In June 2008 Kimball received a letter asking if the community was interested in participating in the Horizons Program. On March 26th the Kimball Area became graduates of the Program. The Horizons Program is a poverty reduction initiative funded by the Northwest Area Foundation, and delivered by SDSU Cooperative Extension Service to qualifying rural communities of less than 5000 residents with a poverty rate of no less than 10%.
In August, 2008 the Kimball Chamber of Commerce made application for the Horizons Program and notification was received later that month that Kimball was selected as a Horizons Community. Thus, began an 18-month process designed to train community leaders and begin poverty reduction in the community. A steering committee was assembled and the project was named Kimball’s Amazing Race into the Future.
As a first step, study groups were formed. Community members filled out surveys. They were lead in facilitated discussions about what needed to change in the community and lists of the ideas were developed. In the next step, Leadership Plenty training was provided over a ten-week period. Participants learned the concepts of the Horizons program and then began the process of leading community visioning. A strategic planning committee developed the community visioning into a community plan with 5 goals. This plan was recently revised to contain 6 goals. As the community plan was being developed, it was decided that the rural areas surround Kimball would be included in the development and implementation of the goals.
The community plan was submitted to the Northwest Area Foundation for review, and was presented at a community action rally at Kimball School on August 20, 2009. In September, word was received from SDSU that the Northwest Area Foundation approved Kimball’s community plan and was awarding a $10,000 grant for implementation of the plan.
As part of the March 26th celebration event, the Knights of Columbus served a free-will donation pancake supper, and supplemental funds were provided by Thrivent. Proceeds are being donated to support the Kimball Area Resource Center, which is scheduled to open in May. Cake and SDSU ice cream were also served.
Maynard Konechne, local leader for the Horizons project, opened the evening’s celebration with a brief history of the project and thanked everyone for all the hard work done on the project. He said “I think you will see as the program continues [with] the vision…what can be accomplished when we work together.” He said there is still work to be done as the goals are implemented, and continued support is need for these worthwhile endeavors.
Kimball Mayor Wayne Tupper gave his congratulations to the group and said, “The city is eager to partner whenever possible with the Horizons group as you implement your projects. All this work is for the betterment of our community.”
Project updates were given by Nancy Herrmann, clean up; Wayne Woodraska, newsletter; Maynard Konechne, housing; Pam Geppert and Maria Birch, Kimball Area Resource Center. Mark Grussing announced the formation of a community foundation group.
On hand for the check presentation were Dave Olson, Community Coach from SDSU Cooperative Extension and Kari Fruechte, Horizons Project Director. A laptop computer, an LCD projector, and a community sign were also presented. Olson said, “This graduation is in recognition of all your hard work over the past 18 months, and it’s also just the beginning.”
Nathan and Theresa West of Dakota Winds Motel were honored for providing a temporary location for the Resource Center. Honored for his years of hard work in getting the Horizons program to Kimball and helping to keep the program running over the past 18 months was Maynard Konechne. Door prizes of pheasant mounts, SDSU ice cream and gas cards were won by: Gary Leiferman, Audrey Konechne, Nancy Herrmann, Jeff Treit, Ellen Cross, Jan Urban, Pat Woodraska, Alex Martin, Maxine Konechne, Victoria Laubach, Gladys Kott, Helen Rosenberger and Hani Harmon. For information on the Kimball Area Horizons Program or to receive a copy of the community plan, contact Maynard Konechne at 778-6939.