President Donald Trump will visit Omaha as part of a final swing through states and districts that could prove crucial to the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.
Trump is scheduled to deliver remarks at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Tac Air, 3737 Orville Plaza, at Eppley Airfield. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m.
People must register to attend the event. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Temperature checks will be conducted, and attendees will be given masks and access to hand sanitizer, according to the event announcement.
Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District, which comprises all of Douglas County and the western half of Sarpy County, has been a focal point of the campaigns of both Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, his Democratic opponent, in recent months.
Neighboring Iowa is also competitive, and Trump campaigned in Des Moines earlier this month. Nebraska doles out a single electoral vote to the winner of the popular vote in each of its three congressional districts, and some analysts believe that the 2nd District could go blue for Biden.
On Friday, Five Thirty Eight's presidential forecast called for Biden to win 51.7% of the votes in the 2nd District, compared with 46.9% for Trump.
Nationally, the Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Biden up almost 8 percentage points as of Friday.
Trumpwon the Omaha-area congressional district by 2 percentage points in 2016.
He was last in Omaha in June 2019, when he flew into Offutt Air Force Base and visited Council Bluffs.
In September, the spouses of Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, visited a Papillion neighborhood that straddles Nebraska's 1st and 2nd Districts.
Doug Emhoff, Harris' husband, again came to the area last week to help get out the vote in North Omaha.
Several of Trump's family members have also visited. His daughter-in-law Lara, who is married to his son Eric, has been to Omaha twice.
Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, has made multiple visits to the city.
Second lady Karen Pence visited Omaha in August. And Vice President Mike Pence stopped in Carter Lake, Iowa, in early October to stump for Trump.
On Monday and Tuesday, Trump will also hold rallies in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — three states that helped deliver Trump a victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
He spoke during a rally at Eppley in May 2016, six months before he was elected president.
Dan Welch, chairman of the Nebraska Republican Party, said in a statement that Trump has fought for farmers and families.
"Donald Trump's administration has been focused on delivering for middle America, and there is no better place to bring his message than right here in Omaha," he said.
Jane Kleeb, chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, called the planned rally a "potential (coronavirus) superspreader event" in a statement.
"The pandemic is spiraling out of control in Nebraska because of Donald Trump's failed leadership, and instead of taking steps to control the virus, Trump is renewing his relentless attacks on the Affordable Care Act and protections for people with preexisting conditions," she said.
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Despite a blustering north wind and the ongoing pandemic, more than 60 people came together Friday to commemorate the lynching of a Black man in Omaha 129 years ago.
The people stood, masked and socially distanced, on Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza between the Douglas County Courthouse and the City-County Building. They listened as a series of speakers read a historian's account of how a white mob murdered George Smith and hanged him from a streetcar wire at 17th and Harney Streets in 1891.
The people on the plaza scooped courthouse soil into jars, which will be displayed along with Smith's story in Omaha and at a national memorial to lynching victims in Montgomery, Alabama.
Similar events have been taking place across the nation in recent years in collaborations between local organizations and governments and the Montgomery-based nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative.
They include collecting soil from sites where Black people were lynched and erecting historical markers in the cities.
Organizers hope to raise awareness about racist violence in the past and spark dialogue about race and justice today.
Friday's event had been planned since last fall, when a similar ceremony was held 100 years after the lynching of Will Brown outside the courthouse.
The Omaha Council for Racial Justice and Reconciliation co-sponsored Friday's remembrance with the City of Omaha Human Rights and Relations Department, Douglas County and the Equal Justice Initiative.
The point "is not to cast blame or to point fingers," said Franklin Thompson, Omaha's human rights and relations director. "It's to set the record straight and to learn from our past mistakes."
The lynching of George Smith, who was also referred to as Joe Coe, is less well known than the murder of Will Brown.
For almost two hours Friday, people took turns reading segments of an account of Smith's killing from Nebraska historian David Bristow's book "A Dirty, Wicked Town: Tales of 19th Century Omaha.''
