Merged agencies will be ‘powerful force for change’

Members of the Interagency Council voted at their Sept. 8 meeting to merge with the Marion County Community Planning Team.

This merger will not only be a convenience to those who attend multiple meetings each month, but, according to Linda Ogden, director of Communities in Schools of Marion County, the merged group will also provide a powerful force for change in Marion County.

Broad representation, including the Early Childhood Program, Head Start, Department on Aging, Hospice, 8th District Judicial System, the five school districts, the business community, Prairie View, city and county government, parents, community recreation, and others interested in children and families will provide the opportunity for involvement in prevention efforts.

The merged coalition will be the Advisory Board to the Communities in Schools Executive Board. Ogden will be a liaison between the two boards.

Since the mid 1980s, the Marion County Interagency Council met bi-monthly as a networking group of service providers, educators and parents in Marion County. The council was formed to comply with state legislation that called for the creation of collaborative councils, identified as 3113s after the House Bill 3113 that was passed in the Kansas Legislature that year.

Debbie Darrow, early intervention specialist with the Marion County Special Education Cooperative, was instrumental in starting the Interagency Council in Marion County. She and others, such as Robert Carlton of Central Homecare and Hospice, and Mike Moran, Hillsboro Elementary School counselor, have been the backbone of interagency since its inception.

Ogden said collaboration has become a requirement for grant applications, community planning and endorsement by state agencies.

In 1997, the Kansas Legislature voted to reform the entire juvenile justice system, and formed the Juvenile Justice Authority (JJA) and hired a director. JJA mandated that each judicial district submit a plan based on work done by community collaborations to assess needs and find solutions for reducing juvenile crime at the local level.

Early in 1998 the Marion County Community Planning Team was formed under the 8th District staff, at Sue Mulryan’s direction. The current chair of the Community Planning Team is Mark Brown, director of children and adolescent services at Prairie View.

In August 2000, Communities in Schools of Marion County filed bylaws and articles of incorporation, and formed an executive board. Linda Ogden was hired as the first director for Marion County.

Heath Marrs, professor of psychology at Tabor, was elected executive board president, and Gordon Mohn, superintendent of USD 410, was elected vice president. Currently a 12-member board is comprised of about 60 percent private and 40 percent public representation.

The Marion County Interagency Council and Marion County Community Planning Team will no longer meet separately. The joint meeting of the new advisory board to CIS will be the second Friday of every month from noon to 1:30 p.m.

The first meeting will be Friday, Oct. 13, at Olde Towne Restaurant in Hillsboro. For more information, contact Ogden at 785-983-4304 or logden@

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