By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Not surprisingly, an agricultural-related issue was ranked the top story of 2010 by the 10 Imperial Republican staff members.
The year’s timely rainfall and moisture that came at key times of the Chase County crops’ growing seasons led staff members to selecting it as their top story of the year.
Unlike 2009 and its torrents of rains and hail, the moisture came at key times in 2010, making it one of the best years for several crops including corn, wheat and soybeans.
Added to the high crop yields, fueled in part by the moisture, have been rising commodity prices. The past year, growers and cattle feeders alike experienced a bounce-back in prices, as well, turning those industries around.
Five members of the staff picked that story as their individual No. 1 choice.
Coming in as the No. 2 story of the year was the city’s major public works project—reconstruction of East 5th, 9th and 12th Streets. The work started early in the spring, but experienced some delays due to rainfall, but was deemed “substantially complete” in December. Concrete Products, Inc., of North Platte is general contractor for the $1.8 million project.
While the year’s top story was ag-related, for once in a number of years, an NRD issue was not No. 1, as it has been the past 9 years.
However, the sanctions issued against several landowners with property in the Upper Republican NRD district the past year for bypassing irrigation water flow meters did tie for the No. 3 story.
The three landowners with property in the NRD received the harshest penalty the NRD could levy—permanently retiring irrigation on 1,476.4 acres for 10 years and loss of all carryforward. The board levied sanctions against a total of 3,971.85 acres.
Tying for the No. 3 story was voter approval in May of a Chase County Community Hospital District, which has paved the way for selection of hospital district board members by the voters instead of by commissioner appointment.
A petition drive to put the issue back on the ballot was considered but eventually not pursued the past year.
Rounding out the top 5 stories of 2010 was Imperial’s celebration in July of its 125th birthday. Three days of events over the 4th of July weekend included an art show, quilt exhibit, old-time carriage rides, historical displays, a fun run, pie contest, fireworks and more.
Special guests that weekend included Mark Mercier, a great grandson of Imperial co-founder Thomas Mercier, and his wife Sherie. Miss Nebraska also made an appearance.
The 10 newspaper staff members chose the year’s top stories from a group of 15 news events presented them by the editorial department.
Other stories in the top 10 were:
No. 6—Passage of State Sen. Mark Christensen’s LB 862, which allowed other NRDs in the state to use an occupation tax, providing they meet specific criteria. In March, that occupation tax provision in Christensen’s LB 701 was ruled constitutional by a Lancaster County District Court, but has been appealed.
No. 7—Kevin Mueller’s successful petition drive and election as Chase County Sheriff. He officially takes office today (Thursday). He defeated two-term incumbent sheriff Tim Sutherland.
No. 8—Ongoing progress with the city’s economic development property at the southeast edge of Imperial, named Cornerstone Development. It gained approval of its plat last year after drainage collection areas in it were enlarged. A marketing firm was also hired.
No. 9—Imperial swimming pool’s delayed opening in 2010 until the 4th of July due to continued leaks. Simon Contractors returned after the swim season and fully replaced the main pipe and pool bottom and extended the pipe and floor’s warranty through the 2012 swim season.
No. 10—Election of a new mayor, Dwight Coleman, and a new council member, John Arterburn, who defeated incumbent mayor Annie Longan and council member Lynn Luhrs.
Other stories considered in the voting were the new EMS building, an outside firm hired as city’s nuisance officer, the school’s first year of the Reading Mastery Program, demise of the Chase County Area Arts Council and Chase County Schools’ small 26-member graduating class.