Farms and businesses associated with Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen received federally funded pandemic loans totaling $7.8 million last year — about $5 million of which was returned to the government.
The loans were provided through the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal program created to help farms, ranches, small businesses and nonprofits weather the economic storms created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
All told, Nebraska entities got 114,684 PPP loans during two five-month periods in 2020 and 2021. Statewide, the loans totaled $5.39 billion.
Sixteen businesses affiliated with the Columbus-based Pillen Family Farms got loans to support 1,057 jobs, according to records released by the Small Business Administration. The loans ranged from $1.9 million for Platte Center West, a hog farming operation, to $63,025 for Pillen Family Farms Vet Services.
Sarah Pillen, co-CEO of Pillen Family Farms, said the money helped keep employees paid at a time of massive disruptions in the meatpacking industry that caused revenue losses further down the supply chain. At the time, there was no way to know how long the disruptions would last.
People are also reading…
The loans were forgiven under the terms of the program; however, the businesses later returned $5.08 million of the total received, she said.
“Like livestock producers across the country, Pillen Family Farms suddenly faced not only the challenge of keeping employees on the job without normal revenues, but also the ongoing costs of caring for animals that couldn’t be sold (including feed, water, veterinary care, and utility costs),” she said in an email.
“The Trump administration’s support enabled farmers and ranchers to weather the massive market disruptions caused by COVID-19 and continue to produce America’s food supply, and we’re grateful,” she said.
Other candidates seeking the governor’s seat in 2022 declined to comment on Pillen’s use of the PPP loans, including GOP contenders Charles Herbster and Brett Lindstrom and Democratic candidate Carol Blood.
Gov. Pete Ricketts said the state had encouraged Nebraskans to apply for the loans if they were eligible.
“Every business was doing everything they could do to meet the challenges of the moment,” he said. “Just like everyone else, the Pillens were entitled to apply for this help. I applaud them for going above and beyond and repaying a large portion of their PPP, even when most of these loans are forgiven.”
No PPP loans were found for Nebraska-based entities tied to other announced gubernatorial candidates, to potential candidates Theresa Thibodeau and former Gov. Dave Heineman, or to Ricketts.
Milestones in Nebraska's coronavirus fight
See the top stories on coronavirus in Lincoln and Nebraska since the pandemic first affected the area in March.
Hospitals must keep 10% of their beds open to continue to offer elective surgeries, $40 million in CARES money will be targeted to reducing hospital staff shortages and large gatherings will again be limited to 50% capacity.
While many of the 30 COVID-19 deaths have involved Lancaster County residents with underlying health conditions, Lopez said some deaths, like that of 46-year-old man, involved people who were otherwise healthy.
LPS says all the exposures of positive cases -- including the 10 at Zeman Elementary since Sept. 10 -- have been traced to sources outside the school.
"The assumption that if you get sick we're going to have a hospital bed for you is a false assumption," said Dr. Daniel Johnson, division chief of critical care at the Nebraska Medicine.
There are 501 deaths linked to the coronavirus in the state, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The state's case total is now 47,807.
After months of mostly sitting idle, Pinnacle Bank Arena was filled with dirt, bulls and plenty of cowboy hats Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
In other years, "Backyard Farmer" fielded about 100 viewer questions each week. This season, that number reached 240.
Nebraska reported more new cases of the coronavirus on Friday than at any point during the pandemic, with 792 cases pushing the statewide total to 46,977.
UNMC Chancellor Dr. Jeffrey Gold also noted that there still are "plenty of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators" available to meet the challenge.
Test Nebraska was the only option available to allow the state to quickly ramp up its capacity to thousands of tests per day, a state official said.
The club's Facebook page advertised the gathering as a "9/11 Never Forget" event. The event drew 75 people with dancing and little mask wearing.
Prices for hogs dropped 53% from January to April, according to the report, while prices for live cattle dropped 25%. While crop prices did not see as big of a decline, they were in worse shape heading into the year than livestock prices.
Pat Lopez is isolating at home and has been in contact with Health Department staff, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said.
The plan is for the season to begin the weekend of Oct. 23-24, and it revolves around rigid coronavirus protocols.
As of Friday afternoon, Lancaster County had recorded 498 new cases this week, up from last week’s high of 476.
Coronavirus-related restrictions will be loosened even though COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are at their highest levels since late spring.
Lincoln City Attorney Yohance Christie said: "This lawsuit has no merit."
Nebraska has developed its own in-house rapid coronavirus system, which will considerably speed up the testing process for student-athletes.
Voluntary tests were offered to 600 inmates last week, and 332 agreed to be tested. Tests will be offered to the remaining inmates at the facility starting Sunday.
Lydia and Carlos Tibbs were an inseparable duo known for their joyful embrace of life and of the people they met. "They covered you with their love."
The dashboard shows the first case on campus was reported Aug. 16 at the tail-end of student move-in for the fall semester. The highest number of cases reported in one day was Wednesday, where 31 cases were reported.
Kevin Hopper, a technical consultant in Information Technology Services, fell ill earlier this summer and was hospitalized for about a month before he died Aug. 19, according to an obituary.
