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Teacher, retiree appointed to City Council

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Newly appointed McCook City Councilors Bruce McDowell and Janet Hepp smile after wrapping up their first meeting, Monday evening.
(Bruce Baker/McCook Daily Gazette)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- Mayor Dennis Berry appointed Bruce McDowell and Janet Hepp to fill the two vacant City Council seats, Monday evening, during the council's regularly scheduled meeting at council chambers. The appointments were unanimously approved without comment by fellow City Councilmen Mike Gonzales and Jerry Calvin.

Hepp plans to retire at the end of this school year as a seventh grade English teacher at McCook Junior High, where Berry is the principal. She has been with the McCook Public Schools since 1989 and has ownership responsibilities with Outdoor Sports LLC, and JGR Rentals.

Prior to being appointed to the position, Hepp told councilors McCook was her home and the home of her family and grandchildren, adding that she was very proud of it. She said she saw growth of the community as the top priority for McCook, saying, "I would like to see some action to make this town grow."

McDowell retired from Qwest in 2005 in the Denver area before moving to McCook. McDowell said he and his wife were looking for someplace nice and found McCook.

"I would really like to be a part of moving this community forward; we really enjoy it here," McDowell said prior to being appointed. McDowell said that he saw jobs and growth as the main priorities for McCook, "jobs and growth can make this a place people want to come to."

McDowell and Hepp were immediately issued the oath of office and then took seats beside the other council members. At the close of the night's meeting McDowell said he would like to "thank the council for the opportunity to serve McCook." Hepp echoed McDowell's gratitude and added that she would "try to uphold office with honesty and integrity."

The public hearing to discuss approval of a final plat, known as the A.M. Bishop Addition Plat, was coordinated and subsequently approved. The plat creates a minor subdivision just west of Orscheln Farm and Home on U.S. Highway 83.

A special exception was also granted to allow JLB Welding to operate its commercial welding shop within the new plat, which is in an agricultural district.

That exception was unanimously approved by all five councilors without comment in support or in opposition of.

Deveney Motors was approved to receive the $21,790 bid for a new 4-wheel-drive Dodge Ram 1500 police vehicle. Former city councilman Aaron Kircher had asked about whether the vehicle would be a replacement or addition to the police fleet and why the desire for a 4-wheel-drive, when previous indications were that front-wheel-drive squad cars were unnecessary.

Chief of Police Isaac Brown explained that front-wheel and 4-wheel-drive vehicles were typically out of the police department's price range, but the sale price on this vehicle allowed for a "very good vehicle for a very good price." Brown said the vehicle would be a replacement, as originally budgeted, and the highest mileage vehicle with the most mechanical problems would be phased out.

The purchase agreement gifting property located to the north of the McCook Public Library, between the city and the McCook Library Foundation, was approved. The memorandum of understanding pertaining to the foundation's donation to cover the installation costs of the elevator at the library was also approved.

Councilor Janet Hepp asked if the city would be responsible for upkeep and maintenance of the library elevator after installation and if upkeep costs were known by anyone. Maintenance and upkeep costs were unavailable and Councilor Gonzales responded by saying they were "no big deal as long as it doesn't break." City Attorney Nate Schneider said the Library Foundation's gift was for the installation costs only and added that the foundation was looking for future donation projects and that may be one they consider.

Other items on the consent and regular agenda:

* The proposal from Applied Connective Technologies to provide data and cabling services at the new municipal facility was accepted and approved without comment. City staff will now proceed with negotiating a contract with the company for the services, which have been budgeted for $90,000.

* Weis Fire and Safety was awarded the bid for a new 4-wheel drive mini rescue pumper for the fire department. The Weis bid came in at $147,111 and $150,000 was budgeted for the item.

* The Traffic Sign Retroreflectivity Maintenance Program for the City of McCook was approved. Adoption of the program was required by the Federal Highway Administration and city staff chose the Visual Nightime Inspection Method to perform required testing of traffic signs in 2012.

* The financial report for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2011, was received and filed without comment.

* A proclamation designating January 2012 as "National Radon Action Month" was approved.

* Claims for the month of December 2011, as published on Jan. 16, 2012, were received and filed.

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Thanks to all that applied. A very solid pool of people willing to be part of solutions instead of just firing shots at others.

-- Posted by dennis on Tue, Jan 17, 2012, at 1:52 PM

Congratulations, Janet!

-- Posted by bjo on Tue, Jan 17, 2012, at 2:38 PM

Good field of candidates indeed. Good luck Janet & Bruce. It's what the country as a whole needs to find. Good candidates that will work together instead of against each other. Looking forward to the future of McCook!

-- Posted by Rural Citizen on Tue, Jan 17, 2012, at 2:40 PM

McCook has to be smiling today with 2 great progressive appointments to city council for progress in McCook....... forward again finally..

-- Posted by Cornwhisperer on Tue, Jan 17, 2012, at 4:42 PM

Congratulations to Janet and Bruce. Good Luck and I wish you the very best in your new endeavor. Very good candidates one and all.

-- Posted by ruby4 on Tue, Jan 17, 2012, at 4:43 PM

Funny, "not a big deal as long as it doesn't break"....I've never owned anything that hasn't broke. Great thinking behind that statement.

-- Posted by youngneighbor on Tue, Jan 17, 2012, at 10:38 PM

Mrs. Hepp had a valid question in regard to the elevator. I believe elevators have to be inspected atleast once a year and that is no small cost. I hope this wasn't an indication of how new council members will be treated when they have a question. I'd say some one didn't do their home work. I know I wouldn't agree to something 'free' unless I knew all the strings attached.

-- Posted by Ladyg on Thu, Jan 19, 2012, at 12:45 PM

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