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Gering City Council OKs LB 840 funds for documentary

January 29, 2019

GERING — Jody Lamp, one of the producers of the documentary film “Born to Rein,” was at Monday’s Gering City Council meeting as members voted 7-1 to use $12,500 of LB 840 Economic Development Assistance to help complete the project.

Council members had some discussion prior to the vote. Member Dan Smith wanted to know whether the city’s LB 840 guidelines allowed for support of movies.

“That is one of the categories allowed by the state,” Gering City Attorney Jim Ellison said. “This project may be different in terms of jobs created, but it still fits within our guidelines.”

The lone “no” vote came from Ben Backus, who said he wasn’t opposed to the documentary project.

“I think we need to build up LB 840 fund more because it’s been pretty low the last couple of years,” Backus said. “I’m not sure a movie is the right thing to support right now. I respect the work of the LB 840 committee, but I just disagree on this one.”

The LB 840 fund is supported by sales taxes, which Backus said remains steady for Gering, unlike neighboring Scottsbluff that can run the entire city on sales tax.

While the documentary film isn’t a project that will generate a lot of jobs, it’s expected to generate massive amounts of publicity from around the nation.

“Born to Rein” is the story of Minatare native John Nerud and the father-son team of Marion and Jack Van Berg of Columbus, men that made a huge impact on the evolution of modern thoroughbred horse racing.

Lamp and partner Melody Dobson plan to screen the film locally this fall. Before then, it will be submitted to several film festivals. Many of those festivals won’t consider films that have previously been screened to a paying audience.

“We’re in the final editing phase of the film,” Lamp said. “In addition to the film, we’re creating programming that will be housed at Legacy of the Plains Museum.”

The temporary exhibit, which could become permanent, includes memorabilia and pictures of John Nerud’s career in horse racing.

In the thoroughbred horse racing circuit, Nerud is revered as one of the best trainers and breeders in the sport. He helped found the breeding operation empire Tartan Farm in Ocala, Florida. And through his influence, the Breeders’ Cup race became a reality.

Bloodlines developed by Nerud have consistently run to the winner’s circle during the Triple Crown races, now observing 100 years.

“The exhibit at Legacy of the Plains will be the only place outside New York and Florida where John Nerud’s career will be displayed,” Lamp said. “Our intention is to bring John’s history back to where he was born and raised. He always credited his success to his upbringing.”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the display is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Legacy of the Plains on Saturday, Feb. 9 — which would have been John Nerud’s 106th birthday. He died at his home in New York at the age of 102.

“I think this is great opportunity to bring John’s history to the area, especially among horse enthusiasts,” Lamp said. “It’s an area of tourism that hasn’t been tapped into for the most part.”

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