Rush County Economic Development
Rush County Courthouse
715 Elm, LaCrosse, Kansas 67548-0326
 
 

2008 Revision of the Rush County Strategic Plan

Presented by: Rush County Economic Development, Rush County, Kansas


Table of Contents:

What is Strategic Planning?
Strategic Plan Statement
Committee & Task Force Members
Section 1 - Community Development Through Housing
Section 2 - Business and Industry
Section 3 - Education
Section 4 - Health Care and Emergency Services
Section 5 - Tourism and Heritage Preservation
Section 6 - Arts and Recreation
Section 7 - Transportation
Endorsements


What is Strategic Planning?

Why do we need a Strategic Plan?

First, our county, like any other successful business needs a written plan of action. Strategic planning gives our county a direction and a course of action for the future. It provides an opportunity for our county and civic leaders to identify areas of need, and to suggest possible courses of action. Various state programs provide grant assistance to help to initiate these courses of action. Also by creating and filing an official Strategic Plan with the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing, a rural county fullfills the requirements for designation as a  non-metropolitan business region. This allows us to participate in the Kansas Enterprise Zone Program. The Kansas Enterprise Zone Program provides incentives to new or expanding businesses.

What is The Kansas Enterprise Zone Program?

"The Kansas Enterprise Zone Program (EZ) provides potential Kansas sales tax exemption and Kansas income/privilege tax credits to businesses creating net new jobs in Kansas through major capital investment projects. The EZ program helps businesses recoup, through sales tax exemption and income tax credits, some of the costs incurred by construction, expansion, or renovation of their business facility." (Source: Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing)

How Does it Work?

"EZ incentives are available to manufacturing businesses (SIC 20-39) that create a minimum of two net new jobs. In general, retail businesses (including financial, insurance, and professional services) are only eligible for the Kansas sales tax exemption if they create at least two net new jobs and are located in a city of less than 2,500 population or in the unincorporated area of a county of less than 10,000 population. EZ incentives are available to non-manufacturing / non-retail businesses which create at least five net new jobs." (Source: Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing)

By being designated a a non-metropolitan business region, a business wishing to locate or expand in Rush County may be eligible for job creation tax credits of $2,500 per net new job.

For more information, contact:


Rush County Economic Development
P.O. Box 326
LaCrosse, Kansas 67548-0326
E-mail: rced@rushcounty.org

or

Program Administrator
Kansas Enterprise Zone Program
1000 S.W. Jackson Street, Suite 100
Topeka, Kansas 66612-3154
 Phone: (785) 296-1868
Fax: (785) 296-3490


The Rush County Strategic Plan Statement

"Visions and Values"

The Strategic Planning Steering Committee for Rush County economic development suggests a long-range plan that would serve the need to bring people in the county together as a community, increase the quality of life in order to attract new residents, stimulate business growth and development, and make greater opportunity for youth.

This year, the committee has chosen to adopt new strategies to accomplish their goals. Strategy one: to combine independently functioning task forces in the development of the plan into one steering committee. The committee believes that due to our relatively small county population, individual aspects of the plan overlap, and what affects individual factions, affects the whole. Strategy two: to replace the terms goals and objectives, with planned strategies and opportunities. Previous experience has taught that due to the constraints of being a small county, some goals could not be met. By targeting specific strategies and opportunities as we are best able, the county is in a better position for success.

Thus, the Rush County Economic Development Committee, The Steering Committee/Task Force, and the citizens of Rush County seek to continue to accomplish the following:

1. Create and maintain desirable housing and improved city and county services by consulting with local government officials in a study of problems and needs for developing the community infrastructure, including medical services and advantages for the aging, that would support an appealing environment for municipal and rural residents and those outside the county who might seek homes here.

2. Work to improve the learning environment and attend to the needs of both youth and adults in developing quality educational systems consistent with an attractive living atmosphere.

3. Assist existing small business operators in assessing problems and encourage expansion where desirable and possible, seek individuals with potential for creating new ventures, and be alert for small businesses or light industry desiring relocation.

