Category Archives: Business

Commission Approves Plats for Redevelopment District

After months of research and planning, the redevelopment district at the former Woods location will undergo changes after the Fort Scott City Commission gave their approval during Tuesday night’s meeting.

“Tonight’s an extremely important night for the project,” said Joel Riggs of Super Market Developers, a subsidiary of Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc., which helps build or renovate independent grocers such as Super Savers, Woods and other Price Choppers.

Barry Queen of Queen Enterprises, LLC, said his company looks forward to bringing a Price Chopper to Fort Scott, adding he has connections to the area through his parents and grandparents.

“We enjoy the community,” Queen said. “We miss the grocery store…We’re excited about the project.”

The project will cost a total of about $9.4 million, with $2.55 million of that reimbursed to them through the city’s Tax Increment Financing and Community Improvement District bond, and will include an extensive renovation that will change the look of the building entirely.

“You will not recognize this building when we’re done,” Riggs said.

Preliminary sketches for the Queen Price Chopper
Preliminary sketches for the Queen Price Chopper

One of the largest changes will be the addition of a Dunkin’ Donuts on the south side of the building, including a drive-thru window. The pharmacy will not be brought back, but there may be additional retail or restaurant on the property in the future as well.

The plats approved by the commission includes the building and parking lot at 2322 S. Main Street as well as the land behind and south of the building near Tractor Supply, adding up to five acres of redevelopment property and 39,500 square feet of building.

With the city’s approval of the plat, lot lines and the resolution to issue bonds to the project, the investors said they hope to close on the property in July and hire contractors immediately to start the construction. If all goes as planned, the store could be complete by November, though it may not be finished until the new year depending on other contingencies.

“There’s so many people who can’t wait for it to open,” said Todd Ferrel, while other citizens attending the meeting said they look forward to having another competitor for Walmart and source of fresh produce and a deli option.

Riggs said they project the new business could bring in an estimated $25 million in sales tax over 20 years, as well as $3.6 million in real and personal property tax, while adding about 100 new jobs.

“We are proud to have you guys believe in our community and invest as you are,” City Manager Dave Martin said.

Lowell Milken Center Awarded Freedom’s Frontier Interpretive Grant

Submitted by Jessica Schenkel

Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area and the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes are pleased to announce that the Lowell Milken Center is the recipient of an Interpretive Grant in the amount of $4,000 for the project “She Outranks Me.”

This grant funding will allow the Lowell Milken Center to design, produce and display a new exhibit panel in their Hall of Unsung Heroes that features Mary Bickerdyke, a hero from an era that greatly impacted Fort Scott and the Civil War.

The Freedom’s Frontier Interpretive Grant program was started in 2012. Since then, more than 90 projects have been awarded grant funding. Grant projects have been completed on both sides of the Missouri-Kansas border, in the 41-county region that comprises the heritage area. Projects awarded grant funding must interpret local history and connect to one or more of the three major themes of the heritage area: the shaping of the frontier, the Missouri-Kansas Border War and the enduring struggle for freedom. Grants range in amount from under $1,500 to $5,000. All awards over $1,500 require that the grant recipient show a local match of half the amount of the award. This match can be in the form of cash, or in-kind donations and staff and volunteer time.

Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area is one of 49 heritage areas in the U.S. Heritage areas are nonprofit affiliates of the National Park Service (NPS). They act as coordinating entities between the local organizations telling nationally significant stories and the NPS. Freedom’s Frontier was established as a heritage area on October 12, 2006, when signed into law by President George Bush. The heritage area’s management plan was approved by the Department of the Interior and the NPS in 2010. Freedom’s Frontier is headquartered in the Carnegie Building, 200 W 9th St., in Lawrence, Kan.

The Lowell Milken Center is a non-profit 501©(3) that works with students and educators within a range of diverse academic disciplines, to develop projects focused on unsung heroes. Once their projects are finished, they advocate the student’s unsung heroes by sharing them in the Hall of Unsung Heroes or their website so people all over the world discover their individual influence and obligation to take actions that improve the lives of others. The Hall of Unsung Heroes is proudly located in Southeast Kansas and showcases some of the top projects developed in collaboration with the Center.

