Commissioners Act To Outsource Helen Hocker

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Shawnee County Commissioners set the stage Monday for operational changes at Helen Hocker Theater.

With a packed chambers on hand to show their support for the program, commissioners voted unanimously to solicit proposals from outside entities to run Helen Hocker.

Commissioners said the move does not mean the county will cut off funding for the youth theater program, but supporters worried how the move will impact Helen Hocker's future.

Supporter Marge Heeney told commissioners cited the commitment of the program's dedicated staff. She says she has personally sponsored students and has seen their lives "enriched beyond anyone's imagination." Heeney says she has seen character changed and leadership developed.

Commissioner Ted Ensley said he has no doubts about the program's value. He says commissioners don't intend to damage it in any way. Commissioner Shelly Buhler agreed, pointing out the county contracts for many services, including mental health, social services and the Kansas Expocentre's management.

"Change can be positive," she said.

Parks and Rec believes outsourcing the program could save money in the wake of budget cuts.