Questions of the week — Readers ask about junk, tree limbs and mashed potato cake

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The following questions were asked recently by inquiring readers:


Q: There is a property in our neighborhood that is a mess – garbage is stockpiled and there are all kinds of junk in the yard. Is there a municipal code in York regarding junky properties?

A: Yes, there is. Municipal code calls for properties to be maintained, for health hazards to be eliminated, for garbage to be taken away from properties, for junk vehicles to not be on residential lawns, etc.

The city does issue warnings to residents, giving them an opportunity to clean up their properties and if the property owners do not respond, sometimes citations are issued. There have also been properties that eventually were taken to court over matters and some properties have been cleaned up by the city with liens placed on the properties for that purpose.

If there is a big problem that needs to be addressed, residents can contact the city offices or the city police department. Officials will then begin the process of working with the property owner/tenant/resident to address the problems.


Q: There is a place in York where the tree limbs hang down so low it is becoming a hazard. Does the city have an ordinance that says how low a tree can go over public places, like over sidewalks and streets?

A: Yes, the city does have an ordinance addressing this.

There must be a clearance of eight feet over sidewalks and 13 ½ feet over the portion of public streets and alleys used for vehicular traffic.

Also, if there is a particular problem area the reader thinks city officials should look at, they can contact the city offices.

The city’s public works department has the legal ability to trim all trees that do not provide for that amount of clearance in public right-of-ways.


Q: Who is the head of the city’s wastewater treatment plant?

A: The manager of the wastewater treatment plant in York is Chris Wize.


Q: Thank you for sharing those priceless recipes from the St. John’s cookbook and other old church cookbooks. They really are special and we know they are very tried and true because those ladies were willing to put their names with them – it would have been unthinkable for them to share them if they weren’t the best of the best!

That said, I’m looking for a recipe my aunt just called “Easy Lemon Pie.” I think it used condensed milk. It was just delicious and I’ve never been able to figure out how she made it.

A: We found a recipe called “Easy Lemon Pie” in the St. John’s cookbook that was provided by Mrs. Fred Knievel.

It is pretty simple – just mix together one can of sweetened condensed milk, one can of frozen lemonade, ¼ teaspoon of lemon flavoring and one carton of Cool Whip. Mix it together and pour it into a graham cracker crust. Just refrigerate until it firms up and it’s ready to serve.


Q: I was intrigued by the number of building permits that have been issued for replacing all the roofs in York, following last year’s big hail storm. My question is why does the city require a building permit to replace a roof?

A: The City of York requires a building permit to identify the contractor, location, cost and requires an inspection of the work to be completed. The inspection ensures the residents are getting quality service/repair and that the repairs are completed per the International Residence Code (IRC 2018) that the City of York has adopted, according to the York public works office.


Q: I am addicted to watching cooking shows and I was curious as to who was the first “TV chef” who had a cooking show on television?

A: The advent of cooking shows on television is credited to the one and only Julia Child. Her show, “The French Chef,” debuted in 1963.


Q: Thankfully, we haven’t heard much lately about the bird flu. My question is what symptoms are we supposed to look for, with our chickens, to know if they were sick with bird flu.

A: The Nebraska Department of Agriculture says symptoms of avian flu in poultry include: a decrease in water consumption; lack of energy and appetite; decreased egg production or soft-shelled, misshapen eggs; nasal discharge; coughing; sneezing; uncoordinated movements; and diarrhea. The disease can also cause sudden death in birds even if they aren’t showing any symptoms and it can survive for weeks in contaminated environments. The department of agriculture also says poultry producers large and small should monitor their flocks for symptoms of avian flu, review and maintain their biosecurity activities, and notify the department immediately if they suspect any problems.


Q: How long has FFA been an institution? I see so many kids who are and have been involved in FFA, who have benefitted so greatly in so many ways.

A: The Future Farmers of America was founded by a group of young farmers in 1928. Their mission was to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population. They also wanted to teach youngsters that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting – it’s a science, business and an art.


Q: Does the City of York spray for mosquitoes in the summer?

A: The practice of spraying for mosquitoes was discontinued in York many, many years ago because citizens complained about the associated noise, smell and possible negative health effects. So the practice was eliminated.


Q: Does anyone remember a recipe for mashed potato cake? Years ago, The Amish Cook had one in her column and I didn’t keep it. I’d love to make it again. It was so good. I just wonder why potatoes would make a cake so good.

A: We found it. Here it is, for mashed potato cake:

Cream one cup of butter and two cups of sugar in a mixing bowl until fluffy.

Add two eggs and beat well.

Add one cup of cold mashed potatoes, one teaspoon of vanilla, two cups of flour, ½ cup of cocoa, one teaspoon of baking soda, one cup of milk. Mix well.

Pour into a greased 9×13-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until cake tests done.

The theory behind the mashed potatoes is that it gives a good consistency and moisture because they are all starch and water.


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