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Lincoln’s All-America

City not to reapply next year
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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The city of Lincoln will forgo an attempt for next year’s All-America City Award. The decision not to reapply was made Wednesday morning by the city’s Economic Development Committee, who voted unanimously not to go for the 2011 award. Lincoln was named one of 10 All-America cities in 2006 by the National Civic League. That designation never expires. “The All-America City award is an award for communities that engage in community-based problem solving and we give it to 10 communities every year,” said Mike McGrath, National Civic League spokesman. “Every year, what we look for is innovation and the ability to address serious problems they are facing.” Economic Development Committee member Roger Ueltzen, who spearheaded the effort in 2006 to win the award, was all for applying for next year’s award. “Let’s do it,” Ueltzen told the rest of the committee Wednesday. “I still see benefit to the community and it’s not expensive to apply.” Ueltzen said it costs $100 to apply. “The only downside I can think of is if we make it to the finals, it costs money,” Ueltzen said. When the city sent an All-America City committee to finals in 2006, it cost $30,000 for travel and lodging, according to the city’s economic and redevelopment manager Steve Art. Art said earlier this week that $30,000 “was all funded by private businesses, except for sending four or five city staff,” which was paid for by the city. When asked Wednesday afternoon by The News Messenger how much expenses cost for the four or five city staff, Art said that the expense for city staff’s travel and lodging was paid out of the $30,000. According to previous News Messenger reports, 55 committee members traveled to Anaheim for the finals. “I just don’t think it’s the right time,” committee member Jim Datzman said. Datzman questioned if there was anything “going on in the community to assemble that kind of enthusiasm” that came with the 2006 application efforts. “You could just see the enthusiasm before because so many things were going on,” Datzman said. Staff time was another factor for why the economic development committee is choosing not to apply for the All-America City award this year. “My biggest concern is we have a lot less staff this time,” Art said. When the city applied for the award in both 2005 and 2006, Art said 20 percent of his time was spent working on the application process for a year and a half. Art said that work included completing the application, working on the program the committee put on at the finals in Anaheim, finding sponsors and arranging travel and hotel accommodations for those traveling to Anaheim for the finals. “My concern would be is that this needs to be a volunteer effort. You can’t expect city staff to spend any time (on it),” City Manager Jim Estep said. The Highway 65 bypass and downtown revitalization was also a factor in the committee’s decision not to apply this year. “It seems like we should spend our resources on that (bringing downtown to life),” committee member Al Roten said. “Once that is going well, it would be a better time to shift our energy to All-America.” Each city that applies for the All-America City Award fills out an application and lists the top two challenges faced by the city as well as three projects, according to McGrath. He said two of those projects “center around the challenges and the third one is youth-based.” The three projects named by Lincoln in 2006 were the Lighthouse Family Resource Center, the S.C.H.O.O.L.S. project and the Zebra Housing Project, according to Roger Ueltzen, co-chair of the committee that applied for the award. Lighthouse provides healthcare referrals to citizens, according to Art, and the Zebra Housing Project “provides affordable housing for six members of the community.” S.C.H.O.O.L.S., or Sun City Helping Our Outstanding Schools, is a nonprofit organization that provides volunteers for Lincoln’s classrooms. “I saw a lot of benefit to the community when we did it in 2006. Through self-analysis, we learned a lot about ourselves,” Ueltzen said. During Wednesday’s meeting, Ueltzen suggested listing the Lighthouse, Zebra Housing Project and the Lincoln Youth Center as the three projects named for the 2011 award but didn’t name two challenges the city is facing. Steve Art said the two challenges listed were “providing health care for our citizens and providing affordable housing opportunities.” When asked why those were the two challenges listed, Art said “we need to provide affordable housing and health care.”