By Harold Alford, Public Information Coordinator, Kansas
Last week as we celebrated the anniversary of Earth Day, we remembered that it is critical that we protect our environment for future generations. In each of the past 40 years, communities and individuals throughout our Nation have taken one day out of the year, Earth Day, to celebrate and initiate actions that preserve our planet.
This year, to mark Earth Day in Kansas, USDA Rural Development celebrated with the City of Chetopa, USD #505 Chetopa – St. Paul (School District), local business, and the community.
Kim Juenemann, Superintendant for USD #505 Chetopa – St. Paul remarked, “Chetopa Elementary has annually participated in one or more Earth Day activities. We were very pleased to be part of the USDA’s efforts in creating a dual celebration between our school and the city of Chetopa. Chetopa Elementary students will also be participating on May 14th to continue our celebration of Earth Day at which time they will be completing activities at our OWLS (Outdoor Wetland Learning Site) location.”
Local grocery, Chetopa Foods, has provided grocery bags for the K-8 grade kids to decorate with Earth Day or environmental theme drawings. At the event held in the Chetopa K-12 School Building, the children returned the grocery bags back to Chetopa Foods for distribution to the community, to share the art work and messages commemorating Earth Day.
As part of the celebration, USDA Rural Development presented the City of Chetopa with a Certificate of Recognition for its efforts to protect the environment, with the planned wastewater infrastructure improvements. Funding for the City’s project, a $3,000,000 loan provided through the Agency’s Water & Environmental Program, was selected to be funded by federal appropriations, provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. (Stimulus Funds). Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreements, and the letter of conditions.
City Clerk Toni Crumrine said, “Using USDA Rural Development funds to make improvements and repairs to our sanitary sewer system will allow us to provide a safe and healthy environment for the residents of our community. As with all small communities, Chetopa needed to find the most economical way to obtain funds to make these improvements that will benefit our city at a cost that our citizens can afford.”
“USDA Rural Development’s Water & Environmental Program is one of the most important community and economic development efforts this Agency administers. These USDA funds, combined with the Agency’s technical assistance which supports local leadership, helps make these critically needed services a reality. Water is the most basic need to help support community and economic development in rural Kansas. These valuable USDA programs promote economic growth and enhance the quality of life for the area residents served by these projects and all of Kansas,” commented State Director Patty Clark.
Children from USD #505 Chetopa – St. Paul decorate grocery shopping bags for distribution by the local grocery as
part of the USDA Rural Development Earth Day Event in Chetopa, Kansas.