The Summerland Advocate-Messenger - Reliable, Trustworthy Reporting, Capturing The Heartbeat Of Our Community

By Sandy Schroth

Commissioners ask for revisions to updated pipeline road agreement


February 13, 2020

Darrel Timm of Neligh and Julie Krause of Brunswick were appointed to the Antelope County Extension Board by the county commissioners, when the county leaders met last week at the Neligh courthouse.

Local extension educator Brittany Spieker proposed the appointments of Timm and Krause to replace Gayle Wortman and Derek Zuhlke, who had each completed two terms on the board. The new board members were affirmed on 4-0 votes of the commissioners. Commissioner Eli Jacob was absent.

Spieker also presented the annual extension office report. She reviewed activities of local staff members, 4-H coordinator Tessa Hain, office manager Lisa Welding and herself, as well as regional extension educators, lists of extension board and 4-H council members, youth programs, data from the county fair and a report on budget usage.

“You can see that we’ve had quite a bit of growth in our 4-H program, which is really exciting,” she said.

Clerk Lisa Payne presented Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency evaluations of two properties owned by the county, the old country schoolhouse added to the museum complex, and a gravel storage shed at the Neligh yard.

Commissioner Dean Smith asked the premium amounts for the two properties. “That’s a pretty high value on the schoolhouse,” he said, indicating a value of $236,000, with full replacement coverage.

“That’s high, like a lot high,” Henery said after asking Smith the value. “Let’s check into that.”

Payne said she would check and send information to commissioners.

Smith asked if the board would consider approval of minutes from the Jan. 14 meeting. Payne said she didn’t put the minutes on the agenda because they weren’t done. Minutes had been sent to the commissioners, but Payne said they were not complete, indicating she had finished typing the public hearings just the night before and needed to add claims. She asked if Smith had changes.

Smith expressed concern about verbiage in a resolution for depositories included within the minutes, that had four banks included in a resolution for a single bank. Payne explained she condensed the four resolutions into one for the minutes, but documents sent to the banks included only each individual institution’s information. Commissioner Regina Krebs, who also voiced concern about the process, advised Payne on correcting the minutes.

Two additional banks were also approved as depositories, The Tilden Bank and Bank of Elgin.

Dan Forbes and Brittany Brockway from TC Energy, accompanied by a TC Energy project security officer, presented an updated map of county roads proposed for inclusion in a road-haul agreement.

Forbes said the agreement included provisions for a triple-B bonding company and other provisions requested by road superintendent Casey Dittrich last October. They proposed a $15 million bond amount, based on $300,000 per mile of oil and $10,000 per mile of gravel road, which the county leaders agreed was sufficient. The document also includes a provision for liability insurance in the amount of $5 million per occurrence.

Dittrich had an issue with a clause that had been added by TCE. County attorney Joe Abler was called to the meeting to review it. Abler said he would look at the information, “But I’m not going to give you some ‘legalese’ off the top of my head,” he said.

County engineer Brian McDonald explained that some county roads have a compromised subgrade that doesn’t create a problem until the top layer is damaged. He said repairs may involve more than just replacing the asphalt on the surface.

McDonald said the preconstruction assessment done by TCE is good. His concern was the company had not indicated what upgrades will be completed prior to construction. He explained he would review suggested upgrades submitted by TCE, then will make recommendations to the commissioners.

“The roads aren’t going to get any better unless we do something,” he said, noting the assessment was done in the fall, when roads were at their best. He suggested reassessment of some specific areas in the spring.

After further discussion, Forbes and Brockway agreed to take a suggestion to strike the clause back to TCE attorneys.

“I’m not the attorney,” Forbes said. “But we’re willing to present that.”

The issue drew more scrutiny by the commissioners and a request to have TCE provide assessment data on additional roads.

Dittrich also asked to add dust control provisions to the document, despite the storage yard location along the oiled Grove Lake Road. Brockway said all pipe will be staged at the storage yard, before being transported to the pipeline right-of-way. She said only pipe to be used in Antelope County will be staged at the yard. Forbes estimated the site would cover 30 to 50 acres. He said pipe will be “railed in, then trucked from the railyard to the pipe yard. He said the pipeline right-of-way will become the “highway” for hauling pipe.

