FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State's top community development projects honored
LINCOLN (April 12, 2001) -- Nebraska community and organization
representatives gathered in the Warner Legislative Chamber today to
be recognized for innovative projects that have contributed to and
improved Nebraskans' quality of life. The awards were presented as
part of Community Development Week, to be observed April 16-22.
Governor Mike Johanns presented the following awards:
Metropolitan Award for Lincoln -- Klein's Corner Streetscape.
Located in the Everett Neighborhood, Klein's Corner is one of Lincoln's
oldest surviving neighborhood commercial areas. Klein's Corner and
surrounding neighbors share a strong connection. For example, when
the Everett Neighborhood Association worked with the city to develop
a Focus Area Plan, they prioritized improvements to the corner. The
partnership among neighbors, businessowners, and the city, led to
installation of new ornamental lighting, street furniture, landscaping,
and signs, giving the unique area even more visibility and a stronger
sense of identity.
For more information, contact Opal Doerr, City of Lincoln Planning
Department, at (402) 441-7852, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Metropolitan Awards for Omaha -- Long School Neighborhood
Association; Community Alliance; and Rebuilding Together with Christmas
in April, Brush Up Nebraska and Emergency Repair.
- Long School Neighborhood -- Construction
of the North Omaha Freeway coupled with social unrest in the 1970s
greatly impacted the North Omaha area. One neighborhood experienced
a 30 percent housing loss and major increase in crime. Where homes
once stood, overgrown and deteriorating lots comprised over 50 percent
of the neighborhood. The Long School Neighborhood Association organized
during the 1970s to address the problems. During the mid-1990s,
the association conducted a neighborhood survey, then approached
the New Community Development Corporation about partnering with
them. After years of work, the Long School Neighborhood Redevelopment
Plan passed in 1999. Today, two single-family homes are being built
in the neighborhood. During the next seven years, an additional
$5 million Community Development Block Grant funds will be used
to improve the neighborhood.
- Community Alliance -- Created in 1981,
Community Alliance is a nonprofit organization that provides community-based
services to more than 900 area residents with mental illness. The
organization's outreach program, which works with the city of Omaha
to address homelessness, received U.S. Housing and Urban Development
811 funds to construct an eight-unit apartment complex. Four units
will be built with HOME funds beginning in late spring. An additional
12-unit apartment complex is being completed this month. When Paxton
Manor closed last year, 164 people -- more than 100 with mental
illness -- needed immediate housing. Community Alliance helped establish
64 new supportive housing units in less than 90 days.
- Rebuilding Together with Christmas in April,
Brush Up Nebraska and Emergency Repair -- Realizing the great
needs of Omaha's low- income families, Omahans Tom and Sheila Pettigrew
created Rebuilding Together with Christmas in April, Brush Up Nebraska
and Emergency Repair. Through these organizations, the couple has
raised more than $1 million in contributions and recruited 53,200
volunteer hours. Specifically, Emergency Repair has provided 546
families with repairs totaling $60,000; Rebuilding Together with
Christmas in April has rehabilitated 32 homes; and Brush Up Nebraska
has painted 220 homes. The Pettigrews work closely with City of
Omaha officials to provide services that people may not otherwise
qualify for through government programs.
For more information, contact Norita Collar, City
of Omaha Planning Department, at (402) 444-5177, or e-mail: email@example.com
Family Friendly Community Awards focus on community-wide,
long-term efforts to develop strong families through community leadership
and involvement. The awards are sponsored through the University of
Nebraska Cooperative Extension, as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture
strengthening grant, "Building Family Friendly Communities."
This year's awards go to Petersburg, Howells, Wymore and York.
- Petersburg was cited for youth involvement in the
village's decision- making processes; the strong bond of trust among
youth and adults; and the village's readily evident pride and commitment.
For example, a Youth Center features a board made up of four youth
and four adults. Teens run the center during 'teen time,' but it
also is open for younger children after school, and for general
meetings. A community survey is conducted by the village board,
along with annual town meetings and "Community Time" held at all
village board meetings to gain input from citizens and organizations.
A School at the Center program involves students in projects, such
as creating community welcome signs and researching the history
of community businesses.
