comprehend the significance of where the world of communication and news is going.

The subject strikes a chord with KVNO news director Robyn Wisch. The practice of using different form of media to convey a message to the public is pivotal to staying afloat in an uncertain time for traditional forms of media.

“How can we tell the story with the medium that we have; that’s radio, through audio and sound. However, we also utilize things like video, pictures, facebook and websites to help tell that story,” said Wisch.

As the world of technology continues to change, the media will be sure to follow suit.

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Early Voting by Jackie Skarda

As November 2nd approaches, residents are eagerly waiting to vote for their favorite candidates, but more and more residents are finding reasons to vote early. Some voters are unable to get to the polls because of schedule conflicts. Others just want to avoid the hustle and bustle of Election Day.

Early voters can vote in person Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 5 pm at the Election Commission Office near 115th and Burke streets. They can also vote by mail or have someone pick up their ballot and drop it off once it is completed.

Dave Phipps, Douglas County Election Commissioner, says residents should first make sure they are registered to vote. The last day to register at the Election Commission office is October 22nd.

Voters can vote in person until 5 pm November 1st. Those wishing to vote by mail can do so until the day of the elections, but must request a ballot in writing by October 27th at 4 pm.

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Nursing Science Center by Melissa Ballarin

The University of Nebraska Medical Center is addressing the recent nursing shortage in the state of Nebraska by adding on a new facility to their nursing college. The new facility is called the UNMC Nursing Science Center. The center contains a number of facilities that create real-life scenarios with dummy’s and normal medical equipment. Nursing students Kristi Conley and Jessica Bosn say that the simulations help them learn their skills in settings where they can actually use their hands. Their professor Connie Miller says that the facility gives professors the opportunity to create rare situations that the students may not encounter in their clinical settings.

Dr. Virginia Tilden, Dean of the Nursing College, says that while it’s important to allow more students into the nursing school, it’s just as important to have more students in the graduate program, so that there will be more faculty to train the students.

The new facility will allow the college to increase its number of students by 70 percent over time. Classes using the new addition will begin in January of 2011.

UNO 2010 Convocation, by Sam Petto

OMAHA- Across most of UNO, lighthearted chatter and warm weather characterize the campus climate.

But in the university's Strauss Performing Arts Center, Chancellor John Christensen's speech strikes a sober tone. “We are likely to be at a point where the must-haves and nice-to-haves will warrant careful consideration,” says Christensen.

The Chancellor’s speech comes with record numbers for UNO enrollment.

But despite the fifteen thousand plus students being served by UNO, Christensen emphasizes what he calls "the single largest budget crisis in his memory.”

Reflecting the public's mindset following the late 2000s economic downturn, Christensen tells campus staff and community members that the university is still focused on spending less, increasing efficiency and pursuing donations.

“But even in the best case scenarios,” says Christensen, “this will be difficult.”

Despite the heavy theme of the campus budget, the Chancellor's sole focus wasn't just the economy.

In the convocation, the Chancellor stressed the importance of community service and being involved in the public. The speech references UNO's role as a founder and participating member in CUMU, the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities.

Among other things, the organization is dedicated to enhancing the level of community engagement in metropolitan area campuses--- something Chancellor Christensen already sees on campus.

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Hospital Security, by Ben Bohall

Last Wednesday, police arrived on the scene at Creighton University Medical Center after reports of multiple gunshots coming from the hospital’s cafeteria.

The suspect, 39-year-old Jeff Layten, had led police on a 90 mile-per-hour vehicle chase that resulted in Layten wrecking his pickup truck and fleeing on foot-armed, toward the Creighton Medical Center campus where a gunfire exchange with two Omaha Police officers resulted in Layten being shot and later dying from his injuries.

Questions are now being raised about what other hospitals are doing to improve safety, and prevent incidents similar to last Wednesday’s shootings.

“A couple of the critical points are communication…and with a hospital that employs around 5,000 people, making sure that they know where to hide out, where to evacuate to if they possibly can, is crucial,” said Andrea McMaster of the Nebraska Medical Center’s Media Relations department.

The Nebraska Medical Center hopes that resources like these will be able to help save likes if a situation similar to Creighton’s ever happens again.

