During the past several months I’ve written a few stories and columns about an ambitious project in the works that would dramatically alter the Camden Point landscape and — in my opinion — improve that community.
To recap, Powerball Lottery winner Mark Hill has pledged to finance a good chunk of the cost of building a new fire station/ambulance station at the corner of Interurban Road and E Highway, where the Camden Point ball field currently stands. Before that is built, though, a new ball field would be constructed across the street as a part of a major expansion of the CamdenPointPark.
For all the details about that, check out our front page report.
What I want to talk about in this space is the significance of what Hill is doing.
Platte County’s Parks and Recreation Department committed $500,000 as part of its parks sales tax-funded Community Partnership Grant Program prior to Hill winning one-half of a nearly $600 million Powerball jackpot last November. That $500,000 was targeted to pay for a modest expansion of the park, specifically a new soccer field and a few other amenities.
But the ante was upped when Hill pledged his financial support to an area he grew up around and still has family living in.
No one knew exactly how much money Hill was willing to spend in Camden Point — at least I didn’t — until the meeting of the Camden Point Community Betterment Committee last week that I sat in on.
“We have several million dollars set aside in a special bank account just for this project,” Hill said during the meeting.
That is an impressive statement. It’s an even more impressive gesture by Hill, who certainly did not have to come forward and who certainly did not have to make that kind of financial commitment when he did step to the plate.
I knew Hill and his wife, Cindy, were sincere when they said they planned to give back to the community they live in — they have already given plenty back in the form of a foundation set up with the North Platte School District and donations to other charitable and non-profit organizations — but that’s still a jaw dropper in my book.
I talked to PlatteCountyParks and Rec Director Brian Nowotny about it this week, and he said it was a financial gesture the likes of which he had never seen before when dealing with community partnerships. He also called it a “one-of-a-kind opportunity.”
I would agree and so I have a few words to some folks in the Camden Point community who may be critical of the proposal or who may have gotten their feelings hurt by perceived slights: flush it.
This is a one-time shot to improve a small community in ways that other communities can only dream of. A beautiful, brand-new park with sparkling amenities is something to hang your hat on, but perhaps even more important might be the planned fire/ambulance station to potentially be shared by Camden Point Fire and the Northland Regional Ambulance District.
These improvements, if left to normal public sector devices and processes such as grants and taxes, etc., could take 10 or 15 years to complete.
Thanks to an extremely generous benefactor who is backing up his words with action, Camden Point can accomplish these improvements in a few years. What an opportunity.
R.I.P. TOBY REED
To all of my classmates of the PCHS Class of 1980, I’m sorry to report that we recently lost one of our own.
Toby Reed, he of the crazy laugh and ever-present grin, had been battling cancer for several years. He finally succumbed to the disease July 26 at his home in Norfolk, Va. He was 51. His complete obituary appears on page A7. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family.
Thanks for reading.
Lee Stubbs is owner/editor of The Citizen. He may be reached by email at email@example.com or by calling 858-5154. Follow him on Twitter @leejstubbs.