Cowley College becomes first community college visited by Kansas Lieutenant Governor

From left, Childress Rittle, Dr. Dennis C. Rittle, Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers and Blake Legleiter.

Honored to be the first community college visited by Kansas Lieutenant Governor Lynn Rogers, Cowley College’s Allied Health Center welcomed the Lieutenant Governor as part of his Office of Rural Prosperity Listening Tour Monday in Winfield.

The Office of Rural Prosperity is dedicated to improving life in rural Kansas. The office is guided by the blueprint created by Governor Laura Kelly, Lt. Governor Rogers and Secretary of Commerce David Toland.

Cowley College president Dr. Dennis C. Rittle was joined in Winfield by delegates of Cowley College as well as Board Chair Jill Long and Trustees Nancy Burger and Ned Graham.

Also in attendance were representatives Doug Blex and Bill Rhiley.

“The message of Rural Prosperity is important to all of us,” Dr. Rittle said.

Dr. Rittle shared the results of the college’s recent Economic Impact Study, agriculture and manufacturing program growth, the opening of the new comprehensive Sumner Campus in Wellington, and Rural Development platforms. 

“This information is helpful. One of our goals was to visit as many of the community college campuses as we could and Cowley is our first one,” Rogers said.

A pair of Cowley College students, Blake Legleiter and Childress Rittle, were on hand to discuss being beneficiaries of Senate Bill 155 (Excel in CTE initiative).

Legleiter, a current sophomore in Cowley College’s paramedic program, was a senior at Arkansas City High School when he began taking classes in Cowley’s EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) program.

Legleiter earned an EMT certificate and began working at the South Central Kansas Regional Medical Center.

“Senate Bill 155 was a big help in me being able to start the EMT program earlier,” Legleiter said. “I love the practice of medicine and the opportunity to help people.”

With two of the past four National Paramedics of the Year having come through Cowley College’s program, Legleiter’s long-term goal is to be an emergency room technician.

“One of the things I am really excited about particularly is the medical professional skills where individuals can stay close to home and not have to move,” Lieutenant Governor Rogers said. “We are seeing in a lot of these cities that they need the workers, but they need them trained, so we need to be multifaceted on this.”

Childress, who just turned 17, recently finished her first year in Cowley College’s Non-Destructive Testing program. She will graduate from high school and the NDT program at the same time.

“I was interested in being able to go to work right away after finishing high school and the NDT program,” Childress said.

Students in the SB155 program have grown by 22 percent in the past two years in this area.

“Once they finish they can go right to work for companies in this region,” Dr. Rittle said.

Along with visiting Cowley College’s Allied Health Center, Lt. Governor Rogers also made stops in Arkansas City and rural Cowley County to hear from area residents.

“We want to make sure we are talking about the whole region. We know how regionally they all fit together,” Lt. Governor Rogers said.

The Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Cowley First co-hosted a community conversation with Lt. Governor Rogers later Monday evening at the community center at Baden Square.

Chris Cannon, Health and Human Services Department Chair/EMS Program Director, was grateful for the opportunity to showcase his program.

“It’s really good to be able to show off our program to a decision maker like Lieutenant Governor Lynn Rogers that can help lead the rural areas hopefully back into economic prosperity like they should be,” Cannon said. “He is definitely on the right path in knowing we need training and a good workforce. We certainly fit the bill for the training of the workforce.”

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