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Posted 2/15/2018

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By Trisha Dorsey
Kansas City District, Public Affairs

Communication is key, and the Kansas City District understands that concept and strives to implement it.

“We have more stakeholders than we know,” said John Grothaus, Kansas City District’s chief of planning. “We are actively searching for them, working to communicate with them to learn their needs while informing what the Corps of Engineers does and how we can best serve the public.”

In 2016, the Planning Branch assigned a dedicated individual to reach out to communities along the Missouri River from Rulo, Nebraska to St. Louis, Missouri to meet stakeholders and understand their concerns and help explain the Corps of Engineers’ missions. Kenneth Wade, outreach specialist, is the individual who performs these duties. As a 32-year native to the Kansas City District, serving in several roles, he has an understanding of the full spectrum of regulations and authorities the Corps has.

“What we are trying to do is focus on communication with stakeholders along the river,” informed Wade. “We are trying to find the folks who haven’t been contacted by the Corps of Engineers and working to educate them on what our mission is in relation to the Missouri River and the authorities the Corps has. I meet with them, listen to their comments and concerns and deliver them back to leadership at the Kansas City District.”

This effort is very important to the Corps of Engineers in order to have a better understanding of the partnerships that exist between local partners, state and other stakeholders and how critical those partnerships become when we all pull together in time of need.

“Relationships are important to working together to improve conditions, operations and procedures. Better communication is essential to having beneficial, productive relationships and improving relationships,” said Grothaus. “That’s why river outreach is so important to us.”

In 2017, Wade made 110 contacts along the Missouri River. He says he isn’t knocking on doors, but rather works with communities to engage with boards of directors, mayors and more. In face to face discussions, he talks river regulations, erosion concerns, the process on repairing structures, intakes and gages. He works to explain the Corps of Engineers roles and missions to rural areas along the Missouri River corridor.

“In small communities along the Missouri River, say 100 people in the town, we work to identify the county seat,” informed Wade. “I find the point person for that community, reach out to them via phone, inform them who we are and what we do, and try to learn if they have an erosion or safety concerns along the river. If so, that’s when I go out and meet them on site, listen to their comments and questions and bring their concerns back to district leadership.”  

For 2018, Wade is excited to get back on the river and meet new stakeholders. In addition to one on one conversations, Wade is available to meet with groups and provide presentations.

Corps of Engineers Kansas City Missouri River Mo River Outreach stakeholders USACE