Unlike most cities, Omaha grows practically each year through annexation — this year by 8,700. So how many of us live in the Big O?

The Mayor’s Office estimates that the addition would put the city’s population around 459,000. But the Census Bureau’s latest estimate is about 475,000.

With the decennial U.S. Census coming in 2020, it’s still a bit of a guessing game. But the bureau’s unofficial estimates have shot wide of the mark.

In 2009, the Census Bureau estimated Omaha’s population at 454,731. The 2010 Census came in at 408,958, a shock to city officials.

In any case, a state law passed a century ago allows Omaha to annex unilaterally — without asking — areas in Douglas County with up to 10,000 residents. It’s usually an orderly process of adding subdivisions and shopping malls, but it became highly controversial with the annexations of the towns of Millard in 1971 and Elkhorn in 2005.

Most U.S. cities don’t enjoy such a law, and so they lose part of their tax base as development of homes and businesses naturally grows outward.

City population, though, is just one way to measure. Another, perhaps better way of describing a community, is the metropolitan area. The eight-county Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area is estimated at 960,782 (up nearly 100,000 since 2010) and on track in a few years to surpass 1 million.

According to census estimates, the U.S. has 36 metro areas of more than 2 million, and an additional 25 between 2 million and 1 million.

Next on the list, in 62nd place, is Omaha-Council Bluffs.

Another measurement: New York-based Resonance Consultancy Inc. this year ranked the Omaha area fourth-best among cities under 1 million population. The ranking, more qualitative than numerical, was compiled using such data as crime rates, air quality, housing affordability, entertainment and economic vitality.

Eppley Airfield gets four stars out of five for on-time flights

Eppley Airfield in Omaha has received a four-star rating out of a possible five for on-time flights.

The international flight-information company OAG ranked Eppley 27th out of 155 U.S. airports from June 2017 through May with an on-time performance of 82.9 percent.

Salt Lake City and Boise, Idaho, were the only U.S. airports awarded five stars, with 85.5 percent or more of flights on time.

Des Moines and Chicago O’Hare received three stars. Among those with two stars were Chicago Midway, Dallas Love, Houston Hobby, Boston Logan and New York LaGuardia.

Rate of alcohol-related liver disease deaths low in Nebraska 

Alcohol-related deaths from liver disease have increased sharply in the United States, but Nebraska has the fifth-lowest such death rate.

A report published in the British Medical Journal said cirrhosis-related deaths in the U.S. increased by 65 percent from 1999 to 2016, with a sharp rise starting in 2009. The report’s authors speculated that the 2008 economic crisis contributed.

Men are twice as likely as women to die of cirrhosis and nearly four times as likely to die of liver cancer.

The results of the study are consistent with a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It said the highest liver cancer death rate was in Washington, D.C., followed by Louisiana, Hawaii, Mississippi and New Mexico.

The lowest rates were in Vermont, then Maine, Montana, Utah and Nebraska.

The increase in liver cancer comes as overall cancer death rates in the U.S. continue to decline.

15 New Zealanders to hit Husker Harvest Days on Nebraska trip

New Zealand is a great place to visit, and now folks there are planning a visit to Nebraska.

An organization called Irrigation NZ is bringing “kiwis” next month to the Cornhusker State. (Kiwis, as New Zealanders are called, use that term themselves as one of pride and endearment.)

Their trip will include a visit to the Sept. 11-13 Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, the “world’s largest totally irrigated working farm show.”

The group of about 15, who will fly into Omaha, will see irrigation research at the University of Nebraska. They also will visit a farm to see fertigation, the injection of fertilizer into irrigation systems.

As if we needed a reminder, agriculture is big business — in Nebraska and in the world.

Omaha native awarded for 'illustrious' college sports career

Congrats to Omaha native Mike Marcil on receiving the top award from the NCAA Division II Conference Commissioners Association in Washington, D.C.

The Award of Merit was presented for his “illustrious career in college athletics.”

A graduate of Creighton University and the Marquette University Law School, he served as commissioner of the Northeast Conference, the Sunshine State Conference and the old North Central Conference.

Marcil, who also worked for Creighton and the NCAA, is back in the Omaha area and teaches sports law at Bellevue University.

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