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Council approves timing system grant

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The Chadron Area Aquatics and Wellness Center will see some new additions in the coming months, as council approved $29,075 in LB 840 Community Development Funds for the purchase and installation of a timing system.

City Manager John Sutherland noted he was approached by Rex Cogdill, a representative of the Chadron Sharks Swim Team, about supporting the application for the grant.

The total cost of the system is $44,075, $15,000 of which is covered by the Sharks.

Cogdill said they’ve been working on getting a timing system for some time, noting that, in 2019, the Dawes County Travel Board provided a grant for $25,000. That money was left up to the Sharks to determine whether to get a timing system or starting blocks; they opted for the latter.

Cogdill said it was felt the team needed the starting blocks to at least “get in the race.” The timing system, he added, allows for more accurate times and the opportunity for Chadron to host larger swim meets.

Chadron Sharks Board President Sheila Pourier said having a timing system would allow them to invite more teams, as they can only host a triangular at this point. Being a USA Swim Team member, they could even invite teams from Wyoming and South Dakota. She further added bringing in more people means more money for local businesses, even to the hotels when Chadron hosts a two-day meet.

Cogdill hopes to have the timing system installed by the spring. Sign-ups for the Chadron Sharks Swim Team are planned for the last week in September, Pourier said, and people can sign up by contacting Pourier or other board members Ben Bennett, Alyssa Peters, Barb Waugh, Lisa Briggs or Barb McCartney.

With USA Swim having an Open division, Pourier noted it is possible that adults can sign up to swim for the team.

A 1997 Freightliner/Smeal Pumper from the Chadron Volunteer Fire Department was declared surplus and authorized to be sold through Firetec Apparatus Sales.

Patrick O’Brien said the department received a new pumper truck in 2019, replacing the 1997 model. Since then, they’ve been trying to sell the older vehicle but aren’t getting any traction that way. Using Firetec, he and Fire Chief Branden Martens hope to remedy this. The truck is projected to be worth about $25,000, based on the age and style.

O’Brien pointed out the truck is in great shape, as monthly maintenance and annual pump tests are performed to make sure it still works. He added it would be a valuable truck for a smaller fire department.

The City Transit program will see some changes, since council approved declaring a 2008 Ford transit bus as surplus and authorizing it be sold to another transit agency.

City Transit Manager Julie Lawrence pointed out the ’08 bus was replaced with a 2022 bus, as the older vehicle has miles in excess of 128,000 and was using two or three quarts of oil every 3,000 miles.

Kari Ruse with the State of Nebraska has indicated the bus would be sold to another transit agency, following the 20% local match rule. The cost estimated for the bus is $9,500, meaning the City would receive $1,900 for the vehicle — 20% of the estimated value.

Another change to the local transit program is a switch in office space. The new office is at 127 West Second Street, No. 101, next to the Northwest Community Action Partnership office. Busses will be parked in the City-owned lot south of the building, Lawrence said, and the office allows drivers a space to complete their paperwork and other tasks. It could also serve as a bus stop, she added.

Chadron State College will have a new bus stop, located at 319 East 10th Street. The stop is on the northern end of the parking lot east of Brooks Hall, where the former Kline Campus Center was.

Lawrence said signs denote the area as a bus stop, with the busses pulling in from the west so as not to cross traffic. Lawrence indicated future plans include benches and a shelter. Having the one stop is different from the original plan for the college, to include stops at the different dorms.

Specifications for a new 2023 three-quarter ton extended cab 4x4 pickup were approved for the Street Department, and a notice to dealers was authorized. Street Superintendent Dustin Glass noted this approval was because a prior approved truck was cancelled and not re-ordered.

Several amendments to the Chapter 5, Article 4, Administrative Departments, or the Municipal Code were approved on their third and final reading. Council also renewed the City’s insurance policies for a three-year period beginning Oct. 1. City Manager Sutherland pointed out that renewing with the current company means a significant discount.

Council also approved certifying a question on the Nov. 8 general election for a two-year term on the council. With former council member Keith Crofutt resigning earlier this year, a special vote in the election will determine who will fill the remaining two years of Crofutt’s term.

Two bids were awarded to Buettner Construction. One was for $76,023.75, as a progress payment on the Niobrara Avenue water main connection loop project from North Mears to North Maple. The second was of $158,160.79, the final payment for the Chadron Avenue work from Sixth to Seventh.

Council approved the revised fiscal year 2022-23 budget and fee ordinance timeline. The first reading of the budget and fee ordinance is at their Aug. 15 meeting, with an Aug. 20 deadline to received certified valuation from the county assessor.

On Sept. 6 — a Tuesday meeting due to the Labor Day holiday — there will be a special council meeting for the public hearing of the budget, followed by a regular council meeting. This is also the date for the second reading of the budget and fee ordinance.

Sept. 19 is the third reading of the budget and fee ordinance, with the budget due to the State Auditor by Sept. 30.

City Manager Sutherland noted the city has had an ongoing relationship with John “Doc” Gamby, DVM, for numerous years, but he is considering closing and selling his business at the Panhandle Veterinary Clinic. Though he initially spoke to retiring back in March, Gamby made the official announcement Monday, according to Police Chief Rick Hickstein.

The police chief further noted there’s been some discussion into possible using Gamby’s building for kennel space. The police department takes animal care and control seriously, Hickstein added, as when a dog bites a person the animal has to be quarantined in a kennel for 10 days to check for signs of rabies.

He continued that, if discussion is going to start on where to house dogs so they can be fed, watered and exercise, there also needs to be discussion on what to do with cats. Hickstein further added Dr. Lynn Steadman and Dr. Regina Rankin have indicated they can provide vet services in emergency situations, even after hours.

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