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Council Summaries - Dec. 7 and Dec. 21, 2021

Individuals and media outlets are encouraged to contact the City Administrator for additional details or clarification on the following material. Regular meetings of the Crete City Council are held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall; Council Standing Committees may meet prior. View a list of City Officials and current council and committee meeting agendas.


Summary for Crete City Council regular meeting - Tuesday, Dec. 21
View this Meeting Agenda and attachments

The council approved the Consent Agenda items:

  • Minutes of the following meetings: City Council Dec. 7, Legislative and Economic Development Committee Dec. 7, Finance Committee Dec. 7, Personnel Committee Dec. 7
  • Treasurer’s Report 
  • Claims against the City  
  • Approve the Mayor's appointment of Todd Allen as the Fire Chief.

The Council approved new firefighters Shane Telesz and Ned Goertzen. Wendy Thomas, HR Coordinator, introduced Ned Goertzen, who is originally from Henderson and has been a firefighter in North Carolina for 5 years. He is now a trained paramedic.

The Council approved Olsson's application for a right-of-way permit for a fiber optic build to Fairfield Inn.

  • City Administrator Tom Ourada explained when utilities do right-of-way work, city policy is that the Public Works Director can approve right-of-way on small projects, however, when it involves several properties or more, it goes to the council for a permit.

The Council set a bid letting date and time for the 22nd Street bridge and lift station project.

  • Ourada said the city received the triple box culvert plans in yesterday, and has had the lift station plans for a couple of weeks; the Public Works Committee recommended this and and set a bid letting date of Thursday, Jan. 27 at 10 a.m.

The Council set a bid letting date and time for the Crete SE-Doane Substation project.

  • Ourada noted that it took him longer than expected to get the Engineering RFP done. The project is for the design of the additional substation and placement, although suggested in a previous study, has not be definitively decided upon. The Public Works Committee recommended this and set a bid letting date of Thursday, Jan. 20, 2 p.m. 

The Council approved a revised election ward boundary map based on the 2020 census data.

  • Ourada explained this process produced a couple of options from gWorks and he was very happy with this work and the fact they didn’t politicize the process. He noted this went to the Legislative/Community Development Committee for review.
  • Legislative/Community Development Committee Chair, Ryan Hinz said this map most closely resembles the current ward map and is recommended. The city will submit a count correction request due to an error in counting Doane University and Ward I during the pandemic year, which will most likely require another redistricting map once complete.
  • Mayor Dave Bauer asked about notifying voters who will change wards and shared the possibility of voting locations going from 3 to 1 in Crete as part of a county process to have one voting location in each Saline County town/village.
  • City Attorney Kyle Manley explained that voters who are not notified by the county or city will most likely find out about the ward change when they go to vote in the next election.

The Council entered into a five-year highway maintenance agreement with the Nebraska Department of Transportation. Ourada explained this is a requirement from DOT.

The Council authorized the purchase of a new police cruiser from AFL, LLC (Anderson Ford - Lincoln) for $36,516.

  • Police Chief Steve Hensel presented to the Public Safety Committee and the council about using the state bid process on a Ford Explorer Intercepter to replace the department’s Unit 1, which has 114,000 miles. The department typically has vehicles on a rotation to replace a patrol vehicle once a year but occasionally they skip a year based on mileage. CPD purchased a new vehicle in 2021, but not in 2020. 

The Council authorized the Library Director to apply for a $1,000 grant for ecological education programs.

  • Library Director Joy Stevenson explained this program is about bees and pollinators and involves planting activities for kids and the showing of a PBS bee documentary. Ourada said Joy also presented to the Library Advisory Board and they were intrigued by this grant project.

The Council entered into the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program Vendor Agreement with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to provide federal assistance to low-income households for water service.

  • Ourada explained this is a program through DHHS for people who may need assistance with water bills. The city signs up and has reporting requirements, but most of the work is on DHHS. This is a good resource for people who have a hard time affording utilities.
  • Kyle Manley reviewed the agreement and said utility customers would contact DHHS for assistance, not the city. DHHS sends the city funds to apply to accounts.

The Council approved including ten gap paving projects should be on the 1-Year Street Improvement Plan. All projects are on the north side of town and are estimated to cost about $2 million.


Petition - Communication - Citizen Concern: 

Citizen testimony may be limited to 3 minutes per person. Please do not repeat testimony that has already be heard. No action can be taken on matters presented under this title except to answer any questions or to refer the matter for further action.

Officer Reports:

Reports may be given by Officers, Departments, Committees, or Council members concerning the current operations of the City. No action can be taken on matters presented under this title except to answer any questions or to refer the matter for further action.

