By JIM MISUNAS
LARNED — A Stafford County employee has been hired by the Larned Chamber of Commerce and Pawnee County Economic Development.
Sydney Blanton has worked as program director for Stafford County Economic Development the past two years. Blanton replaces Lauren Long, who departed her position after two years in Larned to return to her home state of Nebraska. Long’s last day in Larned was March 9.
Blanton created and managed social media sites and web page, blog posts, monthly newsletters and press releases.
“I have taken the lead in all marketing activities,” she said.
Blanton like a quote by Anthony J. D’Angelo — ‘Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.’
“I believe in positivity, determination, hard work, taking chances and learning from my failures,” she said.
She developed and taught entrepreneurship twice a week to After School elementary and middle school students in the St. John and Stafford schools.
The Stars (Shining Through Academics and Relationships at Stafford) After School offers hands-on learning activities every school day from 3:15 to 5:30 p.m. for grades K-8 in Stafford USD 349.
Stafford County Economic Development was established in 2011 through the leadership of the Stafford County Commission for the purpose of promoting economic and population growth throughout the county. Stafford EcoDevo receives an annual appropriation from the county based on 1 mill of county valuation. Competitive grants awarded to Stafford EcoDevo also support operations and programs.
Stafford County Economic Development received three additional years of Healthy Communities Initiative grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, thanks to Blanton’s work.
The Foundation’s efforts in this area focus primarily on promoting three key behaviors — ensuring proper nutrition, increasing physical activity and decreasing tobacco use according to their mission statement.
The grant, which was in part responsible for Blanton’s position, was not a done deal according to Blanton. They received the initial grant the first year, but had to reapply for the following three.
Part of the program is to develop sustainable healthy initiatives. Blanton has been working with community members and leaders in the county to establish walking paths in each of the communities. The pathways for walkers and bikers not only provide safe off-street pathways, but may also provide safer routes to some locations for those in wheelchairs and motorized runabouts, which are often scene on the shoulder of U.S. 281 trying to access the Dollar Store located north of the First Street entrance.
Stafford County currently ranks 70th in the Kansas’s health outcomes chart, which is based on an equal weighting of length and quality of life, and 76 on the health factors, based on weighted scores for health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment.
She also served as St. John swimming pool assistant manager, worked at Dick’s Sporting Goods and served as intern for the Muscular Dystrophy Society of Kansas and campaign intern for U.S. Rep Mike Pompeo.
Blanton is a Wichita State graduate with degrees in business administration and entrepreneurship and management. The Wichita Trinity High School graduate competed on the Wichita State rowing team for four years. She was a member of the Dean’s Scholars’ Program and participated in Shockers Forever and Student Activities Council.