The Gering City Council Monday night approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to sign documents for the city to apply for a low-interest loan from the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development to ultimately help support the Riverside Discovery Center.
The city will seek a loan award through the Rural Economic Development grant program for $300,000 for the zoo, with the city providing a $60,000 match as required by the grant guidelines.
RDC Director Anthony Mason says the funding is a key for construction of the exhibit for the orphaned bear brothers currently housed in a temporary enclosure. “It;s a capital improvements loan, and this would allow us getting most of the way to being able to break ground on the bear brothers exhibit”, says Mason. “We would anticipate the application would go in by the end of March, then a month or two before hearing of a decision, and then we could working pretty quickly from there.”
The vote on applying for the loan was unanimous.
Also receiving unanimous approval was a proposal increasing the pay rate for the future city treasurer by about 4%. According to the city’s personnel committee, such an increase is warranted and may attract more qualified applicants to seek the post, which has been vacant since early this year.