McCOOK, Nebraska -- Red Willow County, Nebraska, commissioners Monday morning tabled until next week any decision about maintaining roads in the Calabria Subdivision about two miles northeast of McCook.
County Attorney Paul Wood requested the week's delay so that he can work with county roads superintendent Lloyd Miller to decide whether Calabria roads meet two criteria that determine whether a road must be maintained by the county.
Wood told commissioners that, by state statute:
1. If a road in a subdivision has been dedicated to the use of the public (thereby losing its "private property" status) and is accepted by a public board, and
2. If the road has been improved to the minimum standards of a municipality (if, as in the Calabria case, it is within a community's two-mile jurisdiction) or a county, whoever's standards are more stringent, then the county must maintain the road.
The county is under no obligation to maintain the Calabria roads unless the answer to both questions is "yes," Wood said.
Wood cautioned commissioners not to take any action at this time on a petition from Calabria homeowners requesting maintenance. If commissioners accepted the road before it was brought up to standards, then the homeowners could demand that the county bring the roads up to county standards, Wood said.
The road must meet county (or city) roads standards, but not at county expense, Wood said.
Commission chairman Earl McNutt questioned why county taxpayers should maintain the road within the subdivision. "The city accepted the plat (the plan for the subdivision), but the city did not accept the road as a city street. The county has had no say-so in it because it was within two miles of the city," McNutt said. The city can't maintain the Calabria roads until the subdivision is annexed within the city, he said.
Wood told homeowners Adam Wilhelmson and Adam Wolford that he would let them know if the Calabria roads do not meet county/city roads standards, and what it would take to meet standards.
Wolford said he is confident the roads already meet the criteria. "They have been for 10 years," he said. Wilhelmson suggested that homeowners will share the cost of an inspection by the roads superintendent with the county.
Commissioners approved the county's continued support of the McCook Humane Society, approving unanimously a $3,000 contribution to the animal shelter's 2011-2012 budget. The county makes a $250 payment each month.
Humane society treasurer and volunteer Marilyn Cuellar of McCook told commissioners that the shelter is trying to stay solvent with donations and memorials, and very much appreciates the county's support, as well as monthly payments -- some "like clockwork" each month, she said -- from Indianola, Bartley and Stratton and, across the state line in Kansas, Oberlin.
Marilyn said one of the biggest challenges faced by the shelter is holding dogs for county court procedures in neglect/abuse cases or in court cases involving a vicious animal.
Most times, at the end of the confinement, the shelter is not awarded costs for the care it provided to the animal, Marilyn said. Humane Society president Anne Dowd said, "The owner is fined, and the McCook Humane Society receives no funds." Marilyn added, "We're left holding the bag and the animal doesn't benefit at all."
Anne said one of the biggest misconceptions the public holds is that animal shelters receive funds from the Humane Society of the Untied States. "Only one dollar of every $200 donated to the Humane Society of the United States goes to hands-on shelters," Anne said. "The Humane Society of the United States gave less than one-half of 1 percent -- $452,371 in 2008 -- of its $100 million budget to hands-on pet shelters."
Meanwhile, HSUS officials made $2,532,167 in pension contributions the same year, Anne said.
The McCook shelter has two full-time and four part-time employees, relying on paid staff members because volunteers are seldom available from the public or from the Nebraska Department of Corrections Work Ethic Camp in McCook.
Commissioners also approved an $8,000 contribution to Lutheran Family Services for its coordination of a juvenile pretrial diversion program for the county.
Juvenile pretrial diversion is a program for eligible juvenile and "adult" (18-21 year old) first-time offenders of non-violent crimes such as minor in possession of alcohol or shoplifting to give them an alternative to prosecution.
McNutt told program coordinator Chris Berry of McCook, "(County Attorney) Paul (Wood) definitely thinks it's a worthwhile program."
The majority of referrals to the program come from Red Willow County, Berry said, although the program also serves Furnas, Hayes, Hitchcock and Dundy counties. Berry said she will have 67 clients from Red Willow County by the end of the fiscal year, June 30.
The diversion program was funded in 2010-2011 with a grant from the Nebraska Crime Commission ($23,500); county aid funding from the state ($20,669); fees paid by diversion clients ($6,937); and contributions from the counties served; for a total of $59,106.
Berry projects a budget for 2011-2012 of $46,669, a reduction of $12,437 which includes $5,500 less in funding from the Crime Commission and uncertain diversion fees.
Commissioners will sit as a board of equalization to conduct hearings for tax payers protesting ag land, commercial and residential property tax valuations on these dates:
July 5, 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.
July 6, 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.
July 11, 1-4 p.m.
July 12, 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.
July 14, 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.
July 18, 1-4 p.m.
Tax payers wishing to file protests must first contact the office of the county assessor, (308) 345-4388, and then pick up protest forms in the county clerk's office. The forms must be completed and returned to the clerk's office by Thursday, June 30.
Commissioners and county attorney Sandra Kotschwar must have decisions made by Monday, July 25.
Commissioners accepted a $4,000 proposal from Environmental Direct Inc. of Grand Island, Nebraska, to remove asbestos from the county-owned former beauty shop located at 516 Norris Avenue next door to the courthouse on the north.
One northwest room has about 650 square feet of asbestos that must be removed from walls before the county donates the house to the rehab/resell program of the McCook Economic Development Corp.
The house will be moved to a vacant lot at 301 East Second in August.
During their consent agenda, commissioners:
* Reappointed Marv Colson of Bartley to the Red Willow County Veterans Service Committee, to a term to expire June 30, 2016.
* Reappointed Doug Vap and Dan Stramel of McCook and Carol Schlegel of rural Culbertson to the Red Willow County Visitors' Committee, to terms that expire Dec. 31, 2013.