• Title

  • Paloucek: Counting blessings early this year

    Paloucek: Counting blessings early this year

    The calendar says Thanksgiving is still over a month away, but it is never too early to count blessings. We really have so much to be thankful for, and it is amazing how noticing the positive things that surround us daily improves outlooks and puts perceived grievances in perspective.
    North Platte’s economy is hopping. The Canteen District is a beautiful overhaul of our downtown. Shopping, dining and services fill the storefronts. This renovation proves what can be accomplished when a community comes together, rallying public and private resources, to bring a vision to reality. Work is underway at District 177 aimed at transforming our old, faltering mall into a modern shopping center with retail outlets and dining options that have long been just wishful thinking here. District 177 represents another project that would not have been feasible without a combination of private and public resources. Businesses in the Canteen District and District 177 employ our fellow citizens, generate sales taxes, increase the property tax base, bring desired shopping and dining options to town, and contribute to the quality of life here.
    Progress is being made on our housing needs. The unique Shot In the Arm incentive is on line to result in over 200 single and multifamily residences by next year. Construction of the housing complex at A Street and Lakeview proceeds, as do new units at Pacific Place. Part of the renovation of District 177 is to include apartments. City housing codes were updated, and City Hall is enforcing codes to protect our most vulnerable citizens from the very few landlords in town willing to put their personal profit over safe and habitable rentals for their tenants. Construction means jobs, sales taxes on building materials, broadening of the property tax base and needed housing offerings for North Platte citizens and others we hope to soon be welcoming to our town. All of this progress involves collaborative efforts among private and public entities.
    Chief Industries purchased the Iron Eagle golf course, bringing an end to a decades-long source of agitation for North Platte. We await word on how the course will work into Chief’s ongoing development at the interstate corridor, but for certain the annual drain of hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to operate the course under city ownership has ended. Perhaps those funds can now be directed to a solution for North Platte’s aging recreation center. For sure, Chief’s investment in North Platte is a welcome blessing and is a result of another collaborative private and public undertaking.
    Our near-term horizon is full of promise. We await further word about Sustainable Beef’s plans for construction of a state-of-the-art beef packing plant adjacent to North Platte’s wastewater treatment plant. That development is projected to have an annual impact of $1 billion on the area’s economy, a major part of which is the anticipated 875 jobs paying $50,000 a year for employees at the plant. There is real potential for a rail park in our county that would provide direct access to Union Pacific’s nationwide transportation network, a dream come true for production and logistics companies. And, yes, the continuing theme of advances involving public and private cooperation and resources holds for both of these projects.
    All of this good news raises optimism that maybe we could receive a long-overdue national present for Christmas this year, if it is not too early to be putting a bug in Santa’s ear. As the U.S. emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, our worker shortage becomes more and more apparent. Drive through any town, and “help wanted” signs are everywhere. Unemployment numbers are down, in part due to some workers making the decision not to return to work. Our country needs workers, and people from across the globe would love to come here to work. It is hard to imagine a better time for our national government to put immigration demagoguery aside and implement rational, comprehensive immigration reform that will provide an orderly system that benefits our country and equitably treats those wishing to come here. For this to happen, we citizens must refuse to allow our elected representatives, all of them, to continue to use immigration as an irrational political football; we must insist that this problem be fixed. It can happen and might just provide a roadmap for a problem-solving approach to other public policy issues. Santa, are you listening?

  • Upcoming Events