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Rural Voices 2021-2022 Winners Announced

image of 2021-2022 Rural Voices Youth Contest theme and logoCongratulations to the 2021-2022 Rural Voices Youth Contest winners!

About the Contest

The NCRPC sponsors the Rural Voices Youth Contest each year to engage high school seniors in North Central Kansas in thoughtful reflection on rural Kansas and to promote a discussion among citizens based on their insights. The 2021-2022 theme was “Rural Kansas…Tomorrow’s Leaders.”

By Phillip Shirkey

Rural Voices: My Community and Me

America is a rural country.“Oh beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain” is not just a lyric in a song, but a statement about America. What makes our country so unique in the world is that it is a collection, not of massive coastal cities or of densely populated areas, but of small towns and communities who look out for their own and work together to make this country great. America is a country built on small communities, families, scattered throughout the beautiful countryside who, in order to achieve their dreams, encourage learning, leading, and teaching. Kansas is the epitome of that unique American culture and astounding American community.

My community is Concordia, a small town in North Central Kansas whose residents number only five thousand. They make up for that in spirit and in drive, propelling the younger generation to take up the mantle of leadership and to safeguard the community for the generation after them. For example, the American Legion chapter in Concordia promotes two events, Boys’ State and Girls’ State. These are opportunities for high school students a scant few years away from joining adult society to learn how the Kansas government functions and why it sometimes doesn’t. These events see a few Concordians every year go to Manhattan and meet with hundreds of their peers from around the state, form a simulated government, and run a virtual state of Kansas. But, of course, this one-time event only scratches the surface of how Concordia prepares its youth to make their voices heard. Our teachers encourage respectful political discourse in the classroom and challenge our assumptions on politics and power, to show us how a real leader should behave and support our ambitions to make the world a better place. Our school administration coordinates visits and seminars featuring Kansans who have achieved their dreams, such as state Attorney General Derek Schmidt, K-State coach Bill Snyder, and others.  They provide once-in-a-lifetime insight on how an ordinary person can become an extraordinary leader. Our residents are very involved in the political process and the leadership of our community. For example, this last November saw a bond issue come up for debate. Voices from across our city and county spoke on both sides of the issue. Our youth spoke with their parents and researched the issue on their own. We were supported by our community as we did what all Americans should do: learn about the issues which will affect us and use the empowerment provided by our community to speak up on these issues.

While I could go on about how my community has helped me recently, that is but one issue which determines how rural voices of youths like me are heard. Another important matter centers around how a community can ensure that these youth will not simply migrate to the coasts, as so many have done, but will go back to their roots and, like Napoleon coming back to France after his exile, rekindle in their community pride and hope for the future. For a community to survive, it must retain young people to lead it into the next era. If it fails to do so, it will simply go extinct. In a modern world, one which changes every hour of the day, it is impossible to be static. It isn’t enough to say that the younger generation will automatically return to their homeland in a civilization of billions, with countless evolving opportunities. Instead, every community must encourage its youth to return and lead in the future. My community does a good job of this. One would think that a Kansas town would have predominantly old leaders. Those “community grandfathers”, you’d expect, would be running the show. However, nothing could be further than the truth. Many of the people who lead our town are in their 30s and 40s. These are people who were born here, left to pursue their dreams at the time or get an education or accomplish some other task, but returned home when they realized that there was something in Concordia that did not exist in Chicago or Charleston: community. My town of Concordia is small enough and close enough that its leaders personally know everyone that they affect. Whereas the mayor of New York City only sees a handful of his constituents, the mayor of Concordia eats lunch in the same cheap pizza place as everyone else. They have to answer to their community and they are kept honest by them. That is a magnet for good leadership. My community has an ability unique to small towns: it encourages young people to return because they know that they can be led honestly and themselves can lead honestly.

