As you might expect, there is plenty of activity taking place in and around Columbus. Plenty of City-related business along with everything related to the holiday season.
The month started with the awesome presentation of the Christmas Cantata held at Columbus High School. This group of extremely talented individuals, under the direction of Fred Ritter, put on a display of musical talent that was truly inspiring. The passion in those performing was evident and the songs shared the true meaning of the season. We are blessed to have this talent within our community.
As you visited our downtown we have Santa’s house, which was always busy with children eager to see him and let him know their wishes. Our downtown is festively decorated and our merchants are striving to give all of us a great reason to shop local. And though the “official” stroll didn’t happen the downtown put on a great event in its place. The kickoff to the Christmas season was met with open doors, specials, munchies, and hot beverages. A special event.
All around town, there is activity. On the Parkway you have Pillen Family Farms, Great Plains State Bank, Loup Power, and the soon-to-be-opened Big Apple Bagels. The new fire station stands as an awesome welcome to visitors entering from the West. And who cannot help but be impressed when traveling downtown and coming upon the nearly completed police station. Speaking of the police station, any day we expect the move in to start.
The St. Bon’s addition, though not complete, is far enough along to allow services to once again be held in the church. And the parking lot will be open. The 12th Avenue viaduct has made great progress. And the completion of Third Avenue south of Eighth Street is welcome for all in that neighborhood.
The old Walmart continues to amaze me. Obviously, the new Bomgaars is doing well but the progress being made on the other entities is impressive. The Hampton Inn is taking shape and so is the apartment complex. And upfront, to the west of the Hampton Inn, is the beginnings of the future Freddie’s.
The Farmview subdivision, off of 18th Avenue, has some roads poured and foundations started. The area near Frontier park and our Armory has multiple new homes built and purchased with new owners already occupying.
Often there are things happening around town that unless you live in the neighborhood you probably are not aware. Such an item is currently happening on our levee in the Pawnee Park/Wagner Lakes area. As we all remember our levee system did a fantastic job of protecting our community last spring. But that didn’t happen without some damage. This damage was evaluated by the Corp of Engineers and approval was given to repair. The minor items City staff addressed. But the bigger damage was bid out, awarded, and is currently getting completed.
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Columbus can be thankful that our levee system was evaluated for its damage and given the green light for approval. Many of our neighboring communities are still struggling with flood-related damages and will not have repairs made going into next spring.
In a recent article, I mentioned the ongoing struggle we were having with odor issues that were periodically occurring in the Quail Run area. Fortunately, for the past six-eight weeks, we have had little to no issues. The City did purchase an “air scrubber” to install in this lift station and we expect installation in the next week or so. We will continue to monitor and respond to neighbor concerns.
In an effort to always listen to concerns some home builders brought forth an issue that they felt was causing unnecessary costs in new homes. The code that caused the need to drywall in the basement was turning into extra thousands of dollars in new home costs. We got together with a few builders, Community Development and our fire chief. We worked out a change to our code that eliminated this need and the related costs.
Affordable housing is such an important issue in the Columbus area. Anything that we can do to help keep new housing costs down is critical. At the same time, we must maintain safety and integrity. I applaud those that came forward and worked together on implementing this change.
I hope everyone can enjoy a wonderful Christmastime with their family and friends. And may we always remember “Jesus is the reason for the season!”
Something good Columbus!
Jim Bulkley is the mayor of Columbus.