The second largest employer in Neligh is doing a major renovation next year.
Educational Service Unit 8 is housed in a building set in the heart of downtown Neligh. The building will be getting not just a facelift in the next year, but many other major changes.
One of the buildings used by ESU 8 was built in 1901 and the other in 1911. Both have housed the Education Services Unit #8 for nearly half of a decade.
But all the expansion and growth over the years has turned the building into a maze.
When Bill Mowinkel, administrator at ESU 8, joined the team he was surprised that the building was working for them.
“It really is hard when you want to find our tech department and they come in this south door, and we say, ‘Well, you go right, right, left, and then another right and a left, and another left then you will see them,’ ” said Mowinkel. “We will try to get rid of that.”
The need for renovation and expansion has been obvious for a while, and acquiring one more building is what gave ESU 8 the option to start planning for the $4 million dollar renovation.
“When the building to the west of us became available, if gave us an area for us to move temporary offices into while they renovate here,” Mowinkel explained.
Of course, taking three different properties and making them one has had its challenges.
“There is just all kinds of projects,” said Mowinkel. “Even the electrical panels coming into here. We are bringing in a new service and setting in a transformer beside our building.”
At first, ESU 8 considered renovating each building separately, but the architect recommended doing them together. Although this renovation will update the buildings to reflect a modern age, they will retain many older features, leaving them with their old-Nebraska charm.
“The architecture is phenomenal in here,” Mowinkel said emphatically. “ . . . The board felt it was very important to maintain the historic integrity of downtown Neligh.”
Along with the new and old features, the building will have a conference room large enough to seat 100 people. Having such a large space is a major upgrade.
“Right now,” said Mowinkel, “when we have large groups over 50, we usually rent space at the lifelong learning center in Norfolk.”
The ESU has been waiting a long time to make the improvements necessary to their buildings, and Mowinkel believes that all the improvements over the years have led to the possibility of this new renovation.
Unlike most major renovations to educational buildings, this project is not being funded by a bond. Due to planning by administration, ESU 8 has the funds available to pay for the project.
The $4 million dollar project is set to start construction in January of 2017, and it’s hoped to be finished by January of 2018.