From the Mayor 10/12/16

Reprinted with Permission of the Independence Daily Reporter

Neewollah is nearly upon us, my favorite time of year. And it reminds me, even more vividly than usual, what an amazing spirit of volunteerism we are blessed with.

I repeat every week that we have a fantastic city. And in my opinion, that’s largely because hundreds (maybe thousands) of great people are volunteering their time to make it great.

The mayor and city commissioners are volunteers. The School Board members are volunteers. The ICC Board of Trustees are volunteers. The Chamber of Commerce Board members are volunteers. The Main Street Board members are volunteers. The Housing Authority Board members are volunteers. The Library Board members are volunteers. The Friends of the Library officers are volunteers. The Park Board members are volunteers. The FORPAZ officers are volunteers. The Planning and Zoning Commission members are volunteers. The Museum Board are all volunteers as are the vast majority of the people working there. The Community Chest Board members are all volunteers. The Community Mission for Improved Housing Board members are volunteers. How about other civic organizations such as the Young Professionals, the Lion’s Club, the Optimists Club, the Rotary Club, and the Soroptimists? They all contribute a great deal to our city, and all are run by volunteers.

I can’t even hazard a guess as to how many volunteers are involved in pulling off something as ambitious as Neewollah, but it’s got to be millions. Okay, so that’s an exaggeration, but I was told that it takes more than 40 volunteers just to handle the ticket sales, and that of course is just the tip of the iceberg.

And the same for the Inge Festival…and Astra. They couldn’t happen without a lot of volunteers.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, 35 percent of Kansas residents were volunteers in 2014, ranking Kansas in the Top 5 among the 50 states. According to the same source, there were 732,910 Kansans who volunteered over 70 million hours in their communities.

And I have no doubt that the great folks in Independence are way more generous than the statewide average with their time. One of the most impressive things that was immediately apparent to me as a newcomer was the remarkable willingness of Independenceans to volunteer their time; to jump in and help.

I only have one thought for your consideration regarding all these great organizations and projects.

I often get the feeling that we’re not working together as effectively as we could be; it sometimes feels like we’re slogging through quicksand.

Here’s one random example. In general, what’s good for ICC is good for the city, and what’s good for the city is good for ICC. Yet, during my tenure on the commission, the commission has never met with, or even had any communication with the ICC Board. Is it possible that our city could be improved if we worked together? Perhaps we sit should down (regularly, not once a decade) and work to create a joint vision for the city and the college, and then design and implement a plan to get there?

Or how about the School Board? You simply can’t have a great city without great schools, and you can’t have great schools without a great city. But this city commission has only met with the School Board one time, and that was to vote on the stadium. Prior to that meeting, I didn’t even know who the School Board members were.

Can we find ways to work together even better than we do, and come up with a world class plan for the future of our great city? I would love to hear your ideas.

Mayor Gary Hogsett