The legislative chambers inside the Omaha/Douglas County Civic Center.

County Board

Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour gave her final COVID-19 and vaccination update to the county board of commissioners Tuesday.

Pour has been health director since 2002. She announced earlier this year her plan to retire, and her successor, Lindsay Huse, has been confirmed by the county board.

Pour reported that 50% of the county was fully vaccinated, reaching the goal she set before she retired. Pour said reaching out to the “apathy” group, people who aren’t opposed to the vaccine but “just don’t care,” will be crucial to ending the pandemic.

The urban-rural divide in vaccinations was apparent as Pour reported that 36% of vaccines administered in Nebraska have been in Douglas County.

Cases have remained low, but Pour said the College World Series could cause a slight increase in the coming weeks. The Delta variant could also affect case numbers, but Pour said she hasn’t seen any indications that the Delta variant causes more severe disease.

After Pour’s presentation, the board of commissioners showed a video commemorating her retirement. Various county employees thanked Pour for work as health director, especially for her leadership throughout the pandemic. 

“You’ve communicated with the county board fantastically,” Commissioner P.J. Morgan said to Pour. “Especially in this last year and a half.”

“Thank you for your nearly 40 years of service,” Commissioner Mike Friend said with a laugh. “Twenty with the department and then 20 over the last year.”

The board presented Pour with a plaque, and former Omaha City Councilmember Ben Gray gave Pour a gift on behalf of the board.

Dr. Adi Pour poses with the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert read a proclamation on behalf of the citizens of Omaha. Stothert declared June 29 as “Dr. Adi Pour Appreciation Day,” and gave Pour a key to the city.

“Dr. Pour anticipated the severity and spread of the coronavirus, responded with necessary community actions, and effectively communicated the often-challenging threats and medical interventions,” Stothert said. “Her work will have outcomes for all of our community.”

Finally, the West Point Society of Nebraska and Western Iowa presented Pour with the Distinguished Citizen Award for 2021.

“I am so honored, and I am so full, you cannot imagine,” Pour said. “I hope I live up to the value that West Point has.”

The county board also recognized the retirements of three other county employees: Leslie Huber from environmental services, Julie Foral from Douglas County District Court and Ed Lindsay from the county clerk’s office.

Commissioner Friend said he received a petition with over 1300 signatures opposing the One-and-Six-Year Highway Improvement Plan, which begins construction in mid-July. Friend said the residents near 171st Street and State Street wanted more information.

Dan Kutilek, from the county engineer’s office, said the plan is public and notices were given through the Daily Record. Commissioner Friend requested that a vote approving the plan be postponed, but Kutilek said a delay would be costly to the city. The board voted to approve the plan.

City Council

Councilmember Danny Begley opened Tuesday’s Omaha City Council meeting by thanking city employees, including first responders, leading up the the Fourth of July

“Let’s remember the people working while we’re out celebrating,” Begley said. “They’re going to be keeping us safe.”

Councilmember Begley also read a proclamation recognizing his brother, Jim Begley, for his career with the city. Jim Begley has served on the Metropolitan Utilities District Board of Directors since 2013, and will go on to become Director of the William Brennan Institute of Labor Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

The NP Mart 1 on Ames Avenue applied for a liquor license to add an LLC member, the applicant’s wife. The applicant’s attorney, Sean Kelly, said the applicants have five previous violations, three of which originated at this location.

Reverend Portia Cavitt from Clair Memorial United Methodist Church said she had concerns with the NP Mart’s history of violations. She said the owner tried to reorganize in 2019 after being fined for selling to a minor three times.

“Making alcohol easily accessible will hurt the metropolitan community in more ways than one,” Rev. Cavitt said. “Health issues, fatal car accidents, domestic violence as well as suicide, just to name a few.”

The NP Mart is already licensed to serve alcohol, and the new license would only add the applicant’s wife as an LLC member. Rev. Cavitt said she knew it would be approved, so she took “a neutral stance.”

Councilmember Juanita Johnson, who represents the location’s district, moved to deny the application. Councilmember Pete Festersen seconded the motion, and said he was also concerned about the violations.

Councilmember Aimee Melton said a denial would be “irrational,” because the business is licensed to serve alcohol either way. But Melton agreed with the concerns over underage drinking, and recommended the business take further actions to prevent selling to minors.

The motion to deny the application failed 6-1, with Councilmember Festersen voting yes. The application was then approved 5-2, with Councilmembers Festersen and Johnson voting no.

The resolution to establish new Omaha City Park rules that was laid over from the last meeting was postponed again to the July 13 meeting. Opponents in the last meeting, like former Omaha City Council candidate and Mode Shift Omaha board member Sarah Johnson, wanted city trails to be recognized as forms of transportation and be kept open 24 hours.

Johnson thanked the Omaha Parks Department and City Council for working further on the rules. She said she was “excited about the direction it’s going,” as the council is expected to approve modifications to trail hours.

The City Council passed a resolution urging the Douglas County Purchasing Department to select an electronic bidding platform to implement for the city. Purchasing Director Eric Carlson said that once a platform is selected, it will take six to eight weeks before the platform can go live.

Councilmember Vinny Palermo said he’s been asking for an online bidding platform for the past few years, and that not having one in place has cost the city. Palermo said he’s glad that “we’ve finally gotten to this point.”

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