Dirt work has begun on the Wilber reservoir/dam rehabilitation project on Shimerda Street, advancing phase one of the project. 

A planning committee called Pathways to Progress has been involved with the project since January 2016. 

“We’re going to start seeing some action (on the project),” committee president Sheryl Kastanek said.

Kastanek reached out to Scott Sobotka of the Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District about utilizing the space. The dam was originally built in the 1970s for flood control. 

Plans for the project include not only reconstruction of the dam, but a fishing pier, picnic shelter, public restrooms and a walking trail. 

Funds for phase one have been met, costing an estimated $420,000. Kastanek said grants were secured by Nebraska Game and Parks, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy and the city of Wilber among others. 

There are also community donors who have contributed to funds for the rehabilitation. 

This past February, the city entered an inter-governmental agreement with NDEE for a one-year extension of a $255,000 trust fund. 

Gana Trucking and Excavating was contracted in September to complete the dam rehabilitation and Olsson Associates is the engineering firm behind the project. 

“The dam is the base of the whole project,” Kastanek said. “This was definitely a team effort of many people working together for the good of a great community project.”

As long as the weather is compatible, dirt work will continue on the east side of the dam within the next few weeks. Because of this, Shimerda Street will be closed during the day starting Dec. 18, Gana project manager Tim Lempka said. 

“We’re probably going to have it closed for the rest of the month,” Lempka said. 

He said it will be open on Christmas Day for travelers and evening hours will depend on weather. 

The street closure was approved at the Wilber City Council’s Dec. 10 meeting. 

The next steps of the dam rehabilitation include the removal of sediment and installation of a seepage filter, as well as a safety berm.

A completion date for the project is undetermined as any work proceeding will depend on the weather, but is tentatively set for early this spring. 

 hope@sewardindependent.com

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