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Smith seeks to finish work on business, recreation
September 25, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Dan Smith, Gering City Council member in Ward I, is seeking a second full term on the board.

Smith was originally appointed to complete the last two years of the term of council member Alan Doll, who was elected to the Gering School Board. Smith then ran for a full term, and now seeks re-election after six years on the council.

Smith is the chair of the Recreation Committee and said he receives a lot of comments about the ongoing study to renovate and expand the city’s recreation facilities, including a proposal for a sports complex. Many of his constituents also talked with about the Monument Shadows Golf Course owned by the city.

“I’m very pro-business,” Smith said. “I think we need to protect the businesses we have and do what we can to bring in new businesses and more jobs.”

One of those proposals that generated a lot of controversy was a proposal to open a meatpacking plant in the Gering area.

“There were a lot of scary things that people were bringing forward and saying the plant would be like Lexington,” he said. “But the actual plant was about a quarter the size of the one in Lexington and would add about 500 jobs. I don’t think the culture of Gering would be changed by that.”

He added there have been questions about the economic viability of the company that wants to open the plant. “There’s still questions about whether this is the right group to bring in,” he said. “I think we’re still under consideration, but we have to be very careful about who we get involved with.”

Smith said it’s important for Gering to go after value added agricultural jobs because those are kinds of industries that fit in Gering. One example he brought up was a proposed ethanol plant for Gering, but was unable to get the state-promised funding to make it work. Instead, the plant was opened in Bridgeport, bringing about 45-50 jobs to the community.

Smith said downtown revitalization is another import issue for Gering. “With the two studies being done, there’s been a lot of money spent on where we’re going in the future,” he said. “It’s good to see so much planning going on. We need to find out where we need to focus and determine what fits and doesn’t fit for Gering. This could be huge for us.”

Smith said he doesn’t have agendas in running for re-election. “I try to look at every situation as to what’s best for Gering. If people show me where they want to go, I’ll put in the time and work to get us there.”

Smith is being challenged by first-time candidate Monnette Ross for the Ward I council seat in the Nov. 4 election.

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