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Vintage water tower might remain
April 09, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Gering Citizen file photo - The City of Terrytown’s water tower has been an an iconic fixture of the town since it first appeared in 1949.

Terrytown’s original water tower, still in use, might not have to be replaced after all.

City Engineer Jeff Wolfe told council members that between the tower’s capacity and water from the city’s contracted water supplier, there should be enough capacity to handle an emergency, such as a fire.

Terrytown’s engineering study for the upcoming water project included possibly replacing the water tower, at a cost of about $1.2 million. But when the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality received the latest changes to the proposal, they asked the city consider keeping the tower. And Wolfe said it’s possible.

“We would have to renovate the tower, as it’s due to be painted inside and out,” he told council members. “The cost would be part of the funding package. And with us converting to a water metering system with automated billing, we’ll need a new computer system to control it all.”

Wolfe said the tank, installed when Terry Carpenter first incorporated the town, is still in good structural shape. And the water lines supplying the tower were upgraded about 10 years ago as part of repairs for a water main break along Country Club Road. The question had always been about sufficient fire flow capacity, which has now been answered.

The city has yet to determine whether it will contract with Gering or Scottsbluff to provide water for its system.

Wolfe also reported the Natural Resources District and the Cities of Scottsbluff and Minatare have come to a reasonable price agreement over water mitigation. This is something that Terrytown will also need mitigation to replace water it takes from its contracted partner.

Minatare’s cost will be about $23,000 in the form of water credits to settle the issue.

“Hopefully as we move forward, our mitigation costs will also be minimal,” he said. “It’s not going to be cheap, but we’re not looking at some astronomical number in the millions of dollars.”
Because the state funding mechanism for the water project won’t include water mitigation, Terrytown must come up with that money itself.

“If we would use the number that Minatare paid based on the acre feet we have to mitigate, it will cost us about

$56, 000,” Wolfe said. “We’re not eligible to get that money in a grant.”

Ray Richards, director of the Scotts Bluff County Emergency Communications Center, also spoke to the board on the one-year anniversary of the operations advisory board set up by the county’s municipalities.

He outlined some of the projects the center is working on, such as the Mayday project, which would include an emergency button on all radios, in case a first responder gets into trouble. The feature will initially be rolled out to the Gering and Scottsbluff Fire Departments, then to other fire departments and law enforcement.

The center will also have its new mutual aid base stations online in the next few weeks, allowing for emergency responders who come from other areas to communicate with local responders on local channels.
Another project in the works is “text to 911,” allowing emergency calls to be received via text messaging. It’s a national project for the deaf and hard of hearing community to be able to call 911.

The comm center serves nine law enforcement agencies and 11 fire departments. It also has emergency systems in the Scottsbluff and Gering public schools and the college will be coming on this summer.
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