Former state Sen. Heath Mello will return to the Capitol later this month as the University of Nebraska's chief lobbyist.
Mello was announced as NU's new associate vice president for university affairs Wednesday. He succeeds Ron Withem, who held the role for 20 years.
As NU's lobbyist and director of state relations, Mello will be responsible for coordinating partnerships between the university and its legislative partners, as well as its constituents throughout the state.
"Working with Heath as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, I saw a talented leader who could solve problems while balancing diverse opinions and ideas," NU President Hank Bounds said in a statement.
Bounds added Mello "understands the importance of relationships in making higher education a key driver of economic and workforce development across the entire state."
An Omaha native and NU alum, Mello served eight years in the Legislature, including as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. In a statement, Mello said he was honored by the opportunity to work with the university in helping "to grow our state educationally and economically."
"I know President Bounds and the university leadership team value partnerships and collaborations to build a more prosperous future for Nebraskans and I'm excited to assist them in this noble endeavor," he said.
Galen Hadley, a former Speaker of the Legislature, applauded Mello as "someone who was fair, honest, and worked to build consensus with colleagues, our governor and many other stakeholders."
Current Speaker Jim Scheer said Mello is capable of setting politics aside to work for the benefit of the state.
"He will excel at this in his new position at the university," Scheer said.
Mello will start Dec. 18, according to the university. His annual salary is set at $165,000.
A giant carnival-sized teddy bear landed a California man in jail Tuesday after a Lancaster County sheriff’s deputy performed surgery on the stuffed animal and found 4 pounds of pot hidden in its belly.
Sheriff Terry Wagner said a deputy stopped Leon Chesney in a 2016 Nissan Sentra at about 1:15 p.m. on Interstate 80 just west of Lincoln and smelled marijuana.
A search turned up a 4-foot-tall teddy bear in the trunk, he said.
Wagner said the deputy squeezed the bear that smelled of pot, felt what he thought were vacuum-sealed bags, cut open the bear and found the marijuana.
He called it one of the more ingenious ways he's seen marijuana concealed. Generally, drugs are hidden in car parts or voids.
“This was a little bit unusual and somewhat hilarious,” Wagner said.
Chesney, of Oceanside, California, was jailed on suspicion of possession of more than a pound of marijuana. He posted bond and was out by 6 p.m.
The bear, on the other hand, stayed behind locked up as evidence. It was photographed in cuffs, a smile frozen on its face.
Nebraska State Patrol troopers seized 126 pounds of marijuana in a traffic stop near the Pleasant Dale interchange on Interstate 80 on Tuesday.
Troopers found the marijuana in six bags inside the cargo area of an eastbound 2017 Kia minivan, which was stopped around 3 p.m. for straddling the center line, according to a patrol news release.
The trooper who stopped the van said it smelled like marijuana, according to the release.
Troopers arrested driver Glenn T. Smith and passenger Juan Reyes, both 43 and of California, on suspicion of possessing marijuana with intent to deliver and no drug tax stamp, the release says. Both were lodged in the Seward County jail.
The patrol estimated the drugs' street value at $378,000.
Board of Commissioners Staff — 8:30 a.m., County-City Building, Room 113, 555 S.10th St. 402-441-6336.
Lancaster County Personnel Policy Board — 1:30 p.m., County-City Building, 555 S. 10th St. 402-441-7886.
Lincoln Choral Artists — With The Homestead Harmonizers Barbershop Chorus, 7 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 2723 N. 50th St. 402-405-8070.
"Christmazz Cabaret" — Nebraska Wesleyan University musical theatre, 7:30 p.m., Studio Theatre, 2710 N. 48th St. 402-465-2384.
"Bell, Book and Candle" — OmniArts Nebraska, 7:30 p.m., Johnny Carson Theater, 11th and Q streets. 402-472-4747.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Symphonic Band — "Cult of Personality," 7:30 p.m., Kimball Recital Hall, 11th and R streets. 402-472-4747.
"Lincoln Late Night Live" — With Tom Osborne (former Husker football coach), Bob Hall (Marvel Comic artist), Scott Young with letters to Santa and Joseph E. Hall (Elvis impersonator), 7:30 p.m., TADA Theatre, 701 P St. 402-438-8232.
"A Christmas Carol" — NWU, 7:30 p.m., McDonald Theatre, Elder Memorial Speech and Theatre Center, 51st Street and Huntington Avenue. 402-465-2384.
"A Christmas Story" — 7:30 p.m., The Stage Theater, 225 Locust St., Hickman. 402-512-1808.
The Alley — Bob the Drag Queen, 10 p.m., 1031 M St.
Bourbon Theatre — After Arizona, Magnetic Souls, Verse & The Vices, 9 p.m., 1415 O St.
