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Reporter

Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

Incumbent county treasurer Andy Stebbing, who finished third in the three-man Republican primary this month, posted a gracious concession note on his candidate website soon after the election.

Dear Citizens of Lancaster County, family, friends and supporters:

Thank you for voting for me and for your demonstrations of support. I am deeply grateful for having the opportunity to serve you as Treasurer since 2011. I wish to extend my congratulations to both Rachel Garver and Matt Schulte, may the best person win in November.

While it is disappointing to know I am leaving the office in 2019, I leave it knowing that I had an excellent time during my two terms and that the office flourished under my direction. We were successful in reaching every single goal each year with the outstanding team that we had assembled. I am confident in God's plan for what is next and am eager to see what He is leading us towards.

Erika Baehr and I are getting married May 25th and we couldn't be more excited about the wedding and our future together.

Thank you again, and God Bless!

Stebbing, who is facing five felony charges related to selling vehicles, had lost the support of establishment Republicans and his candidacy was not acknowledged on the county Republican website.

There were no surprises in the May primary, said county election commissioner David Shively. The percentage of early voters — those who voted by mail or in person at the election office — grew slightly, with about one-third of the almost 47,000 primary voters in Lancaster County casting an early ballot.

New downtown water mains

The city’s water department will be replacing ancient water mains downtown, along 10th and 11th streets, this summer and fall. These mains date back to the 1880s, “older than anyone living today,” and are part of the city’s original cast-iron water mains, said David J. Beyersdorf, superintendent of water distribution.

The old mains will be replaced with larger, 12-inch PVC pipes, he said.

Because of the project, traffic lanes will be closed periodically during the rest of the year, though no driving lanes will be closed on a football Saturday. Lincoln construction contracts all take into account Husker football weekend traffic issues.

There will be no main replacement along N Street, where there is a new, expensive, protected bikeway. The city updated the water system along N Street in 2012.

Recycling guy retiring

Gene Hanlon, who has been the city’s recycling manager for 30 years, is retiring this week. Hanlon became Lincoln’s first recycling manager and the first full-time recycling manager in the state in November 1987.

The local committee that helped the city decide where to site the current landfill was a visionary group that recommended the city buy extra land adjacent to Bluff Road that would be available for future expansion. Since neighbors would know the landfill would be expanding some day, there would be much less public, not-in-my-backyard opposition when that expansion took place.

They also recommended the city hire someone to start a formal recycling program to help prolong the life of the new landfill.

Hanlon learned about recycling as Omaha’s first Food Bank executive director, collecting food and distributing it to low-income folks.

Recycling in Lincoln started with the first Earth Day in April 1970, said Hanlon. A group of local citizens formed a nonprofit group, Citizens for Environmental Improvement, which ran a weekend collection service in the County-City Building parking lot. Then they created nine or 10 public drop-off sites.

The city took over that program in 1990 and expanded it to the current 28 sites, 20 in Lincoln and eight in the county.

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In retirement, Hanlon said he has some home improvement projects to keep him busy and plans on volunteering for the Nebraska Recycling Council and SHIIP (Senior Health Insurance Information Program), where trained volunteers answer questions about Medicare.

Council rotates leadership

Bennie Shobe, a Democrat and the newest Lincoln City Council member, will become the chair of the council at its June 4 meeting. He's replacing Republican Roy Christensen, who has been chair for the last year.

The council leadership positions change every year and traditionally switch between Republicans and Democrats. 

Councilwoman Jane Raybould, a Democrat who was vice chair and would typically move up to be chairperson, will be too busy with her campaign for the U.S. Senate to handle the extra duties. 

Council members will elect a new vice chair at the June 4 meeting. It's likely to be Cyndi Lamm, a Republican. 

The council leadership annually changes in the spring. 

This year the rotation is occurring a little later than usual, which allowed Christensen to remain chairman while the council and school board ironed out the agreement for supporting the Safe and Successful Kids program. That program provides city and school district funding for additional school resource officers, additional therapy for students, and more resources for after-school programs known as community learning centers.  

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.

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