Events in Omaha and Lincoln call for action on DACA

Roughly 100 people gathered on the windswept hillside of Memorial Park on Monday evening to show support for “Dreamers” and demand that their elected representatives do something to help them.“This is a local issue,” said Alexis Steele, an attorney with the Immigrant Legal Center and an organizer of the event. “There are an estimated more than 4,000 in Nebraska.”Monday was the deadline that President Donald Trump had set to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The program lets young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children temporarily stay and get jobs. The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the administration to continue renewing DACA permits while cases progress through the federal courts. To mark Trump’s deadline, vigils and rallies were held across the country. In Lincoln, about 70 protesters gathered on the steps of the State Capitol on Monday evening . Those at the Lincoln rally said it was time for Congress to “quit playing games” and take action to end the uncertainty faced by DACA participants .At Memorial Park, organizers asked attendees to contact their congressional representatives and vote in the May 15 primary and the 2018 general election.“It’s not just up to them to act,”said Abbie Kretz, lead organizer for the Heartland Workers Center. “It also falls to us.”The Senate has been unable to agree on several proposals aimed at helping DACA participants.[More: As DACA deadline nears, doubt lingers over whether Congress will act]Organizers, who represented a variety of pro-immigrant advocacy groups, said they wanted a “clean” bill that would allow dreamers to stay in the United States.By “clean” they meant one unencumbered by other issues, like authorizing the construction of a wall on the southern border.The event included a handful of Dreamers who spoke of the United States as their home and how the end of DACA Continue Reading

Prosecutor: Omaha gang member convicted in racketeering case

Published 12:03 pm, Saturday, February 24, 2018 OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An Omaha man described by police and prosecutors as a violent gang member has been convicted of racketeering conspiracy. A federal jury found 35-year-old Jerell Haynie guilty Friday of the single count following a two-week trial in Omaha's federal court. Prosecutors say that from 2008 to 2016, Haynie conspired to conduct and participate in the affairs of the Omaha-area chapter of the Crips, known as the "40th Avenue and 44th Avenue Crips," through a pattern of racketeering activity. Prosecutors say Haynie engaged in cocaine trafficking and personally committed acts of violence for the gang, included the shootings and attempted murders of a fellow gang member suspected of cooperating with police. Latest Houston & Texas News Now Playing: Now Playing Rodeo Parade Steve Gonzales, Houston Chronicle Main Weather 2-24 Fox 26 Houston First Weather 7AM Fox 26 Houston Final Rodeo Weather Fox 26 Houston Mayor announces 'Houston Still Needs You!' campaign Fox 26 Houston Should teachers be armed? Fox 26 Houston Bar-B-Que cook-off continues Fox 26 Houston Crazy Azz Criminals - Feb. 23, 2018 Fox 26 Houston Was that fake? - 'Nation of Immigrants' Fox 26 Houston Crossroads reaches 2AA championship game Los Angeles Times Rodeo trail riders wrap up at Memorial Park Fox 26 Houston Rodeo trail ride wraps up Fox 26 Houston Hope After Harvey: 6 Months of Recovery, Riverstone Fox 26 Houston Pie capital of Texas Fox7 What could firearm training for teachers look like? Fox 26 Houston Rapper G Herbo, 2 others charged with illegal gun possession after South Loop traffic stop Fox 26 Houston Haynie's sentencing is set for June 1. Share Your Story Continue Reading

