NEBRASKA CITY – Judge Robert Wester dealt with nearly 4,000 civil, traffic and criminal cases in Otoe County while he waited for newly-appointed Judge David Partsch to take over the bench, but he didn’t feel like the job was finished without a road trip to Paul, Neb.

Wester: “I really enjoyed my time here. The staff was very friendly, nice and helpful. I will miss everybody.”

The unincorporated village has only a few houses remaining from its heyday on the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1884, but there were still problems for the judge to sort out.

Jennifer Paden noticed soggy ground slightly uphill from her yard and neighbor Todd Shallenberger figured his septic system had gone bad.

The judge placed Shallenberger on probation and ordered him to fix the problem under threat of a fine and jail time. But, as the months passed, the ground between yards continued to be soggy.

Paden: “My yard has been flooding with sewage and urine for quite some time now. I’ve been dealing with this ordeal since May of last year.”

The judge visited Paul and said he figured Shallenberger was serious about solving the issue because there was a new septic tank sitting in the yard uninstalled.

When Shallenberger appeared in court in July, the judge learned that the 38-year-old Paul man no longer believed the septic tank needed replaced, but only a $15 valve in a toilet.

Judge Wester called a plumber from the courtroom and asked if he would help Shallenberger install the valve. He promised Paden that he would inspect the situation himself to make sure it’s resolved.

Paden: “If that’s truly what he does, then I will be very grateful, but, um, I’m not sure what he’s walking into.”

Wester: “I did go for a ride today to inspect the septic issue out in Paul, Neb. That looks like it’s been resolved, so I’m going to consider my tasks completed in Otoe County, Neb., and I sign off now.”

The judge’s last notation on Aug. 12 regarding Shallenberger is that his probation term is terminated and all fines and costs are waived.