New speakers series creates ‘a community informed’

January 28, 2011 by

The challenges facing Concordia’s public schools will be the first topic tackled in a series of free public discussions that begins in February.

Concordia Superintendent Beverly Mortimer will give the first of eight monthly presentations scheduled for the 2011 Concordia Speakers Series.

The idea for the series grew out of the Community Needs Forum, which were lunchtime gatherings held throughout 2009 and 2010. Those “working lunches,” hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph at the Nazareth Motherhouse, identified what participants saw as the greatest needs in the community, the meetings have established smaller groups to seek solutions.

Some of the projects that grew out of the dozen lunches were a revamped Community Resources Guide, the Community Garden of Hope and the Concordia Year of Peace.

The idea for a speakers series grew from an informal presentation by Concordia Police Chief Chris Edin during a working lunch in June 2010. As he talked about getting information out to people throughout Concordia, Edin said, “I think in terms of a ‘community informed’ vs. a ‘community uninformed.’ I believe in a community informed.”

Edin will have his chance to work at creating a “community informed” when he is the fourth of the eight scheduled speakers.

All the speakers are non-elected experts in various facets of community life who serve the people of Concordia and, in some cases, Cloud County.

According to Sister Marcia Allen, the president of the Sisters of St. Joseph who has helped organize the working lunches and now the speakers series, “They are the people who can provide a sense of the big picture or whose piece contributes to the big picture” for everyone in Concordia and Cloud County. “They understand quality of life and the challenges we all face.”

All eight presentations are on Monday evenings in the auditorium of the Nazareth Motherhouse, 1300 W. Washington St. Each will begin at 7 p.m. with a 30- to 40-minute presentation by the speaker, followed by time for questions from the audience. Each session will end no later than 8:30 p.m.

There is no charge for any of the sessions and the public is encouraged to come to any or all of them. No registration is needed, but if you’d like more information, you may contact Sister Marcia Allen at 243-2149 or mallen@csjkansas.org.

The scheduled speakers and their topics are:

• Feb. 21: Bev Mortimer, Superintendent of Concordia Schools (USD 333) — “Strengths and Challenges in Our Schools.” Mortimer, who has been superintendent for eight years, will discuss the challenges facing local and state schools, including finances, resources changing demographics, and what Concordia Schools are doing to continue to meet the needs of students, families and the community.

•  March 28: Jim Wahlmeier, CEO of Cloud County Health Center — “Update on building a new hospital.” Wahlmeier, who has headed the local hospital since 2006, will discuss the aftermath of the failed 2008 hospital financing election and “what still needs to happen in order for a new hospital to be a reality in Concordia.”

• April 25: Kirk Lowell, Executive Director of CloudCorp Inc.  — “Local Economic Development: Fad or Fundamental.” Lowell, who has headed the economic development agency serving all of Cloud County since 1983, will give a brief history of CloudCorp and discuss the basics of economic development in rural communities.  The audience will have an opportunity to participate in a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats (SWOT) Analysis of Cloud County.

• May 16: Chris Edin, Concordia Chief of Police — “The State of Our Community through the Chief’s Eyes.” Edin, who took over as chief on March 1, 2010, will offer a one-year perspective on the past, present and future for the city of Concordia.

• June 20: Danette Toone, President of Cloud County Community College – “Cloud County Community College: A partner for today and into the future.” Dr. Toone has been president of the college since July 1, 2010.

• July 18: Susie Haver & Tammy Britt, Co-Directors, Cloud County Convention and Tourism — “Finding the 8!” Susie and Tammy will discuss the “8 Elements of Rural Culture” with a focus on helping others see their hometown with new eyes.

• Sept. 26: Larry Uri, Concordia City Manager — “Building Community.” Uri, who has been an attorney in Concordia since 1976, was named city manager in September 2008.

• Oct. 24: Cameron Thurner, Outreach Specialist for the Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas (DVACK), based in Concordia — “Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Rural Communities. Thurner, who has worked with DVACK for seven years, will specifically address issues in Concordia.

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