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City begins review of committees and their functions





Hays Sister Cities Advisory Board members outlined their goals and a few organizational frustrations when they met Thursday night with Hays city commissioners.

During a January commission meeting, city commissioners discussed a need to connect more directly with city boards and committees in an effort to determine whether all boards still are serving a vital function for the city.

As the first board to meet with commissioners, Sister Cities members said their board had been working to develop a strategic plan and had presented some of the board's objectives in a request for city funds last summer.

"We listed in our application where we wanted to go with Sister Cities in terms of making it more representative of the whole community, bringing in the various diversities," said Ann Leiker, who serves as chairwoman of the board. "We wanted to work with, for example, more cultural events in the city of Hays."

Hays' sister cities include Santa Maria de las Misiones, Paraguay; Neustadt an der Waldnaab, West Germany; and Zhenqzhou and Xinzheng, China.

The board, established in 2001, has shifted focus somewhat from its earlier role of developing direct relationships with its sister cities to promoting a more localized effort of welcoming diverse cultures to the Hays community, board members told commissioners.

Commissioner Ron Mellick said it is the responsibility of the commission to give the board direction on whether its focus should be cultivating sister city relationships or promoting community diversity.

"The committee, one wants to go one way and one wants to go another," he said. "Ultimately, it comes back to us.

"We have to sit down. We have to decide whether we want this to continue. You better start with one mission. Do that mission well and once you get that down, then you can expand."

Leiker and board member Ed Stenho told Mellick they appreciated his comments and agreed commission guidance would be welcomed by the board.

"You have some very committed people now, very educated and committed people on this committee," Leiker said.

Commissioners agreed to discuss expectations of the Sister Cities Advisory Board at a work session in May.

In other business, commissioners discussed an ordinance amending dates for an A-1 Scaffold Manufacturing Inc. tax abatement. They will vote on the amendment at Thursday's regular meeting.