Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Kimball's walking trail concept gains momentum


With support building for the project and a partnership between the City of Kimball and Kimball County, it appears that the long-awaited local walking trail may become a reality, though City Administrator Dan Dean said it really is still more of an idea than a plan.

The proposed walking trail at Janicek Dam south of the Kimball High School was revisited during the Kimball County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, April 4.

According to commissioner Larry Engstrom the walking trail is a project backed heavily by the Howard and Peggy Atkins Trust and is something that is supported by City Administrator Dan Dean as well as several citizens.

Because the area is a dam, the spillway must remain free from obstructions, though, according to Engstrom, Interstate 80 also acts as a dam.

“It’s going to take 20 inches of rain to get past the interstate,” he said.

Initially the walking trail is planned around the Janicek Dam area, but future plans may include paths to Gotte Park or across Highway 71 in a path towards the recreation area east of Kimball.

There are several steps that must be taken to finally make the idea a reality, including a survey of the area with County Highway Superintendent Dave Hottell and City of Kimball Road department Supervisor Jim Shoup, and Dean added that there is still a lot of detail that needs to be addressed as there is not yet even a design. Questions that need to be answered include who will build it and how much will it cost?

Hottell and Shoup will flag the proposed area and the State of Nebraska dam inspector will have to complete an inspection, scheduled this spring, for the final word on trail placement.

“I think something is going to happen (with the trail),” Engstrom said.

Wellness is a big part of any community and a walking trail would enhance that opportunity in Kimball, Dean concluded.

The first report is in from Hottell after using the county’s new tar pot on Highway 71 north of Kimball, and he said that it works very well.

Though the new equipment was a “bit over budget” according to Hottell, it comes with a wand as opposed to carrying buckets of hot tar, making it much safer.

Hottell’s county road shop in Bushnell will be getting a new roof soon, as the board accepted the lowest local bid, $19,000 from Hays Roofing and Siding, for replacement of the steel roof and insulation.

Shane Hays, owner of Hayes Roofing, said he looked at the building and met with Dave Hottell to discuss the needs. The job should be complete within a couple of days, once the material is received, according to Hayes.

Commissioners liked that Hayes would use local companies, and Nolting moved to accept his bid, Anderson-Faden seconded. The other bid came from John Burback for $19,800.

Commissioners heard a request from Sherry Winstrom, Kimball County Assessor to purchase a folding machine, similar to what her department recently used when sending out thousands of notices, for use by all county departments.

The borrowed equipment folded 3,100 pieces of paper in two hours, according to Winstrom, which would have taken her entire staff approximately seven hours.

“The reason I brought this to you guys is that I feel it is a necessity for everyone in the courthouse to use,” Winstrom said.

The cost of the machine is between $800 and $1,400 and could potentially save the county a significant amount in wages, according to quick calculations by Christy Warner Kimball County Human Resources Advisor, Transit Manager and General Assistance Coordinator.

Winstrom was asked to make the purchase out of her own budget, and though she said that she did not have the money in the office supplies line item, she did have extra money because she is down one staff member.

“So you are saying that the commissioners will not (purchase the unit), it has to come out of my budget to get the folding machine?” Winstrom clarified. “I was coming to you guys to see if you would purchase one for the entire county.”

Engstrom said the board would rather have a solitary department purchase the equipment and take accountability for the purchase since the purchase will have little affect on her department’s bottom line.

County Tourism Director Jo Caskey sought permission from the board to pre-enroll in the High West Broadband service for the High Point Welcome Center.

“The problem with the satellite is that every time the tower goes down, we go out,” Caskey said. The County also provides a cell phone as there is no land line.

The board granted the request. For more information see the High West Digital Solutions story in this edition.

Caskey also reported that a part-time staff member at the High Point Welcome Center has taken medical leave and may be unable to return to work for a period of time, or indefinitely, leaving the facility understaffed.

Though the immediate needs are covered between Caskey, one part-time staff member and a substitute, Caskey asked the board to approve a potential part-time employee for 20 hours each week.

“We are getting into the heavier travel season, so we are going to need an additional part-timer,” Caskey said. “The understanding is that if the original staffer is able to return to work, that this new hire would be a substitute as needed.”

The board approved Caskey’s request to hire Michael Ford as a temporary part-time staff member and permanent substitute. Ford is also a local part-time state tourism employee.

“The entire staff is very pleased,” Caskey said.

The county board also:

Proclaimed Tuesday, April 4, National Service Recognition Day in Kimball County

Ratified a proposal from Trane to fix a broken thermostat switch for $1,952.

Approved the full service contract for the copier in the Kimball County Assessor’s Office.

Performed the quarterly jail inspection with a satisfactory outcome.


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