That brings me to my final point. I consider myself a competent and smart leader (of course, everyone thinks they’re smart). I lead my school now and I hope one day to lead my community. Perhaps the most important task of a leader, though, is not just to lead in the moment, but to plan for the future. Otto von Bismarck, ruler of Prussia from 1871 to 1890, was a good leader in the moment, propelling his country forward to create a German Empire. But, for the success he fostered, his country was cataclysmically destroyed a few decades later in World War One because he failed to include the next generation in his plans. Bismarck only planned for his own gain, and did not encourage future leaders to take his place. I have many ways to address this and secure my community’s future. As a leader, I would support programs like the National Honor Society and the Rotary Club, opportunities for our youth to learn the value of having a strong work ethic and moral center. As someone who has grown up in a social-media filled time, I could utilize online polls and the latest technology to gauge how the younger members of the community view our leaders. A group like teenagers, for instance, has little leadership power or political influence, but that’s not the point. The point of community leadership is to let all of our rural voices be heard. That is what my community is best at and that is what I will do with everything I am given.

By Hart Nurnberg

Cultivating Leadership in my Kansas Community

I see lush wheat fields swaying on the rolling hills; I hear the weather vane rattling on top of my barn; I feel a gentle breeze in my hair. These are the sensations that I experience from my front porch. I live in the middle of nowhere in Saline County, Kansas. In addition to living in the middle of nowhere, I also attend a school that’s surrounded by a cow pasture. People from urban communities may think that an absence of next-door neighbors means an absence of community. However, this could not be further from the truth. Though my home is remote, my community is extremely connected and intentionally cultivates driven and energetic leaders.

My first experience with leaders in my community was getting taught by caring teachers. From kindergarten to my senior year, the teachers at my school have been some of the most impactful people in my life. My class has only 50 people, so my teachers have given each and every one of their students special attention. They genuinely care for my peers and me, and the school environment is productive and welcoming because of it. I attribute much of the extreme academic success of my class to this tight-knit school setting where everyone gets the resources needed to succeed. Not only do our teachers encourage us to succeed in the classroom, but they also track our growth throughout our high school careers and encourage us to get involved in activities to apply our unique strengths. One of my most important extracurricular activities, FCCLA, has helped boost my confidence and leadership skills. I never would have joined this club if my FACS teacher, Mrs. Wilson, had not been aware of my strengths and weaknesses and encouraged me to join. The caring leadership and intentional guidance of my school’s teachers help every student succeed in and out of the classroom.

Engaged teachers aren’t the only step toward building leaders in my community. My community has a diverse range of leaders, and they constantly collaborate with the area’s youth to increase awareness and understanding of the impact we can have in the future at a local, state and even global level. In an effort to recognize students’ hard work, my school’s administration team established the Top 10% Luncheon to recognize and celebrate students at the top of their class academically. At this luncheon, students receive an award for their hard work. The most important part about this event, however, is the guest speaker. Every year, a successful Southeast of Saline graduate gives a speech to the students. They talk about their career, their goals, how Southeast of Saline Schools prepared them for their future, and how they apply leadership skills to better their environment. I always walk away from these speeches feeling inspired to give back to my community. I also gain more appreciation for the commitment and dedication that these leaders have to my community. These speakers have included local state representatives, non-profit directors, farmers, authors, artists, foster parents, scientists, and more. Many students don’t see the energy that these leaders put into the community, but the luncheon bridges this gap and shows us that we, Southeast of Saline students, have the ability to affect the lives of others.

Southeast of Saline graduates have had a great impact on their families, coworkers, and wider communities. They reach out to students to show them the power of their voices, and I would like to continue this chain reaction of success. There are a few ways I plan to continue cultivating and empowering leaders in my community. First, I would like to take over my family’s pumpkin patch. My family has run The Sunny Side Pumpkin Patch for the past 20 years, and my parents are ready to retire. I have a lot to learn before I take over the family business, but I’ve gained valuable leadership experience so far through planning and delegating for prom as class president, balancing my FCCLA district’s financial situation as the district treasurer, and helping run the books for my school’s scholars’ bowl tournament as my scholars’ bowl team captain. The pumpkin patch gives families the opportunity to get out of the house and enjoy a fun activity together. However, none of this is possible without my siblings’ and parents’ hard work over the summer. We plant pumpkins, roll drip tape, hoe weeds, and spray plants all summer long. The great reward that comes every October is the direct result of our daily commitment. I’ve learned many lessons from living on the pumpkin patch, and I would be thrilled to carry on its legacy of family and community values. As a leader in my community, I’d like to collaborate with the youth in my own way. Once October comes, the business needs many volunteers; it’s all hands on deck. I’d like to bring in some of the youth of the community to volunteer and help execute the daily routine of the pumpkin patch. They’ll be able to apply hard work and diligence, and it will create a tighter-knit community overall.

