THE SUPERIOR EXPRESS

July 30, 2015

 

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NEWS!

Superior still in the race for revitalization grant

Developers propose electrical generation plant near Superior

County board continues budget meetings

Vogler family sells Guide Rock bank

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The Superior Express & Jewell County News 30 July 2015

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Superior still in the race for revitalization grant

Three representatives from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development Department were in Superior Thursday evaluating the community for the possible participation in a downtown improvement program.
First stop was the city administration building where they were oriented to the community before going on an approximately hour long bus tour of the city.
After the motorized tour, they went on a walking tour of the downtown. Along the way they met with various business representatives to discuss the needs of the downtown, learn about the progress being made and the nature of the businesses occupying the downtown.
Along the way they were treated to two unique Superior products. Gravel Top rolls from the Ideal Bakery and saurkraut pizza from Dave's Place.
Last stop was a public meeting at the Vestey Center. Most of the chairs in the Lady Vestey Room were filled and the participants noted the meeting was the largest and most enthusiastic of any encountered thus far.
Shanon McCord, for example, shared the story of Ideal Market. When his grandfather opened his first store on the main street of Superior, there were six other grocery stores in Superior. McCord's store has grown over the years and now occupies 16,000 square feet.
McCord said in the future he would like to tear down the current warehouse located on the north side of Ideal's parking lot, construct a 20,000 square foot building and use the present store area for a parking lot. He said a new store could be operated more efficiently than that the current store.
Other stops along the walking route included Farmers & Merchants Bank, Main Street Floral, Dave's Place, Superior Spirits and the Bad Rooster.
Bev Beavers gave an abbreviated portrayal of the Lady Vestey story. Jennifer Henderson of Ideal Title Company talked about what she had done to save the historic Carnegie building after a prior business owner walked away from the building.
John Price Jr. said as a high school student he was eager to leave Superior but as an adult he was eager to return home.
It was noted Superior is one of 11 towns seeking a downtown restoration grant. Of those 11, five will be selected to receive planning grants and four of the five will receive implementation grants. The implementation grants will be for $350,000 each and must be leveraged with local funds.
It is anticipated the towns receiving planning grants will be selected in mid-August. After allowing about 9 months for planning, implementation grants will be awarded. Those grants will allow two construction seasons and 24 months for completion.

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Developers propose electrical generation plant near Superior

Is there an electrical generating plant in Superior's future? There will be if Gary Aksamit of First Security Power and his associates have their way.
Aksamit and six associates met with the city council Monday evening to pitch their plan to build a power generating plant near Superior and supply all the community's electrical energy needs.
Aksamit said his goal was stop rate increases and, perhaps, even lower the cost of electrical power for the customers of Superior Utilities. Aksamit is a native of Alexandria.
The City of Superior, like many other communities in Nebraska currently has contracted with the Nebraska Public Power District to supply electrical energy to Superior Utilities through Jan. 1, 2021.
Aksamit said he would like permission to begin negotiating the release of that contract with NPPD.
It was estimated the city's wholesale power supplier might be willing to release Superior from the contract in exchange for a payment of $2 million which Aksamit said his company would pay.
Currently electricity is available on the spot market at a price substantially less than the cost of power Superior is being supplied by NPPD. Monday evening the out-of-town visitors thought buying power on the current spot market could save Superior perhaps as much as $50,000 a month.
Councilman Kent Jensby agreed that Superior was being held hostage by NPPD but warned, "If you poke the dog with a stick, you better be prepared for what happens next."
A number of Nebraska towns including South Sioux City, Wakefield and Wayne have already left NPPD or are in the process. Beatrice was said to be seeking proposals. Falls City is building an electrical peaking plant.
Aksamit said his company wanted to build a generating plant near Superior and cited several reasons including the presence of an underutilized natural gas line that was extended to Superior in the 1920s to serve the former cement plant and the presence of electrical transmission lines near the former cement plant. He said he was intrigued by the opportunities offered by the right-of-way held by the City of Webber for an electrical line extending from Superior to Webber. The plateau where the former KSNB-TV tower is located near Ruskin offers opportunities for the generation of windpower.
Aksamit said private investors would fund the construction of the generation facilities and pay the cost of a NPPD contract buy-out. He explained federal law allowed private investors tax credits that were not available to publicly held companies.
The city council tabled action on the proposal but it is expected to consider it again at a special meeting set for 7 p.m. Monday. Most likely most of that discussion will be held in closed session because of the nature of potential contract negotiations with NPPD.
Aksamit expects to propose a 10-year flat rate contract for supplying power to Superior. He said a contract with Superior was needed before plans could proceed for the construction of a power plant in this area.
In other action Monday, the council approved a redevelopment plant submitted for all of Blocks 16 and 17 in the North Superior addition. This is the former school area currently occupied by Kingswood Court. Approval of the plan is a requirement if the developer is to take advantage of tax increment financing. The plan calls for the construction of additional housing in that area.
The council passed on third and final reading a water curtailment ordinance that establishes an emergency contingency plan and procedures to follow in the event of limited water supplies.
Permission was granted Superior Motor Parts to close a portion of the parking lot south of the store for a special tool sale on Thursday, Aug. 20. Approximately the east half of the lot will be used for the tool sale.
Alfred Hanson met with the council to discuss the possible exchange of property. He said the Nuckolls County Historical Society is still interested in obtaining title to the City Park land east of the museum property as a possible expansion site. While the society does not have current expansion plans, he said the available museum space is nearly filled and a building project might be considered in the future. Should the city find a piece of property it might be interested in developing for use as a park, the society might be willing to purchase the land and negotiate a trade.
No formal action was taken.
Aksamit had been in regular contactd with Superior officials for about five years while developing the alternative energy plan he proposed Monday. He was meeting this week with members of Gov. Ricketts' staff to present his plans for Nebraska power.
Council members voted unanimously to declare the former custom packing plant property on West First Street a public nuisance.
Derek Clark, city planner, reported Superior was one of seven communities to qualify for participation in a Walkabout program. The initial planning and introduction session is planned for Saturday, Nov. 7.
Before adjourning the council approved the current year officers for the Superior Volunteer Rescue Squad. Carrie Lemke is captain, Chris Anderson, lieutenant, TJ Sibert, president, Camie Kroeger, vice president, and Jon Paddock, secretary-treasurer.

