Alumni group contributes to ROZ scholarship fund

rozThe Belleville High School/Republic County High School alumni association presented a $1,000 check to Republic County this week to be used to fund a scholarship through the Rural Opportunity Zone program. Alumni officers Jacob Wilber, Retha Blecha and Deanna Morris (right) presented the check to Republic County Economic Development director Luke Mahin. Blecha said alumni were generous in donations this year, which enabled the association to fund what she termed “a reverse scholarship”.

ROZ scholarships are offered on a first come, first serve basis to graduates who move to Republic County and still have outstanding college loan debt. Mahin said the alumni donation means the county can now fund three of the 10 applicants qualified to participate in the ROZ program.

The Republic County ROZ program is funded entirely by donations. Under the program, the county pays half of the students’ outstanding debt, and that amount is matched by the state of Kansas, up to $15,000. Businesses can also sponsor their employees to participate in ROZ, Mahin said. Republic County Hospital recently participated in the program to assist in recruiting a lab technician and physical therapist to the staff. A self-employed person could sponsor themselves, or a student could pay their half of the match themselves if their employee would agree to be listed as their sponsor, Mahin said