The value of vision

Four folding chairs in the shade on the side of the road is a very low-key setting for powerful people to talk about an ambitious plan. Nonetheless, that’s where I found myself Thursday afternoon as I, the least significant or powerful person in the circle, listened to a community pillar, a state senator, and a university chancellor talk about opening a nursing school in Willow Springs. 
“I have a dream,” Wendell Bailey began. He described a postsecondary program for three hundred students to learn to become nurses in the north building of what used to be the old MODOT office complex. According to Bailey’s preliminary research, there are at least fifty available jobs for nurses In West Plains right now. The need is present and pressing, he indicated.
Dennis Lancaster was there, the Chancellor of MSU West Plains. He provided a perspective on the requirements the state would have for accrediting a nursing program. According to Lancaster, the nursing program on his campus has a waitlist of eighty applicants. 
Sen. Karla Eslinger was also there. As an educator as well as a legislator, Wendell suggested naming the facility after her. The senator’s idea was that any program in Willow Springs should be complementary, not in competition, with any existing training programs or educational institutions. She also suggested a survey of the community and the school districts to determine whether there are students to fill the rosters of a new program of this scale. Lancaster promised to help develop a survey to help ascertain the need.
I promised to help get the word out. 
This is not a news story. It’s the story of a vision. As Wendell put it himself, right now it’s a dream.
There are some who may say Wendell was jumping the gun, calling a meeting before significant players are ready. These buildings are technically owned by the City of Willow Springs, and all indications are the Willow Springs School District will assume ownership and control of the buildings soon. There wasn’t a representative of either of these agencies with us in the shade Thursday afternoon.
Here's what I say -- there is immeasurable value in a community member who has a vision. And if we care about the future of our community, we would all do well to listen to our visionaries.
Every town should be so lucky to have a visionary like Wendell Bailey working tirelessly to promote its economy and interests near and far. Willow Springs is lucky enough to have half a dozen such citizens thinking globally and acting locally. Wendell just happened to be the one who invited me to sit in on the discussion this week.
Right now, a school to train nurses is his vision. 
Personally, I like it. Brain drain from the Ozarks is major problem. The best and brightest of our community have no reason to stay here. If they want an illustrious future, our local economy does not offer them the opportunities they can get elsewhere. 
A school for nurses seems like it could train hundreds of young people for the high paying jobs that are available in the area. While attending school in Willow Springs, they would eat here, shop here, and pay sales tax here. 
It's a vision that holds so much potential but has a long way to go before it can become a reality. 
But I believe it enough to say it again: there is value in vision. 
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