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Heartland Visioning Welcomes Interns

Darrin Simmons and Kelly Murphy join Heartland Visioning's team as interns for the Spring Semester.
Darrin Simmons
While working with Heartland Visioning, Darrin will complete his capstone class for the Washburn Leadership Institute. During the semester, he will plan the Downtown Leadership Lab. The leadership lab is a program put on through a partnership between Heartland Visioning and the Washburn Leadership Institute focusing on examples of community leadership.
Originally from Downs, Kan. he moved to Topeka to attend Washburn University. He is currently a senior and will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish. After graduation, law school will be in his future where he plans to specialize and focus on international law. 
"After returning from a semester abroad in Spain, I'm ready to be active in the community," Darrin said. "The future is very bright for Topeka and I am excited to play a part in making that happen."
Kelly Murphy 
Kelly, a lifelong Topekan, is working with the Heartland Visioning staff to explore the world of non-profit communications and marketing.  
Currently a sophomore at the University of Kansas, Kelly is working towards her Bachelor of Science in Business and Strategic Communications with a focus on marketing. At KU, she is a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and serves as the Director of Education and Scholarship for the Panhellenic Association.  
"I am excited to work with those involved in rebuilding Topeka and Shawnee County," said Kelly. "And to gain experience and a better understanding of the marketing world."


Listening Tours Across the County


What do you envision for the newly merged Parks and Recreation Program?


The Shawnee County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is conducting a 15 stop listening tour throughout the area. The public is invited to attend the meetings and share their thoughts. 

During these meetings, residents will be asked about what they want to 
see from the merged parks and recreation department. There will be at least one meeting in each city council district and at least two meetings in each county commission district. 

Attendees will be asked to fill out a questionnaire, which will also be 
available on city and county websites soon.


Upcoming listening meeting locations:

  • Wed. February 8, 6:30 p.m. | Rossville City Hall
  • Sat. February 11, 11:00 a.m. | Central Park Community Center, 
  • Sat. February 11, 1:00 p.m. | Hillcrest Community Center 
  • Mon. February 13, 6:30 p.m. | Garfield Community Center 
  • Mon.February 13, 6:30 p.m. | Cypress Ridge Golf Center
  • Mon., February 20, 6:30 p.m. | Old Prairie Town

Six more listening meetings are scheduled, click here for the full schedule. All meetings are open to the public.

Rescue Mission to Implement a New Program


February 1, Topeka Rescue Mission (TRM) held a public forum to explain their new plans for expansion and operation. 


"The rescue mission had three choices: we could build another shelter or tent city for people to stay in, turn people away or to implement a program like NET-Reach," said Terry Hund, director of mentor development for Topeka Rescue Mission.


Neighborhood Empowerment Teams (NET) will benefit all of Topeka and Shawnee County because homeless individuals will be strengthened and empowered allowing them to successfully reintegrate into the community. A collaborative group of people will work together to provide support to those leaving the shelter. Teams may include: Neighborhood Improvement Associations, Safe Streets, Community Police Officers and other graduates from the TRM  program. Teams will work collaboratively to provide support to individuals who have left the mission.


The NET-Reach program aligns with strategies from the community-wide vision to work collaboratively to create an inclusive community that provides support for everyone. TRM is working to provide a proactive program that will help those leaving the shelter successfully reintegrate into the community.


For more information on NET-Reach, click here.

Activate the Avenue


RDG Planning & Design in conjunction with their Topeka based partners, Cook, Flatt & Strobel Engineers, HTK Architects and Latimer, Sommers and Associates will host another community open house February 22 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The open house will be held at the Downtown Design Center, 828 S. Kansas Avenue.

The Downtown Design Center is a place where the community can interact with the design team and provide input for the design.

The center remains open twice a week for the public to stop in and talk with members of the design team. The February schedule is as follows:


  • Tuesday, February 14, 12:00 p.m. -- 2:00 p.m. | Office Hours 
  • Wednesday February 15, 10:00 a.m. -- 1:00 p.m. | Office Hours
  • Tuesday February 21, 12:00 p.m. -- 2:00 p.m. | Office Hours 
  • Wednesday February 22, 10:00 a.m. -- 1:00 p.m. | Office Hours 
  • Wednesday February 22, 4:00 p.m. -- 7:00 p.m. | Open House  
  • Tuesday February 28, 12:00 p.m. -- 2:00 p.m.  | Office Hours
  • Wednesday February 29, 10:00 a.m. -- 1:00 p.m. | Office Hours   

For more information and the complete Downtown Design Center Schedule, visit:


Topeka Hosts Annual Wrestling Tournament for 5 years
Visit Topeka, Inc., the Kansas Expocentre and the Topeka Lodging Association announced that Topeka has been awarded a five year contract to host the USA Kansas Kids State Wrestling Tournament.

For 23 years, Topeka has hosted the event and will continue to host the event until 2017.   
The Kansas Kids Wrestling Tournament brings 1,400 wrestlers and approximately 6,000 family members, coaches and friends to Topeka for the two and a half day event.  The estimated direct spending impact in the Topeka Community is $1.5 million each year, totaling $7.5 million over the next 5 years.

Mark Stanley, district one representative and Topeka resident, serves on the tournament's executive board. He reported that the bidding process was very competitive.


"We received three very good options from Topeka, Wichita and Hays," Stanley said. "The USAWA's executive board was very happy with the proposal that Topeka prepared. What stood out was Topeka's guaranteed commitments to the tournament and the experience that our community has in hosting this event."


 For more information click here. 
Calling All Artists!
ReThink Topeka is looking for your art work inspired by "Kansas Life," for the third annual Exhibition and Art Walk on Saturday, April 14. 
Submissions are due February16. Applicants may enter up to three pieces of art with a $5 entry fee.
ReThink Topeka is looking for Visual Art (2D and 3D), Film/Video, Performance (Music, Dance or Performance Art or Poetry and Prose.
For more information, click here.

Big Dream Topeka
Update us on your Big Dream:

Coalition of community members working to reduce crime and substance abuse to make Topeka the Safest Capital City in America
For more information on the Safe Streets,click here.
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Upcoming Events

Feb. 8 thru April 15: "Industiral Nature"
Mulvane Art Museum
Times Vary

Feb. 8 thru April 15: "Twist & Turn" 
Mulvane Art Museum
Times Vary

February 10: "Laughing Matters"
Topeka Civic Theatre
7:00 p.m. & 11:00 p.m.

Feb. 10 thru Feb. 18: "Tails of a Fourth Grade Nothing"
Show times Vary @ Topeka Civic Theatre

Feb. 11 thru Feb. 25: Giraffe Feeding
Topeka Zoo
6:30 p.m.

Feb. 11 thru Feb. 26: Elephant Barn Tour
Topeka Zoo
1:30 p.m.

February 16: CSI: Topeka
Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
4:00 p.m. -- 5:30 p.m.

February 16: Fast Forward Networking Social
@ Orange Leaf
5:00 p.m. -- 7:00 p.m.

February 21:"School Time Theater Performance: The Three Little Pigs"
Topeka Civic Theatre
10:00 a.m. -- 11:30 a.m.
Feb. 24 thru Feb. 25: 16th Annual Kansas Silent Film Festival
White Concert Hall/ Washburn University
Times Vary

For more information on these events and to find other events in Topeka

Heartland Visioning People