Project 2022: City council, community developments | News

(KMAland). — KMA News’ “Project 2022” series continues. It looks back at the top regional and local news stories of the past year. Today we’ll be looking at the most notable developments in KMAland’s various cities.

2022 was an exciting year for many communities and city councils across KMAland. There were extensive infrastructure projects completed, as well as the changing of guard in top administrative positions. Red Oak’s most recent development was when Mary Bolton and Brad Wright, long-serving City Administrators, submitted their letters to retire after nearly 60 years service. At one of their last meetings in November, the Red Oak City Council honored Wright and Bolton. Wright thanked Bolton for his service and expressed appreciation to the team.

Wight said, “Me and Mary have joked about how we can be annoying each other but the relationships we’ve had are able to work together and that I appreciate the department heads — I’ve got a group that I hope you guys appreciate. I hope this community values them.” “We have a crew that is able to work together, no matter what the job or the limitations of any resource. It doesn’t really matter what the job is.

Al Vacanti, Al Vacanti Municipal Services was appointed interim administrator and clerk because the budget process needed to be underway quickly. Vacanti states that he worked as a Nebraska city administrator and clerk for approximately 14 years. He then retired in 2019 and started his own consulting company. KMA News interviewed Vacanti, who said he already had connections with city staff and was looking forward to guiding the city during an important time of the year.

“It’s a three-month contract, but I hope it builds some good relationships,” he stated. “I’m hoping that everyone who sees me walk out will be happy with the outcome for Red Oak, the people, and the businesses.”

The council has posted a job opening as a city clerk and plans to hire a search firm next month to help find a permanent replacement for the role of city administrator. In the last year, the council also took up several community improvement projects including the Community Heart and Soul Program and the Housing Readiness Assessment Program. Fremont County saw a long-awaited day in June when Sidney could switch to its new water systems, which included a tower, water plant and well field. The project was planned back in 2018, with construction going on for almost two decades. Steve Perry, City Engineer at Sidney City Council stated to KMA News that final tweaks would need to be made as the system goes online.

Perry said that adjustments are being made to ensure the system works as intended and to make sure the system meets the needs of residents in Sidney.

Perry claims crews were finishing up final upgrades to this system in October. Clarinda, in terms of infrastructure projects made significant progress in building a new water treatment station. KMA News was informed by Gary McClarnon, the City Manager. He said that the city had received approximately $50,000 in retainage. There are still some items on the punch list.

McClarnon stated that some doors were not sealed as tight as we expected. He also explained that some software they use has some problems. “They also had small leaks on the roof. It’s not a major issue that they are currently working on.

McClarnon stated that the goal was to have the facility completed by the end of the year. The facility, which is estimated to cost $15 million, has been in development for two years. Some funding came from American Rescue Plan Act funds. The majority of the project was also funded by the State Revolving Fund. Staffing for EMS services is another issue that has plagued many communities in KMAland. Glenwood City Council approved in September the final reading to move the existing volunteer EMS services under its jurisdiction. Glenwood Fire Chief Matt Gray said that retention and recruitment have been difficult since July’s first reading was approved by the council. He also stated that solid pay and benefits are essential for all positions, which includes full-time.

Gray stated that Omaha and Council Bluffs are close enough to us that we lose a lot our paramedics and firefighter EMTs to Omaha and Council Bluffs because of the pay-and-benefits. This will help us to grow and prosper into the future.

Amber Farnan, City Administrator, announced that a revised employee handbook has been approved. The additions to the EMS list were added to Amber Farnan’s plan to hire five and three full-time employees as well as the existing volunteer staff. Stanton now houses what could become the future of housing. This is a large-scale, industrial 3D printing machine that Farmers Mutual Telephone Company purchased and was developed by Alquist 3D. Alquist 3D’s founder and CEO is Zach Mannheimer. Mannheimer said that insurance companies are considering lowering their rates because of the strength of concrete homes that the printer could make during a town hall meeting with Joni Ernst, a Senator from Iowa.

Mannheimer stated that these homes won’t burn and can withstand a category 3 hurricane. Tornado testing is still being done, but it’s believed they can withstand that. “There are many benefits and then there is one item that Kevin (Cabbage), was not able to afford — a 3-D concrete home reduces your energy bill by half. This makes the homeowner’s home much more efficient.

FMTC officials estimate that the printer could start building homes as early as 2023. FMTC is also concerned that the Stanton-based internet technology company was unable to obtain funding under the USDA ReConnect 3 program. They had hoped to use the USDA ReConnect 3 program to provide fiber optics for the entire Clarinda Red Oak, Bedford and Gravity communities. FMTC CEO Kevin Cabbage assures that those communities will receive fiber in the end. The timeline may be longer. The next installment in Project 2022 will examine the major developments in education in the region.

We are grateful for your interest in

KMA strives for accuracy in its reporting. If you see a typo or mistake in a story, please contact us by emailing [email protected].

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