County employees honored for completing leadership program

Published 3:31 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2023

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During Tuesday morning’s Mower County Board of Commissioners meeting, commissioners honored the first cohort to go through the county’s John Maxwell Leadership Program.

Graduates included: Laurie Clendenning, Cindy Jensen, Amanda Kiefer, Amanda Lee, Jason Murphy, Rod Streich, Chris Eastvold, Mike Kellar, Candy Lahann, Eric Miller and Valerie Sheedy.

According to Trish Harren, Mower County administrator, the purpose of the two-year program is to promote a culture of leaders within the Mower County workforce.

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“We are trying to grow our capacity internally for leadership as well as expand people’s awareness of what we are looking for with leadership,” she said. “It’s an attempt to change our culture.”

Of the 11 people to graduate in this first cohort, four have already moved into a department head position or some other leadership role. That includes Lahann, who was promoted to County Assessor and who was also honored for 14 years of service within the County Assessor’s office. 

Lahann, however, will also be stepping down to accept an opportunity with a company outside of Mower County.

Harren said the next cohort has already begun the two-year process. This time around there are 20 people within the county signed up.

Working toward more broadband

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously on a resolution and letter of support backing Charter Communications’ Border to Border Grant application, due by the end of the week.

If successfully secured, the grant would pay for 148 fiber connections south of Austin with a total project cost of $1.2 million. The grant is a 50-50 partnership with the state paying for one half and Charter and the county paying for the other half.

Charter would shoulder most of the funding with the county committing $100,000.

This border to border grant application comes after commissioners approved a similar project by Arvig in February that would substantially expand broadband access across the county with a low density population base.

That project is expected to come in at $6.8 million with Arvig originally shouldering 40% of the project at $2.7 million and the grant covering 50% at $3.4 million. For that grant, the county would pay the remaining 10% coming to around $686,938.88.

However, on Tuesday, the commissioners had to approve an amendment to that support because the state came back and clarified with Arvig that the state would pay 75% of the project and Arvig and the county would pay the other 25%.

Both Charter and Arvig will hear back in April as to whether or not the grant applications were accepted.