Columbus continues to be a hub of activity | Columnists

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Columbus has so much to do. Each month I try to highlight the many things happening in and around our community. All you have to do is travel in any direction around our city and you can see the activity.

That’s why it’s especially exciting when others outside of our community recognize that excitement and recognize it. The Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District (NENEDD) did just that by presenting Columbus with the Doug Bereuter Accomplished Community Award at its annual meeting in Norfolk last month.

Allow me to steal a few selected comments from their presentation: “Columbus has demonstrated an undeniable ability to establish and maintain public/private partnership, to be creative in the use of resources and to maintain an independent spirit in economic development, while staying connected to surrounding communities.”

They further stated, “Columbus has a strong foundation of planning, partnership, and perseverance that has created long-term success in the community.”

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They highlighted our new community center housing our library, cultural arts, children’s museum, cafe and town hall. Revitalization of our downtown area and working with the hospital and Family Resource Housing and others to develop the 34 seniors residences in the former community hospital building and other projects.

They highlighted our partnership with the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, the fourth largest in the state, and Loup Power District, and how we work together to recruit and retain retail and service businesses.

If you’re like me, sometimes we take everything we do for granted. We assume our good fortune is coming. And because of our successes, we expect all of this to continue. This is not the case ! It takes motivated, ambitious and visionary people. We are lucky to have this type of leadership in Columbus.

And our great things never stop. Last month, Habitat for Humanity cut the ribbon with the dedication of New Hope 2 Addition and House 13. Such an achievement of selfish individuals giving their time, talent and financial support to make it all come together. A new home for the Garcia family and the foundations for other homes to come. It was an honor to participate.

Around the city, progress is being made on many fronts. The rebuilding of Fifteen Street is complete – it took a while, but isn’t it beautiful! The community center continues to evolve. Forty-eighth Avenue is complete. And with the completion of one project, another begins. Work on the area near Arby’s and the 26th Avenue/23rd Street intersection. This is an NDOR project and the planning has been coordinated by them. We recognize the headaches this can cause and will do our best to keep everyone updated on progress. And we ask for your patience.

City staff are making continuous progress in preparing the budget for 2022-2023. We had a thorough review of the proposed budget in a committee of the whole on August 1. All departmental requests have been reviewed along with revenue expectations. The conclusion of this – the tightening of the belt is necessary. Department Heads have been asked to review their requests and ensure they qualify as NEEDS not WANTS and bring them back to us for further review. The process continues!

As I have reported in previous articles, our fire department is preparing to transition from our volunteer force to a paid reserve program. Over the past few months, details of the program have been worked out and laws have been drafted and passed. I am happy to report that this transition is complete.

We are starting the Paid Reserve Force with solid attendance and enrollment for our next school underway. Many of our volunteers have decided not to move. It was expected and understood. For those who did not move, we express our sincere gratitude for all the time and dedication that has gone into volunteering. You were a vital part of the Columbus Fire Department and your service was appreciated. Thank you for everything you have done!!

The Pawnee Plunge capped off one of its most successful seasons. Understand – the good thing about an extremely hot and dry summer is that it invites swimming and our facility is second to none in the state. We have visitors from all over. A walk through the parking lot each day would highlight vehicles from Omaha, Lincoln, Norfolk, Fremont, Central City and more. The Plunge is definitely a great destination that draws a lot of people to Columbus.

Speaking of destinations, I’m sure many of you have encountered kids wearing baseball/softball uniforms all summer. Again, Columbus was a destination for multiple tournaments. Our ball diamonds (Gerard, Bradshaw, Pawnee Park) were busy in July. These families have come to enjoy our facilities, eat in our restaurants and many have stayed in our motels. And I can assure you that most have gone home with positive feelings about our community.

Columbus Days once again showed why we love Columbus. So many people gathered around a common theme. There are so many things that make the event exciting. The entertainment in Frankfurt Square, the music, the beer garden, the food trucks and the parade. The collaboration is fantastic. My hats off to the chamber and everyone who came forward and helped make it such a success.

As I write this and look at the calendar, it’s hard to believe that summer 2022 is almost over. Another school year begins and with it new adventures. I have four grandchildren who are renewing their schooling at their respective schools, and I have two who are beginning their next educational journey as incoming recruits to UNL. I wish them and all of our students a safe and productive school year.

I will conclude with this. Go Rocks! Go discoverers! Go Vikings! And God please – Go Huskers!

Jim Bulkley is the mayor of Columbus.

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