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.

pardons board protest

Critics of controversial pardon call for apology, more accountability

By: - October 28, 2022

LINCOLN — A group of American Legion members and others took to the streets Friday to protest a controversial pardon granted to a Legion member for a violent sex assault in 1993. Carrying signs that read “Shame on You Neb. Legion Leaders” and “What if it was Your Loved One?” the group called on the […]

sad Farmer

Nebraska farmer says don’t do what he did: misrepresent crop losses

By: - October 27, 2022

LINCOLN — A Nebraska farmer took to the internet Thursday to urge his fellow farmers against doing what he did: misrepresent his crop losses to the federal government. In September, a federal judge ordered Meadow Grove farmer Ross Nelson to pay $1 million in restitution and a $30,000 fine for making a fraudulent crop insurance claim. […]

harvest

Loss to Nebraska farmers due to drought estimated at least $2 billion this year

By: - October 27, 2022

LINCOLN — Drought conditions this year may cost Nebraska corn, soybean and wheat farmers nearly $2 billion, an agriculture economist estimated Thursday. Nathan Dorn, who farms near Firth south of Lincoln, said he’s already cutting back on spending for new cattle and next year’s crop due to lower yields and increased costs for seed, fuel […]

Tenants deserve a right to a jury trial in eviction cases, ACLU and NAACP argue

By: - October 27, 2022

LINCOLN — Renters facing eviction deserve the right to a jury trial, the ACLU of Nebraska and the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP argue in a new  “friend of the court” brief to the Nebraska Supreme Court. The brief was filed Monday in an appeal of an eviction case out of Omaha in which an apartment owner, NP […]

Ex-wife of recently pardoned man, an American Legion official, said she ‘lived with fear every day’

By: - October 27, 2022

LINCOLN — The former wife of a man recently pardoned for violently sexually assaulting her 29 years ago is speaking out for the first time and telling a much different story than what was presented last month to the Nebraska Board of Pardons. Jody Snogren said that her then-estranged husband, John Arias, drove to her […]

street lights

Some love, some hate Lincoln’s defective purple streetlights, but for better or worse, they’re being replaced

By: - October 26, 2022

LINCOLN — The hundreds of purple streetlights in the Capital City are not Halloween decorations, but defective bulbs that will all soon be replaced, city officials said Wednesday. “Some people love the purple lights, some not so much,” said Liz Elliott, director of the Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Department. “But it’s not what we ordered.” […]

tree planting

Tree plantings planned in every county to mark the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day

By: - October 26, 2022

LINCOLN — Travelers set goals to visit every state, bicyclers aspire to ride across the country, and mountaineers seek the highest peaks. But if you’re a tree lover, you plant trees. And to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day, the tourism agency in Nebraska City — the home of the tree-planting holiday — is […]

Nebraska Environmental Trust

State Environmental Trust gets earful about high number of disqualified grants

By: - October 25, 2022

LINCOLN — A state board that hands out grants for environmental projects asked for comments on Tuesday and got an earful of criticism. A trio of testifiers at a “listening session” lambasted the Nebraska Environmental Trust for disqualifying a larger-than-normal number of grant applicants and, in general, for straying from its mission to “conserve, enhance […]

center pivor

Irrigation/power districts in central Nebraska vote to merge

By: - October 24, 2022

LINCOLN — In a special, joint board meeting Monday, directors of the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District and Dawson Public Power District voted to move ahead with a merger of the two entities. The new district — if the merger wins state approval — would be called Platte River Public Power and Irrigation […]

State touts student scores on national math, reading assessment

By: - October 24, 2022

LINCOLN — State education officials on Monday touted the scores of Nebraska’s fourth and eighth graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. No other state scored higher than Nebraska’s fourth graders in math on the 2022 test, and only one state scored higher in eighth-grade math, according to the Nebraska Department of Education. […]

Shredder was likely cause of wildfire in southern Lancaster County that destroyed three homes

By: - October 24, 2022

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add the cause of the fire. LINCOLN — A shredder being used to chop up grass and weeds at a rural property is suspected as the cause of a wildfire Sunday that swept across southern Lancaster County. The blaze destroyed three homes and several outbuildings, and  blackened […]

Back of legislative chambers

Large number of contested races spice 2022 elections for Nebraska Legislature

By: - October 24, 2022

LINCOLN — Nebraska is seeing a larger-than-normal number of  hotly contested campaigns for the State Legislature this fall, with multiple candidates raising more than $100,000 in donations. The races could have major consequences for issues like abortion and concealed carry of firearms that have been blocked in the past by filibusters by at few as […]