“With the funds granted by the FFNHA, many students, teachers and visitors will have an opportunity to learn of Bickerdyke’s tireless efforts in providing the best health care possible during the Civil War and be inspired by her actions. We are excited about this grant and the ability to continue to share positive role models!” says Jessica Schenkel, administrative specialist for the Lowell Milken Center.

Grant applications are accepted from organizations within the borders of the heritage area which have signed a partner pledge with Freedom’s Frontier, and meet all other qualifications for grant funding. Applications are reviewed quarterly by a peer group from the partnership. Organizations are asked to complete their grant projects within a year of the grant award. For more information about Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, visit the Web site at www.freedomsfrontier.org.

Maria’s Restaurant Opens for Business

After being empty for some time, the restaurant connected to Fort Scott Inn is again open for business with Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the grand opening of Maria’s Restaurant.

“Congratulations on your opening today,” said Lindsay Madison, executive director of the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce.

Owner and chef Andy Bravo invested in the restaurant with his wife, saying he named the restaurant after his mother and grandmother.

Supervisor Reuben Curls said he has been learning the menu from Bravo and encourages the community to come try the restaurant, even as they continue to grow accustomed to their positions and menu options.

“The new menu we’ve got is really intense,” Curls said of their selection of homemade items. “It’s beautiful presentation.”

The restaurant is open through breakfast, lunch and dinner, including a variety of all-American food such as biscuits and gravy, steak and eggs, omelets, waffles, a variety of crepes, pastas, salads, sandwiches, seafood, steaks and a number of items with a Mexican theme.

“Welcome to the Fort Scott Inn family,” said Fort Scott Inn owner Alex Desai, adding he has seen Bravo invest a lot of time and finances in the business and looks forward to what that hard work will bring.

“I know he’s in it for the long run,” Desai said.

The menus and further information can be found at the Maria’s Restaurant Facebook page here.

4State Makes Changes to Recycling Services

For the past couple months, 4 State Sanitation has provided free recycling to residents of Bourbon County residents, but changes will come this month to improve the service and prevent the abuse of the free service.

Stock Photo from 4 State Sanitation

Taysha Meech of 4 State said that the first couple months showed them just how much manpower is needed and how much it costs to cover the diesel needed to transport the items brought to them. She also said a number of people decided to take advantage of the service as an opportunity for a free trash service, bringing bags of personal trash instead of only recyclable items.

It’s not a moneymaker,” City Manager Dave Martin said of the recycling services that 4 State provides. “They’re losing money tremendously on it.”

In order to discourage the misuse of the service and cover some of the expenses, a small fee will be added for residents wanting to recycle. While it will remain free for 4 State customers, others will pay a $5 fee each month for an unlimited use of the recycling services.

Kansas Rocks Adds New Property

Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, located near Mapleton, held a ceremony Saturday morning for the grand opening and ribbon-cutting event for its recent addition of 160 acres of land to the park.

For the past 14 years, the park has provided 220 acres of terrain for visitors interesting in hiking, cycling, or driving jeeps or dirt bikes on the numerous trails of varying difficulties. Over recent months, additional trails have been created in the new, southeast quadrant of the land recently purchased from a family that had lived there for three generations.

“This is quite a celebration for us,” President David Killion said, adding they are still negotiating for even more property.

Killion said they selected the Bourbon County location 14 years ago because of a need for such a park near the Kansas City area, as others are three to four hours away. With the area selected, Killion said they were able to use grants from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to get the park started.

Now, Killion said the park is self-sustaining through the daily fees, while grants and donations are used for larger projects, such as the recent addition of electricity donated by Westar and Heartland Rural Electric. Currently, they are in the process of adding water for camping spots.

“The rock park is a huge asset to Bourbon County,” Fort Scott Mayor Jolynne Mitchell said, adding the park sponsors numerous events throughout the year.

Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce board president Deb Needleman and Executive Director Lindsay Madison both expressed appreciation for Kansas Rocks’ membership and said they hope to continue to support the park in its endeavor to bring visitors to the region.

“It’s a great benefit to Bourbon County,” county commissioner Lynne Oharah said, adding he is grateful for the family-oriented atmosphere.