Council approves REAP resolution 3-1
McCook City Council members debated the merits of adopting a resolution that would
support a program that provides assistant to small rural businesses, with
Councilman Phil Lyons doubting the sincerity of the group.
The resolution to adopt the Rural Enterprise Assistant Program (REAP) a sister group of the Center for Rural Affairs, was eventually approved by 3 to 1, with Councilman Lyons voting against the measure.
REAP receives some of its funding from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and as such needed the "Resolution of Support" from the city. Councilman Lyons questioned the wisdom of supporting the organization as there seemed to be little activity of the program in Southwest Nebraska. No local directors are listed for Southwest Nebraska, he pointed out.
"This is like puffed wheat - I'd like to see a little grist," he said about the lack of projects REAP has offered to this area and no local ties to the program. He said this resolution will benefit them, not the taxpayers, as it allows REAP to receive grants.
"That's how much they think of us out here ," he said, referring to the
absence of local assistance.
Councilman Aaron Kircher disagreed. Although the area may have been
neglected so far, the city or economic development should try to work more with them.
Rex Nelson, director of McCook Economic Development Corp., said that REAP
had provided some "micro loans" to several businesses in the area and
estimated between $25-30,000 had been used locally by businesses in addition to technical assistance.
"It's not a huge deal," he said, "but I would consider them a quality organization." He continued that REAP makes funds available as an intermediatory to rural businesses. "They are an ally for rural economic development," he described. He added that he contacts three people at the Ogallala REAP office when there are businesses that he is aware of that could benefit from REAP's assistance. The Center For Rural Affairs is a political organization based in Lyons that is concerned with issues that affect rural life, such as corporate farming.
Councilman Lyons contended that the program was "just a grab for money from
"Maybe we could be better served by someone in western Nebraska," he said.
Councilman Kircher countered that it would be good to have the program
available even if the benefits were not as large as they'd like at this point.
"I'd rather have a small ally that no ally," he reasoned.
In other action, the Mayor Dennis Berry announced that the McCook Housing
Agency recently received a $30,000 grant from the Department of Housing and
Government, for public housing at 502 Missouri Avenue Circle.
He also formally honored the service of former-Councilman Bill Longnecker
with a plaque of recognition and thanked him for serving on the council.
Longnecker said in accepting the plaque that although he "hated to make
this decision," it has been an honor to serve and that he was glad that he
was able to help move the city to the next plateau.
Councilman Phil Lyons, by a motion made from Councilman Kenny, was elected as
Vice President of the council.