Public Voices Concern On Condition Of Ryno Road

BROKEN BOW— The Custer County Board of Supervisors had a full morning on Tuesday, June 23 with a number of agenda items being talked about ranging from CDBG loans to road maintenance.

The majority of the meeting centered around Ryno Road maintenance and repair which was placed on the agenda by District 6 Supervisor Matt Eggleston. Supervisor Eggleston stated that he wanted to clear up some of the miscommunication about why parts of the road were turned into gravel. Highway Superintendent Chris Jacobsen also attended the meeting to talk about the thought process behind some of the decisions made.

It was said that a plan was in the works to grind up the asphalt on the road anyway to put an overlay on the road, but due to the flooding in 2019, the plan was placed on the back burner. From the flooding, the road has sustained large amounts of damage and large potholes were littered throughout the road. Due to there being so much damage across the county, the board and highway department made a decision to grind up the road and make the roads passable and revisit them later.

Another reason why the overlay was also not done was due to the base being in poor shape which would decrease the life span of the road. District 7 Supervisors Doug Stunkel said that they did not want to turn the road into gravel, but that the base for the road needs to be stronger before spending the money to put a new surface down.

Currently, an engineering study is being done on Ryno Road, along with other roads in the county, to determine traffic demographics on what kinds of vehicles travel on the roads and to find out what roads need to be prioritized.

Supervisor Eggleston said that the Custer County Highway Department has had steady spending the last few years, but this year is looking at a $10 million budget. He also said that the grinding of the roads has not made them safer, but in some places has done the exact opposite. Supervisor Eggleston stated that the county will need to take a look at the engineering study before making any decisions.

Members of the public also spoke during the meeting with most of the concerns centering on the safety of the roads. One member stated that Nebraska gravel roads were ranked as some of the most dangerous and that the decisions to turn the road to gravel seemed to be a quick decision rather than asking the people on the road what they thought.

Another member of the public stated that the gravel is too thick in places and has created an issue, where cars have been pulled into the ditch. The same person also stated that the road study would not be accurate because the study is being conducted during a time when traffic is down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While no decisions were made following the discussion, Jacobsen indicated that someone in the highway department would travel the road and make sure safety measures were being taken such as placing signs.

The revolving business loan will no longer be available following a vote by the Supervisors to repurpose the CDBG fund to the Owner Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Program. Custer Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Andrew Ambriz spoke to the board about first approving a CDBG loan for Robbins & Company, LLC who will be opening up a storefront in the same location where Mighty Mart in Arnold is located. The $36,500 loan will be forgivable as long as Robbins & Company pays the interest on the loan and also has three full-time employees. The board approved the loan unanimously.

Following the approval, the CDBG funds were repurposed to the Owner Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Program. This program allows for the homeowner and primary resident of the home to apply for the loan to make improvements to their homes. While there are a number of qualifications for the program, one of the main pieces is the primary resident must reside in the home for at least five years at the completion of the improvements and rural residents do not qualify.

Motions were made to end the revolving loan fund, repurpose the funds to the Owner Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Program, and finally to approve the guidelines to the program.

Other approvals included the Behavioral Health Services tax match and the Emergency Protective Custody letter of agreement, accepting the road study for roads #818 and #44 and setting a public hearing date on those roads for July 28 at 10 AM, and bringing in the top two candidates for the Weed Superintendent position at the next meeting.

While no decision was made, the Prairie Hill Wind Farm was discussed where Lisa Liepzig gave an update that the completion date for the project has been pushed back another year from 2021 to 2022.