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The former village clerk for Pilger, Neb., has been arrested on a warrant that included seven felony counts of theft and three counts of abuse of public records. A state audit last year found more than $562,000 in questionable transactions and more than $156,000 in suspicious charges on the credit card for the Pilger municipal government.

It will be up to the courts to decide the case, but the arrest points out the importance of state audits and of the annual training conference for Nebraska municipal clerks sponsored by the School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The event, held each March, is a good example of how NU fulfills its land-grant mission to serve the entirety of the state.

The UNO training initiative for municipal clerks has received national accreditation, one of the few such programs to do so. Ellen Freeman-Wakefield, director of UNO’s Public Administration Professional Programs, oversees the conference, which includes training in financial management. In 2018 she received the highest award for outstanding service by the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.

The vast majority of municipal clerks in Nebraska communities carry out their responsibilities with proper dedication and professionalism. The UNO conference, plus support from the League of Nebraska Municipalities, are a major help for the clerks. And the state audits provide a vital safeguard to protect the public interest.

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