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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 25, 1996)
Today - Quite windy and
cold. Northwest wind 25
to 40 mph.
Tonight - Clearing and
cold, low 5 to 10 above.
March 25, 1996
Ben Behlen stands next to Wagner Lakes; where hie brother Jacob, a UNL freshman, drowned in an accident last week.
Three other Columbus teen-agers, one of whom was also a UNL freshman, died in the accident.
Columbus teens killed in accident
Two UNL freshmen among victims; funerals today
By Matthew Waite
COLUMBUS—With the hclpof friends
and family, the family of Jacob Bchlen is
coping with hisdeath,hisbrother Ben Behlen
Standing near the spot where his brother
drowned just days earlier, Bchlen said neigh
bors and friends have been stopping by the
house with food and condolences.
The kind words the family needs. The
food already has filled four refrigerators.
Jacob Behlen died last week in an acci
dent that killed three other teen-agers from
Behlen, Eric Kudron, Ryan Gragert and
Christina Dyer were all 19. Bchlen and Dyer
were both University of Nebraska-Lincoln
The four had been missing since Monday,
March 18. They were found in a submerged
car in Wagner Lakes on Wednesday night.
According to a preliminary autopsy re
port released Friday, each of the four teen
agers was legally drunk, with blood-alcohol
levels above .10. Exact figures were not
released by the Platte County Attorney’s
Another report released Friday said me
chanical tests done on the car confirmed the
brakes did not fail — an early theory by
investigators and family members.
Ben Bchlcn, 16, said investigators were
looking into a possible blowout on the car
that could have caused it to be thrown out of
control. Police found a scar on a concrete
median at an intersection near the site and
also found a bent rim on the car.
Jacob Behlen was reported to have been
driving the car.
Many questions remain, and few answers
have been found. For Ben Behlen, now is a
time for family and healing.
Funerals for the four arc today in Colum
Jacob Bchlcn, a businessmajor, and Dyer,
a psychology major, were home on spring
break from UNL. Both lived in Abel Resi
“I guess he was liking the vacation —
being with the family,” Ben Bchlcn said. “He
came home a lot.” /
Behlen said his brother made no enemies.
“Not a person that met him didn’t like
him,” he said. “He made friends really quick.”
A steady stream of mourners passed by
the crash site Saturday afternoon. Many shed
tears, some left flowers, despite a sign posted
by the Columbus police department asking
them not to. The land is private property.
A lone rose lay near a fence post, a fence
the car crashed through before going into the
lake. A card that read “I love you Jacob” lay
Mark Shannon, a Columbus resident who
lives a few blocks from the crash site, said
people in the central Nebraska town of20,000
people are reacting typically to the tragedy.
“We’re all shocked, outraged,” he said,
looking at the lake. “I am really appalled that
four kids had to die so senselessly.”
Shannon was on the scene of the crash
when police pulled the vehicle out of the
water. He said as lie walked away, several
teen-agers asked what happened, and if the
four were alive.
“Those young people were hoping for the
best. We all were,” he said. “It’s a terrible
waste of human life.”
Senators to review property tax plans
By Ted Taylor
State senators today move into their second
weekofwork on several prop
erty tax relief plansadvanced
by the Legislature’s Revenue
Last Tuesday lawmakers
quickly advanced LB 1085,
the first step in the
committee’s package, by a
Gov. Ben Nelson has said
he supports the package.
The package includes
LR292CA, a constitutional amendment that
would allow local governments to consolidate
or merge if voters approve.
Other points include:
# requiring political subdivisions to pass a
resolution to receive more from property tax
than from the previous year,
• giving county boards direct oversight of
the operations of certain services,
• setting procedures for the merging and
consolidation of local governments,
# giving the property tax administrator full
responsibility for assessment of property.
Property taxes are levied, collected and spent
by local governments under conditions set by
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha said LB1085
could make things worse.
“If we lei counties do what’s in their best
interest even if it is non-bencficial to other
counties, might this worsen the situation?” he
But other senators said they thought the plan
would help increase participation within the
Sen. Chris Beutler of Lincoln said the bill
was designed “to make counties really think
about” the idea of consolidation.
Other property tax relief proposals on the
table include LB 1114, which would limit the
property tax rates local governments can levy,
and LB299, which would put two-year spend
ing limits on local governments.
Debate is scheduled to resume on the prop
erty tax relief plans today.
By Julie Sobczyk
Plans for the Nebraska Union expansion
went one step further Saturday.
At its monthly meeting, the NU Board of
Regents approved the
project’s schematic plansand
budget of $12.6 million.
James Griescn, UNL vice
chancellor for student affairs,
told the board the estimated
construction cost of the
project would increase by
That amount would cover
additional fire and safety sys
tems that wil 1 need to be added
to the existing union building, Griesen said.
The additional $300,000 will be funded by
UNL’s general repair and improvement budget,
he said, so the project’s budget would not need
The expansion project is set to begin next
The board unanimously approved an increase
of $77,757 in the budget for repairs and up
grades for the three elevators in Oldfathcr Hall.
The regents also unanimously approved Clark
Encrsen Partners to design the multi-level park
ing structure west of Memorial Stadium.
■ The firm was chosen from seven architec
tural and engineering companies that showed
interest in designing the structure, which will
contain 600 parking spaces, offices for Parking
Services, the Athletic Department ticket office
and the UNL Police DeparUncnt.
The firm’s approved budget is $409,531.
In other business, the board unanimously
See REGENTS on 6
By Julie Sobczyk
Gaining high qual ity students, improving the
campus env ironmcnt, prov iding nat ional ly rec -
ognized programs and kecpingupwith tcchnol
p . future, the university’s top
NU Kegenis administrator said Saturday.
Chancellor James Moeser
outlined the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln’s goals for
1996 to 2001 at the NU Board
of Regents’ monthly meet
The strategic plan for UNL
I focuses on the areas of in
struction, research, outreach,
student access and the campus community and
environment, he said. Administrators have
worked for two years to define the goals for the
next five years.
At the top of the list, Moeser said, is improv
ing UNL’s undergraduate programs.
“This is my No. 1 priority,” he said. “This is
a major issue for me, and it must be for this
UNL got off to agood start this year, Moeser
said, as the average ACT score of incoming
freshmen increased from 22.7 to 23.1.
The increase could be attributed to recruit
ing done by the Office of Admissions, he said.
“If we don’t recruit the students, they won’t
stay in Nebraska,” Moeser said.
The new admissions standards, which will
go into effect in the fall of 1997, make sure
freshmen are prepared to succeed academically
See MOESER on 6
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