Partnership Building a Future for Town of Langston City
In Logan County on the outskirts of Langston City are a number of eastern redbud trees whose branches are filled with pink flowers during the early spring. But those trees began one day as just a seed in the ground and over time grew to become saplings before maturing to become the 15- to 30-foot Cercis canadensis that commonly grow throughout central and eastern Oklahoma.
The town of Langston City has not yet fully bloomed but has begun to grow and develop just like the state’s official tree. And Langston University’s Center for Community Engagement is at the heart of that growth by providing an infusion of money and support in the same manner that water, sunlight and soil help grow the foliage that is so prominent around the town of Langston City.
The most recent economic development efforts on the part of LU have included a new appearance to Main Street with the widening of the highway, construction of a one-mile stretch of sidewalk and installation of one mile of street lighting – all of which was completed in 2011.
"This was just one example of the positives that can arise through the partnership between Langston University and the town of Langston City," said Linda Tillman, director for Langston’s Center for Community Engagement. "By working together, we are able to leverage so much more for the community, which is beneficial to the university in building a college town for our students."
The Center for Community Engagement was previously the HUD/HBCU Program Office but made the name change to allow for the broadening of its mission in assisting with the economic development of its tri-campus areas. Tillman has garnered more than $2.3 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development agency in coordinating a series of community growth initiatives with the town of Langston City.
LU’s Center for Community Engagement, through a grant from HUD, is close to completing a renovation project for the town’s dilapidated softball field, which would convert it into an NCAA regulation-size field. A memorandum of agreement between the town of Langston and LU will allow the NCAA-regulated field to become the home of LU’s softball team. The Langston Economic Development Authority (LEDA) also provided a subgrant to help supplement the HUD funding for the softball field.
A subsequent grant through the Center for Community Engagement from HUD has funded the construction of a Fresh Food Farmer’s Market, which is scheduled for completion in June 2012. Other economic development activities under the umbrella of the center include the management of the Langston Retail Plaza. Leases have been signed at the plaza for a Bronco Books, Langston City Cleaners and a convenience store.
The pre-existing Business Resource Center and Incubator located in the plaza currently houses the Langston Federal Credit Union. Contract negotiations are also underway to lease restaurant space and barber/salon space.
Since broadening its mission, Langston’s Center for Community Engagement has engaged in assisting the town of Langston with the revitalization and restoration of the Indian Meridian Monument. The town of Langston received a $50,000 Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) Grant from to support economic development in the town and an additional $11,000 from LEDA to support the revitalization and restoration of the monument as well as other revitalization projects in the town. The Indian Meridian Monument in Langston commemorates the surveying of the meridian in 1870, which located the division line between Oklahoma and Indian territories. Today, this monument is the reference point of all surveys in the state of Oklahoma and is one of only seven nationwide still in existence.
"We are proud to call the town of Langston City a partner, and we want to be a part of that growth as the community thrives," said Tillman.
LU has embraced the mantra of becoming a "community of one" with the town of Langston City. And just as the eastern redbud grows, so too shall the community of Langston.
Langston University Helps Migrant Farm Workers Plant for their Future
The Langston University Department of Rehabilitation Counseling & Disability Studies have created a vocational rehabilitation program designed specifically for migrant and seasonal farm workers with special needs.
The program, Sembrando el Futuro (Planting the Future), was the brainchild of LU professors Dr. Corey Moore and John Sassin. Moore and Sassin wrote a grant to provide vocational training for migrant farm workers, and a comprehensive vocational rehabilitation program was established.
Sembrando el Futuro was created as a means by which migrant and seasonal farm workers with special needs might be able to develop skills that would lead to long-term employment,” said Moore. “Seeing these individuals gainfully employed, year-round, not only impacts these individuals but their families as well. Seeing these families changed for the good is what this program is all about. That is the biggest gift.”
Specifically, Sembrando el Futuro assists its participants by connecting them to community resources essential to helping them become independent and productive employees. Through technical and financial collaborations with the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (ODRS) and other local agencies, the program provides participants with the skills assessments, technical assistance, job-readiness training, career counseling, job placement services and follow-up support necessary to attain a lifestyle of self-sufficiency.
“Out of all of the programs that Langston University has been instrumental in creating throughout the years, this is perhaps one of the most significant,” said Dr. JoAnn Haysbert, president of Langston University. “Just knowing that agricultural workers with disabilities will be provided with the educational tools and training needed to assist them in leading a productive and bountiful life is something that this university is extremely proud to be a part of.”
The program, which has offices on both Langston University’s Tulsa and Oklahoma City campuses, is available year-round and provides written materials in both English and Spanish.
To learn more about Sembrando el Futuro, contact a program navigator at 405.962.1676 in Oklahoma City or 918.877.8163 for Tulsa.
Langston University provides master's level graduate credit courses for Tinker Air Force Base's Supervisory/Management training program. The Tinker supervisory personnel that successfully complete the three specific courses may earn up to nine graduate credit hours. In 2004, Langston will begin providing upper division courses on the Base, as part of a 2+2 articulation partnership with Rose State College to deliver a Bachelor of Business Administration degree to civilian and military personnel on the Base.