If I want volunteers, I’m going to need to do something to help retain people to come back to the area after college. The main reason people come back to my community after graduating is because of our school. They want their kids to have the same educational experience that they had. I hope to keep Southeast of Saline an appealing district with its supportive, forward-thinking, rural pull that attracts people to the school. There are many straightforward ways to do this, such as running for the board of education, attending athletic events, and even speaking at the Top 10% Luncheon. I’d love to share the story of my leadership and empower students to come back and lead in the community. I also have parliamentary procedure experience being the president of my FCCLA chapter’s parliamentary procedure team. I get great satisfaction from debating and working out issues between groups with several interests to create a productive result. Applying these skills to my school district would be very rewarding.

Overall, I’m extremely grateful to live in an engaging community that cultivates leaders. Even though I can see wheat fields for miles from my front porch, I still feel extremely connected to my community. Through getting taught by supportive teachers, listening and engaging with inspiring Southeast of Saline graduates, and working on my family’s pumpkin patch, I’ve become a well-rounded leader. I’m eager to come back to my community after high school and inspire another generation of rural youth.

Check back in Fall 2022 for details on the 2022-2023 Rural Voices Youth Contest.

Celebrating 50 Years

Organization Celebrates Major Milestone in 2022

image of 50th celebration of NCRPCMarch marks the 50th year since the North Central Regional Planning Commission (NCRPC) was organized.

The NCRPC was first formed in 1972 under K.S.A. 12-716 et seq. (now K.S.A. 12-744) as a multi-county planning organization headquartered in Beloit, Kansas.

In 1980 the NCRPC was designated an Economic Development District by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration. Since that point the organization has evolved into a comprehensive community development and planning group based on K.S.A. 12-744 and structured by K.S.A. 12-2901 et seq. that provides a variety of staff assistance to cities and counties within the traditional planning area at their request. The NCRPC also provides contract services in a much broader area through various programs.

While much has changed over the years, we remain committed to serving communities across North Central Kansas. Thank you for your partnership — past, present and future!

This article appeared in the March 2022 NCRPC Newsletter.

Communities Awarded CDBG Grants

Several North Central Kansas communities learned last month that they will be receiving funding to help complete a variety of improvement projects across the region.

The awards come from the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce.

NCRPC staff assisted with the following projects and will provide project administration. Each of these grantees will be contributing matching funds from a variety of sources.

  • City of Burr Oak — $330,000 – Water system improvements
  • City of Cawker City — $454,250  – Water tower
  • City of Concordia — $560,000 – Purchase of a fire ladder truck
  • City of Glasco — $323,530 – Improvements to the lift station and sanitary sewer system
  • City of Lincoln Center — $300,000 – Housing rehabilitation and demolition
  • City of Mankato — $600,000 – Wastewater collection system repairs and improvements
  • City of Marysville — $600,000 – Sanitary sewer treatment facility improvements
  • City of Miltonvale — $383,000 – Wastewater collection system and treatment facility improvements

For more information about the CDBG program, visit the Kansas Department of Commerce or contact the NCRPC staff.

This article appeared in the March 2022 NCRPC Newsletter.

Project Spotlight: City of Washington Completes Major Water Improvement Project

The City of Washington celebrated the completion of its water project with a ribbon cutting in June 2021. (Courtesy Photo)

Reduced water loss, reduction of water main breaks, and minimal down time due to service interruptions are all benefits that the City of Washington’s utility customers are enjoying after the completion of a major water improvement project in the city in 2021.

The City of Washington is located in North Central Kansas at the intersection of Kansas Highway 15 and U.S. Highway 36 and serves as the County seat. Nearly 80% of the city’s water distribution system dated back to the original system installed in 1914. The original system with small, cast-iron lines had exceeded its useful life. Leaks, water main breaks, and repair expenses for streets that were disturbed in order to access lines were becoming increasingly troublesome.

