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NATASYA ONG PHOTOS, SCHUYLER SUN 

Schuyler Food and Toy Drive volunteers Alejandro Parker-Diaz, left, and Alexis Wilch wrap toys on Saturday at the Colfax County Courthouse to be delivered to families in need.


Schuyler
City approves recycling operation

Duane Kroeger, owner of Kroeger Sand & Gravel, spent the last seven years helping Schuyler business owners and residents recycle concrete without realizing he needed to rezone his property and acquire a permit.

Despite the road bump, Kroeger received the thumbs up from Schuyler City Council members during the Dec. 18 public meeting. They unanimously approved the rezoning of Kroeger’s 3.48-acre tract of land next to The Scalehouse, 974 Road E, across from Cargill, 590 Co Road 9, and issued him a Special Use Permit. Council members also waived the three-reading rule to amend the zoning map.

Although the tract of land is located outside of city limits, City Attorney Dick Seckman said it still lies within the city’s zoning district. Because of that, Kroeger had to rezone his property from an Agricultural District to a General Industrial District in order to move forward with his recycling operation.

The request also received unanimous support from the Planning and Zoning Commission prior to the Dec. 18 city council meeting.

As a result, community members can drop off broken concrete during daylight hours from Monday through Saturday at the site.

Kroeger purchased the tract of land seven years ago and installed a gravel pit. The Schuyler native said that’s when community members started approaching him about dropping off broken concrete at his site.

“I thought, 'might as well,' because they need a place to dump it,” Kroeger said.

Since then, Kroeger has opened his land to people wanting to dispose of concrete.

“It just took off,” Kroeger said. “I mean people (started coming in) weekly, daily … It got to a point where there were a lot of people bringing stuff.”

After five years of gathering broken concrete, Kroeger decided two years ago to start outsourcing a crusher to recycle the piles into crushed concrete for sale.

Kroeger said the overall recycling concept provided a win-win situation for his business and the patrons. His business profited from the sales of crushed concrete while community members have an environment-friendly way of disposing of broken concrete.

“It went over tremendously,” Kroeger said. “I mean we are selling until right now.”

If not for his operation, Kroeger said people might end up throwing away their concrete in ditches and creeks.

In August, Kroeger received an unexpected visit from Union Pacific representatives. The company was in the process of replacing old railroad ties and were looking for places to drop them off. Kroeger ultimately made a deal with the company and has been gathering ties ever since. Kroeger said he plans to crush them at the end of the year. There are approximately 38,000 ties on site and Kroeger said he’s expecting to receive 60,000-100,000 more.

Kroeger said the ties are also available for purchase. He noted community members have used them to line creeks, build fences and fill pivot tracks.

As piles of ties began to occupy his land, Kroeger said that was when word of his operation reached city officials leading to their involvement.

“Somebody turned us in,” he said. “(City officials) said we didn’t have a permit. Well, I didn’t even know I needed a permit.”

However, Kroeger said he did not get in trouble for his operation. He said city officials were helpful with ensuring he can continue the business justly.

“The city really helped me out to get this going,” Kroeger said.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for the Schuyler Sun. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.


Schuyler
Schuyler Public Library wants youth to be productive

Movies, board games and puzzles are just some of the many activities offered at the Schuyler Public Library in an effort to encourage youth to be productive during their winter break.

“We just wanted to provide a place for kids to spend some time,” said Library Director Jenny White.

Schuyler Mayor Jon Knutson, whose wife is a regular patron of the library, said it’s important for students to remain active during winter break. Knutson said activities provided at the library can help youth step away from video games and encourage socializing with their friends.

“Reading is a direct correlation to success in school,” he said.

And White said she couldn’t agree more. She said the library provides kids with a safe place to be productive whether they choose to read or watch movies.

White said she had to put winter break activities on hold last year because she was still learning the ropes of her current position in addition to preparing the move to its current location, 108 E. 18th St.

But, White said she’s more than prepared to move forward with the activities this year.

These programs have been available to the general public since Wednesday. They will run until Saturday, Jan. 3, 2019. Throughout winter break, library patrons will also still have computer access.

White said movies will be played from now until Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, on the big screen inside the library’s Cargill Room. There are showtimes for “Wallace & Gromit,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “School House Rock,” “Back to the Future,” “Won’t You Be By Neighbor?” and several Pixar short films.

Board games will be out in the Brokenicky Room from 1-3 p.m. on Monday through Friday and from noon-1 p.m. on Saturdays.

For those looking for more relaxing activities, White said boxes of puzzles are available throughout winter break.

White said people don’t usually complete the entire puzzle in a day, instead, they leave finished segments on the table for the next person to continue.

White said it’s interesting to see how people work together to complete puzzles. She said it’s good for youth to spend time with one another through various forms of entertainment.

Those wanting to learn more about these activities are encouraged to log onto the library’s Facebook page at SchuylerPublicLibrary or call 402-352-2221. Library hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The library will be closed on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019.

White said she’s working on introducing more programs to the library and increasing outreach.

“I think everybody should spend some time at the library,” White said.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for the Schuyler Sun. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.


News
Cattau eager for new county board role

Lynton Cattau said he benefited so much from being born and raised in Colfax County, so it only makes sense for him to want to give back to it.

“It’s one of the best lives I think I could have. Colfax County is rural - everyone knows their neighbors. I’ve been here all my life and I thought it was about time I contribute,” he said. “I want to make it so everyone enjoys the good life in Colfax County.”

Cattau has lived in Leigh his entire life and been serving Colfax County as a road grader for nearly two decades, but just before Christmas was appointed to the county’s District 1 Board of Commissioners seat by a committee made of Colfax County Clerk Rita M. Mundil, Colfax County Attorney Denise Kracl and Colfax County Treasurer Janis Kasik. Cattau was appointed to the position during the most recent Board of Commissioners meeting, where it was also decided he wouldn’t take office officially until Jan. 1, according to Kracl. Cattau will finish out the two years left on the term of the late Jeffrey Bauman, who unexpectedly passed away earlier this year.

The county received 10 solid applicants, according to Mundil, who added the committee felt good about Cattau.

“He just interviewed very, very well, and we believe he will be a great asset for the county,” Mundil said.

Cattau expressed his enthusiasm for joining the board.

“I am excited about getting in there to try to do my civic duty to help out,” he said. “I enjoy working with the roads and the public. I just thought this would be a good thing for me to do.”

A big part of what drives Cattau is family – he’s a family man at heart. He and his wife, Diane, a third-grade teacher at Centennial Elementary School in Columbus, have been married for 40 years. They have two grown daughters (Whitney and Jess) and five grandchildren. Whitney is married to Andrew Sunderman, who together have two daughters and a son. Jess is married to Michael Fry, who have a son and a daughter.

“Family has been important all my life,” he said. “I do what I can for them.”

When he takes office, Cattau said he plans to work to maintain taxes at a decent rate and improve rural county roads. His experience with roads and where he lives played a part in why he was chosen for the county board, Kracl said.

“He has years of experience in the roads department and he lives in the more northern portion of the county,” Kracl said, noting the seat covers the area from Richland to Leigh, as well as western and southern parts of Schuyler. “He did an excellent job in the interview and I think he’ll do a good job as a county commissioner.”

Cattau said he wants residents to know they can count on him to do his best and that he will be available to them.

“I consider myself a very responsible person,” he said. “If you need something, my door will always be open to talk. If you have problems, we can work together to get them addressed.”

Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at mattlindberg@lee.net.