The City of Nevada has partnered with students in Cottey College’s Inclusive Leadership course to seek community participation on future goals and direction. The last formal Strategic Plan for the City, developed in the 1980s, no longer addresses the most relevant issues facing the community. As the City of Nevada works to enhance economic development and improve the experience of those living and/or working in Nevada, this survey will provide fundamental data points that can be used to facilitate direction and goals.

The City’s partnership with Cottey students provides an opportunity for those students to engage with real-life community issues of inclusion and participation. Cottey senior Abigail Reyes Santiago explains, “We want to help create a better environment for everyone in Nevada.” The students were faced with an initial group project to enhance efforts to include a wider variety of residents within Nevada and Vernon County. The students chose to begin with a survey so that there is a clear idea of where the community is currently, and what the community believes needs to be improved. “It’s important to know where this community sits on important issues,” notes Cottey senior Shania Roberts when discussing why the survey was chosen as the focus for the class project.

The focus on a survey to gather community opinion grows from work done previously by Mayor Pro Tem Carol Clyde Gallager, who conducted a number of community forums in 2019. Gallagher notes that “there were a number of consistent issues that were raised in the community forums, and some have already been addressed. What was most needed was an opportunity to gather information in a way that allows for the greatest participation from a wider variety of individuals. We are very hopeful that this survey will help provide insights for City Council to use as they work to set and achieve goals for the community.”

City Manager Mark Mitchell expressed interest in the difference between perspectives shared by those originally from Nevada/Vernon County and those of the many people who have joined the community through work or schooling. In an early meeting with the students, he shared the importance of knowing where we are before we can really determine where we’re going. “We need to all work together to make Nevada a safe community that encourages involvement, respects dialogue, and provides an opportunity for personal growth.” The class, focusing on interacting with citizens from all walks of life, is particularly interested in how to develop outcomes that allow for the greatest involvement of others. Cottey junior Dharma Hopkins, believes that “inclusion is important because it brings about different ways of thinking that allows for new ideas that reinforce community. When the feeling of community grows, more people are heard and involved.”

With the interest in growth and economic development that has been increasing over the past few years, this effort could provide valuable insight into the needs and priorities of those involved with the City of Nevada. The survey will be open to all who live and/or work in Nevada and Vernon County, and summary results will also be shared with the Vernon County Commissioners.

The survey is available through Sunday, November 29, and every adult aged 18 or older who lives and/or works in Nevada/Vernon County is encouraged to participate. Cottey junior Grace LaNier hopes that the survey will “help people think critically about their own place within the community and about how they can impact the City of Nevada in terms of diversity and inclusion. We all have a place and a role to play; we just need to figure out where we all sit so we can move forward”

The survey can be accessed online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N98537F, or via paper submission at City Hall, the City of Nevada Library, the Nevada Housing Authority, or by contacting Dr. Carol Clyde Gallagher at cgallagher@cottey.edu.

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