Seminar addresses valleywide issues |

Seminar addresses valleywide issues

Terrance Vestal

When an event impacts one community in the Yampa Valley, that effect often ripples through the other communities in one form or another.

Such is the view taken by organizers of Thursday’s Regional Leadership Summit, according to the executive director of the Yampa Valley Partners.

While there have been leadership forums held in the past, this one will take a more regional focus.

“We want to look at how we talk between each other from one community and another and how communities disseminate that information to its citizens,” Danner said.

The keynote speaker will be mark Drabenstott, who is the director for the Center for Study of Rural America of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

“There premise is that rural leaders are discovering that regional partnerships are critical in addressing new opportunities,” Danner said.

These “new opportunities” often stem from community indicators, of which Yampa Valley Partners has done extensive studies on in the area. That study was published in November.

“Communities that want to keep up with changing times and produce healthy economic, social, and environmental community sectors take a participatory approach to local governance,” according to the executive summary of the Community Indicators study.

These indicators are social, economic, environmental and civic issues.

“They relate to what we value,” Danner said. “Do we want a diverse economy? Well, how do we measure that?”

The indicators are broad topics that cover a wide range of integrated issues, such as education, for example.

“We want to look at the levels of education of our workforce and men and women,” Danner said. “We want to look at test scores of high school students, we want to look at (Colorado State Assessment Program) results.”

But the education issue can also encompass personal and per capita income of an area, Danner said.

The seminar will offer the latest on regionalism and how communities can better interact and communicate with one another, Danner said.

Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said the seminar also will give the leaders of the area a chance to network.

“(Organizers) think it will be extremely important,” Raftopoulos said. “It will give us guidance from experts who have worked on regional efforts.”

Raftopoulos said the area is not without its own successes when it comes to regional efforts, which include transportation and telecommunication.

The seminar also will feature David Eppich, executive director of the San Juan Forum, who will speak on regionalism in the West and “dissolving differences through watersheds.

The San Juan Forum, which is located in the Four Corners area of Colorado, is a strong economic development and community development organization, Danner said.

According to the San Juan Forum, ‘regionalism has many purposes, including:

o to provide a leadership platform,

o a catalyst for change;

o to achieve economies of scale;

o to improve coordination across jurisdictions;

o to improve coordination between levels of governments.

In the afternoon, there will be a panel discussion on issues and indicators in the area. The panel, according to the agenda, will include Scott Ford, of the Small Business Development Center of CMC, Noreen Moore, business resource director Susan E. Birch, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, and Dianna L. Sutton, of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation.

Discussions on what are the critical, regional issues of the Yampa Valley will continue throughout the afternoon until the seminar adjourns at 4 p.m.

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