Tiny Nebraska towns, including one uniquely located in three counties, get a boost

By: - November 7, 2022 7:08 pm

A group of Emerson, Nebraska, residents before the town’s fountain was decorated for the holidays. A grant announced Monday will help plan a downtown infrastructure revival project. (Courtesy of Village of Emerson)

Officials in northeast Nebraska’s Emerson are accustomed to dealing with 3s. The  village of about 800 residents has the distinction of being located in three counties: Dakota, Dixon and Thurston.

So perhaps it’s fate that Emerson has been awarded a state grant, $33,000 worth, to help plan for an improved downtown.

Emerson Ne holiday lights
Emerson, Nebraska, just put up holiday lights around the fountain in the city park. A grant announced Monday will help plan improvements in the downtown area. (Courtesy of Village of Emerson)

“It will basically bring new life into our downtown,” said Village Clerk Beth Bonderson. “We’ll have a full main street, with cars and business.”

Emerson is among five more small Nebraska communities set to receive a federal community development block grant funding administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. The latest batch of towns will receive a total of $182,500.

The CDBG funds are a program of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development intended to help communities enhance public health and safety, economic well-being and quality of life. The projects are expected to benefit people of low and moderate incomes.

The awards announced Monday also benefit:

  • Arthur in Arthur County, $43,500 to develop an environmental study that leads to flood plain amendments. 
  • Bellwood in Butler County, $25,500 for a planning project that addresses property deterioration.
  • Clearwater in Antelope County, $53,000 for a downtown study aimed at creating a vibrant commercial district.
  • Newcastle in Dixon County, $27,500 to prepare a guiding document officials can use when deciding on public and private land developments.

Bonderson said her community looks forward to using its CDBG grant to help plan out its future downtown. 

As the village clerk does in circumstances having to do with Emerson’s taxes, elections and more, she’ll be sending out information regarding the downtown project to government officials in three separate counties. Emerson’s downtown physically is in all three counties.

“Everything I do has to go out in triplicate,” Bonderson said light-heartedly. “We are a town with three counties, which is very unique.”


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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.