During Tombstone Tour, cemeteries offer a glimpse into Omaha’s past

Omaha’s past came alive Sunday during the Douglas County Historical Society’s annual tour of cemeteries. About 40 people boarded a chartered bus for the eighth Tombstone Tour. With plastic wine glasses in hand, the guests made stops at Prospect Hill Cemetery, Westlawn-Hillcrest Memorial Park and Potter’s Field. “Each time we do this, we pick out completely different stories,” said Kathy Aultz, executive director of the Historical Society. “We focus on different aspects of the people ... who are buried in our cemeteries.” The cemetery crawl began at the General Crook House at Historic Fort Omaha, 5730 N. 30th St., with wine and hors d’oeuvres. Each cemetery stop gave guests the chance to explore the grounds, be entertained with stories from a tour guide and toast individual graves. Following the tour’s completion, guests returned to the General Crook House for food, refreshments and a Victorian séance. Tickets cost $50 for Historical Society members and $55 for nonmembers. Judy Brugger of Blair was making her third Tombstone Tour and brought along her niece Kate Miller of Omaha. Sipping from a glass of white zinfandel at the General Crook House, Brugger said she enjoys the historical focus of the tours. “I love to walk cemeteries and see the old graves,” Brugger said. “My husband and I are going to be buried at Forest Lawn (Cemetery) in the older part.” Brugger said she was looking forward to her first visit to Prospect Hill because it’s the oldest cemetery in town. Caretaker Mike Scofield said there were 12,599 burial permits issued at Prospect Hill, near 32nd and Parker Streets, but it’s estimated that 15,000 people are buried there. “This was a burial ground long before it became a cemetery,” he said. “There were Indians and all sorts of people buried up here.” One of the most talked about of the cemetery’s residents is Continue Reading

No disruption to Horsemen’s Park simulcasting after Fonner-Nebraska HBPA agreement is reached

It was business as usual Monday at Horsemen’s Park, which was good news for General Manager Mike Newlin. An ongoing dispute between Grand Island’s Fonner Park and the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association had threatened to shut down simulcasting at all Nebraska tracks starting New Year’s Day. But Newlin said he received an email at 11:35 p.m. Sunday from the state racing commission that an agreement had been reached. ‘’We weren’t involved in those negotiations in any way, shape or form,’’ he said. ‘’But I’m happy something was worked out.’’ The racing commission had forbidden all of the state tracks from simulcasting in 2018 until the Fonner issue was resolved. The possibility that Horsemen’s Park would be forced to suspend simulcasting starting Monday led to a lawsuit being filed in federal court asking for an injunction against the racing commission’s actions. ‘’The commission thought this was the best way to deal with the problem,’’ Newlin said. ‘’But we were really concerned about the possibility of not being able to simulcast.’’ The general manager added that Horsemen’s Park tried to immediately spread the word Sunday night that simulcasting would be available Monday. ‘’There was a lot of confusion among our fans,’’ he said. ‘’We put the news on our Facebook page as quick as we could but we were still getting a lot of calls today.’’ Newlin said the final-hour timing of the commission email combined with subzero weather didn’t help the facility’s attendance Monday. The frigid temperatures on the East Coast also led to the cancellation of racing at four tracks. The situation also tempered the enthusiasm for 20th anniversary festivities that start at Horsemen’s Park this week. Special events are planned throughout Continue Reading

Outdoor notes: New Year’s Day to include free, guided hikes at 26 Iowa state parks

Free, guided hikes will take place in 26 Iowa state parks on New Year’s Day as part of America’s First Day Hikes initiative. Hikers can expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of nature in winter, and experience spectacular views, beautiful settings and the cultural treasures offered by Iowa’s state parks. All 50 states will participate in the seventh annual national event that encourages everyone to celebrate the New Year with a guided outdoor exploration. “We are excited to host First Day Hikes again as part of this effort to get people outdoors and into our parks,” said Todd Coffelt, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau. “These hikes are a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.” Last year, more than 1,200 people began the year in an Iowa state park, hiking more than 1,100 total miles. Staff and volunteers will lead First Day Hikes in Iowa’s 26 participating state parks. Below are the 13 of those parks in the western half of the state: NORTHWEST >> Big Creek State Park >> Dolliver Memorial State Park >> Gitchie Manitou State Preserve >> Ledges State Park >> Lewis and Clark State Park >> Prairie Rose State Park >> Springbrook State Park >> Stone State Park SOUTHWEST >> Green Valley State Park >> Lake Anita State Park >> Viking Lake State Park >> Waubonsie State Park >> Wilson Island State Recreation Area Gearing up for bird count The annual Christmas bird count begins across Iowa with volunteers working with count coordinators from the Iowa Ornithologists Union to identify one day between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5 to count every bird — seen or heard — in their designated area. The Christmas bird count began in 1900, and has been called the original citizen scientist project. In fact, enough data Continue Reading

