LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Officials in Nebraska and Wyoming were scrambling Thursday to respond to an irrigation tunnel collapse that cut off water to more than 100,000 acres of farmland in both states during one of the hottest and driest times of year, a major threat to the region’s economy.
The collapse prompted governors from both states to declare an emergency, freeing up state resources to help local officials and laying the groundwork to request federal assistance.
The 14-foot-wide tunnel that collapsed is part of the Fort Laramie Irrigation Canal that runs above and below ground, delivering water from a pool created by the Whelan Diversion Dam on the North Platte River to eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska. The arid region is dominated by irrigated farms that rely on the water to grow corn, sugar beets and alfalfa, but may have to do without for the next month.
“It’s 95 degrees right now and there’s no chance of rain,” said Rob Posten, general manager of the Goshen Irrigation District in Wyoming. “This couldn’t have happened at a worse time.”
Posten said officials still don’t know why the 102-year-old tunnel collapsed or how much it will cost to repair the damage. Engineers are currently working on a temporary fix to shore up the tunnel that will cost an estimated $2 million and could take up to 25 days to complete. Posten said recent inspections of the tunnel found no major concerns. The tunnel is about 100 feet below ground.
The collapse caused water to back up on the Wyoming side and bust through the canal’s walls, said Michael Pearlman, a spokesman for Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon. The breach flooded nearby farmland and prevented any more water from flowing down the canal.
Pearlman said Gordon “recognizes that this is a serious emergency.”
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts promised to use his state’s resources to help farmers who have lost water “at a critical time in the growing season.” The canal provides water to about 55,000 acres of Nebraska farmland.
Posten said his 12-member staff is working 16-hour days to try to fix the damage and brought in a contractor from St. Louis to help.
Although they haven’t confirmed a cause, officials believe the tunnel may have collapsed because of unusually heavy spring rains and snowfall that saturated the soil above it, said Nebraska state Sen. John Stinner, who represents part of the affected area. The waterlogged soil would have placed substantially more weight on the tunnel.
Stinner said farmers in the area are trying to remain positive.
“Everybody’s hoping we can get a break in the weather. Some rain would be helpful,” he said. “It’s a day-by-day thing.”
Nebraska state Sen. Steve Erdman, a farmer who lives in the area, said the breach will cause major economic damage in western Nebraska that could reverberate through the whole state.
Erdman said farmers who are affected will likely see major losses, and the state may have to help cover the canal and tunnel repair costs. Unlike storms that damage crops in one swoop, the sudden loss of water is forcing many to decide whether they want to continue investing in this year’s crop to try to salvage what they can, even though they’re at risk of losing it all.
“It weighs on your psyche,” Erdman said.
NORTH PLATTE — Troopers with the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) have arrested a California man and seized 18 pounds of THC shatter following a traffic stop on Interstate 80 near Brule.
At approximately, 7:25 p.m. Wednesday, a trooper observed an eastbound Nissan sedan fail to signal a turn at the Interstate 80 exit at Brule, near mile marker 117. During the traffic stop, a search was conducted.
The search of the vehicle revealed 18 pounds of THC shatter hidden inside the door paneling. The shatter had an estimated street value of more than $400,000.
The driver, Connor Egide, 25, of Petaluma, California, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver. Egide was lodged in Keith County Jail.
*All individuals included in this post are innocent of crimes until proven guilty in a court of law. The Panhandle Post assumes no legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, or completeness, of this information. Any person who believes information provided is not accurate may submit a complaint via the “Contact Us” tab on the homepage.
Box Butte Co:
-Levi Clouse, Class 3 Misdemeanor, Drive under suspension before reinstated by state
-Michael Valdovinos, Class W Misdemeanor, DUI, Infraction, Possess/consume open alcohol container
-Brandon Stites, Class 1 Misdemeanor, Domestic assault 3rd degree, Class 1 Misdemeanor, Assault cause bodily injury to person, Commit child abuse negligently/no injury
-Jacob A Adamson C, Class 2 Misdemeanor, Theft-unlawful taking $0-500, Class 3 Misdemeanor, Minor in possession
Scotts Bluff Co:
-Adrian Solis, DUI , Shoplifting
-Carl Thomas, Terroristic Treats
-Christopher Haun, DUI , Shoplifting
-Christopher Torres, Theft
-Benjamin Paez, Protection Order Violation
-Valentine E High Hawk, Class 2A Felony, Assault 2nd degree
-Taure L Lame, Class 1 Misdemeanor, Domestic assault
-Kaylynn Lovejoy, Class 1 Misdemeanor, Domestic assault 3rd degree
-Aaron Alcorn, Class 4 Felony, Possess controlled substance, Class 3 Misdemeanor, Unlawful acts relating to drugs
-Leah Witchey, Class 3 Misdemeanor, Criminal mischief $0-500
-Audra Johns, Infraction, speeding, possess marijuana 1 oz or less
-Elroy Catches, Class 2 Misdemeanor, Drive during revocation/impound
-Timothy Durbin, Infraction, possess marijuana 1 oz or less
-Devon Winter, Infraction, possess marijuana 1 oz or less
-Ronald Lee, Class 2 Misdemeanor, Violate harassment protection order
-Daniel Warby, Class 2 Felony, Assault 1st degree
First National Bank Alliance branch president John McGhehey visited our Eagle Radio studios in Alliance today to announce the winners of “Teachers Rule”, a contest held by FNB and Eagle Radio. Nominations from all over the panhandle came in to honor outstanding teachers, and two such teachers were randomly selected to receive a gift card for use in purchasing classroom supplies.
