My wife and I have lived in Fort Scott these past six years, and love it here as it reminds us of the towns in which we grew up. We just agreed to purchase our retirement home out in the county. There is much to love! So why is it shrinking? Let me postulate ten primary reasons from my research over the years:
1. Rapid industrialization during and after WWII
Small town America led the growth of this county until 1941 when we ramped up the war effort. Factories were built in large cities near a concentration of the supply of labor, and urbanism began.
2. Change in tax policies to promote manufacturing
With the need to build our war machine came tax incentives from Washington in the form of tax credits and accelerated depreciation to benefit primarily these large city manufacturers; this began the great tax transfer from small-town earners to large city companies.
3. Agricultural efficiencies and the drop of ag employment
Most of us are aware that it takes far fewer agricultural workers to produce a crop and manage a herd. Ag employment per acre has dropped precipitously over the last 75 years.
4. Rapid transportation: planes, trains, and automobiles
Our mobile society makes it much easier for our young people to seek employment in faraway places, primarily big cities near transportation centers.
5. Global competition created the need for economy of scale
Due to technology, the world is much smaller now, making it easier for companies to go nationwide/global. To create efficiencies, industries have consolidated, as evidenced by the over 15,000 banks 40 years ago, condensed to 4,519 at yearend 2020.
6. Increase in regulation
New government regulations, such as the Patriot Act, have dramatically increased the cost of doing business, crowding out mom and pop companies in small towns.
7. Advent of “Big Box” retailers
One word: Wal-Mart. Need I say more?
8. Access to technology/online shopping
The Internet has revolutionized the world, and retail has paid the price. This has disproportionately impacted small-town America.
9. Loss of desire for community
We are devolving from a relationship culture to an entertainment culture. Give me experiences! There is nothing to do here! We are becoming human doings, instead of human beings.
10. Entertainment culture
Building on number 9, who are our highest paid citizens? It is those who entertain us, who seldom live in small towns. In a capitalist society, money flows toward what we value.
There are many more, but these are megatrends that have strangled small towns, through no fault of their own. Other than the energy sector areas, the trends are impacting small towns universally and disproportionally. What can we do about it? A topic for the next article.
Kenny and Kerry Wunderly saw a need in the community and have started a business to meet that need.
Their business is about helping people with their garden needs.
“With the whole process of lockdown over the past year due to COVID, people seem to be more aware of where their food comes from,” Kerry said. “Originally, we wanted to be the link for folks who have space and the desire to grow their own (garden) but didn’t know where to start. It’s very frustrating to have great goals, plant a garden, have everything come up and then quickly go downhill.”
The problems of weeds, insects, improper site preparation, improper plant selection, or the need for soil amendments can ruin the best intentions for many, she said.
“Kenny’s degrees from Kansas State (University) in agribusiness and agronomy have given a wealth of knowledge that we want to share so everyone can be successful and avoid those frustrations,” Kerry said.
The Wunderly farm business name is 1553 Plants & Produce, and it’s located at 1553 205th Street a few miles northwest of Fort Scott. To get there go west on Hwy. 54 and go north on 205th Street almost two miles.
This is the business’s first year, although in the past they have been part of Community Supported Agriculture, she said.
“Community Supported Agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production,” according to https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/community-supported-agriculture
Kenny works full-time on the farm, and Kerry works full-time as a hospice nurse in Fort Scott.
In addition, Kerry provides all the marketing via social media as well as bookkeeping.
Kenny provides most of the labor and agricultural expertise.
” We have big plans for development,” Kerry said. “Some of the things we are hoping to do this year are garden tours with discussions on appropriate up-to-date topics…(and) date night dinners with meat and produce from our farm with firepit and all.”
“A couple of years down the road we hope to be able to expand our community garden program to accommodate more local growers, expand our own garden site to be able to partner with local food banks and restaurants, and the addition of an on-site greenhouse,” she said.
Not just plants and produce are sold by the Wunderly’s.
Here is a list of the other business offerings:
“1. Custom built raised beds to fit size, shape, location and budgets.
2. Garden consults- we visit your site and provide input for the best possible outcomes. The first visit is always free of charge!
3. Started plants- vegetables, herbs, wildflowers, decorative grasses.
4. Fresh vegetables and herbs in season available at our self-serve plant stand. We also have a you-pick section in the garden if you want to pick your own.
