It's not an oasis -- what had once been a rural food desert is no more. After over two years of hard work, the tiny town of Cody, Neb., will get its own grocery store. The town of about 150 people held a ceremony Monday and broke ground at the site.
I last went out there in June 2011 and they still hadn’t turned any soil over, even though the plans were thorough and complete. The whole process, led by teachers from the Cody-Kilgore High School, was very complex, as I found in my original piece.
The school has been awarded a $75,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to house an entrepreneurship incubator within the school and ultimately establish a grocery store. Another $95,000 USDA grant will fund the actual building of that store — out of straw bales, as it turns out.
But they’ve exceeded the cost of the grant. It could cost the town up to $20,000 over their budget to build the store, when all is said and done.
The village board president, John Johnson, said it has been an overwhelmingly difficult task. But Johnson still calls it a success, even with the money issues.
“You don’t know what goes in behind the scenes -- the hours, the volunteerism, what we’ve got up here with a commitment we’ve got -- that’s a tremendous asset,” Johnson said.
But in hindsight, Johnson thinks the trouble may have been in the grant process.
“It might have been the wrong grant for the right project,” Johnson said. “It’s a type of grant that funds big projects, maybe a couple 3 million dollar projects, so there are some stringent regulations in there.”
Johnson said they’re hoping to open the store in June. They’re also accepting applications for a manager.