4. Study the need for countywide artistic and recreational projects that would serve all age groups, and lead in promoting any permanent organizations to serve that purpose.

5.  Increase travel and tourism within the county by preserving the county's heritage through new and existing attractions.

6.  Study the transportation infrastructure within the county to locate weaknesses and determine the best possible alternatives for improvement.

To accomplish these Visions and Values, the Rush County Economic Development Committee has developed the 2008 revision of the Rush County Strategic Plan.


2008 Rush County Strategic Plan Steering Committee/Task Force

Task forces charged with the implementation of the Rush County Strategic Plan are community leaders, businessmen, and citizens or Rush County.

 

2008 Rush County Economic Development Committee

(Board Composed of Officers & Directors of Rush County Industrial Development, Inc.)

  • Harry Schneider, Otis - President / Chairman
  • Carl Brandt, La Crosse - Vice-President
  • Bradley Penka, La Crosse - RCED Director / RCID Secretary/Treasurer
  • Ben Enslinger, La Crosse - Board of Directors, RCID
  • Lawrence Erbes, La Crosse - Board of Directors, RCID
  • Marvin Herrman, La Crosse - Board of Directors, RCID
  • Mike Pivonka, La Crosse - Board of Directors, RCID
  • Tom Raup, Timken - Board of Directors, RCID
  • Reginald Diz Washaliski, McCracken - Board of Directors, RCID

  •  
  • Gary Kay, La Crosse - Member at Large
  • David Coltrain, La Crosse - Walnut Creek Extension
  • Other Community Leaders who contributed significant information to the 2008 Plan

  • Judith Reynolds – vice-president & curator of museums, Rush County Historical Society
  • Leroy Penka – chief of police & board member Fire Dist. 4, La Crosse
  • Ward Corsair – sheriff, Rush County
  • Tim Engel – Rush County News
  • Other Community Leaders who have contributed information or assistance

  • Don Manhart – LaCrosse Furniture Company, La Crosse
  • Bill Keeley – Superintendent, USD 395, La Crosse
  • John Vincent – Superintendent, USD 403, Otis
  • Eric Anderson – Community Bank of the Midwest, Otis
  • Don Reinhardt – Bison State Bank, Bison
  • Pat Lohrey – Landmark National Bank, La Crosse
  • Kevin Moeder – Farmers Bank & Trust, La Crosse
  • Kara Renz – Golden Belt Telephone Assn., Rush Center
  • Stephanie Royer – Smoky Hills RC&D, Otis
  • Linda Kenyon - Rush County Chamber of Commerce
  • George Stover - Rush County Memorial Hospital, La Crosse
  • Barbara Matal – Rush County Clerk
  • Mayors or Community Representatives:

    (The Mayor of each incorporated city or an appointed representative must serve on the committee.)

  • Norman Matal, Liebenthal - Mayor City of Liebenthal
  • Duane Moeder, La Crosse - La Crosse City Manager
  • Mark Baus, Alexander - Mayor City of Alexander
  • Jim Fisher, Bison - Mayor City of Bison
  • John Zeller, McCracken - Mayor City of McCracken
  • Kent Reinhardt, Otis - Councilman City of Otis
  • Jeff Keener, Rush Center - Mayor City of Rush Center
  • Maynard Schuckman, Timken - Mayor City of Timken
  •   Rush County Commissioners:

  • Terry Conard, Timken - Commissioner
  • Norman Legleiter, Liebenthal - Commissioner
  • Larry Wiedeman, La Crosse - Commissioner
  • Marlin Daubert, Otis - Commissioner-elect

  • Community Development through Housing

    Rationale: Housing has been deemed the number one priority for Strategic Planning in Rush County. Quality housing attracts population which in turn benefits business, education, and medical facilities.

    Observations (Situation):

    Though significant advances have been made in repairing or removing un-livable homes, Rush County towns still have a number of homes that are currently un-livable or in need of repair and rehabilitation. Most communities have a large number of vacant building lots near existing infrastructure.