Improving its water system was a high priority need for the community, but also a costly proposition. The city ultimately applied for funding assistance and was awarded $600,000 through the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which is administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The City of Washington secured additional funds through a combination of a USDA Rural Development loan of $6.3 million and grant of $1.2 million. The city also committed $200,000 in city cash to the project.

The resulting project updated critical infrastructure by installing new water lines, fire hydrants and an automated meter reading system. At the time the CDBG application was submitted (Fall 2018), the city had experienced 58 pipe failures in the previous 5 years. The city is now well positioned for minimal water distribution system maintenance for many years.

“The project has provided upgrades to our water supply system with decreased leaks and line breaks, along with less waste of precious resources. It has also provided improvements to fire protection,” Caroline Scoville, City of Washington EMT, said.

Non funding key partners involved with the project were engineers BG Consultants, Manhattan, Kansas, and contractor Orr Construction Management, Raytown, Missouri ensuring project success. In addition, Kansas Rural Water Association completed a rate study analysis and CES Group P.A. Engineering Consultants, Marysville, helped the city complete the Low to Moderate Income Survey to qualify for funding. NCRPC staff provided project planning assistance, grant writing and administration.

The project took approximately two years from start to finish. Original costs were estimated at just over $8 million, but actual project costs came in under the budgeted amount.

“The upgrades to the system were funded by USDA and CDBG projects, including grant funding and low interest loans. This provided significant cost savings to the citizens over the life of the project, which ultimately affects quality of life for our residents,” Scoville said. “The North Central Regional Planning Commission staff was extremely helpful working on this project, and provided valuable knowledge and assistance.”

For more information about the funding sources used for this project or to discuss a project need, contact the NCRPC community development staff.

This article appeared in the March 2022 NCRPC Newsletter.

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas. Project Spotlight shares stories from communities around the region and how they solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit

Help Wanted

The NCRPC is growing and we are excited to add a community development position.

image of we are hiringJob Title: Community Development Representative

The North Central Regional Planning Commission (NCRPC) located in Beloit, Kansas, has an immediate opening for someone interested in becoming a Community Development Representative. Interested candidates should possess the following:

  • An interest in public and private sector engagement, creative and technical writing, problem solving, and an ability to speak to small groups.
  • The ability to manage multiple projects at one time.
  • A willingness to regularly travel to surrounding cities and counties and to attend evening meetings.
  • A valid Kansas Driver License and a clean driving record.
  • A proficiency with Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint).

All candidates should have a Bachelor’s Degree from Arts and Sciences (e.g., Community Development, Planning, Geography, Political Science, or Economics) or Business. Associate’s Degrees in similar fields with preferably three (3) years’ experience working in a community-oriented setting are also acceptable. Prior experience with community development is useful, but not mandatory.

Compensation includes a monthly salary commensurate with the candidate’s experience plus health insurance for both candidate and family and retirement benefits.

Submittal Requirements: If interested, submit a cover letter and resume with three professional references to North Central Regional Planning Commission, P.O. Box 565, 109 N Mill, Beloit, KS 67420-0565 or e-mail to – Subject Line: CDR Employment Opportunity. Contact NCRPC at (785) 738-2218 with questions. Position is open until filled.

Visit the Employment page


This article appeared in the March 2022 NCRPC Newsletter.

Couple Relocates to Concordia to Open Restaurant

When Steven and Brittany Salgado began looking into the startup of a new steakhouse restaurant in Concordia, they were not planning on the extra challenge of navigating that process through a pandemic.

The couple lived in Kansas City and had several years of experience in the industry including 2+ years as chefs with upscale restaurants there before making the decision to relocate to North Central Kansas.

“We were looking into this before the pandemic hit. We had already signed papers and everything,” Brittany said. “As we were celebrating, Kansas City shut down due to COVID. ”

image of Maverick's Steakhouse logoMaverick’s Steakhouse, located at 103 W. 7th Street in Concordia, opened on February 1, 2021. Relocating to Concordia was returning home for Brittany who came to Concordia her freshman year and graduated from Concordia High School. Brittany now spends most of her time working in the front end of the business while Steven spends the majority of his time in the kitchen.

