2015 Year in Review

Contributions from the The Belleville Telescope.

January

Polansky Seed is raising a new seed cleaning plant at their east campus on US36 east of Belleville. The 60 ft high structure will house a need seed cleaning plant with state of the art equipment, says Mike Baxa, manager.

District Court Judge Kim Cudney granted the City of Belleville permission to demolish the 1700 block of M in an eminent domain proceeding.

Rocky Pond continues to be an attractive holiday destination bringing people to Belleville & Republic County. Read more here.

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February

Dustin Zenger, Haddam, has been named director of the Republic County Highway Department.

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The owners of Crossroads Floral file a challenge to the City of Belleville’s attempt to condemn the 1700 block of M, including their building.

USD 109 considers the addition of a modular unit to east overcrowding in East Elementary.

Republic native Josh Roe is named assistant secretary in the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

City officials confirm that Love’s Travel Stop plans to build a convenience store on US81 in Belleville.

The US Supreme Court ruled that Nebraska “recklessly” overused Republican River water in 2005 and 2006 and the court took the unprecedented step of ordering Nebraska to give up a portion of it unjust economic gains from keeping and using Kansas water.

The Kansas Bostwick Irrigation District (KBID) in Courtland and manager Kenny Nelson were featured in Irrigation Leader. Read the article here.

March

Jenny Russell and Luke Mahin with RCED were interviewed recently by Topeka Capital Journal reporter Celia Llopis-Jepsen on rural school consolidation the third article in the six part series about rural Kansas education. The article featured both Republic County USD #109 and Pike Valley USD #426 and their experiences and views on school consolidation. Read the full article here.

Belleville Health Care Center announces plans to build a new 38 bed wing for residents at its facility.Republic County Hospital board of trustees entered into an agreement with HMG Healthcare LLC that the Long Term Care unit will be closed upon completion of the new addition to Belleville Health Care.

Construction on US36 through the Belleville city limits will begin Monday, March 9.

The Cuba Rock-a-Thon celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2015 and raised a record setting $40,000 for community improvements. The Cuba Booster Club estimates the event has brought in more than $540,000 to the community in four decades.

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Best West Fabrication, located east of Scandia on US36, opens to provide design, construction and repairs with steel, aluminum and stainless steel.

Total county assessed valuation increased 12 percent, with ag land up 15 to 18 percent. The new values will push the county’s total assessed valuation for tax purposes to over $60 million.

A fire destroyed about half of a breed-to-wean facility near Mahaska owned by Livingston Enterprises.

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Edward Jones will build a new facility on the east side of the 1900 block of M ST. Courtland native Kaleb Brzon, who has been working as a financial advisor with Jim Franey, Concordia, operates the business. Brzon coordinated the construction and purchase of building materials for the project through Belleville Hometown Lumber.

April

Collections of retail sales tax has increased 6.5 percent in Republic County from a year ago. Wednesday the new state sales tax went into effect, raising the local rate to 8.5 percent. In October, sales tax in Belleville will go to 9 percent to pay for a new city pool.
Collections of retail sales tax has increased 6.5 percent in Republic County from a year ago. Wednesday the new state sales tax went into effect, raising the local rate to 8.5 percent. In October, sales tax in Belleville will go to 9 percent to pay for a new city pool.

Belleville City voters overwhelmingly approved a half-cent sales tax to fund construction of a new municipal swimming pool. The vote passed 440 to 106, which was 546 of the city’s 1,500 registered voters casting ballots.

USD 109 board begins discussions about the possibility of a bond issue to build permanent classrooms at East Elementary, as well as other maintenance projects in the district.

The Dane Hansen Foundation has granted the Republic County Community Foundation $50,000 to distribute to local projects. At least 10 local projects will get up to $5,000 each.

May

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Richard and Soni Raney announce the sale of their Raney Home Center business to Brent and Megan Melby. The Raney’s had operated the store since May 1, 1975.

Republic County is ransacked by storms Wednesday, May 6. Tornadoes destroyed a home south of Munden owned by Raymond and Kathy Splichal; and did extensive damage to Nesika Energy and Premium Feeders west of Scandia, as well as homes across the county.

Belleville is a step closer to getting the speed limit lowered to 50 mph on the US81 corridor through Belleville.

Don Westphal retires as elementary principal after 41 years in the Belleville and Republic County school districts.

June

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Republic County Commissioners decide to commit $52,500 to fund all the applicants from Republic County on the Rural Opportunity Zone scholarship waiting list. The program matches state funding to provide up to $15,000 to student loan debt over 5 years to assist in retention and recruitment of educated workforce.

Pike Valley patrons announce plans for a foundation to benefit Pike Valley schools and the communities within the USD 426 boundaries.

Landon Wolters has opened the Belleville Chiropractic Clinic at 1325 18 ST.

The Republic County tax sale brought in $40,000 during an auction of 25 delinquent properties. One of those properties was the Republic Hotel, which reverted to ownership of Republic County when there were no takers on the auction. The sale brought in about $10,000 less than the taxes owed on the properties.

July

Republic County Commissioners lend their support to a plan to expand economic development services to full time. The county contracts with JenRus Freelance, Courtland to provide economic development, which is largely handled by Luke Mahin.

Tiffany Hansen is sworn in as the newest member of the Belleville City Council. In all, five people sought the position.

Jon and Beverly Stenson opened Stenson Repair this summer in Republic. The new business occupies the former Republic Feed and Fertilizer Welding Shop which closed in late April following the retirement of welder Ray Danielson.

Belleville is awarded a $350,000 Community Development Block Grant to build a walking trail and make improvements to the ball fields.