    The county manufacturers and other employers have continued to indicate that when hiring employees, one of the problems in getting the individual to come to work is lack of livable housing that is for sale or for rent.

    There is a pre-existing need for additional available housing for families falling into each of three categories: 1) middle-income, 2) young professional, 3) executive.

    Houses and building lots may be obtained in Rush County at a substantially lower cost than in many large or nearby cities.

    There is a trend existing whereby families are choosing small, rural communities over larger cities to live and raise their children. Most Rush County towns are within a 20-40 minute commute to the cities of Hays and Great Bend via excellent highways. Rush County towns are in an excellent position to become “bedroom communities” to these cities.

    Project Successes 2005-2008

    Several new homes have been constructed in the past few years. Most recently, two large homes were constructed east of La Crosse in a new development area.

    In 2008, the City of Bison received a block grant to be used for the demolition or rehabilitation of un-livable homes in the community.

    The City of La Crosse continues to enforce an ordinance requiring the rehabilitation or demolition of unoccupied structures. Most other cities within the county have enforced similar ordinances.

    Strategies and Opportunities:

    1.1 Encourage the renovation of dilapidated homes to fulfill the needs of families falling into the middle income category. Objective: to prevent “deterioration of the neighborhood” ultimately adversely affecting the value and desirability of adjoining property and the community as a whole.

    1.2 Continue to encourage communities to remove unsafe and dilapidated structures. However, this should be used as a last resort as in most cases, it is less costly to repair than to replace. Objective: to clean up the communities, at the same time preserving as much of our heritage as possible.

    1.3 Individual cities should review existing zoning codes and make changes as necessary. Objective: to deter further deterioration of neighborhoods and to lessen the chance of intermingling incompatible zones.

    1.4 The Rush County Economic Development may compile a list of available building lots in each community to facilitate the construction of new homes. Objective: to assist interested builders in finding a suitable location quickly. This would be operated as a service to, not in competition with, local realtors.

    1.5 Analyze the cost vs. benefits of providing free or reduced-price building lots to persons willing to build homes with a pre-established value on the lot. Lots may be obtained through gifts or tax sales. Objective: a “free” lot may provide an incentive to build and the costs incurred in securing the lot will be recovered many-fold through property taxes.

    1.6 Encourage construction and renovation of environmentally friendly “Green Homes” according to LEED standards.

    1.7 Consider the implementation of “phased-in taxes” or other tax breaks for renovation or new construction. Objective: this would serve as a financial incentive for new construction and taxing entities would realize financial returns.





    Business and Industry

    Rationale: Business and industry is the backbone of a society. Rush County has a strong industrial base for a county of its size. The county needs to look at ways to help existing industry grow and to seek ways to fill the gaps for products and services that are not currently available.

    Observations (Situation):

    Rush County has a strong industrial base with manufacturing plants that together make up a significant major portion of the county’s total employment. These industries ship products throughout the United States and abroad.

    A large percentage of the population of Rush County is 60 and over. As the population ages, it becomes more difficult for them to travel outside of their community for products and services. Therefore, it is necessary for Rush County to explore options for citizens to obtain services locally.

    With the technological advances in computers and telecommunications, it is no longer necessary for many broad-based businesses and services to locate in a populous area. Many Rush County communities have sufficient infrastructure necessary to support internet-based business.

    With the growing concern over the depletion of traditional fossil fuels, it is becoming increasingly necessary to explore renewable energy sources. There is also a growing trend toward business “going green” and becoming more environmentally friendly.

    Project Successes (2005-2008):

    Linde World Wide (formerly BOC Gases) of Otis, the second largest helium extraction plant in the world, is in process of an expansion. A formal announcement will be made in 2009.

    In late 2008, I.A.C.X. Energy, LLC, established a nitrate scrubber plant north of the helium plant in Otis.

