Questions of the Week — Readers ask about bridge, county board topics, dog responsibility

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The following questions were asked by inquiring readers


Q: When will the Blackburn Bridge finally be finished? It seems like that project has been going on forever.

A: Projections, at this point, according to York Public Works Director James Paul, are that the bridge will be finished and open to traffic in 4-6 weeks.


Q: Last year there were these “pink postcard” hearings and I understand that practice will continue on because it is state law that it has to happen. Can you explain what the purpose of this type of hearing and why do certain entities have to hold them? And who pays for the bill of sending out the postcards?

A: Due to a state legislative change last year, all taxing entities having a more-than-2% increase in tax asking are required to hold public hearings to discuss their budgets and special postcards have to be sent to all property owners telling them of the increase, the time and place of the hearing.

Last year, the postcard bill for two hearings (held at the same time) in York County came to $4,300. The county recouped those funds from the affected taxing entities, which were the York School District and the Heartland School District.


Q: If I want to speak about a topic before the York County Commissioners, how do I go about it?

A: If it is a topic in which someone is requesting action, they can go to the county clerk’s office and ask that it be placed on the agenda.

There is also a portion of each county commissioner meeting which is called the “public forum.” During that time, members of public can bring forward their thoughts on topics that are not agenda items.


Q: Who is responsible for cleaning up dog waste at the dog park? It doesn’t seem like people are cleaning up after their animals.

A: When the dog park was established, it was made clear that dog owners are supposed to clean up after their animals just as they would be expected to do so while walking them in any park or on a sidewalk.

City crews do not clean up the waste at the dog park.


Q: Who is Mincks Park named after? The other day I was there and saw the sign and figured it has to be named after someone specifically.

A: On May 15, 2003, then-mayor, Greg Adams, and the York City Council agreed to name the new park after Lucile Mincks, whose estate provided millions of dollars to projects throughout the county to benefit youth – including $750,000 as the seed money for the construction of the family aquatic center.

Development of Mincks Park began later that year, with dirt work and construction over the pool. It was noted that the park would be developed over time, likely decades. Organizers and city officials envisioned the aquatic center, covered picnic areas, green space, tree plantings, a driveway through the park and plenty of parking.

Ms. Mincks, through the York Community Foundation, left millions of dollars for a number of projects in the county, including for playground equipment installed in nearly every community, improvements to community centers, a new gym floor in the York City Auditorium and face lifts to a number of ball parks in every town. And of course, for the new pool in York as well as seed money for a new swimming pool in Henderson.


Q: The county commissioners seem to be dipping into the inheritance fund more often. My question is how much is in that fund?

A: During a recent meeting of the York County Commissioners, they said the fund balance is currently around $6 million.


Q: Why is the Nebraska State Fair always held the last week in August/first week in September, when it is the hottest time of the year?

A: We haven’t been able to find an answer to that question, except that historically it has been held at that time of year since its inception.

Incidentally, it does come immediately after the Iowa State Fair, which allows the contracted carnival to move directly from the nearby state fair to this one, as well as a number of traveling vendors.


Q: I have eggplant coming out of my ears, as my plants have really produced this year. We have fried it several times but I want to try something different as well. Any ideas?

A: One favorite is to make a version of eggplant “lasagna” which is a baked version of eggplant parmesan.

Fry the eggplant as you have before – by drying eggplant slices, breading them and then frying.

Next, in a casserole dish, start with a layer of spaghetti sauce. Then place a layer of the fried eggplant slices. The next layer is mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.

Repeat these layers three times with the cheese on the top.

Bake for a half hour until the cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbly.


Q: Why are old barns often painted red? Have you ever wondered that? I just think it’s an interesting observation.

A: According to the Farmers’ Almanac, “red was a popular color for barns, not due to its color shade but rather for its usefulness.

“Many years ago, choices for paints, sealers and other building materials did not exist. Farmers had to be resourceful in finding or making a paint that would protect and seal the wood on their barns. More than 100 years ago, many farmers would seal their barns with linseed oil, which is an orange-colored oil derived from the seeds of the flax plant.

“To this oil, they would add a variety of things, most often milk and lime, but also ferrous oxide, or rust. Rust was plentiful on farms and because it killed fungi and mosses that might grow on barns, it was very effective as a sealant. It turned the mixture red in color.

“When paint became more available, many people chose red paint for their barns in honor of the tradition.”


Q: Is it true that in the early days of York County, the rest ranches here had underground stables for horses? And they were huge underground stables? I’ve heard that story before and it just sounds wild that all this activity took place in York County so long ago, as the pioneers were moving through. Or is it just a far-fetched tale?

A: This area was a stopping place for many early-day travelers. The Overland Trail went through York County, which nearly parallels Interstate 80.

“Not unlike today’s travelers, these early day travelers were furnished with ‘rest areas’ where they had corrals for the stage and freight horses,” says an account from a county’s history book. “Some had underground stables which could hold as many as 200 horses or mules. These stopping places were called ‘road ranches’ (actually they were freight stops) and supplied basic items like flour and bacon and had facilities to make minor repairs. Many had ‘pilgrim rooms’ where travelers could sleep. They also had rather interesting names such as Porcupine Ranch, McDonald Ranch, Antelope Ranch, Jack Smith Ranch and Jack Stone Ranch.

“With the arrival of the railroad, the rest stations met their demise, being victims of progress, and they disappeared around 1869,” says the history book, “York County, Yesterday and Today.”




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