The event marks the celebration of the achievement of Neligh | New

NELIGH – Over 50 people attended an event at Blackburn Manufacturing in Neligh to celebrate the completion of the Jim and Pat Blackburn Challenge grant with the Neligh Area Community Foundation.

The Blackburns challenged the foundation to raise $200,000 with a promise to add another $100,000 to the fund. The event took place on Monday evening.

This combined total of $300,000 is placed with the Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF), where it will attract nearly 5% interest each year. The interest will be used for annual public charity projects in Neligh.

Neligh joins more than 270 Nebraska communities that have funds flowing through NCF.

NCF CEO and Chairman Jeff Yost spoke at the Blackburns celebration event. He said, “Nebraska has tremendous abundance,” and the goal is to encourage young families to settle in communities across the state, as well as encourage older people to stay and grow old in the places where they have lived all their lives.

He highlighted the meaning of the word “community” and how the communities that truly come together are the ones that thrive.

Yost also addressed the need to find ways to retain some of the massive intergenerational transfer of wealth that occurs each year within the state. A 2021 study by NCF found that “over the next 10 years in Nebraska, $100 billion will be transferred from one generation to the next.” Since many heirs no longer live in the state, much of that money will leave Nebraska. NCF therefore encourages people to consider leaving something to their communities when deciding their estate plans.

Kevin Warneke, the new director of advancement for the NCF, was also present. He wanted to work for NCF, he said, because of his love for Nebraska.

Warneke previously ran the Ronald McDonald House in Omaha and worked for another company before joining the NCF six months ago. In his new role, he is very much looking forward to traveling the state and meeting people through him.

Al Stelling, president of the Neligh Area Community Fund, said plans are already underway to spend some of the $12,500 Neligh can use each year. Approval was recently granted to install a bike station along the Cowboy Trail in Riverside Park, and he said a housing survey will soon be circulating in Neligh to look at future housing issues.

Community members who have contributed to the fund attended the event in Blackburn. Russ and Joanie Vetick said they donated because it was “a way of giving back to the community that has benefited us.” Russ Vetick is the ophthalmologist at Neligh Eye Clinic which he and Joanie Vetick run.

Although the Neligh Area Community Foundation reached its fundraising goal of $200,000 to receive $100,000 from the Blackburns, it didn’t stop there. The goal is to reach $500,000, so he will have more money every year for projects to improve Neligh.

Joseph K. Bennett