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COME Together pursues community improvement goals
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Pictured at the COME Together Coffee Hour last Thursday are, from left, Jeff Byrum, Val Marshall, Jennifer Anderson, Tayleene Van Norden and Public Square facilitator Jeanette Siemens. - photo by JERRY BUXTON Great Bend Tribune

COME Together of Larned started about 18 months ago, Jennifer Anderson, a member of the steering team, told a large crowd at last Thursday’s Chamber Coffee Hour at Scraps. COME Together is part of the Public Square process, she explained, which is now under way in 14 other Kansas communities as well as Larned.

The areas concentrated on for improvement and, where needed, change, are government, human services, education and business. Volunteers will work and "connect" the four areas. Setting goals, then acting on them, is a key.

There are teams concentrating on recreation, housing, business and development.

A youth advisory council will get information about city and county issues, and provide youth perspective and input, Anderson said.

The goal is to keep going, then, when finished, turn projects over to the City of Larned or another entity, and begin work on another issue.

Val Marshall, a volunteer, said she would like to see the Larned Welcome Wagon up and going again, handing out packets of information about Larned and Pawnee County to newcomers, and making them feel welcome.

Tayleene Van Norden, a steering team member, spoke about business development. In surveys, people of Larned said they wanted a clothing store, so "that was a no-brainer," she said. It’s planned to open a clothing store, Dress It Up, next spring in downtown Larned.

The COME Together Larned Steering Team members are Tayleene Van Norden, Jennifer Anderson, Wendy Leiker, Jeff Byrum, Chris Baker, Tim Schaller, Karlee Rainbolt and Sabra Dupuis.

Jeanette Siemens of Pratt and Terry Woodbury are Public Square facilitators.

Action teams are Business Development, Youth Volunteer Development, Housing Opportunities, A Connected Community and Recreation.

The steering team continues to seek investors in the program. Investments are helping Dress It Up get off the ground, so to speak. Several foundations, including the Kansas Health Foundation, will match your investment, dollar for dollar.

You can contact Anderson at, or Van Norden at for more information. The Public Square Web site is

With the help of Siemens and Woodbury, more than 250 community citizens were "surveyed" and more than 65 individual interviews were conducted in the fall of 2009 to analyze community needs and desires. The focus has been on bringing people together, dissolving an "unintentional fragmentation" of community assets and organizations.

The acronym COME stands for Connect, Outreach, Model and Equip.

Thursday’s Coffee Hour will be at the Community Garden, across Highway K-156 north and west of Carr Auction & Real Estate.