Representatives from Fire District 1, USD 231, the city of Gardner, the city of Edgerton and the Board of County Commissioners participated in a regional intergovernmental meeting on June 22. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz
The city of Gardner hosted a regional intergovernmental meeting at Gardner City Hall on June 22.
In attendance from the city of Gardner was Chris Morrow, mayor; Steve Shute, council president; Todd Winters, council vice-president; Rich Melton, council member and Cheryl Harrison-Lee, city administrator.
Gardner also had staff present, including Scott Garrie, parks and recreation director; Larry Powell, business and economic development director; and Michael Kramer, public works director.
USD #231 was represented by Pam Stranathan, superintendent; Rob Shippy, school board president; Greg Chapman, board member; and Mark DeWitt, operations manager.
Attending for Fire District 1 was Rob Kirk, fire chief, and Dennis Meyers, assistant fire chief.
From the city of Edgerton was Don Roberts, mayor, and Beth Linn, city administrator.
Rounding out the table of participants was Mike Brown, 6th district county commissioner.
Morrow opened the meeting and thanked the attendees. Each organization gave brief updates on current activities prior to engaging in open discussion.
These types of meetings have happened in the past but this was the first one since December 2014.
A number of topics came up during open discussion, but the overall focus was on improving communication between the entities. Almost everyone at the table described some type of past frustration with intergovernmental communication.
“I totally agree that there needs to be better communication. I have to pick up the Gardner News every week to see what’s happening in Edgerton”, said Morrow.
Greg Chapman, school board member, indicated that poor communication in the past had discouraged open discussion.
“For me, I think it’s very frustrating that we serve both of your communities and it seems like we get nothing but flack from both of you, and I don’t understand that,” said Chapman.
Dennis Meyers, FD1 assistant fire chief, said, “Treat us like a partner. Sometimes we don’t feel like we’re treated like a partner.”
“I think it’s not just the communication but the trust in communications. To know that when you have a meeting, and you have conversations go on, that that communication doesn’t get misinterpreted or become some crazy mess outside of that,” said Pam Stranathan, USD 231 superintendent.
Morrow suggested a lot of the problem was due to the rapid growth and changes the area has experienced the last six years. He supports regular meetings but said success “requires everybody to get on board.”
No kind of vote was taken but the group appeared to reach consensus to consider scheduling this meeting on a quarterly basis, starting now.
Don Roberts, Edgerton mayor, said Edgerton would volunteer to host the next meeting.
The group also wants the Sheriff’s Department, Water7 and possibly others involved in those future meetings.