5. Rejuvenation of flower or vegetable beds that a grower already has in place.
6. Raised bed rentals through our community garden program.
7. Lawn mowing, maintenance, and clean-up.
8. Custom raised meat chickens on request. We will raise and either deliver live birds to you or to the processor for butchering.”
Contact the business by phone at 785-422-5770
They also have a Facebook page where you can get the latest news:
Clint and Angela Johnson, Bronson, are the owners of Root 54.
Their business, in layman’s terms, produces worm poop.
“Everything a worm eats gets digested and comes out as a worm casting,” said business owner Clint Johnson. “Worm castings are packed with minerals that are essential for plant growth, such as concentrated nitrates, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It also contains manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, borax, iron, carbon, and nitrogen.”
“However, the best of all is that these minerals are immediately available to the plant, without the risk of ever burning the plant,” he said. “Remember that chemical fertilizers have to be broken down in the soil before the plant can absorb them.”
Interest started over 10 years ago when Clint read a book called ‘Worms eat my Garbage’, he said.
“I personally wanted to raise some worms because it looked like a fun hobby and wanted to use a better, more natural fertilizer for my garden,” he said.
Johnson made two eight-foot by three-foot worm beds in an old tin shed in his backyard.
He then got an idea.
” I casually posted a few ads on some social media platforms and within a short amount of time people were coming to buy our castings,” he said. ” We eventually could not keep up with demand, so after much thought, research, collaboration, and scientific testing we decided to partner with a few large worm farms we know very well.”
They have secured the rights to exclusively market their castings to make it their brand “Super Poop.”
“We sell 100% worm castings and compost,” Johnson said. “Super Poop can be purchased in 20-pound bags at any one of our nine dealer locations across Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. You can also purchase large bulk amounts off of our lots here in Bronson.”
“Our business is a family business, and we get a tremendous amount of support from our immediate family that lives in the area,” he said.
Root 54 LLC, the Johnson business, was officially established on July 15, 2020.
“We had been selling worm castings out of our back yard for several years before opening the company,” Johnson said.
The Johnson’s grew up in the Bronson community.
“Our vision is to see it thrive for many more years,” he said. “We are always seeking ways to use the resources God has blessed us with, in the Bronson community, by lending a helping hand. Occasionally, you will see our skid steer clearing driveways when it snows or helping our neighbors with heavy lifting and other tasks that are made easy with a machine.”
“There are several other small businesses in Bronson right now and all of them do a great job of being involved in our little town,” Johnson said. “One of our goals here at Root 54, is to help create a better place for our children to grow up, and help out our small community the best way we can.”
The Johnson’s are looking at ways to expand and grow their brand, he said.
“First and foremost, we intend to add a bagged compost for our customers for the 2022 growing season, and have already started the process of designing a bag for it,” he said. ” The name of the compost will be kept in our back pocket until we unveil it later in 2021.”
“Our future plans include adding super soil mixes and other high-quality soils to become a regionally/nationally recognized company,” Clint said. “We are thankful for our loyal customers and the support the community has shown us, and look forward to serving them for many years to come.”
Kansas Gas Service reminds public to ‘Be a Dig Hero’ before starting any outdoor projects
OVERLAND PARK, Kansas – April 6, 2021 – With April being National Safe Digging Month,
Kansas Gas Service is promoting awareness about safe digging practices by offering customers a
chance to win a $100 gift card if they take an interactive quiz at BeADigHeroKansas.com
during the month of April.
“Safe Digging Month serves as a good reminder to call 811 at least two working days before
starting any digging project,” said Dawn Tripp, public relations manager at Kansas Gas Service.
“Whether it’s a small project, such as planting trees and shrubs, or a large commercial project,
calling 811 is the first step to safe digging.”
By making the free call to 811 or visiting KansasOneCall.com before digging, professional
locators will mark all underground utility lines within the designated project area with flags
and/or paint at no cost to the home or business owner. In 2020, 19% of the pipeline damages on
our system were from people not calling 811.
“Knowing how to dig safely helps avoid injury and protects the neighborhood because
underground utility lines may be found below yards, sidewalks, driveways or streets,” said Tripp.
VIDEO: The Scoop on Buried Utility Lines
3 Tips to Remember Before Digging
1) Even if you’re digging shallow, you need to call to have your lines marked.
