The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, January 19, 1996, Page 3, Image 3

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Continued from Page 1
fire rapidly through the house, forc
ing firefighters into a defensive
battle, Staberg said.
Firefighters began fighting the
fire offensively from the inside, he
said. Staberg said he was afraid the
ceiling and walls would collapse,
so he pulled the firefighters out.
Frozen equipment, such as air
masks and radios, caused more
problems, Staberg said.
A ladder extended from one en
gine sprayed water onto the roof of
the garage. The deck gun on an
other truck shot water through a
front window on the east side.
The firefighters concentrated on
controlling exposure of the outside
walls of the house to keep the fire
from spreading to trees and other
nearby houses, Staberg said.
Staberg told his companies to be
especially cautious of the ice. A
thick layer covered the driveway,
street and sidewalks. Icicles hung
from fire hydrants, hoses and fire
engine rigging.
Some firefighters slipped and
fell, but injuries were minimal.
Four firefighters were injured in
the blaze. Chuck Schweitzer, of the
eighth engine company, was pull
ing down ceiling in the house when
a pike pole fell and hit him in the
With assistance, Schweitzer was
able to walk out of the house. He
was taken to Lincoln General Hos
pital for X-rays, but had no serious
Gary Worster, of the fourth en
Travis Heying/DN
Ten hours later, firefighters were still investigating a fire
that ravaged the University of Nebraska Foundation
house maintained for the NU president.
gine company, injured his hip and
also was taken to Lincoln General,
Staberg said.
Julio Talero was treated for frost
bite, and Dan Harms was taken to
Lincoln General with a knee injury.
As the fire raged on, remains of
the roof collapsed. A 30-foot-tall
evergreen tree next to the house
snapped from the weight of the water
freezing to it. It crashed down onto
the roof and partially crushed the
front of the house.
As 50 firefighters worked to
control the blaze, their ice-covered
coats and gloves froze stiff, render
ing some immobile. Staberg said he
wanted them rotating regularly to
keep their gear from freezing up.
Firefighters in the “rehab” bus
helped each other crack the ice off
their coats and helmets.
Some firefighters complained of
having to thaw out because they felt
colder when they went back out.
One firefighter stepped onto the
bus with ice hanging off his eye
lashes and mustache.
“My radio is froze to my hand,”
he said, holding up an ice-coated
walkie-talkie stuck to his open palm.
Four university police officers
also were at the scene to help keep
spectators away and investigate the
fire, Sgt. Bill Manning said.
President Smith arrived shortly
after the fire started and stayed with
neighbors next door. Other con
cerned neighbors stared out their
windows at the blaze.
The presidential residence was
used for meetings, meals and social
gatherings for the university.
Legislature considers
option to vote by mail
By Ted Taylor
Senior Reporter
Giving voters in small political
subdivisions the option to vote by
mail would decrease costs and in
crease turnout, Nebraska Secretary of
State Scott Moore said Thursday.
Moore, who testified before the
Legislature’s Government, Military
and Veterans Committee in favor of
LB964, said the bill would be re
stricted to subdivisions with popula
tions of less than 5,000.
“Smaller localities with fewer vot
ers feel cost efficiency can be achieved
with mail-in ballots,” he said. “The
added benefit is that it would defi
nitely increase turnout.”
The bill, co-sponsored by almost
half of the committee, would affect
mail-in ballots only for special elec
tions addressing an issue — not a
candidate or recall election.
Sen. Jim Cudaback of Riverdale,
who introduced the bill, said it was
“common sense.”
“Cost is one reason,” he said. “And
input from citizens is another.”
Cudaback said that keeping polls
open 12 hours and spending about
$30 per voter in townships with small
populations didn’t make sense.
Robert Bethel of the Lancaster
County Election Commission task
force said the mail-in ballots also
would educate voters.
“The voting public is better in
formed when they have written bal
lots,” he said. “They have a better
ability to make decisions—educated
Sen. C.N. “Bud” Robinson of Blair,
committee chairman, agreed with
“If you had mail-in voting, it would
increase your interest in government.”
No public opponents of the bill
testified, but Sen. John Hilgert of
Omaha asked about the possibility of
mail fraud.
But Bethel said he wasn’t worried.
“We’ve got a good postal service,”
Bethel said. “I’m not too worried about
fraud. The integrity of the U.S. Postal
Service is not a factor in voting by
Moore said the possibility of fraud
was nothing new.
“It is no more of a concern than it is
now with the absentee ballots,” he
Hilgert said he was still “uncom
fortable” with the idea.
“But Secretary of State Moore made
some very valid points. My main con
cern is maintaining the integrity of the
election process,” he said. “I’m not
too sympathetic to the argument of it
saving a few dollars and making it
more convenient.”
After the hearing, Hilgert said he
was more comfortable with the bill
than he was before the hearing.
The committee took no action on
the bill.
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