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      Community project focuses on welcoming residents to Ottumwa

      Participants in the Lead Ottumwa Leadership Academy not only learn about different aspects of the community each month, they're also working hands-on with fellow Leadership Academy members on group projects aiming at improving or promoting the Ottumwa area.

      One of those projects is called "Welcome to Ottumwa" and focuses on how newcomers to the area are welcomed to Ottumwa, how they know about different events going on in the community, and also what the city and community members can do better to welcome newcomers to our community.

      "What would be the best way to welcome people, how do people like to be welcomed, what kind of resources do they need to have when they're here, things like that," said Abby Conrad, Lead Ottumwa Leadership Academy participant. "So I've learned a lot from the project as far as what we have in Ottumwa currently and also what we could use in Ottumwa, what we don't have that could be beneficial."

      Conrad said an item like a community calendar is extremely beneficial so that residents know what is going on in the area and how they can get involved. This project has required a large amount of research; including what other cities in Southeast Iowa do to welcome new and returning residents.

      "We've done a lot of research, we've met with the Welcome Wagon of Ottumwa to see if people are getting welcomed, how they're welcomed, what other communities are doing, what can we do in our community to make sure everybody's getting welcomed, how do we let people know what events are going on, just to get the information out there," said Linda Whittington, another Lead Ottumwa Leadership Academy member.

      These projects are not just for show. Conrad and Whittington said they have specific strategies and an end goal to their project that will be revealed sometime this summer.