The current LEADership Blue Springs class recently had the opportunity to get a personal look at Jackson County government. The 18 members toured the courthouse in Kansas City as well as the Historic Truman Courthouse in Independence.
While in Kansas City the group heard from several department representatives about how they fit in to the daily operations of the county. Among the speakers were County Executive Frank White, Jr., Fifth District Legislator Greg Grounds, Sheriff Mike Sharp, Parks + Rec Director Michele Newman, Presiding Judge John Torrence, Director of Economic Development John Sweeney and Matt Davis with the Rock Island Rail Authority.
Brandyce Parks, Community America Credit Union manager, was excited for the chance to learn about local government. “I’ve grown up in the Kansas City area my entire life but I didn’t know the ins and outs of it so it is exciting to go around Blue Springs and Independence and come down to Kansas City and learn more about the legislative system,” she said. “Who actually handles what, because what I thought wasn’t always true. Like what the city handles compared to what the county handles. It is fun to learn all The of that stuff.”
“I work in finance so just knowing who to contact about things,” Parks said. “We do a lot of volunteer work so finding things that we might be able to help with at the city and county. It’s awesome to bring a group down and be able to take that back to my organization.”
As Blue Springs High School Student Body President, Nafkot Seife had the chance to join the program. She said as a student it is a great opportunity to learn firsthand what is taught in school.
“You learn all of the mystery behind government and how it works. It is kind of a confusing process that you put on the back burner. But when you are learning about it on a regular basis, like when we have these meetings every month, you learn and get to know every detail on all of that. Even like how the sidewalks in the city work to how the water works and everything. You kind of become interested in it and I think the coolest thing that I probably learned is that it is important to be involved in my city no matter where I live. It doesn’t have to be a full time thing, any participation can really help them and can be a really important opportunity,” she said.
Seife said she learned a lot including about what the executive and sheriff do. “I thought his (the sheriff) presentation was super interesting on how they function and how they relate with the police departments and how they handle the sex offender registry list and even the daily functions that they do. I also think that the County Executive and his role in how the county runs and how he related it back to the parks department was very interesting and to know that we have such a huge parks program, third in the nation, I had no idea. It makes sense that when they gave their presentation on what all they are involved in and all of the partnerships that they do. It’s cool to know that there are so many opportunities.”
Seife is a frequent visitor to the parks. “Now I want to go more. There are so many cool things they are bringing this summer that I am super excited to tell my friends about.”
LEADership Blue Springs was established in 1991 by the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce to develop a community leadership pool. Participants develop skills and knowledge of the community through a series of workshops focusing on business, government, quality of life, volunteer services and local history. Anyone may apply or nominate an individual for the program. Nominations are solicited from businesses, professional groups, agencies, and institutions. Applicants should be able to demonstrate a commitment, motivation and interest to service in Blue Springs and have the full support of the corporation or organization they represent. Participation in the program involves a substantial personal commitment of time and energy from each class member. Attendance is required at all sessions including the one-day retreat. Day long sessions are held one day a month, beginning in September and ending in May. In addition, there will be a candidate reception in August. Applications are available at the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce office.