Two vie for MRNRD Subdivision 3 seat

Friday, October 28, 2022

McCOOK, Neb. – While there are two people running for one seat on the Middle Republican Natural Resources District (MRNRD) Board of Directors-Subdistrict 3, no one filed to fill the currently vacant seat representing Subdistrict 4.

The MRNRD board should be a 13-person board, with two members coming from six different districts and one member-at-large. Subdistrict 3 covers all of Hitchcock County and Subdistrict 4 covers the northwest portion of Red Willow County including an area of McCook. Subdistrict 3 is currently represented by Shane Rippen, who is up for re-election, and Travis Rousselle, both from Culbertson.

Subdistrict 4 is represented by John Palic of McCook. Currently, there is an opening on the board for a representative in Subdistrict 4 and no one filed to fill the position.

Shane Rippen
Shary Skiles/McCook Gazette

Subdistrict 3 Incumbent Shane Rippen is being challenged by William Barger. Both Rippen and Barger attended the recent KICX Candidate Forum. The entire forum can be viewed on KICX’s Youtube channel at

Shane Rippen, a third-generation family farmer who graduated from Culbertson High School, told the gathering that there are a lot of complex issues that the board deals with and challenges ahead facing the board.

He said the board is made up of diverse members including small business owners, farmers, managers, and ranchers. “There's going to be some huge issues that are going to be affecting everybody. It’s not just a rural issue; it's not only a farmer-rancher issue; it's affecting everybody with water,” Rippen said.

Rippen encourages citizens to inform themselves about what the board does by attending meetings, held in Curtis, or talking to board members and asking questions.

William (Bill) Barger is a farmer-rancher and real estate broker. He explained to the gathering that the NRD allocates all groundwater in the area, currently set at 12 inches per year over a five-year period. Excess water can be carried forward, allowing 72 inches over five years. He wants to stop the purchase of permanent water rights from district irrigators using public funds unless the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources gives a permanent allocation credit forever rather than just a one- or two-year credit. He feels that the practice is throwing away public dollars and converting irrigated ground to dryland ground and raising property tax for everyone else.

Bill Barger
Shary Skiles/McCook Gazette

He would also like to see more transparency in their meetings. Barger has attended the monthly NRD meetings in Curtis for the past 15 years as “an outsider looking in”. He said votes on buying permanent water rights should be taken in open meetings. His third concern is the current practice of diverting water out of the Frenchman River, which Barger describes as bone-dry, into the irrigation canal. He said water would be better used if it is left in the river, both recharging the irrigation wells along the river and flowing into the Republican River. He anticipates a Compact Call year for the summer, 2023.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

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