Blog Archives

Results Positive for Home Ownership Pilot Program in Washington County

Financial incentives offered through the Washington County Home Ownership Pilot Program assisted in the purchase of 10 homes in the county from June to December 2022.

The program provided home buyers with down payment and closing cost assistance. The total value of the 10 homes purchased was just over $1.9 million, with $125,000 coming from the pilot program.

Grant funds for the program were provided through a contribution from the Patterson Family Foundation. Loan funds were provided by the North Central Kansas Community Network, Co. (NCKCN)-Four Rivers Business Loan Pool. North Central Regional Planning Commission (NCRPC) administered the program. NCKCN is an affiliate of the NCRPC.

“We were grateful to have the generous support of the Patterson Family Foundation helping to make this program possible,” said NCRPC Home Ownership Program Manager Keegan Bailey. “Strengthening rural housing is a key to success for our communities.”

Survey results of home buyers who accessed the program indicate positive local impacts.

“Employment was listed as the greatest reason for moving at 87%,” Bailey said. “We were also pleased to see a high percentage of young home buyers with 73% of home buyers under the age of 30.”

Other notable outcomes include 93% of home buyers reported the program was a factor in their decision to purchase a home at this time, 67% bought their first home, and 67% graduated from a high school in one of the counties in the NCRPC service area — including Clay, Cloud, Dickinson, Ellsworth, Jewell, Lincoln, Marshall, Mitchell, Ottawa, Republic, Saline and Washington.

Similar pilot programs have been completed in Cloud, Dickinson, Ellsworth, Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Ottawa, Republic, and Saline counties and the City of Marysville. Future plans include the expansion of pilot home ownership programs to each of the remaining counties in the NCRPC 12-county service area, pending the availability of funding. Results of these pilot programs will be used to develop a permanent regional relocation program.

Learn more about the Home Ownership Program initiative.

This article appeared in the Quarter 1 2023 NCRPC Newsletter.

Peters Recognized for Service to Regional Homeland Security Councils as Fiscal Agent

image of Lisa Peters receiving Outstanding Service Award for 2022 from Kansas Emergency Management Association

Kansas Emergency Management Association President Kathleen Fabrizius (left) presented NCRPC staff member Lisa Peters (right) with the Outstanding Service Award for 2022. (Courtesy Photo)

NCRPC staff member Lisa Peters was presented the Outstanding Service Award for 2022 by the Kansas Emergency Management Association at the end of last year. Lisa is NCRPC Assistant Director and serves as Homeland Security Coordinator. The NCRPC is contracted to provide fiscal agent services to six of the Regional Homeland Security Councils in Kansas. This award recognizes exemplary service to the Homeland Security Program and the counties and communities it serves.

Homeland Security Program project investments address the planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercise needs to help build local and regional response capabilities and encourage citizen safety and preparedness. Cybersecurity has increasingly become a focus for projects and became a major point of emphasis in 2022 for Peters and the Regional Homeland Security Councils she helps to administer.

“Unfortunately, the threat, frequency, and cost of cyber attacks for county and local public safety organizations grows every year,” Peters said. “A percentage of all of our projects are now earmarked to address cybersecurity issues. There was a learning curve as regional councils determined how best to approach the challenges, but projects are now underway with the goal of improving cybersecurity resiliency of the involved counties.”

The State and Local Cybersecurity projects are funded by grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

This article appeared in the Quarter 1 2023 NCRPC Newsletter.

Free Virtual Training Courses Now Available

Topics Cover Remote Work, Rural Grocery Stores, Nonprofits

NCRPC is now hosting free, virtual training courses covering a wide range of topics. Courses available on the training website include a remote work series and a comprehensive rural grocery training series. In addition, some recorded nonprofit board development trainings that were offered in 2021 and 2022 are also archived on the site.

These courses were made possible, in part, through a U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant awarded to the NCRPC.

Learn more and check out what is available by visiting the training site.

This article appeared in the Quarter 1 2023 NCRPC Newsletter.

Reminder: Unique Entity Identifiers (UEI) from Needed for Many Grants

Many State and Federal awards require entities to have a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) assigned by the Federal System for Award Management website (

“The State has been rolling out new funding opportunities that have a short application window. All applicants are required to have a UEI# at the time of application,” said NCRPC Community Development Director Bri Beck. “If you think your organization will ever pursue State and/or Federal funding you should register for a UEI# as soon as possible. While the process to register for a UEI# is typically simple it can take a while to receive.”

The Unique Entity ID is a 12-character alphanumeric ID. The Federal government transitioned from using the DUNS Number to the UEI in 2022. If you already have your UEI#, make sure you are also fully registered in SAM and, that once you are registered, you do not let your account go inactive. Registration at the official SAM website is free. Do not be confused by look-alike websites offering to register on your behalf.

