Ginny Munroe – Soaring Eagle

Last Thursday evening Becky and I were pleased to be invited to attend the ceremonial dinner where Ginny Munroe was awarded the LaSalle Council of the Boy Scouts of America Soaring Eagle Award. This award is given to individuals who have been successful in their field of endeavor and have demonstrated integrity, a record of volunteer leadership, and service to youth and their community. Soaring Eagle Award honorees are people who have been unselfish in their service to others on an individual and community basis.  They seek no return for their service, other than satisfaction of aiding their fellow citizens,  their community and their nation. Ginny definitely deserves the recognition for what she’s done for Culver and recently extended to Marshall County.

Ginny and I didn’t really know each other before she joined the Culver Town Council, but since that time we have counseled each other and collaborated on things. We have a mutual respect that has only become more important to me as it has grown. I have continued to tell her that she is leaving a legacy in Culver for which she can be proud. And as is her way, she demures from that.

From her first term on the Town Council, Ginny was motivated to make things happen. She wanted to move the town forward; often fighting the opposition that wanted things to stay the same. I related to her more than once what Jim Dicke had told the Culver Chamber of Commerce years ago; to paraphrase, “Towns are either growing are dying. They cannot stay the same.” Ginny embodied that push for growth. She quickly formulated a plan that included early infrastructure improvements that prepared Culver for other moves forward. When I was pushing the Plan Commission to do a new Comprehensive Plan, she quickly grasped the value and made it the next priority. Then unlike most community leaders, she took that plan, held additional meetings and created a Strategic Action Plan to implement the things the Comp Plan recommended. Most communities let their Comp Plan sit on a shelf, unused and seldom referenced. Ginny has made Culver’s Comp Plan obsolete by completing a majority of the action items and making progress on many of the aspirational items as well.

One of her initiatives that I’m most familiar with was the formation of committee that came to be known as the Entry-Level Housing Committee. For decades, affordable housing has been a problem in Culver and it has only gotten worse. The Comp Plan noted this as a recognized need. Businesses can’t find help and full-time residents are being priced out of the market. I joined that committee as a contractor, with interests in construction, but due to Ginny’s energy and the lack of others stepping up, she motivated me to become a developer! As a step forward in this, MCEDC arranged for me to meet with Bill Konyha, then head of the Indiana Office of Community Development and Rural Affairs (OCRA). He suggested that Culver pursue the recently created small community competition for Stellar designation. When we brought this back to Ginny, she seized it as a great way to move Culver forward, not just in the initial goal of affordable housing, but for community wide improvements. I believe that Culver’s loss in their attempt to win Stellar in 2016 was as much due to politics as anything else, but despite some initial hesitancy, Ginny recommitted Culver to achieving Stellar Designation in 2017. And while working on resubmittals, she moved the Town forward on two of the 2016 projects, the Damore Amphitheatre and the Sand Hill Farm Apartments. I believe that demonstration of “working the plan” made a difference in Culver’s competitiveness and and success in achieving Stellar Designation in 2017.

Marshall County Stellar was a different challenge. OCRA asked Ginny to step up for this because of Culver’s success. She did this while in the middle of a half dozen Culver Stellar projects. Despite the advances made by County Development for the Future, there was still a competitiveness between the communities in Marshall County that didn’t always allow collaboration. Too often, individuals tried to take control or take credit or conversely work against others, rather than letting group collaboration work as it should. Ginny was able to see the problems that caused the first loss and massage the group into a successful second attempt. It was extremely disheartening at the Marshall County Stellarbration when Ginny’s contributions (as well as others) were misappropriated to undeserving individuals. Obviously Marshall County still has issues to overcome.

When Ginny was considering the move to Culver Town Manager, she asked for my thoughts. I was mixed on this. I was concerned that the Town Council would suffer without her leadership and I wasn’t sure that she would be as effective leading from behind. I was also concerned for Ginny, who I consider a natural leader, not being able to lead. So far, my concerns have been mostly unfounded and Ginny has continued to help move Culver forward. Again, she is adding to her Culver Legacy. The Soaring Eagle award is much deserved…

Kevin

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