There have been ups and downs, but the couple is optimistic as the business as it enters its second year.

“We are figuring out what brings people out and experimenting with new menu items and comfort foods,” Brittany said. “We are looking forward to a good year in 2022.”

In addition to offering steaks and a full menu, daily specials are featured including burgers on Tuesdays, fried chicken on Wednesdays, prime rib on Thursdays, drink specials on Friday/Saturday and breakfast on Sundays. The restaurant also hosts private events.

The business startup project was made possible with investment by the owner as well as funding from The Citizens National Bank, Concordia, a Get in the Cloud Grant, and the NCK-Four Rivers Business Down Payment Assistance Loan Program.

For more information about the financing programs used, contact NCRPC Business Finance Director Debra Peters at 785-738-2218 or visit the Business Finance page.

For more about the business, visit them on the web or find them on Facebook.

This article appeared in the March 2022 NCRPC Newsletter.

Recovery and Resiliency in NCK

Plan Gives Insight Into Building Future Capacity in the Region

Earlier this year the NCRPC hosted round table discussions with stakeholders in its 12-county service area to determine ongoing impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Discussions focused on the concept of resiliency. What would limit the region’s ability to bounce back from hardships? What would position the region for future success? What specific aspects of the region are vulnerable? In addition, participants were asked what they felt were the biggest keys to economic development of the region. Economic resilience defined for purposes of the discussions was the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. The description also included an ability to recover from or adjust easily to adversity or change.

Contracted consultant Deb Ohlde facilitated these discussions and compiled the data into the North Central Kansas Pandemic Recovery and Resiliency Plan. It contains a look at the diverse effects of the COVID pandemic and ideas for building future resiliency in the region. Development of this plan was made possible, in part, through the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant awarded to the NCRPC.

At the conclusion of the discussions, 63 individuals were interviewed who lived or worked throughout the entire 12-county region. Multiple sectors of the economy were represented. The NCRPC also conducted a regional survey during a similar timeframe to collect information on resiliency and the impacts of COVID-19.

Survey responses and discussion feedback both documented concerns in three primary areas:

  • Housing
  • Childcare
  • Workforce

Round table discussions bought to light several priority projects related to recovery including the need for government employees to have flexible and up-to-date tools to deliver service effectively in a crisis; daycare is critical to growing the workforce and the economy; and quality, affordable housing is lacking overall. Discussions also highlighted future potential challenges including managing and adequately serving immigrants and mental health concerns. Preparing for these will play an important role in building a more resilient region overall.

View the full NCK Pandemic Recovery and Resiliency Plan.

This article appeared in the November 2021 NCRPC Newsletter.

Reducing Energy Costs

Weatherization Assistance Client Sees Drop in Utility Usage

At the age of 94, Delora wanted one thing: to leave a decent home to her children when she passed away. Improvements made to her home through the Weatherization Assistance Program may help make that possible.

Previously, the client was worried about flooding in the basement each time it rained and how drafty the original windows had become. Thanks to the Weatherization Assistance Program, the home received 1,148 sq ft of attic insulation, 2,078 sq ft of wall insulation, 558 sq ft of bandjoist and foundation insulation, and vapor barrier. The foundation cracks were repaired, a missing chunk of concrete was filled in, and her gutters were cleaned out, all causes of the basement flooding issue. A large amount of infiltration and air sealing was also provided.

Though she has not seen a large decrease in her electric bill, the gas bill has decreased and through the winter months she did not have to set her thermostat as high as in the past. Of the inspector and the contracting crew, she said “They were all good workers, and didn’t stop until the job was done!”

Last month marked Energy Efficiency Month and October 30th was recognized as Weatherization Day across the nation. Weatherization helps reduce energy costs for households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes. Eligibility for the program is based solely on income.

The NCRPC administers the program for 41 Kansas counties. Learn more about the Weatherization Assistance Program and how to apply.

This article appeared in the November 2021 NCRPC Newsletter.

Celebrating Community

Photos Highlight Pride, Commitment to Improving Quality of Life

In the September 2021 newsletter, we put out a call for photos of community events that have occurred since 2019 such as 150th celebrations, annual festivals, and more – and our readers answered!

