The East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation, 1320 S. Ash St., Ottawa, has added two new faces to its team along with a couple of old faces in new places within the organization.
ECKAN is a community action agency which serves low-income persons to become self-sufficient in Franklin, Anderson, Coffey, Douglas, Johnson, Lyon, Miami, Morris and Osage counties, according to the agency’s website www.eckan.org.
Bruce Peterson, who has worked for the agency for eight years as the warehouse manager and director of food programs, has been promoted as ECKAN’s weatherization director. With his background in roofing, Peterson has the tools for the position, Richard Jackson, ECKAN chief executive officer, said. ECKAN’s weatherization program includes all of the agency’s nine regular counties as well as Wyandotte, Butler, Harvey and Greenwood counties.
“That deals with going out and weatherizing houses and doing whatever it takes to make them more energy efficient,” Jackson said. “He oversees a number of inspectors we have on board that go out and do the energy audits and then we have a number of contractors who go out and do the work and we do inspections who go out and make sure the work was done correctly, so that is what he will be overseeing.”
Taking Peterson’s place as the warehouse manager and director of food programs is Jake Howard, who has previously been the Franklin County human services coordinator for ECKAN the past three years. Howard still will be stationed in Franklin County, Jackson said, but will be working with several counties and their food and community garden programs in his new position.
“He’ll be involved with our county centers and of course we have several food programs in other counties and he will help to oversee those and he will be heading up our community garden program, not just here in Ottawa, but in other counties,” he said. “We will be getting a freezer/cooler which will enable us to keep some of the things that are perishable. That will allow us to pick up things we haven’t been able to in the past because we weren’t able to freeze them.”
Howard also will be a part of ECKAN’s food give-outs in Franklin County, which take place Tuesdays at the Don Woodward Community Center, 517 E. Third St., Ottawa, and the mobile food pantry, which takes place on the first Wednesday of every month at the Kansas Army National Guard, 208 W. 17th St., Ottawa.
“She is familiar with the things we do,” Jackson said. “We may do things a little bit differently, but she has experience as a case manager and working with those who may need some type of service.”
Templeton will be the main contact in Franklin County for other agencies as well as those interested in applying for services from ECKAN, Jackson said.
“That position is in all counties and is the main point of contact and coordination for programs that we offer and work with other entities that may have resources,” he said. “She will take applications for programs that we have to offer. She will also be working with our case management and our self sufficiency program. We identify people who are interested in getting out of the situation that they might be in. There is an analysis that we go through and determine where they need assistance in and make a plan.
“In some cases, (people who apply for ECKAN assistance) are looking for a job, so we work with them to try to find a job. We are making a person self sufficient so they are no longer dependent on federal or state assistance. They, as I say, have a sense of community and they feel comfortable and good about themselves.”
Ryan Crook is also a new face to ECKAN, coming in as the director of the rental housing programs in Franklin, Miami, Coffey and Lyon counties. Crook, who has background in rental housing according to a news release, will be managing more than 40 pieces of property over those counties as well as 32 senior housing units in Eudora and 32 senior housing units in Spring Hill which ECKAN partners with another agency to manage, Jackson said.
“[Crook] will be making sure people pay their rent and making sure our properties are leased up when we have a vacancy,” he said. “Of course when you are working with the state and federal you have some paperwork and he will be making sure people know what they can and cannot do on the properties as well as maintenance work as needed.”
All four of ECKAN’s new position holders live in Ottawa, Jackson said.