Cortland, Nebraska - a Modern Mayberry...with People Like Rich Douglass Making it Even Better
Thursday, October 31, 2019
Rich Douglass, a Cortland Village Board Member and long-term resident of Gage County, is proud to be actively involved in promoting the community and making it an even better place to live and do business. Through his duties on the Cortland Village Board, he is working with a Nebraska-based consultant on a long-term strategic plan that includes ways to support business expansion. The number of Cortland businesses has grown from 4 to 35 and is a source of pride for Mr. Douglass and he intends to build upon that momentum.
When asked why it’s important for him to see Cortland continue to grow, Mr. Douglass replied, “My family has been here a long time and we have all taken turns doing our part to help. Now that I am retired from teaching I have more time to dedicate and will continue to do so.” In reality, Mr. Douglass has been helping for a long time. As a member of the Cortland Improvement Association, he has been part of a core group of volunteers that have put on the Spookfest, brought Santa and the Easter Bunny to town, hosted summer movies, back to school bashes, the yard of the month and light decorating contests and a senior dinner program. These events and programs are part of what makes Cortland so special - a wonderful place to call home and a modern Mayberry.
The senior dinner program, in particular, has been a great success. They meet once a week and have 30 – 35 people for lunch consistently. While similar groups in other communities have seen a decline in participation, Cortland has remained busy. Mr. Douglass attributes their success to great food and great volunteers. “We have tried to involve a lot of people to volunteers to help set up, serve and wash. The food is great and afterward we have bingo, along with the occasional talk or class on topics related to senior wellness,” he said.
The work of the Cortland Improvement Association has ensured that Cortland’s residents always have something fun to look forward to, but that’s not all Mr. Douglass has been up to - he and his brother founded weekly community jam sessions. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, a group of local musicians comes together to play at the Cortland Opry House and Senior Center. These jam sessions are different week to week because everyone is welcome to play and you never know what songs will be chosen. Musicians take turns leading and songs range from country to bluegrass to gospel. They also play before the outdoor movies in the summer, regardless of the weather. For musicians wanting to play and anyone who loves live music, these jam sessions are a local treasure that only enhances the quality of life in Gage County.
When Mr. Douglass isn’t playing music and helping to put on fun events, he is taking his role as a Cortland Village Board Member seriously by thinking about infrastructure projects that will be necessary as the community continues to grow. For example, they are a couple of years into a drainage project that is slated to last for three more years. For this project, the Lower Big Blue Natural Resource District matched 50% to help make ditches deeper, clean out trees and wash the sediment out.
Local Leaders and Volunteers Make Gage County Thrive
Leaders and volunteers like Rich Douglass help to make Cortland and other Gage County communities an incredible place to live. People make a community and our communities are full of people who enjoy life and take the time to ensure that this is an incredible place for everyone. Mr. Douglass has witnessed an increase in volunteerism after the recent eclipse and encourages even more people to get involved. “We have a lot of young families and we promote that Cortland is like Mayberry. There is a pride in ownership here and when everyone works together we can accomplish a lot for the community,” he said.