    In late 2008, West Wind Energy, LLC, purchased the former Ochs, Inc. building in Otis. The company remanufactures wind turbines and currently employs 6 full-time people, with plans to expand the work force to 15-20 by summer 2009. Plans call for the first of 2 wind turbines to be installed at this location by April of 2009. Demand is reportedly strong.

    A major power distribution line is planned to traverse Rush County originating from a wind farm in southwest Kansas. This line has the capacity to serve additional wind farms.

    The LaCrosse Livestock Market handles about 50,000 head per year. The owner has plans for an expansion to the holding pens in the near future.

    In January 2008, Rush County’s only pharmacy closed. RCED organized a community meeting that resulted in formation of a task force. Within nine months, a new pharmacy opened its doors.

    Rush County Economic Development has set up a webpage providing free listings of commercial properties available for sale. The site has experienced a high of hits.

    Strategies and Opportunities:

    2.1 Encourage the development of alternative energy sources in Rush County. A wind production company has been meeting with farmers in the southwestern part of the county in consideration of constructing a wind farm within the next few years.

    2.2 Explore the potential of constructing municipal wind generators to supplement power needs of communities in Rush County. Rationale: With the recent establishment of a wind generator manufacturing plant in Otis, Rush County is in position to be a model county for wind energy.

    2.3 Continue to seek strategies to retain viable businesses as owners approach retirement age. This can be accomplished by identifying potential retirees in time to locate replacement owners before the business is closed. New owners may be sought through advertising via bulk mailings to specialized lists or county alumni lists. Objective: Keep businesses open and assist in the transition from retiring owners to younger proprietors.

    2.4 Establish a program to enhance awareness of local, state, and federal programs available to assist local businesses. Examples include the county Micro-Loan Program available for small business start-up, state programs providing tax credits for new and expanding businesses, and federal loan and grant programs through USDA and Small Business Administration.

    2.5 Develop a plan to inform business owners that are retiring or wishing to sell about free listing services available through www.rushcounty.org and other regional and state listing sites.

    2.6 Increase awareness of internet job listing services provided through www.rushcounty.org, www.westernkansasjobs.org and Hays Has Jobs. Objective: To assist local business and industry to attract qualified employees, help existing residents find work close to home, and attract new residents.

    2.7 Expand the exploration of value-added opportunities for agricultural business including agri-tourism (see Section 6). This may also include studying the potential of attracting new agriculture related businesses such as grain processing facilities, mills, etc. Objective: To build upon our existing agricultural business base.

    2.8 Seek additional viable options for internet-based business or services to locate in Rush County. Objective: Many Internet-related businesses do not require a large population or employment base.

    2.9 Maintain cooperation between local and multi-county economic development agencies. Objectives: By cooperating on projects, a broader financial and population base is available.





    Education

    Rationale: A quality school system is vital to the economic growth of a community. One fact that families look for when relocating is the quality of the schools. Quality schools improve literacy, and literacy can spur positive economic growth.

    Observations (Situation):

    Our society is becoming dependent on mass media through which we are passively fed information. This is creating the impression in our children that reading is not necessary for gathering information or knowledge. It is our hope that by increasing literacy among the entire population that academic achievement will be seen as valuable and desirable. Rush County currently supports two unified school districts. With a decreased population and shrinking tax base, it is becoming more difficult to provide a quality education.

    We feel that by increasing literacy among the adult population we will maximize the possible benefits of any strategies we employ. Since the most efficient form of learning is modeling, we feel it is important that we involve adults to serve as models. We also know that children who read for enjoyment usually come from families who read for enjoyment; therefore it is important to encourage reading.

    Project Successes (2005-2008):

    USD 395 installed central air-conditioning in both the High School / Middle School and Elementary buildings. USD 403 installed room air-conditioning in both of its Otis buildings in 2008.

    Area libraries participate in the Central Kansas Library System rotating book program to provide a regularly changing variety of reading materials. Libraries also participate in interlibrary loan programs to provide their patrons with a greater access to materials.

