INMAN —Inman Community Foundation hosted multiple Community Conversation events on Feb. 1 that drew in dozens of residents, who were invited to share what they thought the city was doing well and what it needed to work on to keep its population and attract new residents.

Attendees of the afternoon session, which was held in the Inman Elementary School library, ranged in age from high school students to senior citizens who either lived in town or in nearby rural homes.

Inman Community Foundation President Katie Sawyer welcomed the group.

"We want to know what keeps you here, what makes Inman great and what we can do even better," Sawyer said. "This gives us, hopefully, some direction on where we can focus some of our efforts."

LaMonte Rothrock of Rothrock Consulting/Coaching led the discussion by asking attendees what it would take for them to be a lifelong resident of Inman.

Those present listed several things they thought were necessary and that Inman was already doing well, including having a safe and friendly community, good schools, dynamic churches, employment opportunities and thriving local businesses.

“I would need to know it continues to be a very safe place to live,” said Inman resident Terri Bornholdt.

Inman resident Cyndi Ratzlaff shared she thought the city had done well at building a sense of community.

“People care about each other. People will take responsibility for other people’s kids,” Ratzlaff said.

Another strength of Inman’s community Ratzlaff noted was the cooperation of its houses of worship.

“We have five churches in town, and they all do a great job of working together,” Ratzlaff said. “It’s just a very faith-based community which, to me, is important and gives us a basis for what we want to do.”

Keeping trash and snow out of roadways was another issue that brought nods of approval from attendees.

“I think the maintenance guys do a great job of keeping the streets clean,” Ratzlaff said.

Other items listed as being things Inman residents wanted to add to their city included more variety in dining options, a pharmacy, a funeral home, a motel, a dog park, and additional updates to the city’s parks.

“When we were the age where we couldn’t drive, the kids in the town would go to the gas station for fun,” one teenage attendee shared.

Inman resident Rosetta Bartels said she and her daughter traveled to other small towns in Kansas this past summer and took note of their attractions.

“We found towns that have excellent playgrounds in their parks and Inman’s is not an excellent playground. It’s an OK playground, but there are some playgrounds out there that are super playgrounds, and we could really work at updating that kind of thing,” Bartels said. “We don’t have it updated. I think that the splash park that the city council’s talking about is a definite need.”

Inman City Council member Devin Schierling noted plans for a splash pad — which are desirable for their safety and low maintenance costs — were in the works, but that the earliest date for its installment would be in the summer of 2019.

“People want to live somewhere where there are new houses being build and new things being used to attract people to come there,” Schierling agreed.

Inman Economic Development Director Zach Davidson said he is looking for ways to keep people in Inman during the weekends.

“Every weekday, we have 700 commuters that leave or come to Inman,” Davidson said.

Offering options for activities, recreation and dining could encourage those who currently drive to other towns to spend their entertainment dollars in Inman.

“That’s something that helps all of our businesses,” Davidson said.

Rothrock noted they would be meeting with Inman’s school district employees on Feb. 19 to continue the conversation about how to improve Inman.

Sawyer said she thought the Community Conversation sessions on Feb. 1 brought good insights and helpful comments from attendees.

“It’s a great community and I think they always have ambitions of making it better,” Sawyer said.

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.