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Gering parks board demands corrections
April 21, 2011 Jerry Purvis    Photo by Dawn Bowen/Gering Citizen

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Pictured is the plaque that has the Gering Parks, Cemetery and Tree Board and local contractor John Fertig at odds.

Members of the Gering Parks, Cemetery and Tree Board told a local contractor he would not be paid for his work on a commemorative plaque until he makes some changes.

The plaque was installed about a month ago along the Gering Pathway in Northfield Park and lists the names of donors who contributed to building the pathway and waterfall. The list of donors approved by the Parks Board includes the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, Boy Scouts of America, Carol Bangerter, Regional West Medical Center Foundation, Omaha World-Herald Foundation and Nebraska Machinery.

Local contractor John Fertig built the commemorative plaque at the board’s request, but the finished product included several other names, including Fertig as the builder. Board members later expressed their disapproval because the additional names had not been approved by the board.

Fertig then approached the city council because of the impasse, saying he wasn’t paid the agreed $1,000 for his work. Both agreed Fertig should go to the Parks Board and explain his position.
“The list of names was always kind of a moving target,” Fertig told the board at its Monday night meeting. “No one was sure who the players were in the pathway project and it was hit-and-miss until the city came out with the real figures. It was a judgment call.”

Fertig said there were two projects: the pathway itself and the wall with the commemorative plaque. He said the Herstead Monument name was included because they donated the stone. The city’s name and Gering Keno were included because they provided funding. And Ray Boice’s name was included because he wrote many of the grants that also brought in funding.

But according to minutes of the Parks Board from last October, the board had final approval for all wording on the donor board so that “all parties involved are given due credit and that city records will be referenced to make sure the list is all inclusive.”

Fertig said that’s what he did, but board member Jim Schild disagreed, saying they have final approval, not the builder.

“Obviously this means a lot more to you than it does to me,” Fertig said. “If you want my name off there, it’s off. Whatever name you want off there, it’s off there.”

Schild said the plaque is to commemorate donors to the pathway and the waterfall, not the plaque itself – as he called it, “a monument to a monument.”

Fertig explained to the board he was following instructions he received from the city to include everyone involved in making the project possible.

“The memo from the city said the Parks Board has final approval on the list of donors,” Schild said. “We’ve approved the list and never had any amendments, plain and simple.”

Fertig said if he could, he’d include everyone’s name because it’s the taxpayers of Gering who made the project possible.

After Fertig excused himself from the meeting, the board re-emphasized they would pay him for the work after the corrections were completed.
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