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Barb McCord Retires From Tri-Valley

Barb McCord. Submitted photo.

Barbara McCord, 68, retired on May 14 from Tri-Valley Developmental Services as its’ horticulture therapist after 17 years.

Tri-Valley staff work with an adult population that has intellectual disabilities.

McCord developed the horticulture therapy program for Tri-Valley.

She received her bachelor of science degree in horticultural therapy at K-State in 1975.

After graduating, she worked at Melwood Farm, Maryland, for several years, she said.  They worked with people with intellectual disabilities to improve their social, work, physical, and mental skills by being involved in the daily activities in a greenhouse setting.

She then worked in her family’s business, the Fort Scott Greenhouse for 40 years. When the family sold the business she knew she wanted to return to horticulture therapy.

  Her dream job would become a reality in 2004 when Tri-Valley wanted to develop a horticulture therapy program, she said.

“We didn’t have a pot, a bag of soil, or any plant materials to start the program – really nothing at all that was related to the plant world,” she said. “Funds were raised through grants and the generosity of our community to provide a state-of-the-art experience for our clients.”

Her biggest challenge was to design and fund a greenhouse in 2007, she said.

“With the support of the community and the 24/7 backing of my husband, David, we were able to establish the greenhouse and plant the seed for the current horticultural therapy program,” she said.

A 2,100 sq. ft. greenhouse and a patio area with raised bed gardens were created and made accessible to the clients. and also an in-ground flower and vegetable garden.

Cooking, art, and educational classes were developed through the years.

“This opened up many new opportunities for our clients,” she said.

McCord said people often misunderstand people with disabilities.

“It became my mission to establish a program that would move us towards a more inclusive environment,” she said.

“Horticulture became the perfect bridge between our agency and Fort Scott,” she said. “People opened up their arms when we first started.”

They offered plant materials and supplies, supported the bi-annual Gardener’s Christmas Auction, civic groups purchased plants to use for fundraisers, provided plants for the city hanging baskets and gardens, the Fort Scott High School construction class helped build the greenhouse as well as wholesale to local retailers.

“This gave our clients a chance to become an integral part of the town,” she said. “Our community has been such a vital part in establishing our program; I cannot say thank you enough.”

“I will miss the conversations, smiles, and friendships that I have had with the clients and staff at Tri-Valley,” she said. “Many strong relationships were formed while working with the clients and I will always have a deep respect for their accomplishments and positive attitudes.”


Austin Bolinger Replaces McCord

Since last fall, McCord has mentored Austin Bolinger to take her position at Tri-Valley.

“I feel extremely fortunate to be able to hand over such a successful program and to watch Austin make it into a bigger and better program,” she said. 

Community Involvement Will Keep Her Busy

McCord is involved with a local PEO chapter, co-president of the Bourbon County Garden Club, plays in the Iola Symphony, and volunteers with  Special Olympics.

“My garden will now come first, along with music, as well as creative outlets like needlepoint, watercolor, building garden sculptures, etc., these will be a few items that I will enjoy filling my time with.”

Having worked her entire life, retirement is going to be an adjustment, she said, but she and her husband David are planning to travel.

“Spending time with nieces/nephews and their families will also become a priority,” she said. “I would like to continue to add color and beauty to our community through the world of plants.”

“Don’t be surprised if you see me kneeling in a flower bed somewhere around town,” she said.



Union State Bank a Mainstay and Family Business for 120 Years

Union State Bank, Uniontown. Courtesy photo.
Union State Bank, Fort Scott. Courtesy photo.

The Holt family started as bankers in Uniontown on May 10, 1901, with an investment of $5,000.



“The bank’s assets are around $60 million total,” said current Union State Bank President Bryan Holt. “That is an increase of about 20% over this time last year. There’s currently nearly $5 million in Tier 1 capital.”



For five generations they have served the banking needs of their community, starting with Emmit Holt, then his son, Curtis, then his son, Kent, then his son Kenny, then his son, Bryan. All these were in succession.


Emmit Holt, courtesy photo from Union State Bank.


Curtis Holt. Submitted photo.

Kent Holt, 89, remembers the first job at 12 years old.  He helped his parents, Curtis and Helen, where he could.



“One of my duties was the Address-o-Graph, that machine that addressed envelopes,” Kent said.



By that time in the early 1940s,  his mom and dad were the owners of the bank.


Kent Holt. Submitted photo.



Kent became president when his father died at 62 years old, he was 35 years old.


When he was the president he could do any job in the bank, he said. But through the years, the industry has become more complicated.



“The big change was computers coming to the bank,” he said. “it was slow coming in, and in stages. Then we had to hire more people.”



Kenny Holt was president and CEO of Union State Bank from 1993 until 2018 when he retired. He died in November 2019.



To view his story:

Baton Is Passed at Union State Bank




Fifth-generation president, Bryan Holt,  became president and CEO of Union State Bank on January 1, 2019.

Bryan Holt.


“I returned to the bank in 2005 after working for 10 years in the accounting and tax software industry,” Bryan said. “I had always wanted to work in the family business and was, and still am, grateful for the opportunity to do so.”



Changes that Bryan has seen in the banking industry also include technology.



“Most recently, the ability to conduct business via a mobile device has been a game-changer in terms of service,” Bryan said. “Our mobile banking app allows for users to deposit checks via their phone, which is extremely convenient. We’ve also added our debit cards to mobile wallets, which allow for payments via mobile phone. Personally, I didn’t see this as a great addition, but after I used it, I use it as often as I can.”



Through the years Kent’s wife, Marilyn, and sons, Kenny and his wife Nancy, and Randy and his wife Debbie, and daughter, Susan Eldridge,  worked at the bank, along with some of their children. Then grandsons, Bryan and Chad, and his wife Amy.



Daughter, Debbie Likely, chose to teach for her career.



“Holt family members currently working in the bank include Randy Holt, Susan Eldridge, Chad Holt, Amy Holt and myself.,” Bryan said. “Aiden Holt( Chad’s daughter) works part-time in Uniontown during the summer and Claire Holt (Bryan’s daughter) works as a part-time teller in Fort Scott.”



In 1992, the bank opened a branch in Fort Scott, just off Hwy. 69 and 12th Street.



“We have 16 full- and part-time employees between the two branches.,” Bryan said.



Kent Holt Remembers a Bigger Community



Like most small towns, the population of Uniontown has shrunk.



Uniontown Park, approximately the early 1900s. Courtesy of Union State Bank.
Union State Bank, the original building, in Uniontown, KS. Courtesy of Union State Bank.

Uniontown used to have more people, Kent Holt said.



He tried to remember all the businesses in town while he was working at the bank.


“Stroud’s Grocery Store, Griffith Elevator and Lumber, Bishard Grocery Store, there was an old folk’s home, Gates-the blacksmith,  several filling stations-Ira Steele’s was one, a barber shop-Raymond Mosier, telephone company, two doctors-Dr. Miller was one, a dentist, Arch Ramsey, we were the only bank in town,” Kent said.



Flora Klenklen was his secretary for several years, then Alice Ramsey.



Kent Holt said he just faded out, he didn’t really retire, and was a member of the bank’s board of directors until about five years ago.



See the latest about the bank on its’ Facebook page.