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Wind and solar conference may appeal to local landowners
The schedule for the 11th annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference
has been announced. The conference will be held Oct. 16 and 17
at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln, and will feature
experts from across the country and the state.
Conference Chair John Hansen said, "Nebraska wind and solar energy development is going through a remarkable period of growth and expansion. We have a lot of progress to report, as well as issues and opportunities to consider. Our Nebraska Nice approach to problem solving and networking is working."
Larry Brittenham, Superior Utilities Manager, said the city has sent representatives to the conference in the past, and they may do so again this year, considering their recent foray into solar energy generation.
"The conference is a good opportunity to rub elbows with people in those industries, as well as environmentalists," Brittenham said. "If you want to know more, and hear more unbridled truth, it's terrific. And it's open to the public."
But Brittenham said the conference is held for and by proponents of sustainable energy, so it typically only includes supporters. In the first few years, only wind energy was covered, with solar being added later. About the proposed wind project in northwestern Nuckolls County, and the ongoing feud between proponents and opponents, Brittenham said, "If both sides would tell the truth, it would be helpful."
Local landowners are beginning to receive offers from solar developers in the mail. One offer was "up to $1,250 per acre per year, 20 to 40 year lease." Apparently, they require large tracts of currently clear land, more than 150 acres, with three-phase transmission lines near or on the property.
The conference will kick off on Tuesday, with a keynote from Rob Chapman of the Electric Power Research Institute discussing the value of end-use technologies that efficiently amplify the benefits of cleaner power generation portfolios. The programming will continue with a look at the "Future of the Industry and Changing Landscape for Renewables," featuring Jeff Clark, president of The Wind Coalition. Afternoon sessions on Tuesday will include a luncheon with public power CEOs, as well as a policy and legislative update from state senators.
Dave Belote, former commander for Nellis Air Force Base, will get things started on Wednesday. The second day of conference programming will feature a lunch session and additional breakouts related to renewable energy as a tool for economic development and will highlight communities across the state. Additional topics include: an update on renewable projects in development, battery storage, planning and zoning, electric vehicles, Southwest Power Pool expansion, solar project development, and the wind and solar construction workforce. The full conference schedule can be found here: https://www.nebraskawsc.com/conference-schedule.
More than 350 people are expected to attend this year's conference. Attendees include private sector developers, public officials, landowners, environmental and wildlife organizations, public utilities, and the public at large, among others. In addition to timely presentations, the conference will feature a tradeshow with exhibitors that include governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, vendors, developers and more.
Hansen urges conference participants to take advantage of the Sept. 15 early bird registration discount deadline that is less than two weeks away. The early bird registration rate of $125 increases to $175 after Sept. 15, and $200 the day of the conference. Students are encouraged to attend at a discounted rate of $65.
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County closes road to truck traffic
The Nuckolls County Board voted unanimously on Monday in favor
of a resolution to close a mile of county gravel road to heavy
truck traffic. Commissioners have received numerous complaints
about dust caused by heavy harvest traffic on the road that leads
to the Aurora Co-op elevator from the east, including major safety
issues for Highway 8 traffic and the "housekeeping nightmare"
it creates for those who live along the road.
As soon as the signs go up, Road B, between 3800 and 3900 roads, will be closed to truck traffic. Those who live on the road or use it to access crops or livestock on the road will be exempt. Gary Warren, Nuckolls County Highway Superintendent, said he has ordered the signs and will install them when they arrive, probably in a week or two.
County Attorney John Hodge said his primary concern with the action is that someone will have to enforce it. The board has discussed it with the sheriff, who has said his department plans to issue warnings initially, but will ticket those who do not heed the warnings.
The vote may have been unanimous, but one commissioner isn't as sure as the others about their action.
"I'm just not sure it will solve it," said Commissioner Doyle Christensen. "I mean I agree we have to do something for Doc. Kile and for safety on Highway 8, but I'm worried it will just create a worse problem west of the elevator."
"I'm concerned about lawsuits, and it will help avoid those. It's totally a safety and liability issue for the county at this point," said Commissioner Daren Blackstone. "Our engineer said the road wasn't designed for that type of traffic, and I'm following his recommendation."
"I agree," said Chairman Tim Zikmund. "It's a good step, that at least demonstrates we're trying to mitigate a solution."
"I hope it works, but I don't think the issue will go away," Christensen said. "I think we should look at hard-surfacing the road the producers will now be forced to use."
