NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — North Platte's communitywide petition and social media effort during the city's campaign to land the Central Nebraska Veterans Home may have gone for naught.
North Platte scored the lowest of the four communities in the point system used by the selection committee. Gov. Dave Heineman referred to the system when he announced the selection of Kearney for the home July 12.
Within the breakdown, North Platte scored the lowest of any of the four communities in “community support,” with 33 of a possible 50 points. Meanwhile, Kearney earned a perfect 50 points in the category, which was broken into “funding availability from community sources,” “area government support” and “support of admissions to the home.”
“Our community support was stronger than any of the other communities,” said Dan Mauk, president of the North Platte Area Chamber of Commerce. “We just had some questions about how they scored things.”
As part of the city's bid for the home, thousands signed a petition and hundreds wrote letters to the governor, which State Sen. Tom Hansen delivered. Kevin Kennedy organized the drive.
“It is what it is, but it's a shame that all of the veterans were not thought of during the process,” Kennedy said. “We had more than 6,000 signatures. They were delivered at different times.”
Kennedy also delivered a 15-minute DVD to the governor from local veterans about what it would mean for them to have the veterans home in North Platte.
“Whether or not he even looked at it, I don't know,” Kennedy said. “We gave it a good shot.”
Kennedy was adamant that North Platte wouldn't stop helping out veterans, specifically veterans in need.
One area he pointed to was in the utility factors, where Kearney earmarked funds to offset utility costs for 20 years. He said North Platte would have willingly put some of its pledged $8.5 million toward that if the state had asked.
“We didn't think we needed to specify that, and they gave Kearney a better rating,” he said.
Mauk said community officials are going to meet to talk about areas where the state judged the city lower than the three other communities to see if there are ways to strengthen the city's efforts on future projects.
City officials said a proposed location at A Street and Lake-view Boulevard was a good one, and it was the highest-rated location of the three North Platte sites suggested.
However, it came in last in the state point system when compared with the three other communities.
The city scored 210 points out of a possible 300 in the workforce category, mostly on the strength of workforce development programs.