Rural neighbor asks city to fix drainage issue

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

McCOOK, Neb. — A farmer south of McCook is hoping the City Council will be willing to address a long-time drainage problem he alleges is caused by a drainage ditch owned by the city.

Bob Wilcox, who’s owned his property since 1976, told the McCook City Council Monday night that a city drainage ditch, that directly abuts his property, does not allow water to drain properly and is causing a backflow of river water onto his land. The backflow carries contaminates and silt that affects his farming operation, Wilcox said, with contaminated water not good for cattle and silt causing blight.

Reading from a prepared statement, Wilcox said “finger pointing will not solve my problem” but continued that he pays taxes on property being destroyed by flooding due to runoff river water.

Wilcox offered the council six solutions, the first being to re-open the old river channel and close off the current river access to his property. This is the cheapest way to go and is legal, he said.

The other options included installing a concrete box culvert under the drainage ditch at a fairly expensive cost; pump water to the river; battle it out in court, at the cost to city taxpayers and himself; and the facetious “pray it never rains.”

As the agenda had Wilcox’s presentation as receive and file only, the council took no action Monday night and thanked Wilcox for his presentation.

After the meeting, Wilcox said he was “working my way up the chain of command, giving everyone the opportunity to do the right thing.” Although not sure what his next step would be, he did seem somewhat confident that the city council would address the drainage issue.

“I’m hoping people on the council have enough foresight to fix this problem,” he said.

The council on Monday night also unanimously approved a request from Jamie Mockry, McCook Chamber of Commerce director, to close down the city parking lot and two other streets from noon until 9 p.m. for the “Third Thursday” event on May 16.

“Third Thursday” is a new community-wide event sponsored by the Chamber, that will be once a month on Thursday nights from May to September. On “Third Thursday,” stores downtown will stay open late, with farmer market-style vendors and other activities planned. It’s a family-friendly event that will have several organizations, non-profits and other individuals in the city participating, he said.

This includes a teen dance for May 16, sponsored by the high school Youth Chain Reaction group, as a kick-off to summer. Other events in the future include live music, a Discovery Center for children, and events by the McCook Art Guild, he said.

Councilman Jerry Calvin asked how other events would be incorporated, such as Heritage Days and Mockry said “Third Thursday” would occur a week before Heritage Days. As for other events occurring at the same time, such as MNB’s “Hot Summer Nights,” Mockry said he wants “Third Thursday” to be complimentary and not competing and will help partner with other entities to promote this.

The goal for “Third Thursdays” is to get people from McCook and nearby areas used to the idea that something is happening downtown McCook on Thursdays, a goal that may take two to three years to accomplish, he said.

The request approved Monday night asked for East D Street from Norris to East First to be closed from noon to 9 p.m.; the closing of West D from Norris to the alley between Norris and West First for a teen street dance, sponsored by the YCR from 5 to 9 p.m.; and the closing of the city parking lot on East First and East D from noon to 9 p.m. for vendors.

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