Vision 5 of the North Central Kansas Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy is “Exceptional Quality of Place.” Community gatherings often provide unique experiences that contribute to quality of life in the region. Whether it is beginning a new tradition or celebrating 150 years of history, we salute the communities and volunteers who help make these events happen. Thank you to all who submitted photos. Enjoy a look at just a handful of the events that have taken place over the last two years.

This feature appeared in the November 2021 NCRPC Newsletter.

The Linn Picnic demolition derby on July 11, 2020 was captured by drone. The picnic is an annual summer event in Linn, Kansas, and includes the derby, kids’ games, and a number of other events. (Photo by Eli Thalmann, submitted by Dan Thalmann)


Several communities in the region have celebrated 150 years. In time for its celebration in June 2021, volunteers in the City of Burr Oak, Kansas, organized the creation of 150 sunflowers out of old farming equipment and scrap metal. (Photo submitted by Amy Reed)

Rock the Park is an annual fun festival at Markley Grove Park in Minneapolis, Kansas. The festival offers live music, a cornhole tournament, car show, kid’s activities, and food and shopping vendors and more. (Photo submitted by Kim Bird)

The City of Osborne’s 150th celebration took place over Memorial weekend 2021. Pictured is Greg Victors, the Wichita War Dancer. While Osborne County is not in the primary 12-county service area, it is included in the Weatherization Assistance Program and the North Central Kansas Public Health Initiative administered by the NCRPC. (Photo submitted by Stacey Jackson)

Project Spotlight: Historic Mitchell County Courthouse Undergoes Restoration

Mitchell County utilized the State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program for an exterior restoration project on its courthouse this year. (Photo courtesy of Doug McKinney)

Construction of the Mitchell County Courthouse was completed in 1901 at a cost of $38,310. An exterior restoration project to repair and restore mortar joints completed in July 2021 came in at a cost of just over $147,000.

“Some people have lived in the county all their lives and do not remember a cleaning as thorough as what was recently done,” Tom Claussen, Chair of the Mitchell County Board of Commissioners, said. “I guess you could say it was due — but that is not bad for 100-plus years.”

Claussen took an active interest in the restoration of the county courthouse when he first took office in 2010. Between his commissioner duties and his role on the K-State Research and Extension Post Rock District board at the time, he estimates he was walking into the courthouse 2 to 3 days a week. Over time, he noticed issues with the mortar. “You could stick your hand in cracks in some places and it was pretty unsightly when you got closer to the building,” Claussen said.

The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners applied twice for grant funding through the Kansas Historical Society Heritage Trust Fund Program and were turned down both times. Ultimately, the county used the State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program instead.

The Kansas State Tax Credit is equal to 25 percent of qualifying expenses incurred during a qualified project on a qualified building. The Mitchell County Courthouse was first listed on the National Register of Historical Places on November 23, 1977, making it a qualified historic structure for the program. Stone work was the chief aspect of the improvement effort. All work was carefully done to preserve the history of the building including using period-correct mortar mix and keeping with the original trowel design.

Mid-Continental Restoration Co., Inc. based out of Fort Scott, Kansas, received the bid to do the rehabilitation work. NCRPC staff provided assistance with the project application and administration.

“The contractors were wonderful people to work with and they did a great job,” Claussen said. “Working with NCRPC helped make the process a lot easier too.”

The county now has tax credits to place. For non-profit organizations, local governments, and other property owners that do not have a Kansas state income tax liability, credits may be transferred or sold to other taxpayers.

“We have had a lot of positive comments about the project,” Claussen said. “People are proud of their courthouse wherever they are from because that is where they go to conduct business. We are especially proud of our courthouse and the work that was done.”

Other improvements separate from this project have been made to the courthouse over a period of several years. Within the last 10 years the county has replaced the windows, fixed the clock on the courthouse tower, lined the gutters to keep them functional, and added split duct heating and cooling systems allowing the removal of window units. A damaging hail storm in 2015 made it necessary to replace the roof of the courthouse. Repaving the parking lot is on the radar for a future improvement project.

Learn more about the State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program.

This article appeared in the November 2021 NCRPC Newsletter.

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas. Project Spotlight shares stories from communities around the region and how they solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit