Editorial Roundup: Nebraska

Lincoln Journal Star. August 31, 2023.

Editorial: Difficult process produces solid result on prison

The State of Nebraska got the location for a new prison that it most clearly desired Wednesday when Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and Gov. Jim Pillen signed a memorandum of understanding that swaps 305 acres of land the state purchased at 112th and Adams streets for 300 acres of city property on 70th Street north of Interstate 80.

That agreement came less than two weeks after the state had announced the Adams street property as the location of the $350 million, 1,500-bed facility that will replace the deteriorating State Penitentiary.

The fact that the penitentiary and its workforce is in Lincoln was one of the primary reasons that the city was selected for a new prison site, along with it being an urban area with a road system with a close connection to the interstate that will provide access for employees and families.

The Aug. 17 announcement of the 112th and Adams site, however, triggered widespread public consternation because a prison at that site would have been in a developing residential area rather than a far less-populated and unlikely-to-be-developed site.

That site was the city property east of 70th Street and McKelvie Road, just east of Lincoln’s landfill. But, when Gaylor Baird was approached about selling the property to the state for the new prison, she initially declined, citing plans to use the land for expanding city recycling and waste management.

The state then purchased the 305 acres that stretches from 102nd to 112th and Adams for $17 million and announced the new prison site, which would have been one mile beyond the city limits but under the city’s planning and zoning authority.

The anguish, particularly of nearby property owners, however, could have been avoided had the siting process been more transparent. While any development that involves land acquisition requires some level of secrecy to get the best price, it appears there was little communication between the city and the state between the city’s initial rejection and the state’s initial public announcement.

The knowledge that the state definitely wanted put the prison in Lincoln could have triggered earlier discussions similar to those that led to Wednesday’s announcement of the land swap.

In the end, though, the site of the prison appears to be in the best possible location if it was going to be in or near Lincoln.

Construction of the new prison is expected to begin in the fall of 2024 and state officials hope that it will be open in 2027.

Sadly, unless dramatic changes are made in the state’s incarceration rate, all 1,500 beds will be full on opening day, continuing the crisis that has the Nebraska prison system among the most overcrowded in the country.


North Platte Telegraph. September 2, 2023.

Editorial: Here’s to Nebraska, the epicenter of U.S. volleyball

What a thrilling sight it was to see Memorial Stadium’s “Sea of Red” celebrate volleyball in Nebraska.

In world-record-breaking numbers.

Never has there been a larger crowd for a women’s sporting event than the 92,003 who saw the Huskers and University of Nebraska at Omaha Mavericks battle outdoors Wednesday, after the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers and Wayne State Wildcats opened the night.

“Against all odds,” an NCAA web story declared, “the state known for Kool-Aid, corn fields — and, yes, volleyball — just added a new accomplishment.”

Well, we couldn’t be sure of a world record. But “against all odds”?

Never again can Americans pretend that the epicenter of American volleyball sits on the West Coast or in Hawaii, as so many insisted for years after Title IX became law in 1972.

It’s right here.

Volleyball in Nebraska, you see, didn’t start with Title IX. It started a century ago, right around the time Memorial Stadium was built in 1923.

Organized sports were spreading in U.S. high schools. Girls were playing volleyball, basketball and more. But unenlightened school administrators decided organized athletics weren’t healthy or proper for girls.

With one notable exception.

Girls basketball essentially vanished in Nebraska, but many schools left volleyball alone. More than 175 mostly rural schools had teams in the late 1950s and their own state tournament at Peru State College.

They played in the boys’ shadow. At best. But four-time national champion Husker Coach John Cook has celebrated these hundreds of foremothers as the “hidden DNA” of Nebraska volleyball.

We’re exceedingly proud of western Nebraska’s part in nurturing their seeds.

The first five post-Title IX state tournaments (1972-76) were in Scottsbluff, not Lincoln. Panhandle and west central Nebraska teams won every Class B title save one from 1975 to 1984 before eastern Nebraska fully caught up.

North Platte’s Linda Carlson, who coached our Bulldogs to Class A titles in 1979 and 1980, was among our region’s volleyball pioneers.

So was Ogallala’s Steve Morgan, an honorary coach for Wednesday’s spectacle. The Telegraph’s 2019 story on how he and others made our Keith County neighbor a 1970s volleyball madhouse and pipeline to Terry Pettit’s growing Husker program is part of John Mabry’s new book “Nebraska Volleyball: The Origin Story,” available from University of Nebraska Press.

Throughout Nebraska, volleyball has proved football’s perfect fall partner. Its women play with power, authority and grace. Matches are packed with action. A 10-10 final set is every bit as nerve-wracking and thrilling as a last-minute fourth-quarter touchdown drive.

It helps that the Big Red women have matched Husker football’s five national titles. But look across this land. You’ll find Nebraska women excelling everywhere as college players and coaches.

As pro volleyball belatedly seeks a U.S. foothold, Omaha has not one team but two. It’s hosted five NCAA volleyball Final Fours, including the pandemic-delayed 2021 tournament.

That one, by the way, brought all 64 teams to Omaha. The whole shebang.

“Against all odds”? Ha!

In women’s volleyball, there is truly no place like Nebraska.


McCook Gazette. September 1, 2023.

Editorial: Concealed carry requires clear, steady consideration

“Constitutional carry” is now the law of the land in Nebraska and many other states, but carrying a deadly weapon isn’t a decision to be taken lightly or made on a whim.

It’s also not a right that applies everywhere and in every situation.

Yes, there are reasons one might want to add a pistol to the list advocated by Adam Sandler — phone wallet and keys.

But there are plenty of other reasons not to.

Carrying a concealed weapon can provide a means of self-defense in potentially dangerous situations. Advocates argue that having a firearm on hand could help individuals protect themselves and others from harm.

The knowledge that someone might be armed could potentially deter criminals from engaging in violent or criminal behavior, contributing to a safer environment.

Carrying a concealed weapon can empower individuals to feel more secure and confident in their ability to handle dangerous situations, especially when law enforcement is not immediately available.

In situations where law enforcement might not be able to respond quickly, an armed individual could potentially take action to prevent further harm.

In countries like the United States, the right to bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Carrying a concealed weapon is seen by many as an exercise of this right.

But consider the cons as well.

Carrying a concealed weapon increases the risk of accidental discharge, which could result in injury or death, especially if the carrier lacks proper training and safety awareness.

Critics argue that the presence of more concealed weapons could escalate conflicts and lead to higher rates of violence, as situations might turn deadly due to misunderstandings or impulsivity.

Carrying a concealed weapon requires extensive training in firearm safety, proper usage, and legal regulations. Without adequate training, carriers might not be prepared to use their weapon effectively and responsibly.

Law enforcement or others might mistake a concealed carrier for a threat in a chaotic situation, leading to tragic outcomes.

Carrying a concealed weapon without the necessary permits or in restricted areas can lead to serious legal consequences, including criminal charges and loss of firearm privileges.

Having a concealed weapon doesn’t guarantee personal safety. It might provide a false sense of security and discourage individuals from pursuing non-lethal conflict resolution methods.

In some cases, introducing a firearm into a confrontation could escalate the situation, making it more dangerous for all parties involved.

Carrying a concealed weapon requires a high level of emotional stability and self-control. Impulsive behavior or mental health issues could lead to misuse of the weapon.

Before deciding to carry a concealed weapon, it’s crucial to thoroughly understand the laws and regulations in your jurisdiction, undergo proper training, and carefully consider the potential consequences.

Additionally, seeking input from law enforcement professionals, legal experts, and mental health professionals can provide a more well-rounded perspective on this decision.