The Hebron City Council tackled a lengthy list of duties Monday, Nov. 5, in the regular monthly meeting.
Topping the agenda was a costly fix on a well that was shut down earlier this year due to high nitrate readings. In September, Hebron city supervisor Chris Fangmeier said the City may have to look at blending the water of two wells for a short-term solution. And after his report at the November meeting, the City may need to drill another well in a safer location as the well that has been shut down is still showing high nitrate levels. “They’re lower,” he said, “but not by much. We’re going to need to do something.”
In September, Fangmeier said well No. 2, a minimal-use well, has always had higher nitrate readings than wells No. 1 and No. 3, and that well No. 1 has always shown low readings of nitrates. He suggested blending the water of wells No. 1 and No. 2 to bring the nitrates to an acceptable level for well No. 2. The fix would allow the City to use the well until a new one can be located; a project that could take up to three years, he said.
Monday night Fangmeier presented a cost opinion from JEO Consulting Group who says the blending project could cost about $100,000. “A new well is going to cost half a million,” Fangmeier said.
The council gave approval to submit the plans and specifications to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Authorization to advertise for bids is contingent on DHHS approval.
Mayor Shane Day said he has been receiving complaints that there are no sidewalks in some areas of town specifically along Jefferson Ave., from 10th to 13th, and areas near the Thayer Central campus. Barger Ave., which receives a large amount of foot traffic, also does not have sidewalks.
The council agreed to map the town and see how large the task would become. “If we’re going to start a project like this,” said councilwoman Beth Goldhammer, “we better be able to take the heat. Properties will be assessed. This would be a multi-year project.”
Council members would like to hear from anyone with concerns about sidewalks and whether the public feels there is a need for them or not.
Larry Fangmeier warned the council that wholesale electric rates will go up by Jan. 1. He thought the raise would increase customer service costs by two percent, but wanted to complete a study before making a decision. “This is just an early warning that a raise is coming,” he told the council.
On Friday, Nov. 9, NPPD approved an average rate increase of 3.75 percent for its wholesale and retail customers. Nebraska Public Power, the state’s largest electric utility, serves more than 87,000 retail customers who receive their bills directly from the Columbus-based utility.
Wholesale customers include 25 public power districts and rural cooperatives, and 52 municipalities who purchase electricity from NPPD to distribute to their respective customers; Hebron included.
The NPPD raise will go into effect Jan. 1, 2012.
The council will move on the local increase next month once the results from the study have been presented.
The First Street river bridge is in need of repairs and they won’t be cheap, Chris Fangmeier told the council. “We received the results of the core samples that were taken,” he said, “and it doesn’t look good.” He said there is no cost estimate yet, but judging from the work needing done, it would be costly.
Both approaches to the high traffic bridge need replacement. First Street is a main artery for truck traffic into and out of the City, and the bridge will need to be reinforced to accommodate the heavy loads especially during harvest when the grain elevator is at its peak for business.
TCEDA representative Deb Craig updated the council on the City’s movie theater. A group of volunteers is currently working to keep the theater from closing down. Craig asked at the October meeting if the city could financially help in any way, but councilwoman Goldhammer said no.
“I talked to our accountant, Brian Blobaum, and he said the City cannot lend money to a non-profit,” she said. “We also cannot forgive utilities.”
Craig said the volunteer group is county wide and is making quite a bit of progress by possibly locating a digital projector at about half the cost of what was initially thought. She also said the group is looking into improvement grants for non-profit entities.
In final business, council members inquired of Mayor Day, a member of the Hebron Volunteer Fire Department, about the construction taking place at the City’s firehall. Mayor Day said he was hoping B.J. Linton would have attended the meeting as he felt the HVFD Chief could update them; however, when pressed further, the mayor said he understood volunteers with the department were extending the kitchen area in the back of the building.
Councilman Kurk Wiedel asked City Clerk Jean Nagey to retrieve the building permit in order to see what exactly was being built, but Nagey said that no permit had been requested or issued.
When asked how they were paying for the construction, Mayor Day said the department was using leftover funds in the budget.
The Hebron City Council meets every first Monday of the month. An agenda is kept at the City Office.