Having grown up in Bayard, Jim Levick has made a life and found a home in Oshkosh.
Once Levick graduated from Chadron State College, the president of Nebraska State Bank found his resume through a placement agency and offered him a position as a loan officer. Now, 22 years later, Levick has remained with the bank, remained in Oshkosh, and has now been the town’s mayor for eight years.
“When I first got hired, I was happy to have a job,” Levick recalls. “Every day that went by, there was just never a reason to leave. I enjoy this area. I enjoy western Nebraska, the people. Although people say there’s not much to do in small towns, I’ve always found that there was something to do. There’s plenty of opportunities to volunteer. People are easy to get along with. I like the culture of it. I enjoy my job.”
In Oshkosh, Levick met his wife, Amber, who is from Lewellen. Emily, their 15-year-old daughter, is a freshman and Logan, their 12-year-old son, is a sixth grader.
“So right now we’re going to basketball games pretty constant,” Levick said. “Going around to all kinds of different activities, so that takes up more time, too.”
Those school and community activities are chances for the Levicks and other families in communities such as Oshkosh to get together and talk about the goings-on in the town.
“That’s, I would say, the main social event,” Levick said. “If you want to talk to somebody, more than likely, they’re going to be at the game, especially when your teams are having success like the Garden County football team had or the volleyball team just had. Stands are packed at that time. … The bar scene in small towns is pretty much gone, I think. Everywhere you look, that’s not nearly the activity it once was. You notice how a community might have a dance, that doesn’t seem to be near as common as it used to be, or New Year’s Eve parties and that kind of thing. So, it’s mostly going to school activities.”
Outside of the school events and activities, home projects and a job he enjoys. Levick said the Oshkosh area is good for outdoor activities such as pheasant hunting and ice fishing, as well as trips to nearby Lake McConaughy to fish in the summertime.
While many smaller communities are essentially left to survive on their own, Levick said the communities of Garden County have worked together to survive, including the move of the former junior high from Lewellen to Oshkosh.
“Garden County is more of a community than you would say a county,” he said. “Where the schools are connected, I feel like we try to work together, more than it’s Oshkosh versus Lisco or it’s Lisco versus Lewellen. You’ve got to try to watch out for everybody around here. As each community goes, the whole county goes, really. You’ve got to work together.”
Reflecting on being the mayor, Levick said he enjoys giving back to the community by working with people and filling a “job that not everybody wants to do.”
“I try to do my best while I do it,” he said. “While I’m the mayor, I try to look out for the best interests of Oshkosh. I enjoy working with people to try to come to solutions, try to get a problem solved. It’s the same thing here at the bank. People have problems and we try to help them out, so it kind of works hand-in-hand.”