Erwin sworn in as new Council member

LAUREL — A new Laurel City Councilman was sworn in Monday evening.

Jeff Erwin accepted the appointment for the City Council vacancy. There was a vacancy when Keith Knudsen decided to seek the Mayor’s seat and no one chose to run in the election to replace Knudsen on the Council.

Also Monday, the Laurel Community Center Committee considered a Schmitt Construction demolition proposal.

The council accepted the proposal for $19,900 to take buildings down where the center will be built.

The Council also approved the appointment of Pat Harrington to the CRA Board.

Authorization was given to have the newly elected mayor be added to the signature cards for all City of Laurel financial and bank accounts.

The council approved ordinance 2020-368 to approve the 110 acres annexation plat to the City of Laurel.

The council also approved an update in its property maintenance code to start working on nuisance properties in the town.

City Attorney Keelan Holloway said the city needs to have someone inspect nuisance properties.

The city of Norfolk has an inspector who will come out to smaller towns for $300. They require each community to have the same version of the international property maintenance code they have. This includes the rules and regulations by which properties are judged. The city will send out a letter about nuisance properties and take pictures. Before they tear down properties, they must have proof they are structurally unsound, according to Holloway.

Part two option agreements for Casey properties. These were purchased with grant money. The City Council considered and approved Resolution #2020-369 authorizing the purchase of Lots One (1), Two (2), Three (3) and the West Forty (40) feet of Lot Four (4), Block One (1), Original Town of Laurel, Cedar County, Neb.

Building permits granted included: Roberts (600 Cedar) 30’x40’ fence on the south side of the house and Laurel True Value – 48’x18’ cement pad for a greenhouse, 130’ chain link security fence and sidewalk.

Virginia Lundahl reported rooms are ready to accept new residents daily at Hillcrest.

“We have a full staff (nurses, med aides, nurse aides, restorative aides, dietary, housekeeping, laundry, maintenance, and office staff) ready to accommodate a full census, which is 36 on the nursing home side and 14 on the assisted living side. We continue to make improvements in every aspect of our community in order to best meet our residents’ needs,’’ Lundahl said.

The state survey team returned to Hillcrest Care Center Jan. 4 for a revisit.

“We got a good review for the interventions we have put in place and staff’s understanding of rules and regulations,’’ Lundahl said.

Lundahl said vaccinations for staff and employees are set for Jan. 16 and Feb. 6. All interested staff and residents are eligible for a free two-dose Covid-19 vaccination.

The Paycheck Protection Program loan for Hillcrest was forgiven and a new round of PPP stimulus money is available, she said.

“We hope to be able to use that program again,’’ Lundahl said. “Our bathhouse renovation, funded by the Elsie Jacobsen family, is underway. Andy Tisthammer installed a bigger bathhouse door. Campbell’s Service put the new bathtub in place Jan. 7.

A new floor will be installed next week. The board also approved the purchase of a fireplace for the living room area of the nursing home.

The Covid-19 situation has caused us to make adjustments along the way in how we work and care for the residents,” said Lundahl. “Our staff has been willing and eager to change processes and procedures to accommodate the changes required by the Covid-19 situation. One of our newest changes is the electronic entry monitor placed at all four entrances. The entry kiosk records every person entering the building, taking their temperature, and asks the screening questions required by the State of Nebraska. This kiosk will help us meet regulations regarding screening visitors, staff and healthcare providers.”

Annual Chamber banquet plans are changing due to continued Covid-19 concerns, and the event will be cancelled.

Chamber memberships will begin renewing this month, according to Chris Rasmussen reporting on Economic Development.

Tyler Kvols’ five-year term ended in December, and Pat Harrington has been nominated as a new CRA board member.

Rasmussen said Laurel will be conducting a Targeted Market/ industry study with NPPD in the next month. This was a question raised in the Community Recertification application. The last study was done in 2015.

“NPPD will have this information ready to present in February. NPPD staff will need about onehour and they will present this via Zoom. This is planned for Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 6 p.m., before the CRA meeting,” Rasmussen said.

“As we begin a new year, with a new Mayor and new board members on the City Council and other committees, now would be a good time to do an updated Board Training. NPPD offers Board Training and is doing a recording this year with a site consultant. The recording will be available by Feb. 2, and I will forward the recording and make notes on any questions you have,’’ Rasmussen said.

In March, an in-person presentation will be presented. This will be a 90-minute meeting, and will follow the City Council meeting March 8.

The 2021 Strategic Planning Session has been planned for Tuesday, March 22, at 5:30 p.m. at the city auditorium.

Laurel has been invited to be featured by the Scarlett Hotel: Goldenrod Companies, a commercial real estate firm in Omaha developing Nebraska’s first Marriott Tribute hotel in Lincoln, on the University of Nebraska’s Innovation Campus. With a Tribute hotel, they are able to brand the hotel however they wish, and they have decided to capture the “essence” of Nebraska throughout.

Each room will be named after a town across Nebraska and will tell the story of that town. The hotel is slated to officially open Aug. 2.

Rasmussen is working on providing the information they need.

Roger Protzman from JEO Engineering is in the process of leading the City in a search for an area to dig a test hole to eventually lead to a possible new additional well. An additional well is a priority.

The estimate to replace part of the wall for the sewer plant oxidation ditch as a temporary fix from Wayne Korth is $4,800. A long term solution to fix walls and install footings around the interior of the oxidation ditch island which includes removing the existing old broken up concrete and installing new 6” concrete for the total cost of $44,800. Eventually the outer wall of the oxidation ditch will need a similar repair.

These two bid quotes were approved by the council.

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