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Future of Golden Spade uncertain
April 16, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Gering Citizen file photo - Golden Spade Award winners from August, 2014 were Ruth and Roger Beitel, who put in a lot of work to enhance the breathtaking view of the Monument from their Gering home. The Golden Spade Award is in limbo this summer, due to a change in leadership at Keep Scottsbluff/Gering Beautiful.

The ever-popular Golden Spade Award from Keep Scottsbluff-Gering Beautiful might not be a part of well-maintained yards this season as the group reorganizes.

Many of the group’s programs, including the Golden Spade, are dependent upon grants, which were written by director Kathy Kropuenske, who recently retired from the position.

“We’re meeting with Kathy later this month to find out what our grant obligations are,” said board member Steph Black. “At this point as a functioning board, we’re just trying to get the pharmaceutical take-back in May and Earth Day events funded and completed to stay within our grant guidelines.”

Grants received by the group usually require a local match. Those are usually in-kind funds provided by Gering, Terrytown and Scottsbluff, along with other groups such as North Platte Natural Resources District.

“Funding is always an issue and it takes money to run the Golden Spade program,” Black said. “At this point we’ve made no decisions, but the program probably won’t happen this year.”

Black added that right now, the group wants to funnel their limited dollars to programs that have a direct environmental impact on the area.

“We might be in limbo for awhile,” she said. “Maybe a volunteer board will be running things and filling in our strengths. We plan to get together with the director of Keep Nebraska Beautiful to determine our way forward.”

The Golden Spade Award has been presented for at least the past 30 years, back when the group was called the Scottsbluff-Gering Clean Communities Commission.

“The Golden Spade was one of the first things they did,” Kropuenske said. “The group was more about beautification than the other projects they got involved with later. The Golden Spade was to recognize people who kept their yards beautiful and make a difference in the community.”

Kropuenske said all groups are feeling the pinch as municipalities cut their budgets, leaving less for community groups like Keep Scottsbluff-Gering Beautiful.

“But I hope things work out and next year, they’ll be looking for more beautiful yards to recognize,” she said.
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