Courthouse, Emergency Management and Highway updates given at Wayne County Commissioners meeting


The Wayne County Commissioners heard updates on several projects and from a number of departments during their Tuesday morning meeting.

Wayne County Assessor Dawn Duffy added a number of properties that had been valued elsewhere to the county's tax roll during the Board of Equalization meeting prior to the Board of Commissioners meeting.

Highway Superintendent Mark Casey covered several topics for the commissioners. Casey told them he was behind on bridge inspections, but has plenty of time to complete them before the State's deadline.

Casey has been working on obtaining rights to the Barelmann property on 579 road, one and one half mile north of the Cuming County line. An initial agreement was made several years ago for the price of $35,000 with the property owner who has since died. The heirs of the property presented a counterproposal to the County for an additional $8,000 for the 3.92 acres of land. The County wants the property because it would allow them to replace three bad bridges with one box culvert.

"If we can get this going again for $8,000, let's do it," Casey told the commissioners.

The commissioners approved moving forward with the deal.

Wayne County Emergency Manager Nic Kemnitz gave the commissioners an update about the COVID-19 situation for the County.

Kemnitz said he's been busy delivering PPE around the county. Last week Thurston County requested help getting PPE because their area was hit hard by an ice storm, so Kemnitz also helped deliver PPE to Pender.

"We've been working together through this all," Kemnitz said.

He has also been working with a healthcare coalition in Northeast Nebraska to help address potential hospital capacity issues in the face of COVID-19. Kemnitz told the commissioners that the group is working to identify possible locations for field hospitals in the case that those in the area hit capacity. There's been some discussion about vaccination plans and he told the commissioners that if the current trend continues statewide, Nebraska could hit the 25 percent infection rate that would trigger a DHM change under Governor Rickett's newest plan.

"We need to do something to slow it down because it's not just the COVID," Kemnitz said. "If someone has a car accident or heart attack, there won't be space for them."

Representatives from Berggren Architects and Kingery Construction discussed what work is left on the courthouse restoration project.

Doug Elting told the commissioners that the punch list is close to complete. There are still several leaks in the roof that the commissioners are concerned about, and there are still issues with the doors, but once finished, a certificate of substantial completion can be signed. Elting also encouraged the commissioners to implement a plan to fund future preservation for the building.

The next Wayne County Commissioners meeting will be Tuesday, Dec.1 at 9 a.m.