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

By Daria Anderson-Faden
The Observer 

Bids To Go Out For Missile Roads

Costs Rise For Hospital Project


July 22, 2021

The Kimball County Commissioners met for their regular session Tuesday, receiving updates and information from a variety of county departments.

While time allowed, the commissioners authorized a contract with Standard Appraisal Services for support in the assessment of property. The contract is for 15 days of assessment, but those days are not required to be used. Standard Appraisal Services is based on an hourly rate of $110 an hour.

Wheat harvest continues, and the county roads are under constant usage; Randy Bymer, county highway superintendent, said that he might have to shut down the county gravel trucks. Even with our own trucks, we don’t want a road blowout.

He also stated that “as dry as it is, not much we can do.”

Bymer also entertained the possibility of losing an employee, so the county may be advertising for another employee. With the budget looming over the commissioners’ heads, Bymer suggested that the road department needs to get an increase in wages.

Bymer discussed with the commissioners that bids will soon be taken for work on the missile base roads. Certain roads will be widened and not receive gravel.

Concluding his comments, Bymer reported that he had “four graders without AC,” but they are working on those problems. He said that he had told his employees, “If you get too hot, just come in.”

Region 21 Emergency Manager Ron Leal presented the commissioners with an updated plan for the Wildcat Hills Community Wildfire Protection Plans. The commissioners approved the plan.

Kimball Health Services provided an update on the new hospital project. Nicole Snyder began the discussion with, “There is a lot we don’t know yet. We are assuming it is going to be a yes, and we are continuing to work with architects and the construction company.”

Last Thursday, the Kimball application went before the USDA committee, a decision should be imminent, but the USDA needs at least 10 days to notify the senators and representatives first before anyone else is notified.

While news about the hospital project has been slow in recent weeks, it has increased in total cost, currently up by about $6 million due in part to rising costs for materials. The total project appears now to be at $36 million, although a contingency was built into the entire sum.

Both CEO Ken Hunter and CFO Cassie Gassleing said they have been pleased with the improving financial situation of the hospital. They said surgeries and scopes are up, and they are experiencing a good comeback. According to both Hunter and Gasseling, they are headed in the right direction. Cash on hand at the end of May was $9.7 million.

For the past couple of months, the commissioners have heard information about a WING confiscated 2002 Audi. The vehicle has been sitting in the courthouse parking lot for a few months. During previous meetings, Sheriff Harry Gillway expressed to the commissioners that he wanted to trade-in the Audi for another vehicle in the sheriff’s department. Recent information indicated that instead of being a federal forfeiture, the Audi was a State forfeiture, and different rules apply. County Attorney Dave Wilson explained that in the case of a state forfeiture, half of the proceeds from the confiscated vehicle go into the County Drug Fund, and the other half goes to the school system. The vehicle will be advertised as surplus property and disposed of according to state statute.

The county transit service continues to grow. Christy Warner, transit administrator introduced an expanded schedule, including weekend and longer hours. The transit currently has 11 vehicles, and seven other vans have been ordered, but delivery will not take place until 2023.

Finally, county budget officer Josi Morgan presented a tentative schedule for mid-August for the budget workshop.

Aug. 3 will be the next county commissioner meeting.


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