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Candidates seek District III County seats: Blaha eyes second term
April 10, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Sherry Blaha

Sherry Blaha, elected to the Scotts Bluff County Board of Commissioners in 2010 in District III, is seeking a second term.

She was a member of the Gering City Council from 1980 to 1984 and was then appointed to coordinator of Scotts Bluff County Emergency Management, which at the time was called Civil Defense. She served in that position for 24 years before retiring. She then worked part time in the front office at the Scotts Bluff County Detention Center.

Elected as a county commissioner in 2010, one of the first issues the board tackled was a sandpit operation west of the Riverview Golf Course that was causing flooding. The operation, north of the river, also created the potential for damage to the county road and river bridge.

The operation has since been shut down and the area has been repaired.

Another issue the board faced was a request from Western Sugar to close the east end of East Overland to traffic during sugar campaign season, in order to accommodate beet trucks entering and exiting the factory. However, East Overland merchants said it would create a hardship for them.

“I fought for East Overland not to be closed because there was no benefit to them,” Blaha said. “Western Sugar was able to work out a solution and still do the same work.”

Another of Blaha’s projects was a suggestion box, offered to all county employees to suggest ways to improve the efficiency of county government.

One of the suggestions will soon be implemented. Pictometry, or 3-D aerial digital imaging of all property in the county, will be used by the County Assessor and County Mapping Department to make the valuation process more accurate.

When it came time to evaluate county employees for raises, Blaha said the employees have always been one of the greatest assets.

“I’ve also been a county employee,” she said. “I’m always looking at equality and fairness, because county employees are the lowest paid of government employees. It’s always a struggle to give employees fair raises and still remain within our budget.”

Blaha said she is also proud of how the county emergency communications center has evolved to serve all the people of the county. “We’ve established an interlocal agreement and organized an advisory board to fund the center and determine our future needs.”

Blaha said that although Gering and Minatare have yet to sign on to the interlocal agreement, and the county board has indicated they need to know whether the cities are interested or not, she hopes those differences can be worked out soon and they join the advisory board.

Blaha said that because she’s retired, she has the time to devote to being a commissioner. “I spend a lot of time preparing for every commission meeting and I take the position very seriously,” she said.

She also represents the county on the boards of several agencies, including the Panhandle Mental Health Center, Panhandle Area Office on Aging, Region I Office of Human Development, Housing Authority, Local Emergency Planning Commission and the Tourism Board.

In the next four years, Blaha said she plans to continue meeting the demands of county government and staying within the budget, watching out for all unfunded mandates from the state and federal governments, and listening to the concerns of all department heads. “I still haven’t accomplished all I want to get done,” said.

Blaha will face challenger Cheryl Braunbeck on the May 13 primary ballot for the District III Scotts Bluff County Commissioner position.
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