August 22, 2014

Nationstar slashes more jobs in Scottsbluff

A Texas-based mortgage company is cutting more jobs at its office in the Nebraska panhandle.

Officials with Nationstar Mortgage say they plan to eliminate another 90 positions at the firm’s facility in Scottsbluff.

The cuts are expected to start within a matter of weeks, during September and October.

Back in March, Nationstar announced it would be terminating at least 100 personnel in Scottsbluff.

The new round of cuts will leave less than half the staff of a year ago, with about 150 regular employees and another 50 on contract.

Company officials point to major changes in the mortgage industry over the past year.


Cargill pays nearly $200K in fines for failing to plan properly

Cargill has paid $187,500 in fines to the federal government for failing to have emergency plans in place for “worst-case” oil spills at its storage facilities in Blair and in Eddyville, IA.

The Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 announced the settlement in which Cargill, headquartered in Minnetonka, MN, pays a civil penalty.

According to the EPA, Cargill failed to have a Facility Response Plan (FRP) for the facilities as required by the Clean Water Act. Each of the facilities produce and store more than a million gallons of oil. They have a combined storage capacity of more than 7 million gallons.

“The Clean Water Act requires large oil storage facilities to have adequate response plans to prevent a spill from turning into a large-scale environmental disaster,” said Karl Brooks, EPA Region 7 administrator said in a written statement released by the EPA. “The lack of a Facility Response Plan for these facilities can have serious consequences for humans and the environment in the case of a spill. This settlement helps protect the communities of Blair, Neb., and Eddyville, Iowa, if spills were to occur.”

The EPA says it discovered the lack of planning during sections of the two facilities last year.

Farm Credit Services of America joins alliance with Frontier Farm Credit

Farm Credit Services of America is expanding.

The Omaha-based agricultural credit company will enter an alliance with Frontier Farm Credit of Kansas, beginning next year.

Farm Credit Services President Doug Stark says the alliance benefits both companies.

“Well, in the case of Kansas customers and Frontier, we’re going to bring our resources, our size and scale and capacity to bear along with our technology and business processes,” Stark tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate WNAX. “For the Farm Credit Services of America customers, it’s an opportunity to spread our costs over a greater base of customers as well as they have some business services: taxes, record keeping, and business consulting that we don’t have.”

Farm Credit Services of America serves Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Stark forecasts a smooth transition. Frontier Farm Credit stockholders still have to approve the alliance.

Jerry Oster, WNAX, contributed to this article.

Study: New buildings under construction meeting code for energy conservation

So far, so good.

A statewide spot check by the Nebraska Energy Office is finding most new buildings under construction are meeting guidelines laid out in what’s known as the International Energy Conservation Code.

Ginger Willson, director of the state Energy Office, says they looked at 38 commercial buildings across Nebraska in different stages of construction.

Willson says, “Overall, just with the statewide average at 83%, we were very happy that we are making some very progressive and positive steps forward in building code compliance.”

The code requires 90% compliance by 2017 and Willson says this check allowed the state to form a baseline and understand areas of compliance that need improvement by that deadline.

Willson says, “The report gave us some very good recommendations on what we could do to focus training in certain competency areas and knowledge of the code, such as the building envelope, the HVAC systems, the lighting systems, those types of things.”

Willson says students from the University of Nebraska were extremely helpful in completing the check.

She says future energy code education and experience in knowing and checking compliance for those codes will be a focus for architecture and construction management students.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


Large chicken farm proposed for southeastern Nebraska

Gage County leaders will consider a special permit next week for a proposed poultry operation that would be one of the state’s largest. The facility would be built near Blue Springs with six buildings to house more than 150,000 chickens.

James Zimmerman says he’s researched modern methods used by MBA Poultry near Tecumseh where 26 barns are computer-regulated for temperature and airflow.

“When you walked in there and kicked the litter, the litter was actually dry and how they keep it dry is the computer system,” Zimmerman says. “It constantly regulates everything inside the building. The building is completely closed. That’s how they keep the odor down.”

Forty-six nearby property owners have been notified of the plan. The nearest residence is over a half-mile away, meeting county zoning regulations. A management plan for the operation has been submitted to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, regarding control of animal waste.

Addressing the issue of potential odor, Zimmerman’s wife Marie says they have a significant stake in making sure the operation is run properly.

“We will do what we’re supposed to,” Mrs. Zimmerman says. “We will maintain the buildings like we’re supposed to. This is our livlihood. This is where we’ll get our income and this is what we really truly want to do and we want to do it the right way. There isn’t anything we haven’t researched. We’re going to be living there.”

Gage County is one of several that have been earned the identification as “livestock friendly” in Nebraska and the operators are making a good faith effort to be good neighbors.

By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice