The Scotts Bluff County Commissioners Monday evening officially confirmed their decision to discontinue their membership in the Western Nebraska Economic Development group .
After a presentation by WNED Board Chair Michelle Coolidge where she attempted to clarify the role of the regional group and answer any questions, a motion by Commissioner Sherry Blaha to renew the county’s membership died for lack of a second. The Board previously had unofficially taken a straw vote not to pay the $50 annual dues, claiming the WNED’s purpose replicated Twin Cities Development, which the board decided to continue supporting.
Coolidge respected the board’s decision, but still feels they don’t understand completely WNED’s role. Coolidge said, “The disappointing thing was I still think their is some misunderstanding on WNED’s role, but we will continue to work to clarify that.”
Coolidge says it appears decisions made three years ago after a consultant’s expensive study recommended formation of the regional group may have had an impact on the board, plus their desire to be more efficient.
Commissioner Ken Meyer maintained Panhandle Area Development District could have done a regional housing study WNED communities paid a consultant to do. Coolidge said in hindsight that’s a possibility, but someone from outside the area may have also provided “better eyes” regarding the subject.
Coolidge also said PADD and TCD are being used as resources for WNED projects, noting PADD is working on a brand for the regional group. Coolidge said WNED is also the regional organization that can be used to lobby state senators and government leaders on key issues impacting the panhandle.