Three Lincoln County department heads will get a 6-percent raise and another will get a 12-percent increase, the county commissioners decided Monday. The raises will help bring salaries into line with similar positions and salaries in other counties, according to a 2009 salary study.
The salaries are just for appointed department heads. Salaries were set a year ago for elected county officials.
Lincoln County Roads Supervisor Jerry Hitchcock will get an increase from $51,000 to $54,060.
Emergency Management Director Dan Guenthner received the biggest percentage increase -- a 12-percent raise -- from $36,000 to $40,560. Guenthner, who gave a quarterly report to the commissioners later in the meeting, also was authorized last year to buy a new pickup and hire a part-time administrative aide.
Veteran’s Service Officer Paul Cooper received a 6% boost from $35,750 to $38,000 a year. And, Noxious Weed Superintendent Rodney Yost will get $40,280, up from $38,000.
Commissioner Joe Hewgley recommended the new salaries. Willis Roethemeyer said the raises were generally what he had in mind and Duane Deterding agreed.
Noting that the salaries are comparable with a survey of three years ago, Deterding said "I think those figures are what I can live with, you betcha."
Emergency Manager Dan Guenthner said federal money has been cut for planning, exercises and training to deal with emergencies in south central Nebraska.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency grant was cut from $250,000 to $94,000.
A similar state grant will be cut by 8 percent, Guenthner said. The state agency (Nebraska Emergency Management Agency) will likely keep that much more to offset a cut in federal money.
Nevertheless, Guenthner plans to organize a “fully functional exercise” in September to replicate a disaster, so emergency workers, hospital crews, news media and others will know what needs to be done if a disaster strikes.
Guenthner thanked the commissioners for allowing him to hire a part-time administrative aide.
“This has helped immensely with the workload but not totally eliminated the need,” he said.
Guenthner said he helped coordinate efforts during the snow and ice emergency in mid-December, when I-80 was closed off and on for more than 24 hours.
A dozen semi-trucks piled up between North Platte and Gothenburg – many in the same accident. Guenthner worked with the Nebraska State Patrol and Department of Roads to close the road, inform the public and get vehicles parked.
Also, Guenthner said the statewide Paraclete radio system that allows law enforcement and emergency crews to communicate is working, but he stopped well short of giving it a ringing endorsement.
He said the radios work within 15 miles of an operating tower, but coverage is limited because the signal does not repeat.
If someone has a Paraclete radio, they can act as messengers, receiving a call from any agency and transmitting to another agency. Otherwise, agencies cannot always communicate by radios.
“They have their benefits, but they also have some issues,” Guenthner said of the radios.
Lincoln County has eight Paraclete radios, he said. NEMA is testing new digital radios that might be better, he said.
Hewgley - chairman
In other action, the board elected Hewgley as chairman for the year. Deterding is vice president.
Individual commissioners also agreed to represent the county in the following groups – Hewgley will sit on the Region II Human Services, North Platte Economic Development Corporation, Economic Development Task Force, Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Advisory board, coordinate the American with Disabilities Act compliance and the Front Road overpass project (Birdwood Crossing).
Deterding will sit on the West Central Area on Aging, North Platte Senior Center Advisory Committee, Drug Task Force and be an alternate to the West Central Development District. Deterding will also oversee drug testing of employees, along with Deputy County Attorney Joe Wright.
Roethemeyer will sit on the West Central District Health Department, West Central Weed Management Agency, Sandhills Resource, Conservation and Development district, West Central Development District and continue as coordinator of the Lincoln County Jail Project.
North Platte resident Roland Coker volunteered to represent Lincoln County on the Mid-Nebraska Community Services board, replacing former commissioner Don Haws.