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DMACC course connects participants with community leaders

Published: Friday, March 17, 2017 9:52 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 17, 2017 10:25 a.m. CDT
(Justin Jagler/Daily News)
Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty shows DMACC “Get to Know Newton Leadership” students a military- grade vehicle owned by the county known as “the beast.” Participants in the leadership course toured the Jasper County Law Enforcement Center earlier this month.

Every thriving community depends on people who have a knack for seeing and seizing opportunities. Even when those opportunities are buried within exasperating challenges, leaders find a way to make it work.

DMACC’s “Get to Know Newton Leadership” course provides enrollees with a valuable glimpse into the civic underpinnings of a city with no shortage of leaders.

The leadership course connects students with elected officials, board members, executive directors and more. Once a week for a two-month stretch, community leaders share insight and tell stories to participants.

The students in the current program come from diverse backgrounds. Some were born and raised in Newton. Some are recent transplants. Some work for the city. Some work for a manufacturer, a newspaper or a community college. They share a curiosity for what makes Newton tick.

Evelyn George, who serves on the Newton City Council, is the program instructor. She requested adding panel discussions with current community leaders to bring another dimension to the class.

“I think the opportunity to meet leaders personally, ask questions directly of those leaders and see they are people just like you and me is compelling,” George said. “Leadership isn’t a magical power. It is the willingness to work with others toward a common purpose.”

Participants in the ongoing course, which is winding down with only two classes left, met with Frank Liebl of Newton Development Corporation and Hometown Pride Coach Jeff Davidson at the first gathering. Liebl and Davidson spoke about economic development what Newton can do to and attract businesses.

Under Liebl’s leadership, the Newton Development Corporation is a key sponsor of the leadership course, George said.

The second class meeting, held at the Newton Public Library, focused on city government. Mayor Mike Hansen, city councilwoman Lin Chapé and city development specialist Craig Armstrong shed light on the duties of local government.

The city officials fielded questions from class participants and reviewed city initiatives like the dangerous and dilapidated program that aims to address nuisance and inhabitable buildings in Newton. Armstrong also spoke about building the Get to Know Newton brand.

Several of the classes were prefaced with tours of city facilities. The library, DMACC Career Academy and Jasper County Law Enforcement Center were featured. A tour of Skiff Medical Center is also scheduled for next week.

Part of the course objective is to provide participants with accurate, up-to-date information on local issues, George said. The ultimate goal is to inspire participants to get involved in the community.

“There are so many opportunities to make a real difference in Newton, just by sharing a bit of your time and talents,” George said. “Community involvement is key to Newton’s long-term success and a true strength.”

“Get to Know Newton Leadership” will be offered again in 2018, likely beginning in late January or early February.

Contact Justin Jagler at 641-792-3121 ext 6532 or jjagler@newtondailynews.com

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