Blog Archives

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.