Recent changes have been made to enhance system security and deter fraud. has partnered with to implement multi-factor authentication for registered users. When users go to and log in, they will be asked to create a account. During initial registration, users will be asked to enter an email address. Be sure to use your existing SAM email address to create the account. Access to a working phone number (mobile or landline) is also needed to register as will send a security code.

For more information, contact the NCRPC or visit our website for assistance.

This article appeared in the Quarter 1 2023 NCRPC Newsletter.

New Clinic in Beloit Offers Health and Wellness Services

Loan Programs Assist Start-up Business

image of Astra Healthcare & Wellness, LLC

Astra Healthcare & Wellness, LLC, located at 116 E. Main Street, Beloit, Kansas, recently opened. (Courtesy Photo)

Starting a new medical clinic in rural Kansas was a project that owner Alan Curtis had thought about for some time. That dream became a reality with the opening of Astra Healthcare & Wellness, LLC located in downtown Beloit, Kansas, in January.

The clinic offers a comprehensive range of primary care services to patients including routine wellness exams, urgent care, and assisted medical weight loss. It also provides specialized services in aesthetic procedures including botulinum toxin injections, facials, and medical skin peels. A medical grade skincare line is also available.

Alan Curtis is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). He most recently worked as a Surgical Nurse Practitioner at Mitchell County Hospital. Prior to becoming licensed as an APRN, Curtis worked for more than 15 years as an ICU nurse in larger cities including Lincoln, Nebraska; Las Vegas, Nevada; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Denver, Colorado. Raised on a farm near Smith Center, Kansas, a desire to return to his rural roots are what led him to move to Beloit in 2019.

This start-up business project was made possible through assistance from the NCK Business Down Payment Assistance Loan Program, Mitchell County E-Community Loan Program, bank financing, and investment by the owner. As a result of the project, two full-time positions were created including the owner and another full-time licensed medical professional.

Learn more about the NCRPC Business Finance program.

This article appeared in the Quarter 1 2023 NCRPC Newsletter.

Banquet Celebrates Past, Looks to Future

image of Doug Griffiths during the keynote address at the NCRPC 50th Anniversary Banquet

Keynote speaker Doug Griffiths shared his perspective on community challenges and successes.

NCRPC capped off the year with a 50th Anniversary Banquet on November 10 in Beloit.

Approximately 120 people from throughout the region attended the event, which was also hosted on behalf of affiliate North Central Kansas Community Network, Co. (NCKCN).

One of the evening’s highlights was the keynote address by Doug Griffiths, community strategist and author of two best-selling editions of “13 Ways to Kill Your Community.” In his presentation, he outlined seven of the 13 ways in which he said communities may undermine their success — sometimes without even knowing it.

  • Forget the water – quality and quantity
  • Don’t attract businesses
  • Don’t engage youth
  • Deceive yourself (Don’t assess your community’s need or values)
  • Live in the past
  • Don’t cooperate
  • Don’t take responsibility

He shared brief anecdotes and lessons learned through his work advising and consulting with communities. Regarding engaging youth, he shared that the nature of youth is to go off and explore. The goal is not to keep them from doing that, but to give them a reason to want to return.

“We have to stop being so negative about our communities,” Griffiths said. “We also need real engagement. It is not a matter of how you’re going to be effective but how you’re going to stay relevant.”

Griffiths closed by challenging the audience when it comes to taking responsibility. “If we want a solution, we have to go back to community building and helping each other,” Griffiths said.

NCRPC Executive Board Chair Tom Claussen (left) presented John Cyr with the inaugural NCRPC Lifetime Public Service Award.

Another highlight of the evening was the presentation of the inaugural Lifetime Public Service Award to John Cyr. He dedicated his career to the region, much of which was spent as NCRPC Executive Director, and he is passionate about rural development and North Central Kansas. The NCRPC Executive Board plans to present an award annually to an individual, group or organization that has been distinguished by contributions to communities in the region over many years.

This article appeared in the Quarter 4 2022 NCRPC Newsletter.

On-the-Job Training Program Provides Opportunity for Workers and Employers

Employers may be eligible for reimbursement to help cover job training costs of candidates meeting certain criteria.

On-the-Job Training offered through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) offers up to a maximum of $3,000 per year for two years to compensate employers for the cost associated with training and loss of production for newly hired employees.

Adults meeting certain priority categories such as veteran status, low income, or basic skills deficiencies may qualify for training assistance. Programs are also available for dislocated workers and youth ages 16-24 who are not attending school.

Potential examples of occupational skills training for adults may include on-the-job training for city water operators or local businesses training new hires in a skilled profession.

