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Thursday
January 23rd, 2020
L&T Opinions Page

LETTER TO THE EDITOR, Milton Rice, Liberal

 

You know us old folks, we all start our conversation with, “I remember when ...”

I remember that I was one of the members of the Focus on the Future when it was organized in 1993. The Chamber of Commerce board of directors set an objective for 1994, “Renew the Spirt of the Community” within the City of Liberal and Seward County.

From that came the Focus on the Future steering committee of 18 members representing city, county, African American, Hispanic, USD No. 480, Senior Center, Seward County Community College, Southwest Medical Center and Convention and Tourism.

At our first meeting, we invited a gentleman from another community who was involved in getting a 1-cent sales tax passed in his area. He shared how it worked and gave us a lot of things to think about.

He shared how when we agree on the plan that we designate a certain percent of the incoming funds for each project. He also noted that the City Commission will have full control of the funds that would be collected from the 1-cent sales tax, and it would be a responsibility of the Focus on the Future board to keep alert that the incoming funds will be used for the projects the community voted for.

During the meetings that were conducted throughout the City, there were several concerns and suggestions. The committee then worked together and lined out the five major areas of concern at the time: 1. Streets and drainage; 2. Drugs and alcohol; 3. Housing; 4. Economic development; and 5. Beautification.

I now look back and remember when Western Avenue and Fifteenth Street were only two lane streets, and the north side of Fifteenth Street had an open drainage ditch. Kansas Avenue had big wooden poles holding up a lot of wire, and the old railroad depot was about to be torn down.

Drugs and alcohol were becoming a public problem, and our parks and recreation were in need of improvement along with several other areas.

But we can all see the changes that have been made in the city and surrounding areas over the past few years because of the 1-cent sales tax that has been voted on since 1994.

I remember we talked about the need to improve the City recreation center. This discussion has been going on for several years. It has now become a reality when the City Commission and School Board worked together on the South Middle School property. It will take time to convert the property into a recreation center that will become beneficial to the young as well as the older generation.

If you have any suggestions on ways we can keep improving the City and surrounding area in using the 1-cent sales tax, be sure to find time to attend the meetings or contact members of the Focus on the Future Committee.

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