“Visionary” Collin Whitebread earned recognition for his picture of Eudora in 2020
Even though Collin Whitebread is at an age when the future still holds the promise of driving tests, proms and college applications, that didn't stop the Eudora seventh-grader from thinking about a time in his life many people don't contemplate until their mid-20s.
When Whitebread, a seventh-grader at Eudora Middle School, is in his early 30s, Eudora will have a population nearing 15,000, businesses will line Kansas Highway 10, and downtown will have gotten a facelift and serious revitalization. That is, of course, if Whitebread's predictions come true.
"You think of Eudora today as a small town, but it's hard to think of it growing big," he said.
His ideas were plausible enough to muster a first place in state award from the Kansas League of Municipalities' essay contest, "My City: 2020." Having won the Northeast Regional award before beating out entries from the state's other regions, Whitebread earned recognition at the state Capitol Jan. 30 as well as a spot in an upcoming issue of Kansas Government Journal.
Although Whitebread said his social studies teacher, Kathy Cox, who assigned the project to her class, helped him touch up his essay, the seventh grader is no novice to writing.
"I write stories on the computer," he said. "I never get past the first or second page."
That didn't stop middle school English teacher Paul Boone from using Whitebread's winning essay as an example of good organizational writing.
"I didn't really think I was going to win when I first entered it," he said.
Whitebread said many of the ideas for the essay came from comments made by City Administrator Mike Yanez when Cox's students heard him speak about city growth last semester. That discussion prompted Whitebread's ideas of an increased need for policing, as well as better recreation and infrastructure.
"I think there need to be better roads, like on 12th Street," he said. "It's annoying because it's gravel."
In the future, Whitebread said he saw the city paying more attention to newer areas of Eudora.
"I think a lot of (growth) will be south of K-10, since there's not a lot of room to grow on this part," he said.
In a vision pool supporters would hope to find accurate, Whitebread said he pictured Eudora with a new pool, complete with water slides.
Also, Whitebread said he hoped Eudora would have a recreation area with weightlifting facilities and basketball courts.
Another one of Whitebread's predictions that would be a dream come true for many Eudorans is his idea that downtown and K-10 will be lined with local merchants.
"Not like K-Marts and Wal-Marts, but small, unique businesses," he said. "It would be nice to have big stores and stuff, but it would be nice to have stuff you usually have to go out of town for."
When envisioning Eudora in 2020, Whitebread said he pictured buildings and cars looking a little more futuristic but no hovercrafts or Jetsons-like skyrises. Picturing the future Eudora in 2003 must have been as hard as it was for Eudorans in the past to picture Eudora now, he said.
"It's kind of strange to think of Eudora back then and how it is now," he said
Using his imagination earned his essay top prize, meaning the immediate future will bring a $500 savings bond, proving that there are things for Whitebread to look forward to between now and 2020.
"I'm saving it for college ... or a car," he said.