The Fremont City Council will reconsider the city’s recent sale of land within the Fremont Technology Park to Dodge County for a proposed Joint Law Enforcement Center during its meeting on Tuesday.
The reconsideration was requested by council member Glen Ellis during the council’s Jan. 29 meeting and approved by a 6-2 vote after the original sale was approved by council on Dec. 20, 2018. The ordinance to sell Dodge County half-interest in 25 acres — or 12.2 acres — for $201,300 was approved by a unanimous 8-0 council vote at that December meeting.
During the Jan. 29 council meeting, Ellis brought forward a request to reconsider the land sale citing concerns about potential open meetings law violations regarding the December sale to Dodge County, and a potential conflict of interest regarding the city’s original purchase of the 81-acre Fremont Technology Park back in 2011.
The potential open meeting violations involve meetings between city and county officials, as well as a $15,000 feasibility study approved by council in November 2017 which was conducted by Prochaska & Associates to research the creation of a Joint Law Enforcement Center to house both the Fremont Police Department in Dodge County Sheriff’s Office.
“There may have been potential open meeting violations, so I want to make sure that the council and the public are fully informed on this matter before further actions are taken regarding this property,” Ellis told the Tribune. “From my investigations, it looks like maybe the results of that study have never been brought back to the council.”
During council discussion regarding Ellis’ request to reconsider the sale of land at the Jan. 29 council meeting, Ellis also entered documents into the record regarding the original purchase of land by the city from Pannier Family Investments, LLC.
Ellis told the Tribune that he began looking into the matter after raising questions concerning the city’s obligations related to a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) awarded to the city by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development for the development of the Fremont Technology Park.
Terms of the CDBG grant awarded back in 2011 require the city to pay back the $982,892 grant by 2020 if it cannot secure a business or businesses to relocate to the Fremont Technology Park resulting in the creation of 31 new jobs at $15 per hour before that deadline.
“(During the Dec. 20 council meeting) the mayor answered my questions and added some additional commentary, including the fact that the city purchased the property from Roger Pannier,” Ellis said. “This name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t connect it.”
The city purchased the 81.2 acres of land east of Yager Road and south of 32nd Street to develop the Fremont Technology Park in 2011 from Pannier Family Investments, LLC.—-which is owned in-part by Roger Pannier — for $1.624 million.
Pannier is also a co-owner of Getzschman Heating and Air and served as the treasurer for Mayor Scott Getzschman’s mayoral and Metropolitan Community College Board of Governors campaigns, according to information from the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission website.
“My intent is to make sure the citizens of Fremont and the council have all the facts about this land before we move forward,” Ellis said. “I am not against the sale of the land or the Joint Law Enforcement Center, I just want to make sure we, the city council, make informed decisions for the city.”
During its meeting on Tuesday the council will also consider:
* Ordinance 5493 amending sections of Chapter 2 of the municipal code to adopt public comment period (second reading).
* Receive an investigatory status report for Resolution 2019-019 from the city attorney, and/or receive and discuss documents and the final written legal report regarding the investigation into any potential open meetings violations relating to city resolutions and ordinances, which were continued at the Jan. 8 city council meeting.
* Receive an investigatory status report for Resolution 2019-020 from the city attorney, and/or receive and discuss documents (provided by city clerk) and the final written legal report regarding the requested information pertaining to mayoral and council committees and their public notices, minutes and recommendations made regarding various city resolutions and ordinances which were continued at the Jan. 8 city council meeting.
* A resolution to request and authorize the city attorney to provide a written supplemental investigatory opinion focusing on Nebraska State Statute and/or city code violations findings as depicted in prior report received by city council on Jan. 29 as well as the accountability, liability and action plans required as a result of this factual investigation and legal analysis of the unpaid earnest money/escrow and other expenses and fees resulting from purchase agreement signed by RTG Medical Inc. and City of Fremont.
* Discussion of internal city policy addressing Resolution 2019-021 passed Jan. 29 that required city staff to provide or give access to individual council members, or the collective body, access to documentation, information, data, financials that was effective upon adoption of the resolution.
It was only Jamie Williams’ second year in the NFL when his coach decided to feature him against Lawrence Taylor.
Then a tight end for the Houston Oilers, Williams would face Taylor, a multi-year pro linebacker for the New York Giants. Older players on Williams’ team were brutally honest about what Williams was up against.
“Man, you’re going to get killed,” they said.
But Williams’ coach reminded him of his past successes and the young tight end used what he today calls “cognitive competence.”
Williams talked a lot about cognitive competence and the value of adversity when he spoke Monday at Midland University as part of its Black History Month celebration.
At least 100 people, mostly students, filled the university’s private dining room to hear Williams’ “Warrior Through Adversity” talk.
Williams, who lives in Lincoln, played for the Huskers under Coach Tom Osborne, then 12 seasons in the NFL, mostly for the Houston Oilers and San Francisco 49ers.
Today, he is a founding adviser of the Bulgarian Entrepreneurship Center and has a doctorate of education in organizational leadership from the University of San Francisco.
He serves as faculty for Varna Free University Masters in Entrepreneurship in Bulgaria.
At Midland, Williams seasoned his talk with quotes ranging from philosopher Aristotle to comic book champion, Conan the Barbarian, and Star Wars hero Yoda.
Williams quoted Aristotle who described men as social and political animals.
But Williams sees things differently, instead viewing students as being warriors on a hero’s journey.
Referring to literature, Williams used examples of characters with less-than-illustrious beginnings, who set out on a hero’s trek.
