Discussion on possible solutions to improve Cattle Growers Road and East Garfield Table Road was tense at times at Monday’s Lincoln County Board meeting.
However, the hope that something can be worked out was offered by both the commissioners and Dave Hobson, who represented Steve and Tricia Scholz, owners of Lincoln County Feedyard. The Scholzes and the county have had an ongoing dispute over repair and maintenance of the road.
The item was placed on the agenda for discussion only and no action was taken.
Hobson said the feedyard has grown substantially since the Scholzes opened it in 2009.
“Essentially rebuilding the yard and expanding it to 39,000 head, which was completed in December of 2018 (was done),” he said. “Each phase of the expansion was approved and had continued support and commitment by all involved.”
Hobson said road traffic has increased to about 260 to 280 loads of commodities per week and 30 to 40 loads of fattened cattle per week.
“That does not include service providers, farm-related inputs, compost being moved and processed, outbound traffic, employee traffic or feeder cattle,” he said.
He pointed out that Cattle Growers and East Garfield Table roads are traditional Sandhills-based roads that require a large amount of maintenance under normal circumstances to remain passable to normal traffic.
“To date, Lincoln County Feedyard has tried to make up the difference and made great efforts to maintain local traffic in and out of the feedyard and operate the business to industry standards,” Hobson said. “Lincoln County Feedyard has had to step in as road conditions deteriorated to a point of concern of being able to operate or not, due to what is needed short of completely reconstructing the road with endless amounts of time, tools and equipment.”
Commissioner Bill Henry said the solution requires more than maintenance.
“It’s quite obvious that the only thing is it’s going to take a hard surface,” Henry said. “There is absolutely no way in the Sandhills to do anything other than cement or asphalt.”
However, the cost is what concerns the commissioners.
“We’re all in this together but we have to figure out somehow to pay for it,” Henry said. “I get chills when I think about asking taxpayers to foot this kind of a bill for one entity when we have, all over this county, a problem. You’re looking at your problem, we’re looking at lots of problems.”
Henry said there is no doubt there is a problem.
“We’re going to solve it, but we’re going to have to work together,” Henry said.
Hobson said the county has made some effort to help.
“I would say the most recent efforts by the county in the past weeks have been much appreciated and it’s changed the operable conditions of that yard,” Hobson said. “But it is still lacking in several areas, and with more challenging weather, whether it be extreme dry conditions or extreme wet conditions, it’s still going to be a challenge.”
Hobson added that the end result is what the Scholzes are after.
“They want to operate a business here long term,” Hobson said. “It’s a viable area; this just appears to be the Achilles heel to what’s been going on with the whole operation for the last 10 years.”
In other business, the commissioners voted to go along with Lincoln County Assessor Julie Stenger’s recommendation that the valuations remain the same for property owned by Jim and Judy Buss and property owned by D.L. Partnership LTD.
The two entities had filed a protest Form 425 under the new law, LB 512, passed by the Legislature. The new law allows property owners to ask for a lower assessment due to situations such as flooding, among other unusual circumstances, after Jan. 1 of each year.
Form 422, another protest form, does not allow any changes after Jan. 1 of each year, according to Stenger.
In both cases, Stenger said, there was not sufficient cause to lower the assessment, and the commissioners agreed.
The commissioners also:
» Approved real and personal property exemption application submitted by New Life Assembly for a property the church purchased on South Cottonwood Street. The application was to designate 50 percent of the building for use by the church as a nonprofit, while the other 50 percent will remain taxable as a rental.
» Approved a special designated liquor license submitted by Lincoln County Ag Society for an event July 26 at the Beveridge Outdoor Pavilion to be forwarded to the state liquor commission.