Improving Moran

Moran residents met Tuesday evening for a Community Conversation. Those present agreed that better housing, youth engagement, and business development were their top three priorities for the community.

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April 17, 2024 - 2:16 PM

Sandy Murrow and Kim Ensminger listen on as Diane Smith explains her idea for a vending machine in the elementary library during Tuesday evening’s Community Conversation in Moran. Photo by Sarah Haney / Iola Register

Better housing, youth engagement and business development are what Moran residents hope to see in the future of their community. There was no shortage of participation as a group of citizens filled the senior center Tuesday evening for a Community Conversation.

The conversation, led by Thrive Allen County CEO Lisse Regehr, serves as a public format for community members to brainstorm on how to improve their quality of life.

“The conversation we have tonight helps us know what you as Moran residents want to see in Allen County,” explained Regehr. “We take that information back as a team, discuss it, and find who will be the leads on the top priority areas. Then we try to move the needle forward in those areas.”

Thrive Allen County CEO Lisse Regehr led Tuesday evening’s conversation in Moran, helping residents consolidate their desires for the community to three top priorities.Photo by Sarah Haney / Iola Register

Regehr began the meeting by going over Moran residents’ top three concerns from last year’s conversation — child care, business loss, and housing or vacant building blight.

By evening’s end, only child care had been removed from this year’s top three.

Although child care is still a priority, Regehr noted that work continues to be done to address the issue. “Child care was at the top of the list a year ago,” she said. “Needing more providers, including licensed providers. We continue to work on hopefully getting child care with the school district.” The Allen County Child Care Task Force has noted that the area in the most need of child care is the eastern side of the county, Regehr added.

USD 256 Superintendent Kim Ensminger added that she, along with Thrive, continues to search for grants that could make childcare a reality.

“We want to be very intentional working with Kim to do whatever we can on Thrive’s end to find funding opportunities to move the needle in a positive direction,” said Regehr.

Starting off the conversation, residents shared what they believed was already good about their community. This includes great communication with the school district; the city’s water project; and the grocery store, The Marmaton Market.

From there came a natural transition to what community members wish to see for the future.

A long list of “wants” included easier access to healthcare via a doctor’s office, a new bank branch, more restaurants, hardware store, skate park, better housing, updated equipment at the park, basketball court, more funds for the library, more community events, and more community involvement.

THE CONVERSATION also elicited some more specific requests.

Marmaton Valley Elementary Librarian Diane Smith noted she’s looking into getting a vending machine for the school library that dispenses books.

“I’m trying to raise enough money to buy the machine so that when the kids do good things they can have a book instead of sugary sweets,” she said. “I’ve been doing some research and it’s been proven that the literacy rate of students improves in 44% to 66% of the schools that have the vending machines.”

Annette Cole said she’s concerned about the status of independent living accommodations for seniors.

“It’s going into disrepair and it’s getting there rather quickly,” she said.

Ensminger noted she’d like to see a trail of some sort in the community. “Even if it’s a mile or two, to give people some place to walk,” she said. “A lot of people in the community use our track. So, the idea of getting a grant to do something with our track would be nice.”

Residents agree they want to see the community thriving in 20 years and believe providing amenities and opportunities that will encourage young families to live there is key. “That would include things like housing, school, and recreational opportunities,” said Cole.

Challenged to focus on three priorities, the group decided on housing, youth engagement, and attracting business/industry.

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