? Emphasis is on social and professional relationships.
PowerUps is a new group is taking shape in Marion County with the intent of bringing young adults together socially and professionally.
Terry Jones, economic development director for Marion, said the concept was first introduced by Marci Penner of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.
?PowerUps are young people ages 21 to 39 who are rural by choice,? he said. ?When someone asks me about the group, I like to say we are a young professionals group without having to be a professional?open to anybody and everybody.?
The group was organized a few months ago in Marion County, Jones said, and it?s about making friends and networking.
Jones said Penner suggested new PowerUps meet in relaxed atmospheres and get friendships started.
?Once the foundation is built, the group can meet as a social club for some or get involved in doing projects,? he said.
Roger Holter, Marion city administrator, said Jones took the initiative after hearing about young people in communities around Marion County getting together to socialize and network.
?When (the city) went through its visioning process, from (the Power?Ups) perspective, family recreational activities were very important,? Holter said.
The group identified walking trails and activities to do outdoors and inexpensively, particularly for younger families.
?Their dialogue was that the city really ought to have fishing again in Central Park and open up the walking trails,? he said.
According to Holter, Matt Meyerhoff, district conservationist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Marion and a member of PowerUps, said through his work there is a program that could help.
?(USDA) will stock Luta Creek with fish if we make it a public fishing area,? Holter said.
Jones said if they are able to get enough money, the plan this spring is to build a dock, make some pathways and then start expanding.
In fact, the group has moved this project far enough, Holter said, that it has a site visit in the next couple of weeks.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and USDA plan to meet at Central Park, he said, and see if they can provide funds for maintaining the area.
?If we are registered and accepted to get state money coming,? Holter said, ?we can maintain facilities, plus it would make PowerUps and the city eligible for grants up to $40,000 a year for improvements.?
At one time, the trails went back through the woods for more than a mile, Holter said.
?Apparently, there were street lights, but years ago the lack of use, because of neglect and vandalism, it was just abandoned,? he said.
In its infancy stages, the group was involved in a canned food drive to help the local food bank, but Jones said the projects can vary depending on the town.
?We want to get everyone involved,? he said. ?Some members might not be concerned with Marion?s (projects), but would want to get involved in Peabody (or Hillsboro).?
The overall group serves as an umbrella for smaller units wanting to help their specific community.
?We can help each other with projects and brainstorm together,? he said.
Jones said there are other groups for younger and older rural residents, but for now PowerUps is the only active one in Marion County.
The PowerUps group has about a dozen couples involved, he said, and meets once a month at different locations.
Later this month, Jones said the group will be at Coneburg Grill and Pub in Peabody.
?We hope to meet February in Hillsboro,? he said.
Jones and Holter said they agree these types of groups are a vital part of rural communities.
According to Penner, the PowerUp movement will be successful if it is supported by those who have come before them and those that will follow.
?Everyone has a role (in rural communities),? she said.
Holter said the PowerUps are ?stepping up and making things happen.?
For more information about the group, call Jones at 620-382-3703.