Omaha to open more pools July 1; curfew violators may have charges dropped
In a news conference Monday afternoon, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert announced that an anonymous donation would allow for at least five city pools to open in coming weeks; and City Prosecutor Matt Kuhse said those who violated curfew during recent protests will have their charges dropped — if they have no serious criminal history.
Stothert said she spoke with a resident last week after her announcement no outdoor pools would open this season. The resident, who she did not name but described as "generous," has offered to pay the costs for lifeguards and other expenses for opening the public pools.
Stothert said they have begun planning to open five outdoor pools for July 1.
The five pools are Roanoke, Elmwood, Hitchcock, Miller, and Zorinsky. They have been cleaned and are being filled.
Lifeguards have been called, as 100 will be needed for opening five pools.
Several donors from the community have helped fund the pools' opening. They wanted to remain anonymous and Stothert thanked them for their generosity.
Hours will be extended at the pools. Instead of 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., hours will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
A $2 admission fee per person at the pools will be charged. The proceeds will be given to a local food bank.
The costs to operate the pools was estimated at $700,000.
Despite rumors on social media stating otherwise, attorney Kuhse had not made a decision yet regarding those who are charged with curfew violations following the recent protests, Stothert said Monday.
The mayor said she was asking Kuhse to dismiss the violations for all, as long as the cited party has no previous criminal violations.
If dismissed, the bond will be refunded and the records will be sealed.
For those who have criminal histories, Stothert said she will recommend diversion and community service. Under that proposal, those completing diversion and community service requirements would have the charges dismissed and their records sealed, she said.
Kuhse said he was recently made aware of social media posts which incorrectly stated those who violated curfew would be jailed for a week. He said he did not know where, how, or why such erroneous information was being spread.
"Those with no real criminal record, we'll be declining charges," he said. "We feel it is the best thing to do for those people and the community."
During questions, Kuhse was asked for an update on the shooting death of James Scurlock. He said a grand jury has been convened and the investigation is ongoing.
"I think it is irresponsible for me to get involved while that case is pending," he said.
Stothert said Omaha Fire Department firefighters from Station 31 have tested positive for COVID-19. Ten firefighters who were supposed to begin their shift Monday called-in to say they were going on COVID-related leave, and as a result, Station 31 was not staffed Monday morning.
The firefighters at Station 31 will be re-tested, and the station itself has been cleaned as of Monday morning, including all equipment, Stothert said. The station is now operational and staffed again.
Following the protests, Stothert said she wanted to have Omaha Police officers at the events be tested. A total of 23 officers have tested positive for COVID-19.
Stothert said waste management is understaffed and their contract with the city ends in six months. Both of those factors have caused issues with missed collections of trash and recycling, she said.
"We have made the decision starting June 29 to collect recycling every other week," she said, which reflects the frequency of recycling collection in six months when the city's contract with a new waste management company will begin.
A postcard from the Omaha Public Works Department will be sent to all residents in the city explaining the changes for waste and recycling collections.
By moving to collections every two weeks, the city will save about $84,000 a month.
Just in - Omaha will now open some of its outdoor pools after all July 1. Mayor Stothert says an anonymous donor came forward to cover the costs. Roanoke, Elmwood, Hitchcock, Miller and Zorinsky will be open for 6-weeks from 11am - 8pm.@WOWT6News pic.twitter.com/RcNPXAEHVw— Brian Mastre WOWT (@brianmastrewowt) June 15, 2020