Marci Penner, director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, made a great point once that small towns need to have positive and informative gatekeepers. For example cashiers, waitresses, etc., are a town’s best asset and most important tourist guides. The first point of contact is often the most important to converting a highway traveler into a tourist. To see a prime example of educating your business staff read this letter to the editor printed in the Courtland Journal September 5th, 2013. Kate gave me permission to share this, so feel free to forward it on to others.
My name is Kate Benz, and I am a writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in Pennsylvania. This email might seem strange, but bear with me for a moment while I tell you my story:
After taking my son to the University of Colorado at Boulder to begin his freshmen year a few days ago, I decided to road-trip home via “blue highways” and state roads rather than take the interstate.
As I drove along Route 36 last Friday, August 23, 2013, I came upon the town of Courtland by complete coincidence. I had driven right by when a sign for antiques in front of The Depot Market caught my eye. My gut was telling me to turn around. So, I did.
Thinking that The Depot Market was the antiques store, I wandered in. A young gal at the counter cheerfully told me that the antique shop was in Courtland, right across the street. We talked for a few minutes. She said she had recently moved from San Francisco. She talked about being happy with the simple things in life, and feeling more at home in Courtland, Kansas, than anywhere else. She also talked of getting “bitten” by the desire to enjoy life in a small town. As I left, I remember thinking that she was ridiculously inspiring for someone so young.
When I pulled into town, I parked my little red Fiat across the street from AnTeaQues and meandered over. After perusing the shop, I stopped to talk to the owner, and a fine gentlemen who I believe was name Charlie.
When I mentioned that I was a writer for the newspaper in Pittsburgh, Charlie mentioned that his wife works for the Courtland Journal. He said he had been helping her fold newspapers every Tuesday for the past “100 years.” I jokingly asked if they were accepting job applications! After spending about an hour with them, it was time to hit the road.
For the remaining 1500 mile drive home, all I could think of was Courtland. It seemed to me to be representative of what life should be like. It gave me faith there are still places left in this world where God and Country are still equated with an unyielding sense of pride, and where people are genuine and good. It probably sounds odd coming from a stranger, but I felt like I left my heart there.
This might be the oddest email you ever received, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. So, I will ask you this: If there is ever any opportunity for me at the Journal, would you please let me know? Writing is my passion… it makes no difference to me whether I’m in a larger market or a small town. Attached is my resume. So, there it is. The good Lord has had a delightfully strange way of showing me where He wants me to be… maybe this time around it’s Courtland!
If nothing else, thank you for your time.
Kate Guerriero Benz
Contact RCED if you are interested in moving to Republic County or starting a business here. We have incentives and you may qualify for student loan repayment or income tax waivers too!