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Local scout builds flag retirement box for Parkview Cemetery
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Anyone with a flag no longer fit to display can take it to Parkview Cemetery for retirement thanks to Brayden Lockling.

Lockling, an 18-year-old Hastings High School senior, put the finishing touches Saturday morning on a flag retirement box near the cemetery entrance as part of an Eagle Scout project. Fellow Troop 207 members aided his endeavor.

“I wanted to get this out, so that people would have a place to bring them, so that they wouldn’t hold onto them forever,” he said.

People have brought old flags to Lockling’s parents because of the family’s involvement in Boy Scouts of America.

“I’ve heard from other people that they’ve been given flags if they are a part of Scouts,” he said. “So I made a box so that people could just bring them here.”

It was important to Lockling to respect the country and veterans by providing this flag retirement option.

“I know most people don’t, they don’t know how to properly retire them or they don’t properly retire them, so having a place they can bring them and get them properly retired in respect of our soldiers, country and America and do it the right way (is important),” Lockling said.

He researched flag retirement box designs.

“Based on what other people were doing, we just created our own thing, put it all together and it worked out pretty nice,” he said.

aroh / Amy Roh/Tribune  

Brayden Lockling is pictured with his Eagle Scout project, a drop box for American flags to be retired, Saturday at Parkview Cemetery.

Lockling’s project was about six months in the making.

He communicated with Cemetery Superintendent John Brown.

“He said he would like the box here, so we got everything organized with him,” he said. “We found a place he liked, I liked it. So we made it happen.”

Lockling stained the wood used to make the box a few weeks ago.

He poured the concrete pad for the box recently.

“I think it looks good; I think it will be a good place,” he said.

The wooden box itself is quite substantial.

“We tried to put every factor into it like weather, water all that,” he said.

Lockling said he took the cemetery sprinklers into consideration.

“It should be in the right spot where it’s not going to be drenched by sprinklers,” he said.

Utility board gets update about ongoing and planned projects
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Hastings Utilities is looking to improve interchangeability criteria for its propane plant.

The plant, in west Hastings, allowed Hastings Utilities to reduce its gas usage during the February freeze, supplementing propane, saving Hastings Utilities more than $1 million.

Standardizing processes and indexes, as well as tracking data, will aid the plant.

“This will enable us to gather data better and make better decisions,” said Keith Leonhardt, Hastings Utilities director of capital management.

Improving interchangeability criteria for the propane plant was one of several strategic initiative updates that HU superintendents gave at the Hastings Utility Board meeting on Thursday.

Leonhardt also spoke about developing a turbine performance monitoring program for the Whelan Energy Centers. An Asset 360 performance monitor is being used to gather and filter data.

“This will allow us to automate tracking of turbine performance over time,” Leonhardt said. “As we gather this information we’ll have a better idea of how different components of the turbine are working.”

This will assist in planning outage work and spare parts needed.

Director of Engineering Lee Vrooman gave an update on the Fisher Fountain renovation, saying it is still on pace for completion by July 4.

Safety director Bob Davis spoke about electronic field inspection software.

The city will be able to track leading indicators and discussions to improve observations.

The safety director will use and get the system up and running.

Once the system is up and running, it will roll out to utility supervisors.

Davis also is working on hands-free phone devices.

He will purchase a few devices to sample.

Once a device is selected, the city will start installing it in all HU vehicles to be in compliance with all laws and policies.

Rich Kleinhample, HU director of electric production, spoke about his department’s efforts to improve Lock Out Tag Out practices, which safeguard workers from hazardous energy releases.

He said Hastings Utilities is looking at the Lock Out Tag Out policy itself and how HU is administering it at electric production facilities.

He is reviewing software packages so Hastings Lock Out Tag Out practices comply with federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

Kleinhample also talked with representatives from other regional power plants.

“We’re trying to make sure we’re focusing in the right areas,” he said.

He also is focusing on protecting Whelan Energy Center equipment from the effects of capacity cycling with water inside as part of producing steam.

“This is in response to what happens when you have your unit down with water in it,” said.

Hastings Utilities is incorporating a product that forms a hydrophobic protective barrier film to prevent corrosion and extend the life of boiler systems.

Kleinhample said it takes from three to 18 months to get protective film all the way through the system.

Injection of the barrier film will take place at the end of the month at Whelan Energy Center No. 1 during an outage, followed by Whelan Energy Center No. 2 when it is down for maintenance in May and early June.

The barrier film allows for cleaner chemistry, faster startup and better long-term performance of metal components.

WEC 2 was offline 169 days in 2020.

“As you could imagine, there’s a lot of stuff that could go on when you have water sitting, touching the metal surfaces,” he said.

With the Whelan Energy Centers spending so much time offline last year, Hastings Utilities is working on an evaluation of transmission agreements.

Derek Zeisler, HU director of marketing and energy supply, said generation is tied directly to transmission.

“Which gives us some benefits in the (Southwest Power Pool) market that maybe others don’t have,” he said. “However, as our units generate less and less we lose out on some of those benefits. Now is the time when we’ve started to look back into some of our transmission agreements. SPP offers a pooling of transmission resources.”

This ties closely with ongoing work on Hastings Utilities’ integrated resource plan.

Hastings Utilities completed cost-of-service studies for electric and gas in 2020 for budget year 2020-2021, and is planning water and sewer cost-of-service studies for budget year 2022-2023.

The last water and sewer cost-of-service study was in 2013.

Mechanical projects include a service truck build-out and new environmentally correct HVAC service equipment, both of which are in progress.

North Denver Station maintenance projects include building roof and side section repairs, which is in progress; and sprinkler layout and installation, which is planned.

In the warehouse, the forklift is being replaced by a telehandler. The inventory system is also part of the city’s ongoing Enterprise Resource Planning system implementation.

Hastings Utilities also is working on phase 1 of installation of an underground fiber ring, including more than 10,000 feet. Phase 1 should begin this week.

The utility also is completing legal agreements for Advanced Metering Infrastructure.

The gas department is planning two-inch gas main replacement and ¾-inch services to residents at Highland Road in the Lochland Area.

Electric service is planned for east Laux Street.

The water department is scheduling water main replacement plan for work and funding to keep up with water main needs; and also working on a code review of shared liability for service damage.

Work is planned on rehabilitation of the primary digester cover at the Pollution Control Facility. Work also is planned on the level control at the Maxon Avenue lagoons.

Work is ongoing on the city tree-trimming project and planned for distribution wood pole inspections.