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Street of Dreams 2008

Builder says county needs to develop marketing message

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Posted: Friday, March 30, 2007 12:00 am

Nebraska's favorite address will be in Washington County in 2008.

Curt Hofer, president of Apex Development and county resident, announced to the Washington County Board of Supervisors Tuesday that Apex's Washington County subdivision, Cottonwood Creek, has been selected by the Metro Omaha Builders Association as the location for the 2008 Street of Dreams.

The two-week event is the single largest homebuilding event in the region, Hofer said, and could attract as many as 30,000 visitors to the county.

And when these visitors discover the abundant, beautiful Washington County hillside less than a ten-minute drive north of Interstate 680, it may spark the interest of potential new residents.

Hofer appeared before the board to ask if it would be willing to work with him, along with other county organizations such as the Blair Area Chamber of Commerce and Gateway Development Corp., to develop a single message to market the county to these thousands of visitors.

"It makes more sense to work together so we can communicate the right message for Washington County," Hofer said.

The board agreed, and said they will consider what they would like to include over the next few months.

The board also set up a steering committee to look at future county needs and uses of space in the courthouse. County attorney, Shurie Graeve said the county needs to investigate the best way to utilize courthouse space now and in the future, as well as look at how the county can meet some of its own needs that it is currently exporting to other counties, such as human services and juvenile detention.

In addition, some departments, such as the probation office, are outgrowing their allotted space in the courthouse. Even the county boardroom and county courtroom are sometimes too small to hold everybody in attendance, she said.

"Whenever we're gnashing our teeth and banging our heads on the wall, it's because we're relying on other counties for services," Graeve said.

And those other counties may not be so willing to contract services out as their own demand increases, she said.

"We are in a county that has resources," Graeve said. "We have to use them carefully, I understand, but we also have to use those resources to serve the community."

Graeve suggested the steering committee be comprised of department heads, county supervisors, area business leaders and the public.

Incorporating the public in the process is important because the public always has ideas that the county government would otherwise overlook, she said.

"Sometimes we get too myopic because we get caught up in how we've always done it," Graeve said.

Board chairman Harlo Wilcox said he thought the steering committee sounded like a good start, but noted the county still has until 2014 to pay off the current bonds for the annex expansion.

But it is better to think about meeting the needs of a growing county sooner, rather than later.

"They're lofty goals, but I think they're something to think about," Graeve said.

Linda Thomsen, Jeff Quist and Wilcox were named as the county's representatives on the committee.

County resident Pam Daly also appeared before the board to ask if it would think about taping its meetings.

"Being able to know what goes on in meetings is important," Daly said. "Especially with the problems of trying to get to meetings."

It is difficult for people who work to get to county board meetings, which are held during the day, she said.

Plus, taping meetings would be a benefit to the county clerk who could use the tapes to provide more complete and accurate minutes, she said.

The county already has all the equipment needed to produce tapes, and actually tapes its meetings when it convenes as a board of equalization. With a minimal investment, it would be possible to update the equipment to record MP3 audio files that could be recorded onto CDs and sold to interested people, she said.

Cass, Saunders, York, Sarpy, Platte, Seward and Dodge counties all record their meetings, Daly said. She thought Washington County could provide CDs of the meetings by purchasing $350 worth of equipment, and recuperate the cost by selling the CDs for $3 to $5.

Deputy county attorney Ed Talbot suggested the board table the issue for now while they talk to other counties about how they record meetings, and said he also had concerns about obligations for transcripts if the meetings were recorded.

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