- Howells was recognized for accessing many resources
to meet the needs of area youth and families. For example, when
a town hall meeting identified the need for home improvement, the
city clerk's office helped several families qualify for low-interest
loans to replace furnaces and roofs, and meet other needs. Six families
received support for developing small businesses. More than 86 percent
of the residents passed a school bond to build a new K-12 school
building, and a local booster club provides low-cost extra curricular
activities for children. Volunteers and organizations also identified
a facility, equipment, funds, and instructors for a yearlong preschool.
In September 2000, the preschool opened with three instructors and
enrollment of 98 percent of the area's preschool- aged children.
- Wymore was recognized for its belief that "It
takes a community to raise a family." the community put this belief
into action by bringing many organizations together to offer services,
such as substance abuse prevention, juvenile diversion, health and
wellness programming, parenting education and other educational
opportunities. The Wymore Library and the Family Unifying Network
created an after school mentoring program called "ASK" where students
work with senior citizens, young adults and peers on homework, improving
technology skills and implementing community projects. Wymore also
is in its first year of "4 Kids Counseling," that enlists educators,
families, and community members to help students with personal and
social skills, and academic and career goals.
- York was recognized for many long-term projects
and collaborations. Among these were a needs assessment survey that
led to new community partnerships, including a juvenile diversion
program, the York County Community Health Coalition, the York County
Health Department, and York being named a Good Beginnings community.
Family Connections also was founded, bringing 80 family members
together monthly for a free meal, child care, and education program
related to developing strong families. Also in 2000, York developed
the York Area Children's Museum that provides creative and educational
activities for area youth.
For more information, contact Doug Swanson, 4-H Youth Development,
at (402) 472-9015, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Top Ten Rural Development Initiatives
The Top 10 and 100 Outstanding Rural Development Initiatives have
been awarded annually since 1993 by the Nebraska Rural Development
Commission. The awards honor projects, programs and communities that
represent excellence and innovation in support of community and economic
development in rural Nebraska. This year's Top Ten Initiatives are:
- The Allen Development Group, Incorporated
-- Established 10 years ago, this group has helped build a 25-lot
subdivision, converted an abandoned house into a daycare facility,
and worked with village board members to attract new owners for
the village's only grocery store that otherwise would have closed.
Perhaps its best measure of success is the help given to 47 first-time
homebuyers, including 67 new residents with 55 children who attend
the local school.
- Dundy County Home-owned Carnival, Benkelman
-- When Dundy County residents couldn't
afford to hire a carnival for the annual county fair, they established
their own. Nearly 500 volunteers donated money, time and talents
to purchase, design, build and run games and rides, operate food
booths, sell tickets and advertise the five-day carnival. In all,
about $25,000 was donated. New attendance records were set when
17,000 tickets were sold at fifty cents apiece for the five nights.
The carnival was so popular that the food booth operated by FBLA
and FFA members ran out of food with two days remaining.
- GROW Nebraska -- Established
in 1997, GROW Nebraska is helping expand Nebraska's arts and crafts
industry, creating a sustainable economic environment for entrepreneurs
across Nebraska. The organization provides marketing and training
opportunities to help artisans market products locally, nationally
and globally. It is made up of more than 164 businesses, representing
a $10 million enterprise, and is directly responsible for helping
create 219 new jobs in mostly rural Nebraska. This marks the second
Top 10 award for the organization.
- McPherson County Federal Credit Union
-- The county has its first financial institution in more than 60
years thanks to area youth and adults who worked for over a year
to solve the dilemma of few or no available financial services in
the county. The only credit union in the U.S. located in a motel
room, McPherson County Federal Credit Union enlists high school
students to design promotional brochures and help with bookkeeping.
