Staff Updates

Staff Updates: November 2020

A Busy Fall for All!

Sheridan Garman-Neeman, Executive Director

Our team has grown to 11 staff members and getting our newest staff up to date and on task has been part of what I am working on. We recently had our EDA peer review, which is a requirement for keeping our EDA funding. EDA staff and our peer reviewer from a regional planning council in Iowa had positive things to say. The peer review was also an exchange of sorts, and it seemed we face the same challenges in each of our regions. I walked away feeling like we are on the right track and proud of our work under EDA the last few years. Speaking of EDA, our CEDS and SET VI plans recently received a 2020 Aliceann Wohlbruck Impact Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) for the Innovative Regional Collaboration Developed through the SET VI and CEDS Planning Process. We were the only recipients of this award in the state of Missouri. I am proud of the innovative work we are doing in the region and hopeful that it will help to yield a more prosperous future for citizens here. Administering our RCDI grant and managing the ED program, Administering and managing the new projects under our CARES Act EDA award and of course all of the regular administrative functions of Kaysinger are where my time is currently being spent. I am also the Missouri team lead for the Walkability Action Institute, which is a course in creating walkability and complete streets in our communities. At the end of the WAI project, we will have created a Missouri capstone project. We have decided to center our work on Wheatland, MO and are doing a walk audit in Wheatland on November 12th.

Michelle Slater, Assistant Director

What a busy last few months and year in general. Transportation planning will be picking up soon, which is great news! Starting in February 2021 we will be starting our STIP (Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan) meetings where we discuss the southwest transportation needs for our region. I’m excited to start working on assessing the needs of our region with each of our member communities. With Quad-Lakes the 2021 recycling grants have been approved and we are waiting for FAA’s to be sent out by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources so those grants can get underway. I have been enjoying my new role as Assistant Director and helping Sheridan when she needs me. I have been working with the newly hired employees by going over the KBRPC handbook, showing them how we do timesheets, explaining how our world works here as best as I can.

Ashley Swartz, Community Development Administrator

Construction is almost complete at the Lowry City Civic Center and is coming along nicely. I can’t wait to show you all the renovations when it’s complete. The construction company has done a wonderful job. CDBG made its announcement for its upcoming grant cycle. The competitive application cycle opened in October and is due December 31. I am working on a general infrastructure application for the City of Deepwater to submit for this round. Last month, I completed an environmental review for the City of Nevada. They were awarded funding for their new animal shelter, and USDA, like other agencies, requires an environmental review of the project site. I am still trying to sell tax credits for Lily’s House in Adrian, and Friends of the Hickory County Health Department. Typically, the 70% tax credits are easy to sell, but as we all know, 2020 is anything but typical. If you know of any business interested in purchasing 70% tax credits, please send them my way. Both of these organizations really need our help. The classes I’m taking through State Fair are going really well. I’m really learning a lot so far, and have been able to apply some of those concepts here at Kaysinger. I am truly thankful for this opportunity. We just chose a public relations firm, Formation PR, to hire to develop our communications plan, and in January we will begin that process. If you haven’t already, we’d appreciate your help with our communications plan on how and where we can improve. Please take a moment to fill out this quick and easy brand perception survey, we’d appreciate it so much. Remember to “like” us on Facebook to keep up with all things Kaysinger.