Here is a portion of John’s appearance on AM 1400 / FM92.5 KCOW to announce the winners.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has issued a state emergency declaration following the collapse of a major tunnel that transports water from Whalen Dam in Wyoming to Scotts Bluff County in Nebraska.
Ricketts plans to visit the Scottsbluff area Thursday to consult with local officials. The emergency declaration came late Wednesday afternoon amid concerns that the collapse is disrupting the water supply, which is vital for irrigation.
Ricketts says he’s been in frequent contact with Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon and state lawmakers from the area.
The irrigation tunnel typically serves around 55,000 acres in Nebraska. Government officials, engineers and natural resources managers are working to restore the supply.
Wyoming officials have said they found a short-term solution to get water flowing.
Alliance – Baker and Associates will be hosting a sunken garden renovation community input session on Thursday, July 25 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center, 908 Yellowstone Avenue.
Light refreshments will be provided and all members of the community are encouraged to attend and participate in this process.
For more information, please contact the City of Alliance at (308) 762-5400.
NORTH PLATTE — Troopers with the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) have arrested two people and seized several controlled substances, including 16 pounds of methamphetamine, during a traffic stop on Interstate 80 Tuesday near North Platte.
At approximately 8:10 a.m. Tuesday, a Nebraska State Trooper observed an eastbound BMW sedan speeding near mile marker 175. During the traffic stop, the trooper detected the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle.
A search of the vehicle revealed several controlled substances, including 16 pounds of methamphetamine, and smaller amounts of heroin, cocaine, prescription pills, and marijuana. Troopers also located three loaded handguns in the vehicle.
The driver, Richard Adams, 27, of Corona, California, and passenger, Kacee Jones, 26, of Wichita, Kansas, were arrested for numerous charges related to possession of controlled substances, possession with intent to deliver, possession of firearms during the commission of a felony, possession of drug paraphernalia, and other related charges.
Both were lodged in Lincoln County Jail.
On July 5, offices at the Box Butte County Courthouse were closed briefly after a Hemingford man was reported as driving across the courthouse lawn and entering the courthouse with a weapon.
Patrick Weber, 44, of Hemingford, faces felony charges from the incident at the Box Butte County Courthouse on July 5, and misdemeanor charges from a trespassing incident in Hemingford on July 4.
According to the Affidavit for Custody, on July 5, at 8:30 a.m., law enforcement was dispatched to the courthouse after three 911 calls and a call from an office in the courthouse reported that a person was “driving ‘crazy across the front lawn and parked at the front door and walked in with some kind of weapon.’”
Sheriff Tammy Mowry “requested courthouse employees shut their doors to protect themselves.”
When law enforcement officials from the Alliance Police Department and the Box Butte County Sheriff’s Office arrived, they found Weber on the second floor of the courthouse carrying a 33” Stihl Hookaroon with a 3” spike. He was “preaching Biblical references and stating law enforcement was ‘worthy of redemption,’” the affidavit states.
When a deputy approached Weber, he told the deputy he was “worthy of being saved” and ran down the stairs toward an officer who attempted to use a Taser on him.
Weber was taken into custody outside of the courthouse and brought to the Box Butte County Jail. He faces the charges of terroristic threats, a class 3A felony, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, a class 2 felony, and disturbing the peace, a class 3 misdemeanor.
In the case arising from the incident on July 4, a complaint filed against Weber charges him with first degree trespassing, a class 1 misdemeanor, criminal mischief—$500-$1,000, a class 2 misdemeanor, and disturbing the peace. He is accused of breaking a doorjamb and pulling the eyehook out of a wall of the house he is accused of entering.
The Gering Police Department is asking the public’s assistance in helping find a missing teen.
Gering Police Captain Jason Rogers said, “He was reported missing a little before 3 a.m.”
“As we get information on reported sightings we’re asking that local enforcement agencies or anybody with information…we’ll forward that to the appropriate agency where the sighting happened and see if they can follow up on it for us,” Rogers said.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of Crable, call the Gering Police Department at (308) 436-5089.