“Harry Potter came out of a closet. Frodo was a little hobbit. He came out of a shire, but look where they ended up. Many of the guys I played with back in the day had journeys like that. I had a journey like that,” he said.
He pointed to Jerry Rice, who came from a small town in Mississippi and went on to become one of the best wide receivers in NFL history.
Williams grew up in Davenport, Iowa, where he said kids went sledding, watched butterflies and traded comic books, dreaming of becoming heroes.
“That’s why we won state, city and conference championships, because we were willing to dream and be like the warriors we read about,” he said.
Williams carried that superhero mentality into the national athletic arena.
A Sports Illustrated magazine photographer captured a shot of Williams reading a “Conan the Barbarian” comic book during halftime of the Super Bowl game when the 49ers won the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos.
Even before going into a game, Williams’ fellow athletes had him recite a quote from Conan. In part, the quote talked about Conan who had “gigantic melancholies” or very low points in life and “gigantic mirth,” times of happiness.
Williams has pondered this statement and made a decision.
“I’m going to have gigantic melancholies, but I want to work my way to gigantic mirth,” he said.
During his talk, Williams stressed the skills students need to be like Conan, which include:
“That’s what the best athletes do,” he said, describing former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana as “cerebral” and a “System 2 thinker” with his strategies.
When asked by a student, Williams provided his own experience of putting cognitive competence to work — which occurred when he was set to face the formidable Lawrence Taylor.
Before that game, Williams watched films of Taylor, noticing how other players had failed against him.
Williams soaked in advice, taking notes, from pro linebackers and stayed after practice, working on certain steps. He ate right and went to bed early.
During the second half of the game, Williams noticed that if he was on one side, the Giants’ coaches put Taylor on the opposite side.
“We lost the game, but I got the game ball, because I neutralized him – because I met the challenge and I didn’t do it with just brawn, I did it with cognitive skills,” Williams said. “I out-thought him. I did all kinds of little games on him. I’d make him think I was going out for a pass and I’d hit him right in the chest … I’d do all these cerebral things on him to get his mind discombobulated to the point where the coaches had to take him off me.”
In his comments, Williams also stressed the importance of a liberal arts education, telling students that every class helps them to become a System 2 thinker.
Williams stressed other things students should do which include:
Embrace your humanities classes.
Do things with the common good in mind.
Know what’s taken place in the past.
Learn about different cultures.
After his talk, Williams told the Tribune that he hoped students realize “they must take on the future with vigor, cognitive strength and a healthy dose of imagination and adversity.
“They’ve got to understand that getting knocked down and getting scar tissue is part of building strength.”
Williams wants athletes to embrace the opportunity to challenge themselves like ancient warriors.
He also said: “Everybody should celebrate Black History Month — because the journey of African Americans from bondage to their current place today is a realization of the ideas set forth by the Founding Fathers. It shows that the things that are ‘self-evident’ can and do happen, maybe over a long process, but it does happen.”
The Fremont Public Schools Board of Education approved contracts with two cleaning companies that will help clean three area elementary schools after hours and nights.
School officials say the contracts were needed to address a two-year-long drought of applicants for vacant custodian positions to help address second-shift cleaning needs at the elementary school level. It marks the first time that Fremont Public Schools will contract with an outside party for school cleaning services.
The contracts will go to Jani-King, which will be responsible for second-shift cleaning duties at Linden and Washington elementary schools, and FBG, which will handle second-shift duties at Clarmar Elementary School. The contracts, combined, will not exceed $112,344.
“We have advertised positions in the paper, on the district website, participated in hiring events in conjunction with the Fremont Area Development Council and and also utilized Indeed, an online ad agency, to no avail,” said Jeff Glosser, facilities manager for Fremont Public Schools.
“Due to the lack of applicants over the past nine months and the need to keep our schools clean, area cleaning services were contacted to gauge interest, and based on those conversations, a request for proposals was created.”
Superintendent Mark Shepard noted that the decision would actually save the district money, at least initially, though he noted that cost was not a factor in the decision as much as a need driven by labor shortages.
Glosser added that no current staff members’ jobs would be jeopardized by the decision. However, if the new direction proves successful, the district may potentially look to handle all of its custodial needs with this approach.
But such a shift would only occur through attrition — or only as vacancies naturally arise, Glosser said.
Currently, the schools rely on borrowing staff members from other buildings to handle the three buildings where there are custodial vacancies, but the job “is really not getting done,” Shepard said.
The administration will meet with these two companies on a weekly basis to ensure quality control.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the board ratified the 2019-2020 negotiated agreement with the Fremont Education Association. The agreement featured some language changes, that amounted to changes in extra duty schedules and changes to language surrounding leave of absence.
The total compensation package, approved in a Jan. 25 vote by the Fremont Education Association, increased by 3.5 percent. Base pay increased from $35,067 to $35,699. The flat salary stipend, used to pay for benefits, increased from $7,500 to $8,000.
Doug Sheppard, president of the Fremont Education Association, said that agreement had a 94 percent approval rating with the association.
In other news from Monday’s meeting:
*The board approved the 2019-2020 calendar for the Fremont elementary schools, Johnson Crossing Academic Center, middle school and high school. The calendar followed parameters approved by the board during its December meeting. During that meeting, among other parameters, the board voted to end the practice of early dismissals on Wednesdays. It was crafted by a committee representing each of the buildings in the district, as well as all of the grade levels and board members.
*The board approved a request to grant an early dismissal at Fremont High School on April 2, to coincide with building-wide ACT testing. On that day, all 11th grade students will be taking the ACT as all 9th and 10th graders will be taking the PreACT. The day will run from 8:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., and seniors will have no school.