Railroads to renew push for one-man crews in contract talks

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The biggest U.S. freight railroads appear ready to renew their push to reduce their crews to one person from the current two-man operation used at major railroads now.

Eight U.S. railroads have filed a federal lawsuit against the union that represents rail conductors to force the SMART union to negotiate about crew sizes during the next round of contract talks that starts in November.

The union says the railroads are undermining the bargaining process by turning to courts to force the issue.

The railroads argue they should be allowed to have the discretion to operate trains with reduced crews and possibly move conductors out of locomotives to ground-based jobs.

Major U.S. railroads have been steadily reducing the size of train crews for decades to reduce costs and take advantage of technological advances that they say reduces the need for crew members.

Nebraska gets grants to fight opioid abuse

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska state officials have received $6.5 million in federal grants to help prevent and treat opioid abuse.

The funding boost announced Tuesday will support the state’s efforts to reduce the number of opioid deaths in Nebraska.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says 183 people died in the state from a drug-involved overdose in 2017. Officials say the national opioid epidemic isn’t as severe in Nebraska as it is in other states, but it’s still a concern.

Officials will use the money for a variety of services, including an addiction medicine fellowship, expanded access to medication-assisted treatment, better tracking of public health data and improvements to Nebraska’s prescription drug monitoring program. It also will help train medical providers and spread public awareness.

Teen arrested as suspect in Omaha store slaying

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Police have arrested a teenager suspected of fatally shooting a man at a store in east Omaha.

The Omaha Police Department said Tuesday that the 17-year-old boy has been taken to the Douglas County Youth Center on suspicion of murder and use of a gun to commit a felony. The Associated Press generally doesn’t name juveniles suspected of crimes.

The shooting occurred around 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Tobacco & Vapes store. Arriving officers found the victim inside the store. He’s been identified as 21-year-old Bahy Altairi. Authorities say he worked there for his father.

Iowa man gets 19 years for crash that killed 2

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska judge has imprisoned an Iowa man who authorities say was driving drunk when his pickup truck rammed into a sports car in north Omaha, fatally injuring two other Iowa men.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that 29-year-old Tony Kenkel, of Earling, Iowa, was sentenced Monday in Omaha to 19 years. He’d pleaded no contest in June to two counts of manslaughter. Prosecutors dropped two related counts in exchange.

Police say the collision occurred Oct. 13 last year on Nebraska Highway 36 near Glenn Cunningham Lake, when Kenkel’s eastbound pickup crossed the center line and struck the oncoming car. Authorities say 21-year-old Joseph Daniels and 21-year-old Thomas Greise were fatally injured. They lived in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Man gets 25 years for postal truck robbery

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A former postal employee has been given 25 years in prison for kidnapping a driver while stealing a U.S. Postal Service truck and its contents in Grand Island.

Federal court records say 45-year-old Gary Fellows was sentenced Monday in Omaha. He’d pleaded guilty to robbery and use of a firearm for a crime of violence.

Prosecutors say Fellows was armed on Dec. 14 last year when he approached the truck driver at the post office distribution center and forced him into the truck cab, covering his head and binding his hands. Fellows then drove the semitrailer to a rest area off Interstate 80, where two other men helped Fellows remove bags of cash and deposits from the trailer. The loss to the U.S. Postal Service was set at more than $68,500.

Prosecutors say Fellows was employed by the U.S. Postal Service at the time as a truck driver in Omaha.

Co-defendants Sidney Britt and Joshua Britt are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 18.

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