Category Archives: Business

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.

Peerless Displays New Features

During Thursday’s Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce event, Peerless Product, Inc., gave visitors a tour of their facility as well as their new powder coat paint line that came online in February.

Peerless joined the community in 1952, providing what President Coby Jones described as reliable but mediocre windows and doors. But in the past decade, the company has taken steps to improve their work efficiency and customer service, rebrand themselves and provide some of the best products available.

“We went and studied the globe on where can we buy the best components, the best materials to make our products exceptional,” Jones said, saying they now buy materials from Germany and Italy that provide durability as well as thermal protection to keep exterior temperatures out.

Peerless makes between 1,100 and 1,400 window a week, much of their products going to areas such as Boston, New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Dallas/Fort Worth. The windows and doors are frequently used at universities, hospitals, public schools, military bases and hotel chains, with the product customized for the customer, such as needing to protect the buildings from earthquakes, hurricanes or car bombs.

Jones said the new powder coat paint line is one of only five in the world and the only one in North America. The powder paint is sprayed on the metal, sticking to it via static electricity, and is then put through a heating process that melts it into the smooth coat that provides an attractive finish and lasts longer.

“We think this is very desirable for the work we’re doing,” Jones said.

Along with the addition of the new paint line, further changes have been made to other areas of the plant as well to improve the appearance as well as the efficiency of the work. In recent years, Peerless also became Fort Scott’s greatest employer, with about 400 employees.

“At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to make this place to be the best we can be,” Jones said, adding they are trying to put the best products into their customers’ hands as well as draw others into Fort Scott to see the city as well as the plant.

Commission Takes Next Step for New Development

The Fort Scott City Commission unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday evening that names the lot that formerly included Woods an enterprise zone, and thus eligible for Tax Increment Financing.

By the end of the year, a Price Chopper grocery store is expected to be open for business, with the possibility of retail or other commercial services also available on the lot, which has been unused since Woods closed in November.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but this is the first step,” said Kim Bell, the city’s bond attorney.

Bell said upcoming actions will include creating the TIF district, approving a general plan, and then providing 30 days for other tax entities to express their concern if they believe the TIF district would have adverse effects. Another public hearing is scheduled to be held on June 20, when more specific plans will be presented before work begins on the building.

The TIF bond, believed to be the first of its kind in Bourbon County, serves as an incentive for new development, allowing the investors to waive tax increases for a set period of time as they make improvements to the property.

This project is expected to cost about $9.5 million, with the investors hoping to receive about $1.8 million back over 20 years of TIF incentive. In a previous meeting with the Bourbon County Commission, Economic Development Director Rachel Pruitt said they project the company would receive that amount after only nine years.

Because the TIF waives tax increases, the city and county would not lose any money, but will benefit from that increase in revenue after the incentive comes to an end.


Home and Garden Show Draws Crowds

The annual Home, Sport, Farm and Garden Show hosted by KOMB-FM drew in large numbers of people to visit booths set up by more than 60 vendors at the Arnold Arena at Fort Scott Community College.

Visitors were able to gather information of local businesses and organizations, such as The Butcher Block, the City of Fort Scott, Redbud Nurseries and Skitch’s Hauling and Excavation, among a large number of others. Drawings for prizes were also held throughout the day.

Simultaneously, FSCC held a children’s fair on campus, with students as well as others such as the Fort Scott police and fire departments participating in games and other events for the children.

Recycling Returns to Bourbon County

After being in business in Bourbon County for less than a year, 4 State Sanitation continues to look for more ways to serve the county, this week adding recycling to its list of services.

Stock Photo from 4 State Sanitation

“Four State is ready to offer a public service that we’ve all been desperately asking for and needing for some time,” Fort Scott Economic Development Director Rachel Pruitt said during the recent Fort Scott City Commission meeting Tuesday.

Starting Monday, April 3, 4 State provides a drop-off point for recyclable items, including paper such as books and newspapers, aluminum, plastic items and even clothes and shoes. Other items such as glass or electronics may also be accepted in the future, but currently cannot be processed.

The items, preferably cleaned and sorted, can be dropped off at the 4 State Recycling Center located in the old Topco building at 600 N. Franklin Street each Monday and Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and again from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“We’re ready to go,” Taysha Meech of 4 State said during the meeting.

Meech said they encourage those interested in volunteering to help with the process to contact them.

“On behalf of the community… thank you very much for doing this,” City Manager Dave Martin said. “This is great.”


City Moves Forward with Redevelopment Plan for Woods Building

During the Fort Scott City Commission meeting Tuesday evening, the commissioners agreed to create a redevelopment district at the former Woods building, allowing developers to move forward with their plans for the structure.

Economic Development Director Rachel Pruitt said she has been working to bring in a grocery store and is now working on a deal with Queen’s Price Chopper, a family business since 1974 that has five other locations.

