In the News

Saline County residents discuss ideas for improvement

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Click here for results from the first Strategic Doing session held November 8.


Saline County residents discuss ideas for improvement

By Erin Mathews, Salina Journal

BROOKVILLE — The sticky notes consultant Betty Johnson handed out Tuesday night were big, but some of the ideas for ways to improve Salina and other Saline County communities that were written on the papers were bigger.

By the end of the “Strategic Doing” meeting at Ell-Saline Junior-Senior High School, the trophy case was covered with the notes briefly describing a diverse array of ideas.

Just to name a few: “Environmental protection of resources,” “Initiate recycling network,” “A bike-share program,” “Local organic farm collective,” “Increase child care options,” “Keep human values as a key factor,” “Restore passenger rail service,” “Civic engagement/diversity program.”

The ideas came at the conclusion of a two-hour process during which about 75 people — most of them from Salina, but also including people from Saline County, Brookville, Gypsum, Bavaria, Lindsborg and Assaria — discussed the county’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as threats and opportunities.

Johnson said she would consolidate the ideas and the lists of strong points, shortcomings and needed changes into an email that would be sent to attendees before the next meeting, set for 6 p.m. Dec. 6 in the cafeteria of Southeast of Saline Elementary School.

She encouraged everyone to return to that meeting with family members, friends and neighbors to participate and provide even more ideas. She said as many projects that groups of people wanted to work on could move forward through the process.

“My commitment is to come back, and I need you guys to commit to come back,” Johnson said.

Strategic thinking

“We really wanted to help communities think more strategically,” Wearing said. She said the foundation’s goal is to help communities develop ideas and complete projects that could help reduce population drain and improve the quality of life.

“This is the beginning of an organizing process that goes on hopefully for a long period of time,” Wearing said.

Johnson said that as she walked around the room Tuesday evening, she overheard good conversations about needs and goals. The topics being discussed were varied.

“We need to bring in the people driving by,” one man said. Another said perhaps a more diverse population would bring in new ways of thinking and new energy.

Salina attorney Karen Black suggested “aging creatively,” so that the area’s increasingly older population is not seen as a liability and their experience, knowledge and wisdom are utilized.

“I think we’ve been too polite,” he said. “We need to say, ‘This is who we are, and this is what we stand for and celebrate that.’ ”

Many needs seen

Judy Scanlan, of Gypsum, said she’d like to see homes in smaller communities rehabilitated while remaining affordable.

Jessica Goubeaux, of Salina, saw a need to “connect the bread basket with the hungry.”

“It blows my mind that we live in Kansas and are surrounded by food, and there are hungry people,” she said.

Click here to register for Strategic Doing #2 on December 6.