March 30, 2017



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BNSF replaces ice pond bridge

Superior Council considers expanding city building

Declining population trend continues

Vestey Craft Show moving to larger location


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The Superior Express & Jewell County News 30 March 2017


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BNSF replaces ice pond bridge

By Marty Pohlman
Work crews from the BNSF Railway bridge department have made steady progress over the course of the winter months. A bridge crew from the BNSF Powder River Division replaced four bridges between Superior and Hastings last year including one across Lost Creek at the west edge of the Superior city limits. A tie crew replaced deteriorated ties and surfaced the track from Superior to Lester Junction, near Amboy, enabling the railroad to increase the speed limit from 10 to 20 miles per hour.
A bridge crew from the BNSF Kansas Division has been at work since October preparing to install a replacement bridge southeast of Superior.
The railroad is replacing a wood trestle style bridge which traverses the one-time Santa Fe ice pond, located southwest of the Butler farmstead and southeast of the Smith farmstead on the southeast side of Superior. The ice pond was a staple in communities before the advent of mechanical ice machines.
Ponds, rivers and man-made impoundments were utilized to cut ice during the deepest months of winter. The ice was cut into large blocks which were transported to ice houses, insulated buildings where the ice was packed in straw, hay or sawdust. The ice was then used in the warmer months to ice the early incarnations of refrigerated rail cars or reefers.
The Chicago meat packer Gustave Swift is credited with the invention of the refrigerated rail car. He wanted a method devised to ship carcasses or sides of beef from Chicago to eastern markets. He solved the problems which literally derailed early versions. Until the success of his cars, meat was shipped live in stock cars to stock yards located near large cities. The cattle, hogs, sheep and other animals were then slaughtered at the site and distributed to local butcher shops.
Swift revolutionized the shipment of meat carcasses, butchered at a central point, and shipped, with no spoilage. The railroads did not greet his creation with open arms and he was forced to order and pay for the construction of his first lot of cars. The railroads did not embrace shipping his cars either but he persevered and prevailed. The success of the reefer car opened up the shipping of fresh produce from the south to the north and mid-west and from the west coat to mid- Americas and the east coast. In 1930, there were 187,00 reefers riding American rails, more than two thirds of those cars were privately owned.
The reefer cars, until the late 1940s, were cooled with ice. In the early years, this ice was cut in winter and used during the remainder of the year. A car of meat or produce required reicing every 400 miles or an average of once a day. By the early 20th century, mechanical ice machines were reliable and economical though ice cutting still persisted in some remote areas.
The ice pond southeast of Superior was likely used to send ice elsewhere as the Santa Fe had a minimal presenece in Superior, its only point of entry into Nebraska. Ice from a pond, located next to the Missouri Pacific line on the west side of Superior, was cut and stored by George Edsall in an ice house located at Third and Commercial in Superior. By 1905, Grant Dodds had constructed an ice plant and ice cream factory on the site of today's Ideal Market. The dates of ice cutting at the Santa Fe pond are lost to history as are the specifics though the name lives on. Reefer cars reached a low point in 2001 with just 8,100 riding the rails.
The Tropicana juice train on the east coast hauls fresh orange juice from Florida to New York City in reefer cars. Changing agriculural produce practices are leading to revival of reefer cars carrying fresh fruit and vegetables across the country as once was done with the Pacific Fruit Express trains. technoilogical advances in reefer cars point to a revitalization of this once popular transportation method which was ceced to the trucking industry. The final ice cooled reefer cars were constructed in 1957 and left the rails 1971.
Barbara Smith Thomsen and Betty Butler both recall the ice pond from their youth. They recalled the large gold fish which resided in the pond. It was also a popular ice skating location for the Butler family.
The 342 feet long trestle bridge, which is being replaced, is of a timber design. Many of the pilings, which have been in place for 100 years or more, are showing signs of age. The bridge has been the subject of ongoing maintenace over the years. The span is being replaced with one which rests on steel pilings. The pilings have been driven with a pile driver. Concrete caps have been placed atop the pilings which in turn will support the pre-cast concrete sections which constitute the bridge deck.
In the next few weeks the bridge crew will undertake a massive one-day push. Augmeneted crews and outside contractors will descend on the site. They will remove the rail from the bridge deck. Chain saws will cut through the longitudinal chords of the bridge, slicing them into long sections which track hoes will remove. The old pilings will be snapped off. The prestaged bridge deck sections will be installed atop the supports and tied down, all in one 16 hour day.
When the decking is installed, pre-assembled track panels will be laid on the decking. Ballast cars will deposit eight inches of gravel ballast over the ties and track. The rails will be connected at the bridge ends to the mainline track and traffic will be ready to roll across the finished bridge.
The estimated completion date of the project is the end of March. Mild winter weather conditions have accelerated the pace of the project.
The timber in the chords will be recycled and used to construct retaining walls at other locations across the BNSF system. The replacement bridge is expected to have a life span of 75 to 100 years.
Speculation abounds as to the function of the pond. The likeliest explanation is that it was used to allow flood water from the Republican River unimpeded access to the downstream side of the river during high water events. The Santa Fe filled in most of ice pond with dirt in 1982. Though a small spring feeds a small pond at the site, the days of taking a canoe out on the pond as Jim Smith was wont to do in the early 1970s are a thing of the past.

