The Seward County Board of Commissioners meets every Tuesday morning on the third floor of the Seward County Courthouse. Meetings begin at 9 a.m., except the first Tuesday of the month, which begins at 8:30 a.m. The meetings are open to the public.

During its July 16 meeting, the Seward County Commission heard an annual report from representatives of Nebraska’s Fifth Judicial District Probation Office.

According to District 5 Chief Probation Officer Carrie Rodriguez, the office served 267 clients in Seward County last year, which is down from 307 clients the previous year. That number included 233 adults and 34 juveniles, with 17 of those juveniles being removed from their home at some point during their supervision.

“We work really hard to try to keep juveniles in their home and try to fix the home environment,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said District 5 had a 16% recidivism rate for adults on probation, which is defined by law as a person having been released from probation and committing a new offense within three years.

“That’s a pretty good recidivism rate with the state, as well as comparable to the rest of the country,” Rodriguez said.

The juvenile recidivism rate, which is calculated by the number of new offenses within one year, was 17% last year.

“As of June 1, the statewide average was 25%,” Rodriguez said.

The office’s budget request, which is calculated by comparing population data and the number of clients served with other counties in the district, dropped $2,203 from last year to $28,176.48.

“It came up to $594,000, about what it would cost if the county had to pay for the services that probation provides through the state,” Rodriguez said.

In other business, the board:

• approved a partnership with Ameritus to refinance bonds that funded the Justice Center.

• approved a compensation policy freeze and mandated no wage changes without commissioner approval while the policy is under review for what is estimated to be four weeks.

• was told by Commissioner Mike Mundhenke that he followed up on road and weed complaints the board received the week prior.

“I didn’t really see that much wrong,” Mundhenke said in regard to the roads.

Commissioner John Culver concurred.

“I didn’t see a lot of concern,” Culver said. “We are making progress on the roads.”

• accepted a corrected county clerk fee report for June of $22,236.40, which was a $50 change in what was reported previously.

According to County Clerk Sherry Schweitzer, the person in her office who usually handles that calculation was on vacation, and the person who filled in missed a purchase.

• heard from Highway Superintendent Casey Keim that his department plans to purchase a Verizon network fleet subscription that will allow GPS tracking of 46 county vehicles.

“There was a motion passed last year about any machinery we’re getting we want to have GPS,” Keim said.

Keim said this subscription will give his department the ability to keep track of all active vehicles, which could come in handy in emergency situations, such as if a snow plow needed to be rerouted to clear an emergency route during the winter.

According to Keim, the subscription will cost just under $10,000 a year.

“It’s already in the budget I submitted to you guys,” Keim said.

• designated Izaak Walton Road and 294th Road from Highway 15 to Highway 34 as an alternate truck route.

“We’ve been working with the city of Seward and the NDOT on this for a little while now,” Keim said.

According to Keim, the county will incur no cost in putting up signage. 

“This is just really kind of helping to create awareness that this bypass is here, and that will help alleviate some of the strain on [highways] 15 and 34,” Keim said.

• rejected all bids for supplying and hauling gravel for the county and reopened the bidding process because the bids came in higher than expected.

• heard from Keim that the county is down to 18 road closures from March flooding and that his department is 60% done on a reflectivity study of road signs.

• acknowledged that the board would reclassify a half mile section of Davey Road between 420th and 434th roads from a minimum maintenance road to a local road following road improvements.

Prospective residents who hope to build a house along the road in the near future brought the request to the highway department because a policy exists that prevents construction along minimum maintenance roads, according to Keim.

Improvements will be paid for by the prospective residents but will be monitored by the county, Keim said.

• accepted the county treasurer’s annual investment report.

• approved a special designated liquor permit for the Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership for an event on Sept. 21 at the Seward Municipal Airport.

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