Joel Riggs, real estate director for Associated Wholesale Grocers and part of Super Market Developers, said the groups involved are moving as quickly as possible in order to have the grocery and retail store open by November.

“This is kind of the first step in a pretty long process in moving forward to try to redevelop the property that was formerly Woods Grocery Store,” Riggs said, saying the physical redevelopment is scheduled to begin in July.

With the city’s approval, a public hearing was set for the community to be involved and voice any concerns they have in the planning process. The first public hearing is set for May 2, with another to follow on June 20.

“It is a big project,” Riggs said. “It’s important to us…We are going to do everything in our power to move this forward as quickly as we can, but following all the rules and regulations that we need to.”

Riggs said it is a complex financing plan, utilizing Tax Increment Financing bonds, a public financing method that could waive the impact of certain taxes on the zone for a period of time as an incentive. Pruitt said the city will be working with the county and Unified School District 234, as the three taxing entities must come to an agreement on the TIF Redevelopment District.

Dr. Rick Kellenberger, owner of the Dairy Queen located near the Woods building, said they are looking forward to having new neighbors invested in that area.

“It looks pretty desolate up there right now,” Kellenberger said. “So we’re looking forward to that whole area blossoming and hopefully developing and being a one-stop area with all the retail that we have there.”

Other News:

  • The city gave an update on Memorial Hall, with Pruitt saying they may be nearing a sales agreement with Last Farmhouse Films, Inc.
  • A representative from 4-State Sanitation said they will begin providing a drop-off point for recycling beginning on April 3.
  • The commission gave their approval to allow alcohol sales during the Independence Day event to be held at the LaRoche Baseball Complex this summer.

Briggs Celebrates One Year in Fort Scott

Briggs Auto Group celebrated its first year in Fort Scott during a Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce Chamber Coffee event Thursday morning, sharing accomplishments of the dealership as well as plans for the future.

“We’re happy to be here,” said Russ Briggs, whose company owns 15 show rooms including the three in Fort Scott. “I want to pick up where Ray Shepherd left off. He had a great vision.”

Already, the dealership has increased the number of vehicles in their fleet, expanding into a lot across Highway 69 from their location. The company plans to continue its expansion be rebuilding some of the current buildings and making the lots more accessible to traffic.

During the Fort Scott City Commission meeting to be held on April 4, the commissioners will discuss the redevelopment plans presented by Briggs, including a proposal that the stoplight to be installed at the S. National Avenue and Highway 69 intersection be a four-way stop instead of just three, allowing easier access to Briggs.

“It’s a big, major part of any community,” Briggs said of car dealerships, which not only provide vehicles to customers but also work closely with banks as they arrange financing.

Briggs said Fort Scott’s is the only location of the company that sells vehicle models from Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota, but they are now able to sell them to customers at other locations via Fort Scott. Though sold out of town, Fort Scott still receives the sales tax from those sales.

The company sells approximately 20-25 vehicles a month that Fort Scott benefits from, and the entire company makes about $400 million a year in sales. The Fort Scott location now provides a number of rental vehicles as well.

Businesses Face Repairs after Storms

Area businesses continue to recover after recent storms brought high winds and even hail in the past month.

Stores located near Highway 69 off 12th Street suffered from damages as the roof blew off the building shared by Five Corners Mini Mart, Libation Station, State Farm insurance agent Kale Nelson’s office and The Shop car repair garage.

Nelson is temporarily conducting his services from the second floor of Landmark National Bank while repairs are made to his office. The Five Corners gas station has remained open, but the Libation Station will close while repairs are made to the floors and ceiling.

Briggs Auto Group is also providing discounts on vehicles as each of the cars on their lots received hail damage.

Tri-Valley Prepares for Bi-Annual Auction

Tri-Valley Developmental Services will hold their bi-annual Gardener’s Christmas Auction Saturday, March 25, with doors opening at 9:30 a.m. and the auction closing at noon.

The silent auction will benefit the Horticulture Therapy program, which began more than a decade ago and is used to serve those with intellectual disabilities as well as impact the community by providing plants that are used to decorate downtown and Gunn Park or are provided for fundraising events.

“Our clients do get a lot out of that,” director Tim Cunningham said of the program, which gives participants an opportunity to take care of plants as well as take part in other projects.

Barbara McCord said some of the plant beds and other materials used in the greenhouse are starting to wear out and need repairs or replacements.

“The last few years have been very difficult for us,” Cunningham said, saying because of limited funds from the state, they have to raise the funds needed to provide for the horticultural program.

McCord said the silent auction often brings in about $5,000 to support the program. This year, more than 120 items are available to be bid on, and they will be accepting gently used gardening items through March 22, to be available for auction as well.

“It is a lifesaver for us,” McCord said of the event and the funds raised.