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Nevis council joins push to lower speed limit on 34

Nevis city officials will ask the state Department of Transportation to conduct a speed survey on Highway 34 through the city, after DOT officials said an upcoming resurfacing project would not fix a dangerous intersection.

The aim is to lower the 50 mph speed limit on the highway that bisects the burg and has been the site of numerous accidents.

Resident and Highway 34 business owner Justin Isaacson took on DOT engineers at a pre-construction meeting last week, criticizing them for failing to address the safety aspects of the project. Where Highway 34 intersects with County Roads 2 and 13 is treacherous, Isaacson told DOT personnel.

"It was made clear by the DOT that the intersection angle was not going to be changed due to insufficient funding" to acquire the right-of-way needed, Isaacson wrote in a letter asking for a petition to lower the speed limit.

"It was also made clear by me that you cannot put a value (on) human life," Isaacson wrote.

Lowering the speed limit is reasonable, city officials said.

"It's a very good idea," said council member Paul Schroeder, cautioning he's not in favor of the study if Nevis has to foot the bill.

"Even lowering the speed limit to 40-45 would reduce your chances of an accident that much more," said Nevis /Hubbard County deputy Jeff Stacey.

"It could be a huge cash cow for the city" if Stacey were to ticket offenders, Isaacson told a snickering audience.

"We'd be saving lives and making money for the city," Isaacson reasoned.

But from a safety perspective, Isaacson said "there are so many people coming in and out of the intersections" along Highway 34 is dangerous because "there is no straight line of sight."

In other action, the council:

n Authorized a 3 percent raise for all city workers beginning next pay period at the urging of mayor Dave McCurnin, who said the increase had been budgeted for. He said it was hard not to reward hard-working city employees who had foregone raises in tougher times for the sake of the city's bottom line.

"I've got no problem with it," Schroeder said, warning that it would be a year-to-year decision depending on the city's finances.

n Congratulated the manager of the Municipal Liquor Store for innovative ways to drum up business. Due to summer festivals and promotions the flagging profits of the "muni" are on the rebound, the council was told. The July 2010 profit and loss statement showed the muni in the black by $17,895 after months of losses or small gains.

Authorized purchase of propane from Gas Service, the low bidder of three companies. If purchased now, the city can buy at $1.49 per gallon. The standard winter rate will be $1.59, 6 cents cheaper than the other bidders.

n Denied a variance to the Hubbard County Housing and Redevelopment Authority to continue building a single family home downtown on a concrete slab too close to the street right-of-way.

Council member Karl Dierkhising explained the structure was originally supposed to have a basement but due to a limited budget, will now be built on the slab.

But the Planning Commission determined the footings for the slab do not meet the 30-foot setback requirements of the zoning code. So recommended a denial.

The council agreed, ordering the foundation hole to be filled in by October 15 and the home be moved back if built on the lot.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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