Smith, awaiterwhowasmarried and had a 3-year-old son, had been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a white child. There had been no trial yet, and there was scant evidence, according to Bristow's account. Racist sensationalism in local newspapers, including inaccurate reports that the child had died, further inflamed Omahans in the wake of the public execution of another man outside the courthouse.
A crowd of about 10,000 people mobbed the courthouse. They broke into the jail, busted into a steel solitary confinement cage and seized Smith.
They took him outside, beating and stomping him as they dragged him through the crowd. Smith was already dead by the time the crowd hanged him, according to Bristow's account.
While it recalled a historical event, Friday's ceremony took place after a summer of upheaval across the nation and in Omaha over racial injustice, touched off in May by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
The Rev. Darryl Brown Jr. of Omaha read an original poem Friday that included the refrain "I can't breathe," which Floyd said as a police officer knelt on his neck, which Eric Garner said in New York in 2014 while in a police officer's chokehold, and which has become a rallying cry of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Rev. Portia Cavitt told the crowd that a race and reconciliation service will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday at her church, ClairMemorial United Methodist.
The racially diverse gathering began at 11 a.m. Friday. The participants stood hunched in coats and winter hats against blasts of cold air that blew leaves across the plaza past a bronze sculpture of a striding Martin Luther King Jr. in flowing robes, creating the impression that he was walking against the wind.
Kimara Snipe, an Omaha Public Schools board member who participated in Friday's event, said understanding what happened historically will help today. She said she was proud that people in Omaha are recognizing the misdeeds of the past and working on racial justice and reconciliation in the present.
"The first step in healing is recognizing that something happened," she said. "We don't just need healing from what happened back then, but what about what's happening right now?"
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Nebraska football returns on Saturday. Winter weather won't be far behind.
The Omaha area is likely to see some snow Sunday, so city officials have been preparing for the first battle of the year to keep the roads clear of ice and snow.
It wasn't clear Friday afternoon how much would accumulate. The precipitation expected to arrive early Sunday should start as snow, but as the morning progresses, temperatures could rise into the mid-30s, leading to a rain-snow mix, said Hallie Bova, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Valley.
"Then, Sunday afternoon and evening, that cold air arrives, and then we'll see the changeover to all snow," she said.
City crews will begin to pretreat Omaha roads with brine at noon Saturday and will continue until the precipitation begins Sunday, City Engineer Todd Pfitzer said. Starting that process Saturday will give the brine enough time to dry, he said.
Pfitzer said the first round of snow Sunday morning will land on warm pavement, which could lead to the formation of ice. The brine treatment helps prevent snow and ice from sticking to the roadway and makes it easier for plows to scrape it off, he said.
The weather service estimated that 2 to 3 inches of snow will fall by Sunday night, but Bova said confidence in those numbers was low because it wasn't clear how long the rain-snow mix would last before temperatures drop.
The city calls in private contractors to help clear roads if the accumulation hits 2 inches or more. Contractors are available and ready if needed, he said. The city has 29 companies at its disposal, which is one more than last year.
Omaha treats and clears main arterial roads first, followed by secondary roads and then residential streets. The city has about 5,000 lane miles, and Pfitzer said about 117 city trucks are on the road at full deployment.
A reminder for Omaha residents: Grab a shovel and clear off your sidewalk to avoid a fine from the city.
An ordinance requires people to shovel their sidewalks within 24 hours after major streets have been cleared of snow. Delinquent shovelers receive a written warning to clear snow before the city has the work done and bills them. The city will leave a note on a door or put the notice on a stake at an empty lot.
Monday could produce record-breaking cold weather in Omaha. Forecasters are expecting a record low early Monday of 20. The record is 21, which was recorded in 1997.
The forecast high of 28 degrees Monday morning would also be the lowest high temperature on record for Oct. 26. A high of 32 degrees in 1957 holds the current record, said David Eastlack of the weather service.