North Star coach Tony Kobza attributed some of his team's missteps on Friday night to unique practice circumstances. But it's not an excuse, he says.
Athletic director Bill Moos confirmed to the Journal Star that 51 employees in his department of more than 330 are being furloughed for four months.
LPS reported four positive COVID-19 cases during the first week of school, compared to 35 cases in Omaha-area schools.
NU will have to dip into its healthy "rainy day" financial reserve. Bill Moos: "It's as rainy as I've ever seen it."
The Lincoln City Council suspended its rules, then held a public hearing to appoint Pat Lopez as health director, a decision drawing the scorn of local residents already critical of her decisions.
On the first day of remote learning, 14,322 students Zoomed into classes, collectively spending more than 3 million minutes on Zoom, though some had problems getting onto Zoom.
The 16 cases confirmed Friday marked the lowest number of new daily cases this week, and Lancaster County headed into the weekend positioned to have the fewest weekly total of new cases since late June.
Contests hosted by LPS schools will be limited to immediate family only, which is defined in a news release sent out Friday afternoon.
On Wednesday, elementary schools were the only ones with all students in attendance, with just sixth- and ninth-graders at middle and high schools.
The decision comes one day after Scott Frost and three other Big Ten coaches went public with their desire to play football this fall.
"I think the matter is, by and large, over,” Madsen's attorney J.L. Spray said of the dispute between the business and Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.
At around 7:55 a.m., officers arrived at Madsen's, marking the first time police have been involved in the weeklong squabbling between the local business and city over alleged violations of directed health measures.
“I think overwhelming is a good word,” said Lincoln Education Association President Rita Bennett, especially for teachers who all want to do things well. “It is very, very frustrating. No one wants to drop a ball.”
Information contained in property tax protests gives a rare look into what kinds of declines some national companies are seeing in Lincoln.
There are three options for ticket holders who don't wish to attend games this season.
Staff from the health department returned to the business on Thursday and observed continued violations of the directed health measure, according to the latest closure order.
In a closed third-floor courtroom with dozens watching online, the Lincoln City Attorney's Office laid out its case Wednesday for why a judge should order the closure of Madsen's Bowling and Billiards for violating directed health measures.
About one-third of the surveys drew responses, with questions also focused on community preparedness for emergencies and individuals' financial resilience.
Tony Kobza nervously paid close attention to the Lancaster County COVID-19 statistics every day the past three weeks, fretting that the rising…
In a letter signed by Doug Peterson and 30 other attorneys general, they say Gilead has been "unable to assure a supply of remdesivir sufficient to alleviate the health and safety needs of the country amid this pandemic."
Guidelines range from extending the sideline box for football players to the 10-yard lines to no switching of benches between volleyball sets.
The ARC on July 28 reaffirmed its commitment to move forward with the fall season and is sticking with it as every other small-school conference pulls the plug.
The City Attorney's Office late Monday afternoon asked a judge to order a Lincoln bowling alley owner to comply with local health directives, …
Protesters briefly blocked Gov. Pete Ricketts’ car as it left the state Capitol on Monday, then set up a "classroom" on the Capitol steps to i…
Elementary and middle school students — especially those from low-income schools — have shown the most interest in learning remotely when Linc…
Other highlights from the meeting include Week 0 teams set to start practice; COVID-19 and wild card points; and transfer rules.
The touring version of the iconic ’60s rock ’n’ roll band brought the "fun, fun, fun" to Pinewood Bowl on Sunday even amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As of late afternoon Friday, forms to learn remotely had been submitted for about 16% of LPS students, kindergarten registrations were down by about 120 students compared with last year, and statewide applications for home schooling are up 21%.
A group of Community Breastfeeding Educators found dads from their cultural communities to share a pandemic safety message with their fellow dads to help keep families free of the virus.
"We're treating it like a civil matter," Lincoln City Attorney Yohance Christie said Saturday evening. "In order to enforce a civil matter, you go to court."
The Omaha site will seek about 350 participants for the COVID-19 vaccine trial. “They’re the true heroes here.”
Jocelyn Herstein lives in Lincoln but has a German fiance living in Switzerland; they and others like them bear the brunt of travel restrictions.
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department has moved its COVID-19 risk dial to the low-orange range, still considered high-risk but an imp…
Adi Pour said Nebraska Attorney General's Office questioned her ability to implement a mask requirement.
The in-person portion of the fair looked much different Thursday, with none of the usual extras including rides, carnival games, food stands and entertainers. It seemed that there were more animals on the fairgrounds than people.
Come Saturday, 27 of the state's 93 counties will be clear of most restrictions prompted by the coronavirus.
More than half of COVID-19 cases in the past three weeks have hit those between 21 and 29.
Students will attend in-person classes two or three days a week based on their last name.
The housing unit where the outbreak occurred is separate from the intake area where more than 100 protesters were processed over the weekend, a spokesperson said.
So far, 376 employees have asked for some kind of accommodations from LPS, including requests to work remotely, take leave or modify their work spaces with plexiglass barriers or additional PPE.
