Pilger town hall meeting

JOSH SCHNITZLER (from left) and Ken Berney, both with Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District, visit with Joe Ferguson of Norfolk at Pilger's town hall meeting Tuesday evening. The NRD is involved with a number of selected projects benefiting the Pilger community and Ferguson also has been helping with community efforts as a consultant.

PILGER — The progress this community is making in rebuilding from the devastating effects of a June 2014 tornado continue to impress.

That was the reaction by those attending a town-hall meeting Tuesday here to share progress reports, learn of a summer celebration and get an update on a new building taking place.

Some of that rebuilding centers on a new community center, a project which has realized $1.6 million of its $2.2 million fund-raising goal.

Joe Ferguson of Norfolk, who has served as a consultant on the project, said, "We're well on our way in our capital campaign."

Building supplies have been brought in, work has begun on the foundation and exterior, and the community center committee has been raising funds for completion of the interior — going after grants as well as donations.

While plans are underway for the building itself, the community is also exploring its possible uses and impact.

"We'll have all kinds of different activities, from the young to the old," said Angela Denton of Pilger, spokesperson for the building's design committee.

Committee members have been brainstorming and "fine-tuning the various rooms," she said, while choosing furniture and equipment.

The community building will include a dedicated area for the Pilger Senior Citizens organization to call its own, a conference room, fitness center and banquet hall. It will also provide a place for the post office boxes to be brought in out of the weather.

Chad Boyer, superintendent of Wisner-Pilger Schools, said possibilities for the building include a space for before- and after-school care and tutoring, as well as Wisner-Pilger board of education meetings.

An endowment has been established to keep the facility running, so that it will not become a burden on the community, Denton said.

Quite a few bookings are already in place for the last few months of the year, she added.

Labor Day is the anticipated date for the facility's ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Other projects in the works include a lighted highway sign to draw attention to the community's location, plus a convenience store that is going up along Highway 15. Suggestions are being accepted until April 15 for the new store's name.

Lots of other rebuilding also is going on, as evidenced by the 58 zoning permits requested from the village. They include 19 residences and a number of new businesses are being constructed.

Midwest Bank has planned a grand opening at a day-long celebration on Saturday, June 18. Bank personnel are inviting other new businesses to join in with open houses or ribbon-cutting ceremonies of their own. Festivities will include a BBQ, activities for youngsters, plus a street dance with music by The Smoke Ring.

A lengthy number of updates were given at Tuesday’s meeting, including street repair, sidewalk and tree replacement, and a listing of available lots for rebuilding.

The meeting was facilitated by Milan Wall and Kurt Mantonya, both of the Heartland Center for Leadership Development.

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