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Brent Wasenius / Evan Nordstrom / Fremont Tribune 

Reggie Gradwell of Midland University drives the basket as Brandt Cochran (30) of the College of the Ozarks defends during a game Saturday night at the Wikert Event Center. Gradwell came of the bench to score 19 points and grab seven rebounds to help MU to an 88-86 win. 


Local
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Gospel Honors Choir to perform Sunday

Jim Logue knows five minutes can be a long time.

He remembers when Broadway singer Carol Dennis was the guest artist at the Gospel Honors Choir concert.

Just before she was set to go on stage in Omaha’s Holland Center, Dennis decided her outfit was just not going to work.

A graduate assistant tried to tell Dennis that she needed to go on stage.

But the singer was determined to change her clothes.

Logue, the director of choral music at Midland University, and Kat Sodawasser were on stage when the graduate assistant told them to stall for time.

So Logue and Sodawasser, the assistant music director, went into action.

“We stalled for five minutes,” Logue said, smiling. “It was a long time until Carol Dennis came out on stage.”

Was it worth the wait?

“Absolutely,” Logue said. “She is a great artist.”

This year, audiences will be able to hear more great music at the Gospel Honors Choir concert at 7 p.m., Sunday in the Wikert Event Center, 900 N. Clarkson St., in Fremont. The public is invited. Tickets cost $10 each; admission is free for students.

More than 155 high school students and about 80 Midland students will be part of the event, which will feature a variety of music.

“This year, we’re changing things up a little bit in that we are not just doing gospel music. We are mixing gospel music with other forms of music,” Logue said.

For example, the music will include: “When the Saints Go Marching in,” with a Dixieland band, and “Fly to Paradise” by Eric Whitacre, a vocal music composer and conductor.

“Flight of Paradise” is a virtual choir piece, which incorporates voices from around the world.

For the piece, Whitacre created an accompaniment track. People from other countries could download this track, record themselves and send it back to Whitacre.

He, in turn, put all the voices separately into one performance track.

“Literally, you will have thousands of people from all over the world singing this same song,” Logue said.

The MU choir will sing “Flight of Paradise” with the track, minus the vocals from around the world.

Another musical selection will be, “Jabberwocky,” from the sequel to Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” The piece contains lots of nonsense words from Carroll’s famous poem.

“This piece is something that’s really fun to do,” Logue said. “It’s just goofy fun. There are all kinds of nonsense-type instruments that they get to play along with it.

Ryan Dusso, MU’s vocal department grad assistant, agreed.

“You’re taken back into elementary music class. It’s the tiny musical instruments you played in elementary school. It’s incorporating those instruments into the song, which makes it fun and silly,” Dusso said.

Dusso will direct the song, “Here’s Where I Stand,” from the movie, “Camp.”

The song comes in toward the end of the movie, which involves a musical-theater summer camp. In the film, the lead singer, who is very shy, has been told she won’t accomplish anything in life and her father isn’t very supportive of her music.

But the singer will amaze her parents and the audience when she sings this song.

“We’re going to be picking soloists from the high school group to do this. It’s a great message about standing up for yourself,” Logue said.

Logue, Russo, Sodawasser and Dan Hays, MU’s director of theatre activities, will serve as directors for the performance.

And while past events have had a featured performer, the emphasis will be on the honor choir.

Each year, the Gospel Honors Choir provides opportunities for high school students.

Vocal music directors from various high schools nominate students to be part of the event. The students have the opportunity to rehearse with the MU choir and automatically qualify for a $10,000 scholarship.

“But that is just the beginning,” Logue said. “Once they audition, then that number will go up.”

Logue also said the concert gives high school students a chance to perform with college students. For some students, it provides an opportunity to sing music they might not get to perform in their local schools.

Between 100 to 200 high school students take part in the event.

The Norfolk High School choir with about 50 members has been invited to serve as the guest choir.

Midland’s Chamber Choir and the Clef Dwellers will perform as well.

“This started as a way to bring the community together and give an opportunity to sing diverse music,” Logue said.

Future plans involve continuing to expand the type of music being performed.

“We try to have music that is diverse that represents more than just our own culture,” Logue said. “We’re constantly looking for – not only gospel music now – but other types of music, whether it be African or Celtic, things that are from a wide variety of genres.”

This can provide various lessons for students.

“The more you know about a person and a culture, the less threatened you are by a culture and I think music is a thing that brings us together. It’s a common language,” he said.

Logue said Thrivent Financial has supported this financially.

“They’ve been a great partner in this throughout the years and will continue to do so,” he said.

For event information and to purchase tickets visit: www.midlandu.edu/tickets or call 402-941-6399 or stop by the box office in Kimmel Theatre. The theater box office is open from 1-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

High school students receive free tickets by visiting: info.midlandu.edu/freetickets

Tickets also will be available at the door.

Logue invites area residents to attend.

