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

The Lincoln City Council is struggling with an unusual mix of neighbors at the shopping center near 68th and P streets, east of Russ’s Market.

Cosmic Eye Brewery, with a taproom for enjoying local beer, wine and cider, is hoping to open in August, two doors from the People's City Mission's new Help Center, where people come daily to donate or pick up donated items.

Cosmic Eye Brewing

Sam Riggins plans to open Cosmic Eye Brewing at the old Laser Quest location near 70th and O streets. His proximity to Joseph's College of Hair Design requires a waiver from the city for a liquor license.

It's also around a corner from Joseph’s College Cosmetology and needs a waiver from the rule prohibiting a liquor business from being within 300 feet of a college or university.  

The council delayed any decision on the liquor license and manager's license for a week to work on a solution.

The owner of Joseph’s doesn’t have any problem with Cosmic Eye Brewery and wrote a letter supporting the waiver. 

But Pastor Tom Barber, CEO of the city mission, is concerned. The mission has employees and people picking up donations from the Help Center who are struggling with alcoholism, he said.

"It's not a good idea to put a liquor store next to a mission," Barber said.

He hopes the hours of Cosmic Eye don’t overlap with the Help Center's hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

But the brewery wants to open earlier in the afternoon.

The mission signed a seven-year lease for its building, unaware of the brewery's interest in a nearby site.

“Now I’m stuck there for seven years,” Barber said.

Cosmic Eye owner Sam Riggins points out his beer prices — $5 to $10-plus for 8 to 13 ounces — don’t encourage binge drinking and often don’t appeal to young people.

Others point out that people who want a drink can walk to the nearby grocery store or other restaurants.  

Riggins also said he began negotiating for the space two years ago, before either the mission or the school signed leases.

Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm said she will probably ask the council to consider requiring Cosmic Eye to open in the late afternoon during the week.

If the council agrees, she assumes the brewery will appeal and the issue will move to the state Liquor Control Commission for a final decision.

Filling The Bridge funding gap

The Bridge Behavioral Health, the nonprofit agency that provides the detoxification program for local police, will not get any money from the state to help fund that program in the next fiscal year. 

The Bridge board has decided not to seek accreditation for the program, a new funding requirement by the state Behavioral Health Division.

That means it won’t get $100,000 in state funding, nor will it get about $50,000 in Medicaid funding. Medicaid says it won’t pay for involuntary programs, whether accredited or not.

Tuesday, the Lancaster County Board agreed to make up $100,000 of that loss in the next fiscal year and will ask the city to take care of the additional $50,000.

The Bridge may also seek some funding from the Nebraska State Patrol, whose officers also bring people to the detox unit. 

The Bridge's civil protective custody program, often called detox, serves people brought in by local police who are too drunk or high to take care of themselves, detoxing them for up to 24 hours. In another era, these men and women would have gone to a drunk tank in a jail.

The agency also runs a social detoxification program, a voluntary program that is accredited by the national accreditation agency.

Tammy Stevenson, executive director of The Bridge, explained the reasons for declining to seek accreditation in a letter to state Department of Health and Human Services leaders.

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In that letter, Stevenson described the importance of providing a safe environment with 24-hour nursing care, along with interventions and resources. She chastised the state Division of Behavioral Health, which has provided funding to support civil protective custody for at least two decades, for its decision to no longer help with that program.

“We will continue to work with our stakeholders and community leaders and research best practices,” the letter said.

“Sadly, the division and Region V will not be a part of that process, as the division is unwilling to recognize the services we provide to approximately 2,500 individuals per year. To say this is a step backwards is an understatement.”

Still at stake is state licensing of the civil protective custody program. That decision will not take place until September. Stevenson has said the agency will not continue to offer the detox program if it can’t get state licensing.

Cardboard picked up almost daily

A picture posted on a Facebook site shows a pile of cardboard sitting in front of what appears to be a full cardboard container at a north Lincoln recycling site. The caption implies cardboard hasn’t been picked up for two weeks.

That’s not true, based on city’s records, where hauler Von Busch & Sons reports picking up the cardboard every day except on Tuesdays last month and into July, including July 4.

City Solid Waste Management staff also inspect the sites at least twice a week. 

In June, the hauler reported two Wednesdays when cardboard was on the ground at the time of service, according to Holley Salmi, spokeswoman for Public Works and Utilities. 

All city recycling collection sites have some kind of attention almost daily — either Von Busch staff picking up cardboard and other recyclables or city staff monitoring sites.  

Residents who use the free city recycling sites can help keep sites clean by collapsing their cardboard so it will better fit in the containers and filling the containers from back to front.

People with questions, concerns or overflow reports can contact the city recycling office at 402-441-8215 or recycle@lincoln.ne.gov.

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

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.

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