Staff Updates

Staff Updates: May 2022

Sheridan Garman-Neeman, Executive Director

I am pretty sure that I lost a month somewhere, the federal and state funding pictures are changing at a rapid pace right now. It is a lot for me and our team to keep up with, but I could not be prouder of the team at Kaysinger right now. I have been working on putting together RFPs on behalf of CARE/ TRCDC to send out for soliciting an architectural firm for construction and a financial firm to do our audits. I am excited about a potential expanded building. I am working on our MoDOT financial and work plan for next year and looking at our overall budget as Kay works on the numbers. I have been editing content for our new website which is coming soon. I built a mini-website for the Butler Comprehensive Plan that we can use to update the city and greater community on what is coming next. It has our first survey for the City of Butler linked to it. As well, regarding the Butler Comprehensive plan, I have been gathering economic development data about Bates County and the City of Butler. I am working to put together a regional meeting on broadband and have spoken with COMO and someone from MU’s broadband engagement team about lining up speakers for this event. A date, time, and place will be decided soon depending on the availability of speakers. I spend an inordinate amount of time tracking federal grants and working to find which ones align with projects in our region and which ones align with Kaysinger’s programmatic goals. The infrastructure side is looking great, and funding for economic development is not so rosy. We will be applying for the Brownfields RLF program this year, as many across the region have expressed a need for Brownfields Cleanup dollars. I am working on an economic development project with the City of Clinton, and one in the City of Windsor. I am assisting a small broadband provider with a grant application as well. We at Kaysinger made a conscious effort to engage our cities and counties more and to work to get the word out about who we are and what we do. It is really working as engagement with our team has never been better. At this rate, I am sure that I will see summer in the rearview mirror before I know it.!

Ashley Swartz, Assistant Director

I’m still busy writing new content for our website. I really want it to be useful. The developer is working on building the framework and adding the new content. We had a meeting with the developer to see the progress and discuss any changes and edits. If there is something you’d like to see on our website or think would be useful, let me know and I will try to incorporate it. We look forward to having a great website that represents us well. There are funding opportunities opening all the time, so check out the Funding Opportunities page on our website to see some of the open opportunities and follow us on Facebook where many of those opportunities are posted. CDBG should be announcing its funding awards this month. As mentioned before, I applied for a CDBG for the City of Osceola for street improvements. I’m really looking forward to hearing if we are funded. I’m assisting on another CDBG for Osceola through emergency funding to clean up the downtown buildings that caught fire this past winter. I’m in the final process of writing the environmental assessment for Deepwater’s CDBG project. There have been many changes at the state, so it’s been a learning process all over again. CDBG is hosting their administration training workshop next month that I will be attending. I have also been writing the environmental assessment for the City of Clinton for an EDA application they are submitting. I am continuing research for some funding for Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare for their program expansion as well as other organizations that have reached out and are seeking grant funding. I finished my class this semester for my Digital Media Communications Certificate. Only one class is left until certification. There are 70% tax credits for sale for Lily’s House in Adrian, and Friends of the Hickory County Health Department. If you know of any businesses interested in purchasing these tax credits, please send them my
way. Both these organizations really need our help.. If you would like to sign up for the bi-monthly newsletter, you can go here: and register. You can also follow along with all things Kaysinger by “liking” us on Facebook and following us on LinkedIn.

Teresa Heckenlively, St. Clair County Economic Development Director

In Appleton City, I continue to meet with the City twice a month in addition to their Council Meetings to provide support and resources as needed. I’ve partnered with Tiffany Frost with the Woman’s Business Center in Eldorado Springs to plan and host a community meeting in June to gauge interest in a workshop to help bring the community and its organizations together to plan the growth they envision based on data provided by MU Extension. In Lowry City, I was able to assist in the expansion of the Business District in order to cover a potential new business. This business will also renovate a blighted building. In Osceola, I continue to meet twice a month with the City, Osceola Community Chamber of Commerce, and Osceola Optimist for what we call our Think Tank Meetings. These meetings are to discuss projects within and surrounding the community of Osceola and we can support those projects and future projects. I’m also working on the America Walks Community Change grant the City was awarded for wayfinding signs. I’ve been working to get community turnout for the US Army Corps of Engineers Truman Lake Master Plan Revision. This meeting is on Monday, May 23, 2022, at the Osceola High School. I’ve continued working with the Osage Hills Connection Route, this bike route will connect the Frisco and Katy Trails by way of County Roads. We’ve set a date of
September 9th and 10th for an Inaugural Ride. I’ve met with Carrie Kissel, NADO, and Rebecca Gleason, Western Transportation Institute to discuss the work on trails in St. Clair County as they are working on Trails in Dade County.