  • Steve Hensel, Police Chief:
    • Crete PD helps organizes and participates in Operation Under the Tree, a cooperative holiday giving campaign with Crete FOP, Saline County Sheriff’s Office, and county emergency services; Officer Dawn Jonas leads Crete’s efforts with help from multiple officers and staff. Personnel collect funds, toys, clothing, and other gifts for local families. Several events included shopping directly with families, while a large gift distribution was held on Dec. 18. This program served 107 families with a total of 380 children. Community volunteers from Doane University, Crete Public Schools, etc. helped distribute. This was another big success and we will continue to support it.
    • 27 years ago, when Tom and I were appointed, the nuisance property process and progress looked entirely different than it does today. Nuisance properties in the last couple of months alone have made a visible difference. City officials are helping and tying loose ends together. We can be proud of these positive results. 
      • Mayor Bauer said the public is aware of this and they have noticed properties changing.
  • Joy Stevenson, Library Director:
    • a newsletter will come out soon with January events
    • VITA - volunteer income tax assistance program - Crete is now included with Lincoln  and the program is back for another year with the library as a place for people to turn in documents for scanning, etc.; families earning less than $57,000 a year can have free tax preparation for simple returns; 55 volunteers in Lincoln will assist with tax returns; runs Feb. 1 to March 31
      • Ourada explained last year there was a challenge in getting qualified people to help and Joy has arranged for this needed program to continue.
    • Imagination Library by the Dollywood Foundation is starting in Crete with funds from the Friends of the Crete Public Library; children are signed up and get a book mailed to them once a month, from ages 0-5; $25 per child; the library is also working with Crete Public Schools Special Programs.
  • Ryan Hinz, Council Member, Ward II, shared the monthly Lincoln Food Bank distribution on Doane’s campus served 300 families on Tuesday; 200 families received food boxes through the annual Crete Cares Christmas program on Dec. 11.
  • Tom Ourada, City Administrator:
    • Nuisance property hearing held last night, and while the party involved didn’t show, the board took a position on it; we’ve had demolitions, abatements, and many impactful activities that have made a difference. The city officials involved are making hard decisions during this process.
    • Public Works has a number of upcoming and ongoing projects that I am going through with Brian Stork, who is eager to contribute: triple box culvert, street plans, water and sewer extension on Arizona.
  • Mayor Dave Bauer wished everyone a blessed merry Christmas and safe travels over the holidays.

Meeting adjourned.


Summary for Crete City Council regular meeting - Tuesday, Dec. 7
View this Meeting Agenda and attachments

The council approved the Consent Agenda items:

  • Minutes of the following meetings: City Council Nov. 16, Public Safety Nov. 16, Public Works Committee Nov. 16
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Claims against the City 
  • Approve Constructors, Inc. final pay application of $22,304.67 for the 12th & Linden overlay project. 
  • Approve Dostals Construction Company pay application of $57,879.00 for the 2020 Wildwood Pool splashpad. 
  • Approve writing off miscellaneous accounts receivables.


The Council heard a presentation by Windstream on future fiber plans.

  • Brad Hedrick, Regional President for Kinetic Operations introduced several Windstream staff members who will be working directly on projects affecting Crete. 
  • Rob Everett, Director of Engineering and Construction for Windstream, shared the latest planning and timeline details on the expansion of fiber in the area; fiber currently serves about 1,300 households in Crete with 1GB service; the 2022 plan will add about 1,400 households with 31 miles of cable. Windstream is moving project construction in-house with local technicians and plan designers and an investment in equipment. They will start design in January and bring a team to talk with city officials to understand key points and markers to take into account with the design in Crete. He said the team will bring a final plan back to officials for input with an estimated April start. They hope to finish the fiber project in 2022 depending on how much work is underground or aerial.
  • City Administrator Tom Ourada commented that he, Mayor Bauer, and Kyle Manley had a meeting with the group a couple of weeks ago and invited them to address the Council. Tom said the point of the meeting was to try to gain high speed internet access (fiber to the home, and 1 Gb access) to the entire community. This appearance at the council meeting was to make the council and public aware of Windstream’s plans and to do all we can to see them come to fruition in an accelerated timeframe.

The Council ratified the actions of the City's LARM Board Representative (Tom Ourada) at the Annual Members' Meeting of the League Association of Risk Management on September 22, 2021.

  • City Attorney Kyle Manley explained this motion would affirm the mayor and council agrees with all the actions that Tom took at the LARM meeting

The Council adopted Resolution 2021-14: A resolution authorizing the Mayor to sign the Department of Transportation's Year-End Certification of City Street Superintendent form. This is an annual council action and a requirement of NDOT. 


The Council amended the Master Fee Schedule to set rental rates for the Community Center and Community Room, as recommended by the Finance Committee.

  • Ourada said staff had been trying to get the community room ready before covid; they have operating documents to finish and the council will see those; to facilitate events coming up they would recommend the master fee schedule reflect the same fee schedule for the Wanek Community Center.

The Council voted to enter into a new agreement with Saline County Area Transit.

  • Mayor Dave Bauer explained further discussion held by the Finance Committee and discussions he has had with Scott Bartels from SCAT. The city pays two fees: one for a city transportation service and one towards the county-wide service. City officials were leaving the city portion open to seek out other funding, which was the intent in past years. Crete Area Medical Center was considered adding their own transportation service, but has agreed to $2,000 towards the city fee of local SCAT services. The mayor is also working with Smithfield and there may also be  additional funds available from the state that could not be included in this year’s SCAT budget. The Finance Committee recommended to pay this with the understanding to work out agreements for additional funding for the city portion of services and not put this issue off continually.

