Questions of the Week: Readers ask about data mining by NPPD, fire station, tomato skins

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The following questions were asked this week by inquiring readers:


Q: What is taking place at the corner of Highway 34 and Division Avenue, just east of the Nebraska Public Power District operations center?

A: The activity at that area is in preparation for a new $8 million data mining venture.

Nearly a year ago, BginUSA selected the City of York as the location for their next data mining complex. At the time of the announcement, the company said they expect the $8 million endeavor to create five to eight jobs.

The data mining project will bring about 30 units of computer servers and an office to the north end of the plot which the company purchased from the city (this area was owned by the municipality as its second industrial park).

As Lisa Hurley, executive director of the York County Development Corporation, explained, “Data mining development fits York well because it brings sizable new revenues and new investments to the community without competing for workers in this tight job market.”

During city council meetings, leading up to the land sale, Nicole Sedlacek, economic development manager from NPPD, presented information on data mining as a valuable economic development opportunity for York. Data mining operations generate revenues for the city through the city’s electricity lease agreement with NPPD as well as city sales tax revenues on electricity sales.

According to Mayor Barry Redfern, the council has been very supportive of efforts to recruit a data mining operation to the city. City officials have been working with YCDC and NPPD to recruit data mining enterprises to locate in York.

Mayor Redfern noted that “BginUSA’s purchase of the city’s industrial lot to develop their data mining business provides an opportunity for the city to move into a cutting-edge technological industry.”

York provides an attractive location for data mining because of the low electric rates and energy capacity that NPPD provides in the area that can be put to data mining uses.

Bin Shu, BginUSA manager from the Omaha office stated at the time of the land sale, “We selected the City of York not only because it can provide the power that we need, but also because of the intelligent and hardworking people we’ve met there. The people make the difference we need to succeed.”

The York project will help them meet the growing demand for scalable, cost-effective digital infrastructure solutions for highly specialized computing needs.

NPPD has experience working with data mining in other communities. A component of their preparation for data mining projects involves studies to ensure that the York system has the necessary capacity for the data mining project so that the project does not in any way risk the power supply for other users.


Q: How many dogs are allowed, per home, in the City of York?

A: York’s municipal code says it is unlawful for any person to keep or harbor more than two dogs and/or three cats unless the property is located in the industrial zone and a special use permit is obtained.


Q: I want to get some baby chickens next year. What are the rules in York about where they can be?

A: The city’s municipal code says chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese or similar fowl have to be at least 50 feet from any building used by another as a residence, a place or dwelling or a place of business.


Q: First, I believe and know the York Fire Department has outgrown the current fire station and I am in support of the fire department building a new station, There are several new stations being built in Nebraska and most are in the tens of millions. Land has been purchased. Is there a design of what the fire station will look like and is the property adequate for future needs? And if they are now hiring a build engineer, how does the city know what the needs are for the station? What is the budget for the project? Are the funds to be bonded or is there enough in the fire department funds to fund this huge project?

A: The property that was purchased was determined to be large enough, following a study of the fire department’s needs.

The fire department and city officials toured a number of new facilities (which have paid/full-time employees) to determine what the costs and needs might be.

The project is still in the very early stages and design/build engineer will assist with formulating the needs, design, etc.

The city has been setting aside funds for this project, but bonding will likely need to take place.

All these questions will be answered in the next few years, as the city moves forward with the process.


Q: I have so many fresh tomatoes in the garden. This is my first year of gardening. I want to make homemade tomato sauce. What is the best way to take the skins off for this process?

A: Blanche them. Boil water, briefly put them in. Have an ice bath ready in waiting. Briefly put the tomatoes in the boiling water, pull them out, throw them in the ice bath. The skins will readily come off, by using your hands and/or a paring knife.


Q: How big is the house that the Siegels built, the largest house in America, which was featured as being owned by the Queen of Versailles? There was a reality show about it and a couple of documentaries. A co-worker and I were talking about it today.

A: The house in reference is a 90,000-square-foot house belonging to Westgate Resorts founder David Siegel and his wife, Jackie. It continues to be under constructed. It was named and modeled after the Palace of Versailles in France. Once completed, it would be one of the largest single-family homes in the United States.

Construction began in 2004. Work stalled in 2009 with 60% completed as Siegels’ company encountered financial difficulties. The house was listed for sale at $65 million. With the company’s improved finances as of 2013, Siegel resumed construction.

The house, when finished, is estimated to appraise at $100 million, which would make it the fourth most expensive house in the United States.

Once completed, the residence is supposed to include nine kitchens, 14 bedrooms, three indoor pools, two outdoor pools, a video arcade, a ballroom with the maximum capacity of 1,000 people, a two-story movie theater, a 20,000-bottle wine cellar, an exotic fish aquarium, two tennis courts, a two-lane bowling alley, a baseball diamond, a formal outdoor garden and an elevator in the master bedroom closet. Now that the couple’s children are older, modifications are to include a yoga studio and a teenager’s cave with a second move theater.







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