2) If you hire a contractor, make sure they call 811 prior to digging.
3) Know the Tolerance Zone, which is the area 24 inches from each outside edge of the
pipeline. Within this zone, you are required to use soft digging techniques, such as hand
digging, vacuum excavation or other similar safe excavation methods to avoid any
contact or damage to the line.
About Kansas Gas Service
Kansas Gas Service provides a reliable and affordable energy choice to more than 645,000 customers in Kansas and
is the largest natural gas distributor in the state, in terms of customers.
Headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas Gas Service is a division of ONE Gas, Inc. (NYSE: OGS), a 100-percent
regulated natural gas utility that trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “OGS.” ONE Gas is
included in the S&P MidCap 400 Index and is one of the largest natural gas utilities in the United States.
For more information and the latest news about Kansas Gas Service, visit kansasgasservice.com and follow its social
channels: @KansasGas, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Bourbon County Economic Development Council is working to find a full-time economic development director, facilitate the starting of the new meat process plant, facilitate a new multi-purpose arena, and expanding housing in the area, according to Greg Motley, president.
BEDCO began a search for an economic development director a few months ago and had one narrowed down, but that person has declined the position, Greg Motley, president of BEDCO said.
“The process was restarted,” Motley said. “In the meantime, I will be acting director.”
“We will continue interviews until the position is filled,”he said.
“Since 1992, BEDCO has been at the center of Economic Development in Bourbon County, and under the guidance of a reconstituted board that represents the whole county, we are stronger than ever,” Motley said in a press release.
Economic development services provided by BEDCO are primarily matching resources to the economic needs of county entities and businesses, he said.
Motley gave some details of three other projects on the horizon.
Meat Processing Plant
“Since the Micro-meat processing plant was approved, we are moving forward with facilitating the land/lots swap between KW Cattle, Billy Madison and BEDCO,” he said.
“KW Cattle is swapping 46 acres south of the (KDOT )State Highway facility on the east side of 69 Highway for two industrial park tracts,” Motley said. “One is about seven acres, the other is about 18 acres, currently owned by BEDCO. They are located on either side of the Christian Learning Center. The new micro-meat processing facility will pay BEDCO some cash considerations, approximately equal to BEDCO’s expenses in the transaction.”
KW Cattle is doing a trade with BEDCO that is advantageous to the community, Motley said.
“They are trading 46 acres, a nice piece of flat ground, for less valuable property of rough ground of 25 acres,” he said. “They wanted to help Fort Scott and Bourbon County. In addition, they can expand the property they own, Christian Learning Center, in the future.”
“BEDCO will take possession (of the land parcel), then sell to the meat processing plant,” he said. “It should be finalized this month.”
“We are also working with local investors on a potential STAR Bonds project for Bourbon County,” he said. “Some Bourbon County citizens are proposing the issuance of Star Bonds to partially finance a new multipurpose arena in Bourbon County, along with improvements to the downtown central business district.”
“The bonds are paid off through the sales tax revenue generated by the development.”
“The intent is to increase regional and national visitation to Kansas.”
“The bonds would cover about 50% of the project, and private investment, along with bank financing would cover the balance, he said. ” The Star Bonds would be repaid by the increase in sales tax collections in a Star Bond District, whose boundaries are yet to be determined.”
“Atchison, KS, a similar-sized community to Fort Scott and Bourbon County, issued $2.3 million in Star Bonds in 2019 to build a museum,” he said. “Attached is a chart of all Star Bonds approved by the State of Kansas. Preliminary estimates of the size of the Bourbon County project range from $3 million to $6 million.”
Orig. Amt (000)
2019 Out. (000)
Dist. Sales Tax (000)
2019 CO. Pop
10-yr Pop. Trend
2019 CO. Sales Tax (000)
2018-19 % increase
2019 Sales Tax Per Capita
2019 Pull Fact.
Dodge City- FO
Garden City- FY
Kansas City- WY
Kansas City- WY
Mercy Park (SKC)
Kansas City- WY
Kansas City- WY
Flint Hills Discovery
Overland Park- JO
Overland Park- JO
BluHawk Mixed Use
Fort Scott- BB
“Bottom line, we are looking at what has been successful elsewhere,” Motley said.