“I feel like On-the-Job Training is the best type of training because it is generally hands on, very company specific, and an earn and learn model that works,” said Tucky Allen, Business Services Director with Kansas WorkforceONE. “The end goal is a career/good job for participants.”

To learn more about WIOA On-the-Job Training and to determine eligibility, contact Tucky Allen at Kansas WorkforceONE at 316-303-2906 or by email at

This article appeared in the Quarter 4 2022 NCRPC Newsletter.

Weatherization Assistance Program Helps Decrease Utility Costs for Client

“Lifesaving.” That was the single word a weatherization client recently used to describe the help received through the Weatherization Assistance Program. The NCRPC administers the program for 41 Kansas counties.

Edward’s central Kansas home had a 36-year-old rusted out furnace that needed to be replaced. His monthly budget was tight after he was forced to retire early due to health issues. When his electric bill became overwhelming, Edward began to seek assistance and applied for the Weatherization Assistance Program.

Weatherization helps reduce energy costs for households by improving the efficiency, health, and safety of their homes. Through the program, a new energy efficient furnace was installed in Edward’s home. Other improvements included the addition of 1,384 square feet of attic insulation, 1,058 square feet of sidewall insulation, and other small measures that addressed health and safety concerns.

“Since the work has been completed, the house feels different,” Edward said. “It is warmer, and a transformation in overall comfort has been recognized.”

His electric bill immediately decreased by more than $40 each month and he is expecting to see bigger savings as the seasons change.

Eligibility for the Weatherization Assistance Program is based solely on income. To view maximum income guidelines or learn more, visit the NCRPC Weatherization page.

Please note that due to program demand, there currently is a wait list for services.

Energy Saving Tips

Winter weather is here! According to the U.S. Department of Energy, home heating uses more energy and costs more than any other system in your home. For energy saving tips, go to the Office of Energy Saver.

This article appeared in the Quarter 4 2022 NCRPC Newsletter.

Entries Now Being Accepted for Rural Voices Youth Contest

image of money with graduation capHigh school seniors in North Central Kansas are invited to compete for a chance to win $1,000 by submitting an essay or short video in the 2022-2023 Rural Voices Youth Contest. Entries should be reflective of this year’s contest theme, which is “Rural Kansas…Working Together.”

The NCRPC has sponsored the contest annually since 2006 and has awarded more than $27,000 to high school seniors from around the region. Students submitting the top two entries will each receive a cash award of $1,000. The winning entries will also be published on the NCRPC website.

Any senior in high school who lives in or attends a school in the 12-county NCRPC service area is eligible to enter the contest — including the counties of Clay, Cloud, Dickinson, Ellsworth, Jewell, Lincoln, Marshall, Mitchell, Ottawa, Republic, Saline and Washington. The deadline to submit an entry is February 1, 2023.

Additional information and registration details are available at the contest page.

This article appeared in the Quarter 4 2022 NCRPC Newsletter.

Salina Business Owner Expands Local Brewery Options

image of Blue Skye Brewery and Eats, LLC, Salina, KS

Blue Skye Brewery and Eats, LLC, is located at 116 N. Santa Fe Avenue, Salina, Kansas. (Courtesy Photo)

Instead of the proverbial phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” one Salina business focused on making ale when faced with challenges. When the coronavirus pandemic impacted Blue Skye Brewery and Eats, LLC with temporary business closure and revenue decline, co-owner Monte Shadwick got creative.

“We were very fortunate to have been in business for 7 years when the pandemic hit and were in a good financial position to weather the storm. However, to keep our team employed and working, we needed to create an income stream from other sales,” Shadwick said.

In Fall 2020, the business expanded its wholesale line by the keg and began offering it to other local restaurant/bars to meet the trend of having a local craft beer on tap. They also created a new revenue source by adding a small canning machine. The new machine makes it possible for Blue Skye Brewery to sell beer in recyclable 32-ounce cans, which allows customers to mix and match a variety pack and take it to go. The business has a large list of customer favorites that it brews in house including Jalapeno Ale and seasonal varieties such as Watermelon Crawl.

A new crowler machine and brewing equipment made it possible for the business to expand sales through to-go orders and delivery to other area restaurants and pubs. (Courtesy Photo)

The project to pivot operations and purchase brewery equipment to meet the changing demands was made possible through assistance from the NCK Business Relief Loan Program that was funded by the EDA CARES Act RLF 2020. Other sources of funds for this project include investment by the owner and First Bank Kansas. As a result of the project, another brewer was hired, allowing the business to retain 14 and create 1 full-time equivalent positions, including the owner.

For more information about the NCRPC Business Finance program, contact Debra Peters at 785-738-2218 or visit the NCRPC Business Finance services page. To learn more about Blue Skye Brewery and Eats, LLC, find them on Facebook.

This article appeared in the Quarter 4 2022 NCRPC Newsletter.