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Young Professionals help Gering with improvements
April 01, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen Ryan Murphy (left), President of NEXT Young Professionals, presents a check to George Scholthauer, Chairman of the Gering Downtown Revitalization Committee to help with downtown improvements. Also pictured are Rick Keller of the Gering Civic Center and Karla Niedan-Streeks, Executive Director of the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Gering Downtown Revitalization Committee now has an extra $2,000 to help with an ongoing project to refurbish the downtown area and help build a plaza just off 10th Street.

Ryan Murphy, President of the NEXT Young Professionals, said the funds came from their 2015 Best of the West Beer and Wine Festival from last summer. They presented $2,000 checks to both Gering and Scottsbluff to help with downtown improvement.

“We hope this money goes to a great use to help both communities with downtown beautification,” Murphy said. “Great success can be achieved when we work together.”

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development is currently in the process of approving a $350,000 grant for Gering to refurbish the facades on downtown businesses and also to build a plaza to include a concert stage for live performances and awnings for a farmers’ market. The plaza will be built in the parking lot west of 10th Street and connecting to the existing walkway between Valley Bank and Plummer Insurance.

Karla Niedan-Streeks, Executive Director of the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the state informed her the grant funds should be released within the next few weeks.

“It looks like we’re finally off dead center,” said George Schlothauer, Chairman of the Gering Downtown Revitalization Committee. “The committee will need to get together and decide how we’re going to allocate the money to businesses that have applied to do façade improvements. The funds from the NEXT Young Professionals will go toward landscaping and developing the downtown plaza.”

Niedan-Streeks said two businesses are ready to begin improvements, once the funding is available. “From a downtown perspective, that’s one of the greatest things that can happen. People start to see these dollars going to work to make our downtown areas much more beautiful and pedestrian friendly. That’s ultimately what we’re trying to do with this program.”

More fundraising events are planned in the near future. Rotary International’s Rotary Gold event, scheduled for April 2 at the Gering Civic Center, has earmarked for downtown improvements in both cities.

The NEXT Young Professionals also scheduled the 2016 edition of the Best of the West Beer and Wine Festival for Aug. 20 at the 18th Street Plaza in downtown Scottsbluff.
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