So much can change in a short period of time. Last month as I was putting my article together, we were experiencing mild winter temperatures and had almost no snow on the ground. Then it changed with Mother Nature unloading on us. Snow, more snow, and cold-the joy of winter in Nebraska.
And with the snowfall and the extreme cold our City staff has responded well. Let me commend our City workers for their time and efforts. I have received many positive comments on how our City’s streets look and the job that is being done. And only a few negative comments (and most of those are not genuine).
Many might say that doing this is the employees' jobs. They are hired to perform these duties and they get paid for their time. This is true, BUT the continued effort put forth day after day in terrible conditions has been awesome.
Mother Nature does not look at the calendar. She doesn’t recognize the weekend, a holiday, or the Super Bowl. Our employees stayed at it and were willing to for go their plans or personal commitments to address the City’s needs. For this I hope you join me in saying THANK YOU!
What comes after snow and freezing temperatures? Days of thawing and evenings of re-freezing resulting in potholes. Yes, we will begin seeing the annual event of potholes appearing on our streets. This year will be no different.
Please be patient. As soon as conditions are favorable for making repairs our crews will begin addressing them. We recognize the need to make these repairs and the damage potholes can cause to vehicles. Some of these literally appear overnight and it takes time to get to them all.
Freezing and thawing brings other issues to our attention. The condition of ice on our rivers. The spring of 2019 is still fresh on everyone’s mind. And although most agree what occurred in March 2019 was a “perfect storm” of circumstances we do not want to be complacent.
We are working together - City, County, Emergency Management - monitoring the situation and staying abreast of the changing conditions. We must remember that ice jams and low land flooding are almost always a part of our normal spring ritual. I do not mention this in an effort to scare anyone. But rather I mention this to give you assurance that we are watching and monitoring.
Every day we seem to see more normalcy returning to our community as we continue to get the coronavirus under control. Our schools have done a fantastic job of getting our kids in school and giving them real school experiences. I have so enjoyed being able to watch my grandkids activities. Many parts of the country still have kids only online. Kudos to our administrators and school staff that have worked to make this happen. It is so important.
I can’t say enough about the helping hand that East-Central Health District (ECHD) has provided our community. Early on as the coronavirus was evolving ECHD took the lead in providing the information and direction that was required for us to navigate the uncharted territory. Now they are doing the same with administering of the vaccine. Another example of light at the end of the tunnel as we return to normal.
Our City’s mask ordinance reached its sunset on Feb. 23. And though the passage of this ordinance was controversial, the overwhelming majority of Columbus residents responded by honoring the ordinance. There were virtually no issues involved with the enforcement of this ordinance. Our intent was not to overwhelm the police and we didn’t. Thank you to all who honored the ordinance.
Our community continues to show signs of growth. This has been reflected in our December sales tax revenues. The December revenue, which was just reported, was the second-highest ever received-$803,340. We attribute this to the coronavirus and online sales tax remittance. People likely stayed local with much of their holiday shopping and/or heavily used online platforms.
Things are happening at the old police station. Renovations are underway to enable this facility to house our Library during the construction period involved in tearing down and then building our new facility. The Library staff have plans on how the temporary facility will enable our residents to still have access to the multitudes of items that they have become accustomed to. There will be some limitations as to what will be offered. But I think you will be satisfied with what is available.
And remember, regarding the next 24 months of our Library, the short term inconvenience is worth it knowing what is coming when the new facility is complete.
I’m excited to tell you that Allo is looking to bring its internet services to our community. Allo, a Lincoln-based internet provider, has been expanding its presence across Nebraska. They are currently finishing their installation in Norfolk and will soon begin in Fremont. For the past few months, City Staff along with Loup Power have been working with Allo to make this a reality. Allo and its CEO, Brad Moline, will attend our March 1 City Council meeting. A franchise agreement will be on the agenda.
Columbus Community Hospital's (CCH) recent announcement of a Fieldhouse facility being built is fantastic news. We have heard from many over the years that an indoor facility was needed and this will be a well-used addition to our community. To be located north of the YMCA this facility will enhance Columbus’s draw as a destination. We are so fortunate to have an organization such as CCH committed to the wellness of our community.
Looking forward to gradual warming, the snow melting, and signs of spring!!
Something Good Columbus!
Jim Bulkley is the mayor of Columbus.