During the Monday evening meeting of the Chadron City Council, Vice Mayor Cheryl Welch spoke to the status of a contract with John Sutherland of Rapid City, the current selection for the city manager position.
Council chose to go with Sutherland, one of their final two candidates, after primary selection Scott Meszaros of Seward, Alaska declined prior to contract negotiations. However, council members have noted that that Sutherland and Meszaros were very close in score when looking at the matrices used to select the candidates.
Welch said it was a good sign that both the council and Sutherland have said they look forward to working with each other. A committee consisting of Welch, Council member Keith Crofutt, City Clerk Donna Rust and HR Director Bev Bartlett met with Sutherland and offered him a contract last week. He has since met again with the committee and has some requests, which Welch said they will discuss.
The committee would like to have negotiations with Sutherland settled so the council can vote on his appointment at their May 17 meeting. The hope is that he will be able to start on June 1.
In council action, 318 Chadron Avenue was rezoned from R-2 Urban Family Residential to CC Community Commercial. The lot is southward adjacent to the former Anderson’s building, which is the site for a new Platte Valley Bank location. The rezoning of the lot will allow for a customer drive-thru on the south side of the bank, with access from Chadron Avenue.
Council also approved a resolution to designate the two parking stalls on the north side of the 100 block of East Second Street for plug-in electric vehicles only. Further, they are designated as “tow away” zones for other types of vehicles. A charging station was installed near the alley last November, and the parking spaces referred to in the resolution are in front of that station.
Council members noted there has been some frustration from people with electric cars who want to use the charger, but it is blocked by gas-powered vehicles. The designation will help make sure the station is more readily available.
Several proclamations were read and signed by Mayor Mark Werner. May 9-15 is proclaimed Police Week, with May 15 as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day. The 15th is also proclaimed Kids to Parks Day. May 2-8 is Drinking Water Week, and the entire month is Mental Health Month.
As part of Mental Health Month, there will be a walk from the Dawes County Courthouse to C-Hill on May 6, beginning at 6 p.m. Walkers are invited to help light C-Hill with solar lights.
Shortly after acknowledging Rick Hickstein as the new Chadron Chief of Police, it was Hickstein’s responsibility to administer the oath of service to new officer Seth Orsborn.
The meeting also saw a public hearing to amend the LB 840 Economic Development Plan to include Rural WorkForce Housing (RWFH) as an eligible activity.
During the hearing, Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation (NNDC) Executive Director Deb Cottier said the council is requested by the LB 840 committee to consider the change, which would allow dollars under LB 840 to be used for WorkForce housing. She noted this would allow potential applicants, such as High Plains Community Development Corporation to approach the committee and council to provide grant moneys to be used for matches. This would increase the impact of those moneys by adding value to the property an increased tax revenue.
Cottier further added the money could be use for things such as new construction, substantial rehabilitation or assisting a developer to rehab a property. Houses built through an RWFH grant will be sold at market rate and available to anyone, with no income restrictions, and the entire cost would not exceed $285,000.
Council member Crofutt stated he wasn’t against the change in language in LB 840, but expressed concern that the fund could become something used only for housing rather than other purposes such as commercial development. A formal vote on the language change will take place at the council’s May 17 meeting.