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County board rescinds moratorium on wind farm development
Monday's regular meeting of the Nuckolls County Board was nothing
if not well-attended. Despite attempts to keep up with the need
for additional chairs, the crowd spilled into the hallway
even after the door between the board room and the veterans service
office was opened, creating a makeshift antechamber.
Most, but not all, were there for a discussion on wind turbine development in the county; specifically, whether or not to rescind a county moratorium on wind energy development was scheduled for a vote at 11:30 a.m., according to the agenda. County officials and others with business with the commissioners waded through the crowd when it was their turn.
The board addressed a letter of resignation recently received from Sara Bockstadter, who has served as Nuckolls County attorney since being appointed by the board to complete the term of Tim Schmidt after his death.She also serves as the Webster County attorney. State statute prevents her from being elected in both counties, so she would likely have been appointed again here in November, if she were willing. Her contract requires a four-month notice from either party, so her last official day will be Aug. 10. John Hodge, a Nelson attorney, has filed for election to the office. The board accepted her resignation and thanked her for her service.
Gary Warren, Nuckolls County Highway Superintendent, said he has three trucks hauling gravel, utilizing the gravel maps provided by his maintainer operators. He also said he had the gravel purchased by the road and bridge department tested and it meets or exceeds state standards, according to Mainelli-Wagner, the county's contracted engineering consultants. Warren also said he received five applications for a new motorgrader operator in the Lawrence area.
The commissioners met with Nick Elledge, county noxious weed superintendent, for a report on his monthly activities and upcoming events.
Four people were on the agenda for a discussion on wind turbine development in the county Lyle Schroer, a proponent of the proposed Nuckolls County project; Dan Shipman, Webster County commissioner; and Kevin Sasse and his son, Karter, who farm near Diller.
Kevin Sasse said he lives a mile south of Diller, where they farm around seven wind turbines two on his land and five on land owned by his uncle. That project includes 44 turbines, 32 in Jefferson County and 12 in Gage County. The elder Sasse described working with the wind farm in 2013 as "a good success story."
"You can't really see the red lights when you're farming underneath them, because they're focused upward. They're meant to be seen from a great distance," he said. "And the noise isn't a problem either. We hear the trains a lot more, and they're a lot further away."
Sasse also explained the market is more stable for excess wind energy that is wholesaled, which is why they can offer 20-year contracts rather than the two or three year contracts offered by coal or nuclear energy providers, whose prices are driven largely by fuel prices.
Karter Sasse described the financial benefits of the project in broad terms, saying the school district benefitted to the tune of $200,000 the first year, and that number would be about $280,000 this year, about $6,300 per wind turbine in the project.
Both men said there have been no effects on wildlife in the area. "I haven't seen any dead birds. I've heard they'll fan a grass fire and make it harder to put out. I've heard they'll blow away rain clouds. Sometimes you just have to use common sense when you hear stuff like that," Kevin Sasse said.
Karter Kasse said the hard rock roads leading to the structures are not problematic to farm around, and neither are the turbines themselves. The roads, he said, are handy tools for parking semis and other heavy equipment during harvest, planting or spraying.
Dan Shipman is a Webster County commissioner, where there is a new, 40-turbine wind farm up and running on both sides of Highway 4, beginning at about Rosemont and proceeding nearly to the junction with Highway 281 south. Shipman said he hasn't seen decreased land values because of the turbines, as some opponents of the Nuckolls County project have warned about.
"Actually, it's been the opposite," Shipman said. "I know people who aren't able to get parcels bought now because they've got a turbine or two on them and now they're worth a little more."
Shipman said his only complaint would be that 70 percent of the financial benefit goes to the Blue Hill School District, rather than in the southern part of the county where he lives. "That's just the way it worked out, based on where they are." Shipman also said there is a plan for a Phase II in Webster County, but so far no applications have been filed or lease agreements signed.
Lyle Schroer said there were questions about the legality of the 30-month moratorium on wind farm development in the county approved by the commissioners on March 5. Schroer said he had been in contact with the state attorney general and was waiting to see what transpired Monday before proceeding further.