Mustangs recall memorable ride: Omaha semipro football team found a special time, place

Bellevue West was having a “Throwback Thursday” for its staff and students, and Terry Shelsta went way back. Shelsta showed up to teach in an Omaha Mustangs shirt, one that was printed for a 2011 reunion. It hearkened to the heyday of the semipro football team from the late 1960s and early ’70s. The Omaha whats? “Not only had the students not heard of the Omaha Mustangs, there are many, many teachers here who had never heard of the Omaha Mustangs,” Shelsta said. “So I had to do a lot of explaining.” Shelsta, who would go on to an NFL tryout, play in the CFL and coach Omaha Benson to a state basketball championship, slipped into a moment of reflection — of fall Saturday nights at Rosenblatt Stadium and crowds and opponents and media coverage that tied it all into something special. “It’s part of Omaha’s past,” Shelsta said. “It really is.” A different era and a “semipro” business model that paid the players minimally combined to allow the Mustangs to have a viable home stadium and enjoy a level of sustainability that future outdoor football franchises and leagues in the city would not. “Maybe it was just our time,” said Jack Payne, who left WOWT to be the Mustangs’ general manager in 1968 and ’69. “We had an all-around good promotion and backing in the community that, I’d say, was what you had to have to make things go.” The football also wasn’t too shabby, especially when the Mustangs played in the Continental Football League. The league included players coming off NFL cuts and affiliations with NFL teams and featured occasional big names like Otis Sistrunk, Ken Stabler and Garo Yepremian. And there was enough scouting done of the league to give hope to players with higher aspirations. Omaha would suit up former Huskers like Frank Solich, Bob Churchich, Lynn Senkbeil, Dan Schneiss, Dennis Morrison and Steve Continue Reading

Vice President Pence honors veterans by cleaning Vietnam memorial

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence’s work glove quickly soaked through with water as he scrubbed the names etched in the black granite walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Saturday.Pence, the son of a Korean War veteran and father of a Marine, would later lay a wreath and deliver a tribute to veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.But he began the morning dressed for cleaning duty, arriving on the National Mall in blue jeans, old cowboy boots and yellow gloves soon after the sun rose over the Capitol dome in the distance.“Good morning all,” Pence said to the group of about 40 volunteers. “Mike Pence. Great of you all to be here. Happy Veterans Day.”The other cleaners, employees of NewDay USA, a mortgage company that serves veterans, had already prepared the wall for the cleaning by removing the flowers, flags, photos, boots, helmets, wreaths and other mementos lying at the base.Besides leaving offerings, visitors are also encouraged to make stencils of the 58,286 names of those who were killed or missing in action during the war. Volunteers regularly help clean the wall, keeping its surface as “reflective and peaceful” as designer Maya Lin intended.Cleaners usually spray the wall with hoses before and after scrubbing with large brushes. But Saturday’s below-freezing temperatures required a more hands-on approach with sponges and paper towels.“I don’t know why I’m wearing gloves because I can’t feel my fingers at this point,” one volunteer said.After arriving at the memorial with his wife, Pence carried an orange cleaning bucket with the message “Let’s Do This” to an area close to the center of the wall. “You got a spot for us to work?” he asked.Wylie Gilbert, 30, of Maryland, gave Pence some cleaning tips: scrub hard, up and down, left and right.“You scrub and I’ll dry,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said to Continue Reading

Why Yogi Berra deserves more than just a plaque at Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park