The Council waived three readings and enacted Ordinance 2143: An ordinance amending the wage ordinance.

  • Ourada explained one change, which combines an assistant position for networking and IT with the current GIS Technician. This expands Emerson Aschoff’s role and provides a backup for IT Director Mike Kalkwarf; The mayor was supportive of this change.

The Council tabled until the next council meeting a discussion on considering closing all city offices on Thursday, December 23, 2021.

The Council held a strategy session on purchasing real estate at 13th Street and Iris Avenue for the construction of a roundabout.


Petition - Communication - Citizen Concern: 

Citizen testimony may be limited to 3 minutes per person. Please do not repeat testimony that has already be heard. No action can be taken on matters presented under this title except to answer any questions or to refer the matter for further action.

Officer Reports:

Reports may be given by Officers, Departments, Committees, or Council members concerning the current operations of the City. No action can be taken on matters presented under this title except to answer any questions or to refer the matter for further action.

Steve Hensel, Police Chief reported Officer Alex Sawtelle will be graduating from the academy on Dec. 9 and returning on Dec. 15; the city’s next applicant will take a physical fitness test and if he passes he will start academy training on Dec. 14.

  • Brian Stork, Public Works Director:
    • Van Kirk Bros started work on Arizona Ave. involving the water and sewer extension to West Crete. This shut off access on the street from the south
    • Blue Valley Cemetery improvements are being planned, including rock added to the driveway and additions to the flag pole area.
  • Joy Stevenson, Library Director
    • Upcoming programming includes two movies for the Crete Reads! Program: “The Searchers” on Dec. 9 and “News of the World,” in January. She will also meet with the project committee on picking the next book for this community-wide reading program.
    • Dec. 20 - Santa will read letters from children at the library and every child will get a book;
    • ESL classes toured the library.
  • Dale Stehle, Council member Ward II, reported that nuisance property hearings are ongoing and he appreciates the hard work that everyone has put in and has noticed positive changes at properties involved.
  • Tom Ourada, City Administrator:
    • Human Resources Coordinator Wendy Thomas typically introduces new employees; in her absence Tom introduced Christine Zoubek, the newest staff member in the Public Works Office.
    • the Omicron COVID variant is in the PHS district, but hats off to Director Kim Showalter for the quick response in identifying it among persons who tested positive for COVID and one who gave their recent travel destination, which indicated they may have been exposed to the variant strain.
    • Sandhills Energy on solar - we have talked with MEAN and thought the solar project would be on a triangular piece of city property sized for 1MW; the energy company thought is was 3MW and now we are looking for property that would support that. They are doing a glare study on property at the end of the airport runway.
    • Tom Sorensen arranged a meeting with myself and new Doane University President Roger Hughes who is eager to explore opportunities with the city; it was a frank and upfront discussion and new opportunities may come forward.
    • Tom asked the Public Works crew to take the fountain down for sandblasting and repainting in time for spring.
    • Tom wanted to wait until Council member and chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee Kyle Frans is back and we can continue to move forward on Tuxedo Park master planning; we will have a meeting with stakeholders.
    • The city was asked to refund $6,211 in sales tax funds, don’t know who is asking for the refund and NDED isn’t compelled by statute to answer any inquiries on refunds.
    • The City rented 3 more spaces in city parking lot; the city did get a request for single-event rentals, but we don’t have a rate for that yet.
    • ARP (American Rescue Plan) - the city’s portion is $1.2M - half is spent, half coming in 2022; the lift station on 22nd will be funded with the rest to water projects; USDA is also willing to give 0% interest loans.
    • City staff are evaluating process software for tracking business registrations, vacant properties, nuisance properties, building permits, which can greatly streamline and speed things up with a significant cost savings and can integrate with city code language. Tom asked Brad and Kyle to weigh in.
      • Building Inspector Brad Bailey commented that it could improve the communication lines with everybody involved and eliminates errors.
      • Kyle Manley said the system could help everyone involved have quick access to the status of many properties involved.
    • The city phone system is at the end of support life (end of February); we can keep using it, but we can also look at a cloud-based solution with more features that may save money with no large capital outlay. Tom will evaluate and bring to the Council.
    • The city could prioritize road construction and cyber and physical security with the latest infrastructure bill. We don’t know specifics of the legislation yet.
    • Tom is formulating a plan to renovate the Wanek Community Center, which is showing its age and may be limiting people from wanting to rent it; this project will go to the Public Work Committee with more details.
    • Tom would like the Council to think about giving the Sertoma building in Tuxedo Park to the county.
    • Tom will have 1 and 6 year street plans and the substation RFP for the next meeting.
  • Mayor Dave Bauer thanked city employees for putting up Christmas lights and decorating for the holidays as well as Val Papik and Barb Kuzma for holiday decorations in the downtown planters. He has received many compliments.

The Mayor called for an executive session in regards to negotiations.


Meeting adjourned.