Award winners were announced at June 14 regional events
HUMBOLDT, Kan. –Improving a school playground or updating an aging downtown can be expensive, daunting tasks, especially in small communities with limited resources. But some Kansas towns have completed such projects and more. For their efforts, several communities and individuals have been honored with 2014 PRIDE Capital, Community Partners or Communities of Excellence awards.
The awards, given by the Kansas PRIDE program http://www.kansasprideprogram.ksu.edu/, were presented during Day of PRIDE 2014 events, held June 14 in Larned and Humboldt. The program is a partnership of K-State Research and Extension, the Kansas Department of Commerce, and Kansas PRIDE, Inc.
Through the program, communities identify what they want to preserve, create or improve for their future. Community volunteers form a local PRIDE organization that works with K-State Research and Extension and the Kansas Department of Commerce to accomplish their goals.
“The Kansas PRIDE program is a volunteer-led organization, and these awards allow an opportunity to highlight the hard work that these volunteers provide for the state of Kansas,” said Jaime Menon, extension assistant for community development in the PRIDE program. “Each community has its own unique structure, culture, and assets, and Kansas PRIDE volunteers work hard to bring out the best in their communities and promote what they have to offer. It is through the work of these volunteers that Kansas communities continue to thrive and be a great place to live and raise a family.”
Seven Kansas PRIDE Capital Awards were given in recognition of a specific project.
- Lenora PRIDE
Cultural Capital – Historical Calendar – The Lenora PRIDE organization showcased the community’s history and cultural identity plus birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions by producing PRIDE Historical Calendars, which also have become a profitable fundraiser. The project exemplified partnerships between individuals and business members of the community.
Human Capital – Lenora Pet Clinic – Because Lenora is located at least 20 miles from the closest veterinarian and has 68 registered pets, Lenora PRIDE has partnered with veterinarian Steve Graf to operate a pet clinic every year for more than 20 years. Last year, the clinic served more than 30 animals, eliminating the need for citizens to travel far or take time from work for pet examinations.
Social Capital – Park Rehabilitation – The Lenora PRIDE organization improved two community parks in 2013. Along with the City of Lenora, it installed a restroom facility at the school’s playground. Lenora PRIDE also placed a structure for shade above the picnic tables and added trees. In Larrick Park, the organization added a sign showing the location of the park, painted the fencing, playground equipment and picnic tables and refurbished the bleachers.
- Lucas PRIDE
Built Capital – Playground Equipment Installation – In the 2011-2012 school year, Luray-Lucas Elementary School and Lucas-Luray High School joined with Sylvan Unified School. The Lucas Sylvan Elementary School lacked playground equipment, so community members and students began raising funds. The initial goal was to buy a swing set for the elementary school and set up a playground for preschool and kindergarten age children. Enough money was raised to buy playground equipment and the rubber surface that keeps students safe. Volunteers installed it in time for the 2013-2014 school year.
With an eye toward the future, students and teachers continue to raise funds for additional playground equipment for all ages at the school.
Cultural Capital – Millers Park Conservation and Relocation – In 2013, an effort to support the preservation of Miller’s Park in Lucas came to fruition. It was a cooperative effort between the Kohler Foundation, the Schwaller family, Lucas PRIDE, Friends of S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden, Lucas Historical Society, Russell County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, City of Lucas, and Lucas Area Chamber of Commerce.
In the 1920’s, Roy and Clara Miller created a park for the citizens of Lucas and the public. The Millers, who traveled extensively themselves, welcomed travelers, offered fresh water, built cabins, playground equipment and picnic tables. They also shared their small sculpture-filled park with visitors. They built miniature buildings for a tiny town and fashioned a garden of rocks and shells gathered on their travels.
Miller’s Park was almost as well known as the Garden of Eden in Lucas. But time passed and the property was sold in 1969. The sculptures were moved to Hays, Kansas and became Frontier Village. Initially popular, the effort faded and the sculptures languished. Through the generosity and vision of Henry Schwaller IV, the Kohler Foundation, volunteers, and art conservators, Miller’s Park is now back in Lucas. Visitors to the Garden of Eden can once again walk to the adjacent Miller’s Park to see the miniature buildings and mountains.
- Spearville PRIDE
Human Capital – Babysitting Clinic – In an effort to develop a list of babysitters, members of the Spearville PRIDE Committee conducted a babysitting clinic for Spearville area 5th through 12th graders, offering basic babysitter instruction, including first aid. Ethel Schneweis, family and consumer sciences agent with Ford County K-State Research and Extension and Rob Boyd of Ford County Emergency Medical Service were partners in the event. The names of the 26 youth who participated were listed in the Spearville News and posted at the library, grocery store and post office. The project filled a need for qualified citizens to care for the children of Spearville.
Social Capital – Neighborhood Watch Block Party – Spearville PRIDE held its 1st annual Neighborhood Watch Block party on Sept. 22, 2013 beginning at 4 p.m. with a covered-dish supper at 5 p.m. The event involved breaking the town into block areas and inviting people in each area to serve as block captains. Simultaneously, the entire community came together for an evening of fellowship. The event solved two issues that the Spearville PRIDE organization is involved in – welcoming newcomers and addressing the safety of its citizens through the Neighborhood Watch program. The party was a success and plans are underway to continue and improve the event for 2014.
Four individuals, as well as officials with the City of Lenora were recognized with Kansas PRIDE Community Partners Awards for their volunteer efforts.
- City of Lenora (population 248, according to the 2010 census) – The City of Lenora used grant funds and worked with Lenora PRIDE volunteers to install a restroom and waste disposal at a school playground.
- Erika Nelson – Lucas (pop. 393) – As a community volunteer, artist, and curator of the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things Attraction, Ericka Nelson has helped attract visitors to Lucas. She recently helped with the conservation and relocation of Miller’s Park and its collection of miniature buildings and sculptures back to Lucas.
- Bill Smith – Lecompton (pop. 625) – Bill Smith was a leader in determining the best use of the former Lecompton High School building, which is now a community center. The building hosts events such as Super Bowl parties and Monday morning coffee hour, as well as dance, exercise and theatre events.
- Kara Godfrey – Iola (pop. 5,704) Kara Godfrey serves as the secretary-treasurer for the Iola Community Involvement Task Force/PRIDE organization. She has been instrumental in bringing several improvement projects to fruition, including adding historical markers to the square and downtown and parks beautification. She is currently working to bring a disc golf course to Iola.
- David Mueller – Tampa (pop. 112) – David Mueller developed a vision for restoring downtown Tampa, which had deteriorated due to lack of attention by absentee landlords and unsafe buildings. He began by surveying residents to see what they would like to see. The results included the restoration of several brick building fronts on Main Street and the demolition of decaying buildings behind them. In their place, an energy efficient building was built and portioned into four business areas.
For their ongoing accomplishments in community development, four communities earned 2014 Kansas PRIDE Community of Excellence awards.
- Highland (Doniphan County)
As Community of Excellence award winners, they are eligible to apply for Partners in PRIDE matching grants of up to $2,000 to fund future community improvements.
By: Mary Lou Peter