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Superior Council considers expanding city building

Two topics were the focus of a nearly 90 minute meeting of the Superior City Council held Monday.
The first hot topic on the agenda was the possible remodelling of the city office building.
The bathrooms in the current building constructed about 40 years ago do not comply with the current handicapped rules required of public buildings.
Mike and Matt Gay were present to answer questions about two possible bathroom revisions.
By having only one bathroom instead of two additional storage space could be created. However, office employees were strongly opposed to have only a uni-sex bathroom.
Adding to the complexity of the remodelling question is the mayor's insistence that the city's development director be housed in the city office building. In recent years one person has been both the development director and chamber of commerce manager. That changed earlier this year when the city withdrew support for the position and began advertising for a development director. The Chamber of Commerce has since hired a part-time chamber manager and made plans for a main street office.
Among the proposals presented Monday was a plan to reduce the size of the utility manager's office and construct a development manager's office utilizing space taken from the manager's office and a storage closet which had been attached to the manager's office.
Several council members objected to that plan.
Other ideas discussed Monday night included lengthening the present utility building, adding on to the west or constructing a separate storage building.
Before turning over ownership of the City Auditorium to a private non-profit group, old city records had been stored in the auditorium. Mayor Sonia Schmidt suggested considering returning old records to the auditorium. She said the current auditorium renovation plan provided space on the second floor that would probably be suitable for record storage.
While no final decisions were made, the consensus was to concentrate on bringing two bathrooms into compliance with federal regulation while investigating other building options.
Second hot topic was the nuisance abatement program.
Sharon Hueftle, director of the South Central Economic Development District was present for the meeting and answered a number of questions related to the program.
Members of the council voted to renew for the sixth year a contract with the district for administration of the program. In April a district representative will inspect 118 parcels. In the last week of April those property owners found to be out of compliance will be sent letters. The council agreed to pay South Central $11,500 for the service.
At Hueftle's suggestion, four properties found earlier to be out of compliance were removed from the nuisance list. The latest inspection revealed the problems had been corrected.
One property, which previously had been granted an extension to correct a problem was found to still be in violation. It was decided to ask the police department to cite the owner.
In other matters the council held a public hearing and decided to submit an application for planning grant of $30,000 to assist with an evaluation of city's storm drainage system and the drainage system's impact on the city's walkability. If the grant is approved, it will require an inkind and cash match of about $10,000.
Blaine Blair and Craig Poole were hired to staff the city's yard waste and burn pit. Blair will work on Saturdays and Poole on Mondays and Wednesday. Summer hours for the waste and burn pit take affect on Saturday. During the summer months the pit is open from 1 to 6 on Monday and Wednesdays and 10-12 and 1-4 on Saturdays.
Edwin Hood, received permission to replace a decaying carport.


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Declining population trend continues
The 2016 United States Census Bureau population estimates indicate the Nuckolls County population continues to decline, but if there is a bright spot to the report, 30 Nebraska counties have gained population between 2010 and 2016.
Nuckolls is among a group of 17 of the state's 93 counties have lost at least 5 percent of their population in the first six years of this decade. The Nuckolls County decline was 5.22 percent
During the first six years of this decade it is estimated Nuckolls County's population declined by 235 people to 4,265. The county's population has been declining since the 1920 census. Superior's population peaked in 1950.
The Jewell County population declined by 176 to fall below 3,000 for the first time. It is now estimated at 2,901. This was a decline of 5.9 percent.
Clay County's population declined by 379 to 6,163, a drop of nearly 5.8 percent.
The Thayer County population declined by 127 to 5,228, this was a decline of only 2.43 percent.
Webster County's population declined 209 to 3,603, a drop of nearly 5.5 percent.
Fillmore County lost 379 people to drop from 5,890 to 5,720, a decline of 6.4 percent.

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Vestey Craft Show moving to larger location
Details continue to come into place for the 26th annual Lady Vestey Victorian Festival planned for the three-day Memorial Weekend.
The latest schedule change is the addition of a craft show in an expanded location. Last year the show was held at the Vestey Center but the demand for space exceed the space available. This year the show will be held on Saturday at the Eagles Club on West Third Street.
To reserve space or other information, contact Shanel Rempe at the Superior Chamber of Commerce office or Teressa Erickson.
Arrangements have been made to have two of Superior's large Victorian-style homes open for tours.
The Merue-Price Funeral Home at Eighth and Commercial will again be open. This time from 1 to 4 on Sunday afternoon.
This house was built in 1883 by Sarah Adams and extensively remodeled in 1894 by James Henry Morrison, a prominent saloonkeeper.
For the first time this year, Larry and Jodi Lunzer have agreed to have their house at Ninth and Idaho open.
As the Lunzers are now working at Broken Bow, they have put their farmhouse style home up for sale. The house was built by Charles and Louise McGregor in 1912. Subsequent remodelling has removed much of the Victorian decoration. The home still has a wrap-around porch.

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