LCF Fall Luncheon: Collaboration is what defines Lexington

Lexington Community Foundation vice president Tod McKeone addresses the crowd at the 2019 LCF Fall Luncheon at Kirk’s Nebraskaland on Wednesday.

LEXINGTON — There was one common theme which was present in every presentation during the Lexington Community Foundation’s Fall Luncheon: collaboration is Lexington’s biggest asset as a community.

Curt Rickertsen, chairperson with the LCF Executive Committee welcomed everyone to the event, which is a kick off for Give BIG Lexington on Thursday, Nov. 14. He said the theme of Give BIG is considering what makes the community of Lexington great.

A major change this year for the LCF itself is the renovations of its offices in downtown Lexington. Beginning in August the LCF moved their offices to the Great Western Bank location at 511 N. Lincoln while renovations took place.

Tom Fagot gave an update on the donations given to the LCF for this project. Fagot said this was new territory for the LCF, while they always take charitable donations for the betterment of the community, this time the LCF was asking for donations for itself.

The LCF has received around $210,000 for the office renovations, with $83,000 coming in from grant dollars. Fagot said the grant dollars were notable because those who awarded the grants looked to see if Lexington gives enough to qualify, which it did.

Fagot said it also spoke of LCF Executive Director Jackie Berke’s ability to communicate how the donations would be used and spent.

The LCF presented a video which was made by Erica Brockmoller’s video production class, a portion of the video was shown at the 2018 Fall Luncheon.

The final video is around eight minutes long, the preview of the video featured interviews with Lexington High School Principal Kyle Hoehner, Max McFarland and Bill Orthman speaking about the Lexington community and written testimonials.

Lexington City Manager Joe Pepplitsch was invited to speak about what the city has accomplished and the vision for the future.

“Lexington is a diverse and family oriented community bound together by shared values and commitment to excellence where citizens, businesses and civic leaders are partners in building a quality environment to live, learn and work,” stated the 2013 Lexington vision statement.

Pepplitsch said the city handles “a ton,” of planning work, and said when they reflect on past projects, it showed how important collaboration between the various entities in the community was.

From the city perceptive, effective future planning was like, “eating an elephant,” Pepplitsch said, “you have to keep taking bites, you keep moving forward.”

Lexington has four “big picture activities,” it is focusing on which include,

- Housing: expanding housing opportunity by providing affordable, safe and sanitary units across all household age, size, income and demographics

- Infrastructure: providing appropriate roadways and utilities to serve public, residential, business and industrial uses.

- Public Facilities: improving and developing parks, pedestrian trails, recreational facilities, library and Grand Generation Center.

- Economic Development – implementing business development and retention programs to expand employment and private investment opportunity.

Housing is an issue in Lexington and the city, “got serious,” about housing development around 2000, said Pepplitsch. From 2000 to 2012, Lexington added 120 units, from 2013-2019, there were 215 units added. “It’s trending in the right direction,” Pepplitsch said.

Housing can be helped with other cooperative public facility projects. Pepplitsch said “things have to happen in every aspect to keep us moving forward, to be successful.”

Cooperative facility projects include: Lexington Family Aquatic Center, Lexington High School gym, Lexington Middle School auditorium, all part of the “Thanks a Million,” drive. Others are the Optimist Complex, Lexington Public Library, Orthman Community YMCA and the LMS commons and the Lexington Fieldhouse.

“It’s a fabulous environment to be in where people give,” Pepplitsch said.

The city continues to look into the future toward other projects which include the Oak Park Splash pad, the Lexington Veterans Pavilion and an indoor tennis facility.

Pepplitsch said a splash pad in Oak Park would be “a total turnaround,” for the area and provide new opportunities for the people who live in the area and could encourage further redevelopment.

The Veterans Pavilion will serve a dual purpose of honoring Lexington’s veterans and providing a public gathering and performance place with the amphitheater.

“Moving forward, the collaboration is overly important,” Pepplitsch said, “The attitude of this community is key, we should be proud to be a part of it.”

Rickertsen closed by saying it is “a testament to the vision of a place which will be alive and isn’t going to die and blow away.”

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