|Progress reported on Minatare water mitigation|
|February 26, 2015 Jerry Purvis|
MINATARE—During a special council meeting, Minatare received good news the USDA has extended its deadline for providing grant funds to the city’s water mitigation project. The new deadline is now May 31, 2015.
For several years, Minatare has been working toward replacing groundwater it takes for municipal use, as per Natural Resources District regulations. That would be accomplished through purchasing the permanent water rights from a 16.8 acre property and decommissioning those rights to replace the water they use.
The USDA had been hesitant to extend the deadline beyond February until three appraisals of the land were completed. They later agreed to two appraisals and the $40,586 grant was extended.
Council members then accepted a proposal from Brandt Appraisal to spend $7,500 to have the work done, which will take about three or four weeks.
City Attorney Audrey Elliott also informed council members she had heard from Scottsbluff, who provides Minatare its water. Scottsbluff had earlier said that without an agreement from USDA, they would have to terminate service to Minatare. But in the latest correspondence, Scottsbluff agreed to keep the water flowing until Minatare works through the mitigation process.
Elliott also discussed the status of Minatare’s police force with the council. The Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center had suspended Minatare’s Police Chief Robert Regester, along with officers Jim Lawson and Michael Youngquist for not documenting continuing education requirements and non-compliance with sidearm qualification.
Lawson has since been reinstated after he provided the necessary documentation. However, the status of Regester and Youngquist are still to be determined. Elliott said she still has some issues with how the documentation process is being handled and whether the city was officially notified of the suspensions.
The public portion of the meeting ended abruptly as Elliott requested a closed session to discuss police personnel issues and “possible litigation.”