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Metro Bus System, by Melissa Ballarin

Omaha- Big changes have been happening with the Omaha bus system. The changes occurred after suggestions from the Young Professionals of Nebraska held a challenge for their members to ride the bus for one month. The members logged their miles and made evaluations of their experiences with public transit in Omaha. Gerard Wellman, coordinator of the event and member of the group says that using public transportation isn’t as intimidating as it seems.

Wellman eventually gave the suggestions to Curt Simon, Executive Director of MAT (Metro Area Transit). Simon took the suggestions and began making changes to how the system runs. The biggest change, Simon says, is in the name. As of August, the MAT is now called Metro. There’s a new website, some new routes, cleaner and better working buses, and a new logo.

Simon says that the changes help give a soul to the transit system, and make it more accessible and easier to use.

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Promoting a Positive Image in Omaha, by Felicia Mesadieu

Omaha-The Omaha Public School Community Learning Center teams up with local organization, The Beauty Is Skin Deep Movement to promote positive images of beauty and self efficacy among female adolescences.

The after school program is held every Tuesday and Thursday at Monroe Middle school, where female students participate in various activities that counteract general perceptions of attractiveness within the media and social comparisons that may have an negative impact on self esteem.

Program facilitators help participants channel self acceptance that lead to healthy youth development by addressing issues, such as, skin tone, weight, social class and education.

Members of the BSD Movement Inc. understood the need of the urban community and knew their efforts would fulfill the void. Site director, Chevist Johnson, saw the vision of BSD Movement Inc. and knew the organization would be the perfect match for the CLC after school program. “We wanted to bring in a quality program like BSD, said Johnson.

BSD Movement Inc. is said to be scheduled to take on another school this fall after their cycle ends at Monroe Middle School.

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Race for the Cure, by Alysha Ipock

OMAHA- This Sunday will be the 17th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure held here in Omaha.

The Susan G. Komen foundation helps fight those with breast cancer. They are the Nebraska affiliate for the country wide organization. They provide many services and events including the Race for the Cure.

The race will start at the Omaha civic center at 8 a.m. Sunday, October 3rd. It will feature a 1 mile walk and a 5k run along with other activities for the family.

The race has most of Omaha involved including many national companies including Union Pacific and Alegent Health along with close to 200 more sponsors. As of Tuesday, September 28 they had over 17,000 participants and 500 teams.

The organization was also happy to hear that they will be able to hold a Race for the Cure in Kearney Nebraska in 2011. You can also visit the Susan G. Komen website to send an application in for a special breast cancer awareness state of Nebraska license plate. The organization needs 500 applications before submitting it to the state for their personalized license plate.


Curbside Rewards, by Jackie Skarda

Omaha-A new way to recycle is hitting the curb. The program, Curbside Rewards, rewards members for recycling everyday items. Members wheel their carts filled with recycling to the curb at their designated pickup time.

Trucks then weigh and record the amount of recyclables at each household. Each pound of recycling equals a certain amount of points. General Manager of the company, Craig Gubbels, says those points can then be used for gift certificates and discounts. Once the rewards have been calculated, the items are taken to a facility on 103rd and I streets to be sorted and recycled.

Currently, Curbside Rewards does not provide the service to all of Omaha, but as more people become interested in the program, the service will grow.

One resident, Lauren Yager, says the program makes sense because it gives her rewards for doing something she was going to do anyway.

The program currently has a service fee of around $10 a month, but Gubbels says it’s easy to make that money back and save.

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Islamic Center of Omaha discussion at Millard West High School, by Sam Petto

OMAHA- A curious crowd gathers at Millard West High School for a presentation and discussion on Islam.

The event, hosted by the Islamic Center of Omaha and the GainPeace Islamic Outreach effort draws over 100 people.

ICO’s head of public affairs, Fa’iz Rab says it provides an opportunity for people to learn about Muslims from the best source- Muslims. “People hear so many things in the media. A lot of time that’s the only information they’ll ever get about Muslims.”

The event featured three speakers and addressed Muslims in history, Women’s Rights in Islam, and a story of Muslim conversion.

But the deeper story here is Omaha’s focus on creating interfaith communities. Take the Ironridge Golf Course, for example. In two to three years it may hold an adjacent mosque, church, and synagogue.

