Council, mayor recognize local business
Mayor Keith Prunty acknowledged the dedication and commitment of George Risk Industries (GRI) to the community with a 50th Anniversary Proclamation at the Feb. 21 City Council meeting.
Opened in 1966, GRI, which has remained family owned and operated from its inception, has grown to employ 165 in Kimball and Gering.
Bonnie Risk accompanied her daughter, Stephanie, and son-in-law, Ryan McElroy to the meeting where Prunty presented them with a certificate commemorating the anniversary.
As Kimball is a charter member of the Public Alliance Community Energy Program (PACE), Beth Ackland, Director of Retail Gas Services – ACE, presented to council the benefits of the ACE program before presenting Prunty with the 2016 refund check.
"It is really a pleasure to come to your community," Ackland said. "We are here to commemorate nearly our 20th year and talk about the value of Choice."
Ackland added that ACE was formed just in time to be an advocate for communities that participate in the Choice program, which provides customers with an opportunity to decide their natural gas supplier and to lock in a fixed rate since 1998.
"I thought for a while that Kimball was the very first member," Ackland said. "You missed it by a day, but you are certainly one of our oldest members."
The program has grown from 23 charter communities in 1998 to 73 member communities in 2017 as communities see the value of local control, potential revenue and increased supplier competition.
"Competition was the very most important thing that members wanted out of the supplier and certainly during the almost 20 years that ACE and the Choice program have been around, competition has been very good," Ackland said. "Since the program was formed, there has been a minimum of three and a maximum of six suppliers every year, and that competition is good for the consumer by driving those rates down."
In addition to the bargaining power of the alliance, Kimball enjoys the returns as well.
"To date ACE has given back more than $1.8 million to Nebraska communities," Ackland said. "Kimball especially has benefitted from that, very specifically, since you have been involved with ACE."
Ackland then presented Kimball Mayor Keith Prunty with a check for the 2016 ACE returns in the amount of $3,700. Prunty said that with the 2015 ACE return, council purchased fun, new items for the Kimball Swimming Pool.
"If anybody has an idea of how we should spend the money, let us know; we would be happy to hear from you," Prunty said.
Annette Brower, president of the Keep Kimball Beautiful Board, sought a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $7,000 from council to counter hardships due to the reduction in funding during the most recent City of Kimball budget.
The requested money will be used to increase employee hours to nearly full-time, according to Brower and will allow the civic organization to do more in the community.
"We, as a board, are really excited for a renewed relationship with the city," Brower said.
The grant request was unanimously approved by the Economic Development committee and the council also unanimously approved the request for the full amount.
Special Events Coordinator Amy Sapp asked council to consider participation in the Nebraska Department of Economic Development's Leadership Certified Community Program.
"The very first step is getting council to make the decision to support going forward," Sapp said. "One of the things you have to do is get regional economic development support, so PADD (Panhandle Area Development District) and the WNED (Western Nebraska Economic Development) have already given us their letters of support."
Sapp provided council with a work plan outlining steps necessary to receive certified status, something that just 17 Nebraska communities have achieved. Some of the necessary steps are in progress and others have already been accomplished.
"Once you receive that certified status you are eligible for bonus points for grants geared towards revitalizing downtown," Sapp added. "It is a designation of five years."
The process will lay the groundwork for the community to put a strategic plan in place, enhance the community and spark growth according to Sapp.
"It brings power to the Panhandle," council member Christy Warner added.
Council unanimously approved the resolution to move forward with efforts to become certified.
Other actions taken by the board:
Approved the Planning Commission's recommendation to rezone 503 E. 3rd Street from single family residential (R-1) to light commercial (C-2) for Century 21.
Approved the Planning Commission's recommendation to rezone 808 and 810 South Elm Street from single family residential (R-1) to light industrial (I-1) for George Risk Industries.
Heard the Kimball Public Library semi-annual report.
Approved $750 Keno grant for Potter-Dix Post Prom Committee.
Approved $2,500 Keno grant application for the Kimball Federation Wrestling Club to continue providing full service to area youth with mats, uniforms and tournament experiences.
Approved discounted Fitness Center rates for veterans including 50% single discount and a 25% couple, family or senior couple discount.