Ben Vickers, Vernon County Economic Development Director

Since January I have been working on many of the same projects, many of which I hope to conclude sometime soon. Project Royal, the large business lead interested in Vernon County, was canceled due to national supply chain issues and rising construction costs, but I am not discouraged. Through this project, I learned a good deal about site selection and marketing to potential businesses and am much more prepared for the next prospect. This project highlighted the need for a more refined industrial development strategy, which could include investment into a master plan for the identified site. In addition, I have been working with an existing local company that expects to create a significant number of jobs in the next five years. After connecting the company to several state incentive programs, the company expects to be able to expand by approximately 111 employees, and because of my program will be able to save and reinvest nearly $436,000. The State Hospital project also looks very promising. After many meetings and calls with the state of Missouri, the Office of Administration is looking at options that may involve conveying the property back to the city of Nevada. This would allow us to pursue the redevelopment plan which I had led and build much-needed housing for all income levels. Though there is much work that needs to be done, the conveyance of the property is the first domino that needs to fall to be successful. My prior application to the Brownfields regional technical assistance for this project has also been extremely successful, with the final version of the redevelopment/reuse master plan completed. This plan allows for between 400-600 housing units to be completed across seven phases, complete with a new park, bike trails, and new retail space in a very blighted portion of the community. I have also been working with the Nevada/Vernon County Chamber of Commerce to put together a plan for tourism that would draw outside visitors and investment to the community. This May, I submitted a proposal to the city of Nevada that would allow a portion of tourism funds to be managed by Build VC, Vernon County Economic Development, and better market the community to prospective visitors. Most recently I have been focused on updating Vernon County’s ED Strategic Plan, created in 2018, to reflect changes from the past four years and the projected needs of the community from 2023 to 2028. For this update, I created and have been publicizing a survey focused on understanding the perceptions that residents have towards the city of Nevada and Vernon County, and what our most underutilized assets
may be. Going forward, I will continue to push this survey while interviewing local stakeholders to better understand the needs and desires of businesses and leaders as well.

Jo Ann Lane, Benton County Economic Development Director

With collaboration and partnerships, great things continue in Benton County. Here’s a look at what’s been happening. The “Unity in the Community” group continues to meet monthly in Warsaw. It’s a partnership with Benton County Tourism, Benton County Extension, Benton County Economic Development, Warsaw Chamber, and City of Warsaw. This partnership hosted a Career Fair in Warsaw in March (along with the Missouri Job Center) which led to another one being held in April at Warsaw High School. The Drenon Ranch Arena in Lincoln opened and has hosted a few events. This created 7 new jobs in the county and is bringing new people into the county for events. Approximately 200- 400 people are coming in for every event. The next meeting of the Benton County Economic Development Committee will be held at this location. Another exciting news is EPIC Workforce and Practical Skills has been approved by DESE as an Extended Employment Sheltered Workshop. We are excited to have this opportunity in Benton County. We’ve also had some business openings in the county, What Ya Cookin’ in Cole Camp, The Village Cobbler in Lincoln, Dam Bargain Barn in Warsaw, and Oops I Arted moved into a new location in Warsaw. Several other things are happening in the county, so keep watching!

Dillon Harness, Disaster Recovery Coordinator

Of the four plans due for renewal by 2024, both Hickory and Cedar Counties are moving along at the steadiest clip, but with good reason. Remember these plans are due within the first three months of 2024 and I would prefer to stay ahead of the game with them. I attended the Hickory County Local Emergency Planning Committee meeting on May 10th in Hermitage as well and that was the unofficial start of community planning in Hickory County.

