Service Animals, Road Issues and a Christmas Lighting Event Discussed at Commissioner's Meeting
September 21, 2023
SIDNEY--The Cheyenne County Commissioners met Monday morning and went over a number of topics, with the most time being spent on a new Service Animal policy, Air Force involvement with certain county roads, and a proposed Christmas Light display by the Tourism Director.
After taking care of some business, including the transfer of $500,000 form the County General 100 Fund to the County Road 300 Fund, the commissioner's approved two resolutions concerning the issuance of County Tax Sale certificates and the turn over of matured County Tax Sale certificates to the County Attorney for foreclosure.
County Attorney Paul Schaub then spoke about a Federal Equitable Sharing Agreement concerning the sharing of the proceeds of forfeitures in cases involving Federal agencies and local government. Schaub noted that Cheyenne County has to file a report on such activity, which currently has the county not receiving any shared funds with the Federal Government with asset forfeiture.
There was then discussion about the county's Service Animal policy, with no changes being adopted but rather a clarification of the policy, with a commitment to proper signage being placed and county employees being educated on the policy. The policy states that county employees can ask about a Service Animal, the first being "Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability" and "What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform. The policy also clarified that only dogs fall under the category of "Service Animal", as they are the only animals recognized by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) as service animals. It also clarified that service animals are not considered pets, and emotional support animals, comfort or therapy animals are not considered service animals under the ADA, and are not allowed in the Court House.
The service animal is allowed to accompany individuals with disabilities to all areas of the Court House that are open to the public, including court rooms, lobbies and public rest rooms. The individual with the service animal is responsible for the animal's care and supervision. If the animal is disruptive or behaves in a way that poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others, the individual may be asked to remove the animal from the Courthouse. For the full policy, please go to http://www.cheyennecountyne.net or call the County Clerk's office at 308-254-5049.
County Highway Superintendent Doug Hart addressed the commissioners concerning an Air Force proposal to make CR 38 from Highway 385 east and connecting to the current Defense Access Road a designated roadway and abandon the four mile section of CR 34 from CR131 to CR 139 as a Defense Access Road designation. After a representative who works with the Air Force in the area came in to clarify the change, it became clear that the Air Force was looking for a more convenient route to use while not having to be responsible for maintenance on paved sections of roads. The Air Force has traditionally maintained unpaved roads used as Defense Access Roads with four inches of gravel once per year. This change would take away the Air Force responsibility of maintaining paved sections of roads and allow better access for heavy equipment vehicles that use the route a few times per year.
The commissioners then discussed the purchase of two vehicles for the Sheriff's department. They had received a bid from Nelson Auto Center out of Minneapolis for a little over $45,000 each for 2023 Ford F150s with the police package extras included. There was discussion about getting a 2024 model, but they were not available as of this time. The commissioners discussed purchasing one 2023 model, and placing an order for a 2024 model. Sheriff Adam Frerichs noted that the department would prefer Chevrolet Tahoes, but the vehicles were not available. It was also suggested that Ford Expeditions could be used in place of the F150s. The commissioners and Sheriff Frerichs agreed to investigate the matter more and discuss it at the next commissioner's meeting.
Kendra Mitchell, Cheyenne County tourism Director and Brooke DeNovellis, Chairwoman of the Visitors Committee then addressed the commissioners about a grant for the Sidney Holiday Basketball tournament in the amount of $2500, which the commissioners approved noting the increase in lodging and food sales the tournament brings. The commissioners also approved a $5,135 request by the high Plains Arts Council for event advertising outside of the Cheyenne County area. Next, Mitchell addressed the commissioners about a Christmas Lighting Event to be held at the pavilion at the Fair Grounds. The display of lights would promote all the various events in Sidney and Cheyenne County that go on during the year, and would be a tourist attraction during the holiday season. Both commissioner Sander and Miller expressed concerns about the time frame for such a project, and did want to see a good idea not get properly executed due to time and staffing constraints. Mitchell noted that she has rounded up a good number of volunteers with the project, and although she understood the concerns of the commissioners, she said that she and her group would be able to get the project done in time for the holiday season. DeNovellis added that the county does not have many events going on during the holiday season, and this project could do great help in bringing in tourists and having them stay in the area a little longer. They also requested $4500 to buy a 40 foot storage unit to keep at the fairgrounds to store the electrical lighting displays and other equipment. After comparing the cost versus rental fees, the commissioners agreed the storage unit at that price would be a good deal.