Saturday, November 22, 2008

Award Honor


Business/Community Recognition

ABILENE, TEXAS— On Wednesday, October 15, 2008, at 11:30, 400 Oak Street, the Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas Board, at their regularly scheduled meeting, introduced local employers and community organizations nominated for State recognition for outstanding service. Mary Ross, Executive Director of Workforce Solutions Board explains, “Each year, the Board has an opportunity to nominate employers, projects and partnerships for awards at the Texas Workforce Commission annual conference. Each of the 28 Board areas selects a local employer of excellence, who is recognized at the state conference. Additionally, local boards may nominate an outstanding employer of the year and employers who have demonstrated excellence in working with current workers, transitional workers or youth. Typically, only one employer is selected in each of these categories and recognized at the State conference. Local Boards may also nominate projects or partnerships in the areas of Service to Business, Services to Workers, Service to Community or Industry Sector Outreach.

This years nominees include Hendrick Medical Center, nominated for Local Employer of Excellence and Employer of the Year; Lauren Engineering and Constructors nominated for Current Workforce Employer of Excellence; Service to Business Award nomination goes to the Career Pathways project. This project was designed to provide high school students with local career information/opportunities and the necessary work skills required by local employers. Development Corporation of Abilene and Cisco Junior College, nominated for Service to Workers Award for the “Fast Track Welding” initiative. The Knox County Visioning Team has been nominated for Service to Community Award. Industry Sector Outreach for the development of the Healthcare Industry Cluster, which meets quarterly to address such issues as the critical shortage of regional healthcare workers.

Mr. Steve Anderson, with the West Texas Coalition for Innovation and Commercialization was the guest speaker. He provided information and success of the Emerging Technology Fund and the projects underway in our region.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Scoop

Wow! What an exciting time to live and work in Knox County and especially to be involved in the Knox County Visioning Team!

You would have been inspired too, by the excitement and energy of the group at our November Visioning Committee meeting. Every community in Knox County has had exciting developments in the last few weeks, each worthy of their own heading and story! I’ll try to get a separate “write-up” on each of these exciting goings on for you soon. But rather than wait, let me give you a run-down of the reports, made by those who were able to skirt all the scheduling conflicts and be at our VC meeting, of our many activities and on-going programs. October was one jam-packed month!

Maybe there's just something about the coziness of meeting at the Knox City Community Center, an inspired re-use of an old family home, or maybe it was the Fall themed refreshment table and smaller than usual group gathered around the table, or the comfortable relationships that develop between people who have worked closely together over an extended period of time. Whatever, the inspiration, our evening meeting felt very much like the visiting that goes on around the table at a multi-generational family meal, with a few out of town relatives over to share their stories too!


We have two big projects to finish this next week, so you won’t find me hanging out around the Courthouse much. I will, of course, be available by cell phone, 806-255-0909 or my e-mail remellefarrar@sbcglobal.net., but I admit I’m going to have to hide out a little ‘till these are done, so be patient and I promise to get back to you ASAP.

I mentioned already the paperwork, which includes hammering out all the details, for our TDA intern program, that has to go to Austin by the first of December.

And, our very supportive EDC Boards from Knox City and Munday approved funding of a two page layout in Images magazine. This marketing piece will also include website materials and pull out advertising, with circulation of the magazine throughout Texas and copies available for us to distribute at will. This is an important step for us in spreading the word about Knox County’s assets and opportunities, both for visiting and living and working, but it came with a very short deadline. Fortunately, with Dwayne’s inspiration, Wyman’s talent, Kacy’s skill, Barbara’s good humor and organization and my commitment, we will get it done and done well! Can hardly wait to share it with you!

Check out the rest of my calendar on the side bar. And enjoy the scoop in smaller portions...

The Scoop on Charlie


Getting around to “Remelle’s Scoop”, a review of the “official” appearances and programs presented about the Visioning Team and Knox County in October and early November revealed how each one had led to more opportunities, assets, tools and support for our work.

I wasn’t the only one out on the road for KCVC this month. Charles Lankford shared with us his experience speaking to the study club at Haskell. This group is looking for a blueprint for a community and economic development program for their community, had heard about Knox County’s Visioning Committee from Charles, who serves on our Board of Directors, and his wife Jan, and asked him to come over and talk with them.

Armed with our slick new handout on Knox County Visioning Team…neighbors working together, our highlights review for 2008, and our Adventure Country tour map, Charles slicked up and went visiting. He and the KCVG were a great hit! Charles has declared any of our committee members could do the same and challenged you all to take this show on the road! Call me if I can provide you with any support and materials, then let’s get more faces out there representing Knox County and the work you can be proud of.

