By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
“Our home … built one penny at a time,” is the motto adopted by the Focus on the Future group avidly working to keep the 1-cent sales tax alive and well after the general election in November.
For sometime, the group has been meeting and inviting the public to brainstorm in an effort to come up with further projects that would benefit the City of Liberal. Thursday night was the last meeting for ideas before the group will compile, prioritize and bring the ideas to the city commission.
Jack Taylor informed the committee $35 million could be raised by again renewing the 1-cent sales tax. He continued to tell them grants and interest would even further the grand total collected through the tax. Taylor added 30 to 35 percent of funds collected from the 1-cent sales tax is brought in from residents of surrounding communities that shop in Liberal.
Dr. Julio Jiminez suggested a recreation center be a possible future project for the community.
Taylor informed Jiminez that $1.1 million has already been set aside by the city in 2011 to get the process of building a recreation center started.
McDermott teacher Donna Obholz felt a recycling facility with greater capability would be an ideal project that would benefit the community.
“Liberal does not recycle paper, they get newspaper and magazines,” Obholz said. “This summer I did find out that Garden and Dodge take white paper and colored paper, they take metal cans.
“I would like to see improvements made to our recycle center,” she continued. “They don’t take shredded paper out here either. A lot of the businesses and schools have shredded paper. Garden and Dodge, they take it all.”
Ernie Schaffer had two suggestions for improvements, both, however, would require cooperation from the county commission as well as the city.
“Cooperation and consolidation with maybe the county, one area that I would like to see is that county fairgrounds area,” Schaffer said. “I look at that wall and if you know the history of that wall, it was built in hard times. Let’s face it, we are in hard times right now. I kind of look at that fairgrounds and think, ‘What a great time for the community and the county to get together and actually kind of improve on that – actually make it a little bit better.’”
Schaffer also suggested Arkalon Park get a bit of a makeover as well.
“Another area that I look at, and to me I kind of look at it as a diamond in the rough, is Arkalon Park area,” he said. “One of the hiccups of Arkalon is that road going out to it. Again, a little cooperation between the city and county to get some asphalt laid out there, I think that would be something the community as a whole would actually utilize further.”
Patty Tovilla asked if it were to be possible to aid the city in providing more certified day care providers. Local resident Laura Eastes had a remedy for the situation.
“I have a lot of friends that can’t afford day care for their family, and they can’t afford for a parent to stay home,” she said. “There are a lot of problems for people that want to have day care facilities in their homes qualified at the state level.
“Maybe if there were some classes that people could take for free with the 1-cent sales tax, that might help out with the issue,” she added. “The city, I don’t think, can fund day care but classes, that might help.”
Ideas will be compiled and shared with the community and the city commission. The Focus on the Future group will remain busy between now and November as they work to get the 1-cent sales tax passed once again.