Students make for great engagement

I had a great time this past Thursday afternoon. I was invited by Mr. Knoll to speak to his American Government class at Hillsboro High School. I was able to speak to two Junior / Senior classes on the subject of: Mayor of Hillsboro, KS – What the heck does the Mayor do anyway?

At the beginning of the presentation, I shared a picture of yours truly as an HHS senior from 1976. When I asked what this might mean, one very astute student said; “that anyone can be Mayor?” That was right on target and certainly true in this case!

We spent some time talking about the Mayor’s responsibilities and how our City Government works. As we talked about our city, one of the questions that I asked the second session was; “How many of you would consider making Hillsboro your home after you complete your education?” Only three students raised their hands. This is one of the problems that we in smaller towns face. It is a problem that in my opinion is frequently self-inflicted. We tell students to study hard, go away to college and “make something of yourself”. Unfortunately, we tend not to think that “making something of yourself” could happen right here in Hillsboro!

I was pleased with the students’ engagement and with the amount of questions they asked. One of those questions was; “When will the new hike/bike trail to the hospital be built?” I explained that we were in the process of completing the engineering work and layout of the trail. We also discussed the funding mechanism for the trail. I explained that the City received an 80/20 grant from KDOT (Kansas Department of Transportation) to build the trail and that the total cost for the trail was estimated to be $1 million dollars. I explained to the students that this would be similar to buying a new car for 20% of the actual price. The City of Hillsboro gains $1 million in new infrastructure for $200,000.

We discussed that while yes, the grant came from state taxpayer dollars, if the grant was not awarded to Hillsboro it would have gone to some other community instead. The students all seemed to agree that amenities like this were important for our community and they believe it will have a positive effect on those considering Hillsboro for their home.

I really appreciated the opportunity to speak and was informed by Mr. Knoll that the students would receive a free LS period if they attended a City Council meeting. I hope that incentive will bring some of you out to our meetings (of course, everyone is encouraged to come to a City Council meeting). I hope to see some of you there!

Election Day

As many of you read this column, Election Day will be coming to a close. I hope that ALL registered voters exercised their civic duty and voted. Now that the polls are closed and the results are being tallied, what should we do? My hope is that we will accept the results of the election, come together as citizens of this country, state, county and city and work together to solve our problems and resolve our issues. Collaboration is something I have been mentioning a lot in this column and I do that because I believe it is more critical than ever. Let’s find common ground, let’s find out where we can come together and not drive ourselves apart. Our nation depends on it.

Finally I would encourage everyone to pray for our leaders, from the President on down to your Mayor. One thing I can assure you of, we need it!