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Council approves additional grocer funding
February 16, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

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Fresh Foods of Gering is now hiring!

GERING – As Fresh Foods, Gering’s new grocer, prepares for opening, the city council approved an additional $100,000 of re-use loan funds.
Ben and Kerri Dishman made the request from the city’s Community Development Block Grant program, to be used for working capital needs as the store expands.
The application was earlier approved by the city’s LB 840 review committee, as chairman Brent Holliday said the project was a long time in coming and would be great for the community.
The loan application states the Dishmans would create 30 new full-time equivalent positions. At least 51 percent of those jobs would be extended to low and moderate income persons. Fresh Foods has already started advertising for those jobs.
With approval of the additional funding, the Dishmans agreed to repay the loan at an annual rate of two percent through July 2022.
At Monday night’s council meeting, members also approved a liquor application for Fresh Foods. Although an official grand opening date hasn’t been set, Dishman said he’s looking toward a soft opening on March 7.
Council members also approved another LB 840 application for Arrowhead Distributing, who asked for $25,000 for the creation of five full-time equivalent positions to be guaranteed over the next five years.
The new Arrowhead Distributing facility will be build east of Peerless Tire and Wendy’s in Gering’s Mid-Town section.
The application wasn’t without controversy. Gering resident Renee Mares said that Arrowhead has had past problems with the state liquor commission, but she was unable to offer much in the way of detail.
Council member Jill McFarland said any potential issues with the state had no bearing on the company’s financial transaction with the city. The application was approved by a unanimous 8-0 vote.
Council members also heard from Gering resident Stan Stricker about two properties adjoining his residence that have been abandoned. Both lots have been overgrown with weeds and the buildings have become a hazard.
Stricker asked the council what could be done, as the property owner lives out of state and had no interest in the property. Council agreed to refer the problem to the city attorney to see what remedies are available. Council instructed the city attorney to begin a probate process to establish who owns the lots at 910 and 920 K St.
At the end of the public meeting, council went into closed session to discuss the advertised items of potential litigation, acquisition of property and the earlier proposed purchase of the North Platte Valley Museum building.
Two local media outlets objected, claiming the discussion of property acquisition was too broad and too vague. But council member Larry Gibbs said if the property owner knew the city was interested, the asking price could double or more.
As for the litigation item, the media objection was over the word “potential,” which the reporter claimed doesn’t mean impending.
However, the city attorney’s office said all of the items could be included under the state’s Open Meetings Law and they saw no problem with the closed session.
As Gibbs said on his way into the closed session, “We’re not lawyers. We can only go by what the city attorney tells us.”
After the closed session was concluded, council members returned to regular session and announced they agreed to purchase the North Platte Valley Museum in Oregon Trail Park for the appraised price of $230,000. The building will be used as a maintenance facility by the Gering Parks Department.
Earlier this year, membership of the North Platte Valley Museum approved a project to relocate the facility to the Farm And Ranch Museum grounds near the Scotts Bluff National Monument.
During the closed session, council members considered a settlement to their nearly three-year lawsuit against Westward Airways. Gering and Scottsbluff have been trying to recover $130,000 in economic development funds loaned to the airline, which later went bankrupt.
Council members agreed to extend an offer to defendants’ attorney to settle for $15,000, with Gering receiving about 35 percent of that amount.
Gering Mayor Ed Mayo said the council determined there was little sense in spending more time and money on a lawsuit that was going nowhere.
Another motion from the closed session called for the city administrator to authorize an appraisal on a lot at 18th and Q Streets. The city has been approached by an individual interested in purchasing the lot.
Finally, council authorized the city administrator to begin discussions with a party who’s interested in purchasing 23 acres south of Gering, adjacent to the new expressway.
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