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Council member steps down
September 14, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Citizen file photo Joyce Hillman-Kortum steps down from council.

Gering is in need of a short-term council member in Ward I after Joyce Hillman-Kortum announced her resignation from the council.
Hillman-Kortum had sent a letter earlier to the city explaining she and her husband had moved to Scottsbluff to be near a relative.
She told fellow members she has enjoyed her two terms on the council and the many friends she had made during her 48 years of living in Gering.

Hillman-Kortum’s term expires in November and she had already chosen not to run for a third term. Ward I residents Ric Johns and Justin Allred will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot for the position, but until then, the city needs someone to fill in.

“We need to find someone in Ward I who is willing to fill that seat until the new council member is sworn in at the first meeting in December,” said Mayor Ed Mayo. “We’ve had problems recently having enough votes when members are absent. It won’t help us at all if we leave the seat open.”

Mayo asked any Ward I resident interested in filling the term to contact him at city hall as soon as possible. The mayor will then submit at least one name for council consideration at their next meeting on Sept. 24.

Also during the meeting, council members agreed to seek an option to purchase a tract of land east of Gering for a potential new landfill site.

The property, one mile east of Gering just off Highway 93, belongs to Alan and Patricia Weinhold.

After a closed session for property negotiations, the council agreed to purchase the adjoining 10-acre residential property for $300,000. The remaining 459 acres would be purchased for $1.265 million on a six-year option.

The city already has about $1.2 million in a fund set aside for a new landfill when the current one is full. Those monies come from tonnage fees for garbage from Gering, Scottsbluff and Mitchell.
Mayor Mayo said all due diligence will need to be done on the option. Also, extensive testing of the area is required by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to determine whether the property is suitable for a landfill.

“The nice thing about it is that the land is far enough away from town that we should have no complaints about odors or dust or debris.” Mayo said. “With the new technology purchases coming up, I think this will be a good addition to the City of Gering.”

He added it’s important that the property is within Gering’s zoning district because all paperwork can be approved within the city’s jurisdiction, as opposed to dealing with other agencies.

The current landfill has about 10 years of life remaining before it is completely full. It will take at least six years to do all the research and testing necessary to get the new site approved.

“No one living in Gering today will outlive the new landfill,” Mayo said. “We’re looking at a well over 100-year site.”

Those final 10 years of life at the current landfill are made possible by the opening of the final cell six. It was supposed to have been completed by the end of 2012. However, the construction bid came in 29 percent higher than the engineer’s estimate and the council rejected the bid.

Jennifer Hovett from the design engineering firm Aqua Terra said the bid was higher than the estimate because of the short time frame allowed to complete the work. Extra equipment and overtime would be needed to finish on time.
Hovett recommended the new bid proposal be split into two phases: one to open enough space by year’s end for the landfill to accept new garbage, and the second phase to complete the work in the spring of 2013.

In other action, council members approved an LB 840 committee recommendation to extend a $20,000 forgivable loan to Fresh Foods for creating four new full time equivalent positions. Owner Ben Dishman told council members the positions have already been hired to address his business need for expansion.
An additional $5,000 was extended for the supermarket to create a fifth full time equivalent position within one year.

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