By Jessica LeDuc
Blade staff writer
Ways entities can work together was the theme of an intergovernmental meeting hosted by Cloud County Community College Wednesday night.
College President Danette Toone welcomed those in attendance and asked that each representative share an example of a working collaboration between their entity and another in the county.
USD 333 Superintendent Bev Mortimer said she works closely with Toone and District 36 Sen. Elaine Bowers on legislative issues. She said they met with Bowers and discussed ways to make it easier for the high school to work with the college on career and technical education courses.
A shining example of collaboration, Mortimer said, is the school's welding program. She said more than $250,000 in equipment has been donated by Reinke Manufacturing, Alstom, Gerard Tank & Steel, and Airgas to equip the classroom.
A project on the horizon, Mortimer said, is a FEMA approved shelter for Concordia Elementary School. Currently, there is no underground shelter at CES, and given the recent devastating tornado in Moore, Okla., she said this is a project the school district will move forward with.
Building a FEMA shelter could lead to a bond issue, Mortimer said. She said the district is close to paying off the bonds that were used to build CES. It would be possible – if it's approved by voters –to use those two mills for a new heating and cooling system and a FEMA shelter. If that happens, no new mills will be added to the budget.
If a bond issue were approved, the district would receive 40 percent of the project cost in state aid. If a bond issue failed, the district would have to increase the capital outlay mill levy, and shoulder the entire cost.
"If we do it alone, we pay 100 percent of it," she said. "But this is one we will not back down on. I don't think there's a parent out there who wouldn't support building a FEMA shelter."
Clyde Mayor Terry Koch said a collaboration he would like to see in the county would be improvements to the EMS service.
He said the entities need to work together to ensure that the closest ambulance responds to a call. College trustee Tom Tuggle asked Koch if it is getting to a point where a countywide EMS service needs to be considered.
Koch said every EMS and fire district volunteer is required to have the same training as a paid paramedic or firefighter.
"If you start putting a pencil to it, I don't think we want to go down that road," Koch said in regard to countywide ambulance service. "It's very expensive."
Koch said Clyde EMS's western border for responding to a call is the UP bridge road on Highway 9 –which is more than 10 miles from Clyde, but only three from Concordia. He said it shouldn't matter whose district a call comes from –only that the closest unit respond to ensure better patient care.
"If you put an ambulance in Concordia for countywide, that isn't good patient care," he said.
Concordia City Manager Larry Uri said Concordia EMS services a wide portion of the county, and has agreements with townships for coverage.
"It's put to the townships to decide who they want to cover them," Uri said.
The city has contracts with a number of townships for coverage, and is compensated for any runs made to those areas.
College Board President Greg Askren said he will look into setting up a meeting with all the townships and cities in the county to discuss EMS service.
Executive Director Ashley McMillan said CloudCorp is collaborating with the Cloud County Health Center to send surveys to voters in the county to collect input on building a new hospital. The survey includes questions regarding the cost, design and location of a proposed new facility. It will be mailed to registered voters on Friday, and CloudCorp will survey and collect the data.
McMillan said her goal is to make the county grow from within by cultivating the growth of small businesses. She said she would like to implement an entrepreneurship program–a contest to find the best idea for new businesses. She said she would like to see an idea competition that would encourage participants to create a feasibility plan around an idea. The feasibility plans would then be evaluated by a panel of business people in the community. Ideally, the participant whose plan wins, she said, would then be assigned a local mentor and would get assistance from CloudCorp and other local entities. That assistance could be in the form of seed money, operational assistance or marketing, among other things.
"I think we need to start sending the message of 'if you want to do something big, we want you to come back and do it here, and we'll help you get started,' " McMillan said.
McMillan said she will be working with a number of businesses and entities to get the project off the ground.
Cloud County Community College
Toone said the college has collaborated with both the school district and the city of Concordia for athletics. The baseball team uses the city's sports complex, and the track team uses the high school's track. She said she is also working with Uri and Mortimer to possibly employ a grant writer for all three entities.
City of Jamestown
Mayor Randy Smith said the town worked with the county on the construction of a fueling station. On average, he said, the station sells more than 10,000 gallons a month.
Smith also said Jamestown is currently working with Concordia to transport gas to the north development.
City of Concordia
Uri said the city is nearly finished installing a gas line to service the new law enforcement center in the north development. He said the city had given up trying to connect to the Kansas Gas Service line, and is working with Jamestown instead.
"Jamestown has a line north of Concordia that they'll allow us to hook into it," Uri said. "We'll come out ahead and they'll make a little money."
Uri said he has also been in talks with the college and school district about the need for a fitness/athletic center. While it is a big project to get off the ground, he said talks are ongoing to try to make that happen.
Cloud County Health Center
Monte Wentz, chairman of the CCHC board, said the board is working with CloudCorp on the hospital survey, and is excited to see the results. He said they hope to have the results by mid-June, and can move forward from there.
Cloud County Commission Chairman Gail Engle said he thinks the best example of collaboration is the county working with the city of Concordia and CloudCorp to purchase the ALCO building.
"I still think it was a very good decision," Engle said. "I think we're sitting on a very good investment for the community."
Cloud County Commissioners will be host for the next intergovernmental meeting in August.