The North Bend Eagle


City will maintain Pioneer Lake roads after all

by Nathan Arneal

A request from the Pioneer Lake Homeowners Association to handle its own street maintenance has been rescinded and reversed.

At the Sept. 5 North Bend City Council meeting, members of the Pioneer Lake HOA Board said they would like to be responsible for arranging and paying for snow removal and street maintenance of roads within the newly annexed subdivision.

At the Oct. 16 council meeting, Pioneer Lake resident Rhonda Wegner said that decision was made without the approval of the homeowners. She said several residents were wondering why the streets were not being properly maintained, and they were surprised to find out that their HOA Board had asked the city not to do any maintenance.

“The population of Pioneer didn’t feel (the HOA Board) had the right to make that decision for them,” Wegner said.

At a recent HOA meeting, Wegner said, a vote was taken with a 25-4 margin of attendees wanting the city to maintain Pioneer Lake’s streets.

“These (board members) feel you’re not going to come through and not do a good job,” Wegner told the city council. “That is what they were basically telling us without us giving you a chance.”

Wegner and her husband Rich said the roads were getting pretty bad on Pioneer Lake with pot holes, ruts and washboards.

Councilman Tom Mullally said gravel should have been added weeks ago, during the period the city was told not to do any maintenance on Pioneer Lake roads.
Rich Wegner, a former road maintainer operator, agreed that it was too late to add gravel now. He said any gravel or rock added at this point would just end up in ditches and people’s yards the first time snow was plowed.

The city of North Bend contracts with Cotterell Township to maintain the gravel roads in town, which include several blocks on the east end of town as well as Fifth Street, which runs along the golf course south of the railroad tracks.

City clerk Theresa Busse said that maintenance happens about every two weeks, and it shouldn’t be a problem to swing into Pioneer Lake after grading Fifth Street. She said the additional work would have to be approved by the Cotterell Township Board first.

As it said at the time of annexation, the council reaffirmed it was fine with hiring the same snow removal service Pioneer Lake has used in the past.
Rhonda Wegner also wanted to be assured that Pioneer Lake could take over its own maintenance in the future if it wasn’t satisfied with the city’s work. The council was fine with that. It already has an agreement drawn up by the city attorney from the first time Pioneer Lake said it would do its own maintenance.

Poultry plant gives update

In other business, Jessica Kolterman of Lincoln Premium Poultry attended the meeting to update the council on the Costco chicken plant being built in Fremont and answer any questions.

“Really, we just want to assure you that we’re here to be good neighbors,” Kolerman said. “We know people have questions and we are always open to answer those.”

She said LPP, the company that will operate Costco’s Fremont plant, has about half the chicken growers lined up that it will need by the time the plant opens in Sept. 2019, including four in Dodge County.

Councilman Tom Mullally asked what they will do if they can’t find enough growers. Kolterman said it won’t be a problem. LPP does not recruit farmers to raise chickens. The farmers approach LPP and volunteer to be growers.

“To be honest with you, we have so many people that want to move here from out of state to do it,” Kolterman said. “We could open the floodgates and have them here tomorrow, but we’re trying to get Nebraska farmers.”

She also said growers will be required to get approved and permitted by the Department of Environmental Quality, something that goes above and beyond what the law requires.

“If someone comes to me and says, ‘The nitrates went up in this place,’ I have documentation to show that my grower did not cause that problem,” Kolterman said. “We’re committed to environmental stewardship.”

Kolterman said the plant employees will start at $15 an hour with benefits that would increase the wage value another 40 percent. She posted on her personal Facebook page a message saying LPP was accepting resumes and had 75 resumes within 24 hours. LPP expects to find its employees locally.

“Our labor study shows all the workers are here in the region,” Kolterman said. “I know there’s been concern that people think we’re going to bring them in from all over the country.”

The chickens from the Fremont plant will supply Costco stores throughout the western half of the United States.


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