July events kept most the county busy with the American Ag Heritage Festival, 4th of July Pinic in Republic, Scandia River Fest, Cuba Harvest Fest, and 50th Courtland Fun Day.

Luke Mahin was named a WeKan! Award winner by the Kansas Sampler Foundation for his work in his rural community.

August

Polansky Seedn Inc. hosts their open house for their new seed cleaning facility. Read more here.

NCK Free Fair sees great turnout for exhibits, rides, and has much thanks to do for the volunteer work each year. Read more from the Telescope here.

Republic County producers and the Kansas Bostwick Irrigation District in Courtland were featured in an article by the Kansas Heath Institute titled Pumping the Economy. Read the article here.

Courtland’s 83-year-old Pinky—Duwayne Thomas— says he will retire for real after six decades as part of the Courtland business community.

September

Love’s Travel Stop holds ground breaking ceremony in September for their 7th & HWY 81 location.

Central Valley Ag hopes a 650,000 bushel storage unit at Norway is completed for fall harvest.

The Kansas Main Street, Inc. (KMSI) was officially relaunched September 25 in Emporia, with funds from the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) through their Rural Development Grant Program. Belleville is Kansas Main Street Community.

The county should have enough sales tax collections in 2016 to pay off the renovation bonds at Republic County Hospital, and the hospital board begins discussions to switch the local funding for the facility from property tax to sales tax.

Reinke will be featured on the Science Channel show “How It’s Made”. The episode will highlight irrigation sprinkler, including pivot manufacturing and the erection of a system.

Paul Earle spent a week longboarding 180 miles along US-36 from Atwood to Belleville, Kansas. Read more here.

US HWY 36 Treasure Hunt continues to grow in it’s 10th year and put together a state-wide guidebook to celebrate towns from MO to CO along HWY 36.

October

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More than 150 flags will be raised at Republic County Courthouse on Veterans Day as part of the Republic County Veterans Patriot Project.

Several local business owners have taken steps to keep their downtown Belleville buildings from falling down by repairing the aging stone and brick walls.

Buffalo Apartments has now opened additional 2 bed room apartments and 3 bed room town homes north of the former Belleville Middle School which was renovated in 2015 for apartments in the historic building. More information here

Herb Hoeflicker, who helped establish a radio station in Belleville, and Monte Miller, whose family owned the Belleville Telescope and other newspapers and radio stations in Kansas, are inducted into the Kansas Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

RCED receives $25,000 in tax credits to raise money for the revolving loan fund via the E-Community Program from NetWork Kansas.

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November

The bid to replace the Republican River bridge south of Republic was awarded to Bridges Inc., Newton, at a cost of $1.6 million. Republic County’s share is $480,000, but the county received grants of about $426,000 to help cover its share of the cost.

Luke Mahin spoke to the Kansas State University Rural Sociology class about rural communities and efforts through the PowerUp group to help address rural issues for young people.

The Republic County High School Marching Buffs have been invited to march in the December 2016 Fiesta Bowl parade in Phoenix AZ.

RCED began the process of renewing the current Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) that spanned 2011-2015 for another five years 2016-2020. The program provides tax rebates for 5 years to commercial, ag, residence, and industrial projects that increase the appraised property value by $30,000 or more. The rebate schedule is Year 1 – 95%, Year 2 – 90%, Year 3 – 70%, Year 4 – 40%, Year 5 – 20%.  From 2011-2014 the NRP had 41 active applications, totaling $3.8 million in construction. Some 72 applications have qualified over the last five years of the program.

Central Plains Respiratory and Medical, operated by Deanna Morris, RRT, Belleville, is building a new building on the northeast corner of the Belleville square. Morris said the building will be open in December.
Central Plains Respiratory and Medical, operated by Deanna Morris, RRT, Belleville, is building a new building on the northeast corner of the Belleville square. Morris said the building will be open in December.

Central States Respiratory and Medical, owned by Deanna and Bob Morris, opened it’s doors for business at the “Old Locker Plant” property on the downtown Belleville square. The building also houses two other businesses Courser Lapo Clinical and Family Services and Relax—Therapeutic Massage and Bodyworks operated by Deidre Banahan of Cuba.

December

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A series of expansion projects in Belleville are all on target for completion the Belleville City Council learned, including a reduction of the speed limit on US81 to 50 mph; the construction on US36, Love’s Truck Stop; and the new city swimming pool.

Republic County was featured in the The Journal, by the Kansas Leadership Center. You can read the embedded article below or on their website starting on page 54. Featured in the article: Dan Douglas of Belleville Hometown Lumber, Vonda Cooper of Coles’ Appliance, Landon Wolters of Belleville Chiropractic, Tami Weizorek of M & T Appliance & Electric, and Luke Mahin RCED director. RCED wants to thank all the businesses and individuals that contributed to interviews but were not included in the article.

A $1 million Ducks Unlimited project at Jamestown Wildlife Area will allow another 430 acre of marsh to be flooded.

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Mr. Goodcents Belleville location will close in December with an agreement with Love’s Travel Stops who will be bringing in a Subway to their new location. Melton said he made an agreement with Love’s Travel Stop officials that he will close Goodcents before Love’s opens. Love’s Travel Stop will feature a Subway. “I’m not upset that [Subway is] opening by any means,” he said. “We didn’t get pressured into [closing.]” Melton, who owns Goodcents with his wife, Lisa, said he made the decision to close the business more than a year ago. The Goodcents building is now for sale. “I think what we have coming in with Love’s is great for our town,” he said. Melton said he opened the Goodcents franchise 13 years ago with help from his parents. He was considering going to work for Melton Motors, the family business, before deciding to go into the sandwich business.

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Wayne Gardener opened Ethols LLC car wash at 23rd Street near Highway 81.

HERE’S A TO A GREAT 2016!