In the same vein as the Islam outreach effort, Omaha’s Trifaith Initiative is trying to connect communities.

Trifaith Initiative Executive Director Nancy Kirk says the scope of the project makes it the first of its kind. “To have a project like this where people are choosing to become neighbors with each other, choosing to entwine their lives with each other, is really remarkable.”

The three congregations behind the planned buildings are finalizing fundraising to purchase the land by December.

The tri-faith development represents the American Institute of Islamic Studies & Culture, the Episcopalian Diocese of Omaha, and Temple Israel.

If all goes as planned, construction may begin as early as 2012.

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The Homeless in Omaha, by Jessica De Cesare

With today's economy, Omaha is seeing more homeless people. Homeless men, women and families. The Open Door Mission timed their move into their new facility perfectly. With the move came an increase in programs and aid forOmaha's homeless.

According to the Program Director, Ms. Charity Watts, the Open Door Mission has recovery and rehabilitation programs to help the homeless. The programs last six months and deal with problems ranging from gambling addiction, mental health issues to drug addiction.

The programs help the homeless become self sufficient. One graduate from the Open Door Mission program landed back on her feet after losing her job, home and family. Kurina Freemont had no hope left until the people at the Open Door Mission helped her see she had a future. With hard work and dedication her life is now back on track.

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CVS pharmacy in Dundee- by Sam Petto

OMAHA- In a 4-3 decision, the Omaha City Council approves plans for a CVS pharmacy in Dundee.

The reversal of last month’s decision comes only days after public outcry over councilman Ben Gray’s changed vote.

CVS dissent isn’t hard to find.

Currently, the “No CVS Box in Dundee” Facebook page sports over twelve hundred members who want to “restrict redevelopment to existing commercial land” and “match architecture” before any construction begins.

Despite the opposition, CVS officials insist that the Dundee location is integral to their business strategy. That sentiment was met with skepticism, Thursday, at a rally on 49th & Dodge- the future CVS home.

Protester Chris Schaffart says that CVS isn’t practicing good business. “These buildings have been here for, some of them over 100 years, almost 120 years. CVS is just wanting to destroy them and basically do nothing to maintain the look and feel of this neighborhood.”

The protest drew almost 40 people looking to have their voices heard.

Former Dundee resident Rick Fulton says his real problem is with the council, not CVS. “This public hearing should mean something. They shouldn’t be able to get one vote and go behind people’s backs and get another vote that they want.”

Though the Dundee CVS isn’t without supporters, considering the extent of Dundee opposition, only time will tell if the location was worth the fight.

CVS says it will open three more metro area locations by early 2011. No timeline has been established for the Dundee construction.

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UF Study Group- by Ben Bohall

Despite the preconceived notions of what the UNO UFO Study Group might have to offer, the clubs founders are making every attempt to shoot down the stereotypes. “We’re not those guys wearing aluminum antennae caps in our parents’ basements listening to radio static.” Says Club Vice President John Powers. “We’re just a bunch of guys having a good time.”

The club is bracing itself for its first live remote radio session as an extension of their radio show, “Spooky Action at a Distance” every Friday night from 5 to 7 pm on 90.7 HD 2. The remote will take place on top of the Durham Science Center observation deck on the University of Nebraska-Omaha campus at a date yet to be announced. The hope is to reel in Science students at UNO that might be interested in exploring the outer fringes of the field.

“I think that if people came out and saw what is was all about, they would probably be surprised,” Says Powers.

Moving past the challenges of preparing for a live remote, an initial dry-run was chanced on the evening September 10th. Although there were initial equipment problems, the event yielded a large turnout. Perhaps more importantly, new members were able to acclimate and enjoy a night under the stars.

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Synthetic Marijuana in Nebraska- by Jackie Skarda

A synthetic form of marijuana is one of the newest ways to get high. The drug, called K2, is legal to use in Nebraska and is popping up everywhere. K2 is a blend of herbs and spices sprayed with chemicals meant to mimic the effects of marijuana. Paul Carter, Executive Director of Pride Omaha, says little is monitored in Nebraska on the herbal incense market.

Some K2 users have experienced increased agitation, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, paranoia, hallucinations, vomiting and psychotic episodes. But proponents of the drug say that alcohol and tobacco have negative health effects as well and are legal to use.