The Scoop on the award and ORCA

Judge Floyd and Brenda along with Tammie Trainham of Goree represented KCVG this month. They attended the Texas Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas Board of Directors Meeting, where Knox County was recognized as recipient of the Texas Workforce Commission Service to Community Award, which will be officially announced at the Commission’s annual meeting next month. You can read the newspaper article sent by the Workforce Folks separately on the blog to learn more about this honor.

Brenda and Travis also represented us, the really rural Texans, at the Office of Rural and Community Affairs’ rural policy workshop. This event was a first, an opportunity for rural leaders to work together to develop recommendations to ORCA and the legislature on what they feel we need to support the work we are doing in our own communities and the kinds of statewide programs and funding that would most help us. Travis has some pretty definite opinions on those, and is an articulate speaker on his concerns and hopes for rural Texas. Brenda offers the passion and caring of someone who cherishes the heritage of her family and their place and the preservation of this lifestyle. Between them they are the perfect team to represent our KCVG. I hope these workshops will be expanded to a regional level so more “real” rural citizens will be able to attend and offer their ideas.

The Scoop on TMCN and Job Corps


Dwayne and I attended the Texas Midwest Community Networks Annual Conference, the launch of the year long Big Dream program for our regional economic development and marketing partnership. Each year high school students are invited to attend with their community representative and learn more about what their town’s leaders are doing. A separate breakout session for them is held during the morning workshops.

This year I was invited to present that workshop, inviting the key note speaker, Mitch Matthews, catalyst, co-founder and Head Coach of Big Dream Gathering and Jimi Coplen, Aspermont EDC Director, to join the teens in a trial run of the Big Dream Gathering that will be hosted by TMCN in March. The students defined and refined their own “big dreams” adapting the model of our treasure hunt, get a clue and decide where and how you want to live your life approach of our Youth Engagement program in Knox County and our Real Ranch Country Communities to define and support your own and others dreams project. As usual, the teenagers proved they really are smarter, or at least quicker, than the rest of us, catching on and putting “legs” on the idea immediately.

In fact, that’s my new mantra for every thing we want to accomplish. I’ve settled on the phrase “Got legs?” to best define in one sentence what it is a Visioning Committee does, turning dreams into achievable goals by giving them the “legs” needed to stand and go somewhere!

Also working with my favorite people, kids, I presented our Youth Engagement, Entrepreneurship support and ‘brand new this year’, work experience, on-the job for high school students, technical education for work force age folks and “Come Back-Give Back” scholarship programs at the Region 14 Challenges in Education Day, sponsored by our friends at the Work Force. My co-presenter was the Job Corps Director for Texas. I did not realize, before meeting with her, what an opportunity Job Corps might offer, partnering with us, for our Knox County students, to finish high school, attend college, with full financial assistance, or participate in job training for a number of in-demand-in our-region careers.

Sharing this information with the Visioning Committee led to discussion among several members who have worked with Job Corps before, all of whom were positive, and whose experience will be vital to partnering with our schools to making this tool available to our local students. I think this may have filled in the missing piece we haven’t been able to identify for those young people Judge Floyd and others of you expressed concern about being able to look in the eye and say “We are offering a real future for you in Knox County.” the very first time I met with you…..one year ago!

The Scoop on spreading the vision...

Other opportunities to visit with our neighbors about Knox County included speaking in Seymour at their Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. I probably got more inspiration, than I offered there. The Fire Chief was recognizing the retired Volunteer Firemen, when he was interrupted from the audience with “You forgot to name…..” No, the Fire Chief said I didn’t forget… went on to recognize the active Volunteer Firemen. Again, the voice, “You forgot…. No, I didn’t” Then he recognized the Volunteer with most years of Active, underline Active, service…52 years as a Volunteer Fireman. Now, how tired are you? Left me without any excuse I could think of not to get dressed, get in the car again, spend another evening…

I’ve also had the privilege the last two weeks to share with County Judges, School Superintendents, AgriLife Extension Agents and community volunteers from King, Dickens and Kent Counties, the story of what the Knox County Visioning Team is doing and of our partnership with Ogallala Commons and our Foard County and Baylor County neighbors in the Real Ranch Country Communities partnership. It is so important for us to remember that we either thrive together or die together here in our area. It looks like our neighbors in King, Dickens, Kent, Cottle, and Stonewall County are going to be joining our Real Ranch Country Partnership, giving us added strength and inspiration from their successes also.

