HOLDREGE — Tri-Basin Natural Resources District soon will be the new owner of the Holdrege Armory building, which will be used as a new shop, for storage, and renovated to include meeting space for NRD and possibly public use.

Tri-Basin General Manager John Thorburn told the Hub the NRD board voted Tuesday night to use cash reserves to purchase the 14,000- square-foot armory and 2-acre site from Industrial Pipelines.

Because the sale isn’t closed yet, he couldn’t talk about the purchase price. He hopes the purchase will be finalized by July 1 and that renovations and some moving in can start by fall.

Thorburn said that when the building was constructed in 1955 it was the first pre-cast concrete slab armory in the United States, “so it will be very low maintenance for us.”

A lease with the Holdrege Airport Authority for a current shop building will be terminated.

Also Tuesday, the board voted to take 2020 sign-ups for the new Water Conservation Incentive Program until the board’s limit of 8,000 acres has been reached. Contracts are for five years.

Thorburn said 1,449 acres were enrolled for 2019.

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He said NRD officials knew they were rolling out the WCIP close to planting season, which meant many producers didn’t have sufficient time to consider enrolling for 2019.

The program is for irrigators who agree to use less water on one or more fields in Gosper, Phelps and Kearney counties. Payments are up to $5 per acre-inch of water not applied and flowmeters must be installed on wells to measure water use.

The Tri-Basin board set a payment limit of $40,000. The money is set aside in a Nebraska Community Foundation fund and originally was earmarked for a J-2 reservoir project that will not be built.

Applications must be completed at the NRD office in Holdrege or with NRD representatives at U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service offices in Elwood and Minden.

The greatest interest in WCIP was expected in Gosper County’s Union Township. It’s the only Tri-Basin area with irrigation allocations — 27 inches over three years — because of groundwater depletions.

The less-irrigation-use standards for other areas are based on average irrigation required to grow corn as determined by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Kearney County, 9 inches; Phelps County, 10 inches; and Gosper County, 11 inches.

In other business, the Tri-Basin directors issued a cease-and-desist order against Mike Cavanaugh of Minden, a board member.

Thorburn said the order means Cavanaugh cannot use a well for irrigation until a dispute over terms of the well permit are resolved. Cavanaugh’s next option is to appeal the board’s decision to district court.

In other business, the board:

- Approved buying a 2019 Ford F150 pickup from Janssen & Sons Ford of Holdrege for $16,868, with a 2012 Chevy pickup as trade in.

- Was told talks are underway with Holdrege landfill and Lower Republican NRD officials about a grain bag recycling project within Tri-Basin next year.

- Was told that Grant Edgecombe of Minden, a Chadron State College student, and Zach Temple of Holdrege, a UNL student, are the NRD’s summer interns.

- Was told Tri-Basin will work this summer with the Two Rivers Public Health Department to trap mosquitoes for West Nile monitoring.

- Was told that tools were stolen and an attempt was made to siphon fuel from a vehicle at the Holdrege office April 25.

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