- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

MILFORD, Neb. (AP) - An anonymous donor who has given nearly $7 million to nine businesses or groups in Milford has also contributed around $26 million to 32 universities, charitable organizations and other groups in or near Lincoln.

Union Bank & Trust, acting for the donor, has been notifying the new recipients, the Lincoln Journal Star reported (http://bit.ly/1fr5mdu ). The 32 range in size from Nebraska Wesleyan University and the University of Nebraska Foundation down to the village of Douglas, which has 173 residents.

“We usually never have any extra. This is a really nice gift for our community - very much appreciated,” said Vicki Focken, the village clerk for Douglas. The $50,000 gift will be used for various improvements, Focken said.

A $1 million gift for the Salvation Army stunned one of its officers.

“I was totally surprised and absolutely mind-boggled and delighted as well,” said Capt. Jamie Pennington.

The gifts are stock in Farmers & Merchants Investment Inc., a corporation that has majority ownership in Union Bank & Trust Co. Each share is valued at a little more than $6,000. The recipients can retain the stock, sell it to any entity or sell it back to the holding company.

“The donor’s intent was to show sincere appreciation to the community of Lincoln, state of Nebraska and all those who have made Union Bank successful over the past 50 years,” said Brad Philson, first vice president and senior trust officer of Union Bank & Trust. “The appreciation for this support comes not only from the owners but from the directors, shareholders, officers and associates of Union Bank.”

Some residents in Milford, a city of around 2,000 about 15 miles west of Lincoln, have been dreaming about how they’ll use its portion of the $6.85 million the donor provided to the city and eight other businesses or groups, including a golf course.

Mayor Dean Bruha told the Journal Star that the $1.6 million Milford received “gives us an opportunity to do some projects that we could only wish we could do.”

The city, which has an annual budget of $3 million, must use the money from the donor for enhancements, not tax relief, and it has to be placed in endowments. Bruha said the city is looking at building a recreational trail, repairing curbs and streets, improving access for disabled people or adding infrastructure for housing.

Some Milford residents think they know who the donor or donors are but have declined to publicly speculate, respecting the wish for anonymity.

“These are folks that have been part of the community for eons,” Bruha said.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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