They love the past at Yankee Stadium, they sell the past, they celebrate the past, they market the past. The Yankees are, by any measure, the capital of the past. Next to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, there might not be a more famous baseball museum than the one in Monument Park at the new Yankee Stadium, even the way it now hides in plain sight behind the outfield walls. But you have to say that the Yankees are much more in love with the recent past than the distant past, which means the past that began when they turned back into the Yankees back in 1996; when they gave us the last Yankee dynasty, the one that saw them win four World Series in five years and come within an inning — bottom of the 9th, Phoenix, 2001 — of making it five Series in six years. It is one of the reasons why the upcoming celebration of Derek Jeter’s career, and the retirement of No. 2 on May 14, will be as big a day as the new place has had outside of the one Series the Yankees produced there, nearly eight years ago, when Jeter finally won his fifth World Series. That was some night. Mother’s Day this year at the Stadium will be some day, and one of the hottest tickets since the Yankees were great. The retirement of Jeter’s number will come two days after what would have been Yogi Berra’s 92nd birthday. Maybe someday Jeter, and Mo Rivera, will have monuments in Monument Park; will be more than plaques on the wall out there, and start to make the hallowed baseball real estate out there start to be more crowded than a 4 train. Jeter was the face of the new Yankees, playing for the man he called “Mr. Torre,” playing with class, doing all that winning, the way Mickey Mantle became the face of all the winning of the 50s and 60s once Joe DiMaggio had retired. In fact Mantle was such a huge and glamorous star, and such a baseball hero to kids of that time, that he often obscured the greatness of Yogi. Continue Reading

Cedar City honors those fallen on Memorial Day

Residents, veterans and patrons gathered at the Cedar City Cemetery on Memorial Day to honor those fallen in battle.The Cedar City American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War (VFW), Marine Corps League and city officials hosted the ceremony in which a ceremonial wreath was placed upon the Veterans Monument by city councilmen Don Marchant and Fred Rowley, accompanied by Mayor Maile Wilson. Retired Navy Captain Ron Lewis, of New Harmony, served as the keynote speaker at the event.Prior to the wreath placement, three ceremonial rifle volleys were fired and "Taps" was played in remembrance to a somber crowd following the raising and lowering to half mast of the American Flag as well as the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) flag.Lewis took a moment to remember those lost in Flanders Field, Normandy, Iwo Jima, Korea, Vietnam, and those who fought and died in Afghanistan and Iraq."We also honor those who died while serving in non-combat missions," said Lewis. "Like Nepal, where six brave United States Marines died two weeks ago while delivering humanitarian aid at the base of the tallest mountain in the world.""Today, we who live in this land of the free," he continued. "Assemble to remember and honor our departed patriots."Following the ceremony on this day of remembrance, Councilman Fred Rowley said the honor of hanging the wreath made him remember his father, a WWII veteran."As Don and I delivered that, and we had our moment of silence, I thought about my dad on the Philippine Islands getting the telegram that his father had died," explained Rowley. "He said that day was the worst of his life. He had been in a trench, he had not eaten. The Japanese had been shooting at them constantly."This day just made me think of my dad's story multiplied by millions of men and women. The things that they went through so we could have peace here. I was very honored to be able to participate."Follow Tim Beery on Twitter @Tim_Beery or call him at 435-865-4524. Related stories: Continue Reading

Omaha mall reopens after massacre

OMAHA - People returned to the Westroads Mall Saturday, most to shop for the holidays but some to grieve in the place where a young gunman killed eight people and himself.The Von Maur department store where 19-year-old Robert Hawkins fired an AK-47 on Wednesday remained closed and dark but the other shops were open. A makeshift memorial stood at the store's entrance. Wreaths sat on tripods just outside the doors and a note from management said the store will reopen soon. No date was given. Dozens of paper snow flakes covered the store's metal drop-gate, several adorned with the pictures of the victims. "I come out here almost every morning, and [today] it was kind of just an eerie feeling of, I don't know, quiet," said Marge Andrews, 49, who regularly walks the mall with a friend. A few police cars were visible in the parking lot. Two Red Cross vans and a Salvation Army unit were set up outside a mall entrance, greeting people with doughnuts, coffee and offers of grief counseling. Police acknowledged there was extra security in the area but said they couldn't discuss specifics. Normal mall security guards were unarmed. Hawkins' family released a statement through the Rev. Mark Miller of Faith Presbyterian Church in La Vista. "The Hawkins family extends its sincerest condolences to all those impacted by this senseless and horrible event," the statement read. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading