Jefferson County Historical Society combats rising prices to fix Rock Island Depot roof
FAIRBURY, NE — A group in southeast Nebraska trying to preserve history.
The Jefferson County Historical Society is working to secure funding to be able to fix the roof of the rock island depot in Fairbury.
It's an effort that's carried on well over a year. The group says the building needs a new roof after being damaged in hail and wind storms. Since, the building is historical, however, it can't be just any shingles, per requirements from the Nebraska Historical Society.
The tiles need to be historically accurate to the building. That comes with a hefty price tag, according to Eric Prellwtiz.
"With the way the economy is, the prices are just going up," Prellwitz said. "It's an uphill battle. Yeah we're raising funds, you know, we're a step ahead from where we were last year, but we're just chasing them uphill because of the price increase."
He says some bids have gone up 20-30 percent since last year. There's two options, they're considering. One is the exact type of clay tile on the Rock Island Depot roof now. It's also the type that's seen the dramatic rise in price.
The other type looks the exact same, but is made of a different material. Prellwitz believes since the look would be accurate, that type would still be allowable.
The rising prices have them still looking for funding. The Jefferson County Historical Society is close, but can't quite afford a down payment yet. From there, it'd be 30 weeks before the materials are produced and shipped.
Tuesday, Prellwitz told the Jefferson County Commissioners the historical society has done what they can to put temporary fixes in places.
"When we had our meeting the other night we talked about how we need to try to get something locked down," Prellwitz said. "Otherwise, this roof is going to continue to leak. We've stopped about 90 percent of the leaks by just our patches we've done the past six months. We've still got leaks on the south side of the building."
The Jefferson County Commissioners expressed they want to help, but the tax levy for the historical society is already maxed out.
They directed county attorney Joe Casson to research to see if the county can use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds or the inheritance tax fund to help.
ARPA funds can be used for tourism purposes and the historical society and county board want to see if repairing a historical landmark that brings in tourists would fall under that category.
As for the inheritance tax fund, no other taxpayer money outside of that brought in by the historical society's levy is supposed to go to the group. County commissioners want to research if there is an work around since the inheritance tax is not set by a levy.
"The inheritance tax is not taxpayer funded," commissioner Gale Pohlmann said. "So I think that is something we could explore."
The Jefferson County Historical Society is also applying for grants to boost funding in addition to donations received.
The historical society and county commissioners will meet again next week.