CUSTER COUNTY—This week the former Custer County Fairgrounds sign was taken down after it endured extensive damage during the August 2017 storms. Broken Bow city crews assisted with the wiring and trenching on Wednesday and a new sign was installed on Thursday. The board did discuss salvaging the old sign for historical purposes.
According to Kevin Cooksley, the large arch sign used to sit over the entrance to the fairgrounds when it was on the south side, west of the cedar trees. In 1972, the large metal arch-style entrance sign was constructed and installed over the south entrance. In 1977, due to the reconstruction of Highway 2 and the railroad not wanting to spend money on cross arm installation at the entrance, the south entrance was eliminated.
The sign was taken down and moved to the southeast corner of the fairgrounds, where it was set on tall steel posts and positioned at an angle so that highway travelers could easily see it from all directions. The fair board moved the main entrance to the east side, where it stood until this week.
Since October 2016, there have been talks of the possibility of establishing a railroad quiet zone along the BNSF Railway corridors on the east side of the city of Broken Bow, next to the fairgrounds.
In the past, the state of Nebraska did not recognize quiet zones near state highways but that rule has since changed according to Mike Evans. Evans, a former Broken Bow city councilman, has overseen railroad quiet zones in the past and has been working with the Custer County Ag Society and engineering firm Felsburg, Holt, & Ullevig.
Evans explained at the ag society meeting on Wednesday night that before anything else can be done, an $11,000 engineering feasibility study must be completed. The Custer County Foundation currently has funds earmarked for the quiet zone project, about $4,000. (Contact the Foundation for more details.) Evans said the ag society would be asked to pay $6,206.38 in order to get the ball rolling.
“This one’s a slam dunk. We meet these requirements, we pay the money, it’s going to be quiet. They can’t stop it, they don’t want to stop it,” Evans said.
He is confident that after the study, the railroad crossing would likely become a quiet zone so long as the area, specifically addressing the crossing of Nebraska Highway 70, meets the necessary requirements. A plan regarding future costs after the study will need to be discussed. The ag society tabled the discussion until next meeting.
The board broke down a list of insurance payments, renovation projects, and desired upgrades to be made throughout the fairgrounds.
The board approved a motion made by Travis Schauda for work to be done by Pearson Construction to replace loose fasteners and fix seams on the grandstand roof, not to exceed $2,500. Chris Pearson said the roof is “in good shape” and structurally sound and did not recommend redoing the entire roof.
Becky Pearson made a motion to approve insulation of Barn 19 by Taylor Heating and Cooling in the amount of $155,000. Although considered a luxury, the board agreed that the insulation will serve as an improvement to the facility and appreciate the local contractors. Shawn Lehmkuhler said the insulation and possibility of fans will help “take care of our local patrons and attract new events” to Custer County.
Schauda made a motion to open bids for the Trotter Arena lighting project. A motion also passed to install new gutters and down spouts on Barn 22.
Events Coordinator Michelle Nelson provided an update to the board, saying the Sandhills Showdown event brought in approximately $9,000. The board approved work to be done in the chuck wagon building to install a sliding glass window and countertops. This year at the fair, families will not be able to use a fair charge card/run a tab for meals as in years past.
The process has begun to install two picnic tables for the memorial of Wayne and Bette Hardy and a bench memorial honoring Clemens “Clem” Szafrajda.
The fairgrounds has been busy this week for the junior high rodeo, barrel races, and the Summer Showcase featuring Borderline at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday in the Shooting Sports Building.