- Minden Opera House
-- What began as a restoration project, became a $2.7 million county-wide
campaign for a multipurpose facility in Minden. The 276-seat opera
house includes a gift shop, art gallery and mini-museum. It has
built a reputation as the area's premier entertainment center, offering
theatrical productions and concerts, and a setting for dances, weddings
and meetings. Built in 1891, the opera house had gone unused and
fallen into disrepair until community members raised funds to renovate
- Nebraska Farmers Choice -- This non-stock
cooperative of southeast Nebraska pork producers grew from a seven-member
steering committee who became interested in direct marketing opportunities
after attending a briefing by the Nebraska Cooperative Development
Center. Now, 29 members strong, the cooperative is ahead of sales
projections, and working exclusively with a local meat processor
to purchase all inputs locally. The groups' marketing efforts include
attending community festivals and farmers markets, and making "Pork
Stops," or sales from a refrigerated truck that travels to numerous
- Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) --
A project of the Center for Rural Affairs since 1990, REAP is the
largest, full-service microenterprise development program in Nebraska
-- the only one that strives to serve all of the state's rural areas.
REAP delivers small business training, networking, one-on-one technical
assistance, and microlending to businesses that are members of a
- Scottsbluff Centennial Summer -- To honor
and celebrate Scottsbluff's centennial, 100 days of festivals, plays,
shows, dances, parades and other events filled last summer with
activity. The project involved three years of planning, $225,000
cash and in- kind contributions, more than 2,000 volunteers, and
draping the town in red and white bunting.
- Village of Petersburg -- For the first time,
a community has won this award two years in a row. Petersburg's
winning activities and projects in 2000 included moving and restoring
a historic barn for use as a museum during the State Antique Tractor
and Horse Plowing Bee; the 11th Annual Petersburg Trail Ride that
attracted 350 participants; improvements to the community park;
the Old- Time Christmas Dinner; increased youth involvement in community
activities; and start up of a new bed-and-breakfast.
- Wolf Den Market in Arthur -- For three years,
Arthur residents were without a grocery store. After two years of
research and hours of residents' and youths' volunteerism, the Wolf
Den Market opened its doors in late 2000. Planning and development
of the market helped teach practical business lessons to the community's
youth, and Arthur residents no longer have to drive 40 miles for
Outstanding Service to Rural Nebraska Award -- The
late Dr. Edwin C. Nelson. Accepting the award on behalf of the
Nelson family was Leonard Skov, Dr. Nelson's longtime friend. After
"retiring" as president of Chadron State College, "Dr. Ed" spoke in
more than 100 communities across the state and even traveled to Australia
in 1999 to share his message about rural development. He was affectionately
known as "Nebraska's small town cheerleader" for his enthusiasm, dedication
and devotion to rural communities, and his story -- that of a small
town Nebraska boy who achieved great things through hard work -- was
one that many Nebraskans identified with. Following this year's presentation,
the award will be called the Dr. Edwin C. Nelson Outstanding Service
to Rural Nebraska Award.
For more information, contact Doug Gibbs, Nebraska Rural Development
Commission, at (402) 471-6005, or e-mail: email@example.com
The Showcase Community Award is presented to a community
that has demonstrated exceptional capacity during the past 10 years,
including the ability to identify community development goals; combine
local, state and federal resources to achieve goals; and accomplish
major projects with positive impacts. Ainsworth is this year's winner.
The community has won many awards, including NCIP Community of the
Century. It is connected to county and regional initiatives through
the North Central Development Center, Community Builders, the Nebraska
Outback Committee, School/Community Revitalization, and the "Coming
Back Home Promotion" among others. Ainsworth passed two bond issues
to renovate and expand schools and build a new community facility.
In addition, the community supported at least seven business start-ups
and 10 business expansions, including Advantage Receiveable Solutions
that will create about 60 jobs. Ainsworth accessed $800,000 CDBG funding
for housing rehabilitation and $250,000 CDBG funding for the new community
facility. The city also obtained grants for technology, education,
environmental quality and tourism projects.
For more information, contact Kara Heideman, Nebraska Department
of Economic Development, at (800) 426-6505, (402) 471-2235, or e-mail:
Federal, state and local organizations jointly supporting CD Week
activities in Nebraska include the Nebraska Department of Economic
Development, Nebraska Rural Development Commission, U.S. Department
of Agriculture Rural Development, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development, Nebraska Chapter of the Community Development Society,
University of Nebraska, cities of Lincoln and Omaha, and First National
Bank of Omaha.
The National Community Development Association started National Community
Development Week in 1986 to remind Congress of the importance of the
Community Development Block Grant Program.