- Associated Press - Sunday, June 14, 2015

PILGER, Neb. (AP) - A groundbreaking ceremony for a new bank doesn’t usually attract more than 200 people, but the new Midwest Bank marks a key milestone in Pilger’s rebuilding.

The small northeast Nebraska is slowly working to recover from a tornado that damaged more than three-quarters of Pilger and killed two people last June 16.

The Norfolk Daily News reports (https://bit.ly/1BbJOlj ) the bank announced plans for its replacement branch on Friday. Several community events over the weekend marked the progress since the storm.

“We wanted to take a break and celebrate the good times, instead of remembering the bad times from last year,” said Kolby Koehlmoos, an Omaha resident who grew up in Pilger and has been volunteering there regularly in the past year.

Village Clerk Kim Neiman said Pilger has been making progress in rebuilding: swimming lessons will begin next month at the community pool that’s open this summer thanks to an anonymous $25,000 donation.

Construction bids for repairing Pilger’s heavily damaged streets are being requested with the goal of completing projects before winter.

Forty-four zoning permits have been approved, including 17 houses, and construction on the new bank is slated to begin in July.

The new bank will be about a block away from the old building where employees rode out last June’s devastating storm inside the bank vault.

Blake Rotherham, the branch’s vice president, said he never doubted the bank would return to Pilger.

“For the bank, this is a good chance to rebuild,” he said. “For the town, it’s just a positive thing to put back up.”

Pilger dedicated a new community flag pole Sunday that was donated by an Omaha American Legion post.

“It’s heartwarming, a symbol of America, what we’re here for, and what we strive to do. We’re a part of the United States. We might be a very small part, but we’ve come a very long way in a year and it shows we have strength in determination,” Neiman said.

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Information from: Norfolk Daily News, https://www.norfolkdailynews.com


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