WAHOO – At the Wahoo City Council meeting last week, the final draft of an interlocal agreement for fire and emergency medical services between the City of Wahoo and the Wahoo Rural Fire District was approve4d.

The two boards met in an open session on Sept. 26 to discuss the agreement. There, differences between the two sides were discussed and compromises met.

The rural fire board had asked the city to bill residents’ insurance companies for use of equipment owned by the rural board during a fire. The city council balked at that request because it would create a large amount of work. The rural board agreed to use monthly reports generated by the fire department if they decide to send out bills for use of rural fire district equipment.

The two groups also discussed a clause in the agreement that stated if there is an issue, the rural fire board president and city administration would create a subcommittee to look into the matter. It was agreed that Harrell would be able to select the city’s subcommittee representative, but would be a “nonvoting liaison” to the subcommittee.

The Wahoo fire chief, Cody Hull, agreed with the rural board’s request for the chief to fill out grant application paperwork for Nebraska Forest Service matching funds. The forest service loans surplus U.S. Forest Service equipment to fire departments through the Federal Excess Personal Property program.

The rural board originally asked the city council to provide the city’s strategic plan for the next seven years so they can adjust for future growth when planning major equipment purchases. Hull agreed to supply the three-to-five year capital improvement plan they create for the city that includes the entire fire district.

Wahoo City Attorney Jovan Lausterer said he made a few edits to the final agreement, sent it to the rural fire board and it came back signed. The city council’s action is the final step in the process.

In other action, Mayor Jerry Johnson announced that the new economic development director for Wahoo is Theresa Klein.

Johnson said Klein will start Nov. 1. She is replacing Doug Watts, who retired in September after 18 years in the position. The official announcement was made at the Greater Wahoo Development Foundation meeting earlier this month.

Johnson said an advisory committee sorted through the 23 applications received when the job was posted. Four interviews were conducted, which included Wahoo City Administrator Melissa Harrell and Jennifer Woita, assistant economic development director.

Klein previously worked at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Rural Futures Institute.

The city council also approved the first reading for a new franchise agreement with Spectrum MidAmerica/Charter Communications for cable service. Jeremiah Blake with Charter spoke to the council about the agreement, which expires in mid-2020. He said the new agreement will be for 10 years, with a five-year extension. It is similar to the last agreement.

Charter pays a 3 percent franchise fee to the city that is funded by a tax on bills for cable service, Blake said. That is also the same as the current agreement.

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