Weekly Column

By U.S. Senator Deb Fischer

**There is no audio of this week’s column**

While visiting Columbus recently, I was asked by a member of the press what was my favorite part of my time in the area.

I explained that the truth is visiting with Nebraskans is one of the best parts of my job. As lawmakers, it’s vital that we are out in our communities, listening to Nebraskans, and hearing what’s on folks’ minds. That’s why I was pleased to have the opportunity to stop by this great community.

The first stop of the day was the Columbus Community Hospital. While there, I toured the facility and met with staff to discuss the challenges posed by COVID, recent expansions to the hospital grounds, and exciting future construction projects. Some of the additions included a physical therapy area, an emergency department, as well as a comprehensive day care center. These new facilities have been critical to broadening the types of services the hospital can provide, as well as helping Columbus attract and retain the next generation of Nebraskans.

During the tour I met one nurse who had been at the hospital for over 40 years, a truly remarkable commitment to serving her community. While at the hospital we also received some beautiful news as a soft lullaby came over the loudspeakers – a new baby had just been born. This wonderful occasion highlighted the needed services the hospital provides. The hospital has an innovative approach to caring for the community, and it was great to see all the good work they do. 

Later that day, I stopped by the Good Neighbor Health Clinic. Community health centers like Good Neighbor play an important role in rural areas, offering everything from traditional primary care to dental services and even a pharmacy. While their staff explained that they continue to navigate workforce shortages and supply chain issues, I saw firsthand their hard work and dedication to providing the people of Columbus with quality care.

The following day, I had the chance to visit with folks at the Nebraska Business Development Center’s kickoff event in Lincoln.

During the event, I discussed how investing in our infrastructure is critical to growing our economy and keeping our local communities connected. Thanks to the infrastructure law, which I voted for, significant investments are being made in Nebraska’s roads, bridges, airports, railways, and water systems. At this event, I announced that both the Omaha Eppley and Lincoln airports would be receiving significant Airport Terminal Program Grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which were made possible by the infrastructure law. Omaha Eppley airport will specifically receive $20 million toward their terminal access road project, while the Lincoln airport will receive $850,000 for terminal modernization.  

Core infrastructure is also broadband connectivity, which is critical to modern life. Without connectivity, young people will leave our rural communities and our local economies will struggle to grow. Crucially, the infrastructure law will provide a total of about $48 billion for broadband deployment. The goal for this historical investment in broadband buildout is to close the digital divide and make broadband more accessible for all Nebraskans, no matter where they live.

To be out in the state meeting with Nebraskans is always enjoyable. I look forward to future visits and continuing to discuss the pressing issues facing our communities across The Good Life.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

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