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County honored for United Way giving
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 In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:

• Approved the reappointment of Trella Berscheidt to the SouthWest Kansas Area Agency on Aging Sub-Regional Council. The county recently sought applicants for two positions on the SWKAAA council. It helps determine long-term needs and adequate programs for all senior citizens in southwest Kansas. Appointees are required to attend four quarterly meetings per year, with mileage reimbursed but no other compensation. The position end in September, 2018. 

Berscheidt’s appointment leaves one unfilled postion on the council.

 When Julie Bugner Smith took over the helm of the United Way of Central Kansas in 2011, Barton County employees gave $1,600 to the annual campaign. This past year, they kicked in well over $6,000.

“I just want to say thank you,” Smith said Monday morning during the County Commission meeting. She was recognizing the county as one of the UWCK’s Pacesetters, an exclusive group made up of the top 15 UWCK donors.

“We are here to make our community a better place,” Smith said. UWCK supports 19 agencies and three programs in Barton and Pawnee counties with a 2016 drive goal of $275,000.

“United Way is national and international, but it is also local,” she said. Of all the money raised, 99 percent stays in the area.

“The county is important to United Way,” Smith said. County employees give through payroll deductions, a program that makes up about 70 percent of UWCK’s income.

However, that program was under assault by the Kansas Legislature this past session, said Commissioner Jennifer Schartz. Lawmakers tried to take away the ability for public entities to give through payroll deductions, an effort that was thwarted by United Way leaders.

“We can help ourselves locally,” Schartz said, adding that the legislative effort was a grave mistake. “It doesn’t hurt anyone.”

Had the option been taken away, it could have meant a $1 million blow to United Way groups statewide, Smith said.

Pacesetters are the top companies that support United Way not only through payroll deductions, but also hold fundraisers throughout the year and sponsor events that the United Way hosts, In the inaugural year last year, the 10 pacesetters accounted for $149,000 of the $302,000 raised.

This year’s Pacesetter Chair is Mark Mingenback.

Looking back

One of this year’s UWCK campaign co-chairs Tanya Staats was also present Monday morning. She addressed the legacy of United Way.

The idea of United Way was born in 1887 in Denver, Colo. A group of local residents held a drive to raise funds for 10 area health and welfare organizations.

That effort netted $21,700, Staats said. Now, the United Way has a presence in 1,800 communities in 40 nations and territories.

“It brings people together around a common cause, a common vision and a common path,” Staats said.