Bates County Update

Like my last entry, I am finding myself trying to figure out where a whole month went. Seriously though, did September even happen? I guess it is a good thing that time does not drag with my job or else I would probably be doing something wrong! So much has happened since August, so I will start from the beginning…

First of all, Bates County was named 1 of just 52 quarterfinalists for the Georgetown University Energy Prize! What a great accomplishment that is for a rural county like ours and while I am very proud of this, we still have a lot of work to do. To become semifinalists, we now have to write a 2 year energy plan that would start on January 1, 2015. Hopefully we will become semifinalists and will spend those 2 years implementing our plan. If Bates County becomes a finalist at the end of the 2 years, we will then need to write a report of our finding. Once the report is submitted, the GUEP committee will chose a winner for the $5 million prize. We have a long way to go, but we have come a long way so far, so I have full faith in this county’s abilities!

So, a lot of September has been designated to writing this plan and getting all the information I could possibly need to do so. Luckily I am not doing it by myself and there is a FANTASTIC team helping me. For this project we have Adrian, Butler, Rich Hill, and the County, plus KCP&L, Osage Valley, MCPower Companies, and Roof Power Solar. They have been doing their part too, researching and contacting groups so that we can submit the best plan possible. The energy efficiency plan is due November 10, and I am happy to say that due to everybody’s hard work it is almost done! From now until November we will be taking the plan to the different city council’s and contacting any parties that would be able to assist in the effort starting January 1. If you are interested in being part of this, please contact me because we are going to need all of the help we can get. A lot of making this work is educating the importance of energy efficiency.

I am happy to say that GUEP is not the only accomplishment for Bates County in the past month! Adrian was a recipient of a $100,000 grant from the Missouri Recreational Trails Program to pave their trail in the park. The trail is currently gravel and a little less than .5 mile long. Once finished it will be about a mile and go all the way to the natural prairie at the south end of the park. The hope is to also put a shelter there so that groups could use the space for educational purposes.  That park is such an asset to Adrian, it is great that time continues to be put into improving it!

Rich Hill was also a recipient of up to $10,000 from the Missouri Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance grant program. Last year Rich Hill had to remove multiple trees from both parks which has left areas bare. Like Adrian’s park, Rich Hill’s parks are truly an asset! The funding received will allow for 20 trees to be planted to fill those spots and a few more trees will be removed as necessary. These 2 grants are so great for the county because they are helping to keep Bates County beautiful!

Finally, at the Missouri Municipal League Annual Conference Butler was the recipient of the 2014 Innovation Award. There categories for this award are large, medium, and small city, as well as honorable mention for each of those categories. Butler won first place for the small city category for the solar farm. While multiple cities are now building their own solar farms, Butler’s was the first of its kind for Missouri. The time and effort that was put in to make that project happen really has paid off. What an amazing accomplishment in a statewide competition like that one!

I am also working hard with the Butler Vision Committee in the Comprehensive Plan process. The Vision Committee is another great group that I get to work with! We had a booth at Huckster’s Day and had over 300 surveys fill out. WOW! Thank you to everybody who filled one out and is actively helping to improve Butler for the future. In the next few months the Vision Committee will start a campaign to really get people involved in this effort, so be watching out for that. Our next step is to determine the goals for the Comprehensive Plan and like the booth at Huckster’s Day, there will be complete public involvement to do that. So, start asking yourself, where should Butler be by 2035?

Starting in November, a lot of my current projects will be completed and I plan to focus on local business. I really want to reach out to these businesses and determine the needs within Bates County. We have so many great businesses so whether people live in the region or are just driving down I-49, I want them to see that. I also want Bates County to become a Missouri Work Ready Community because it would be a great asset to have. My entire next blog entry will be focusing all of this and my complete approach to this effort.

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