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This Hour: Latest Nebraska news, sports, business and entertainment

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Heineman signs Neb. water sustainability bill

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Governor Dave Heineman has signed a bill designed to help Nebraska prepare for floods, water shortages and water quality problems.

The measure approved Wednesday will provide about $11 million annually to help pay for projects related to water management and quality, flood control, and compliance with interstate compacts. It will generate an estimated $32 million by mid-2015.

The bill by Senator Tom Carlson of Holdrege would also expand the Natural Resources Commission, from 16 members to 27, to ensure that more major water users are represented. The new commission would include irrigators, cities, public power districts and wildlife conservation groups.

Senator Mark Christensen of Imperial says the law will help bring together surface and groundwater users, who are often at odds.

The bill is LB1098.


Heineman hails tax cuts passed by Neb. Legislature

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman says he's pleased with tax-cut bills approved by lawmakers, despite their rejection of proposals to lower top income-tax rates and taxable farmland values.

The Republican governor says the legislative session that ends Thursday will have provided a combined $412 million in tax reductions over the next five years.

The measures will require income-tax brackets to keep pace with inflation, provide exemptions for farm equipment parts, expand Nebraska's homestead exemption program, and place an additional $25 million annually in Nebraska's property tax credit program.

Lawmakers rejected proposals that would have lowered Nebraska's top income tax rate, as well as the percentage of agricultural land that can be taxed. Heineman says he wishes the state could have acted on both, but he believes they will return next year.


Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Authorities say a toddler has been reunited with his mother after employees found him playing inside a claw crane machine at a Nebraska bowling alley.

Lincoln police say a 24-year-old woman called 911 Monday afternoon because her 3-year-old son was missing from her apartment.

Employees at the bowling alley across the street meanwhile called police to say a small boy was playing with stuffed animals inside the coin-operated machine.

It was unclear how the boy ended up inside the claw crane machine. A representative from the vending machine company let him out and he was reunited with his mother a short time later. He was not hurt.

Police say the mother was not cited because she quickly reported that her son was missing and there were no indications of neglect.


18-year-old's body found in southwest Nebraska

TRENTON, Neb. (AP) - Authorities are investigating the death of a missing 18-year-old man whose body was found in southwest Nebraska.

The Hitchcock County Sheriff Bryan Leggott said in a website posting that preliminary autopsy results have helped identify the body as that of Austin Wright. The body was found Saturday about four miles southwest of Palisade.

Wright had been reported missing by his family and was last seen in McCook on March 8th.

The sheriff declined to release any other information.


Suspect found guilty in 4 Omaha shooting deaths

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A judge has found a 27-year-old man guilty of murder in the shooting deaths of four people in Omaha last summer.

Nikko Jenkins pleaded no contest Wednesday to four counts of first-degree murder and eight weapons counts. Douglas County District Court Judge Peter Bataillon found him guilty on all counts

Jenkins is acting as his own attorney.

He is accused of killing four people in three separate attacks over 10 days after he was released from prison on July 30.

Jenkins had previously pleaded not guilty, claiming he didn't receive proper mental health treatment while in prison.

A no-contest plea acknowledges there is enough evidence to convict but it is not an admittance of guilt.


Child welfare expert in disturbance case on leave

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A child welfare expert accused of exposing himself to teenage girls in Lincoln has been placed on sick leave from his job.

The University of Southern Maine tells Omaha television station KETV that 68-year-old Steven Preister is on sick leave from his associate director job at the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement, based in Portland, Maine. The school is responsible for hiring at the center.

Preister is charged with public nudity and disturbing the peace in connection to an incident April 7th at the Cornhusker Marriott in Lincoln. He is accused of yelling at four girls, following them to their room and trying to stop them from closing their door. The girls said Preister appeared intoxicated.

Preister has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges.


Homestead monument plans prairie burn

BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) - Homestead National Monument of America will conduct a prescribed burn on more than 60 acres of its restored tallgrass prairie in southeast Nebraska.

Officials say the burn will occur the first day in which favorable and safe conditions exist. Representatives from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local firefighters will aid in setting and controlling the flames.

Homestead Superintendent Mark Engler says fire is used to control woody plants, invasive species and reduce thatch. He says fire "is a natural occurrence that holds many benefits for the native prairie grasses."

The monument's 2.5 miles of trails will be closed during the burn.

Homestead National Monument of America sits four miles west of Beatrice, along Nebraska Highway 4.


Neb-Omaha's Derrin Hansen signs a 4-year contract

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska-Omaha men's basketball coach Derrin Hansen has signed a new contract that will keep him at the school through the 2017 to 2018 season.

Hansen is 149-121 in nine seasons at UNO, the last three as a transitioning Division One program. The Mavericks were 17-15 overall and 5-9 in the Summit League this past season.

Hansen will earn $125,000 this year, with his salary increasing to $170,000 for 2017 to 2018.

The Mavs will become eligible for the NCAA tournament in 2015 to 2016. Hansen will be paid a $6,000 bonus for winning the Summit League tournament title and the automatic NCAA bid that goes with it. He would receive $10,000 for each NCAA tournament win.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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