Author

Paul Hammel

Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.

meat locker

Dozens of small meat processors share in first-round of ARPA-funded state grants

By: - September 14, 2022

LINCOLN — For 39 years, Pelican’s Meat Processing has been the custom slaughterhouse of choice in the southeast Nebraska farm town of Johnson.  This week, owners learned the processor will be among dozens of small locker plants that will receive grants of up to $80,000 to help bolster the state’s ability to process beef, pork […]

Pottawattamie County

Justice sought for Nebraska ward whose legs were amputated after being jailed

By: - September 14, 2022

(Editor’s note: this story has been updated with jury verdict on Wednesday) COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA — Kevin Pittillo was delirious, not wearing a shirt or jeans and claiming that he was a former KGB agent from Russia or a current member of the U.S. military, when he was hauled to the Pottawattamie County Jail in […]

Nebraska businesses report great difficulty in hiring, getting applicants

By: - September 14, 2022

LINCOLN — How hard is it for Nebraska companies to find workers? Real hard, according to recent state labor report. In surveys of businesses in the Omaha area and northeast and southeast Nebraska, up to 94% of businesses responding to a “labor availability” survey said they had hiring difficulties. In the Omaha area, 84% of […]

Malcolm X edges NU educator Louise Pound for induction into the Nebraska Hall of Fame

By: - September 12, 2022

LINCOLN — Applause broke out, and some tears were even shed Monday, as Malcolm X was voted in as the next inductee to the Nebraska Hall of Fame. It was the third time the civil rights leader — who was born in Omaha — had been nominated, and he was inducted on a 4-3 vote. […]

State staffing shortages include snow plow operators, has union seeking higher wages to fill ‘critical’ vacancies

By: - September 12, 2022

LINCOLN — Could the State of Nebraska lack enough workers to plow the snow off highways this winter? Nebraska’s public employees union thinks so and are seeking salary increases that keep up with inflation to combat shortages of highway maintenance workers and others in labor negotiations that will begin later this month. “We’re falling behind,” […]

Wilderness Park protest

Lincoln ceremony seen as ‘significant step’ in improving relations between city and Indigenous people

By: - September 12, 2022

(Editor’s note — this story has been updated to reflect that the Center for Great Plains Studies organized this event) LINCOLN — A special ceremony has been scheduled Sept. 21 that includes Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird  to welcome back members of the original inhabitants of the Lincoln area. The event is being organized by […]

Lone Nebraska official on Oath Keepers’ membership list ‘very surprised’

By: - September 9, 2022

LINCOLN — The lone Nebraska official named as part of a deep dive into the leaked membership lists of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group said Friday he was “very surprised” to be the only person named from the state. Larry Langer, who is a member of the village board in Alvo, a small village […]

Perkins County Canlal

Ricketts makes unannounced visit to possible routes for controversial Perkins County Canal

By: - September 9, 2022

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts made an unannounced visit to possible routes of the proposed Perkins County Canal this week and said drought conditions in Nebraska make it even more essential that the controversial project be built.  “This visit reinforced the need for us to protect every drop of South Platte River water we can,” […]

Saint Francis Ministries

State officials say child welfare transition from Saint Francis to state is going well

By: - September 8, 2022

LINCOLN — State officials say the transition of child welfare case management from troubled Saint Francis Ministries to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has gone well over the past six months, while emphasizing there is more work to do. “Right now it’s like a 6-month-old baby we’re doing a ‘well check’ on, […]

Siembra health care tour

Governor moves to prevent backlog of license approvals for 166 medical professionals

By: - September 8, 2022

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts took action Thursday to unclog a backlog of approvals of state licenses for more than 150 health professionals.  This spring, the Nebraska Legislature passed a bill requiring the state to submit fingerprints of certain health care workers to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for national criminal background checks. But the […]

Planned Parenthood North Central States names new CEO

By: - September 7, 2022

LINCOLN — Planned Parenthood North Central States has named a new CEO to run the multi-state agency, which includes Nebraska. On Wednesday, Ruth Richardson, a lawyer and a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, was announced as the replacement for longtime CEO Sarah Stoesz, who is resigning this fall. “Our mission is more important […]

Ricketts press conference

Nebraska looks to deploy millions of dollars to address broadband needs

By: - September 7, 2022

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts again on Wednesday criticized the “partisan” American Rescue Plan Act pushed by President Joe Biden to help the country recover from the pandemic, saying it is fueling today’s high inflation. But the Republican governor said that doesn’t mean Nebraska isn’t going after the millions and millions of dollars of federal […]