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(AP) - President Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration for Nebraska, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding from June 14 to June 21. Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations in a dozen counties including Cedar, Cuming, Dakota, Dixon, Franklin, Furnas, Harlan, Kearney, Phelps, Stanton, Thurston, and Wayne. The federal money may be used for emergency work and for repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms and flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.


(NRG)-In honor of its 90th birthday, Good Samaritan Hospital is inviting the community to help them celebrate. A free, old-fashioned picnic lunch will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. this Sunday in the parking area south of the Ron and Carol Cope Heart Center along 31st Street. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, watermelon, birthday cake, and Tropical Sno will be served while the Knights of Columbus choir, Habitat 4 Harmony and the Kearney High School band entertain guests on the Chapel lawn. The public is asked to please park in the lots south of Good Samaritan Hospital for the event. Founded by the Sisters of Saint Francis in 1924, Good Samaritan Hospital has served not only as a medical facility, but also as a community leader for 90 years. Throughout those 90 years, the Good Samaritan Hospital facility has expanded nine times, provided 350,000 residents of central Nebraska and northern Kansas with advanced healthcare, became Nebraska's first accredited Chest Pain Center, was established as a Level II trauma center featuring AirCare emergency helicopter transport, serves as a nationally accredited cancer center, and much more.


(AP) - Two tax policy experts say Nebraska needs to look beyond jobs and wages when studying whether the state's tax incentives actually work. Experts from the Pew Charitable Trusts told lawmakers Thursday that tax incentives may help some industries add jobs, while doing little to benefit others. Pew policy director Robert Zahradnik says tax breaks for certain industries, such as retail, may only displace existing workers because they aren't likely to attract out-of-state residents. Zahradnik says lawmakers should also ask whether demand is growing in the targeted industry, whether targeted businesses are likely to export their goods and services, and whether they need the incentive to expand. The Legislature's Performance Audit Committee is looking at ways to evaluate Nebraska's tax incentive programs.


(AP) - Judge James Livingston has announced his intention to retire from the 9th Judicial District Court bench. Livingston intends to retire Oct. 1. He's been a district court judge since July 1992. The 9th District covers Hall and Buffalo counties. Livingston's office is in Grand Island. The state Judicial Resources Commission will be calling a meeting to determine whether the judgeship must remain in the 9th District or be moved elsewhere. If it remains, then a judicial nominating commission will review applicants and forward the names of finalists to the governor for his consideration.


(AP) - More and more people have been buying new license plates that proclaim that Nebraska is "The Beef State." The Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles began printing the special slogan plates last month after 500 people applied for them, exceeding the threshold for production to begin. Betty Johnson is administrator of the driver and vehicle records division for the DMV, and she says that as of Thursday morning, 118 more of the plates had been sold. The plates cost $70 beyond the price for a normal plate, and the $70 must be paid each year with the licensing renewal. The Nebraska Cattlemen had pushed to return the slogan to state plates, celebrating an industry that officials say contributes billions of dollars to the state economy.


(AP) - A Nebraska bar has received a 35-day suspension of its liquor license for serving alcohol to an 18-year-old who later died in a car crash. The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission handed down the penalty Thursday against the Fire Barn Sports Bar and Grill in Waterloo. The suspension came in response to the Dec. 3, 2012, death of Jacob Dickmeyer. Dickmeyer was killed in a crash after a night of heavy drinking at the bar with another underage friend. Amanda Heiman, the waitress who served the two, was found guilty of procuring alcohol for a minor resulting in death. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years of probation. Co-owner Steve Franson says the bar plans to pay off the suspension, which is allowed under Nebraska law.


(AP) - A tea party activist in Omaha says he gathered enough signatures to get onto the November ballot for Nebraska's 2nd District congressional seat, but he decided not to run. Former state Sen. Chip Maxwell, of Omaha, held a news conference Thursday and said he had more than the 2,000 signatures he needed to get his name on the general election ballot as an independent. Maxwell announced in May that he would enter the race after Republican incumbent Rep. Lee Terry's lackluster primary win over GOP challenger and political unknown Dan Frei. Frei drew more than 47 percent of the vote, despite being outspent 20-to-1 by Terry. Maxwell says he's backing out of the race over fears that the Republican vote would be split, giving Democrat Brad Ashford the seat.


(AP) - Lincoln's public safety director and an Omaha state senator are calling for an expansion of early education as a way to prevent crime. Public Safety director Tom Casady and state Sen. Burke Harr spoke Thursday at the Justice and Law Enforcement Center in Lincoln. Their remarks came with a new report from a Washington-based group, "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids." The report notes that Nebraska has more than 5,000 adults incarcerated. The group is part of the Council for a Strong America, an organization that promotes investments in child care and education programs. Casady says children with a good start are less likely to struggle in school and turn to crime later in life.


(AP) - The federal government says insurers owe Nebraskans more than $1.5 million in refunds because of a provision in the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that nearly 16,600 Nebraska residents will be getting refunds, averaging $108 per family. The law requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect on medical care and quality improvement or return the difference to consumers and employers. Employers can apply refunds in ways that benefit workers or take a discount on future premiums. Individual policyholders owed refunds will get checks, reimbursements to their credit card accounts or see reductions in future premiums.


(AP) - Gibbon officials say damage from the fire that destroyed several vehicles and a city shop building wasn't as bad as feared but still will slow routine maintenance and various projects this summer. The south-central Nebraska city lost four pickups and a street sweeper in Tuesday night's blaze. A dump truck, a loader and a road grader were damaged. No one was injured in the fire, which was fought by crews from Gibbon, Kearney and Shelton. The fire began in the engine compartment of one of the pickups. City Administrator Chris Rector told The Grand Island Independent ( ) that it likely will be months before all the vehicles and tools are replaced.