The Dawson County Board of Commissioners met for a meeting on Tuesday.
Jocelyn Brasher, a native of Omaha and recent graduate of Creighton University was introduced as the new Deputy County Attorney who will be attending meetings.
Under Committee Reports, Chairman Butch Hagan reported that he had attended the Ag Society annual meeting on Monday night. “The meeting had a great turnout and the society retained its current officers for the upcoming year,” he noted.
Dawson County Sheriff Reiber presented the October crime reports.
“Scottsbluff has converted their juvenile detention facility into more beds for adult prisoners,” Reiber reported. “Norfolk and Sarpy County are opening new juvenile facilities, but this will be further to transport juvenile offenders,” he continued.
Discussion, prompted by Commissioner PJ Jacobson and Bill Stewart was held concerning the demolition of the old jail. The building belongs to the Sheriff’s Office.
“We would like to see dates and bids for demolition secured with that space becoming available for parking,” said Jacobson. “Each county department is in charge of going through their items in storage and deciding whether it needs to be kept, shredded or disposed of,” Jacobson added.
Healing Heart Division Supervisor Miranda Stoll and her assistant, Jessica Brown appeared to obtain the signature on the annual ‘memorandum of understanding’.
“Since June, 63 juveniles have been served by the agency with seven being discharge and several others ready to be discharged,” according to Stoll. “We hold them accountable for their actions and they can only be enrolled once on the same charge. The second times they are released to a juvenile detention facility,” she explained.
Healing Heart provides drug and alcohol counseling, peer interaction and pairs up with community colleges to prepare clients for job interview and job skills,” Stoll continued. “We work with schools and parents to encourage and promote success for them,” she added.
Stoll and Brown volunteered their clients to help with the removal of items from the old jail, which was readily accepted by the commissioners.
Certification of the county’s road certification was approved. This certification provides for the county to receive some money back from the state.
A public hearing on vacating Road 410 between Road 754 and 755 was held at 8:30 a.m. Scott Russman appeared and shared that vacating the road would stop the county’s maintenance costs on the road.
“At the present time this road is used as a dumping ground and sightseeing,” Russman said. “The owners of Hi-Gain that is located nearby and all of the neighbors have signed a petition to vacate the road,” Russman continued. The commissioners approved the proposal.
Commissioner Jacobson led discussion on the search for a full time highway superintendent. “We’ve been kicking this around for a long time. This is a position we really need so we need to step up the search and be more aggressive,” Jacobson expressed.
Jacobson and Chairman Hagan will be attending a meeting later this month in Kearney where highway superintendents from across the state will be in attendance and will try to gather ‘Intel’ on where to seek a full time highway superintendent for the county. If that search ends in futility, the board authorized the hiring of a search firm to seek candidates for the position.
The final agenda item for the meeting was a presentation by Rev. Chuck Olsen, Dr. Bruce Hanson, Bob Cummins and Jim Hain representing the Johnson Lake Trails Planning Team.
They and several other members of the planning team as well as visitors from Lakeview Acres had met with Johnson Lake Chamber President Kevin Kunnemann and Tim Boyle from the Game and Parks Commission on November 1, 2016.
At that meeting they reviewed the Johnson Lake Drive as a long standing public recreation corridor currently designated by the NE State Roads Department as a ‘Recreational Road’ that has been used for over 40 years as a popular bike route. With the advent of 7.5 miles of off road trails it has become increasingly more popular and used, and concerns over the “share the road” situation on the 1.2 miles of Johnson Lake Drive in the Lakeview Acres area has become a dangerous recreational environment with danger to public health.
Olsen and his team explained the proposal for a 5-foot bike lane on the inside edge of the paved road with an estimate of $100,000 to fund the project. The 5-foot lane would be asphalt six inches thick from Dr. 14F to the Marina Drive. The team had visited with David Schoenmaker, Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator for the NE Department of Roads and had perused the optional construction segment with Jim Jewell from Paulsen Inc.
Olsen and Hanson expressed that there are funding sources available through recreation or public safety funds, but that these requests for grants and other funding need to be made by the Board of Commissioners.
All five commissioners expressed their opinions on the proposal but felt that the county had already contributed to the initial trail with a $60,000.00 grant for funding.
Planning Team members noted that 20 percent of the bike trail users are local residents, 20 percent from Dawson County and 60 percent use the trail as a destination on their vacations, which brings in tourist revenue to the county.
After continued amicable discussion, the commissioners agreed that they would rather see an 8-foot separated off road concrete trail built outside of right-of-way as close as possible to the outside edge of the county road with no county maintenance provided. Projected cost of this proposal would be $250,000, and Hanson reported that they were going to receive $100,000 in funding from the recent ‘Give BIG Lexington’ campaign and agreed to pursue this option.