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(Neb)-I 80 Welcome Center At Kimball May Be Staying Open

By: John Axtell Posted at: 09/05/2019 08:58 AM
KIMBALL - Although they didn't take formal action at their regular meeting yesterday, the Kimball County Commissioners apparently decided not to close the High Point Welcome Center at the Kimball west exit on Interstate 80.

      If the Kimball center were to close, the first manned visitor center on I-80 eastbound would be at Ogallala.

      Kimball County has helped fund the High Point center since it opened in 2013 but last year had to put in an additional $10,000 to balance the books. Tight county finances raised the specter of the center closing by the end of the year, leading County Tourism Director Jessica Rocha to come to the commissioners with a plea to keep the center open.

     Rocha was joined by State Tourism Director John Ricks and other in explaining how important the High Point Welcome Center is to visitor spending locally and in the state. She feels Ricks in particular made some strong points.

     Rocha's very happy that Scotts Bluff County Tourism Director Brenda Leisy also spoke, offering a regional take on the importance of having a visitor center on the freeway at Kimball.

     Rocha says because the Kimball center is in an ideal location to send visitors to attractions throughout the Panhandle and on into other states, she's going outside the local area to seek funding.

     When the High Point Center opened in 2013, a number of Panhandle counties, including Dawes, agreed to help fund it and Scotts Bluff and Morrill still do.

   Rocha received strong support before the commissioners from local artisans who sell their work at the center, bringing them additional income and the center a small commission. She hopes to encourage them and other residents of Kimball and the surrounding area as well to increase their donations.

      The High Point Center began life as a Burger King restaurant. Its second career as a visitor center began after the state closed all the visitor centers on I-80 west of its junction with Interstate 76 near Big Springs.


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