The Scoop on McAdoo wind project...


A huge boost for our neighbors to the West came about in McAdoo this month. Barbara Bogart, who works with all of the communities in the Caprock Telephone Company service area, reported to the Visioning Committee on the ribbon cutting for the Invenergy Wind Energy project, investing $155 million in the area in wind turbines, lines and production. Congratulations!

We’ll be watching and waiting for our own projects in alternative energy as the PUC builds those promised and now funded utility lines for gathering wind energy from our region onto the grid. As we shared with you before, the new lines recently approved include portions built across Knox and Foard Counties tying the plant at Oklaunion to a proposed 2nd plant there and to the major metro areas of Texas where the demand is.

Barbara who is the most informed person I’ve found in Texas on the state of development of alternative sources and actually seeing those in place and profitable for our rural communities, tells me we need to be just a little patient, as those of us on the next tier will be in the best position to recoup the investments and see real revenue, especially from wind energy as the technology improves every year.

The Scoop on Tx Parks & Wildlife

Also on hand for our meeting was Bob Rogers, with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Bob had joined Amy and Remelle for the afternoon to tour and begin planning with the Benjamin Chamber of Commerce on an improvement and use plan for Benjamin’s City Lake that would make it more of an asset for the community and for tourism in Knox County.

An enthusiastic supporter of Knox County and the Visioning Team, this was Bob’s first time back after helping us with the Real Rural Tourism Symposium. He shared his experiences with having people who are becoming familiar with Knox County approach him at programs he presents in other locations to learn more about what’s going on here!

Apparently, we’ve also become known for our colloquial use of the term “fixin’ to” as several folks have commented to Bob on how engaging they thought our talk of all the things we’re fixin’ to do was. Ah well, so long as they remember us, come back and spend some more money while they are here!

The Scoop on TDA

Joining the “locals” for our meeting was Amy Lorance, our Texas Department of Agriculture Rural Economic Development Specialist with two important opportunities to discuss. First, TDA will be hosting the North Texas Economic Development Summit in Wichita Falls December 16th. Remelle Farrar will lead off as the days’ speaker, setting the theme and focusing on our KCVG work of putting legs on dreams, envisioning success and “growing” it yourself for your community’s future. The agenda and registration information are here on our blog. There’s a challenge here for us. Amy’s gone out on a limb; folks in Austin are convinced we can’t get a crowd together in our “remote” rural part of Texas to make bringing such a program as this to us worthwhile. With Commissioner Staples actually making the trip and speaking at the program, this is our chance to prove just how pro-active we are, willing to meet more than half-way any assistance available to us in our fight to insure the future of our hometowns. We want to have a great showing from Knox County, and that means you need to go with us. So, put the date on your calendar, now flip on over to that registration and sign up. Check back with us later for car pool information.

Remember I said two important opportunities? Well, here’s the biggie! TDA is launching a new program to place interns to assist local community development efforts in pilot communities, one per region. I believe in our case, Amy’s region is 35 counties. That one “community” is Knox County. What an affirmation of all your hard work! I’ll submit the paperwork before December 1st and we’ll have fresh, smart, energetic and plugged in help this summer. Be thinking about, and let me know, your ideas for how to best use our interns time and talents and let’s have a plan in place to maximize this opportunity.

The Scoop on Goree Homecoming

Speaking of young guns, at our last meeting we “quality tested” the sack lunches the Going for Greatness in Goree Committee was planning to sell for a fundraiser the next day at Goree’s homecoming. What a story that group has to tell about their success this month. Hosting multiple activities and playing Tammie’s new, tear jerker of a nostalgic look back at downtown Goree on the big screen at every one, the Going for Greatness Group reported back not just great sales, but happily hefty donations and support of their labor to clean up and re-purpose, re-invigorate their hometown.

I visited them last week to view the collection of historic homey furnishings and d├ęcor that families have donated in the last two weeks to furnish the City Hall Lodge. You’d best make your reservations soon as “A Place to Stay”, “Miller Creek Ranch” and other local entrepreneurs, who were looked at very skeptically just a few months ago, are now in constant demand. They’ve even had to pull out the old RV and make up beds a couple of times already to handle the visitors. Besides, how many people do you know who will be able to say they’re sleeping at City Hall. Next Goree goal? How about listing with the Texas Film Commission as 1920’s boomtown movie set?

