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Leadership Ash Grove Participants Propose Community Projects
Missouri Ag Connection - 11/26/2019

The first graduation event for students in Leadership Ash Grove was held at the Sunshine Center in Ash Grove.

The evening included a report on Greene County from Commissioner Harold Bengsch, the graduation ceremony itself, a few words on leadership from Jay Chism, regional director of University of Missouri Extension, and a leadership panel discussion featuring all four candidates running for the District 130 Representative seat.

The capstone of the evening was presentations by the graduates themselves explaining their idea for a community project. Attendees then had the opportunity to cast their votes for the best idea.

Four ideas were grouped closely together in the voting.

The top vote-getter was an idea proposed by John Waterman called "Main Street Nights." This could include several events each year, like a "cruise-in" on Main Street with music or an outdoor movie or a Halloween event on Main Street.

This second-highest vote-getter was a DEA Prescription Drug Take-Back Event proposed by Jackson Jones. This would be done in partnership with local law enforcement to encourage residents to dispose of unused medications properly. Might include other community efforts too.

Two items tied for third place.

New resident welcome bags were proposed by Jennifer Martin. These bags would contain community information or items from local businesses and organizations and be given out when a person sets up a new water account in the City of Ash Grove.

Police Chief Darin Chance prosed hosting a "bicycle rodeo" for youth. This event would promote bicycle safety (like wearing helmets) and provides an opportunity for bicyclists to practice and develop skills that will help them to become better bicyclists and avoid crashes. These types of events include bicycle inspections and possible tune-ups, a safety lecture about the rules of the road, and a ride on a miniature "chalk street" course.

Other ideas covered a wide variety of topics.

Jacob Marler suggested moving forward with community gardens, on city property, or church property. This would require some volunteers and community-wide interest, but individuals could rent plots to garden, or the produce grown could be donated to the food pantry.

Juanita "Janie" Jacobsen proposed a community event called "A Taste of Ash Grove." Various local food vendors would provide food samples in one location as part of this ticketed event.

Maintaining and renewing community flower beds were proposed by Marcia Harper. Improving or upgrading the veteran's memorial located in the "triangle" could be done at the same time.

A citywide cleanup was proposed by Dan Downing, which would include a current cleanup day, including yard waste and electronics recycling. It might be a good time to promote the general cleanup of local properties.

A community-wide 911 education blitz proposed by Marc Schwenn. Using a variety of marketing options, educate the public about the need to call 911, not city hall, when any type of police or fire assistance is needed.

Melissa Mau proposed involving students or residents in the creation (or improvement) of community art and murals.

Kim Jackson suggested a campaign to educate residents about the need to install reflective address signs at their homes.

The evening also included an announcement about Leadership Ash Grove in 2020. Go ahead and tell your employer that you need a half-day once a month for an opportunity to grow as a leader and an opportunity to give back to your community.

Be watching for details after the first of the year, according to David Burton, county engagement and community development specialist with MU Extension.

These individuals enrolled in the 2019 Leadership Ash Grove program: Tonya Card, Marcia Harper, Anthony Monnig, Jacob Marler, Juanita Jacobsen, Darin Chance, Kim Jones, Jackson Jones, Jennifer Martin, Twila Hollis, Christopher Marc Schwenn, Dolores Coble, Julie Gariepy, Dan Downing, John Waterman, and Melissa Mau.

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