The Box Butte County Commissioners signed Resolution 2019-19 during the regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 18 in the Commissioners Room of the Court House. The resolution gave the approval for First National Bank to finance the up to $3.2 million dollar courthouse renovation project. 

Alliance Market President of First National Bank, John McGhehey was before the Board with the documentation.

“There’s a lot of paperwork that is required to qualify as a tax exempt transaction and that’s the documentation that you have today,” McGhehey said.

The resolution was signed and the Board made a motion to allow Chairman Doug Hashman to sign the documentation at a later date.

County Treasurer Valery Bell submitted the tax distress warrant report. There were around 200 warrants issued, which is pretty close to usual according to Bell. 

County Highway Superintendent Barb Keegan and Dave Schaaf of M.C. Schaaf presented the Board with different options for three FEMA projects.

County residents present for the discussion were Kenny and Pam Kless as well as Mike and Gale Dietrich. 

“Thank you for letting us work with you on this project,” Schaaf said. “We were retained to look at projects on Cass Road, Hayes Road, and two-four areas of CR 59. The areas that we are looking at are basically bowls. Cass is a very large drainage area, Hayes is a little smaller but holds water longer, and CR 59 is very large and spread out. 59 has a 90 plus mile bowl.”

Hydraulic testing was completed by M.C. Schaaf. That is step one of getting the FEMA funds. They look at how much volume each bowl can hold before causing damage to roads or housing.

The drainage area for Cass Road is around 120 square miles.

“As we walked through we looked at different storm events and if they were two, ten, twenty-five, fifty, and one-hundred year old storm events,” Schaaf said. “What that means is basically a statistical determination of how often that particular storm event occurs. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen but that means statistically it will happen.”

“Overall these areas can handle a seven to ten year storm event before they could flood out,” Schaaf said. “It gets to be pretty cost prohibited to rebuild these roads every seven to ten years.”

There are a few different options for solutions to these problem areas.

“One of the initial scenarios was to create some sort of a dam solution that would hold the water back in locations rather than letting it all flood the road at once,” Schaaf added. “It’s doable but I’m not sure it would cost any less than the other solutions. Plus as soon as you start designing a building those facilities through the Department of Natural Resources, there’s a lot of long term inspection and maintenance cost. That solution was kind of ruled out early on, due to cost effectiveness.”

Another scenario would be to reconstruct, rebuild the 2.25 miles of damaged roads. That would cost an estimated $248,000 to do that for all six of those areas. Then have to do the same thing after another big storm.  

The next solution was to build the roads up using existing materials. Total cost for that is around $400,000.

“Cass Road would have to go up about 2.36 feet, Hayes Road would have to go up 1.5 feet, and the four segments of CR 59 would have to go up one foot, 1.25 feet, 3.25 feet, and two feet,” Keegan added.

Another solution that is being considered would be geo grid reinforcement.

“The existing soil conditions in this area are very fine, silty sand type materials as you all know are not very conducive to any sort of hydraulic levy,” Schaaf said. “As soon as you get them wet they turn into soupy mud and fall apart. So with FEMA funds we looked at what is basically a mechanical base or geo grid scenario. The geo grid is a honeycomb that is filled with material and buried. It provides lateral support that it provides increases the road capacity significantly.”

The cost for that project for the 2.25 miles would be a little over a million dollars.

“That is truly why you don’t see a lot of geo-cells as it’s an expensive fix,” Schaaf noted.

There was one more option discussed that would be new to this area and if completed Box Butte County would be the first county to do this in Nebraska.

“Part of our evaluating the geo-cell process we came across a process that is being widely used in Texas,” Schaaf said. “What they have done is they started using recycled tires rather than the geo-cells.”

The system is fairly simple. The sidewalls of passenger tires are cut off so that they don't trap water. The tires are laid down side by side and nailed together. Gravel, sand, or other material is dumped on top so that they hold their shape. They are then topped by gravel. The tires make the road stronger.”

The Commissioners were extremely interested in this process as tires are widely available.

“If they (FEMA) are for it, it would be a lesser cost,” Keegan added.

The Board thanked Schaaf for the report. It will be submitted to FEMA for their opinion.

“Is there something that we could do now to help these roads until spring,” said Kenny Kless.

“I don’t know, my concern is that the water is going back up and in places that I had not seen,” Keegan said. “There is not a good.”

“Our pond isn’t dry this year. So if we get more rain and snow it’s going to be flooding in our house,” Pam Kless added.

Kless’ asked that the maintainers be careful not to further damage the culverts.

Hashman urged the residents to have patience, “We are working on it; it’s a process.”

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