Webster County Supervisors approve hire for P&Z office

A new Webster County employee will hopefully improve customer service in the planning and zoning department.

Tuesday the county Board of Supervisors hired Emma Halligan full time, to be shared between P&Z and the human resources department.

“It will be nice to have somebody,” Supervisor Mark Campbell said. “This will allow our planning and zoning person to get out more, and the office will be open all the time.”

Before, the office was closed to anyone seeking a zoning permit or other information when the department’s only employee, Webster County Planning and Zoning Administrator Chad Bahr, was out elsewhere.

“When I’m out in the field, the door was shut,” Bahr said. “So now the door will stay open.”

Bahr’s duties include investigations for the county’s dilapidated buildings ordinance, through which the county can take down old houses or buildings that have been allowed to fall apart.

The county will now look for a new sheriff’s deputy, following the resignation of Jason Bahr.

“Jason will be sorely missed,” said Webster County Sheriff Jim Stubbs. “He’s moving on to the Council Bluffs area where his fiancee moved to. It’s one of those where we knew it was coming, we just weren’t sure when.”

Bahr has been with the department for 20 years, Stubbs said. In the last few years he’s worked in the Internet Crimes Against Children division.

Stubbs said a replacement should be hired within a few months.

The list of eligible hires recently expired, so a new group will have to go through the usual tests. After applicants pass a physical test and the police officer selection test, the department will receive the list of names. After that, the department can interview candidates from that list, and send the top picks to a psych test and physical capacity test.

The county also moved forward on a process that’s important to the roads, trails and other transportation within the county.

The MIDAS council of governments has been holding public input meetings throughout the region on its 20-year long-range transportation plan, which Shirley Helgevold, MIDAS local assistance manager, presented to the supervisors Tuesday morning.

“It lays out the goals of the county and the city, and we all work together on that. It’s very important,” Campbell said. “Everybody needs a road map so we know where we’re going to go.

“It could change down the road, but we still need something in place to have some guidance.”

The long-range plan is updated every five years, Helgevold said, and this version has been worked on for the past 1 1/2 years.

“It was developed using past plans, plans from the state and different transportation networks,” Helgevold said. “We had surveys, we had meetings. As we developed the plan we sent it out to those who were interested.”

The plan deals with aviation, rail, roads, trails and biking.

It holds detailed information about construction plans in the next five years, including where the funding will come from. This information comes from the cities, counties and the state’s plans.

It also lists more general information for projects from 2014 to 2039.

The plan lists four goals to guide transportation planning and projects in the area:

• Preserve the existing transportation and network;

• Promote economic growth through safe, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly improvements to the transportation network;

• Provide safe, efficient, and economic movement of people and goods within the region, state, and nation;

• Improve mobility/accessibility of transportation system.