The Scoop on the Pumkin Shoot Out

Several of our VC members attended "The Great Pumpkin Shoot-Out", on Saturday October 25th, This event was doubly exciting for us. Everyone enjoyed the drama, and the adrenaline filled races, of the, get this, over 400 young contestants, on go-karts and lawnmowers. Even more exciting, for us, was this successful launch of projects by the “Young Guns”. One of the first "ah" moments of the VC after our Real Rural Tourism Symposium woke up the enthusiasm of some dynamite folks, was Steve Pepper's idea that we could jump start our goals.

Specifically, our goal of involving younger Knox County leaders by hosting them for a good dinner and sharing our vision and energy, offering them our support for any improvements they'd like to make to life in Knox County. After just one "revivial" session with Preacher Pepper, Marla and Don Hawkins, Judge and Brenda Floyd and Remelle, this engaging and exciting group of life-long 20 and 30 something friends from Knox City announce that 'they could do anything, if they could do it together'. Wouldn’t you like to spread that message all around?

After a lively discussion of assets they felt would improve the quality of life for their families and friends here in Knox County, the Young Guns settled on a desire to have a softball park, especially for their young daughters who have never been able to play at home, always traveling outside the county for games. They approached the City of Knox City for a location, donated land owned by the City, and the County for some dirt work, got both and went to work.

Looking for a way to raise the needed funding, they came to the go-kart circuit several of their own children were participating in, worked with the City of Seymour, over in Baylor County and cooperated with them to host this and future races. Watch for the softball field to be in play this spring and this group of “get ‘er done” leaders to achieve more great things. My and your role here is to get out and support these fun activities. They could use a few concession stand workers, shovel pushers and paint brush snappers, too!

The Scoop on the Beach House

That same week we also celebrated the opening of the new Beach House location in Munday. Barbara Rector filled in the group on what our visionary Knox County Entreprenuer, Glenna Decker, is doing for us. With this second location up and going, the first is successfully operating now in Seymour, Glenna has already met with the Knox County EDC and started to work on a location in Knox City. We are so blessed.

While rural communities everywhere are struggling with how to provide the medical and residential resources needed by our seniors, Knox County has excellent hospital facilities, Dr.s, pharmacy and nursing homes. But, we have had a big gap that caused many of our older citizens to choose between leaving Knox County for larger towns that offered retirement or assisted living facilities, to go to the nursing home sooner than they needed to, to move in with their children, hire full time help or (rather than give up much of their quality of life and independence in order to be safe and healthy) make the risky choice of continuing to live alone past the point it was logically feasible to do so.

With Glenna's visionary provision of the opportunity, for those who need a little help, to still live in family home settings, in real houses, not institutions, with homey kitchen's and living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, and "family" to interact with every day, more of our Knox County elders can enjoy the lifestyle they treasure for longer. Turning this into a workable business model that also offers new jobs and building renovation in our little towns is just gravy!

Thank you and kudo's Glenna and the Munday and Knox City EDC’s ! By the way, I’m passing on an invitation to all of you from Glenna and the Beach House family..."If you are alone for Thanksgiving join us at the Beach House. Bring your favorite dish, or just yourself and join our family! Any other day you have time to visit, play a hand of domino's, look through a cook book, talk about your favorite recipe or read the newspaper, you'd be welcome and appreciated in our living room then, too!" Do yourself a favor and go by for a tour of the facilities and a visit with the staff and residents. Glenna emphasizes “Your welcome any time!”

The Scoop on the book premier...


Just a few days after our last meeting, the Visioning Committee hosted a book signing and celebration of Wyman Menzer's new book "Inspiration Texas Style", the first publication of Sylinda and Wyman's new publishing company, Badland's Design and Publishing, and Sylinda's first full editor, publisher credit. Our folks are still really pumped about this business right here in Benjamin. Wyman has always credited his hometown and the surrounding rugged beauty for his inspiration and has determinedly held onto his roots, living and working here at home throughout his career. Being able now to also produce and retail his works from downtown Benjamin is undeniable proof that you can live, work and make your dreams come true at home. Great inspiration for all of us!

Dwayne Bearden who has taken particular pride and pleasure in the VC's hosting this event, and one of those who showed up early to help, reported on the party, good attendance, beautiful setting in Jerry Bob and Eugenie's "new" lodge in downtown Truscott, and an insprining presentation by Wyman on the individual pictures and quotes from the book. Did I mention inspiring?

Well, Dwayne's inspiration from the Knox County portraits, over half the book features location shots made within a few miles of Benjamin, is that this is the theme for our ad/story/layout in "Images" magazine. His idea sparked so much "inspiration" in the rest of the group that we had a hard time getting back to the business at hand. But, more on that later!

