By Susan Redden
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Carthage officials and representatives of organizations in the community gathered Friday to start a process aimed at identifying future needs that can be addressed by funding from the Steadley Memorial Trust.
Discussions were led by Ralph Ochsner, a Kansas City-based consultant hired by Steadley directors to oversee the effort.
He said the more than 40 participants are being asked to identify influences and assets of Carthage, and to envision the city in the future if there are no changes in current conditions.
“Then we’ll be asking them to envision what Carthage could be with no limits on resources, in terms of time or money,” he said.
Information gathered Friday will be assembled and used to guide discussions in a week, aimed at developing future funding decisions for the trust, which has given Carthage-area organizations more than $13.3 million since 1999.
Members of the Carthage City Council and city staff were among those participating in the discussions, and Mayor Mike Harris compared the steps with ones the city has gone through with drafting a Comprehensive Development Plan for the city and the more recent downtown visioning program undertaken with students from Drury University at Springfield.
The financial limitations of cities and other organizations make resources possible from foundations such as the Steadley Trust even more important, Harris said.
“The (financial) pie is limited and a lot of it is spoken for, so you have to make improvements as money is available,” he said. “The city is taking on parks improvements, but it’s something we have to focus on one park at a time.”
Participants will return for another session next Friday. Results will be analyzed and potential projects will be forwarded to Steadley trustees for future consideration of projects that fall within the mission of the trust.
Steadley directors hired the consulting firm in an effort to think longer-range about how to make future decisions on funding from the trust. The firm helped trust advisers through similar steps more than 25 years ago, Ochsner said.
In recent years, funding from the foundation established by Kent D. and Mary L. Steadley has helped support the Carthage Golf Course, Fair Acres Sports Complex, the Fair Acres YMCA, the Carthage School District, Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital, the Carthage Public Library and organizations that are involved in animal welfare, historic preservation, human services and the arts.