Tuesday will also be very cold, with a low of 16. The record low for Oct. 27 is 15 degrees, set in 1925.
The north-central and southwest areas of the state are expected to receive the brunt of the snow.
Eastlack said north-central Nebraska could get 6 to 8 inches and the southwest portion of the state could see 4 to 6 inches.
The Nebraska State Patrol said Friday that it plans to have troopers on the road around the state to assist motorists.
"The first major bout with winter weather often has the potential to catch travelers off-guard," Col. John Bolduc, superintendent of the patrol, said in a press release. "We encourage all drivers to plan ahead for adverse driving conditions in the affected areas and check roads conditions with 511 before beginning your travel."
Nebraska Department of Transportation crews are also prepared to clear roads. Motorists can check road conditions in real time using the department's Plow Tracker at plows.nebraska.gov. Weather conditions can be worse than they appear on camera, and travelers are advised to not drive faster than conditions allow.
The Transportation Department reminds motorists to be prepared with warm clothing, water and food.
For help on Nebraska roadways, call *55 or 800525-5555 to reach the State Patrol's Highway Helpline 24 hours a day.
World-Herald staff writer Bob Glissmann contributed to this report.
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A homegrown Omaha toy company has been purchased by one of the world's biggest toy producers, a transaction the founder of Fat Brain Toys says leaves the company poised for growth here.
This week, TOMY, a leading global designer, producer and marketer of toys, announced its acquisition of Fat Brain, a privately held company based in Omaha.
Mark Carson founded Fat Brain with his wife, Karen, in their Elkhorn home in 2002. Under the deal, he said, Fat Brain will operate as an independent subsidiary of TOMY but will have new financial resources that should help it grow.
"The decision to sell the company comes with some emotion, but also confidence in knowing that the company will have even more horsepower to grow right here in the Omaha area," said Carson, who will continue to run it.
Fat Brain got its start as an online toy seller, but it soon began designing its own award-winning toys and games. It sells its toys directly to consumers, as well as through toy retailers across the country.
The company employs 80 people at its Elkhorn headquarters, a distribution center off Interstate 80 in Sarpy County, and a retail location at Village Pointe South near 168th Street and West Dodge Road.
Carson said the company has new positions opening in its office and is actively hiring at its warehouse and retail store. The company hires some 300 seasonal workers each year to work the crush around the holidays.
In a press release, TOMY President Pete Henseler lauded Fat Brain for "a fantastic job of developing wonderful toys and games." That will continue under TOMY ownership, he said.
"We look forward to working with the team at Fat Brain to continue to bring even more great Fat Brain-branded products to families around the world," he said.
TOMY is based in Japan, and Fat Brain comes in under its U.S.-based international subsidiary. The company sells products for parents, infants and toddlers under "The First Years" brand, among others. It also sells popular licensed toys under names like John Deere, Nintendo, Disney Baby and Disney Princesses.
The sale marks a new chapter in Fat Brain's short history of toymaking success.
The Carsons founded the business after they couldn't find appropriate toys for their three children.
The couple finally stumbled on a magnetic building toy called Geomag that their 10-year-old son, Adam, particularly enjoyed. When Adam wanted to expand his Geomag collection and found it difficult to find additional sets, he suggested that his father sell the toy online.
Mark Carson, an IT developer, threw together a website and started taking orders for the toy. At first, he and his wife packed and shipped the toys in the basement of their Elkhorn home after they got off work. Soon they got so busy that they quit their regular jobs.
In 2006, the company launched a toy development division after Carson tried his hand at toy design. His sketches became Dado Cubes, an award-winning construction toy.
Fat Brain launched its Omaha retail location in 2008 and later opened another in the Kansas City area.
Carson said it was "truly gratifying" for his company to join forces with TOMY, which has an almost 100year heritage in toymaking.
"We can't wait to welcome a new wave of families to our unique toys," he said.
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