Thursday, March 01, 2012


The People’s Petition drive has been successful. Tammy Vopat, the Lyon County Election Officer, has certified the results. We’re grateful for the courtesy and professionalism she and her staff extended to us!

A lot of hard working folks have gone door to door, sought out their neighbors and friends at local watering holes, restaurants, on street corners, and other meeting places around the county. Their hard work has been rewarded.

Almost 1,700, Lyon Countians, 170% of the 992 signatures required, signed the petition in the wake of the County Commissioners’ 2 to 1 vote of a bit over a month ago.  The issue will now go to the voters as a ballot question in the August 7th primary election.

For me the most important task is to thank all of those who have been a part of this petition drive. In my days at FedEx one of the most important tools upper management utilized to say thanks to employees who’d gone “above and beyond” was a note of gratitude. Fred Smith called them “bravo zulus,” a Navy and Marine Corps term meaning “well done.”

With that in mind, I want to say “bravo zulu” to all those who contributed to this undertaking. You’ve done well. You’ve gone above and beyond.

There are a so many people to thank. I’ll be mentioning some names as I proceed, but the list will be far from exhaustive. That said, I’m grateful for the support every person put into this effort.

From the outset, there are two people who’ve been my mentors in the process. Bravo zulu, Steve and Linda Corbin! Your dedication to the petition drive demonstrates how deeply you care about this community and its people.

There’s Eldon Parkman. Bravo zulu, Eldon! You were really under the weather during this time, but you kept plugging away. You’re one of the many who labored in the face of health issues. That’s dedication and determination.

I’m grateful for the hard work Carl Antes and Bob Agler put into dissecting the numbers. Your work is clear, concise, and it reflects the integrity with which you approached the task. Bravo zulu!

Bravo zulu, Darryl Klumpe! Your hard work early on really energized me.

A big bravo zulu to Richard Kennison! You were there with us every step of the way. You’re one of those “ham and eggers” who is just as vital to the welfare of this community as its movers and shakers. You showed clearly how much you care about Emporia and Lyon County.

Bravo zulus to Karen Hartenbower, Dustin Lantow, Shirley Simmons, and others who got tons of signatures in rural areas! Your hard work is greatly appreciated.

And, bravo zulu to the people of Lyon County. You proved that you care about this community!

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. The beauty of a grass roots effort is that it takes a lot of laborers to make the wheels turn. It takes caring people who are willing to translate knocking on doors, walking the county roads or the city streets into signatures, which in turn translates into a collective voice which declares, “We the People.”

I’m not a soothsayer, so I don’t know what happens from this point on. Whatever happens, I believe that this petition drive has been a great success. It’s demonstrated that there are a lot of people who care deeply about this community.

The petition drive is complete, but, our work to build a better community must go on. As I’ve walked my neighborhood, parked myself on downtown streets, or gone to folks unable to get out and about, I’ve seen over and over that there is a lot of work to do. There are tasks beyond ballot issues, as important as this effort has been. I’ve heard it so many times it’s become a refrain of sorts in my soul. “I want someone to listen to me.” “I want someone to understand that what seems so little to them is like a giant boulder on my shoulders.”

Emporia and Lyon County have a long way to go before we can even begin to say we’re the community we all want it to be. It will take political action, of which this petition drive was a small part. But it will take more. Our ministerial alliances need to make this an area of real focus.. There is a harvest of need that must be met and it’s going to take more laborers working in the fields. Out small neighborhoods need to become what Irish statesman Edmund Burke called “little platoons.” We need to work together to improve our neighborhoods and relationships.

Again, bravo zulu to all who contributed to this effort. Let’s use that energy and enthusiasm to continue making this the community we all want it to be!

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