Lohr resigning from Columbus City Council, city taking resumes for new council member

1 month ago The Columbus Telegram

The City of Columbus is now looking for a new fourth ward council member.

During the Columbus City Council’s regular meeting Feb. 6, John Lohr publicly announced his intent to resign as council member of ward four. Lohr indicated personal matters were the reason behind his decision to resign, and that he spoke with Mayor Jim Bulkley about his decision.

“He (Bulkley) has graciously allowed me to stay on for another month. But at the end of that time, I am resigning my position here,” Lohr said. “It's been a great run, just great.”

According to Lohr’s biography listed on the city’s website, he is a Columbus native and Army veteran who began serving on the council in 2004.

The city will be seeking Lohr’s replacement through an application process.

“I am immediately reaching out and asking anyone that is interested in serving on our city council and that lives in ward four to please submit your resume to me,” Bulkley said. “I will field applicants through the month of February and then make a selection as soon as possible.”

The new council member would serve the remainder of Lohr’s term, through December 2024. According to a news release on the city’s website, resumes can be sent to [email protected]

“We want to see who in Columbus is eager to serve on the city council. So we will move forward and move forward as quickly as possible in that regard,” Bulkley added.

In other business, council members approved repealing an ordinance that created a downtown entertainment district.

Entertainment districts, The Columbus Telegram previously reported, allow alcoholic beverages to be consumed in a common area, and developers, community groups and business owners can apply to hold events within such a district.

A while back, City Administrator Tara Vasicek said during the council meeting, an ordinance was passed that allowed the creation of entertainment districts. That still exists, she noted.

In January 2022, the council passed another ordinance creating an entertainment district downtown. A publicly available memo states the ordinance went to the state liquor commission for the final OK but those officials did not recommend approval.

“The issue is with the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission,” Vasicek said. “The way we wrote it, (the entertainment district) was bigger and then we would have smaller commons areas. Well, the liquor control commission haven't done that and they're not interested in doing that.”

The memo, written by Planning and Economic Development Coordinator Jean Van Iperen, states that because the council previously lifted the prohibition on alcohol on public property, people can still consume adult beverages in Frankfort Square. However, the memo added, those individuals will not be able to walk with an open container between establishments and on sidewalks.

Vasicek added large downtown events can still take place in Columbus.

“We'll just have to use the SDL (special designated license) process or things like that or if there is an opportunity to create a smaller entertainment district downtown, we can do that,” Vasicek said. “The state would rather have us create smaller entertainment districts, like four smaller entertainment districts, in the downtown area rather than one and break it up into common areas.”

It is possible that a modified ordinance to create smaller entertainment districts downtown could be brought to the city council at a later time, she said.

“We can continue to do what we've done historically,” Vasicek said. “But we would like to do some other things. So we'll continue to work on it.”

Additionally, Bulkley said officials with the City of Columbus, Centro Hispano and the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce made a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit this area’s congressional delegation – U.S. Reps. Adrian Smith, Don Bacon and Mike Flood and U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer and Pete Ricketts. Officials from Fremont and Norfolk had attended as well.

“Housing, labor, child care and immigration are items that affect every one of our sister communities. They need to hear from us firsthand what is happening in our community and what we think they can do to help,” Bulkley said. “I can tell you this, the voice of Columbus is well heard in Washington. We have the ear of our congressional delegation, and they know who we are.”

The Columbus City Council also:

Heard an update from Bulkley that the traffic signal at 23rd Street and 36th Avenue – near Starbucks and Freddy’s – should be operational within a couple of weeks as the city has finally received the needed parts for it.Approved an agreement with Kirkham Michael and Associates for the design and bidding for an eight place T Hanger project at the Columbus Municipal Airport, which is in the airport improvement plan. The cost for the services is not to exceed $141,223.66. Proposed construction, according to a memo from City Engineer Rick Bogus, includes an eight place T hanger pre-engineered steel building with 45-foot bid-fold doors, 1,900 square foot yards of concrete taxiway, site drainage, electrical utilities and related work. Ninety percent of the project costs are funded by the Federal Aviation Administration and the remaining 10% funded by the city.Approved selecting a design-build delivery system – in which the city seeks a design-builder for the design and construction of a project – for the replacement of the football field turf at Pawnee Park. A memo written by Bogus states the original project, constructing field turf at the Pawnee Park Legion baseball field, will not be able to be completed this year but the football field turf replacement could be completed in August. The Memorial Stadium turf is 11 years old and is showing wear and tear. The project is budgeted for $500,000, and Public Property Director Doug Moore said during the meeting the cost is estimated at $400,000.Met the city’s new communications manager, Matt Lindberg, who will be assisting in sharing information with the public.

Hannah Schrodt can be reached at [email protected]











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