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County road funds to be put into asphalt project north of East 11th this year

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

McCOOK, Nebraska -- Red Willow County, Nebraska, commissioners won't put any money into armor coating county roads this year, but will use those funds to help pay for the county's share of new asphalt on County Road 386, north of McCook's East 11th.

Typically, the county spends $140,000 to $150,000 each year to put a thin coat of oil and gravel on a selection of its 56 miles of paved roads. However, the county needs to come up with $276,120 to pay its share of a federal-aid project that will put a six-inch overlay of asphalt on the paved county road from the north end of East 11th to the four-way intersection 2 1/2 miles north.

"This is a (federal aid) project we thought was dead-in-the-water," said commission chairman Earl McNutt. County surveyor Gary Dicenta told commissioners, "You've got quite a bit invested in that project already. If you don't go forward, you're throwing that money away."

The federal government's share for the project will be $1,380,600; the county's share is $276,120. It's been in the works for 13 years. Federal funds for road projects are ending, and projects must be bid before the end of the year.

Between not spending money on armor coating this fiscal year and not buying a new road grader next fiscal year, commissioners should have money to pay for the county's share of the asphalt.

McNutt and fellow commissioner Steve Downer said paved county roads are in pretty good shape right now, after a dry winter with mild temperatures. "We'll still need to do some cold-pack and crack sealing," Downer said.

What Dicenta told commissioners about armor coating surprised them about as much as finally getting federal funding for the "McCook North" project. Dicenta said that with the price of oil, armor coating would cost about $18,000 a mile, compared to $15,800 a mile last year -- and not including cleaning and patching by county crews. "Basically, the whole cost is in the oil -- $3.52 a gallon," Dicenta said.

McNutt mused, "Hmmm, $100,000 would barely get us six miles ... "

Commissioners agreed to contribute $3,000, or $250 a month, to the McCook Humane Society.

Adoptions are up, euthanasias are down and board members continue to make improvements to its shelter and operation, board members Anne Dowd, Lorie Prestes and Jerry Kelsch told commissioners.

Commissioners tabled any action on a contract with the government trapper until next week, when the trapper, Mike Sherman, can attend their meeting.

The county is completing the first year of a five-year contract for trapping of nuisance wild animals; the contract is $7,312 a year. The contract can be amended at any time, and terminated with a 60-day notice from either party, McNutt said.

Commissioners are considering opting out of the contract because they feel the services may not be necessary.

Downer said he has had one request for the trapper's services in the last year, and fellow commissioner Vesta Dack said that rural property owners generally take care of their own wild animal problems. McNutt said the trapper does "very little work" in the communities within the county.

Downer said, "Coyotes aren't a factor. Mange has taken its toll -- there aren't a lot of healthy coyotes out there."

Dack said that prairie dog problems are generally taken care of privately. "Land owners have their ground at stake," she said.

McNutt said, "Quite honestly, this is one expense we could opt out of."

Revisions to the county's zoning regulations are nearing completion. The regs were adopted on Oct. 16, 2001, and little has been done to update them since.

The revisions address several items that were not included in the first -- wind chargers, private air strips and subdivisions and rural development.

"We definitely want the county's and property owners' responsibilities for road maintenance spelled out for subdivisions," McNutt said.

A public hearing on the new revisions is tentatively scheduled July 21.

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