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Council approves business expansion funding
September 25, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
At their Monday meeting, members of the Gering City Council approved $66,500 in LB 840 economic development funding to DKH Enterprises to expand The Roots Salon into a new location.
Kare Heilbrun purchased The Roots Salon in downtown Gering and will soon move it into the old Fraternity Building at 1436 10th St. Lee’s Skin Care in Scottsbluff will also open a new branch in the new location.

Rawnda Pierce, executive director of Twin Cities Development, said the LB 840 committee recommended a $31,500 grant for up to nine employees. A $35,000 loan will be used to remodel the Fraternity Building and to purchase new equipment.

Heilbrun said she’s currently looking for someone as a salaried instructor and a supervisor for the salon. The stylists, as contract workers, can earn as much as they like by taking on new clients. The five current stylists work 48 to 50 hours a week.

“The building we purchased is an older one, so we’ll be making some renovations to make it a more workable space,” Heilbrun said. “But we also want to hold on to the old charm of the building. As part of that, we’re restoring the original tin ceiling and the facade.”

She said Lee’s Skin Care is a separate business in Scottsbluff, which will remain open. But a new branch will open in the Gering location.

“The upstairs space has so much potential,” Heilbrun said. “We’ve had people suggest a microbrewery, new apartments to senior housing. We don’t have any firm plans right now, but are considering our options. I’ll entertain any ideas the public has for the space.”
Council members also approved rate increases for all city utilities.
The minimum electric rate is now $27.45 for residential and $31.90 for commercial.

Sewer service charges were raised to $22.05 per month for city residential and $27.30 for out of city residential rates. The minimum residential water rate was increased to $15 and the residential sanitation rate was also changed to $15 a month.
The overall increase for utilities is about six percent the upcoming fiscal year starting Oct. 1. Overall, the hike will cost between $10.70 and $11.77 on a monthly utility bill.

“Our costs have gone up on a lot of materials we have,” said Gering Mayor Ed Mayo. “We still have the bond debt on the new water treatment system. Revenues have been down for both water and wastewater that helps pay for that.”

He added the city’s cost for electricity has been going up, in part because of the EPA’s policy to make coal-fired power plants cost prohibitive.

“We need to start looking for ways to start curbing some of those increase,” Mayo said. “We have a lot of people on fixed incomes and utility costs are getting to where they have to choose between utilities and groceries. But this year we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
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