The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

City Approves Agreement With Agri-Plastics

 

January 26, 2018

The Sidney City Council Tuesday approved a grant application with Agri-Plastics.

The grant application, valued at $200,000, requires Agri-Plastics to remain open in Sidney for at least 24 consecutive months.

Economic Development Director Melissa Norgard told the council the is technically a loan that turns into a grant if the company meets the requirements of the loan. The funds are from the State Economic Development Department's Site and Building Fund. The funds will be used to assist with Agri-Plastics' building they purchased at 701 East Elm St. Agri-Plastics is matching the grant with $1.3 million in cash for the purchase of the building, which closed Nov. 30, 2017.

In October of 2017, Agri-Plastics announced on the Business Facilities website that it will invest $4.5 million to establish a 159,000 square foot facility in Sidney. The Sidney location is the Ontario, Canada, based company's first American production facility. The Sidney facility will manufacture calf housing products.

Agri-Plastics will be employing 20 people initially with future expansion planned.

In other business, the council supported the Human Resource office's plan for the City's bonus and longevity program. The City offers longevity bonuses on a percentage basis based on the length of time employed with the City. Human Resources Director Jo Houser said when an employee reaches the top of the pay scale for his or her department, the longevity bonus can be an incentive to stay with the City.

"I think it is an appropriate incentive," said Councilman Wendall Gaston.

Councilwoman Kelly Utley noted it can be more expensive to recruit a new employee than to retain one.

Houser said the incentive program does not cost the City much.

"It is not a huge amount when you look at the scheme of things," she said.

The council also approved a grant application for the Transportation Department. The grant helps fund the transportation services within the city of Sidney. The city's public transportation system costs about $328,000 annually, but only receives about $18,500 in rider fees. The majority of the funding comes through transportation grants such as the Federal Transit Act and Nebraska Public Transportation Act Funds. The local match with the grant is about $44,000, split between the City and Visitors Committee.

Rides cost between $1.25 and $2.25. There are 11 stops every hour of operation.

"It is an amazing service for the cost," said councilman Roger Gallaway.

Libraries are not seeing the use they have historically: research, quiet places to read, the place to find the latest best seller. Technology is changing the need. However, the Sidney library is holding its own, according to director Andrew Sherman. In his annual report to the city council, Sherman said a statewide survey shows a decline in physical use of libraries. Nationally, there is a 6 percent increase in digital use. Locally, there is a decrease. He said the decrease may be related to staff changes at Cabela's.

He reported the library is also conducting a distance learning study. The library continues to receive support from the federal E-Rate program. The E-Rate program, formally known as the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, was created by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and began distributing funds in 1998. Telecommunications carriers pay into a fund which is then used to subsidize telecommunications and data communications for districts, according to on-tech.com.

 

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