BEATRICE – Employees of a local manufacturing company and a city department were teaming up for an environmental and public safety project, Wednesday.
The City of Beatrice Street Department and employees of Neapco Manufacturing, a maker of automotive power equipment, were planting blue spruce and red cedar trees in north Beatrice…in an area prone to severe snow drifting along U.S. Highway 77. City Street Superintendent Jason Moore says that was clearly demonstrated during bad winter storms in early January.

"This last one that we had this last year that was so heavy, with the high winds, it created a lot of problems. We had an accident north of Sargent Street here where a car stopped in the blowing snow, and then the pileup happened behind it."

Two crews of Neapco employees were planting double rows of trees on Beatrice Municipal Airport property, north and south, and east to west…providing an Arbor Day Project opportunity, but also improving safety by providing a natural barrier along U.S. 77 to problem snow drifting.

Tanner Bowhay is an Engineering Supervisor at Neapco. "It's nice to be out here today and give back to Beatrice and have a lasting impact through Arbor Day and Earth Day. It'll be a good impact for travel to and from work when winter is here, and good snow cover that will make it easier for them, hopefully."
Some 400 trees are being planted, with about 20 employees working in two shifts.

Moore says the project initially included a second area around Industrial Row, the access to the Gage County Industrial Park….which drifts shut easily in bad weather.  "Due to some FAA regulations, they advised us that they would rather us not do that there, so we're going to look at some alternatives rather than trees. But, for this area here, I think trees are going to benefit us,, for a long time."

Aircraft fly over Industrial Row, approaching or leaving the local airport. During the early January storms which dumped over a foot of snow, Moore says U.S. 77 was a drifting nightmare, causing snowplow crews to repeatedly make passes to keep it clear.

"We had a drift that was probably four feet high, covering all the way out into about the centerline of the roadway. With the high wind, it created a whiteout in that area. It was a scarier area. We've seen that drifting snow there a lot, just north of the Northgate Plaza....that wants to blow from the northwest."

The spruce trees row are being planted nearest to the fence along the highway….with the red cedars filling in the gaps behind them. City Street crews dug the holes ten-feet apart….then Neapco employees dropped in the trees and filled around them with mulch.

"The spruce trees are kind of a prettier tree, they look nicer...and so we'll put them along the front. That's what people are going to see. We'll put the cedars along the backside. They'll grow fast...and they'll kind of fill in the gap. I would like to see in five to seven years, we'll see trees at a height that will benefit us."

The spruce trees came from Oregon through a distributor at Eagle, Nebraska. The red eastern cedars came from a distributor near Davenport.
Since the planting won’t take place along Industrial Row….some of the trees will be used to provide a windbreak and visual screening at a new landfill to be built, southwest of Beatrice.