|USDA program to benefit local museums|
|February 21, 2013 Jerry Purvis|
Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - Some of the early work to relocate the current driveway has already begun at the Legacy of the Plains Museums west of Gering.
A new loan program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture will benefit the Legacy of the Plains Museums as they continue the work to build a new complex near Scotts Bluff National Monument.
The City of Gering will administer the program after receiving USDA approval in December 2012. As part of the approval process, Gering had to budget and approve a 20 percent match for the $60,000 the USDA made available.
In order to meet the Feb. 15 deadline for acceptance, the Gering City Council met in special session on Feb. 14 and took 10 minutes to approve their involvement in the program.
The USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, implemented two years ago, offers zero percent interest loans that are repaid over a 10-year period. As the funds are repaid, it goes into a revolving loan fund that can be used for future economic development projects.
Gering Mayor Ed Mayo said the city has been working toward getting accepted for the program since 2011. “This will help some of the non-profit agencies pay the initial costs of finishing up improvements,” he said. “It’s tough for these groups to come up with the necessary funding ahead of time. And it’s tough to beat the zero percent interest rate.”
Gering City Administrator Lane Danielzuk said because of the variety of economic sources for retail and other projects, this loan fund will be more focused on non-profit organizations.
Katie Bradshaw, director of the Legacy of the Plains Museums, which incorporates the Farm And Ranch Museum and the North Platte Valley Museum, said the program is valuable to them.
“This will allow us to bridge the gap between when our construction costs are starting and when some of the money from our capital campaign starts coming in,” she said. “We’ll bring out a public phase of the capital campaign later this year where people can contribute over a five-year period.”
Cost of construction has already started to pile up. The museums have hired a design expert to help them develop a layout for their combined facility. Also, dirt work is starting as utility lines are moved to allow for major construction later this spring.