One herbal incense provider, who wishes to remain anonymous, says the government should change its focus.

Some states have already banned K2 and have seen a new brand of drug called K3 emerge. Carter says Senator Beau McCoy will introduce legislation in January to ban K2 and its counterparts. Until then, he says his organization will continue to educate the public about K2.

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Wheel Tax Law- by Melissa Ballarin

With a projected deficit of $20 million for 2011, the new budget for the city of Omaha is of utmost importance. In a time of economic woes, an extra $50 a year can make a difference.

Katharine Chausee works as an instructor and Clinic Coordinator at Methodist College of Nursing, on 87th and Burt and lives on 168th and Giles, in Sarpy County. Chaussee says that the extra $50 a year would break her, as well as her daughter, who lives at home, but attends school in Omaha. Chaussee also says that if she were looking for a new job, she would try her hardest to find a new position outside of Omaha.

Tom Mumgaard, Omaha Deputy City Attorney, co-wrote the amendment that extended the wheel fee to non-residents of Omaha. Mumgaard says that if someone is working in Omaha, then they are obviously using the streets of Omaha, and causing deterioration. Mumgaard says that making them pay is only fair if they’re using Omaha’s facilities.

The new budget also adds $15 to the registration fee that Omahans are already paying, making it $50 a year.

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Westboro Baptist Church Counter Protest

by Katie Murphy

OMAHA, Neb. — The Westboro Baptist Church arrived in Omaha on February 10, 2010. They were scheduled to protest in front of Creighton Prep school, Creighton University and The University of Nebraska at Omaha.

In the end, the Westboro people left the Creighton University protest early and never showed up for their scheduled protest on the UNO campus.

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Chinese New Year Big Hit

by Chuck Hill

OMAHA, Ne- The Chinese New Year Festival occurred this past Saturday. An estimated 600 people were in attendance, doubling the amount of people last celebration. Tickets sold out in three weeks, with all seats filled. Chinese restaurants such as the China Buffet and Golden Mountain catered traditional Chinese meals.

The evening was capped off with song and dances performed by Omaha residents native of China. According to dance instructor Xiao Na, the dances ranged from the era of ancient China to modern dances popular in Chinese youth culture. Additional funding for the festival was provided by ConAgra foods as well as the Omaha Chinese Culture Association.

A Rise In Hit and Run Accidents…

by Nick Bohan

Omaha, Ne- With the Winter season never seeming to end and more and more car accidents being reported each day. 5 hit and run accidents occurring sense november ending in fatalities and two of them sense the start of January. Is this abnormal for a normal year? In a normal year the city of Omaha has thousands of reported Hit and Run accidents a year and an average of about 30 end in fatality.

Leader of the Omaha Police Departments Accident Investigation Squad says Sgt. Klein says the winter months are typically slow, having a couple in a matter of weeks is a peak during the typically slower months. Injuries and fatal hit and run accidents occur more in during the warmer months.

Omaha averages about 400,000 hit and run accidents and over 30 a year ending in fatalities, this leaves justice unserved and more money out of Omaha citizens pockets. Multiple hit and run victim Cody Bruechert says that after his latest hit and run incident left him out 700 dollars for only two pieces a bumper and a mirror. He said its unfortunate, aftergrowing up being told to do the right thing, he was disappointed when he found no information on his windshield.

Sgt. Klein says that after being involved in a car accident you are required to inform not only the police but the owner aswell. Klein says “You are required to leave your name and your address, phone number, drivers license and be a good idea to leave your insurance information and also you are required to report it to the police”.

Keep in mind when involved in a car accident always make sure everyone is alright and dial 911 in case of emergency and its not only your responsibility to report an accident its also the law.

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Winter and the Zoo Work Well Together

The Henry Doorly Zoo takes care of both visitors and animals during this cold winter.

by Katie Murphy

OMAHA, Neb. — This winter has been a cold and long one but the Henry Doorly Zoo has been able to take care of its permanent residents, but also the visitors. Taking in to consideration everything from building design and placement to which animals live where, the Doorly Zoo has planned every detail.

