Scribner residents fight to remove fertilizer site

Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 6:26 PM CST
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SCRIBNER, Neb. (WOWT) - Dodge County officials are taking action after a series of investigations into complaints from an entire community.

6 On Your Side first exposed a fertilizer storage site that forced neighbors to live with a horrendous smell.

Downtown Scribner would be a great location for a Hallmark Christmas movie if producers don’t read reviews.

Elizabeth Valla, Scribner Economic Development said, “I get a lot of comments on our Facebook that say, cute town if it didn’t smell like crap, except they use a different word.”

For about four years ethanol from corn by-product has been stockpiled near the old Scribner airbase.

In a letter to the Dodge County Board Environmental Land Management states, there will no longer be any material stored there.

While those smelly mounds of grain byproduct fertilizer are gone, they can’t come back for 90 days because of action taken today by the dodge county board.

No non-animal waste can be stockpiled in dodge county during the moratorium while zoning laws are written to control issues like odor and flies.

Lon Strand, Dodge County Supervisor said, “I think we have a lot of information in front of us that tells us we need to stop this, we should have stopped this before, but we didn’t.”

The farmer who leased the land to the fertilizer stockpile operator sees both sides of the controversy.

Don Witte, the landowner said, “It’s a great fertilizer, production off the ground that has had that is wonderful. Have they handled it alright? Naw they haven’t”

Transporting the natural fertilizer to farm fields caused a surge of truck traffic on country roads around Scribner. But now it’s a lonely drive through the area.

Karen Hunke, a country homeowner said, “This is the way it’s supposed to be, quiet you know I can hear a tractor and personal vehicles, not 20 trucks an hour.”

The environmental land management letter states, “That we do not intend to stockpile any biomass the odor-causing material at the Scribner airbase going forward.”

Stephanie Waters, a neighbor said, “We should help farmers anyway we can, but it can’t be at the expense of the citizens.”

Until Dodge County adopts regulations in the next three months an air of skepticism will linger over whether the smelly fertilizer stockpile might return somewhere in the area.

A state aeronautics representative says the fertilizer stockpile attracted more birds and removing it should make it safer for private planes still using the old airbase. Now the land has been cleared the landowner plans to plant a crop like oats.

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