The O'Neill City Council met in the council chambers for their August monthly meeting. All members were present except for councilman Tim Schneider.
The council heard from the Holt County Humane Society on possibly changing some of the city's ordinances in relation to enforcement of cruelty and how the O'Neill Police Department can possibly help with the use of the changing of the City of O'Neill's codes for enforcement.
Threasa Brockman Sullivan spoke on behalf of the Holt County Humane Society. "We at the shelter receive calls every winter and summer about dogs that are being neglected and /or left out in extreme conditions. We also have calls on deplorable housing that dogs are just left to live in. We inform the callers who are concerned that they need to call the police. However, as two officers have said, there is not much they can do because of the ways the ordinances are written.
"We would like these ordinances beefed up for the dogs and the Animal Shelter and Police Department.
"In the ordinance there is sufficient language for proper housing and care of three to four dogs. Let me read it so everyone hears what more than two dogs benefit from. Even under Article three: Dogs, Section 2-321 dangerous dogs confined, there exists language to protect the dog from the elements. There is nothing in the ordinances to protect one or two dogs."
The council took the information under care and advised the humane society to work with O'Neill Police Chief Matt Otte and then the council could possibly make changes to benefit the situation.
The next item the council took into consideration was the possible transfer of ownership of the O'Neill Train Depot to the city. The depot is currently owned by the Nebraska Department of Game and Parks and is occupied by Holt County Economic Development. The Department of Game and Parks is looking to do something different with the facility as the increasing costs of maintaining the facility are far from ideal. The game and parks would like to find a new owner whether it's the city or the county, if neither of those entities choose to use it then the Game and Parks would possibly at some point shut down the depot and just board it up.
The Game and Parks asked the city to consider taking over the depot as it is historical in nature building to the city.
Mayor Scott Menish and councilwoman Quana Kelly both stated they would not like to see that happen because of its historical value to the community.
Councilman Don Baker expressed concern about possibly taking over the structure." I'm concerned about the cost of maintaining the facility. The state came in with an extra high quote for replacing the roof of the facility which if we would take on ownership we definitely would not put on the same high priced roof and we would take other cost cutting procedures such as filling in the basement as it is very small and has no historical value. We would probably move the heater in the basement to the main floor and just fill in the basement."
The council decided, at the advice of Boyd Strope the city's attorney, to not make any quick decisions and weigh the facts of such an acquisition.
Steven Dorf of Three River was present to inform the city that the fiber optic project was going to get started soon in O'Neill. Dorf also stated that Three River has acquired the building that Black Hills Energy was in on 4th and Everett St.
"We will be staffing that office with technicians and it will be a main hub for Three River in the area. We are so happy to have an office in O'Neill and technicians on hand to handle any problems that may arise.
Brian Delimont assistant general manager was with Mr. Dorf to answer any technical questions the council may have had about the project. "We will soon be laying the fiber backbone in O'Neill and will be done by Dec. 20 to be in compliance with the grant," said Delimont.
"We will string the fiber on the poles as the first part of the project which has to be done by the end of the year and then we will focus on going neighborhood by neighborhood doing installs into customer's houses."
Dorf also asked the city to consider Three River as the primary video provider for the city. " Our service is alacarte you can have internet, phone and TV. We have been in O'Neill a long time and would like to have the video franchise for the city. It is a big expense to us so before we invest in the new equipment on the video part of it we would like to be considered as the city's provider," said Dorf
The council then moved on to housekeeping items discussing the health insurance plans and considerations for wage scale increases and for the upcoming budget year.
Councilwoman Michelle Liewer stated that the insurance is usually a tough project to tackle every year as the options are hard to choose from because it is just a numbers game in choosing one plan that has better benefits that the other. You may gain in one area but lose out on benefits in a different plan.
The council voted toward a 2.5 percent increase in wages for the next budget year.
The council approved the bills and adjourned for the evening.