According to Dr. Douglas Armstrong, Director of Animal Health, caring for animals in a temperate climate means designing and maintaining the proper facilities. “All the tropical animals are in a facility that is built for winter care,” said Armstrong, animals outside during the winter are well taken care of also. The Sable antelope have access to the outside all year but in the winter their barn is heated to keep them comfortable and warm when they are inside.

Visitors to the zoo during the winter are able to take in the sights and sounds at their own pace. While visiting the zoo, Taylor Lenox and Josh Johnson found the indoor activities worth-wild, “the desert doom is, like, plenty to last you, like, a good hour.”

Armstrong admitted that he also enjoys the Zoo in the winter when the animals are active and more likely to react to people. The zoo is designed to make the most of the all seasons. “We have a group of buildings that are year-round right at the top of the hill (…) you can spend all day in this group of buildings…”

The humans visiting the zoo are not the only ones who are enjoying the frosty weather outside. “One of the male tigers is determined to not cooperate…” the tiger has spent a few nights outside ignoring his keeps coaxing to return and spend the night inside. However, according to Armstrong, the tiger was “quite comfortable.”

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Back to Back Blizzards Leave Omaha’s Pockets A Little Empty….

by Nick Bohan

Omaha, NE- A long cold winter and a couple major snow storms attacking the metro, Omaha is estimating about 2 million dollars over winter budget. The Street Maintenance winter budget for 2009 was 4.5 million and this included street repair and resurfacing.

With the first Blizzard occurring on December 8th which cost the city almost a half a million and the following blizzard on Christmas day costing 1.5 million. On top of that with spending money on snow removal due to overtime pay, the city spent over $700,000 on paying the employee’s. With the blizzard being relentless a number of city employers worked over twelve hours of overtime. Before January Omaha was looking at around 2.5 million alone for only the cost of snow removal alone and winter is only halfway over.

After spending over budget already, the question that remains, Would Omaha be prepared, if another major snow storm were to occur. Omaha Public Works Lead Engineer,Scott McIntire says after the harsh snow falls and some constant usage, some of them are in need of repair. Without winter being over not all the repair bills are over and when winter is finished, those bills will still be there to add-on to already large budget.

Asking city worker Amis Thompson with the lack of equipment could they be ready, he replied, “Will set all the trucks up and get them ready and be ready to go and hope the equipment holds up.” With still an ample supply Salt and the capabilities to get more sand McIntire says that even though the idea of going into another major snow operation isn’t ideal, Omaha has enough supplies and will be ready.

Rest assured even though the snow budget is becoming outrageous, Omaha is taking no short cuts for safety.

February 2009

College Money
By Brandon Gleed

College life is a tough time of transition for many students. What makes it even harder is the added financial strains that go along with text books, school supplies, and parking permits and it gets even harder. These added expenses present a potential problem for students on how to pay the bills.

“I have five jobs currently,” says junior Josh Million.

“I am financing my education at UNO using student loans exclusively. I do not have a job at all, just student loans,” says senior Steve Cashell.

The decision students make on how to finance their education effects more than just how much free time he or she has, but also when he or she can take classes, when to do homework, and when to spend time with that special someone in their life.

“One of my jobs I can do my schoolwork while I am there, spending on the traffic flow of people coming in and out. So that helps out quite a bit,” said Million.

“I really wanted to make sure that I focused on the educational part of it, and wasn’t bogged down with school and work,” said Cashell.

College advisors suggest that students work a minimum number of hours in order to focus as much time as possible on their education. They also suggest cutting expenses to lower the financial strain. Some ways they suggest to lower expenses are applying for scholarships and taking advantages of the free shuttle service offered from Crossroads Mall.

By Kari Zahm

Omaha, Neb. – As the unemplyment rate reaches 7.6% in the United States, the highest in sixteen years, it will be difficult for college graduates to find jobs. The Project Economy Job Fair held at the Holiday Inn on 72 nd and Grover proves that there are still local employers looking to hire.

The UNO Career Center is located on campus in the Eppley Administration Building, and can be sought out to seek advice for searching for jobs. The Director of the Career Center at UNO, Michelle Perone, says Everyday students and alums are walking in “worried” about finding employment. Perone discusses practicing up on your interviewing skills, and keeping your resume up to date. It is also important to remember when searching for jobs on the Web to be cautious about credibility of sites.