Anonymous donor gives $650K for Nebraska bridge
Federal officials for the first time provided demographic data on enrollees, confirming concerns that fewer young and healthy Americans than hoped for have sought coverage under President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act.
Photo by AP
LINCOLN, Neb. — Three years after a flood wiped out part of a bridge spanning the Elkhorn River in Neligh, residents of the small northeastern Nebraska city received a festive surprise: an anonymous, $650,000 donation to rebuild the historic structure.
The city received a check from the donor's Chicago-based attorney last week saying they can use it to rebuild the steel-truss Old Mill Bridge on the condition that residents never try to discover who contributed the money. If they learn the donor's identity by accident, city officials must stay sworn to secrecy.
The donation will allow officials to move forward with a project that would have languished for years.
“I was amazed when I first heard — and then we had to keep it quiet for a month or two,” said Neligh Mayor Jeri Anderson. “I wanted to shout from the rooftops, ‘It's going to happen!' ”
The bridge on the city's southern edge had just turned 100 years old in 2010 when a flood swept a section of the structure away and devoured about 100 feet of the Elkhorn River's south bank.
Neligh City Attorney Joe McNally said the federal government approved funding to repair the bridge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But the rules only allowed officials to restore the bridge to its original condition, without accounting for the large chunk of the river bank that had been washed away. Without a connection to the south bank, some residents dubbed it Nebraska's “Bridge to Nowhere.”
McNally said the city had approved debt funding for several unrelated construction projects, so local government aid was unlikely in the near future. A private fundraising effort yielded only a few thousand dollars.
The donor insisted on anonymity, going so far as to require city officials to sign a confidentiality agreement. After six weeks of discussion, a check arrived via FedEx on Dec. 16.
“We have no idea who it was, if they have local ties, or how they discovered the project,” McNally said. Without the donation, reconnecting the bridge “would have been a pretty difficult process. ”
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.