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Demolition begins on Beatrice grain elevator

It’s the beginning of the end for the grain elevator that’s loomed over Sixth Street in Beatrice since the early 20th century.

The elevator is located across the street from the Dempster building at 716 S. Sixth St. It was rebuilt on the site of the original 1901 M.T. Cummings grain elevator in the 1950s, said Gage County Historical Society Director Lesa Arterburn, and on Tuesday, crews from Lottman Excavating of Beatrice began the demolition work on the structure beneath the elevator.

While it will still probably be a few weeks before a crane is brought in to knock down the elevator, Tim Lottman said there’s still work to be done at ground level.

Two holes were punched into the structure on the north and south sides for the beginning stages, he said.

“Today, we're just working with Bockmann, Inc. for the asbestos,” Lottman said. “There's still asbestos in there, so we cannot haul anything off yet. So, it's kind of a slow, just-getting-started day, until they get the asbestos out.”

The work, contracted by the city, is expected to last for 45 days, which means the demolition and cleanup should be complete by the middle of November.

The city of Beatrice acquired the property on July 15, 2016 and has planned to tear down the elevator to beautify the area.

On Sept. 18, the Beatrice City Council approved Lottman Excavation’s bid of $163,450 to demolish the grain elevator. It was a close vote, with five members of the council voting in favor and three against, as some felt the price tag was too steep.

Homestead says 'thanks' to Beatrice

More than 30,000 people visited the Homestead National Monument of America to witness the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, and Homestead officials have thanked the city for helping make the day successful.

Homestead Superintendent Mark Engler visited the Beatrice City Council on Monday night and read a letter thanking city officials and departments for their cooperation and support in getting thousands of people to and from the monument safely.

Reading a letter he wrote to Mayor Stan Wirth and members of the city council, Engler expressed his gratitude toward the Beatrice Police Department for managing traffic on Highway 4 and throughout the city, and he thanked Beatrice Communications Department Director Carla Jones for working with Homestead to create efficient communication across numerous departments.

Engler also thanked Beatrice Fire and Rescue for their services and support and called out fire Chief Brian Daake for his work.

“He was actively involved in most all aspects of our operational planning and it was Chief Daake who found a solution for us that allowed for onsite emergency medical services Sunday and Monday,” Engler said. “He did this by recognizing and filling this critical need with professionals from Beatrice Fire and Rescue and by promoting a partnership with the Urgent Care of Lincoln.”

Engler also thanked the Beatrice Public Library for holding two NASA presentations and Mayor Wirth for delivering remarks during the welcome ceremony held on the day of the eclipse. The mayor also recorded a video on social media, Engler said, which was produced to help encourage visitors to return to Beatrice again.

The bus system, which transported visitors to Homestead, was made available with help from the city and the Friends of the Homestead, and helped the day run smoothly, Egnler said. The buses were operating at peak capacity on that Sunday and Monday, he said, picking up thousands of people around Beatrice, taking them to the Homestead and later returning them safely to their cars.

“Our hats are off to you,” Engler told the council. “We are proud to say, Beatrice is our gateway community. Thank you.”

Wirth said that an equal amount of thanks needs to be given to the Homestead Monument and to Engler himself for the hours put in by the staff, for providing educational opportunities and for hosting thousands of people over the three days.

“There was nothing but positive comments,” said council member Rick Clabaugh. “But let's do one of these a month.”

City council approves more facade improvement grants

Four more loans going to downtown Beatrice businesses were approved by Beatrice City Council on Monday night, under the city’s Facade Improvement Program.

A total of $30,000 in loans was unanimously approved by the council at Monday’s meeting, bringing the number of approved loans up to 10.

The Facade Improvement Program—first approved in June by the city council—offers up to $375,000 of downtown revitalization grant funds from the state. Funds will go to Beatrice business and property owners to improve the appearance of their buildings.

The city approved a $12,000 loan to Darrel Flecher for his building at 404 Court St., $8,000 for the building at 505 Court St., which is owned by Ann L. Freese, $5,000 for Ronald and Norma Maschmeier’s building at 722 Court St. and $5,000 for Michael and Jane White’s building at 110 N. Fifth St.

The loans will be forgiven after five years if all the terms of the grant are met and all improvements are kept in place for all five years. No payments are due in that five-year period and, as long as the recipients meet all the terms, none have to be made. If a business fails to meet all the requirements, City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said the city is obligated to pay the money back to the state, meaning that the city would need to recover the grant money from the applicant.

The documents included in the package include a loan agreement, a personal guarantee, promissory note and deed of trust, Tempelmeyer said. All but one of the loan agreements were the same on Monday night, Tempelmeyer said, the agreement for the property at 722 Court St. was slightly different.

“The only thing unique about Mr. Maschmeier's property is that he did not want to do the trust,” Tempelmeyer said. “In return, what he offered was he would obtain a certificate of deposit at the bank that was also in the name of the city of Beatrice. That money will remain on file with the bank until the project is completed, 60 months from now.”

The certificate of deposit was offered as collateral instead of the trust, Tempelmeyer said.

All but one set of documents has been sent out, Tempelmeyer said, as one applicant is still waiting to clear the environmental review from the Nebraska State Historic Preservation office.

“Just like any other project, one of the things they have to do is obtain their building permits, have the necessary inspections,” he said. “Remember, the biggest hurdle for them will obviously be the State Historical Preservation Office and making sure they adhere to all their rules and regulations.”

The city expects to receive another 10 applications, Tempelmeyer said. He noted that he had received one on Monday afternoon, though it was too late to be added to the city council agenda for that evening. The order in which they are returned to the city is the order in which they will be reviewed by the council, Tempelmeyer said.

“As they get signed and completed and come back in the office, we'll submit them at the next council meeting,” Tempelmeyer said.

Area students ready for manufacturing day

Beatrice High School students can get a glimpse inside the world of manufacturing this week when area businesses open their doors for tours.

The event takes place on Thursday, Oct. 5 in recognition of manufacturing day, which aims to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.

Walker Zulkoski, director of the NGage economic development group, said the event is being held a day before the official manufacturing day on Friday, Oct. 6.

While NGage has recognized manufacturing day in the past, he said a new approach is being taken this year.

“We’re trying something different this year,” he said. “Last year, several manufacturers out in the industrial park opened up their door to host people all day long. They had tours, and it really kind of shut their operations down for a day because they were waiting for people to trail through. This year, we asked who was interested and we’re going to set up specific tours at specific times.”

A key aspect of the event is going to involve students from Beatrice and surrounding schools who will tour a variety of companies in Gage County.

“We’re partnering with Beatrice High School, and we also reached out to a lot of the area schools--so Lewiston, Norris, Diller-Odell, Southern--and said, 'Do you have any kids that are interested in doing manufacturing tours?'” Zulkoski said. “We have two tours set up, one for area schools and one for Beatrice. We’ll have the bus take them around, and we’re going to do lunches and keep them really occupied for about three or four hours and do 20-30 minute tours of all the manufacturers.

“The whole point of manufacturing day is to change your perception about manufacturing, get people more interested and see potential jobs they could do at these places. We’re going to have a lot of kids who take advantage of it.”

Beatrice Public Schools Superintendent Pat Nauroth added the event isn’t just a chance for students to get out of class. It’s an opportunity to see what kinds of career options are available in Gage County.

“We talk about college and career readiness and this is a great way for our kids to understand what opportunities are here,” he said. “I think a lot of times, they don’t know. They just think, in order to get into engineering or those other fields, you have to go somewhere else. You can get into a lot of things here, given the manufacturers we have here.”