By Betsy Barnett

2021-04-30 03:38:12

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish the Town Council or the County Commissioners would get their act together and fix (fill in the blank)?”  Or perhaps you have noticed some things missing in the community that you’d like to have for the citizens to enjoy?  Perhaps you’ve been frustrated by the lack of opportunity available where we live?  Well, now is your time---our time---to voice those concerns and state what needs to be done to make Eads and the whole of Kiowa County an even better place to live and raise our next generation.
A few years back, when I was the Eads High School Principal, we took part in the Dream Big Eads event whereby tech companies from across Colorado brought their coolest and most innovative products and ideas to the students in eastern Colorado.  It was a magical day that gave the kids who attended, as well as the adults, a concept and a better understanding of what is possible when you dream big.
Now, the Kiowa County Commissioners (BOCC) is asking we the citizens to ‘Dream Big’ and imagine the possibilities of what we could have in our communities.  The BOCC is teaming up with people from the Southern Colorado Economic Development District (SCEDD) to encourage us all to tell them what we dream about, what we hope for, and what we need in this community.
They want to hear from the members of the communities in Kiowa County, from all walks of life, and have set up two separate times for you to come to the courthouse and meet with the BOCC and SCEDD to tell them your ideas.  The first meeting is Tuesday, May 11 at 10:00 am in the basement meeting room at the Courthouse in Eads.  The second meeting is two weeks later on Tuesday, May 25, same time and same place.  You can attend one meeting, both, or none and simply email your ideas in to:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Or you can email them (same address) and request a link to the meetings.  Or you can call them anytime.
There is a County Project Application that they would like you to fill out and submit.  Do it.  Tell them what’s on your mind.  Don’t worry about it making sense, just tell them what you think could be a really cool improvement project for Kiowa County.
Now, if you’re like me, you’re thinking anytime we have these types of meetings with alphabet-labeled groups, nothing ever comes of it.  We never make any progress.  They don’t listen or, what is closer to the truth, they’d like to follow through, but they don’t have the funding to do so. 
This time, however, the Independent is being told that all they need is to list the (your) ideas on the Kiowa County list of Improvement Projects and when funding comes available across the state, the County will be in a much better position to receive various forms of grants and investment money if we have listed these given projects on the SCEDD list. 
It’s like our letters to Santa.  If we say it, if it’s listed, well, then we’re categorized as “interested” and it may pay off in future funding applications for any organization within Kiowa County. 
Another benefit we see, in addition to getting ourselves on a list of dream projects, is this type of workshop creates much-needed discussion within the community.  Never doubt that your friends and neighbors are thinking basically along the same lines as you are as to what is most needed in the community.  Here’s our opportunity to say it out loud.  We all know when we put it out in the world, actually saying it out loud, often times results come back in a positive way.
Prior to writing this article and in preparation for the May meetings that the Independent will certainly attend, we put this Dream Big request out on our Facebook page.  In just a few hours we had a couple of dozen comments from readers across the community who have been thinking about what is needed in our communities.
The results indicate a handful of extremely important areas of need.  They include developing a strong recreation program for youth and young adults with a centralized director, facilities and a board to oversee it; develop housing; find new uses for the abandoned buildings, especially the commercial buildings, by renovating them into office space, living space, and retail space.  A strong push to get the library out of the basement of the courthouse and onto Maine Street where it is much more accessible to the citizens was another popular request.  Some people wanted to develop the lake areas for fishing, camping, birdwatching, boating and motocross events.
More accessible beautification ideas were expressed such as replacing the county road signage, cleaning up the communities and landscaping the yards, and adding appealing improvements to Maine Street.
Three major developments were requested and strongly supported including building a new swimming pool, building a new Pre-K through12 school, and building a new medical/health center.
This was a very informal survey of readers, quick and to the point, but it still revealed a wealth of information for us to think about and for the BOCC and the SCEDD to add to their list.
Every planning and leadership group in the communities within Kiowa County should memorize what is on these lists and start Dreaming Big along with their constituents.  The time is now.  It might not come again.



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