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County seeks to fix drainage problem

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The Scotts Bluff County Board of Commissioners received an update on a drainage issue regarding Apple Avenue just northwest of the Scottsbluff city limits during its June 21 meeting.

Interim Highway Superintendent Steve Baird presented the matter to the board.

Around 1974, he said, the county commissioners passed resolutions to upgrade streets to have five inches of concrete or six inches of asphalt, as well as curbs and gutters, The residents living on Birch Avenue and Cottonwood Avenue, the streets nearest to Apple Avenue, voted to approve rural road improvements.

“That goes to a vote of the people who live on those streets. Those ones were approved by the people, and then they were taxed accordingly to pay for those improvements,” Baird said.

The residents of Apple Avenue voted against improvements back then, and again in 1999.

“Since Apple Avenue never became part of the rural road improvement district, it is gravel with no curb and gutter,” attorney Phil Kelly told the board.

Baird had brought him into the fold to research information on the road conditions and ensure it was accurate.

The drain near the intersection of Apple Avenue and W. 44th Street is slightly more elevated than the surface of the road, Kelly said. It doesn’t drain rainwater all the way.

Apple Avenue resident Wayne Driessen told the board he’d been maintaining the drain for the last 12 years. The drain hadn’t been initially installed correctly, he opined. When he took a petition to get it fixed to his neighbors, almost every person he met with signed it.

“It floods from my house, from Apple Avenue, all the way back to the alley in 44th. There’s people driving across my lawn when it’s flooding and they’re wrecking my sprinkler system and everything else,” Driessen said.

Commissioner Ken Meyer asked Driessen if he’d be willing to start the process of petitioning to either join an existing rural road improvement district or creating a new one.

“It’s either going to fail again or it’s going to pass and we move on,” Meyer said.

Driessen said he could get the process started.

Residents would be assessed the cost of adding pavement and a gutter. The county would oversee the specifications and hire a contractor.

Commissioner Mark Reichert asked Baird where the rainwater actually goes. Baird said there are no drains on curbs like in other places in the county. Water simply runs downhill to W. 44th Street and goes through an underground pipe to a ditch south of W. 42nd Street.

Commissioner Charlie Knapper said the board should reassess the residents living on nearby streets to see if they could potentially help pay for the drain’s improvements, since it collects water from those streets as well as Apple Avenue.

“The streets cannot drain all the way because of the way they’re installed,” Driessen said.

Additionally, the board approved a wildlife service contract, renewed an employee health insurance plan and approved resolutions for various supplementary fund loans during their meeting.

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Christopher Borro is a reporter at the Star-Herald. He can be reached by email at christopher.borro@starherald.com.

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