McCOOK, Nebraska -- The McCook City Council approved the second reading of changes to the city firework ordinance, this time modifying when fireworks can be used to match the selling period. The approval is the second of three required readings of the ordinance changes and came Monday evening during the semi-monthly meeting at council chambers.
Chief of Police Isaac Brown had said that the new firework law approved at the Nov. 1 meeting would make parts of the old law unenforceable. Councilman Mike Gonzales proposed changes Monday evening that would lessen restrictions on when fireworks could be discharged. The previous version of the law allowed for sale of fireworks on Dec. 28 but discharge was illegal until Dec. 31. The new version will allow for fireworks to be used on Dec. 28 as soon as the firework selling period begins.
Councilman Jerry Calvin said he would "still argue the need for adopting this ordinance. I have asked several people and yet to find anyone who thinks it is a good idea. Nothing prevents them from asking the Fire Department for a permit. All we are doing is allowing the person that forgets to buy fireworks the opportunity to buy them."
Councilman Aaron Kircher said he had received positive comments about the ordinance change and Fire Chief Marc Harpham added that it did take two weeks advance notice to apply for a permit.
The council voted to authorize city staff to assist the non-profit organization that owns the Fox Theater in its pursuit of a $254,300 Community Development Block Grant through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. Charles Coleman, vice-president of the group, said they received word that the theater in Kearney was successful in acquiring a similar grant, which motivated them to apply.
Coleman said the funding would be used primarily to improve handicap accessibility, citing expansion of the restrooms and ramp access to the stage. Coleman also said ongoing renovations of the building would begin to move toward the front of the building and people should begin to see improvements to the outside of the building in the near future.
Michele Gill, Area Dean of Student Life, spoke on behalf of Mid-Plains Community College during a public hearing to discuss relocation of the Daughters of the American Revolution building. Gill said the project will preserve and restore the historic building while relocating it to a location more accessible to the public and in-line with the college's intent to build a new events center. MPCC is continuing to make progress on the new events center they plan to build in McCook and relocation of the DAR building is a necessary step.
City Manager Kurt Fritsch said the relocation project will move the building, from its current location near the intersection of East M and East Third Street, approximately 200 feet and aid in its preservation. Fritsch added that city staff expected to see the college's proposal for the events center project in early December.
A request for a special exception for a sand and gravel mining operation, one and a half miles southwest of McCook, was granted to E.I.A. LLC. Steve Barenberg spoke on behalf of the mining company and recapped his discussion with neighboring property owners. Barenberg assured council members that his company wanted to be a "good neighbor" and would continue to work with concerned residents in the area if problems arose.
Barenberg said the project will require at least two more full-time employees and should last approximately 25-30 years.
Three properties were authorized to be rezoned from Highway Commercial to Residential Medium Density. Council suspended its three reading rule so that property owners could move forward with pending sales without delay. The properties were 908 West 14th, 910 West 14th and 912 West 14th.
Sharon Boley was given until the Dec. 6 City Council meeting to have water restored, as well as other improvements, at her property located at 8101⁄2 West Fourth in McCook. Boley has received several extensions from City Council, with the most recent during the Nov. 1 meeting when council was told her plumber's "digger was broke."
Several council members expressed their intent to direct city staff to abate the nuisance at that meeting. Mayor Dennis Berry reiterated that this has been delayed since July of 2009 and he "needed to see the chips really fly."
City staff was directed to abate the nuisances properties located at 1416 and 1418 West Fairacres. The McCook Board of Health declared the properties nuisances on Sept. 30, 2010, followed by a time-extension granted to a prospective new owner who has since discontinued contact with city staff.
City Manager Kurt Fritsch gave a brief update regarding the voter approved Municipal Facility. Fritsch said he was meeting with the bond underwriters Tuesday and interest rates were expected to come in significantly less than projected. "We planned the project at three and a half percent and should be below three percent," said Fritsch.
Councilman Calvin expressed the desire for a single short-term detention cell in the new facility which led to discussion in favor of the idea. Chief Brown agreed to explore options to present to council members and Fritsch said now was the perfect time to make any changes to the floor-plan.