LINCOLN — Ray and Jennifer O’Connor of Grand Island will be among those honored during the Nebraskaland Foundation’s celebration of Nebraska’s 152th birthday at the Statehood Day Dinner on March 2.

Also being recognized with the O’Connors are Dr. Sara Crook and Ernie Weyeneth.

A press release from the Nebraskaland Foundation said the O’Connors have transformed Central Nebraska, particularly the Highway 281 corridor in and around Grand Island, into an economic force with amenities that attract talent and businesses to the area.

“Ray’s vision and planning abilities are only exceeded by his genuine humility and generosity,” the release said. “Ray has resurrected motels and restaurants from near failure to fabulous success. Jennifer’s tireless volunteer work with local non-profit organizations is renowned. Together they continue to serve Nebraska with personal time and financial resources.”

Sara Brandes Crook’s love of history goes back to her youth growing up on a farm, going to a country church, and attending a one-room country school. A professor at Peru State College, Nebraska’s first college, since 1984, she created several educational and entertaining programs on Nebraska history.

She has served as president of Nebraska State Historical Society and received several professional honors. She was elected chairwoman of the Nebraska Sesquicentennial Commission that organized and directed the year-long celebration of Nebraska’s 150th Statehood Anniversary in 2017.

Ernie Weyeneth has used his financial investment expertise to serve Nebraska for 40 years. As president and CEO of the Richard P. Kimmel & Laurine Kimmel Charitable Foundation, he has organized and promoted many educational, agricultural and human services projects. The Kregel Windmill Factory Museum, a treasure of history in Nebraska City, is one example of his vision and resourcefulness. He serves many civic capacities including the University of Nebraska Foundation Board of Trustees.

The Nebraskaland Foundation was formed in 1962 and continues to promote Nebraska through programs and awards that celebrate the state’s social, historical, cultural, educational and economic heritage.

The Statehood Day Dinner is a formal event held in the Rotunda and Great Hall of the Nebraska State Capitol. Reservation information is available at (402) 499-7897. Seating is limited.

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