For those of you who could not attend this year’s Annual Chamber Banquet, you missed a very special evening. The experience was very uplifting. It made you extremely proud to be a part of a great community and hopeful in its future as the mantle of leadership transitions to a new generation of leaders that are dedicated and committed to building a better community.
As the banquet was ending, I had the opportunity to visit with our new Mayor, Joe Andrasek, and it struck me that so much of what has been accomplished by this community was either initiated or facilitated by city government. I think we fail to fully appreciate what an important role our city government plays in the success of our community. We typically attribute the success to individuals. But consider what has been accomplished over the last several years by or in conjunction with the city: passing of a half-cent sales tax used for infrastructure, property tax relief and economic incentives for business to grow and locate in Great Bend; facilitating the local purchase of businesses like CPI and Fuller Brush to insure the companies and the jobs stayed in Great Bend; and community amenities like the water park, streetscape, ice rink, ball parks, zoo, walking trails, dog park, skate board facilities and so many others. All of which make our community a more livable place for families to enjoy and more attractive for others to visit. None of this would have been possible without the foresight and support of a forward-thinking city government.
As we transition, especially at the city level, we need to encourage progressive leadership from those serving as council members, mayor and city department heads and employees, and be supportive to assure our success as a community. We also need to appreciate those who laid the foundation for the next generation. We owe a big thank you to past city officials, especially Mike Allison and Howard Partington. It is rare for someone to serve as mayor or administrator for such a tenure as they did as it allowed them to succeed in establishing a long-term vision for the community.
With the rise of a new generation of capable and competent leaders, we can be both confident in the promise of a great future for Great Bend and proud of our past.