Warren reminded him that after the City of Superior's annexation to include the elevator, that road was now the city's.
"I think we've been asked for help, we know there's a big problem, we have to do something," Warren said.
Other options considered include treating the road repeatedly with a spray designed to reduce dust, which is expensive and their engineers advised against, and hard-surfacing the road, which is prohibitively expensive. Aurora Co-op officials have expressed no willingness to share any costs with the county for either.
In other business:
· Warren presented the board his certification of public roads classifications and standards, one of two annual reports required to receive financial allocations from the state.
· The board approved two right-of-way agreements between the county and Windstream Nebraska.
· Nick Elledge, noxious weed superintendent and emergency manager, presented his monthly report.
· The board approved special designation liquor license applications for Superior Estates Winery for events on Oct. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27; Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24 and 30; and Dec. 1, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 28, 29 and 30.
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Superior losing chamber manager
At the September meeting of the Superior Chamber of Commerce
directors, Shanel Rempe, the organization's current manager, reported
that she and her family had decided to move to Aurora, Neb., were
her husband, Jason, and son, Gage, were working. Her last day
on the job will be Oct. 31.
The manager of the Superior Chamber of Commerce since early 2017 said, "Life is full of twists and turns. We have our good times and our bad. Every experience that we go through makes us who we are. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I feel I was drawn back to Superior to have time with family, reconnect with old friends and make new ones, and most of all to be given a chance to do a job that has been so rewarding.
"To be the chamber manager of my hometown has been amazing and I have truly loved this job which has made the decision to leave even harder."
She told The Express that Jason has an opportunity to that may move into business ownership at Aurora. But "No matter where I live, Superior will always be my hometown and have a special place in my heart."
While the chamber manager's job is considered to be part-time, she had worked much more than that and organized several new activities while continuing to coordinate events of long standing.
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Church replacing fronts while street work underway
Curb, gutter and sidewalk replacement isn't the only renovation
work planned for downtown Superior and some of it is already underway.
The city utility department is replacing the underground electrical cable which serves the street lights and will also install new Victorian style lights to help maintain the Victorian character of the central business district. Several property owners have planned store front renovation. The first to begin the work is the Living Faith Fellowship Church.
The church occupies two former store buildings in the 300 block of Central Avenue. While the sidewalk in front of the church was torn up, workers have removed the flat wooden awnings and taken out the fronts of the two buildings.
Plans call for replacing the fronts with a design more suitable for a church rather than a retail location. One of the upgrade goals is to make the fronts more energy efficient.
The two buildings have interesting histories and were associated with many Superior businesses. Some of the most memorable include the Western Auto Store which was housed in the south building. The north building was home to Ben Hill's clothing store, Coast-to-Coast Hardware and Carpenter Appliance.
According to Stan Sheets, the building at 307 Central was built in 1916 by Frank Laird. It replaced a wood building constructed in 1879 by Asher Beal.
The building at 315 Central Avenue was built in 1912 by Evelene Brodstone and contained the Brodstone family apartment on the second floor. When built, it was probably the fanciest apartment in downtown Superior. The brick building replaced a single story wood structure put up by Asher Beal in 1877.
Beal and Hans Brodstone were partners in a dry goods business in that location before Brodstone purchased Beal's interest in the business. Later the building became a rental and housed a variety store known as The Racket.
The new building constructed in 1912 had a balcony overlooking Central Avenue with a canvas awning mounted just below the balcony which could be cranked out as needed to shade the store windows on hot summer mornings. A men's clothing store occupied the building before 1918. It was to continue to house a men's store until 1958. In 1978, the Hill family sold the building to Gerald and Betty Carpenter. They operated an appliance store on the first floor and lived in the second floor apartment.
The southern building was constructed as a rental in 1916. The building was first occupied by the Johnson & Johnson Pool Hall. In 1924 a second floor office was rented by Dr. Maxine Berry, a chiropractor, who advertised using electricity and vibration when making a thorough adjustment. In 1938 Tollie Haas located his Western Auto Associate Store in the building.
After Clyde Bilyeu closed the Western Auto Store, Robert Maxey located a Sears Catalog Store in the building. When Marshall Vale relocated the Sears store into the corner building, Ray Sandin expanded his Coast to Coast store to occupy the two buildings now occupied by the church.
After Coast to Coast moved to a new building, the building housed the Sports Shack and even later the Lampost Mall.