“There’s 200 feet of working space,” he said, referring to temporary right-of-way easements. “So there’s a lot of space for the vehicles, the tractors, the trucks, to ride down the right-of-way.”

Forbes said heavier pipe will be used where it is bored under roads, and it will be buried five feet deep.

Smith also voiced concern about use of non-agreement roads in the case of an emergency leak after construction, some of which can’t handle the large equipment that would be required to mitigate a leak. He suggested all roads near the proposed pipeline route should be re- examined and upgrades made to ensure emergency access is available to the entire project in the case of an emergency.

He said he hadn’t had time to study the whole route map, but cited roads he was familiar with.

“I think we all need to be looking at, and need to be a little concerned about, when this pipeline breaks a leak,” Smith said. "Becuase it will, we have history ... it’s going to leak somewhere, maybe not in Antelope County.”

“If we are going to allow a road-haul agreement, to allow this pipe to be installed, then we as a county have said that we’re alright with this…then we’re responsible as a county whenever something like that happens,” he continued.

Brockway said the company has a clause, in another road-use agreement, that deals with Smith’s concerns. In reply to a question from board chair Charlie Henery, Brockway said the company is required to foot the bill for taking care of any leaks.

“No matter where this ‘phantom’ leak you’re talking about happens, I think we’re covered,” Henery said to Smith. “I don’t think we are going to let somebody else (worry about it)…If the federal government has a clause in what they’re making people do, that road is taken care of and they make it so that they can get there.”

Abler said Smith had a legitimate concern about the future, “But it’s not something you can agree to do now,” he said before telling Forbes and Brockway he would like to see the emergency clause with reference to federal regulations.

Forbes reminded Smith a road-use map, submitted last October, had been revised at the request of county officials, removing many roads.

“I know,” Smith said. “I was one of the first ones who said there were too many roads on that first one. I think we need to be someplace in the middle, between that first one and this one.”

Forbes said the current map is “watered down,” as far as roads that have been analyzed.

Dittrich suggested adding all roads that the pipeline will cross (bored under) to the agreement.

McDonald agreed roads had been surveyed that are not on the map. Dittrich asked that he have the option to request more preconstruction analysis, even if it is at county expense.

“I don’t think that’s something the county needs to front.” Forbes said. “Send them a bill.”

Smith asked if roads would remain open during boring. He specifically asked if any equipment would be on roadways to impede traffic.

Dittrich said there were provisions for planned closures of roads.

“We will have to be policing it,” Smith advised.

Forbes and Brockway took the agreed upon changes back for review by TCE attorneys, including striking the clause, adding an emergency clause, federal regulations, dust control and a provision for preconstruction surveys for unused roads. Henery suggested Dittrich and Smith work together to figure out additional roads and look at preconstruction data. TCE will bring another revised agreement and map back for commissioner consideration.

Dittrich said he had started working on access permits and found issues with some locations. He said he hadn’t worked through them all, citing many that were not staked by TCE.

In a related matter, Smith reported issues remain on 846 Road, the road leading to the Thunderhead wind farm laydown yard.

“I received calls about the mud. I explained we were going through “spring thaw” in January, so that wasn’t necessarily a Thunderhead issue,” he said, but added, “There’s some problems with turning off Highway 14, which road is being taken by the construction crew and the speed limit is not being obeyed that we put in for that one mile.

“We end up spending so much time on these projects because no matter what they say they’ll do; it never ends up working that way. The people (who) are not involved in the project, they’re just kind of getting run over and I think if you’re going to follow up, there needs to be something done.

“When we put the speed limit in, the sheriff was even here, and he said that he would work on attempting to enforce that. It (doesn’t) sound as if it is being enforced.”

Henery replied the county had taken steps to remedy the issues.

“(The sheriff) was telling me, at periodic times he does, he has other places in the county to be too, but at periodic times, yes they have been out there,” Henery said. “Enforcing that is not for us county commissioners, that’s for our law enforcement and it’s turned over to Bob (sheriff Moore) and the law enforcement to do it.”

