Broken Bow City Council Hears from Well Head Planners, Admin & Senior Center

BROKEN BOW – The Broken Bow City Council came to order for the last time in October at 6 p.m. at the Municipal Building; all members were present.

The council unanimously approved the consent agenda, and then heard comments from Prairie Pioneer Center’s Cathy Larson. Larson thanked Mayor Rod Sonnichsen and City Administrator Dan Knoell for the proclamation delivered at the center in late September, and went on to say how independent and self-sufficient the Prairie Pioneer Center remains even in current times of hardship.

Forty percent of the center’s funding comes from the Nebraska Agency on Aging, with the remaining 60% coming from participants, contributions, and fundraisers. Even with over $7,000 in grants awarded to the center this past year, Larsen tallied off the costs of keeping the doors open, including monthly totals for insurance, utilities, and other compensation.

Prairie Pioneer Center Director Cathy Larson presents to the council.

“Our payroll is $2,000 every 2 weeks, our raw food bill can run as much as $3,000 a month or more. Insurance is $5,000 a year. A few of us have been on the board for many years. We’ve seen the center at its best, and now at its worst. Every month is a struggle to pay our bills.”

Larsen then asked the council point-blank: what is the city willing to do to help?

Mayor Sonnichsen acknowledged the importance of the Prairie Pioneer Center in the community of Broken Bow, assuring that conversations were already underway regarding lending a helping hand.

“I would encourage every one of our elected officials to come and see what a special place it truly is, just so they can get the right impression. If you don’t go there, you do not know how much that place is needed for this city. There are talks, and I just want to let you know they’re not falling on deaf ears.”

City Administrator Knoell delivered administrative comments, a new feature of council meetings, in an effort to increase transparency regarding council action given that meetings occur once every 2 weeks. Knoell touched on the ongoing Memorial Drive project, which is still on schedule, the armor coating on the streets, City Hall renovation, and the movement of the playground equipment from the Custer School Building.

Additionally, he emphasized the need for cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers as they evaluate and inspect the condition of the levee and creek that run through the city.

“The important reason we have to discuss this is because if for any reason we fall into an ‘Unsatisfactory’ result from the Army Corps of Engineers, the property owners and the city are on our own if a major event happens. FEMA and the National Guard will not come to assist, either with cleanup or financial help.”

Adam Rupe from JEO Consulting was on hand as part of a public hearing to discuss Ordinance 1264, which concerns creating a plan to protect well heads throughout the city. He clarified that the ordinance was an addition to a prior ordinance which allowed for the mapping of Broken Bow’s water sources, and that the program is completely voluntary, and should be viewed as a preventative rather than a remedial measure.

“The drinking water, at least last I checked, is completely safe to drink. It’s not that this plan was put into motion because there was some imminent threat to anybody; it was about being proactive and ensuring that the drinking water stays safe.”

Rupe also pointed to potential financial benefits the city could reap should the plan move forward.

“The big benefit of the plan is that it does open the city up to future grant funds from the DEE and EPA.”

The council voted unanimously to move forward with the plan, and adjourned the meeting at 6:40 p.m. The next city council meeting will take place on Monday, November 7, the day before Election Day.