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.

school hallway lockers

Nebraska student scores on ACT dropped slightly, but rank well among peer states

By: - October 12, 2022

LINCOLN — Average ACT composite scores by Nebraska students dropped slightly in 2022, from 20.0 in 2021 to 19.4 in 2022. But the state still ranked high among states where more than 90% of all high school students take the college entry test, according to the Nebraska Department of Education. In 2022, 94% of Nebraska […]

harvest

‘National Farm Day’ fetes the 44,800 farms and ranches in the state

By: - October 12, 2022

LINCOLN — Wednesday was “National Farm Day,” designed to recognize the contributions of those who till the soil and tend to the livestock in the United States. Here are some facts about farming in the Cornhusker State and nationally, compiled by the Nebraska Corn Board and from the Nebraska Agriculture Fact Card: The U.S. had […]

Susanne Shore

First Lady doubles down on her support for Democratic congressional candidate Patty Pansing Brooks

By: - October 11, 2022

LINCOLN — First Lady Susanne Shore is doubling down on her support for the Democrat in the 1st Congressional District race, State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks. In a video released Tuesday, Shore — who doesn’t share her husband’s Republican Party affiliation — formally endorsed the Lincoln legislator, highlighting their shared passion for children. “I’m passionate […]

Nebraska prison watchdog says death of inmate might have been prevented with regular health exams

By: - October 11, 2022

LINCOLN — The death of Nebraska prison inmate Niccole Wetherell from cervical cancer might have been prevented if she had received regular, preventive health examinations, according to a state prison watchdog. The Inspector General of the Nebraska Correctional System, in a report Tuesday, said the Nebraska Department of Corrections is out of compliance with a […]

Wes Studi

Actor Wes Studi receives first Chief Standing Bear award for courage

By: - October 10, 2022

LINCOLN — An actor known for bringing “fully developed” Native American characters to the big screen, in movies ranging from “Dances with Wolves” to “Avatar,” is the inaugural recipient of the Chief Standing Bear Prize for Courage. Wes Studi received the award Monday night at a sold-out banquet at Lincoln’s Lied Center to celebrate the […]

Scott Frakes

Frakes says he’s leaving the Nebraska prison system in a better place

By: - October 10, 2022

LINCOLN — Scott Frakes arrived from Washington State in 2015 with a mandate to turn around a troubled state prison system in Nebraska, which suffered from overcrowding, staff shortages and a scandal involving the mistaken early release of some inmates. The 64-year-old leaves his $255,000-a-year post later this month for retirement in his home state […]

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen

Ricketts punts decision to next governor to appoint replacement for Ben Sasse if he resigns

By: - October 7, 2022

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts made clear on Friday that not he, but the next Nebraska governor, will select a replacement for U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, who is expected to resign to become president of the University of Florida. Ricketts issued a statement Friday afternoon after speculation that he might appoint himself to the Senate […]

Nebraska man gets prison for threatening Colorado election official

By: - October 7, 2022

LINCOLN — A Lincoln man was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in prison for making threatening posts on an Instagram page concerning Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold. Among the posts made by 42-year-old Travis Ford were ones that said, “Do you feel safe? You shouldn’t.”And “Your security detail is far too thin and incompetent […]

Ricketts

Ricketts could appoint himself to fill U.S. Senate seat, but should he?

By: - October 6, 2022

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts ought to consider appointing himself to the U.S. Senate, or making that happen, some political observers said Thursday, even though the track record for such moves isn’t great. Some Nebraska Republicans, on background, predicted Ricketts would not appoint himself, though they, too, felt he should consider it. With the expected […]

Four-wheel vehicle started fire in Nebraska National Forest near Halsey, officials now say

By: - October 6, 2022

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information about the cause of the fire. LINCOLN — Officials confirmed Thursday that a four-wheel utility terrain vehicle (UTV) somehow sparked the wildfire that scorched more than 18,000 acres in and near the Nebraska National Forest. The fire was declared 94% contained Thursday morning, but later […]

Nebraska Sen. Brewer headed back to Ukraine, this time to take Bibles, evacuate elderly

By: - October 6, 2022

LINCOLN — An old soldier is headed back to the front lines in Ukraine, saying that at certain times in history, you need to get involved. “You can either sit on the sidelines and watch history go by or dive in and try to make a difference,” said State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, a […]

Sustainable Beef

Ceremonial groundbreaking held at North Platte beef-processing facility

By: - October 5, 2022

LINCOLN — Dignitaries, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, broke ground Tuesday on a $325 million beef processing facility on the east edge of North Platte that is projected to have a $1.1 billion yearly economic impact on the area. The Sustainable Beef project, projected to employ 875 workers, is being financed by a group of ranchers/cattle […]