On Friday, Governor Jim Pillen celebrated two groundbreakings in Burwell: 1) a new housing project and 2) upgrades to the Garfield County Frontier Fairgrounds, home of Nebraska’s Big Rodeo. The Governor also visited Comstock for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Den Senior Center, which has been upgraded and now offers expanded services.
“Nebraska’s welcoming, civic-minded communities are the reason our state is known as the Good Life,” said Gov. Jim Pillen. “Burwell is building homes for new families and improving the grounds of the Big Rodeo—the area’s biggest annual tourist attraction. Comstock has made a key investment to enhance the quality of life of its senior citizens. These projects are great examples of the pride Nebraskans take in their communities, and their readiness to give time and resources to strengthen them.”
Since 1921, Nebraska’s Big Rodeo has taken place in Burwell. It has gained a reputation as one of the nation’s top rodeos, drawing elite athletes and spectators from across America. In the summer of 2022, Nebraska’s Big Rodeo received the well-deserved honor of induction into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) has awarded a tourism Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to Garfield County to make improvements to the facilities of Nebraska’s Big Rodeo. The upgrades will also benefit the Garfield County Fair, which is held annually in conjunction with the Big Rodeo.
“I was excited to grow up in Burwell because of the rodeo. Nebraska’s Big Rodeo is Burwell’s identity,” said Scott Krause, Garfield County Commissioner. He and fellow community leaders are looking forward to hosting this summer’s rodeo, which will take place July 26-29.
Along with improvements to the fairgrounds, the community of Burwell has launched a project to build two new single-family homes. DED is supporting the project with a grant from the Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Constructing the affordable homes will help the town attract new families.
“Today is a big day. Burwell and other communities struggle with housing needs, and especially affordable housing needs,” said Terry Cone, mayor of Burwell. “I want to thank the State of Nebraska and the Department of Economic Development for investing in this housing project that is so desperately needed.”
In Comstock, Gov. Pillen helped cut ribbon to celebrate improvements to The Den Senior Center. The Village of Comstock received a CDBG Coronavirus Response grant from DED to help fund the project. During the height of the pandemic, the Center was serving over 950 meals per month to senior citizens. Its team delivered meals up to 20 miles away to serve seniors who had decided not dine in-person due to the coronavirus. The CDBG grant has helped the Den Senior Center move forward on a project that includes numerous upgrades: fixing the roof; replacing floor and ceiling tiles; and purchasing a dishwasher, range, cooler, freezers, shelving, and specialty to-go containers.
“On behalf of the Village of Comstock and the Den Senior Center, we are proud to be here to celebrate the award of $181,000 from the Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus funds to benefit the Den Senior Center,” said Matthew Dockhorn, chairman of the Comstock Village Board. “We are here because of the hard work of our partners, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Central Nebraska Economic Development District, and the village board members.”
“It’s inspiring to see the commitment Nebraskans have to their neighbors and to the well-being of their communities,” said DED Interim Director Joe Fox. “I applaud Burwell, Garfield County, and Comstock for taking on these projects. Each of these initiatives will bring significant local benefits, and DED is grateful to be a partner in them.”