McCOOK, Nebraska -- McCook City Council members unanimously pledged their support, lacking a formal item to vote on, of the Red Willow County Commissioners should they decide that use of the city's 96-hour jail facility was their best option going forward.
County commissioner Earl McNutt spoke on behalf of the county Monday evening at council chambers, during the council's semi-monthly meeting, saying "The bottom line, when you go through this process, is that you must explore every option out there."
McNutt explained that the county had recently met with jail standards personnel and needed to know if the facility was an option and what the city would require.
Mayor Dennis Berry said the council hadn't discussed the topic formally but would like to cooperate with the county.
"I'm not opposed to the county taking over the facility with little or no cost, our intent all along has been to cooperate with the county," said Berry.
His sentiment of support was echoed individually by each of the other council members. Councilman Jerry Calvin asked what the intent was during the transitional period, between city and county, and if city assistance would be necessary. Red Willow County Sheriff Gene Mahon said he believed the transition could take place from one day to the next and that jail standards indicated no opposition to that plan.
Chief of Police Isaac Brown concurred, saying the two departments had a good relationship and he and Mahon had both discussed and agreed that they could make the transition a seamless one.
City Manager Kurt Fritsch added that the city would be willing to work in support of the county with whatever options came up. He also noted that October 2012 would be the tentative date for a transition.
The Municipal Facility, which is scheduled to begin construction in August, will house police, fire and city administration departments and signal the end of city staff operating a jail facility. Jail operations by state statute are a county responsibility, that the city assumed in 1983 after the county decided to close their facility. County commissioners are exploring several options, some of which include upgrading their previous county jail facility, new construction and use of the city facility.
Councillors conducted a public hearing to discuss a proposed rezoning of three lots owned by Theresa Leamon in the Fairacres addition. The action moves the lots from residential medium density mobile home district to business commercial district and was recommended for approval by city staff. Fritsch said the move made sense and that it was approved without objection by the planning commission. The ordinance pertaining to the rezoning was approved unanimously for its first of three required readings.
A new restaurant opening on Norris Avenue, Tequilas Mexican Grill, received an approval recommendation from council to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission for a Class I liquor license. The approval came on a unanimous vote following a second public hearing.
An auction bid from Credo Petroleum Corp. of Denver for oil and gas lease on city property at the airport and waste water treatment plant was presented to council. The bid included a five year lease, $6 per acre bonus payment, $1 per acre annual delay rental and an industry standard 12.5 percent royalty provision. Fritsch said that approval of the bid was not the end of the lease matter and that attorney work still needed to be completed, specifically around EPA compliance and FAA compliance at the airport.
Other items on the consent and regular agenda:
* The agreement between the city, Mid-Plains Community College and the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office detailing the relocation of the Daughters of the American Revolution building was approved. Movement and renovation of the historic building are requirements the city has placed on MPCC, as part of their purchase of a portion of Kelley Park to build an events center.
* Council members approved the third and final reading of an ordinance that allowed for the sale of a portion of the property the city acquired from Merilyn Schaffer and Eileen Hubert. The McCook Housing Agency was subsequently authorized to purchase the lot, located just off of F Street in the First Bison Addition, for $15,025.
* Amendments to the zoning ordinance that allow individual domestic wind turbines in the agricultural district were approved for the third and final reading. The ordinance change allows for domestic use, single turbines that will be limited to a 55 foot height requirement.
* Miller and Associates was approved as the engineering firm for the energy improvements project at the library and public works shop.
* The third and final reading of an ordinance that clarifies membership requirements for the Loan Committee, per the McCook Economic Development Plan, was approved.
* Mo Dough LLC was authorized a special liquor license for a reception at the Keystone Business Center in April.