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.

Lawsuit settlement funds obtained by the state go to many places, purposes

By: - November 28, 2022

LINCOLN — The State of Nebraska recently raked in more than $20 million as part of settlements of multi-state consumer lawsuits against corporate giants Google and Walmart. The state will receive nearly $12 million from Google as part of a $391.5 million out-of-court settlement over misleading tracking of users’ locations. Another $11 million is on […]

UNK health students

Scholarships now available for nursing students to address shortage created by COVID-19 resignations

By: - November 28, 2022

LINCOLN — In an effort to address a COVID-19-induced shortage of nurses in Nebraska, the state is now seeking applicants for $2,500-per-semester scholarships for nursing students. A total of $5 million in scholarships is being offered, with recipients being required to practice nursing in Nebraska for a minimum of two years. “Nurses are an indispensable part […]

Dorrington home

Underground Railroad site in Falls City recognized by National Park Service

By: - November 26, 2022

LINCOLN — There was a terrifying annual chore for Robert Nelson during his growing-up years in Falls City. Just before Memorial Day, he and a cousin had to scrub clean a massive, stone mausoleum that contained the burial vaults of his great-great-great-great-grandparents, David and Ann Dorrington. Their resting places were in crypts, down a set […]

prairie in spring

Voluntary grant program aims to restore Sandhills grasslands, wetlands

By: - November 26, 2022

LINCOLN — A voluntary grant program will provide $4 million to landowners in the Sandhills region to remove invasive eastern red cedar trees and restore grasslands and wetlands, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission recently announced. The four-year program, funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, is aimed at restoring grassland and wetland habitat […]

snow geese

Death of waterfowl at Lewis & Clark Lake in northeast Nebraska prompts advisory

By: - November 23, 2022

LINCOLN — A die-off of at least a couple hundred waterfowl around Lewis & Clark Lake in northeast Nebraska has prompted state wildlife officials to issue a warning. The public is being asked to avoid all contact with sick or dead birds encountered in that area and report them to Game and Parks, officials said. […]

Nebraska State Capitol Building

Omaha school pension fund shows progress but superintendent foresees headwinds

By: - November 22, 2022

LINCOLN — The troubled pension fund for Omaha teachers has shown improvement over the past five years, going from 53% fully funded to about 63%, a state legislative committee was told Tuesday. That’s because the state’s largest school district has contributed more than the amount recommended by actuaries to maintain the pension fund in each […]

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts

Ricketts sticks to his script, says wait and see about U.S. Senate vacancy

By: - November 21, 2022

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts stuck to his script Monday, declining to say whether he’s interested, or disinterested, in filling the vacancy created by the expected resignation of U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. The closest he came was in responding to a caller to his monthly radio call-in show Monday afternoon. The caller asked about […]

axiotes crash

Elkhorn man says he’s no ‘super hero’ but a person who helped someone in need

By: - November 21, 2022

LINCOLN — After watching a semi-trailer truck slam into an SUV, pinning it against a concrete barrier along Interstate 80, Frank Axiotes said he didn’t think twice. He immediately pulled over, told his wife and son to call 911,and charged across the Interstate to the flaming accident scene. Axiotes pulled a 9-year-old boy from the […]

Wilderness Park protest

Activists argue for dismissal of lawsuit filed over controversial development near Lincoln’s Wilderness Park

By: - November 21, 2022

LINCOLN — Attorneys for Native American activists asked a judge Friday to dismiss a lawsuit filed against them by the City of Lincoln over the right to appeal a controversial zoning decision. The court action was a continuation of protests over the approval of a housing development called Wilderness Crossing adjacent to Lincoln’s Wilderness Park […]

Nebraska State Capitol Building

State lawmakers crafting a ‘code of conduct,’ mulling hiring an attorney for workplace issues

By: - November 18, 2022

NEBRASKA CITY, Nebraska — A special legislative committee is crafting a first-ever “code of conduct” for Nebraska legislators in the wake of complaints about the handling of a workplace harassment case that led to the resignation of Sen. Mike Groene. The group is also considering hiring an attorney with expertise in workplace issues. That was […]

chicken compost

Compost piles containing dead chickens near David City wellfield to be removed

By: - November 18, 2022

DAVID CITY, NEBRASKA — Piles of compost containing dead chicken parts are expected to be removed soon after the mayor of David City and nearby residents complained that the compost was within the wellhead protection area for the town’s water supply. But while state officials said the composting operation followed applicable rules, the incident has […]

Key senator says rosy state finances call for accelerating tax breaks

By: - November 17, 2022

LINCOLN — A key state lawmaker said Thursday that she’s aiming to accelerate tax breaks passed this year, in light of a glut of excess state tax funds. That would mean that phased-in reductions in state personal income and corporate taxes could happen sooner, along with the gradual elimination of state taxes on Social Security […]