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This Hour: Latest Nebraska news, sports, business and entertainment

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POLK COUNTY DROWNING

Drowning reported at private lake in Polk County

COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) - An official says a man who drowned at a private lake in rural Polk County fell into the water.

Polk County Attorney Ron Colling says the man was unable to get back on the dock after he fell Saturday night at a lake northwest of Clear Creek.

The Columbus Telegram says (http://bit.ly/YTVE14 ) Columbus Rescue was sent to the lake a little before 9:30 p.m. The body was recovered around 10 p.m.

More information about victim hasn't been formally released.

MARIJUANA BUST

Nebraska Patrol finds nearly 100 pounds of pot

SEWARD, Neb. (AP) - Two people from Colorado face charges in connection to the discovery of nearly 100 pounds of marijuana in a car in Nebraska.

The Nebraska State Patrol says the men were stopped Sunday morning on Interstate 80 in Seward County. A trooper stopped the vehicle for following too close.

The trooper was given consent to search the car, where more than 99 pounds of marijuana was found in a suitcase in the trunk.

The driver, 26-year-old Santiago Adame-Melchor, and passenger, 26-year-old Anahit Conejo-Galicoa, both of Aurora, Colorado, were arrested and taken to the county jail. They face a charge each of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.

Court records do not list attorneys.

SCHOOL FUNDING-NEBRASKA

Nebraska schools rely heavily on property taxes

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A new report says Nebraska's K-12 public schools rely more heavily on local taxes for funding than any other state in the nation.

The report released Monday by the OpenSky Policy Institute notes that more than 55 percent of school funding came from local sources in the last school year, while nearly 37 percent came from the state. The rest came from federal sources.

Executive director Renee Fry says most local funding comes from property taxes, which has created a divide between rural schools and urban districts with more students. Farmers in rural districts often pay more because they own valuable land, not because of their incomes.

The report does not make specific recommendations, but could factor into debates next year among lawmakers who are looking at the funding formula.

NE--INTO ADULTHOOD

Program to help ex-Nebraska wards into adulthood

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Federal authorities have approved Nebraska's new program that's aimed at helping former state wards transition to adulthood.

It's called Bridge to Independence, and on Oct. 20 it's expected to begin helping former foster children who have aged out of state custody at 19. State legislation passed in 2013 and 2014 authorized the program, but funding approval by the federal government was necessary before it could begin. Since Jan. 1, 51 former wards aged out of the system, and 41 more will age out by the end of the year.

Caseworkers called "independence coordinators" will meet with the former wards monthly and help them make life choices. Those participating in the program could receive monthly stipends to assist with living costs such as housing, education and other expenses.

MINIMUM WAGE-HEINEMAN

Heineman opposes minimum wage increase proposal

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Gov. Dave Heineman opposes the ballot measure to increase the minimum wage in Nebraska to $9 an hour by 2016.

Heineman said Monday that he would vote against the minimum wage proposal.

Heineman says he understands it's difficult to live on a minimum wage salary, but he thinks it's better to help workers improve their skills through training so they can get better jobs.

Currently, Nebraska's minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Heineman says he thinks it's better to keep Nebraska's minimum wage linked to the federal standard.

CIVIL WAR VETS-NEW HEADSTONES

Headstones mark Nebraska graves of Civil War vets

NORFOLK, Neb. (AP) - New headstones mark the final Nebraska resting places of two veterans of the Civil War.

The Norfolk Daily News says about 50 people gathered Sunday on a quiet hill at Best Cemetery west of Norfolk. They heard a musket volley following a headstone dedication ceremony.

One headstone was for John Wollert, who enlisted in the Union Army in 1864. In 1875 he and his wife filed a claim for a homestead north of Battle Creek and went on to have three children.

The other new headstone marked the grave of Marsee Besst, who enlisted with the 8th Iowa Volunteer Cavalry in 1863. Family members say the 1910 U.S. Census showed him living in Hall County. Records also show that he served as a Norfolk police officer for a time.

DISABLED VETERAN CONTRACT-PLEA

Owner, company plead guilty to US contract fraud

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Nebraska businessman and two construction companies he controlled have pleaded guilty to criminal charges, admitting to a scheme to obtain millions in contracts intended for disabled veterans.

Ram Hingorani pleaded guilty to major program fraud Friday, under a plea agreement expected to resolve a long-running case in federal court in Des Moines. Midwest Paving pleaded guilty to money laundering, while Midwest Contracting pleaded guilty to major program fraud and wire fraud.

Prosecutors dismissed charges against Ronald Waugh, a disabled veteran from Glenwood.

Hingorani and Waugh started Midwest Contracting in 2007 claiming that Waugh controlled its operations, which allowed the company to participate in a program for businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. Hingorani actually ran the company, which received $23 million for work in Iowa and Nebraska.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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