November began the same way as so many other months-many activities that I am privileged to be a part of. Things started with our City Appreciation Evening. This is our opportunity to say thank you to all of our employees and the many volunteers that participate in so many City committees.
We honor employees for exemplary service, for time served and for retirement. Past employees are also welcome and it is always good to see those who have served the public come back and enjoy the City family.
The volunteers are the “unknown heroes” to city government. They make up our many committees that are instrumental in our decision making. Planning and Zoning, Park Board, Library, these are only a few of the many Boards. These people do the homework, the legwork, and the time to look at all the different items that might be on their agendas. And then they make recommendations to the Council. To have capable individuals that are willing to serve is such a fantastic resource.
This month we celebrated Veterans' Day. This year's celebration was held at Lakeview High School. It’s such an honor to be a part of an event that says “THANK YOU” to those that served. We must never forget the sacrifice and service that these men and women gave. It was fitting that the ceremony was held at a high school because it allows today’s generation to recognize these individuals. And to understand the meaning of their service.
Earlier this year, a group funded by the Sherwood Foundation (PRRI group) conducted a survey of our area looking at the changing cultural landscape. They were back and reviewed their findings. This survey looked at many areas-religion, politics, immigration, family make up and more.
What I took from this survey and this type of information is that we are a changing community. We have new faces, new beliefs, and new attitudes joining our community. We are growing and this growth is fueled by people of many backgrounds. Our challenge is to recognize what is happening and seize on the opportunities that are before us. We need to use information such as this to understand what is taking place in our community and work with it as a positive force.
Honoring our residents is never ending! The Sertoma Club honored Elizabeth Boettcher with their Service to Mankind Award. Elizabeth has spent thousands of hours and many of her own dollars making blankets to provide comfort for sick children. Asking nothing in return but giving great comfort to others.
The Optimist Club honored its outstanding students. Two students from each school that have excelled in academics and extra curricular activities. Each of these students are excellent examples of Columbus at its best. And we can only hope these students will look to Columbus as their destination when they finish their higher education. And your mayor specifically made this pitch! From Lakeview: Aaron Chin and Madeline Fremarek. From Columbus Hugh: Karissa Gleason and Ryan Sims. From Scotus: Breana Lassek and Drew VunCannon.
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City projects continue to move forward. In my last article, I mentioned that the Council would be touring the new fire station, police station, and our new combined E911 facility. We did and came away very impressed. The fire station is coming along and we look to a spring move in. The police station is very close to complete and we plan to be in before Christmas. And our new E911 facility is up and running. All of these represent AWESOME investments in our community that will serve our citizens for generations.
It’s always rewarding to get grants that can help offset spending taxpayer dollars. We were recently the recipient of a $35,000 grant for our Community Center. The Nebraska Presbyterian Foundation awarded this grant to be used to purchase new equipment in the kitchen. Our Community Center is such a great facility, and this grant allows continued service to the many that use it.
Our Library Board continues to look at what our community wants and is trying to refine the results of the surveys already done. What has emerged from all the surveys and discussions is a potential Library consisting of the following components.
Smaller arts display dispersed throughout the library, larger children museum space, and larger community room. The next step will be to develop a couple of graphics that show options of these variables and get it out in front of the public. The important part of all of this is the public feedback that we get.
Public support is essential as we roll out these concepts. Our goal is to have information in front of the public and explain what is being presented. A lot of time and effort is going into trying to develop a new Library into something that fits our community. To do this we need your feedback. Please look for the roll out of our new options and let your opinions be heard. Our goal is to have a concept that we believe the public will support and have it on the November 2020 ballot.
The Council was given a presentation by Community Development addressing off-street parking, trailer parking, RV parking and more. It was pointed out that there are ordinances on the books to address issues. The PD and Community Development do not go around looking for issues. But, if a complaint is received, we must respond and address. Please be aware of our laws and be courteous of your neighbors.
Public Works also gave an update on the City’s snow removal program. We highlighted how we lay out the City and the priorities that are given. Our point was to show everyone that there is a method to what we do and why. And I’ll guarantee all of you that we will not please everyone during our next snow. But I can assure you we try our best.
Something Good Columbus.
Jim Bulkley is the mayor of Columbus.