By Jan Schultz, The Imperial Republican News Editor
Imperial was in the spotlight Friday for several of its community improvement projects the past year.
It was the annual Nebraska Community Improvement Program (NCIP) awards banquet, and your community earned three significant awards.
Some may say a couple of plaques aren’t that big of a deal. Same thing with the $200 given with one of the awards.
I agree to some extent with those thoughts, but there is also another factor to look at. A positive image of your community through such exposure is a big plus when it comes to people moving to town.
That’s a major focus for communities our size these days—trying to stem the tide of depleting populations.
With the 2010 Census just around the corner, predictions indicate Imperial will likely see a population decrease. Let’s hope those pre-Census predictions are wrong, but if they are not, do we want to just sit around, wringing our hands and letting it happen?
What I like about the NCIP is that you don’t win awards unless there are viable projects completed in the community that make life better there for its residents, help fill jobs, develop leadership skills or get volunteers involved.
Imperial took first in its population class for the recent start-up of the Career Academy, a collaborative effort between Chase County Schools and Mid-Plains Community College that provides a student with both his or her high school diploma and an associate’s degree after only a “fifth year” of high school. If the normal paths to earning those degrees were taken, it would take six years.
Also, Imperial’s addition of the new playground equipment in Campbell Park, the grand opening event at the new pool which involved several groups and the demolition of the old pool earned a first place award, as well.
And, finally, Imperial gained third in the Governor’s Community Spirit Award for overall excellence in community and economic development in its population class.
Imperial is in the 1,700 to 5,000 population division, and was up against communities such as Wahoo and Gothenburg.
Participating in NCIP actually “forces” communities, in a way, to improve themselves. But, it’s those hard efforts, the ones that make you prioritize, set a schedule and then do it, that make your community better, not letting you sit on your hands.
The NCIP committee already has some bold ideas for the coming year to help improve the community. Do you have some, too? Let the committee members know your thoughts.