Board of commissioners focus on safety, risk identification projects


Formalizing the county’s employee driver safety program and planning for potential storms or disasters beyond 2024 were key topics for the Seward County Board of Commissioners Feb. 14.

Commissioner Darrell Zabrocki, who represents the county on the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association, said the county has a policy requiring employees who drive county vehicles to take initial and then periodic refresher driving courses.

“We frankly have not been as diligent as we should have been in implementing” that plan, Zabrocki said. But NIRMA offers course options that will enable the county to offer either in-person group courses or some online courses.

“The idea is to make our employees a little more aware of things in the safety area,” the commissioner said.

Zabrocki worked for 40 years as an insurance claims manager and adjuster and said NIRMA provides risk-reduction activities for 86 of Nebraska’s 93 counties, as well as some Nebraska agricultural societies and aging partner organizations.

He said the county has experienced “for the most part, minor” accidents and some worker compensation claims recently. In addition to making the work environment safer, the emphasis on accident reduction is important in saving taxpayer funds that might be needed for vehicle repairs and deductibles.

“It’s just one of those things that if we could do things proactively, it’s a win-win situation,” he said.

Zabrocki will be joined by Commissioner John Culver and officials from York and Hamilton counties to work on the Upper Big Blue Mitigation Committee now being formed.

Seward/York County Emergency Manager Gary Petersen said the current mitigation plan expires at the end of this year, so a new plan will be put together identifying potential hazards and work that could mitigate hazards in the three-county Upper Big Blue region.

Projects and issues in the plan could include flooding, tornado safe rooms, sirens and other emergency protections, and the plan helps the region qualify for any Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency grants and programs in 2025 and beyond.

In other action, the board:

• Authorized the one- and six-year road plan public hearing for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 5.

• Entered into a $1.9 million contract with Midwest Infrastructure, Inc., of Lincoln, one of eight bidders for the grading, culvert, seeding, guard rail and bridge project near Beaver Crossing, which will be administered by the Nebraska Department of Transportation and may be eligible for federal funding to offset local funding.

• Discussed grants the county is seeking, accident claims and legislative activity.

• Presented life-saving awards.

• Meeting as the Board of Equalization, approved motor vehicle tax exemptions for two Seward churches.