20191027_new_stateband_kf5 (copy)

Syracuse High School performs at Seacrest Field in Lincoln. Twenty-six bands performed in Lincoln, 22 in Kearney and 19 in Omaha for the state competition.

Revamp band competition

Now that the competitive marching band season has finished in Nebraska, the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association and Nebraska School Activities Association need to make serious changes to the structure of competition.

One can hardly call the final competition of the year a “state” competition when schools of all sizes are scattered across three sites. Plus, giving out placings only to bands playing in Omaha makes little sense. The end result for schools not in Class AA that travel to Omaha: They will “win” or come close to “winning” state because no one else in their class comes. It also effectively eliminates anyone west of Grand Island from winning a state title.

There are better options than the current setup. Different classes could compete at different sites. Previous competition scores could be used to winnow the field and create a state-qualifying system. Use a preliminary and final system to avoid the subjectivity and variability in judges’ scores. Additionally, we need to eliminate the AA class and move everyone down to match classifications in every other NSAA activity. One way or another, placing schools in a competitive way should be favored over giving out only a rating. Coming home with a “rating I” doesn’t mean as much, nor does it push players to play at their best. They want to win a state championship as much as football or volleyball players. Bands should not be treated differently from sports or other activities. Our system needs serious revisions.

Trenton Buhr, Oakland, Neb.

Energy dependent

The recent article about Creighton University’s student body voting to make CU carbon neutral and not invest in fossil fuels discusses an important issue but fails to give a solution.

With all the talk and symbolic action about carbon neutrality lately, many entities are pledging to be green or carbon neutral. However, no one addresses how they will do it.

We can reduce energy consumption through a variety of ways from light bulb choices, transportation and other means. But people seem to forget that we need energy, specifically electricity, to function in our modern lives. Cell phones, computers, food prep, entertainment, etc., all require electricity.

Without power plants, we cannot heat and cool where we live, work, worship or recreate. The sun is not intense enough in the winter for solar panels and obviously would not generate at night or on cloudy days. Wind energy works when the wind blows. Water energy would require more rivers to be dammed up.

Nuclear power is clean but is only as safe as those who build them and run the reactors. Battery storage is just not practical and wildly expensive for everyone to have at home.

I am all for emission reduction and energy conservation, but eliminating fossil fuel use is just not possible. Our energy needs are too great.

Remember, battery-operated devices require a charge, and those electrons have to come from somewhere. It’s a law of physics: Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be transformed or transferred from one source to another.

Brent Wakefield, Omaha

We’re the boss

I’m watching the political opinion comments and letters and get the distinct impression that people are expecting government leaders to provide them with power to control their day-to-day world. How many voters know that the Constitution, designed by America’s founders, places them in the position of being the people who “hire” their representatives, senators, governors and president (as well as local and county officeholders)?

A boss shouldn’t fall in love with an employee. A boss looks for someone capable of the job. A boss looks at a person’s resumé, work ethic, professional demeanor and proof a person can handle the job appropriately. Finally, a boss decides whether someone else might be better suited in that position.

Do you like the workplace we’ve created for our “hires” in Washington? Do you enjoy all the partisan bickering going on? Shouldn’t we all be looking for a more peaceful workplace? When lives are on the line and neighbors are hurting, no one asks who we voted for or will hire. We ask, “What do you need?”

Let’s start being neighborly again. We don’t quit being neighbors because someone in Washington claims our “loyalty” is misguided. We have a wealth of common sense, hard work and pride in our neighborhoods, cities and towns and caring ways of life. Let’s tell the people in Washington to grow up and fly right, or we’ll hire someone else in 2020.

Karen L. Overturf, Lincoln

Feeding at federal trough

Regarding the $16.9 million federal grant to widen and upgrade 120th Street in Omaha:

These upgrades are worthy investments, but I question the source of funds. People say they want the federal government to stay out of their lives — no nanny state.

They want the government to leave them alone, right up until … there is money to be had. Then, just that quick, we elbow our way to the trough.

Almost $17 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money will be spent to upgrade one street in Omaha. Multiply that by 50 states, and almost $850 million in federal funds will be spent on small projects in individual cities and towns.

Short of major disasters, cities and towns should take care of themselves, widen their own streets, replace their own traffic lights. The federal coffers are not unlimited. If Omaha wants to widen 120th Street, Omaha should pay for it. Maybe that $850 million could be spent improving medical care for veterans or other projects that are actually the federal government’s responsibility.

Nancy Northcutt, Bellevue

Let’s celebrate public schools

American Education Week is Nov. 18-22. This gives us an opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education.

Throughout the entire state, public high schools are utilizing innovative practices, creating partnerships, offering college programs to high school students and creating other educational opportunities.

In my State Board of Education District 2 area alone, numerous opportunities are being provided that benefit students: Bellevue received the National Math and Science Initiative Grant for $1.4 million that supports STEM programs.

Papillion received an National School Public Relations Association Gold Medallion Award for its 2018 bond campaign and outreach programs and provides various outstanding academies.

Springfield Platteview initiated a new College and Career Center for students, alumni and the community to provide apprenticeships/internships, scholarship assistance and dual credit opportunities.

Gretna has started certification programs for nursing assistant and culinary arts by working jointly with Metro Community College.

Millard has successfully launched an internship for seniors (Youth Business and Community Internships).

Omaha has an exemplary high school dual language immersion program that has been nationally recognized.

I hope we will all take a moment to thank Nebraska teachers, support staff, volunteers and business partners who make these tremendous opportunities available throughout our state.

Lisa Fricke, Omaha

Concerned about recycling

As a concerned resident of Omaha looking to the future, after reading The World-Herald article Oct. 26 “$4 million bid is twice what Omaha was prepared for,” I am concerned that our recyclable waste stream will become just another resource to be placed in a landfill.

Since 2006 we have been insulated from experiencing what of the rest of the U.S. experienced with a downturn of recycling markets — that is, until now.

It’s no wonder why Firstar Fiberycling was the only bidder. It hasn’t been compensated for the work of continuing its mission to enhance the Nebraska’s recycling infrastructure, which it has been doing since 1998. I’m aware of many Omaha-based companies being the purveyors of these resources to manufacture new products.

As with all who earn an income, sorting employees at recycling centers need a fair wage to continue to do the hazardous work many of us are unwilling to do. I suggest a tour of the recycling center to see firsthand the difficult labor involved. Or at least ask yourself before you make a purchase, “Where or who will be responsible for the waste this purchase creates?”

Let Mayor Jean Stothert and your City Council member know you support Firstar Fiber as the locally owned company responsible to find markets in the future to process our recycling, for which we will be compensated.

Kathy Jeffers, Omaha

Technology not good or evil

In response to Sarah Voss’ Midlands Voices piece in the Nov. 2 World-Herald (“Exploring Moral Mathematics”), I would like to make two points.

The first is that young, inexperienced geeks in the tech companies may be implementing the technologies, but they’re not the architects or designers of the products. They’re like construction workers who are physically erecting a building but aren’t involved in the design.

For electronic technologies, that work is being done by senior management, marketing types and focus groups, engaging a much larger swath of people than the much-maligned white males.

The second point is that we, the public, decide how to make use of technologies. We are not simply passive recipients.

No technology is inherently good or inherently evil. The Internet, for example, allows us, via Facebook, to keep close contact with family members and friends. It affords us access to information for deeper analysis than the superficial stuff emanating from CNN or Fox News. Unfortunately, it also is a portal for pornography and for mob shaming on Twitter.

Steven Hotovy, Omaha

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