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County board allows UTVs to drive on county roads for Mach tribute ride
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County board allows UTVs to drive on county roads for Mach tribute ride

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WAHOO — The Saunders County Board of Supervisors considered a request for the annual Prague Legion Tractor Drive to utilize county roads during the June 1 meeting. 

Wendy Mach, daughter of former District 5 Supervisor Larry Mach, stood before her father’s former board asking that all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) be allowed to drive on country roads along with tractors and Jeeps for the tractor drive her father established and organized from 2013 to 2019. 

This year, Wendy took over her father’s position of event organizer for the drive scheduled on June 6 since Larry and his wife Marty Mach’s sudden deaths in a fatal car accident on Sept. 25. 

“I just wanted to go about this the correct way, like dad would want,” Wendy said. 

Allowing vehicles like an ATV or utility-terrain vehicle (UTV) could result in $2,000 to $3,000 more in donations to the Prague American Legion, Mach said. The event resulted in 80 vehicles and 150 people participating, which is the most they ever had, Mach said after the meeting and the drive. They were able to raise $2,700 for the Prague American Legion. 

It is required by law that an ATV driver has a license and insurance for the ATV. Those driving in this event are also required to sign a liability waiver. Mach said Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz asked her that ATVs not be used. 

  Mach also mentioned that Valparaiso recently had a drive where the Saunders County Sheriff›s Department and Nebraska State Patrol turned those with ATVs away from the event.     

Mach always helped her father plan out the route for this drive and said they always try to use as little highway as possible in the route. 

“I think you know this board would do anything we could, especially for your family,” District 3 Supervisor Craig Breunig said.

The board ultimately decided to unanimously allow utility-terrain vehicles (UTVs) at the event because ATVs could also be interpreted as four wheelers, District 4 Supervisors Scott Sukstorf said. 

During open discussion, the county board heard from the City of Ashland’s economic development director, Caleb Fjone, who invited the county board to join in on a meeting about improving broadband not only in Saunders County, but also the entire state of Nebraska. Fjone also works for the Southeast Nebraska Development District (SENDD) and is in charge of the organization’s broadband intiative.

Saunders County has 9,221 households and 226 unique locations that have already taken a broadband speed test through a program contracted out by the Nebraska Regionals Officials Council. The county board would be able to take a tour of the test, Fjone said. 

“The more tests we take, the better data we get, the better decisions that the capitol will make about where we put money,” Fjone said. 

Fjone said Nebraska as a whole is working hard at this topic and that it would be great if Saunders County led the charge on this too. 

“It’s going to bring people into our county,” District 1 Supervisor Dave Lutton said. 

OPPD Government and Community Relations Manager and Public Affairs Michaela Valentin also spoke during open discussion following up on a few stipulations made during the May 18 meeting when the county board approved a conditional use permit application from Community Energy for a solar farm near Yutan.

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