At the risk of missing or misstating key items, we oﬀer this recap of the recent “Community Partners” forum hosted by the City of Lindsborg:
• The futures of Bethany Home, USD 400 and Lindsborg Community Hospital are significantly aﬀected by current and possible new state and federal policies. Smart planning, new alliances and high- performing staﬀ members have taken the edge oﬀ. At the least, lack of certainty is causing both organizational and community stress. In the case of Bethany Home, policy decisions now threaten a 100-year local tradition of excellence in skilled elder care. Please pay attention to policy proposal details and politely communicate your priorities to state and federal elected oﬃcials. (Our locally elected Rep. Steven Johnson of Assaria made an eﬀort to attend and listen at the forum. Thank you, Rep. Johnson.)
• USD 400’s charter school, operating from Vision_Tek downtown, is a successful statewide model, and the district’s early leadership in providing technology to students continues to pay dividends. The rubber meets the road, Superintendent Glen Suppes reminded, when our young people are brought along in more than academic performance. Employers and higher education seek well-rounded young people withability for individual focus, resilience, capacity for teamwork, and steady outlook in spite of household circumstances.
• LCH administrator Larry Vanderwege said recruitment and retention of health care providers is improved with the addition of Greg Lindholm, PA, now seeing new patients, and Bethany College alum Wendy Dinkel, MD, who is soon to begin accepting new patients. Recruiting continues for a third provider slot. Hospital performance measures (for example, seconds/minutes from emergency room door to EKG or CAT) are on its dashboard, as well as the clinic patient advisory council and its electronic patient portal. Obesity, cancer and mental health were most cited in LCH’s recent community needs survey.
• Bethany College has its financial house in order, and higher education accreditation teams will visit Feb. 6-8, an important hurdle date for us all. Next comes building on Bethany’s enrollment — this on the heels of its largest freshman class in 17 years last fall. Details of a five-year plan, “Bethany Arise,” will be shared soon. “The Good Life” full-tuition scholarships for select McPherson and Saline county high school students has generated 225 inquires, 78 applications and 38 acceptances to the college so far, with more to come.
• The City of Lindsborg is preparing to apply for federal infrastructure grants, if they should become available, for $18 million in needed local improvements (paving parts of Columbus and Union streets, widening Lincoln street, removing sediment from the in-town slough called Cow Creek, dredging drainage channels outside town, electrical generation, sewer mains, community broadband service and more). Still, several key local infrastructure projects are slated for 2017. The City recently made gains in electric service and reliability, thanks to City Administrator Greg DuMars’ expertise in electric utility issues. Improvements will be made in: stormwater drainage on the northwest side; basic new storage for emergency medical vehicles and valuable perishables; and planning for the 2018 construction of the Valkommen Trail expansion, being funded 80 percent with a federal transportation grant administered by the state. The once-controversial J.O. Sundstrom Conference Center is very close to the City Council’s 2018 goal of break-even status; exceptionally good management is cited. DuMars observed that a oft-cited and widely shared community goal — a wellness center — remains unmet in spite of much good work over a decade.
• Mid Kansas Coop (MKC) expects the next few years to be challenging for neighbors in agriculture, just as it has been because of excess supply and lower commodity prices. Lindsborg operations manager Shane Eck looks for more land sales and larger farming/ranching operations. MKC’s role is helping central Kansas ag operations manage inputs (petroleum, fertilizer, and such); market their grain for prompt sale or storage for later sale, and manage risks. MKC has doubled the amount of grain taken in since 2010.
• Poverty, among both the elderly and young, continues to filter steadily into the countywide picture. The Associated Churches of Lindsborg (TACOL) andUSD400 are working with Circles of McPherson County, one of the nation’s most eﬀective “Circles” organizations in breaking poverty cycles. TACOL, a successful local collaboration of faiths, also continues its ministry by generating significant dollars for community benefit through its well-regarded Thrift Shop, staﬀed by local volunteers and filled with locally donated items. TACOL generates funds that help people in crisis — and it recognizes the equally key value of coaching people to sidestep traps that may lead them back to crisis.
• Philanthropy and resource sharing have been and will continue to be powerful tools in maintaining the Smoky Valley’s legacy. The Smoky Valley Community Foundation continues to build and inspire as it tends $3.3 million in funds (and, say, it needs new board members so consider, please). The Lindsborg Arts Council, with its focus on raising funds, enables more creativity-enhancing performing and visual arts education in schools and oﬀerings in the community.
• Wind energy projects are being proposed in McPherson County, including one 7 to 8 miles south of Lindsborg running east to the Marion County line. County oﬃcials also said a planned bridge replacement on Smoky Valley Road will take up to six months to complete, and detours will be needed.
• Bethany Home has completed a rigorous inspection in a new era. Regulators are said to be writing up more “deficiencies” and assessing more fines. Kris Erickson, director, said the average Kansas skilled care home averaged 11 deficiencies of various levels of seriousness, many involving fines that are assessed by the day rather than per incidence. Bethany Home received five deficiencies, four not relating to direct care and none involving fines. Erickson said this result is a significant vote of confidence in the home’s able staﬀ. This shift in skilled nursing care oversight comes as Bethany Home and other Kansas facilities are being reimbursed by the state at a rate $20 less per resident per day than it costs to provide care. Nursing homes, especially small independent locations, are closing in part because of these policies.