New year, new oath, new challenges

The Custer County Board of Supervisors kicked in the new year with formal Sine and Die proceedings Tuesday, re-electing Larry Hickenbottom as the board chair for 2013, and Mark Haynes as the vice-chair. “Are there any of you with special goals for 2013?” asked Hickenbottom at meeting’s onset, “because I have one.” Hickenbottom said he wanted the County to finish whatever steps it needed to take to be 911 compliant ... “So if you call for an ambulance, the 911 center will know where you are.” Custer County attorney Mike Borders was rehired as the county’s public attorney. Last year’s contract actually expired Dec. 31, 2012. He accepted the position and will be signing a four-year contract for $50,000 per year. “We are fortunate to have two well-qualified applicants,” said Broken Bow attorney Bill Steffens. Steffens served as the chairman of the judiciary policy committee making the recommendations. “The salary recommendation is not a net,” explained Steffens. “From this they have to provide their overhead.” He explained that as a rule of thumb, about half of what you take in goes out in overhead. Last year Custer County attended to 31 juvenile cases and 498 criminal cases, excluding trafficking. Gary Peterson also applied for the job. He has served Howard County as its public defender for the last four years. Borders also serves Valley, Sherman and Brown counties. The vote was four to two to re-offer the contract Borders. “There is no question in my mind, either would do a good job,” said Hickenbottom. Also on Tuesday’s agenda were reports from Zoning Administrator Darci Tibbs, and a year end report from the NE Department of Agriculture presented by Shawn Owens. According to Tibbs, 110 projects applied for building permits through the Custer County Zoning Commission generating $5,990 in fees. Of those reporting estimated construction costs, $8,900,421 in construction was launched in 2012. (Broken Bow Wind, LLC is not included in these figures). The Year end NE Department of Agriculture report noted that 103 noxious weed inspections were conducted with 17 complaints investigated. Owens also reported on the ‘Sericea Lespedez’ which is under consideration by the Nebraska Weed Control Association to be added to Nebraska’s noxious week list. The plant currently exists mainly in southeastern Nebraska, but early reports say that it has the potential of invading 98 percent of Nebraska’s lands. It is already considered an invasive or noxious weed in 31 states including Kansas and Colorado. It was first identified in Nebraska in 1974.