Despite the closures announced Saturday, many young Lincoln residents went out in the area that night to drink and dine. Many were seated in outdoor areas, but some bars had a number of patrons indoors as well.
Lancaster County broke last week's record for the most cases of COVID-19 reported in a single week.
Two downtown bars, along with the Railyard commons area, have been ordered to close for violations of the city's directed health measure.
Celebrations were in order for Lincoln Southwest graduates as they streamed out of Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday morning. Inside, it was time to get to work.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, faculty and staff will have access to COVID-19 testing this fall through a University Health Center p…
A recent spike of cases in Thayer County was linked to golf tournaments in Clay Center and York.
District officials have a contact tracing and notification plan in place for the “likely event” that a student or staff member is exposed to coronavirus, Steve Joel said.
City health officials are considering restricting gathering sizes, revising sports requirements, requiring masks in public spaces and even clo…
Wearing a mask is "just one tool" in controlling the virus, along with social distancing and hand-washing, Gov. Ricketts said, and "I think we get better compliance if you don't make it a mandate."
City health officials sounded an alarm Friday about rising coronavirus cases in Lancaster County, pushing the local risk dial into the orange,…
"Ten percent of Nebraskans have been tested," the governor said. "That's a good number. That's progress."
Plans are to host 4-H exhibits and contests on the first weekend of the fair, and FFA activities on the second weekend. The fair might "go dark" during the week, director Bill Ogg said.
Nebraska has tested roughly 250 student-athletes and staff, and there have been eight positive tests, including five football players.
The decision by Lincoln Public Schools to bring staff and students back to school in the fall, Brent Toalson worried, would pose too great a chance that he could expose his family to the virus.
So far this month, 65% of the positive cases have been in people under 40, interim Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department Director Pat Lopez said Friday.
State Sen. Mike Moser was working outside in his yard the night before Mother’s Day when it became apparent something was wrong.
Parents who oppose having students and staff wear masks when school resumes in the fall asked the Lincoln Board of Education to reconsider the…
The Event Center pre-party will feature Omaha country band Silas Creek with food trucks on the grounds and beverage sales.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus will look a lot different for the fall 2020 semester.
"Customers may be encouraged to wear face coverings, but may not be refused service for failure to do so," according to Taylor Gage, the governor's spokesman.
Much of what the coming school year will look like -- masks for students or remote learning -- depends on the "risk dial" maintained by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.
Less than a day after announcing plans to hold drive-thru graduations at high schools, Lincoln Public Schools made arrangements for modified in-person ceremonies to be held at the arena.
Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday announced the further loosening of restrictions implemented to control the spread of the coronavirus in Nebraska,…
The risk dial remains in the moderate category, but the dial inched closer to the low risk area.
Nebraska could suffer nearly $3.7 billion in agricultural income losses this year due to the coronavirus if economic conditions do not improve…
Pat Lopez, interim director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, stressed the importance of tests for those who gathered among large crowds.
Inmates in Nebraska's 10 prisons may voluntarily seek coronavirus testing even if they show no symptoms, Nebraska Department of Correctional S…
Officials said they plan to test all National Guard personnel who have been on duty assisting police in Lincoln and Omaha.
Nebraska now has a second case of a coronavirus-related complication that affects children.
Lincoln's first person identified to have a case of community spread COVID-19 had his family tested for antibodies. Both the results and what they mean are mixed.
Eleven employees and one patient have tested positive for the coronavirus at the state-run psychiatric hospital in Lincoln.
Though state-level data about the effects of COVID-19 on Nebraskans remain incomplete, the numbers indicate minorities were diagnosed with the…
On a calendar void of the Red-White Spring Game, the Lincoln Marathon and the blue jackets of the annual state FFA convention, the loss of the…
"I wouldn't be running this test in this laboratory if I didn't believe in it," said CHI Health St. Elizabeth lab director Becky Croner. "... If there is any reason I don't believe the results are correct, we pull it and run it again."
No official city fireworks this year, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said. What do you think of the decision?
Six weeks ago, a Boy Scout from Firth launched a 3-D printing project to help the sore ears of frontline workers during the pandemic; he's shipping free EarSavers all over the country now.
After 30 days at the medical center and three weeks of isolation at her father’s home in west Omaha, Emma Hutchinson was allowed to resume eating solid food and say goodbye to “Fred,” her nickname for the feeding tube.
More than 1,000 residents have now been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Lincoln and Lancaster County, health officials announced Friday.
Monday's flyover was part of a pre-planned training flight and included more than 30 Nebraska hospitals, ending with those in Lincoln.
Prosecutors charged Nyadak Tut, of Lincoln, with assault on a health care professional, a felony.
For Marci Davison of Carmela's, and other Lincoln business owners, reopening after a trying six weeks marked a milestone of sorts.
Gov. Pete Ricketts called the suggestion "ludicrous."
The city begins its new directed health measure on Monday. It runs through June 30.
Lincoln and Lancaster County will implement eased restrictions beginning Monday, after Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and her health director relu…