Board gets block grant update; approves meteorological towers

Eight low-income families in Custer County will get their homes upgraded with low monthly payments and zero to little interest, thanks to funds made available through Community Development Block Grants. Judy Peterson with Central Nebraska Housing Development gave an updated report of the grants to the Custer County Board of Supervisors at their monthly meeting Oct. 11. The county had been awarded a $254,000 grant to rehabilitate eight homes, each receiving a maximum of $25,000. There are three qualifying income levels, determined by income. Level A is a household income of 66-80 percent of the median income; level B is 51-65 percent of the median income, and level C is 50 percent or below of the median income level. Of the eight homes receiving the block grant in Custer County, six are level C. These home owners do not have to pay back the $25,000 grant unless they were to sell their home. In that event the money from the sale of the home would go to the county to be placed in a revolving loan fund. Those in level A must pay back the grant in 20 years at 2 percent interest, while level B must also pay back within 20 years but with no interest. The homes selected must meet certain guidelines and be able to be rehabilitated within the $25,000 budget. Peterson was pleased to report to the board that those funds have all been allocated. The supervisors also heard from Midwest Wind Energy, with a request to complete phase 1 of the wind tower project by building five permanent meteorological towers. These towers will be built three to four months prior to the turbines and will be used to monitor wind data. Once the turbines are in place, the five towers will remain as part of the project. They will be used for on-going wind measurement and to make sure the turbines are performing as they should. There are currently temporary towers in place, which are 197 feet tall. The permanent towers will be 300 feet tall. Tom Swierczewski, Director of Development for Midwest Wind Energy, was on hand for the meeting, and informed the board that it is possible all five towers may not be built. The company was just requesting approval for the five in case they do need to build them all. Midwest Wind now has fully executed leases for all land owners involved in the project and have established the turbine types that will be used. The next step then is the approval for these five meteorological towers. The company was seeking conditional use permits until March 22, 2014, rather than for just a year as is typical for permits. The temporary towers will remain up for six to nine months after the permanent structures are built, just to make sure everything is operating effectively. The temporary towers will likely be removed some time next summer. All five permanent towers will be owned by Broken Bow Wind. Each tower will also have an access road and will be in close proximity to the turbines. Tower locations are: Tower 1 - Roger and Mary Larsen property Tower 2 - Haumont Ranch, Inc. Tower 3 - John and Carol McIntosh property Tower 4 - Section 16 ground, state of Nebraska property. This site is the only one of the five located in a corn field rather than a pasture. Tower 5 - Evans family trust property All five permanent meteorological towers were approved.