Archive for Thursday, August 11, 2005

Mayors to converge on Lansing

Bernard brings annual state conference to city; 50 mayors expected to attend

August 11, 2005, 12:00 a.m.

Updated: August 11, 2005, 12:13 a.m.

About 50 mayors from across the state will converge this weekend on Lansing for the third annual Kansas Mayors Association Conference.

Lansing's own mayor, Kenneth Bernard, president of the association, will preside over the conference. The conference begins with a reception Friday evening at the Holiday Inn Express, 120 Express Lane.

Lansing was chosen for the conference site because, as Bernard put it, "I'm the president - it's my option."

The conference serves the association's purpose, which is "for mayors to get together and discuss common issues," Bernard said.

The conference continues Saturday when the mayors will take classes at City Hall on topics including economic development, legal actions that affect mayors, future planning and land use, and community and media relations.

Panel members will include, among others, State Rep. Kenny Wilk, on the panel discussing economic development for Kansas communities, and Eric Rucker, chief of staff for the attorney general's office, on the panel discussing current legal actions relating to cities. For the media and community relations class, representatives of local media will speak, including Chick Howland, Kansas editor for the Kansas City Star, Tom Throne, publisher of The Leavenworth Times, and John Taylor, editor of The Lansing Current. John Young, director of public works for Lansing, will moderate the panel on land use and strategic planning.

The conference will be divided into two groups. While one group is in class, the other will tour the area, including the Lansing Correctional Facility, a stop at the Lansing Historical Museum, and a tour of Fort Leavenworth, before hearing the commander of Fort Leavenworth, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, speak that evening.

Bernard said five city staffers and one volunteer would be working to guide the tours and ensure the conference runs smoothly.

Verlin Tompkins, secretary of the Lansing Historical Society, said the association's museum visit was an opportunity for public relations and publicity for the museum.

"We already have widespread interest," Tompkins said, in the proposed prisons museum to be operated by the city.

"There's lot of prison facilities all over the state, there's quite a bunch of smaller ones; we could get all these people who have things to show but no place to show them," Tompkins said.

Tompkins said the museum would be playing host that day to another large group from a Kansas City, Kan., church. Tompkins said of the church group's visit, "They'll get to mingle with, what do you call, strange bedfellows."

It will also be an unusually busy day for the museum. Although attendance has been picking up at the museum, Tompkins said that three or four visitors a day was not a bad day for the museum.

But, he added, "If we get two or three large groups in a summer, we're glad, and we've already had three or four this summer."

Tompkins credited the brochures and publicity generated by Shanae Randolph, the city's director of economic development and tourism, with the museum's increased visibility.

Bernard can take some of the credit for landing the mayors conference, of course. The mayor said having the conference in Lansing "is important for the exposure of the community to the rest of the state."

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