Smith concluded, “That’s why these road-use agreements have to really start getting scrutinized.”

Payne reported receipt $3,960 from Invenergy for work completed by the county road department.

The commissioners accepted bids submitted by Jason Aschoff of A&R Construction for a Nebraska Department of Transportation cost-share project including two bridges in the Tilden area. A&R, the only bidder, submitted bids totaling $346,077, with a start date of July 2020. McDonald suggested awarding the contract at a future meeting to allow time for DOT review.

McDonald also explained two future NDOT Federal Highway Administration cost-share projects, with preliminary estimates totaling more than $860,000.

The bridge over the Elkhorn River north of Tilden has erosion on the north bank and the channel has moved. He said state engineers agreed there is a need for mediation further west to try and get the channel to move south. He said they are looking at the possibility of placing “trainer fences” outside the right-of-way, to try to get it back the way it should be. The estimated 20% county share of the project at about $112,000, including engineering fees.

The county share could potentially be split with Madison County, per terms of an interlocal agreement, according to Dittrich.

“We have an interlocal agreement that they own half of the bridge, we just have to make sure the interlocal agreement covers the upstream water bank. It might be mostly in Antelope County, but we are protecting a multi-million-dollar bridge that they own half of,” he said. “I will have an update next week. I will work with Brian (McDonald) on it and get those guys to shake hands on it - I hope.”

The second project is a bridge over the Verdigre Creek, north of Ashfall State Historical Park. Riprap will be used to repair a damaged approach on the channel bank, where the channel widened and dropped, creating a waterfall, according to McDonald. The county share is estimated at about $60,000.

Both bridges are currently in use. McDonald expected bid letting next year.

Despite concern regarding the budget, the commissioners agreed to proceed with the projects.

“We can’t pass up 80% in a year’s time,” Henery said.

Each project required adoption of a resolution and a program agreement with the state. All passed on 4-0 votes.

Dittrich told the county leaders the road crew had graded 1,321 miles of roads Monday, Feb. 2. He said every machine that was able to run was out. The most miles covered with a maintainer was 81, but he had taken the road groom drag out himself, covering 138 lane miles.

“That thing really worked,” he said. ‘I was really impressed with it.”

Smith asked his peers to consider purchase of another road groom drag, while acknowledging budged concern.

“I would like to have everybody to be thinking about it,” he said.

Dittrich cautioned the leaders that it isn’t just the $16,000 drag cost, citing the cost of leasing a tractor to pull it. Smith replied if an existing road drag were taken out of service, a tractor would be available.

Henery opined, “Let’s put it in our future.”

Smith reported on an Area Agency on Aging meeting he had attended Jan. 16. He said Antelope County’s contribution this year, based on population of residents older than 60 years, will be $4,501. In fiscal year 2019, the contribution was $4,341 and $80,362 was returned to Neligh and Elgin senior citizen centers and for in-home services to county seniors. Smith said since the program began in about 1990, Antelope County has paid $72,244 and received $1,458,184 in senior service funding.

In other business, the commissioners:

Approved advertising for culvert, armor coating, asphalt and gravel bids, adding oversize gravel to the gravel specs;

Approved 2020 appointed officials, Tom Nelson, veterans’ service officer, Bruce Ofe, weed superintendent; Doerr, zoning administrator; Lavern Schroeder, surveyor; and McDonald, highway superintendent;

Approved board committee members appointed at Jan. 16 meeting;

Approved an administrative plat for a three-acre lot split southeast of Elgin, submitted by Dave Beckman;

Approved resolution authorizing conditional use permit for Elkhorn Solar LLC, as agreed at the Jan. 14 meeting;

Received Nebraska Department Environmental and Energy letter of approval for Mueller Dairy and Livestock feeding operation; and

Heard from Commissioner Regina Krebs that Payne had sent information requested by an Internal Revenue Service auditor, regarding the tax-exempt status of the original jail bond issued in 2013.


Reader Comments(0)


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2020

Rendered 01/01/2021 16:25