Letter to the Editor: Jody Hoener

October 11, 2022
Fort Scott City Commissioners

123 South Main

Fort Scott, KS


RE: An Open Letter to Fort Scott City Council

Good evening Commissioners,

I am coming to you this evening with an update on your TMobile Home Town Grant. After giving it a lot of thought and consideration, the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team will be stepping away from the lead position of the Farmers Market TMobile Hometown Grant.

The TMobile grant was awarded to the City of Fort Scott in October of 2021. City Manager Kelley Zellner came to us in March 2022 to help lead the grant project because there had been no progress on the grant objectives since awarded. We agreed to take on the project as a good faith effort to work toward a common goal: to support the Farmers Market. Their success helps our
efforts in building resilient food systems and supporting economic growth in our community.

On April 19,2022 the commission made the decision to support this collaboration by unanimous vote, and appointed Commissioner Walker to attend meetings along with Bourbon County REDI
Director Rob Harrington.

In less than 6 months’ time as lead on the City’s grant, we have accomplished, at no charge:

1. Renegotiating the terms on the grant to allow more flexibility with the timeline and the parameters of site location and expected outcomes

2. Obtained technical assistance from USDA for site selection, pavilion size/dimensions and renderings at no cost to the local community

3. Engaged the market vendors and completed a survey of needs for a successful farmers’ market

4. Held one on one conversations with community members, farmers market vendors and customers, and leadership at the National Historic Fort. We learned that the initial plans
for site location and pavilion were not fully approved by the merchants before renderings were submitted for the TMobile Grant and development did not include input from any
of these critical sources who will be directly impacted by the decisions made.

5. We discussed the project and parameters at length with The Fort Scott Historic Site leadership to ensure any concerns with parking, traffic, and the view of the Old Historic Site from Main Street are incorporated in the conversation and addressed.

6. We made intentional efforts and outreach to ensure stakeholders were invited to each conversation.

At the request of the commission, I sent an initial email to Commissioner Walker and Bourbon County REDI Director Rob Harrington to schedule a time that would work for all parties. I
received zero response.

At the September 8th meeting we had a virtual and in person meeting at the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team Headquarters. We had a room full of stakeholders and farmers market vendors to discuss these issues and to look at potential site locations with the USDA Technical Assistance on Zoom.

Commissioner Walker logged into Zoom late and left very early according to our records.
This is the only meeting on this subject that he has attended. At that meeting Commissioner Walker didn’t realize he wasn’t muted and made a comment with a negative connotation about
me personally and the location of the pavilion.

Farmers Market Vendors feel strongly the success of the market is dependent upon the location due to size, visibility from the highway, and proximity within downtown. They report being questioned by City Commissioners about the current location the market is held and “just how important it is” to be located within Skubitz Plaza.

It has become apparent our work is not being appreciated by those who will ultimately make the decision on its placement. It has been our experience the commissioner who was appointed by
you to inform your decisions on this TMobile Hometown Grant Project is unengaged, unresponsive, absent and uninformed.

Our work is to support the Farmers Market to be a success. The Healthy Bourbon County Action Team is not getting paid to take on this project; we took it on because we believe in collaborating to make our community the best it can be. I am not going to subject myself, my teammates, or my organization to this type of poison and disrespect.

We will direct our efforts to where they are most appreciated moving forward.

I am not going to make any further comments at this time. If you have any further input or recommendations, they may be emailed to me at
[email protected] and I will discuss your feedback with the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team Board.

Thank you for your time,

Jody Hoener

The Healthy Bourbon County Action Team, Inc.

President and CEO

104 North National

Fort Scott, KS 66701

5 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor: Jody Hoener”

    1. I think that was tried, the letter to the editor describes what people / teams are up against when trying to do what is right. With several opportunities – others have ran into the same concern. The specific commissioner recognized has had a history of this very concern, with multiple people and in multiple situations, yet someone chose to put him in a position of power / leadership and guidance. Be ready for more of the same.

  1. Maybe these 2 men should step down from their positions if they cant do what they said they would do.
    A commissioner also needs to be listening to the commission meeting and not be on his phone.

  2. Two thoughts one might consider before posting an uninformed, anonymous comment: 1) Do I have all the facts from both sides of the issue? 2) Was a public letter the most constructive way to handle this kind of dispute? The answer is “No” to both of my rhetorical questions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *