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News September 6, 2016

Coleridge's future should be brighter, thanks to planning meeting
--Deanna Anderson, Coleridge Blade

COLERIDGE -- The future of Coleridge was addressed at an Aug. 22 Strategic Planning meeting.

The first steps were put in place on making improvements in the Village of Coleridge at the Strategic Planning Meeting.

Approximately 26 community residents showed up to make comments, share their feelings or find out what options were available.

Jan Merrill, Community Planner with Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District, Norfolk, called the meeting a success at the close of the 90-minute session.

The group discussed the challenges and the strengths for the village. Strengths and opportunities included:

      • Lower cost for housing
      • Underground water system
      • Excellent snow removal and street maintenance
      • Middle School located in town
      • Active churches in the community
      • Coleridge is a patriotic community
      • Active community events
      • A Tractor pull & other events brings people to the community
      • Excellent Nursing Home and Assisted Living facilities


Comments were made on the events that are sponsored or assisted by the Coleridge Community Club which include Christmas in Coleridge, a Poker Run, Golf Tournament, and a Tractor Pull.

The group also helps provide a bus to transport kids to the Belden Swimming Pool during the summer months. The Community Club has an annual pancake feed as a fundraiser. Currently there are between 12-15 active members in the Community Club.

Challenges for Coleridge
The group believes the community faces several challenges. They include:

        • More youth activities are needed
        • Need to have Middle School games in Coleridge
        • Need for more volunteers for the EMT squad and the Fire Dept.
        • Expense and upkeep of Auditorium can be difficult
        • Housing problems
        • Economic growth for the town

Coleridge Village Board Chairman George Hefner voiced his concern with the number of EMTs that are available to answer calls. The number of volunteers for the Fire Dept. has also been dropping. "Our numbers are down. We need to have some young people join. A lot of our members are getting older," he said.

Another person commented on the changes that have taken place in the village.

People used to feel it was safe to leave their doors unlocked. Safety concerns have caused that to change and doors are now being locked.

Housing conditions and the lack of jobs were also discussed.

The dwindling number of businesses in town needs to be addressed, said Greg Meier. "We need a way to attract some businesses and bring economic growth to the town," Meier said.

Audience members were also told Coleridge does have a housing re-hab program that is available.

Funds are available to fix up some of these houses, but the recipient of the funds would also have to stay in the house for a certain number of years, Merrill said. "There is also a loan and funds out there for a new business that is starting up," Merrill said. "You need to try and get the word out. It might encourage someone."

Loren Paulsen thought it is important to get rid of some of the dilapidated houses in town.

"In order to get someone to move here, the town needs to be cleaned up," he said. "If the town could get ownership of some of these houses, I think there would be enough volunteers to help get it torn down."

Another person thought the first step should be to try and bring an industry to town that would create some jobs. In order to get people to move to Coleridge there would have to be employment available.

Hefner talked about information the Village Board had received form the Randolph Economic Director Gary Van Meter. "He was here and talked to us. He told how several years ago the people in his home town of Red Cloud sent out letters asking for donations for a Community Foundation. Those funds that came in now have grown to a large amount," Hefner said. "Think what we could do with something like that."

Merrill asked the group what they thought about going outside of the community to find others who would be interested in giving to the community.

Meier suggested using the mailing list from the Education Foundation which includes a number of former Coleridge High School graduates.

Jacie Burbach thought it would be good to get some letters out to the Coleridge alumni. "We need to show people we still care about this town. And we want to do something to clean it up and save it," she said. "Maybe some of the people who grew up here would think about moving back and being part of the community."

An action plan was put in place to form a committee to determine what needed to be done and when the steps would be taken.

When Merrill asked for five volunteers to serve on the committee in only a few minutes seven people had volunteered to work with the group. A date was set for the volunteers to hold their first meeting. The committee will discuss starting a Coleridge Area Foundation.

"You have accomplished a lot tonight. You can get started. You have done more than some communities your size have started with," she said.

May Biltoft, Jacie Burbach, Charlotte Hall, Jeff Hansen, Melissa Lordemann, and Dennis Naslund volunteered to serve on the committee. George Hefner and Merrill will assist members of the committee.

Tim Vanderheiden, the Principal of the LCC Middle School at Coleridge, sat in on the Strategic Planning Meeting.

Vanderheiden, who is starting his first year at the Middle School, is in the process of relocating to the area. "My wife and I want to find a house and live in Coleridge. People here have been very welcoming," Vanderheiden said. "This community has a wonderful identity."

Vanderheiden said he has already been trying to schedule more Middle School games in Coleridge rather than at the Laurel location. "I also want to develop some youth involved community projects," he said.