Elk Konnected Accredited Community

Community Contact

Dr. David Whetstone (316) 708-0296

Vision Statement

Strong families. Solid education. Superior Lifestyle. “Stay with us as we grow!”

About Us

In early 2007, Elk County was experiencing some events that made a resident wonder “What is the future of Elk County”? With a county population of only 3000, one tiny town spends time and energy wanting to pull out of the county wide trash service. Yet on the other side, members across the county come together for a “tablesetting” event that raises over $3000 for the local foundation. How can these two polarizing events happen at the same time? We needed help! Conversations started with Terry Woodbury in January 2007. A month later, he travelled to Elk County to visit with two people, explaining the public square process and community building. These two people were tasked with finding engaged citizens from all six of the communities and representing the four sectors of the public square. Terry spoke to that group of 16 people a month later. They were interested, but not ready to commit. More people needed to hear about the process. Finally after the 3rd meeting with Terry in March 2007, a steering committee was formed and charged with raising the seed money. Without going into a lot of history of Elk County, finding engaged citizens who were not the “same old guard” from all of the communities was a challenge. While Elk County only has 5 incorporated towns, it was decided from the beginning to include Severy which resides in Greenwood County in the Elk Konnected community. Severy is part of the West Elk school district, which encompasses most of Elk County.

The nine member steering committee set off to raise the $3000 seed money – $50 at a time. We felt this amount was not going to break an individual and would encourage us to talk about “Elk Konnected” with more citizens. We spent time at a steering committee meeting discussing who would contact whom. And WE DID IT! We had 74 investors and raised $4250 by the end of July. To get a gauge of where our communities really were, we started interviewing “Konnected” people. Terry interviewed each steering committee members, who also filled out a “20 Clues Survey” (Community survey). Then each Steering Committee member proceeded to interview four people, each one representing a different sector of the public square. Meanwhile, Terry was interviewing people the Steering Committee had identified or other interviewees had named. By the end of the survey period, we had conducted 58 interviews with engaged citizens representing the public square. We had also collected 140 community surveys. We were ready for our first community conversation.

With a goal of having a successful first Community Conversation, the Steering Committee members each asked 10-15 people whom we thought would not attend otherwise, we distributed notices at the churches, and advertized in the local newspaper and cable channel. Elk Konnected’s first community conversation was held at Longton – Elk Valley school’s multi purpose room on October 26, 2007 with over 126 people in attendance. At the conversation, we looked at our top asset as identified by the “20 Clues Survey and identified ways to strengthen our weakest areas based on the survey information. We also identified examples of citizen engagement and looked for ways to build upon them throughout the entire area. At the end, people were asked to nominate one person from each of the public square sector who crossed over -“konnected” with – another sector. These names were then used to create our Vision Retreat attendees.

We quickly got to work by asking vision retreat nominees to go to the state-wide Public Square conference and six were able to attend. Our next step was planning the Vision Retreat, which we scheduled for Jan 9, 2008 at Flint Oaks. We asked those nominated to attend and 51 showed up for a day long retreat on the future of Elk Konnected. Utilizing the information from the Community Conversation, surveys and interviews, this motivated group created a mission statement, and formed five action teams, and identified 2 co-conveners and members for each action team.

With the mission statement of “Strong Families, Solid Education, Superior Lifestyle – Stay with us as we grow”, the following action teams went to work. Their primary charge is listed below:

  • Community Wellness: create the infrastructure for a community wellness and enrichment network
  • Community Standards: establish standards in each community
  • Communication: establish a community-wide publication of all activities and events to patrons
  • Physical Image: organize a community appreciation day to clean up our physical image including business, city/county government, civic groups, school working together for each community and in turn so that each community helps other communities
  • Youth Development: establish a coordinated program in the Elk Konnected community