Since last month’s city council meeting, there has been a change in plans from where the initial refugees from Ukraine will be staying.

The Norfolk City Council voted 8-0 Monday evening following a discussion to approve all three readings of an ordinance to suspend certain applicable sections of city code addressing zoning and building requirements. That is necessary to allow for the placement of emergency temporary housing on property owned by Behavioral Health Services.

The emergency temporary housing units will be on private properties owned by Behavioral Health Specialists at 923 E. Norfolk Ave., 105 Recovery Road, 107 Recovery Road and 111 Recovery Road in Norfolk. The area is just west of the roundabout in eastern Norfolk on the north side of Norfolk Avenue.

Andy Colvin, city administrator, said the situation with the refugees continues to be “fluid” since the last city council meeting last month. At that meeting, the council voted to allow temporary housing structures on Orphan Grain Train property on Seventh Street.

“Plans have changed, and a private party in the community, I believe, has purchased that site (the old Behavioral Health Specialists property),” Colvin said.

“We’re just allowing placement of these structures on that overall property to the north of that, the same thing we did with property on Seventh Street ...,” Colvin said.

Mayor Josh Moenning asked if this property would take the place of the Seventh Street property.

Colvin said he wasn’t sure.

City attorney Danielle Myers-Noelle said she hadn’t been advised that the Seventh Street location would not be used.

If the city wanted to rescind its actions from last month allowing the structures at Seventh Street, it could, she said. But Myers-Noelle said she would not suggest doing that until it learns that is wanted.

Colvin said he had heard “anecdotally” that structures may not be placed on the Seventh Street site.

Councilman Gary Jackson asked if anyone knew how many refugees would be coming. There was nobody at the meeting representing the refugees.

Plans were shared late last week with the Daily News for 22 people to arrive in Norfolk on Wednesday, Aug. 10.

The refugees may have a few items packed in a couple of suitcases, but they will have left behind most of their clothing, their furniture, their family heirlooms, their toys, their homes, their friends and relatives. They will have spent 30 hours flying from Romania, to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, and finally to Omaha. They will spend one night there before traveling to Norfolk, the last leg on the journey to a new life.

One group of refugees will be accompanied by Mike Anderson, a former Norfolkan now living in Arizona, who has been doggedly fighting to bring refugees to America since Russia invaded Ukraine in January.

Anderson even went to Romania in April and sent back stories telling of their plight. Two other men will accompany the other two groups.


The Norfolk City Council met Monday evening at the Norfolk City Council chambers.

Council members present: Mayor Josh Moenning, council president Rob Merrill, Kory Hildebrand, Gary L. Jackson, Corey Granquist, Frank Arens, Andrew McCarthy, Shane Clausen and Thad Murren.

Council member absent: None.

Meeting lasted: One hour, including a 10-minute executive session to discuss a financial settlement to avoid possible litigation.

Others in attendance: City staff, about 10; media representatives, two; and about five from the public.

CONSENT AGENDA

All council members voted in favor of the consent agenda except for council member Andrew McCarthy, who abstained.

— Approved an agreement with Red Beacon Communications and District TT Hospitality, allowing the closing of a portion of West Norfolk Avenue to host a Mimosa Fest event that includes, but is not limited to, the sale of alcohol, live music performances and food truck vendors from 7 a.m. to midnight on Saturday, Aug. 13.

— Approved an agreement with Ankle Deep, doing business as Mint Bar, to close a portion of Northwestern Avenue to host a street dance event that may include, but is not limited to, live music performances, the sale of alcohol and food vendors from 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, to 3 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11.

— Approved a special designated liquor license for St. Paul's Lutheran School to serve beer and wine at 1010 Georgia Ave. on Saturday, Sept. 3, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. for a block party — Pioneer Days — to include food trucks and music.

— Approved a special designated liquor license for Jim's Fine Wine and More, 2001 Market Lane, to serve wine and distilled spirits at Magnolias, 432 W. Norfolk Ave., on Saturday, Aug. 27, from noon to 7 p.m. for a sampling and tasting event.

— Approved a special designated liquor license for Jim's Fine Wine and More, 2001 Market Lane, to serve beer and wine at Sacred Heart Parish, 2300 W. Madison Ave., on Sunday, Sept. 11, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. for a beer garden and wine tasting event.

— Approved forwarding a letter of no recommendation to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission on the manager application of Emily J. Steadman in connection with the Class I liquor license of Blazin Wings, doing business as Buffalo Wild Wings 719, 2019 Krenzien Drive.

— Approved forwarding a letter of no recommendation to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission on the Class C (beer, wine, distilled spirits, on and off sale) liquor license application for NOFO Restaurants, doing business as NOFO Pizza & Cafe, 501 W. Norfolk Ave., and the manager application of Caleb K. Nihira.

— Approved forwarding a letter of no recommendation to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission on the Class I (beer, wine, distilled spirits, on sale only) liquor license application for Fenders, 426 W. Norfolk Ave., and the manager application of Daniel Orwa.

— Approved a right-of-way agreement and acceptance, temporary easement and warranty deed for a tract between Greater Norfolk Economic Development Foundation and the City of Norfolk for the First Street bridge project for $5,110.

— Approved a change order with Rutjens Construction Inc. for Water Extension District 127 (Channel Road), resulting in a net decrease of $1,904.

— Approved a resolution extending the city's LARM (League Association of Risk Management) participation up to Sept. 30, 2025, and including a requirement of at least 180 days’ notice of intent of termination.

— Approved a resolution for the final plat and subdivision agreement of Valley View Apartment Subdivision.

— Approved advertising for bids for one current model semi-tractor for use at the transfer station.

— Approved advertising for bids for a trailer for the transfer station.

— Approved all bills on file.

PUBLIC HEARINGS AND RELATED ACTION

— Conducted a public hearing and voted to declare a blighted and substandard area referred to as the Big Red Keno Area. Also approved an accompanying resolution.

REGULAR AGENDA

— Approved the second reading of an ordinance annexing a tract of land generally located southeast of the intersection at Highway 35 and East Benjamin Avenue. The ordinance passed on first reading July 18.

— Approved a change order with Elkhorn Paving Construction Co. for the Concrete Improvements 2021-1 project resulting in a net increase of $68,162.

— Approved a resolution to allow placement of emergency temporary housing units on private properties owned by Behavioral Health Specialists, 923 E. Norfolk Ave., 105 Recovery Road, 107 Recovery Road, and 111 Recovery Road in Norfolk. (See page 1 for more.)

— Approved ordinance No. 5798 to suspend certain applicable sections of Norfolk city code addressing zoning and building requirements to allow for the placement of emergency temporary housing on private properties located at 923 E. Norfolk Ave., 105 Recovery Road, 107 Recovery Road, and 111 Recovery Road in Norfolk.

— Approved a settlement agreement between Elkhorn Valley Ethanol and the City of Norfolk related to the company’s appeal of water and sewer assessments.

In other news

A 22-year-old Norfolk man is in the Madison County Jail facing a range of charges following a lengthy standoff Saturday and reportedly shooting at a residence in central Norfolk around 6 a.m. Saturday.

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia and Ukraine traded accusations Monday that each side is shelling Europe's biggest nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. Russia claimed that Ukrainian shelling caused a power surge and fire and forced staff to lower output from two reactors, while Ukraine has bl…