Senatorial race impacts CSC’s renovation budget

The candidates for state Senator discussed their stances on renovating CSC’s Math and Science Building during an open forum hosted by Chadrad, the Chadron Record, KCSR, and KBPY, Tuesday Oct. 18, in the CSC Student Center Scottsbluff Room.
Dennis Brown, owner of Chadrad and the two radio stations, was the announcer. Kerri Rempp, editor of the Record, and Roxie Graham-Marski, of KCSR asked the questions, and Jeremy Anderson, of KCSR, was the timer.
Each candidate was allowed a 90-second opening and closing statement, and a 60-second response to each question.
The crowd grew to about 100, with people standing in the back, by the time the two delegates for District 43 senator—incumbent Senator Al Davis, and Colonel Tom Brewer—took the stage.
The candidates were asked, “CSC is seeking $23 million over three years to renovate the Math and Science Building, will you support this request, why or why not?”
Brewer responded first saying that he could not give an exact answer without knowing the plans but overall, making improvements to CSC was a worthy cause.
“I’m not going to jump in and give my blessing to that amount of money without having some idea to what that entails and how that money is projected to be used,” Brewer said.
Davis said he is already on the record for supporting the request.
“We need a state-of-the-art facility so these students who are graduating from Chadron State College and move on to UNMC (University of Nebraska Medical Center) will be trained properly,” Davis said.
Other notable questions asked of the senatorial candidates are as follows:
• What funding methods do you support to provide more funds for constructing, maintaining, and improving state highways, county roads, and bridges?
Brewer said we need to look at a reduction in other places rather than raising the gas tax. He argued we have farther to drive to get from place to place in rural Nebraska.
Davis did support the gas tax. He said rural Nebraska has a lot more roads than people versus the east, and since the funds are paid out on the miles of roads you have, rural Nebraska gains. He said he thinks of it as a tax shift rather than a tax increase.
• Explain your stance on the death penalty.
Davis voted to repeal the death penalty due to a cost factor and an innocence factor. Davis said it costs about 14.6 million per year, yet Nebraska hasn’t executed anyone since 1997.
“We can incarcerate them for life and never have to see them again and not risk death and it will be less expensive,” Davis said.
Brewer, however, completely supported the death penalty.
“I believe that there are those out there who have committed such heinous crimes against society that that is a reasonable option, the death penalty,” Brewer said.
• The state has scaled the heartland expressway project between Alliance and Chadron back to a Super 2 rather than four-lane highway.
Brewer would’ve liked to have seen a delay in construction if it meant doing the project right and getting the four-lane highway.
Davis was also disappointed that it’s not going to be a four lane, but will suggest that the Department of Roads purchase enough right-away to plan on improving it at a later date. Right now, Davis said the bigger need is widening I-80 to three lanes from Grand Island east.
• What is your opinion on wind towers in the Sandhills?
Brewer expressed his dislike of the idea of putting up wind towers in the Sandhills because they would ruin the beauty of the area.
“Wind towers are probably one of the biggest wastes of money there are anywhere on this planet,” Brewer said.
Davis, however, said they do bring economic benefits, so the local people have to decide whether they are willing to give up the beauty for benefits.
Prior to the senatorial forum, candidates for the White River National Resources District, Chadron School Board, and City Council, took the stage.
First was David Carlson running for NRD. His opponent Andy Curd chose not to participate in the forum.
Carlson is running for his second term as NRD. He said the main responsibilities of the position are protecting the natural resources of the state, specifically groundwater and soil.
“Because of my lifelong involvement with agriculture, I feel that I am qualified enough to the task to continue the work of the entire district, both urban and rural, to move forward in protecting and utilizing the resources of our district,” Carlson concluded.
Next, the candidates for the Chadron School Board took the stage. Boone Huffman drew the first spot to respond to question one. Huffman is a Chadron High School and CSC graduate and currently has four of his five children in the Chadron school system.
Amanda Bannon was the second contender, a 2009 CSC graduate. She attended public, private, and homeschools. She has two preschool-age children who she plans to send to public school.
Gary Hoffman is currently on the board, seeking re-election. He has lived in Chadron for about 40 years and has multiple degrees from CSC. He has three kids who have all graduated from CHS.
Mike Carratini and Curd are also running but chose not to participate.
One question for school board candidates addressed the $10 million in school maintenance projects and how to create more funding for them. Hoffman brought up a possible half-cent sales-tax increase, and Huffman thought that a whole-cent increase could be the solution to providing more funding for the school.
Next up was City Council, which has two open seats. Keith Crofutt, Jennifer Fintel, George Klein, and Sean Waggener were the candidates.
When asked about his or her opinion of Bands on Bordeaux, specifically regarding the liquor license, all candidates gave their support to the event and the alcohol sales. However, Klein noted that he thought having liquor at the specific event that was associated with CSC “just sounded like a bad idea.”
The City is working on putting in a downtown gathering space, and the candidates were asked to give his or her vision for the area.
Crofutt would like to have a bigger area than what is currently proposed, but would like to channel something similar to Rapid City, South Dakota’s Main Street Square on a smaller scale. He specifically mentioned lots of trees and green areas.
“Just a beautification area where people can go to and feel calm, relaxed, and welcome,” Crofutt said.
Klein disagreed, saying that having a lot of vegetation would require a lot of upkeep. He doubted that the care needed would be executed.
The election will be Nov. 8.

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