County approves Stegall Road repairs

Bernard Straetker is stepping down as Scotts Bluff County Public Defender on Oct. 20 after 31 years of service in the olffice. His senior attorney, Darin Knepper, will head the office until a successor is named by the county board.

GERING — In accepting its one-year road plan, Scotts Bluff County Commissioners approved repairs to Stegall Road over the next two years.

County Highway Superintendent Linda Grummert told the county board that an overlay is planned for about 5 miles of Stegall Road during the 2019-20 construction year. After the work is completed, another 7 miles of road will still need repairs. The next season a chip seal will be applied, and finally another overlay to complete the project by 2021.

Grummert said the three-year plan is necessary to stay within the road department’s budget.

County Board Chairman Ken Meyer asked Grummert if there was a way to delay other projects in the one-year plan to do more of Stegall Road.

“There’s not enough money in the other projects to make up for what the rest of Stegall Road is going to cost,” she said.

Meyer said he was glad to hear the county plans to work on at least a part of Stegall Road. “I’d be happier if we were doing more of it, but I understand we’re doing the worst part of the road. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and that’s good news.”

There are 12 projects on the county’s one-year road improvement plan. At the Legislature’s recommendation, counties are now rolling out their one- and six-year road plans to coincide with their fiscal years, about the same time the county budget is being worked out.

Each year, counties approve the one-year plan, but also have the longer term six-year plan on file for future reference.

Scotts Bluff County’s one-year road improvement plan includes a $350,000 box culvert project on Sunflower Road. The design has been completed, but construction will need to wait until the end of the irrigation season this fall.

Three county bridge projects are also on the one-year plan, which will be done with all-in-one concrete deck slabs, so there are no underlying beams or girders.

Chip seal projects are also on the one-year list for sections of Old Oregon Trail, Carter Canyon Road and Lockwood Road.

In other action, commissioners accepted the resignation of Public Defender Bernard Straetker, who’s been with the office for the past 31 years.

Straetker’s letter of resignation is effective Oct. 20. At that time, his office’s senior attorney, Darin Knepper, will assume leadership until the county board names a successor.

To continue as public defender, the successor would have to stand for election in 2022.

Straetker began working as an assistant in the public defender’s office in 1988 until 2000, when he became the public defender.

“I’ve enjoyed working with all the good people who work with the county along with all those associated with our court system,” he said. “I’ve done my best to provide our clients with competent and compassionate legal representation over the years. I’ll always be grateful to all the attorneys and staff members of the office for their support, dedication and hard work on behalf of our clients.”

Meyer said Streatker’s compassionate legal representation doesn’t even come close to what he’s done for the county.

“You’ve done an excellent job in the public defender’s office even when some of your decisions were tough to make,” he said. “I’m not an attorney, but I know you’ve done a reputable job for Scotts Bluff County and we can’t thank you enough.”

Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at

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