rural life

HUMBOLDT, Kansas — It might not be growing in population, but Humboldt in Allen County is one Kansas town that has defied the odds in other ways.

Drive around town and there is a coffee shop, a frame shop, a working 19th-century cabinet shop that makes high-end furniture, a shaved ice shop, a candy shop and four restaurants. As 2020 dawned, a family restaurant with a microbrewery and a new grocery store was in the offing, along with more building and construction, more businesses coming to town.

The United States Department of Agriculture is seeking public comment on changes that it says will make getting loans for major projects easier for rural communities.

Four loan guarantee programs reassure banks that they’ll be repaid when towns borrow for infrastructure improvements such as water and wastewater treatment systems and energy projects. But each program has its own application and specific requirements.

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — For almost three months, people living in a mobile home neighborhood just east of Garden City’s limits haven’t been able to drink their tap water.

Residents could boil their water to drink and cook. But on June 30, a new health order advised households not to use the water for drinking, cooking, making baby formula or brushing teeth.

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — A legal dispute between two business partners has stalled the construction of a sports complex partially funded by $25.4 million in sales tax money.

That fight over finances, and the pending lawsuit it spawned, could jeopardize the completion of Sports of the World. The project is financed by Kansas Sales Tax Revenue Bonds, or STAR bonds, and championed as a regional tourist draw for western Kansas.

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — All of Western Kansas has just one shelter for children who are in protective custody or are victims of sex trafficking. The new shelter isn’t taking kids yet, because it’s waiting on its license, but local officials say those 14 beds are needed.

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — The number of suicides in northwest Kansas increased by more than half in recent years.

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — The census determines more than the number of congressional districts in a state. The number of responses impacts child care, too. 

Eighteen of Kansas’ 105 counties don’t have infant or toddler child care available, according to Child Care Aware Kansas. It uses census data to calculate the state’s child care needs, and every year, the demand grows. 

“Each year it just continues to really become a little bleaker — especially in rural areas,” said Leadell Ediger, executive director of Child Care Aware Kansas. 

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — Rural Kansas communities hope to see roads, internet and taxes addressed in the upcoming 2020 legislative session. But some voters in the state’s southwest corner are worried that these decade-old issues will again take a back seat. 

NEODESHA, Kansas — Three hundred middle and high schoolers filed into their school auditorium last week in the small, southeast Kansas town of Neodesha, uncertain why they’d been called there.

They left cheering and hugging. Some of the older students were teary-eyed.

College tuition and fees need no longer hold back graduates of this manufacturing community, about halfway between Wichita, Kansas, and Joplin, Missouri. A wealthy donor hoping to turn around the fortunes of his dwindling hometown — population 2,300 — will foot those costs for the next 25 years, and possibly decades beyond that.

Go here to subscribe to the My Fellow Kansans podcast. This season, we look at the prospects of rural places.

DODGE CITY, Kansas — The history of this small city built on the cattle trade sets it apart from most towns in rural Kansas. The mere name of the place evokes recollections of the Wild West and the subsequent romancing of that age.

Yet Dodge City also stands apart from the region that surrounds it. This place is growing.

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