  •  Henry and Vernon Counties are continuing to make progress at a modest pace. I have been in communications with the Emergency Management Director for Henry
    County and have discussed preliminary expectations for the plan.
  • Additionally, if your county has any nonprofit private schools that would like to participate, they are allowed to participate in the Hazard Mitigation plan.

The biggest thing with Hazard Mitigation is awaiting some revisions to match guidance that will greatly benefit our rural communities and counties. Previously, the match requirement was 75% Federal and 25% Local match for every Hazard Mitigation Plan. However, new guidelines from FEMA is changing this to a 90% Federal and only a 10% Local match. Neither Sheridan nor I have received anything official on this new guidance. The hope is that it comes sooner than later, say before the end of the Fiscal Year. Once that guidance comes, Hazard Mitigation Planning will be in full swing for each of the four counties. Meetings will be held shortly thereafter. Participation will be vital to ensuring the best possible outcome for your communities and school districts, it is also mandatory. I understand that some communities do not have much to offer, especially if they are very small, incorporated communities like Stotesbury (Population: 12) in Vernon County for example but doing something is better than nothing. Please contact me if you have questions about what to expect regarding the Hazard Mitigation Planning process I will do my best to answer them, but I will get an answer from my partners at the State if I cannot answer them. Additionally, I have attended another training session to aid towards a highly sought-after certificate for professional development, this latest one dealt with warning coordination through the National Weather Service. I could spend days talking about it, but I will spare everyone the details. My next training session is in June back in Kansas City where I had my first in-person training in almost 3 years. One last thing, and it’s a small but significant detail in every Hazard Mitigation Plan, that is the USDA Agricultural Census… the new one is coming up for this year. I’ll remind everyone at our later board meeting in November, but please remember to sign up to receive your census in November and complete it by February 6th, 2023. Data from this will come out sometime in 2024. I will take any and all questions in person, via email, and by phone. Best regards to all.

Shannon Stewart, Grant Writing Specialist

Spring has surely sprung!! I have been QUITE busy with the Quad-Lakes SWMD program. This last quarter we had a DNR program monitoring visit, as well as a program audit. Kay and I are working some active items regarding both of those visits and hope to get them wrapped up in the very near future. I sent out the FY23 grant call on May 13th, and those applications will be due June 13th. I am looking forward to seeing what recycling projects will come from our region! I am also still working with those in our region that received ARPA funding, and assisted with the reports due on April 30th, and continue to field any other questions and concerns. I will soon be sending out information regarding the Missouri Department of Economic Development ARPA grant program and look forward to providing assistance with those grant applications. I completed and submitted the Truman Lake Affiliate First Responder Grant Program application for the Tightwad Fire Protection District and am waiting to hear a decision on that submission. I was very pleased to hear that same grant program approved the Clinton Fire Department’s request I submitted for radios! I am once again serving on the Farm to Fork committee, and we are already planning for next year’s event. It will surely be here before we know it! There are some really amazing ideas brewing for the 2023 summit, and I look forward to assisting with sponsorships and helping the team to make it yet another fun and educational event. I have been working with Hickory County and have started attending the Commissioners’ meetings once a month to provide any updates pertaining to their county and projects. I also submitted a grant request to the MODOT Southwest Missouri Roadway Coalition program for a speed radar trailer that, if awarded, will hopefully ensure safer passage through the highly traveled roads in Hickory County during this very busy lake season. Grant season is surely in full swing, and I continue to be grateful for being a part of Kaysinger and doing what I can to assist those in our region with their funding needs.

Ryan Peters, Regional Planner

I am working on our Regional Transportation Plan update, as well as starting the process to update our Regional Transit Plan. I am also working on the Butler Comprehensive Plan, reviewing their previous plans, and distributing a survey. We will be commencing community meetings & organizing a website for Butler shortly. With an uptick in requests for ADA reviews of projects, I am working on getting certification to be more qualified to do so; this qualification should be completed by the next update. With recent transportation funding opportunities opening for the region, like the TAP grant, I have spent a lot of time answering questions and visiting sites to see what can potentially qualify for these opportunities – updating the STIP and Unfunded Needs List accordingly. Feel free to contact me if you have infrastructure-related grant questions; I may not have all of the answers but am happy to make sure you get them!