|Blaha seeks re-election to District III seat|
|October 09, 2014 Jerry Purvis|
District III Scotts Bluff County Commissioner Sherry Blaha is running unopposed on the Republican ticket Nov. 4 and will be elected to a second term.
Blaha brings several years of governmental experience to the table. She was a member of the Gering City Council from 1980 to 1984 and was then appointed as coordinator of Scotts Bluff County Emergency Management, which at the time was called Civil Defense.
After retiring from 24 years in Emergency Management, Blaha worked part time in the front office at the county detention center.
First elected in 2010, Blaha joined the board to address some serious issues early on. A sandpit operation west of Riverside Golf Course was causing flooding, which created the potential for damage to the county road north and the river bridge. The operation has since been shut down and the area is undergoing repairs.
Blaha said another issue the board tackled was a request from Western Sugar, which wanted to close the east end of East Overland to traffic during the sugar campaign season. The request was made to accommodate the heavy truck traffic entering and exiting the factory. However, East Overland merchants objected, saying it would create a hardship for them.
“I fought for East Overland not to be closed because there was no benefit to the merchants,” Blaha said. “Western Sugar was able to work out a solution to keep the road open and still do the same work.”
Blaha also implemented a “suggestion box” which invited all county employees to suggest way to improve the efficiency of county government.
One of the suggestions, Pictometry 3-D aerial digital imaging of all property in the county, is proving to be a useful tool for many county departments.
“The suggestion box is still open,” Blaha said. “If county employees or the public have an idea that might help the county do a better job, I want to hear from them.”
Each budget season, the county board evaluates county employees for raises – and Blaha said the employees are one of the county’s 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 in the area. It’s always a struggle to give employees fair raises and still remain within our budget.”
Blaha also pointed out that during her first term on the board, commissioners helped organize the county’s 11 municipalities into the 911 emergency communications center board.
Although Gering and Minatare hadn’t signed onto the interlocal agreement when she first announced her candidacy, Blaha said they have since come onboard. “I’m glad everyone signed on. I’m sure any problems we had with the board’s structure have been worked out.”
Blaha said that now she’s retired, she has the time to devote to her work on the county board. “I spend a lot of time preparing for every commission meeting and I take the position very seriously.”
As a commissioner, Blaha represents the county on the board of several agencies, including the Panhandle Mental Health Center, Panhandle Area Office on Aging, Region I Office of Homan Development, Housing Authority, Local Emergency Planning Commission and the Tourism Board.
Blaha said she still hasn’t finished all she wants to accomplish as a county commissioner. She plans to continue keeping a close watch on the county budget and doing what she can to eliminate the unfunded mandates from state and federal governments that strain local budgets.