Wauneta receives ‘Good Neighbor Award’ for pool efforts this summer
By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
In its last four years of involvement, this was Imperial’s best year in the Nebraska Community Improvement Program (NCIP).
Six members of Imperial’s NCIP committee were in Kearney last Friday for the 47th annual NCIP awards banquet, which capped the third annual Governor’s Conference on Rural Development.
In all, the community was recognized with six Imperial-nominated awards, including one that went to its neighbors to the east, Wauneta.
Imperial earned 2nd place in the Class III population category (1,101 to 4,000) for the Governor’s Community Spirit Award. It is given for overall excellence in community and economic development and came with a $300 cash prize, which will be earmarked for a community or economic development effort here.
The city also won three Special Project awards for its 125th celebration in July, start-up of the Meeting of the Minds organization and for the city’s purchase of the 70-acre tract known as the Cornerstone Development Project.
For the first time, Imperial’s NCIP committee nominated a Chase County student for the Youth Leadership for Outstanding Community Service Award. CCS senior Tom Sullivan was one of five scholarship winners this year.
Wauneta was awarded the Good Neighbor Award for allowing the use of its swimming pool when Imperial’s experienced water leaks and didn’t open until the 4th of July weekend.
NCIP committee chairman Jan Schultz said it didn’t surprise her that Imperial was recognized in several areas this year.
“With events like the 125th, and economic development efforts like the Cornerstone Development Project, those are big things that promote our city,” she said.
Imperial’s NCIP committee of nine people worked hard on getting some projects off the ground this year, then doing the follow-up to enter them for awards, she added.
“Awards are nice, but it’s for what they were given that’s important,” she said.
The projects the committee chose to enter are among many efforts here to keep Imperial a vibrant and progressive place to live, she added.
Nebraska Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy presented the awards at Friday’s banquet program.
Others serving on Imperial’s NCIP committee are Dianne Way, Merrilyn Leibbrandt, Brenda Ledall, Mary Deyle, Leslie Carlholm, Jo Leyland, Matt Fisher and Randy Vlasin.
Governor’s Spirit Award
The Governor’s Community Spirit Award judges a community’s overall excellence and economic development.
Communities entered must submit a 35-page scrapbook that “shows off” the community, then are visited by a team of judges for two hours. Support must also be given by the city government through a resolution.
An overall look at a community development, planning, volunteer/leadership development, along with project accomplishments, is considered in awarding the Community Spirit Award.
First, second and third place communities were recognized with cash awards and plaques in five population categories.
Ainsworth took first in Imperial’s population division, and Hartington was third.
Imperial’s 2nd place this year follows a 3rd place Spirit Award last year, and 1st place in 2008. Imperial also won three other NCIP awards in 2009.
Three Special Project Awards
The Cornerstone Development Project won the Business Assistance/Development category. Purchased in 2009, the 70-plus acres is being marketed to small businesses looking to locate here, local businesses wanting to expand and also provides some green space and residential area to help address Imperial’s housing needs.
Organization of the “Meeting of the Minds” group is an opportunity for 50-plus organizations in Imperial to gather quarterly to share ideas and support each other’s events. Its major project thus far was the city’s interactive community calendar on the city’s website. Organizations can submit events on the calendar, which helps avoid event conflicts, as well as provide information. This project won the NCIP Volunteer and Leadership Development category.
Imperial’s 125th celebration, or quasquicentennial, tied for first in the Arts and Humanities category. This three-day event logged 1,445 volunteer hours in putting on all of the events 4th of July weekend. Gothenburg tied for the award with Imperial for its theatre.
‘Good Neighbor’ to Wauneta
When Imperial’s pool experienced leaks at the start of the 2010 swim season, Wauneta stepped up by allowing Imperial’s swim team to practice there, and also let local organizers hold the Imperial swim meet there. The village also employed lifeguards from Imperial to staff the pool at times. This award goes to communities that assist, support and encourage a neighboring community or region. Wauneta was the only winner this year.
Youth winner Tom Sullivan
The Youth Leadership for Outstanding Community Service Award recognizes youths who develop, lead and are involved in their communities.
Highlighted in Sullivan’s application were the volunteer hours he contributes to such efforts as the St. Isidore Gift & Thrift Store and Imperial’s Christmas Day dinner, and his involvement in the CCS show choir and jazz band.
He is the son of Bill and Marianne Sullivan, and received a $250 scholarship.
Four other students from Alexandria, Scribner, Alliance and Seward were also scholarship winners.