Council to seek other opinions for pool costs

The council reviewed and discussed the agreement for professional services submitted by Miller & Associates to serve as engineer for the aquatic center project at their Feb. 26 meeting. 

Miller & Associates was approved by the council on Feb. 23, 2016 at a cost of $2,600 after the city solicited bids to assist them with the development of a pool evaluation and opinion of costs. Council member Andrea Brueggeman is the only council member who remains on the board from that time.

The agreement states that Miller will be paid an amount equal to 6.4 percent of the awarded constructed cost of the pool project build. 

Brueggeman said she doesn’t want to delay the process, but she feels it would be a good idea to seek some other opinions from other companies. 

“I just don’t know that I feel comfortable accepting the only engineer without talking to other companies. This is a lot of money we’re asking people for,” said Brueggeman.

City Clerk Jessie Faber’s concern was the city has been working with Miller for the past three years and they have developed plans for what the city is looking at, so the city would essentially be starting over with a different company.  

“We need some comparison and contrast to make an informed decision for the citizens of Grant,” said Councilman Edward Dunn.

Council member Kimberly Bishop agreed, saying she personally doesn’t buy anything without looking at an alternative, and $3 million worth definitely deserves another look. 

Faber recommended going through the proposal process again with recommendations from the park and recreation committee. 

The council unanimously voted for Holmstedt to present and negotiate discussed agreement changes to Miller and then table the agreement until they have had the opportunity to meet with other companies. 

Meeting conduct

In response to a letter received from Councilman Matt Greenwood that was also published in the Tribune on Feb. 20, Holmstedt explained the city’s ordinance book says the mayor has the authority to run the meetings how she sees fit.

She provided an example of the special meeting on Feb. 13. Since no action was to be taken at the meeting, the mayor chose to run the meeting as more of a question-and-answer session. 

Dunn asked if this needed to be stated at the beginning of the meeting, and Holmstedt said that was the mayor’s choice. 

“That’s the discretion as the mayor. Throughout the process, if the meeting is getting out of hand at any point, she can then ask for someone to be removed, or she can ask for certain procedures to be followed at that point in time. 

Greenwood asked if “Public Comment” needed to be changed to “Public Question and Answer” on the agenda. He said the reason he asked was with the previous administration they were told not to respond to members of the audience during public comment. 

Mayor Lisa Schmitt said she would prefer to proceed with how they are going to do things, and it doesn’t matter how things were done in the past.

“We need to state how it’s going to be done then, because I was following the last instructions we had been given from the [previous] mayor. That’s what bent me out of shape so bad the other night,” said Greenwood. 

“That’s what we’re doing right now,” Schmitt responded. 

Bishop said she felt everyone did a great job during the meeting of asking permission to speak and it felt very orderly.

“I just appreciate that we’re all learning how to work together,” she said.  

Library progress

Hastings Memorial Library Director Robin Quinn presented their annual report.

She spoke of the makerspace the library will be receiving through a Nebraska Library Commission grant.  See story on page 3 for more information. 

In terms of their programming, Quinn said a few include Toddler Time, an after-school program, and visiting the local preschools for story-time. 

This past year, they focused on revamping their summer reading program. For the youth program, they created a booklet for kids to keep track of how many books, pages, or minutes they read. Each week, they could bring that booklet to the library for a small prize and then get their booklet stamped to take to a local sponsoring business each week for an additional prize. 

The library enrolled 135 children and had a 73 percent completion rate. Last year’s completion rate was 19 percent, so they were extremely pleased with the results from the new changes.

They held seven programs a week for four weeks, and had an average weekly attendance of 105. 

The final reading tally was:

• Books read—3,155

• Pages read—13,111

• Minutes read—12,491 or 208 hours or almost nine days!

The adult summer reading program was also changed.  Instead of a review-based, self-paced program, adults kept track of how many books they read. 

For every two books read, they received an entry into a drawing for one of six themed goody bags. For every four books read, they also received an entry into a grand prize drawing. 

Additionally, several programs were held over the course of the program and additional entries were earned for attendance. 

Participation was 54, doubling over last year’s, and they plan to continue with the new format this year.

Quinn said Assistant Librarians Val Foster and Sarah Pick are both now certified through the Nebraska Library Commission’s Public Librarian Certification program. The two, in addition to Quinn, must complete 45 hour of continuing education credits every three years to maintain their certification.

In December 2018, the library was named a Library Journal Star Library for the second consecutive year. Library Journal, a respected library trade publication, ranks libraries annually based on statistics submitted yearly by each library that record annual library visits, circulation, e-book circulation, program attendance and public Internet computer use.

This year, 7,361 U.S. public libraries qualified to be rated in the index, and 257 were named Star Libraries, each receiving three-Star, four-Star, or five-Star designations. 

Hastings Memorial Library received four-Stars, and joins eight other libraries in Nebraska in receiving the star recognition. Nebraska was again among the top 10 states with Star Library designations.

CDBG special conditions

Amy Thelander with Southwest Nebraska Community Betterment Corporation presented the special conditions from the Community Development Block Grant Contract for the council to approve and sign. The motion passed, with Greenwood hesitating and Brueggeman abstaining as she serves on the SWNCBC board. 

Thelander thanked Faber for all the work she has done helping her gather information.

Airport manager

In the absence of a city superintendent, Faber was appointed the airport manager and Disadvantages Business Enterprise (DBE) Liaison Officer. 

The purpose of this is to be able to begin the process right away if the funding comes through for Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS).

The Grant Tribune-Sentinel

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