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Cherokee council approves wastewater plant study

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Cherokee City Council on Aug. 12 approved authorization for an engineering study for possible improvements to the city's industrial wastewater treatment plant that would increase the volume for an as-yet unnamed "interested" third party exploring the possibility of locating a new business here.

With the local rumor mill jam-packed for several weeks concerning just what that business might be, local development officials have been sworn to confidentiality, as is industry's normal procedure when exploring site selection for major development.

This includes Mark Buschkamp, Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) director, who is doing much of the preliminary footwork for the proposed project, as his job understandably requires.

The concensus of the many rumors is that the business is affiliated with the pork industry and would be significant economic development for Cherokee County.

Buschkamp neither confirms or denies this while maintaining that it's just too early in the game to make any announcement regarding who, what, when, and where. Possible state incentive involvement could also shroud the proposed project in secrecy.

"There are so very many preliminary things that need to be done before any project can move forward, and it's just not there yet," said Buschkamp Wednesday afternoon.

According to Mayor Pam Pierce, the cost of the proposed engineer study is estimated at $25,000-$30,000, and would be paid for by the interested third party, at no expense to the city.

The Council also approved authorization of an agreement with Utility Services Communications, Inc. to negotiate a contract with CMLTelephone for use of space on the Hill Street water tower for communication antennas.

The company will negotiate to determine a lease agreement with CML, with the revenue going to the city, less a percentage paid to USCI. The Council reasoned that USCI has the expertise and would monitor the installation of the antennas to ensure the project is done appropriately and would not, in any way, damage or compromise the integrity of the water tower.

Larry Trawick, representing CML, told the Council that if the lease agreement turned out to be too costly, CML would withdraw its request to place antennas on the tower. The installation would consist of three sets of two small antennas each.

"If it's (the lease agreement) more than we're willing to pay, there's no use going forward," said Trawick.

In other business, the Council approved payment #3 of $57,194.29 to Haselhoff Construction of Cherokee for the ongoing Communty Center renovation project. Due to unforseen structural problems encountered by the contractors on the project, two change orders totaling $11,231.83 also were approved by the Council.

The Council also agreed to enforce the "No Parking" ordinance on Webster Street already on the books. Former City Administrator Ron Strickland had given residents the OK to park there and it has created a bottle neck and safety concern, according to the Council.

In other action, Pierce advised the Council that the Street Department notified her that some residents have been mowing their grass and depositing or shooting the clippings in the gutter and on the street. The clippings are causing drainage problems and pugging some storm sewers, especially when it rains.

"In some communities, they ticket people for doing that," said the mayor. "We just need some public awareness so they stop doing that."

New, interim City Manager Donald Eikmeier attended Tuesday's meeting and had met with the various city department heads during the day.

"You have some very qualified individuals running your shops," said Eikmeier, who officially begins his duties September 15.

While serving as interim City Manager, the Elkhorn, Neb. resident also will work toward recruiting a long-term City Manager for Cherokee. A former City Manager himself, Eikmeier is the founder of Innovative Government Solutions in Elkhorn.

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