The Brew House — Open-mic night, 7-10 p.m., Crete
Brewsky's Haymarket — Blazin' Pianos, dueling pianos show, 7:30 p.m., 201 N. Eighth St.
Coop's Corner — Slyder James & Friends, acoustic guitars, 7-10 p.m. (every Thursday), 4947 Holdrege St.
Cottonwood Cafe Bistro Bar — Nerd Nite, 8 p.m., 440 S. 11th St.
Crescent Moon Coffee — Singer/songwriter open-mic night featuring The Corner, 7 p.m., 140 N. Eighth St., lower level
1867 Bar — Captown Getdown Breakdancing Showcase, 8-11 p.m., 101 N. 14th St.
MoJava Cafe — A Thursday Evening at MoJava with Charles Peek (writer), David Boye (writer/instrumentalist) and Brad Anderson (banjo), 6 p.m., 48th Street and St. Paul Avenue
Pla Mor Ballroom — The Bobby Layne Orchestra special Pearl Harbor Day show with Christmas music and a special tribute to all veterans, 7-9:30 p.m., 6600 West O St.
The Tackroom — Lloyd McCarter, 8:30-11:30 p.m., 1445 Cornhusker Highway
Vega — Dayshell, Eyes Set to Kill, 7 p.m., 350 Canopy St.
Zoo Bar — Ginny Mules with The Toasted Ponies, 6 p.m.; S***hook, 9:30 p.m., 136 N. 14th St.
Ross Media Arts Center — "Novitiate" (R), 4:30 p.m.; "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" (R), 5:10 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 9:20 p.m.; "Young Marx" (NR), 7 p.m. 313 N. 13th St. 402-472-5353.
Nebraska Community Blood Bank blood drive — 8 a.m.-noon, Lincoln Police Department/Public Building Commission, 575 S. 10th St. All presenting donors through December are entered to win men's college basketball tickets. 877-486-9414 or NCBB.org.
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day — 11:55 a.m.-12:55 p.m., Auld Pavilion, 1650 Memorial Drive, Antelope Park. Patriotic music and recorded accounts of events of Dec. 7, 1941. Coffee and doughnuts served before program. Free, public welcome.
Keith and Carol Christmas music performance — 1 p.m., Bennet Senior Center, 970 Monroe St., Bennet.
Friday: UNL Student Art Sales — 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Richards Hall, Room 118 (pottery sale) and Room 121 (photo sale), Stadium Drive and T Street. Raffle tickets available Friday-Saturday; drawing at 5 p.m. Saturday (need not be present to win).
Friday: August Moon musical performance — 10 a.m., Northeast Senior Center, 6310 Platte Ave.
Remembrance service — In honor of your loved one, 2 p.m. Sunday, Roper & Sons Funeral Home, 4300 O St. Anyone who experienced death of a loved one is welcome to attend with coffee reception following. Reservations: 402-476-1225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"James and the Giant Peach" auditions — 7 p.m. Dec. 18-19, Players Theatre, 412 Ella St., Beatrice. Roles: four men, four women, one boy and an ensemble to play various roles. To schedule an audition time: beatricecommunityplayers.com.
Annual Martin Luther King Jr. "Freedom Breakfast" — 7:30-8:30 a.m. Jan. 22, Embassy Suites Hotel , 1040 P St. Seating limited. Tickets available now. 402-202-3267 or Ed Wimes at email@example.com.
Kaempfe, Emily, and Sutton, David, Lincoln, boy, Bryan
Aljaboori, Hiba, and Alenezi, Oday, Lincoln, boy, St. Elizabeth
Colfack, Melanie (Skinner), and Sanner, Eric, Seward, boy, St. Elizabeth
Zeilinger, Amber and Scott, Lincoln, boy, Bryan
Becker, Sarah, and Mitchell, Cody, Lincoln, boy, Bryan
Hernandez, Erika, and Madera, Pablo, Lincoln, girl, St. Elizabeth
Nedrig, Allison, and Ward, Conor, Seward, girl, Bryan
Omerovic, Admira (Karic) and Mehmed, Lincoln, boy, Bryan
Taylor, Tia, and Mooren, Nick, Syracuse, girl, Bryan
Sen. Rob Clements of Elmwood, who was appointed to the Legislature by Gov. Pete Ricketts in February, filed Wednesday as a 2018 candidate for a four-year legislative term.
"The people of Legislative District 2 deserve a leader with real-world experience in building a business and helping others succeed," Clements said.
Clements, a banker, said he is committed to "fiscal responsibility and the drive to help grow a more prosperous state."
In the upcoming legislative session, he said, he would focus especially on tax relief.
Born and raised in Elmwood, Clements is executive vice president of the American Exchange Bank, a fifth-generation, family-operated community bank.