Dwayne's report of the party ended with a great big thank you to Marla Hawkins for the "inspired" idea to host the book signing, and for the way over the bar amount of work she put into building a contact and invitation list we can make great use of in the future. Thanks also go to Barbara Rector, Dwayne, Adrin Fletcher and Don Hawkins for all the work and to Jerry Bob and Eugenie, who shared both their place and their anniversary with us! Judge Travis Floyd took the pics, so you can enjoy a peek at the Circle Bar Lodge and all the fun!




The Scoop from the November Meeting

Wow! What an exciting time to live and work in Knox County and especially to be involved in the Knox County Visioning Team!

You would have been inspired too, by the excitement and energy of the group at our November Visioning Committee meeting. Every community in Knox County has had exciting developments in the last few weeks, each worthy of their own heading and story! I’ll try to get a separate “write-up” on each of these exciting goings on for you soon. But rather than wait, let me give you a run-down of the reports, made by those who were able to skirt all the scheduling conflicts and be at our VC meeting, of our many activities and on-going programs. October was one jam-packed month! (reports will appear in different posts)

Maybe there's just something about the coziness of meeting at the Knox City Community Center, an inspired re-use of an old family home, or maybe it was the Fall themed refreshment table and smaller than usual group gathered around the table, or the comfortable relationships that develop between people who have worked closely together over an extended period of time. Whatever, the inspiration, our evening meeting felt very much like the visiting that goes on around the table at a multi-generational family meal, with a few out of town relatives over to share their stories, too.

We have two big projects to finish this next week, so you won’t find me hanging out around the Courthouse much. I will, of course, be available by cell phone, 806-255-0909 or my e-mail remellefarrar@sbcglobal.net., but I admit I’m going to have to hide out a little ‘till these are done, so be patient and I promise to get back to you ASAP.

I mentioned already the paperwork, which includes hammering out all the details, for our TDA intern program, that has to go to Austin by the first of December.

And, our very supportive EDC Boards from Knox City and Munday approved funding of a two page layout in Images magazine. This marketing piece will also include website materials and pull out advertising, with circulation of the magazine throughout Texas and copies available for us to distribute at will. This is an important step for us in spreading the word about Knox County’s assets and opportunities, both for visiting and living and working, but it came with a very short deadline. Fortunately, with Dwayne’s inspiration, Wyman’s talent, Kacy’s skill, Barbara’s good humor and organization and my commitment, we will get it done and done well! Can hardly wait to share it with you!

Check out the rest of my calendar on the side bar.

Free Clinic


Rolling Plains Rural Health
Partnership is sponsoring a


Sleep Apnea Clinic


When: Thursday, November 20, 2008
What Time: 6:00 pm
Where: Haskell Hospital Education Building


Cost: Free


The Sleep Apnea Clinic will present valuable information on a
variety of sleep disorders that may potentially be affecting your
sleep and overall health. Mike Ring with Sleep Release Experts
will be the guest speaker. Local health related organizations will
have information tables set up and representatives available to
answer questions.


Door prizes and refreshments will be provided.
Contact Judge Travis Floyd, 940-459-2191, with questions.

Monday, November 17, 2008

North Texas ED Summit

Please share with your community leaders, volunteers, City and County representatives! Spread the word and let's have a crowd in Wichita Falls!

SAVE THE DATE!


Join us Tuesday, December 16, 2008,
For The North Texas Regional Economic Development Summit!

Dillard College of Business - Midwestern State University Wichita Falls
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Lunchtime presentation by Commissioner Todd Staples
Texas Department of Agriculture

Summit workshop topics include:

  • Growing Your Own - A Recipe for Rural Success – Remelle Farrar, Knox County Visioning Team
  • Regionalism – Nicki Harle, Texas Midwest Community Network
  • Retire in Texas - Sherri Gothart-Barron, Texas Department of Agriculture
  • When Hollywood Comes to Town - Carol Pirie, Texas Film Commission
  • Made in Texas – Darrell Dean, Texas Department of Agriculture
  • Association of Rural Communities in Texas (ARCIT) – Donna Chatham, ARCIT
  • How Entrepreneur Ready Communities Grow Local Businesses - Dr. Greg Clary, Agrilife Extension Service
  • Manufacturing Retention – Ernesto Villalobos, Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center


$25.00 per person includes lunch and program materials
Registration details coming Tuesday, November 18th!

Amy Lorance
Rural Economic Development
Texas Department of Agriculture