Blog Archives

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


Minneapolis Dental Practice Expands Lab Service

NCK Business Relief Loan Program Helps Business Pivot Operations

All Smiles Dental Care located in downtown Minneapolis, Kansas, has added equipment and expanded its lab capabilities. (Courtesy Photo)

When All Smiles Dental Care, LC was forced to close for 6 weeks in Spring 2020 due to COVID-19, Dr. Ashley Swisher had time to focus on a plan to expand lab services for her practice.

Swisher’s downtown Minneapolis, Kansas, practice opened in 2010. Innovation has been a priority from the beginning. Pivoting as a result of the pandemic was no exception. The business added a milling machine this year that allows in-office production of crowns, appliances and models, and dentures. The equipment uses digital imaging for fast and efficient patient treatment.

The practice now enjoys a quicker turnaround of some of its lab work. It can also provide lab services to other practices in the area, providing an additional revenue stream for the business. The expanded new lab is four times the size of the former lab. “We are working toward being able to do all lab services in-house to expedite wait times for customer prostheses,” Dr. Ashley Swisher said.

The new equipment and related expansion of lab services was made possible, in part, 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 Citizens State Bank & Trust Co of Minneapolis.

The practice has 14 full-time employees. One new position was added as a result of the revolving loan fund project to expand lab services and likely another will be added within the next year.

Learn more about NCRPC Business Finance services and All Smiles Dental Care, LC.

This article appeared in the November 2021 NCRPC Newsletter.