Teresa Heckenlively, St. Clair County Economic Development Director

St. Clair County Economic Development has continued work in connectivity and accessibility in both Appleton City and Osceola. I’ve administered the AD Grant in Appleton City allowing Missourians for Responsible Transportation to create a plan for Appleton City to bridge gaps to everyday destinations with safe routes for all modes of transportation. This Plan will be available this month. In Osceola, I presented the Osceola Livable Streets Plan with Michelle Slater at the October City Council Meeting. I also was able to share the plan with Stephanie Bertaina, US EPA Office of Community Revitalization who led the Healthy Places for Healthy People Grant Osceola was awarded in 2018/2019. Walkability was the number one goal set by the community of Osceola so she was very pleased with the progress. I hosted a Ribbon Cutting for Appleton City’s 4th Street Fika in October. It was well attended and the owners seemed very pleased with the service. I am currently working with the Osceola Community Chamber of Commerce to provide a Ribbon Cutting for Craft Happens. Along with the Ribbon Cutting, I am working on a cross-promotion event for Craft Happens, Pine Street Mercantile, both in Osceola and Got an Idea Primitives in Collins. During this event, the three boutiques have agreed to send patrons from their shop to the others for a day of shopping. I am creating a flier for them to hand out. I have two new business leads I’m working on providing assistance to, one in Lowry City and one in Osceola. The potential business in Osceola we’ve been working on a Business Plan and finding a building.

Nick Allison, Cedar County Economic Development Director

Over the last months, I have been to city council meetings in Adrian, Urich, and Stockton on behalf of Kaysinger to assess their needs and provide them with updates at Kaysinger. I will continue to make my way around our region visiting other community council meetings as well. I have been in contact with the Southwest Region Recreation Planner for Missouri Dept. of Conservation to talk about trail creation in Hickory County and will continue to work on that over the coming weeks. Benjamin Smith from the Census Bureau has continued to keep me updated about the plans of the Census Bureau and how we can help them in the region. My local work in Cedar County has been marked with success recently. The Cedar County EEZ Board approved an application for a new meat processor, a new welding school is set to open in the fall after working with us to identify funding opportunities and navigate state requirements, and the Stockton Landing Committee has received approval from the city to pursue a corps lease for development. We have helped with business plans, written grants for the city, and will continue to contact local businesses and not-for-profit organizations about grant opportunities as they arise. While COVID made many of us brace for the worst, we are currently seeing new businesses planning to open throughout the county. The real estate market is strong, with people from outside the community looking to move into rural Missouri. This is an opportunity for a lake area like ours to really benefit, and I hope to see these trends continue in the coming months.

Ben Vickers, Vernon County Economic Development Director

Things are going quite well in Vernon county! Over the past three months, I have worked on Business Retention and Expansion, community development and events, and working with city boards to develop a consistent and unified plan for the City of Nevada. These projects have been made possible by a wonderful and open community that is tired of stagnant growth in everything from business, housing, population, and more. Through these initiatives, I hope to build community trust and develop a long-term plan for continued growth and development. As we near the end of the semester, I am hoping to receive the final reports from my involvement with the MU EDGE projects. These groups have been fun to work with and have generated some creative ideas and perspectives, and I am looking forward to seeing what their research was able to find. The project focused on broadband was able to receive over 120 survey responses about the quality of the internet in Vernon county and will be researching new trends and technology that may help in bringing better internet to the county. Information like this from all six projects will be helpful for creating a long term plan for Vernon County. One of my favorite ongoing projects is my involvement with the city of Nevada as a non-voting member of the park board and planning and zoning committee. Both of these groups play a huge part in the development and keep me directly involved with the goings-on of Nevada. Most recently, I helped and advised the park board in pursuing a professionally designed, 18-hole disc-golf course that can be used for tournaments, tourism, and general community development. Amenities such as this will help attract and retain people who want to live an active lifestyle and helping guide the management of our over 500 acres of parks is an incredible opportunity to develop the livability of Nevada. In addition to the parks board, the planning and zoning committee will be developing a five-year plan for the city. The committee has agreed to investigate some of the recommendations I have made for potential housing, industrial, and retail development, and will include some of these suggestions in the updated plan for growth. This plan will identify areas of the city in need of revitalization, and give guidance to the budgeting and planning of new infrastructure needed for potential businesses and growth.

