Like countless officials across the state, Midland County Commissioner Randy Prude is continually concerned with connectivity – how to link a community’s citizens to their county government.
“If you said to your constituents, ‘Do you know what I do,’ most would say, ‘No,’ ” Prude said. Consequently, “we’re always trying to think of ways to get them involved.”
Now completing his second term, Prude has paid special attention to the young people of Midland County, inviting students to court to celebrate academic and sports achievements and clipping news stories of accomplishments to send along with congratulatory notes. So when it comes to connectivity, Prude naturally targets the younger set.
Last fall Prude approached court members about sponsoring an essay contest and agreeing to accept interview requests from local students. Upon approval of the court, Prude contacted area schools, merchants, banks and media outlets, disseminating information about the contest, asking for prize donations, and arranging advertising.
A committee of six local officials assisted Prude, with efforts culminating in the following:
Essay Contest for Grades 3-8
Essay Topic: “Midland County: Government in Action”
Students: Spotlight a particular county position or person in county government and their service to the local community.
Essay Contest Grades 9-12 and Midland College Students
Essay Topic: “What County Government Does for Me”
Students: This subject may include many topics including the federal, state, and local aspects of county government and the functions attributed to government at the county level.
Prizes in Each Category
U.S. Savings Bonds from American State Bank
1st place: $700 U.S. Savings Bond
2nd place: $400 U.S. Savings Bond
3rd place $150 U.S. Savings Bond
Prizes to All Participating Students AND Teachers of Participating Students
Free pizza for students
Gift certificates to area eateries for teachers
Prude’s efforts paid off with the submission of 200-plus essays from Midland students. Equally exciting were the comments made from several students regarding a future in county government.
“Many said, ‘I want to be an official,’ ” Prude said. “That was a wonderful outcome.”
Prude invited the winning students, their parents, teachers and principals to a special session of commissioners court for the awards presentation.
While this particular contest did not coincide with a specially designated week, the concept would be ideal for celebrating National County Government Week April 17-21.
Prude said he welcomes inquiries from those interested in planning a similar event. For more information, contact Midland County Commissioner Randy Prude at firstname.lastname@example.org or 432-685-1980.
Julie Anderson, Editor