The following questions were asked recently on the Wonderline:

Q: I read the article about the proposed solar project for the City of York. Will that lower the cost of electricity for city residents? And how does a person access the solar program?

A: Once the solar site is physically available, Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) and the city will engage in a marketing campaign to inform the public, says Craig Vincent, NPPD account manager. They will inform customers in York about their ability to subscribe.

To put it simply, customers will be able to subscribe by just signing up.

The amount of energy the site will generate will have been determined by that point – and that amount will be divided into shares. Customers will then ask that a certain amount of shares (based on their consistent usage) be allocated to them. There will be a one-time administrative charge and if they stay in the program for a certain amount of years that charge would eventually be refunded back to them. Early indications are that the administrative charge would be quite minimal.

Once all the shares are allocated – they are allocated. Access to the solar program will be on a first come, first served basis.

Vincent said customers’ bills (if they access the solar energy program) will be slightly less than what they are paying now. He said it wouldn’t be a huge savings, but it will be a saving. The larger the customer, the greater the savings.

Vincent added that for those who subscribe to the solar program, another benefit is that they will not have to pay for the installation of solar panels on their houses (as an example) if they want to utilize solar power. They will be able to go green – just by indicating their interest.

Q: Highway 81 is a U.S. Highway and as such it is paid for with state and federal funds. It is also supposed to be maintained by the state. With that said, why are York city employees making repairs to a state highway? Who is paying for these repairs? Why is the state not maintaining Highway 81?

A: After the City of York annexed the area by and around the Interstate, the City and the State of Nebraska entered an agreement. It states in the agreement that the state would pay a flat rate per lane mile of any state highway that is in the city limits, which is why the city crew was doing maintenance on the state highway, according to Brandon Osentowski, foreman from the public works department and water department supervisor.

Q: Now that they are tearing the old wastewater treatment plant apart, it seems like the city has lost interest in maintaining that property. There are weeds growing up and around the fence and all over inside the fence. Will the city be cleaning that property or at least cutting the weeds down? What is the timeline to have the old buildings and ponds completely torn down and cleaned up? What did they decide to do with the property when it is cleaned up?

A: Aaron Dressel, wastewater treatment manager for the City of York, said: “No, the city has not lost interest in the demolition of the old treatment plant. The city crews started demolition on the plant over the winter months during a slow time but it became evident that the city does not have large enough equipment to tackle such a task safely and without causing excessive wear and tear on its equipment.

“A contractor has been contacted to help tear down the old facility which will resume as soon as he is available. The wastewater crews are also trying to empty several sludge tanks but because of the wet weather this year it has been difficult to get into the field consistently to get this accomplished -- we currently have about 200,000 gallons of sludge to haul out.

“As for the weeds, yes they have gotten out of control and have been sprayed and the city will make an effort to keep the facility looking as good as possible until demolition is complete within this next year.”

Q: This past week, there was an editorial about an old copy of a newspaper from the week of York’s centennial celebration. I’ve seen that section in the past – and I remember there is a listing of some interesting things about York County as far as “firsts.” Could you look in that old section, see if you could find that listing, and run it for us readers? I just remember it was really interesting.

A: We found the listing the reader was asking about. Here are some of those “first facts” about York County that truly are something:

• The first frame building was at Porcupine Ranch in the Brown Township.

• First school district: West Blue Township, 1869.

• First school house: District 1, 1869.

• First county fair was held in York in 1873 and the fair president was N.W. Graves.

• The first school was taught in York by A.C. Montgomery in a claim shack just south of the public square on Lincoln Avenue in 1870.

• First lawsuit in York County was to recover a yoke of oxen, one with the bush of his tail off. Costs in the case were $1.75.

• First case tried in District Court: Feb. 7, 1872, a divorce.

• First tax levied: July 1870. In March 1871, the first assessment was made of the county with valuation of all property, real and personal, $22,464. Total tax levied was $2,920.

• It was also noted that in a 1909 edition of the York Daily News, an 80-acre farm was listed for sale at $5,800 with only $800 cash down payment; remainder was to run for eight years. Another was 160 acres of nice level prairie land, four miles from town, 80 feet to good water – price was $20 per acre.

Q: What projects are being planned for the new fiscal year that will be funded through LB357 money? Is that included in the city’s proposed budget?

A: According to budget documents from the city, there are six projects listed in the expenditure detail for the LB357 fund. They are the following:

• Quiet zone: Engineering, $50,000; construction, $820,000

• Parks: Harrison Park restroom remodel, $10,000

• Library: Two 15 ton HVAC, $50,000

• Street: Transfer for concrete panel project, $500,000

• School: Project, $60,000

• Community center: Boiler updates, $45,000

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