The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 30, 2013

Cherokee County residents form grassroots group to strengthen, promote region

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni

GALENA, Kan. — A group that includes business owners, elected officials and other residents from Cherokee County has launched a grassroots effort to identify common challenges, share best practices and promote economic development.

The group, which for now is called the Municipal Action Planning Partnership, met today at the Streetcar Coffee Shop in Galena. It included representatives from Galena, Baxter Springs and Columbus.

“Everything’s on the table,” said Richard Hildebrand, chair of the Cherokee County Commission, who served as one of the meeting's facilitators. “We want to start by brainstorming, and eventually answer the question: What do we see in our neighborhoods, our schools, our cities, our county and our state, and what would we like to see.

“We want to discuss common challenges, set some goals, work toward improvements. If we focus on our commonalities, we can choose a direction and an action plan. The more people we get, the more ideas.”