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County board continues budget meetings
The Nuckolls County Board at Monday's regular meeting continued budget work sessions with department heads and elected officials. Dan Corman, board chairman, was absent because of an illness.
Susan Rogers, county assessor, presented a proposed budget for her office, which includes a substantial increase in the salary portion. In addition to salary increases for Rogers, her deputy and the other employee in the office, the budget request also reflected the recent back pay paid to former assessor Janice Murray, all of which had been approved earlier by the board. Rogers had also requested she and her deputy be reimbursed for the cost of maintaining the professional licenses required for obtaining and keeping their jobs. After a short discussion, the board approved the budget request, without the reimbursement for professional licenses.
Rogers also presented her office's three-year assessment plan for the county, which includes a revaluation of all commercial properties in the county in 2016 and the reappraisal of all residential properties in Superior in 2018. Revaluations and reappraisals by the assessor's office are performed on six-year cycles.
Rogers presented the board with a list of the 16 locations within the county officially designated as cemeteries. They are Bostwick, Evergreen West, Evergreen East, Hardy, Liberty Creek, Nelson, Nora, Oak Grove, Ox Bow, Smith, Sacred Heart, Salem, Spring Creek, St. Stephen's and Union. The assessor's office is responsible for reviewing ownership of the cemeteries, but cemetery associations do not have to file for exemption every year.
Gary Warren, county highway superintendent, and Cindy Buescher, road department secretary, presented the proposed road and bridge department budget. Despite more than $600,000 in flood damage to infrastructure this spring, Warren managed to keep the road and bridge department budget relatively flat. The county will receive emergency funds from FEMA to cover part of that loss, but those federal reimbursements typically take one to two years to process and the county budget must absorb the expenses in the meantime.
The proposed road department budget for Fiscal Year 2016 presented to the commissioners Monday was approximately $3 million, compared to actual expenses of $2.9 million this year. The commissioners trimmed about $2,000 in a line-by-line review of the budget, but did not question the bottom line.
Included in the road department budget is $245,000 for a new motorgrader, $20,000 to replace two of the department's pickups and enough money to replace all traffic control signs owned by the county with the high-intensity variety now required. Warren also said the county's two 10-yard dump trucks are "pretty much worn out" and need to be replaced.
Also discussed was the expected increase in funds for the county road department created by passage of the fuel tax bill by the legislature earlier this year. The bill, which was vetoed by Gov. Ricketts and overridden by the legislature, will create more than $50 million annually for Nebraska counties and cities when fully implemented. The funds are intended to be used for repairing or replacing infrastructure rather than buying down the levy, which is what a lot of counties do with windfalls like the inheritance tax fund. The amount received by the county will be small this year ­­ about $15,000 ­­ but will rise sharply in the next five years.
Sheriff Brad Baker reviewed the budget for his department as well as the others he oversees ­­ jail, civil defense, 911 emergency services and emergency management. The sheriff's department budget includes nearly $50,000 for an additional deputy, which he said will eliminate the part-time contracted officer he has been utilizing. Baker said attempting 24-7 coverage with a total of four officers is nearly impossible, considering they don't pay overtime to the deputies, only comp time.
Other budgets reviewed Monday by the commissioners included building and grounds, county court, liability claim reserve, medical relief, inheritance tax and noxious weed.
In other business, the commissioners reviewed the two applications received for the noxious weed position. The matter was tabled while the board continues to explore combining the noxious weed position with something else to make it full time or filling the position with existing staff.

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Vogler family sells Guide Rock bank
Scott Vogler, president of Guide Rock State Bank, and Kelly Holthus, Chairman and CEO of Cornerstone Bank in York, announced an agreement has been reached for Cornerstone to purchase Guide Rock State Bank and their branch in Edgar. As of Dec. 31, 2014, Guide Rock State Bank had total assets of $28 million with deposits of $24 million and loans of $18 million. The purchase is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval with a closing expected in September.
Holthus said Cornerstone Bank is pleased to be a part of the Guide Rock and Edgar communities and to continue to expand its banking footprint in south central Nebraska. Vogler said becoming part of the Cornerstone family will benefit customers.
Cornerstone Bank is a $1.4 billion bank and with the acquisition of the Guide Rock State Bank, Cornerstone will have 37 banking branches in 28 communities. Other communities include: Albion, Aurora, Bartlett, Bradshaw, Central City, Clay Center, Columbus, Davenport, Geneva, Glenvil, Grand Island, Hampton, Harvard, Henderson, Marquette, McCool Junction, Monroe, North Loup, Polk, Rising City, Shelton, St. Edward, Stromsburg, Sutton, Waco and York.  Cornerstone Bank is owned by First York Ban Corp of York.

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