Gage County Communities Busy with Improvements
25 Feb 2020
Economic Development, Community, Youth, Growing Gage Communities, Rural, Gage County
Beatrice – Gage County communities are making progress on a score of community facility improvement projects, according to a survey of community leaders conducted by the Heartland Center for Leadership Development. Nearly 100 leaders from eight communities responded to the survey as part of a community development initiative funded by USDA Rural Development.
Projects range from park improvements in Adams and Diller to a new fire hall in Beatrice. Odell has formed a housing group that is buying and improving homes and is planning to renovate an historic main street building to house a new library. Wymore is also working on park improvements and housing rehabilitation, and Pickrell is remodeling its community building.
The USDA-funded initiative, known as Growing Gage Communities, is helping small towns in the county focus on building or improving community facilities to add to quality of life amenities for children, teens and adults. The project has included a significant emphasis on youth engagement, on the theory that today’s young people should be heavily involved in planning for the future of their hometowns.
“We are really pleased with the grant support we got from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission land and water conservation fund for our park improvements,” said Chris Schiebur, who chairs the Adams Village Board. “We are hoping to undertake a sizable street paving project this year.”
Downtown revitalization funds from the state of Nebraska will help pay for façade improvements in Beatrice, according to Michael Sothan, director of Main Street Beatrice. In Beatrice alone, community improvement projects undertaken in the last two years represent a $5 million investment. A unique project under consideration would add a Blue River access point near downtown for kayaking and other river activities.
In Odell, the public library board is raising funds to relocate from shared space in a museum to an historic downtown building. Recently, Diller-Odell High School students were invited to envision what the new library space should contain and how the floor plan could provide the highest-level use for both young people and adults.
In Pickrell, leaders are planning a complete remodel of the community building, according to Marilyn Schlake, a community leader who, with her husband, farms near the village. “It will include a new kitchen, flooring, lighting, ceiling and a covered pergola on the south side of the building,” said Schlake, who also works for Nebraska Extension as a community development specialist.
“Lots of great new developments are underway in many communities,” said Erin Chadwick, marketing director of NGage, the county’s economic development agency. “We think this underscores the great leadership that we have throughout our county.”