PITTSBURG — The City of Pittsburg has hired a local woman to help increase community engagement.

The city announced Tuesday that Sarah Runyon had been hired to fill the newly created public information officer position. Runyon will serve as the primary contact for local media representatives and is responsible for managing internal and external communications.

“We had a lot of qualified people apply for the position, which means a lot,” City Manager Daron Hall said. “The pieces just fell into place with Sarah; she has experience in the community, she knows the community and she’s passionate about telling its story.”

Runyon has six years of experience working in public relations and has served as public relations and marketing director for the Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation and community relations manager at Mosaic in Southeast Kansas. She also worked as a marketing account executive for Freeman Health Systems in Joplin.

“I graduated from Pittsburg State University in 2011, and along with my work I’ve been involved with the Pittsburg Downtown Advisory Board, SEK ArtFest, the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce and several other organizations,” Runyon said. “That work led me to want to get involved in the public sector.”

Runyon said her main goals for the new position include increasing community engagement with local government and increasing transparency.

“I want to make sure the citizens feel involved and a part of what Pittsburg is doing,” she said.

Hall and Assistant City Manager Jay Byers said the position was created based on feedback from the city government, community and the Imagine Pittsburg 2030 Advisory Board.

“We were working at length the past eight to 10 months to update Imagine Pittsburg 2030, and this position was one of the advisory board’s main recommendations,” Hall said.

Byers added that the position will help with communication.

“We have a lot going on in Pittsburg right now,” he said. “We think it is important to have a more centralized point of contact and information.”

The city recently redesigned its website, and this position fell in line with that plan to increase community engagement, Byers said.

Runyon currently lives in Pittsburg with her husband, Isaac, and said she is excited to get to work in her new role.

“I’m just very excited I get to dedicate my time to a community I love and telling its story,” she said.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.