“We are examining possibilities to expand housing in Bourbon County,” Motley said. “BEDCO is in the research and discussions phase. Common sense would dictate that we first examine where the market is hot and see what can be done about enhancing the market in those areas.”
“Many jurisdictions in Kansas have a property improvement tax rebate of some sort, that rebate the increase in taxes property experiences, because of a new build or significant addition,” he said. “Many are reluctant to improve their property because of inherent tax increases…a program like this would rebate the first five years of the increase.”
USDA Announces Funding Available to Organizations to Assist Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers under Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative
FSA Accepting CFAP 2 Applications Beginning April 5
WASHINGTON, April 5, 2021— The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced the availability of $2 million to establish partnerships with organizations to provide outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. The funding was made possible by USDA’s new Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, an effort to distribute resources more broadly and to put greater emphasis on outreach to small and socially disadvantaged producers impacted by the pandemic. Today also marks the reopening of FSA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) signup as part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Farmers and ranchers will have at least 60 days to apply or make modifications to existing CFAP 2 applications.
The cooperative agreements will support participation in programs offered by FSA, including those that are part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Interested organizations must submit proposals by May 5, 2021.
“USDA is committed to making financial assistance available to a broader set of producers, including to socially disadvantaged communities, and we know that we need partners to help make that happen,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “This funding will support grassroots organizations and public institutions as we support their producers. I am excited to see their innovative, results-driven proposals to help us reach our producers, especially those who have not taken full advantage of the available assistance.”
Thank you to Common Ground Coffee Company for hosting the Fort Scott Chamber Downtown Meet & Greet on Tuesday, April 13th.
Join us in the Loading Dock Room from 8:30 am until 9:30 am and enjoy coffee, juice and light refreshments.
These informal, quarterly meetings are hosted by the Chamber for downtown business owners, representatives, and community members to network and share ideas on events, promotions, and anything related to downtown. Coffee, juice, and light refreshments will be served.
Patty Love, Bourbon County Treasurer, responded to a request for an update on the future property tax sale.
Bourbon County Counselor Justin Meeks mailed out the delinquent property tax letter late last year, she said.
“The tax sale preparation report I sent him had about 425 properties on it,” Love said. ” We have had about 50 properties paid.”
So far, over $308,000 has come back into the county from taxes that were delinquent, she said.
“The original report had $1,432,285.43 outstanding taxes, 2016 and prior,” Love said. “We have collected $308,216.92 of these since November 1, 2020.”
There is still an opportunity for those with back taxes due, to keep their property off the tax sale.
“2016 and prior taxes can be paid to keep the property off of the tax sale, up until the date they are filed in court,” she said. “Once they have been filed in court, all delinquent taxes plus a court fee must be paid to keep it from selling. The taxpayer has up until 10:00 a.m. the day of the tax sale to redeem the property.”
The tax sale date is unknown currently.
“The date of the tax sale won’t be set until cases are filed in court,” she said. “At that time we will release a list of all properties on the tax sale.”
“Security 1st Title has completed title work on about 90 of the cases to date,” Love said. “They are working them in, along with being very busy at this time.”
The Boiler Room Brewhaus, 2 S. National Avenue, in historic Fort Scott’s downtown, offers live music throughout the year.
Tonight, Three Chord Justice will be playing classic country music from 7-9 p.m. with a suggested donation of $10.
The original group formed in March 2008 by Liz Grace in San Diego, CA.
“TCJ quickly gained a following of two-steppers and lovers of country music in Southern California,” according to information provided by Liz Grace.
“The short of it is, for Mark ( Markowitz )and I, gigging is what we do,” Grace said. “It’s what we love best and we can’t help but do it as much as possible. It’s church.”
“We met when he came to audition for the band in 2008,” Grace said. “He played the heck out of a train beat!”
“On New Years Eve 2012 he proposed onstage, in front of all our family, friends and fans,” she said. “April 2021 will be our 7th anniversary. Love and music keep us together!”
“In May of 2020, Mark and I moved the band to Grove, Oklahoma, reformed with guitarist Jason Richison and bassist Rick Alumbaugh just a couple months later,” she said. “We couldn’t be more blessed to have our health and a busy calendar in 2021.”
The band features LeeRoy Whisenhunt on pedal steel, she said.
