Northwest Nebraska Economic Development Corporation executive director Deb Cottier has been elected the new board chair of the Heartland Expressway Association, succeeding Gering City Administrator Lane Danielzuk as just the third board chairman of the non-profit organization.
Cottier, who will serve a 2-year year term, says she’s looking forward to taking the reins of the not-for-profit organization dedicated to making the Heartland Expressway a reality.
The Heartland Expressway Association began in the mid-1990’s as a small group from the Scottsbluff-Gering area wanting to attract more business and investment from the front Range of Colorado, but now includes members in Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota as well.
Cottier says that although progress toward making the full route 4 lanes has been slow, there have been enough successes to keep members continuing to lobby for funding at both the state and federal levels.
Cottier says the announcement earlier this year of an $18.3-million dollar federal grant to complete the widening of Highway 385 to 4 lanes between Alliance and the Link 62A junction south of Angora showed the effects of lobbying by the HEA, as did the recognition of the group by the state as a “go-to organization” in prioritizing items for the State Improvement plan.
The association board recently updated it by-laws to provide for more frequent changes in leadership. Cottier says the feeling was that it’s only fair to share more of the responsibility after possibly taking advantage of Danielzuk’s willingness to serve as chairman for more than a decade.
The change also recognized the recent or coming departure from the board of 3 long-time members who are retiring or leaving office – Mayors Mike Varney and Kent Greenwalt of Torrington and Terrytown and Scotts Bluff County Commissioner Mark Masterton. Cottier estimates each has given thousands of hours to the Heartland Expressway Association.