When it came time for the vote on the moratorium, Commissioner Tim Zikmund, board chairman, said he placed it on the agenda because he believes the way it was approved was in violation of open meetings laws and lawsuits as a result of it would likely be inevitable. Commissioner Doyle Christensen made the motion to rescind the moratorium, Zikmund seconded and it was approved unanimously.
Individuals not on the agenda, both in favor of and opposed to the proposed wind farm in Nuckolls County, were given the opportunity to speak following the vote.
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Spring storm breaks 190 SCPPD power poles
It's mid-April, a time when many garden crops are often planted,
farmers are busy working their fields and planting corn and sun
worshippers have started laying out working on their tans. But
not this year. Instead, on Saturday area residents were hunkered
down, many without electricity and worried about the blizzard
the National Weather Service was predicting would strike this
While there has been a National Weather Service observer assigned to the Superior area for more than a century, the actual records are not easily reviewed. However, based upon weather service reports for larger communities in this area, April has been one of the coldest, if not the coldest on record. At Hastings the average daily temperature for the first 15 days of April was 36.5 which was 11.8 degrees below normal. The warmest first half of April came in 2006 when the average temperature was 58.9 degrees.
The forecast for Friday night and Saturday called for rain changing over to snow on Saturday with blizzard conditions expected. It was thought most of the precipitation would be in the form of snow. Light mist fell at times Friday afternoon and evening. By midnight Friday, it appeared the forecast was on track. Light freezing mist was falling but that was expect to quickly switch over to snow.
And that was about the time the first reports of power outages were being received by the South Central Public Power District at Nelson (SCPPD). Craig Cox, district manager, said the storm spread across the district from west to east with the first reported outages received about 1 a.m.
Here in Superior precipitation over night was light with only a dusting of snow and some ice accumulation. More snow was to fall during the day but temperatures warmed enough that much of the snow melted and by late afternoon most streets and sidewalks were dry. Another band of snow came through during the night.
The snow was not sufficient in Superior to cause any drifting problems and it was impossible to get an accurate measurement on how much may have fallen but probably less than an inch. Precipitation recorded by the CoCoRhs observer put the precipitation at 0.15 of an inch.
The story was much different to the south, west and north. At Burr Oak, Larry Gillette, the National Weather Service observer, measured three inches of snow and .19 inch of precipitation.
Interstates 70 and 80 were both closed by the snow and wind which caused white-out conditions. Kevin Houtwed, a former Nuckolls County resident, told Facebook friends he had never seen so many trucks stopped at Grand Island. This newspaper's Facebook page shared a picture of trucks stopped along the interstate at Sidney.
Mail was neither received nor dispatched from the Superior post office on Saturday.
Some Superior stores did not open on Saturday and most that did had only partial crews. Here at the newspaper, we had only one customer and one telephone call on Saturday.
While Superior retained electrical power. Many rural residences and some of the smaller communities were without power as distribution lines whipped in the wind and poles snapped.
SCPPD was still adding up the broken poles Tuesday afternoon. By 3 p.m. the count was up to 175 and expected to reach 190. At the peak the district had about 2,000 residential customers without power, Most were back on Sunday night but it took until Monday to get power restored to all customers.
The district's damage was heaviest in the southern half of Webster and Nuckolls County. Instead of sagging down with the ice load, the wind out of the north had pushed the lines straight out which increased the stress on the poles.
One rural observer said the ice coated power lines resembled skip ropes as they whipped in the wind which was probably gusting more than 50 miles per hour.
Steve Houtwed, one of those who shared a picture of the whipping power lines with The Express, said because of the power lines, he didn't think it safe to be out driving in the country.
Ava Petersen, another Ruskin area resident, estimated a quarter inch or more of ice had formed on lines near her rural Ruskin home. The power was out at the Peterson farm home but she said it remained on in Ruskin.
During the course of this spring storm, the Nebraska Public Power District had approximately 4,900 customers without power at various times. Mark Becker, a district spokesman, said, poor road conditions combined with blizzard conditions kept NPPD crews from completing the repair work Friday night and most of Saturday.
