KCKCC Endowment Association names distinguished alumni of year and Wyandotte Countian of Year award winners

by Kelly Rogge

The Kansas City Kansas Community College 4.0 Gala might still be two months away, but the festivities are kicking off early with the announcement of the KCKCC Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award and the Wyandotte Countian of the Year Award winners.

The purpose of the Wyandotte Countian of the Year Award is to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the Wyandotte community. To qualify for the Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award, nominees must have either attended or graduated from KCKCC.

Clausie Smith, former mayor of Bonner Springs, will receive the Wyandotte Countian of the Year Award and Bishop Ervin Sims Jr., former water department manager and former assistant general manager of the Board of Public Utilities, will receive the Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award. The two awards will be a part of the KCKCC 4.0 Gala Oct. 24 at Lake Quivira. AT&T is the presenting sponsor for the 4.0 Gala.

“We feel these were great selections,” said Dawanna Fangohr, chair of the 4.0 Gala nomination sub-committee. “We had a great pool of nominees to choose from. The decision was not an easy one.”

Smith has been a part of the Wyandotte community since 1979. He served as a member of the Bonner Springs City Council for eight years before serving as Bonner Springs mayor from 2003 to 2013.

He currently serves on the United Way Board of Directors, the Mid-America Regional Council Board of Directors and the Vaughn-Trent Community Services Board of Directors and is the chair of the Wyandotte County Economic Development Inc.

In the past, he has been a member of the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Chamber of Commerce, the Bonner Springs Optimist Club, the Kansas Mayor’s Association, the Greater Kansas City Economic Council and the Bonner Springs Centennial Park Committee.

A “newspaper man” for much of his life, Smith owned the Bonner Springs Chieftain until 2000. He is a merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts of America, has coached a variety of sports over the years and was the Bonner Springs High School football statistician from 1981 until 2010. He also created and taught the “Youth in Government” Program at Bonner Springs High School.

“Even after suffering a stroke in 2010, he strove to quickly and fully recover in order to continue to serve the city,” said the nomination letter. “Clausie epitomizes the dedicated small town leader both as an elected official and more importantly as the unofficial leader and touchstone of the community.”

Sims is a native of Wyandotte County, attending Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools as well as KCKCC. He has a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from the University of Kansas and is the founder of the Mt. Carmel Redevelopment Corporation Inc. to improve the quality of life for Wyandotte County residents.

Since 1994, the MCRC has constructed 16 new homes for low to moderate-income families; completed a 61-unit senior citizen apartment complex and in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club, completed construction on the Breidenthal Community Center. He has also been pastor at Mount Carmel Church of God in Christ since 1980.

Sims’ ministry has reached far beyond the United States with mission trips to the Dominican Republic; Bristol, England; Ghana and Togo, West Africa and Cape Town, South Africa. For this service, the General Board of the National Church of God in Christ elevated him to the office of the bishopric. He was consecrated in 2011 to the office of jurisdictional bishop for Ghana, West Africa. He has also served as superintendent of the Kansas City District and in 2008 was appointed administrative assistant for Congregational Development in Kansas East.

Sims received the KCKCC Mid-American Education Award in 2005 and was recently honored with the street renamed from 12th Street and Garfield Ave. north to Jersey City Park to Ervin Sims Jr. Drive.

“I cannot think of anyone who is more hard working and dedicated to the people in the community he serves,’ said the nomination letter. “This is an honor that is well deserved for a man who is celebrating 20 years of steadfast service to this community.”

For more information about the 4.0 Gala, contact Dawanna Fangohr at 913-288-7675 or by email at dfangohr@kckcc.edu.

Kelly Rogge is the public information supervisor at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

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