For seven months each year, a selected group whose members want to know more about the ins and outs of the community where they live and work are exposed to government leaders, major institutions and community decision makers in a program that has produced a broad base of potential leadership.
The Leadership Cape program, sponsored by the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce since 1985, provides a solid understanding of city issues and needs. In return, participants are asked to give something back: plans for projects that will somehow enhance the community.
Recently, four teams presented plans from this year's Leadership Cape class at the recent First Friday Coffee held by the chamber at the Show Me Center. As in years before, the ideas were interesting.
* A TV program to promote Cape Girardeau.
Videos highlighting what the city has to offer could be aired on the cable-TV system's public-access channel. They also could be featured on hotel and motel TV systems to inform visitors and tourists.
* A leashless dog park.
The team that proposed the park for dogs also suggested its location: behind the Osage Community Centre on North Kingshighway.
This is the same site recommended by a previous Leadership Cape team for a proposed water park. Voters later rejected a tax increase that would have paid for the park.
* Promoting downtown as a place to live.
Cape Girardeau already has a sizable population downtown, thanks to major renovations to existing buildings. In addition, there has been some new construction, and other projects are in the works.
* Enhancements to the Cape LaCroix Trail.
The trail is a popular and much-used city facility, but aside from restrooms added a few years ago and some bridge improvements, very little has been added. This team envisions more lighting, water fountains, benches and exercise equipment.
So what will happen to these ideas? Some will likely attract support and a level of interest that will warrant refinement and implementation of the plans. Others will be added to the growing library of ideas that have been generated over the years.
The community owes a debt of gratitude to all the Leadership Cape participants who invested their time, energy and effort in looking for ways to make Cape Girardeau a better place to be.