“They’ll hear some great music,” Logue said. “They’ll see students from all over. They’re going to have fun with the variety of music we have and it adds a lot of interest to it.”


Govt-and-politics
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Council to consider Southeast Beltway agreement, utility bond issue

The Fremont City Council will consider several items that, if passed, would finance several current and future infrastructure projects within the community.

The meeting on Tuesday includes consideration of a resolution to authorize a preliminary financial agreement for the Southeast Beltway project, as well as a proposed ordinance to issue utility bonds to finance the remaining costs of the Elkhorn River Valley Transmission Line and Waste Water Treatment Plant projects.

The Council will consider a resolution, which can be passed by a single vote, which would create a preliminary agreement between the city and the state that would create a cost share between the two entities to pay for the Southeast Beltway project.

The Southeast Beltway is a 3.2 mile four-lane divided expressway that will connect U.S. Highway 77 and U.S. Highway 275 designed to improve traffic flow and regional connectivity between U.S. 77, U.S. 275, and U.S. Highway 30.

Under the proposed financial agreement the total cost to the city would be capped at $20 million, just under half of the total cost of the project which is estimated at $43 million.

The proposed agreement would break up the city’s $20 million bill into three payment. The first two payments would be $6.67 million apiece – with the first being paid upon the execution of the Nebraska Department of Transportation agreement and the second being paid in July 2019. The third payment – totaling $6.66 million—would be paid in July 2020.

According to a staff report prepared by City Administrator Brian Newtown, the city will use $12 million in state allocation funds and sales tax reserves, as well as $8 million from Highway Allocation Pledge Bonds to pay its total cost share burden for the project.

The details of the agreement also state that the State will pay one hundred percent of additional costs if Fremont’s $20 million is exceeded for the project. Project costs include planning, preliminary engineering, survey, environmental, right-of-way, utilities, construction, and construction engineering.

The State expects construction of the Southeast Beltway to begin in spring of 2020 and to have the road open to traffic in the fall of 2021.

The Council will also consider an ordinance, which must past three separate readings and votes to be passed, to issue a Combined Utilities Bond Series to reimburse expenses in connection with the Elkhorn River Valley Transmission project that connected the Fremont Department of Utilities with Omaha Public Power District as well as improvements to the Fremont Waste Water Treatment Plant.

According to a staff report prepared by Fremont Director of Finance Jody Sanders the principal amount of the bonds will not exceed $40 million and the true interest cost of the bonds will not exceed 4 percent.

The proposed ordinance also calls for the city’s municipal advisor, Ameritas Investment Corp., to bid out and award the sale of the bonds, and representatives from Ameritas will be at the Council meeting on Tuesday to answer questions about the ordinance.

Sanders added that Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services is currently reviewing the Utilities’ bond rating for the proposed bond issue.

The Council meeting is set for Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. within the City Council Chambers at 400 E. Military Avenue. An associated study session is scheduled prior to the meeting at 6:45 p.m.

The full City Council agenda can be found online at fremontne.gov/agendacenter.


Education
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FMS alerts parents of threat rumor

Fremont Middle School families received a message from principal LaVonna Emanuel Monday morning, alerting them about a threat that was ultimately determined to be “specific to several individuals and personal in nature,” and not toward the school as a whole, Emanuel’s message said.

The students involved in the threat were not in school on Monday, and were being handled according to the Middle School’s code of conduct and through law enforcement.

Fremont Public School Superintendent Mark Shepard said that the school district started receiving information from members of the school community late Sunday, relaying reports that a threat had been made against Fremont Middle School. The school district contacted the Fremont Police Department and determined that no such threat had been made, but instead several students had threatened each other in a personal altercation.

Shepard added that the district sent out the message to make sure that parents were aware of the situation and that they understood that there was no threat against the school at large, as was indicated in initial reports to the school district.

“We also wanted to make sure that parents that had heard about it through their kids or through the rumor mill had accurate information, because we started off, as I said, with information that was not accurate,” Shepard said.

The incident traces back to Oct. 24, after the school resource officer investigated a personal altercation between students at the school, said Lieutenant Ed Watts of the Fremont Police Department. A caller had reported hearing a rumor that weapons could become involved in the altercation, but the resource officer found that none of the students involved had access to any kind of weapons and found the rumor to be unsubstantiated.

On Sunday, law enforcement determined that two of the students had engaged in a filmed “planned fight,” but no weapons were involved and the fight was personal in nature, Watts said. The students were cited and released to their parents, Watts said.

Shepard said that, at no time was there ever a weapon inside the Fremont Middle School building, and that the students inside the school building were never in danger.

He praised the individuals who came forward with concerns and said that the district teaches all of its kids to report potential dangers. He said that the district takes every potential threat seriously.

“If you see something, you need to say something, and if you know something, you need to tell someone,” Shepard said. “And it absolutely worked in this situation. We had a report from three different sources [Sunday night], and they all came in at about the same time.”