Sustainable Ozarks Partnership held its annual meeting recently.

The Sustainable Ozarks Partnership will hold public meetings this month in Texas County to share about the organization and answer questions.

The first meeting is 6:30-7:30 p.m. April 11 at the Northwest Texas County Lions Club at Roby. The second is 6:30-7:30 p.m. April 23 at the Texas County Justice Center in Houston.

The public meetings, which were suggested by the commissioners of Texas County, are open to the public. Steve Tupper, chairman of the SOP, and Joe Driskill, executive director of SOP and Leonard Wood Institute, will lead the meeting. They will be joined by Don Shelhammer, former presiding commissioner in Texas County and SOP executive committee member.

SOP supported the recent response to the Army by citizens in the communities neighboring Fort Leonard Wood. The Army is proposing major reductions in military and civilian personnel. More than 2,300 letters and emails were sent to the Army by the March 21 deadline. In addition, the governor, senators and representatives, and many of state legislators and department heads sent supportive letters to the Army. Local community leaders at the county, city and civic levels added their comments to those of businesses and universities.

The thrust of most of the letters was that the proposed reductions would have a devastating effect on the communities neighboring Fort Leonard Wood and that growing, not reducing, FLW’s mission and resources made much more sense. The response by the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership pointed to significant flaws in the Army’s study and the conclusion that the withdrawal of forces from Fort Leonard Wood would have no significant impact. That letter is accessible at www.SustainableOzarks.org.

“The number and thoughtfulness of responses from our communities and our state send a clear message – we know the value of Fort Leonard Wood to national defense, and we are proud of our long and sustained support our military neighbors,” Tupper said. “We salute every citizen who took the time and effort to send a response.”

SOP has established seven focus areas to sustain and improve the quality of life and business climate: economic development and employment, education and workforce, environment and natural resources, health and wellness, quality of life, transportation and utility infrastructure.

Sustainable Ozarks Partnership is a non-profit organization that focuses on the four counties neighboring Fort Leonard Wood. It identifies and helps implement major programs and projects that sustain and improve the quality of life and business climate in the four counties and enable continued growth of Fort Leonard Wood. More information on SOP can be found at its website.

For further information, contact Ron Selfors, Sustainable Ozarks Partnership, at 573-855-8312 or ronselfors@gmail.com.

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