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Vice Mayor announces summer resignation from council

SIDNEY – After a number of city business was discussed Tuesday at the second regularly scheduled Sidney City Council meeting, Sidney Vice Mayor Roger Gallaway announced he is retiring from Sidney Public Schools as a teacher and coach – additionally, he announced his summer resignation from city council due to taking a private school job out of area to be closer to his children.

Gallaway said he hopes to make his resignation from city council and vice mayor effective the end of June, as he already submitted his resignation with the school, which is expected to be determined at the next school board meeting.

Gallaway has served not only as mayor and vice mayor for the city, and teacher at Sidney Public Schools since about 1992 when he moved to the area, he has served as a track coach as well – and this year, like every year prior that he has coached, he spoke highly of the results his team brought in at the state track meet.

A future Sun-Telegraph story will feature Gallaway and his contributions to the community over the last roughly 30 years.

All members of City Council were present during Tuesday's meeting: Mayor Brad Sherman, Vice Mayor Roger Gallaway, Councilmen Paul Strommen, Brandon Bondegard and Burke Radcliffe.

City Council heard from Cheyenne County Chamber President Toshia Jones and Vice President Kendra Mitchell during Tuesday's meeting regarding the renewal of their contract with the city.

Some highlights the pair spoke about is adding back in, the city tours given to newcomers and guests in Sidney from the Chamber.

Mitchell explained the chamber had given these tours prior, and she took the tour when she moved to the area in 2009 and thought it was beneficial because the tour offered an insiders scoop about the city and surrounding area to help new residents become better acquainted with their new city. However, neither Mitchell nor Jones had a timeline of when they would begin offering the tours again, just that they wanted the option to be able to do that at the future as they continue to work toward improving the Chamber.

Members of the board then heard from Camp Lookout with the restoration committee for the Sidney Historic Preservation Board Marva Ellwanger.

During her presentation to city council, Ellwanger asked the city to consider offering some of the ACE Funding available to help the organization continue to restore the building to make it safer for guests to tour it.

"It is the oldest original building in Sidney," Ellwanger explained to City Council. "The reason I say that is because there is one building older than Camp Lookout – but not original to Sidney."

Ellwanger explained the history of Camp Lookout and its significance during the Pony Express days and Transcontinental Railroad days as it was an established fort which protected railroad workers and others in the area.

"There were many skirmishes with Native Americans in 1867 – Camp Lookout housed the commanding officers – and the soldiers lived in tents that were to the west of the building," Ellwanger further explained.

Since acquiring the building, Ellwanger briefly detailed the efforts the restoration committee and historic preservation board have taken to continue to restore Lookout Camp to its original origins. Some of those jobs included removing stucco that had been put on the building decades later and "layers upon layers of some of the most hideous and interesting wallpaper."

However, like most aging buildings from eras gone-by, Lookout Camp is starting to become structurally unsound and potentially too dangerous to allow residents, guests or visitors in the building for tours.

"We're going into Gold Rush – there's no way we can let people out onto that balcony," Ellwanger said. The balcony she speaks of is the lookout posts on the building in which soldiers could defend from and had an advantage in defending from due to its location.

"We'd like to be able to continue giving tours – and tours will be available for Gold Rush Days," Ellwanger stated.

Gold Rush Days takes residents and visitors back in time to the days of when Sidney saw it's nitty, gritty "Wild West" days. Gold Rush Days is a three day event, June 9, 10 and 11, where guests will travel through time back to the days of the Gold Rush trails.

"It's an extremely important piece of history for this town," Mayor Sherman said. "I had the pleasure a few months ago – Kathy took me through there – I just think anything we can do to help keep that history preserved is a good idea."

The rest of city council conquered with the mayor that Lookout Camp is worth the effort and money to continue to preserve and maintain.

"I went through it a couple years ago – and it's really neat to see it restored back to its original, true nature," Gallaway added. "That was something to see and appreciate – everybody should take the chance to go see it."

Sherman asked Sidney City Manager David Scott what funding was available currently and how much the project to restore the buckled flooring and other items noted in the request would cost.

Scott said the city currently has roughly $60,000 in the ACE funding budget for requests such as this one, and that the preservation board received two estimates for the project, one priced at around $11,000 and the second around $12,000.

Ultimately, city council unanimously voted on and agreed to fund the project through the ACE Fund for the continuation of preserving and making Lookout Camp safe for current and future generations to enjoy.

City of Sidney Electric Superintendent Mike Palmer gave a brief update regarding the on-going negotiations between Sidney and the solar panel company seeking to do business on some roughly 12 acres near the old landfill and the Sandhills area.

Palmer explained, as per the previous request from city council at its first regularly scheduled meeting earlier this month, he took the requested changes to a potential contract change regarding first right of refusal back to the solar panel company. Unfortunately, Palmer said the company essentially rejected the idea.

The council and Palmer than began to brainstorm different ways to ensure Sidney would be prosperous in this deal in the future due to the land lease agreement being 35 years. Some discussion was increasing the dollar amount per acreage annually from $500 to between $1000 and $700.

Palmer said he could take that back to the company and renegotiate that, however, he stated the company simply wants to know if Sidney is interested in moving forward on the project – of which several councilmen stated they are.

Strommen simply stated, "We need to ask for more money it seems."

To which, the consensus of the rest of city council was in agreement with Stronmmen, thus they made a motion to give Palmer the authority to renegotiate a higher dollar amount per acreage a year with the note the city is still interested in moving forward with this project.

City Manager Scott gave a brief managers report – he stated his department will soon conduct a wage study for city offices to be more competitive with the market due to not being able to recruit for the open assistant city manager position at this time. He said he hopes to have that finalized and ready for council review in October, so that the city can begin advertising for the position and other positions within the city as well.

Outside of his brief update to city council, Scott reminded councilmen the Sidney Cruising Night will be June 2, followed by Gold Rush Days June 9 through 11 and then the first of three Chamber Downtown Sounds concert will be June 16; the band Dance Machine will be playing at the first concert. See a previous Sun-Telegraph story from the Chamber announcing the summer concert lineup from earlier this month.

Palmer also announced his company did 25 drawings for the Choice Gas giveaway, in which, one person from Sidney was the recipient of free gas for a year.

Residential customers who chose ACE during the Choice Gas Selection period, April 6 through 26, were automatically entered into a random drawing; ACE drew 25 winners in the Choice Gas coverage area from all around the Panhandle region. One of those winners was Sidney Public Library Executive Director Amanda Eastin.

Eastin promoted an event her and the librarians are hosting on Thursday: British Tea and a movie to watch 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy."

Sidney Police Department Chief Joe Aikens was last to present at the meeting on Tuesday before city council members went into executive session to discuss real estate negotiations and personnel matters.

In his brief report, Aikens explained the entire department would be taking part in firearms training on Thursday and asked if any members of the city council wanted to join. More information about this training will be highlighted in a future Sun-Telegraph story.

The next Sidney City Council meeting will be June 13, starting at 5:30 p.m. inside Town Hall, 1115 13th Ave., Sidney.

 

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