County planning fall tire collection, replacing I-80 siren on right of way


Seward County residents who did not get a chance to drop off their scrap tires at the county’s April 19 tire collection may want to pencil in time on their calendar for Oct. 26.

That Saturday is the target date Seward County Commission Chair Misty Ahmic and Commissioner Raegan Hain have set for a second, somewhat revamped free scrap tire collection.

The grant-funded event in April was expected to last two days, but the collection site hit its maximum capacity on the first day and the second day was cancelled. Some of the surprises at the first scrap tire collection in 10 or more years included more tires than expected, more large loads of tires on larger trucks than expected and a perception that a few of the estimated 260 participants were unloading tires from out-of-county stashes. 

Ahmic said the fall tire collection will be limited to Seward County residents and will specify the size of trucks coming in.

The first event was funded by a $48,050 Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy grant for the $135 per ton cost of having the tires hauled away and ground up for use at the Butler County Landfill. The county can seek that grant only every two years.

However, Ahmic said they will be looking for grant opportunities and still have a small balance in the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) fund to begin to finance another event. 

Also at the commissioners meeting May 28, the board circled back to the issue of an emergency siren near the Seward Interchange of Interstate 80 being moved and updated.

The commission on Dec. 19 voted to replace the siren and related equipment that had for many years been on a pole on private property and connected to the property owners’ power. Alyssa Hendrix, one of the current property owners, had asked for the siren to be updated and county officials wanted to make sure lines were connected to county-owned power connections at the interchange.

Ahmic said current county officials are not aware of any memorandum of understanding or agreement being formally adopted with the current or previous landowners.

Hendrix said that the old siren did not activate during recent storms, and the sheriff’s department was asked to test its ability to alert area residents to emergency situations. The commission in December voted to purchase a high power, directional rotating emergency siren and related equipment totaling $29,838 to update and transfer its power sources to county-owned power connections at the Seward Interchange. 

The commissioners were in a fairly unusual situation when they split 2-3 on their plan to sign a utility easement for C & A Complex Management LLC for the siren to be kept on private property where C & A moved the pole during construction in the area. Hain and Ahmic voted in favor of that plan, but John Culver, Darrell Zabrocki and Ken Schmieding voted against the plan, instead asking Seward County Emergency Management Director Gary Petersen to find a county right of way at the interchange where a new pole could be installed for the new siren equipment.