The project has been in discussion for some time, but the Gering City Council has formally agreed to partner with neighboring Scottsbluff to site an industrial park area that will be used by both cities.
At their Nov. 14 meeting, council members unanimously approved the interlocal agreement. Scottsbluff City Manager Nathan Johnson was also in attendance to offer his support, although he didn’t speak prior to the vote.
“This is only step one so both cities could form a relationship and move forward together,” said Gering Mayor Tony Kaufman. “The agreement is a call for an economic development site or combination of sites. We’re looking to bring more businesses to our communities. A larger site will make that possible.”
Kaufman said the next step is to have the staff of both cities meet and begin the process of moving the project forward.
“I don’t know if we have a specific timeline,” Kaufman said. “Agreeing to a partnership was the big step forward to the success of any project as long as we keep moving forward.”
Kaufman said it was also a positive gesture to have Scottsbluff City Manager Johnson in attendance, because it showed their support for an important project.
“We each pay attention to what the other is doing,” Kaufman said. “We have a unique opportunity that many other communities don’t. Anytime we partner together, it makes both communities stronger.”
Council member Larry Gibbs said the partnership allows both cities to pool resources to develop a larger site, increasing the potential to attract new businesses.
“There are several sites under consideration, but we need one that’s bigger than our current industrial site along Rundell Road,” he said. “That site is pretty well full.”
Also during the meeting, Gering School Superintendent Bob Hastings updated the council on their partnership with the schools for a School Resource Officer.
The position is a full-time police officer assigned to duty in the schools for nine months of the year. That person assists with a variety of violations including truancy, bullying, defiance, threats, physical assaults, possession of drugs or alcohol, possession of weapons, vandalism, accidents and traffic violations on school property.
The school resources officer also works closely with administration, staff and students to develop a relationship of mutual trust and respect. That would include facilitating communication between the school district and local law enforcement.
Hastings said the School Resource Officer continues to benefit the district. “They do a great job in our buildings and provide us with a sense of security. They provide us with perspective that we don’t have as educators.”
Hastings added the district was appreciative the city would invest its resources and personnel in the schools. “I think the relationships that are built between the kids and the officers today will pay off for years to come.”
The district also works closely with the police department to beef up safety measures in the schools.
Over the past summer, district officials rewrote all of the district’s safety plans. The high school got a security camera upgrade.
“This is probably one of the best programs we’ve ever come up with,” said outgoing council member Don Christensen. “I certainly hope the city continues to support this effort.”
Police Chief George Holthus told council member that any successful program requires more than one party. He said the school board and everyone in the district were key players in the progress they’ve made.
“We’ve seen a lot of success from our partnership with the Gering schools for the School Resource Officer,” Mayor Kaufman said. “Gering is definitely committed to keeping that program going because it’s making a positive impact on the youth in our community. It’s all about keeping our communities and our schools safe.”