Though all customers had their service restored, Cox said SCPPD district had days of work ahead of them repairing the damage. Tuesday they were clearing roads and fields. With spring field work already behind, farmers are eager to get into their fields and motorists never appreciate a closed road. One the debris is cleared, the rebuilding work will begin.
Though there was some moisture with the storm, there wasn't enough to elevate the fire danger. By Tuesday high winds and the continued dry weather caused the weather service to warn of elevated fire danger this week.
Weather conditions remain unsettled this week. There was a 50 percent chance of rain in the forecast for Tuesday night, and rain is in the forecast for Friday and Saturday.
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln spring football game is scheduled for Saturday. Game tickets sold out in about three hours and some 95,000 football fans were expected to be in Lincoln for the game. However, it was reported Monday that a survey had indicated a majority of those fans didn't plan to attend the game if it was raining and the temperature was below 50 degrees. Interest in the game which is really a scrimmage has been high because it is the first time fans will see the team perform with a new coaching staff.
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Annual health fair Saturday at high school
The 2018 Nuckolls County Health Fair will be held from 9 a.m.
to noon Saturday in the Superior High School gym. Human Interagency
Services, Brodstone Memorial Hospital and Superior FFA are sponsors
for the event. They have been working to add an "old-fashioned
home show" atmosphere. Superior Girls Scouts will serve breakfast
from 8 to 11 a.m. There will be a kids photo booth with dress
up items from 9 to 11 a.m. (have the photos texted or emailed
New exhibitors this year include Rosa Marie's Wellness with free chair massages, sign up to be a bone marrow or stem cell donor, Donate Life where you can register to be an organ donor, Superior Mental Health and Gayle Mahin, a health and fitness coach.
For those who had their blood draws done, pick up results at the hospital booth, sign up for the patient portal and check out their services.
Youths are invited to bring colored page they received at school for a prize.
Other exhibitors include the Good Samaritan Society to promote their long term and senior living. Good Samaritan Village home health will also have a booth. Superior Utilities will have information on gas awareness and clean water. They will also have information on diggers hotline, solar array and the possible new lights downtown. Glenwood will be talking about the new fiber optic lines in Superior.
South Heartland District Health Department will have a skin scope available to screen for sun damage and information on sun safety and colon cancer screening. Sue Guilkey will also be on hand to discuss diabetes education and the program she works with, Smart Moves.
Hope Pregnancy Center will be on hand with information about their services, Revive Ministries, with information about substance abuse treatment and sober living.
New Horizons Health Lifestyles will promote essential oils and their massage therapy. They will do free Itovi scans which tell you, in a minute, what oils your body needs. Julie Ferebee, LMT will do hand massages. Kingswood Court and Caring Friends will talk about their in home care and assisted living. They will also have door prizes. B Defined Fitness will have information about their fitness and wellness, personal training, nutrition and supplements.
Safe Kids will promote car seat and bike safety. Also at the fair will be Central Plains Respiratory with oxygen and CPAP supplies, Superior Pharmacy with diabetic shoes, genetic testing and information about the medication take back program. Behrends Family Chiropractic will be doing cold laser demonstrations and posture education with a demonstration of a device. They will also have two drawings for two laser treatments each.
The Midwest Medical Air helicopter will land just east of the school for people to tour if the weather permits. Superior FFA will again be on hand to test nitrates in rural water and sell an assortment of plants.
More than 25 vendors will be on hand for the health fair with the theme, "Put the Spotlight on Your Health."
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Quiz Bowl team reaches elite eight at state
The Superior quiz bowl team reached the "elite eight"
at state competition, falling to Kearney and Norris, who made
the final four, coming in fourth and third, respectively. Gretna
was first and Creighton Prep second. There were 29 teams from
15 educational service units across the state.
Superior's record for the season: first at Lawrence-Nelson tournament. first at Southern Nebraska Conference tournament, second at ESU No. 9 competition, elite eight at state educational service unit competition.