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.

Alvo tire pile

Massive tire pile is no more, and village of Alvo and new recycler look ahead

By: - September 7, 2022

LINCOLN – A massive pile of scrap tires in a small Nebraska village, which had posed both a dangerous fire threat and a breeding ground for mosquitos, has been cleaned up. Regulators with the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy affirmed recently that the huge pile of scrap tires — as high as 20 feet […]

Town hall scheduled Wednesday concerning transition from Saint Francis Ministries

By: - September 6, 2022

LINCOLN — State officials on Wednesday will provide an update, and take feedback, on the transition of child welfare case management in eastern Nebraska from Saint Francis Ministries to the state. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services cancelled its contract with Saint Francis in December of 2021 after the Kansas-based social services provider […]

tree planting

Nebraska tree program celebrates 100 million trees and shrubs planted

By: - September 6, 2022

LINCOLN — A 50-year-old program that annually distributes hundreds of thousands of tree and shrub seedlings celebrated a milestone recently, planting a tree at the Nebraska State Capitol to represent that 100 million trees and shrubs have been put in the ground. The Conservation Tree Program, run by Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts since 1972, distributes […]

prairie in spring

Prairie preservationists mourn loss of virgin prairie at Google data center site

By: - September 6, 2022

“Anybody can love the mountains, but it takes a soul to love the prairie.” — Willa Cather OMAHA — A prairie in bloom has a special attraction for biologists like Tom Bragg and Glenn Pollock. Both can tell stories of being chased off a small, private plot of virgin prairie they had individually spied while […]

school hallway lockers

State Patrol: Many options for parents to report concerns about school safety

By: - September 5, 2022

LINCOLN — The Nebraska State Patrol and Nebraska Department of Education are reminding parents, students, and schools officials that there are many options for reporting school or student safety concerns. The reminder comes as schools in Nebraska have begun a new school year. To report threats of school violence or any suspicious activity surrounding Nebraska’s […]

Nebraska farmer ordered to pay $1 million in restitution for crop insurance fraud

By: - September 5, 2022

LINCOLN — A a federal judge has ordered a Newman Grove farmer to pay $1 million in restitution, as well as a $30,000 fine, for making a fraudulent statement on a crop insurance claim. Ross Nelson, 48, of Newman Grove, had provided false losses of soybeans and corn when he filed a claim in 2015 […]

Lincoln at Dusk with Silhouetted Nebraska State Capitol

Nebraska’s Lincoln ranked as third-best state capital for living in U.S.

By: - September 5, 2022

LINCOLN — An online financial advice firm is ranking Lincoln as the nation’s third best state capital to live in, right behind Pierre, South Dakota, and Madison, Wisconsin. SmartAsset.com rated state capitals on a variety of factors, including estimated cost of living, unemployment rate, income growth, and high school graduation rate.  Lincoln ranked highest for […]

Saint Francis Ministries

Nebraska Attorney General now says he’ll explore whether the state was a victim of fraud in Saint Francis contract

By: - September 2, 2022

LINCOLN – Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson indicated Friday he will evaluate the state’s legal options in pursuing funds that may have been fraudulently spent via the state’s contract with a Kansas foster care provider. Peterson responded to a request by State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha to explore whether Saint Francis Ministries defrauded the […]

Nebraska ‘robotics cluster’ to receive $25 million from Biden challenge to train more workers in high-tech ag jobs

By: - September 2, 2022

 LINCOLN — A Nebraska coalition seeking to increase the state’s workforce in robotics and automated manufacturing in agriculture will receive $25 million through a workforce initiative of President Joe Biden. On Friday, the White House announced that the Heartland Robotics Cluster is one of 21 recipients nationally in the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional […]

Saint Francis Ministries

Nebraska officials react coolly to call for legal steps in Saint Francis Ministries case

By: - September 1, 2022

LINCOLN — Nebraska officials reacted coolly to a call by State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh on Thursday to explore whether the State of Nebraska was defrauded during its failed, child welfare contract with Saint Francis Ministries. The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, which Cavanaugh asked to take some initial legal action, declined to comment, and a spokeswoman […]

Scott Frakes

Frakes, appointed by Gov. Ricketts to turn around troubled Nebraska prison system, is leaving

By: - September 1, 2022

LINCOLN — Scott Frakes, handpicked by Gov. Pete Ricketts to turn around a troubled state prison system, has announced that he’s leaving his $255,000-a-year post in October. Frakes, who is now 64, was hired shortly after Ricketts took office in 2015. At the time, the Nebraska Department of Corrections was reeling from multiple problems, including […]

Sustainable Beef

Walmart announces investment in North Platte beef processing facility

By: - August 31, 2022

LINCOLN — A rancher-owned beef processing plant that is planned in North Platte took another step toward reality Wednesday as Walmart, a huge customer for beef, announced it has agreed to invest a minority stake in the venture. Sustainable Beef LLC has been planning a $325 million beef processing facility on North Platte’s eastern edge […]