Hailing from Missoula Montana singer/songwriter Grace leads the group through a mix of classic country-influenced originals and handpicked covers from the likes of Emmylou Harris, Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Buck Owens, Patsy Cline and other country greats, she said.
“I got an early start singing in bars and honky-tonks, far before legal age, having to wait in alleys during band breaks,” Grace said.
Here is the entertainment/food truck schedule for the Boiler Room Brewhaus:
“They are east and north of Porterville, in southwest Bourbon County, around 40th and Eagle Road,” Frank Young, an engineer with Agricultural Engineering Associates, Uniontown, said. “I have looked at a couple of culverts for them to see if they will hold up traffic for them.”
“They are upgrading some of the roads to be able to get some big rigs down them,” Young said.
Bourbon County Public Works Director Eric Bailey said I.E.A. , the contractor, sends him a plan of the day, every day and yesterday they worked on Eagle Road between 40th and 50th Streets, capping over 2100 linear feet and additionally, 50th from Eagle Road to Hwy. 3 putting over 4200 linear feet.
“They put on 4-6 inches of gravel,” Bailey said.
Today they are working on 50th from Eagle to Hwy. 39 and 30th from Hwy. 39 going south, he said.
“They have a lay-down yard at (the junction of) Hwy. 39 and Hwy. 3,” Bailey said. “This is where they will have all their job trailers, their starting point every day, where the contractors will report in.”
Young said the area is about 10 acres and is the delivery area as well.
The Jayhawk Wind project will have a capacity of 193.2 Megawatts and can power 65,000 homes, according to the Apex website.
According to the March 3 press release from Apex Clean Energy
“The Jayhawk facility… is expected to be operational later this year, will consist of 70 GE wind turbines totaling an installed capacity of more than 190 MW. The project will provide significant economic benefits for the local and state economies—including the creation of more than 115 construction jobs and 7 long-term operations positions—and will generate over $20 million in landowner payments and $27.2 million in tax revenue.”
Chamber Coffee Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting to be hosted by Old 54 Cycles
The Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce invites members and guest to a Chamber Coffee and Ribbon Cutting ceremony this Thursday, April 1st at 8 a.m. to celebrate the grand opening of New Chamber member Old 54 Cycles. The event will be held at 223 N. National Ave.
Coffee and donuts will be served, and attendees may register to win special drawing from Old 54 Cycles and meet Jesse Hazen, the owner. Also, Old 54 Cycles will be hosting a car and bike show, Saturday, April 3rd from 12pm until 2 pm to celebrate their community grand opening.
Attendees are strongly encouraged wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.
Chamber members and guests are invited to Chamber Coffee events each Thursday at 8 a.m. to network, make announcements, hear about happenings in the community as well as learn about the host business or organization.
3/26 & – Karaoke Friday Nights at The Boiler Room Brewhaus! Experience or beginners, it does not matter! Let’s have some fun with music & drinks! Click here for their FB page.
Fort Scott Cinema Showtimes 3/26 thru 4/1 Now Raya and the Last Dragon, Tom & Jerry, Chaos Walking. Click here to view showtimes.
3/22 thru 4/2- Art is Ageless Exhibit Fort Scott Presbyterian Village showing!
Seniors of the Fort Scott Community 65 + submitted art to be on display. Artists compete in nine categories, including painting, drawing, photography, quilting, and sculpture, and maybe designated as amateur or professional. Questions on viewing call 620.223.5550 and talk to Megan Brillhart. Located at 2401 S. Horton
3/26 & 3/27- Livestock Sale at the Fort Scott Livestock Market, both Friday & Saturday, click here for their FB page.
3/26 ~ FSCC Aggie Days sponsored by ReproLogixNo Class on Campus
3/26 ~ Bourbon County Senior Citizens FOOD BANK, 9 am-Noon for Seniors, Low-Income Families are from 12 – 3 pm. Click here for more information.
3/27 ~ Care to Share Garage Sale 8 am-Noon 106 S. Washington St., Fort Scott. Garage doors open in the back alley. Misc. Items from Donnie & Barbara Marsh to donate to Care to Share. Click here for details
3/27 ~ Annual Easter Egg Hunt at Gunn Park
10 am by the Kiwanis Club. Click here for details.
3/27 ~ Eggstravaganza Crafts at Buck Run Community Center ~ 9 – 10:30 am. Click here.