Jo Ann Lane, Benton County Economic Development Director

Apart from the regular county wide meetings that I regularly attend, Benton County has several projects currently in progress.  I continue to work and provide information and resources to businesses of all sizes in Benton County. One of the main projects is the Benton County Housing Study.  The Zoom Meetings with the Technical Committee have started and the “Listening Sessions” throughout the county will occur in early December.  When the housing study is completed this document will give communities and housing developers a guidebook and a toolkit to ensure a healthy and functioning housing market. Housing has become an essential component to economic stability.    A comprehensive housing strategy is a way to make sure many housing market challenges are addressed, and it provides recommendations to communities and housing developers for solutions. “The Town Alive on 65” is making a comeback.  Several new businesses are opening or plan to open along the Highway 65 corridor in Lincoln.  Discount Central, LLC is up and running with a ribbon cutting scheduled for November 14th, Mozark Mocha is awaiting the last piece of equipment and will be open within the week, with a ribbon cutting to follow.  At this time, three additional businesses are scheduled to open in the coming months. I continue to work on the Benton County Relocation Guide with students from the Trulaske Business School, EDGE program through the University of Missouri.  When completed this will be a great marketing tool to future new business.  Last, progress continues in the northern part of the county on the CAFO.  Plans are to be open in the spring of 2021. The opportunities are incredible and I look forward to continuing projects and watch Benton County develop.

Dillon Harness, Disaster Recovery Coordinator

I started the new position as the new Disaster Recovery Coordinator on October 1st. I am a graduate of Oklahoma State University’s Master of Science in Fire and Emergency Management Administration Program. I received my Bachelors’ degree from Western Illinois University in Emergency Management. My early primary role while at Kaysinger is assisting with two counties’, Benton and St. Clair, and their Hazard Mitigation planning by conducting risk assessments as part of the requirements set forth by the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency. Currently, four of the seven counties that work with Kaysinger have Hazard Mitigation plans that are up-to-date through 2024, and one, which will be discussed shortly, is up-to-date through 2025. On May 13th, 2020, Bates County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan was formally approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Missouri State Emergency Management Agency. This approval for their plan means that their plan is good for 5 years and will be updated next in 2025. As for Hickory, Cedar, Henry, and Vernon Counties, their plans are good through at least September 2024. Two other counties, Benton and St. Clair, are expiring soon, but there is a bit of good news for these counties. Benton and St. Clair Counties Hazard Mitigation Plans expire in 2021, but they are currently being worked on with hopes for being approved before they expire in May and October of 2021 respectively. Once finalized and approved, these plans will not expire again until 2026.

Shannon Stewart, Grant Writing Specialist

I am thrilled to be a part of KBRPC, and doing my part to help the seven counties we serve. I have started off pursuing funding for mobile hot-spot service/devices for CARE SFCC-Clinton students, as well as a water bottle filling station for the campus. Grant submissions went out to Community Foundation of the Ozarks – Benton County, Community Foundation of the Ozarks – COVID-19 Relief Fund, Ameren Cares, and State Farm Good Neighbor Citizenship Company Grant.  I am researching funding opportunities for upgrading security at CARE/TRCDC; funding for an Active Living Coordinator to oversee regional trail planning and Complete Streets; funding for a housing assessment for Henry County.  I am compiling a list of various funding sources to tap into for various KBRPC projects, as well as learning about New Growth and Farm to Fork and how I can contribute to that endeavor. Additionally, I am learning about FEMA grants, CDBG grants, and all things Kaysinger. It’s been a great few weeks, and I look forward to the future.

Katie Hunter, Administrative Assistant

Currently I am working on collecting information for migration into the Synchronist platform. It will keep all of our contact, project, program, and business information into a searchable online database. I am continuing to work on the google drive with Kaysinger’s past projects and project data, cataloging all of Kaysinger’s technology and who is using it, and maintaining all of our technology. I have been assisting with building maintenance and upkeep at the BDC. In addition to these larger projects, I perform daily administrative duties around the office and assist the other staff members with any duties they have.