    School districts within the county continue the “Accelerated Reading Program” and/or “Reading is Fundamental” seeking sponsorships and awards from area businesses.

    County libraries continue to sponsor summer reading programs and other educational programs during the summer and other parts of the year.

    Strategies and Opportunities:

    3.1 Increase parent participation in education. Objective: Parental involvement in the schools means so much more than attending parent-teacher conferences or sports events. If the parents are actively involved with their children's education and school, all parties benefit. Successful schools require community support and involvement just as successful communities require quality education for their children and themselves.

    3.2 Promote academics in Rush County on a county-wide basis. This may be accomplished through county-wide quiz/scholar bowls or county-wide essay contests based upon an announced theme. Objective: To promote cooperative educational efforts over the entire county and to provide students additional learning opportunities while having fun.

    3.3 Start a program of Homework Helpers, an afternoon school program in which volunteers are available to help students with their homework or extra tutoring. Students could make individual appointments or referrals could be made through school staff. Objective: To create a link between the community and schools, and to provide alternatives to hiring additional staff.

    3.4 Emphasize community service projects rather than selling products. Objective: Because of our shrinking business base, fewer businesses are being asked to donate more. At the same time students are selling products that directly compete with local businesses. The message being taught appears to be how to take from the local economy without investing anything in return. Yard work, cleaning, running errands, etc. can be done for hire. In the process the students will become involved with their community and provide needed services as they raise money for activities.

    3.5 Explore alternative avenues to maintain up-to-date technology in the classroom. Objective: with a pending budget crisis, state funding may not be adequate.

    3.6 Continue to explore avenues for cooperation between Rush County school districts. Objective: With the growing costs to educate our youth coupled with a decreasing population, it is necessary to initiate cooperative cost-shared efforts in order to provide the highest quality education possible.

    3.7 Utilize educational material and programs produced by the Rush County Historical Society and Kansas Barbed Wire Museums. The materials, developed to meet Kansas Educational Standards, are designed to foster a better understanding of history, science, and technology.

    3.8 Consider continuing the Leadership Rush County program sponsored by Walnut Creek Extension District or in cooperation with other interested entities. The program could be alternated with Lane and Ness Counties. Costs of the program will be funded by registration fees, sponsoring businesses, and Rush County Economic Development. Objective: leadership programs provide an expanded pool of volunteers for leadership roles and provide participants with a better understanding of community strengths and needs.





    Healthcare and Emergency Services

    Rationale: Quality healthcare is another factor that families consider when relocating to a rural community. In todays society, it is becoming more and more difficult for rural areas to provide quality, affordable healthcare.

    Observations (Situation):

    With Rush County's population having a number of citizens over age 65, there is, and will continue to be an ever-increasing need for local health care. Rush County currently supports a hospital, 2 nursing homes, 2 clinics, 2 doctors, 1 physician’s assistant, 1 dentist, and 1 chiropractor. Emergency medical services are provided by four ambulances and 36 certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT & EMTI) residing in communities throughout the county.

    There is a need to maintain and improve existing services. With the ever changing technology in medical care, it is necessary that the county adopt a plan to keep up with changes. Additionally, many county residents are unaware of the services available to them through the existing facilities.

    Fire protection in Rush County is provided by 8 fire districts with facilities located in all incorporated cities in the county. The county has a total of approximately 30 trucks and over 90 volunteer fire fighters.

    Law enforcement is provided by a sheriff, 3 full-time officers and several dispatchers in the Sheriff’s Department, a chief of police and 2 full-time officers in the LaCrosse Police Department, a city marshal in Otis, and routine patrol by the Kansas Highway Patrol including a locally-based KHP officer.

    Project Successes (2005-2008):

    In November 2008, Rush County citizens voted a $4 million bond issue to expand and update the hospital. Construction is slated to begin in summer 2009 with completion scheduled in about one year.

    Rush County Memorial Hospital received a grant to purchase a permanent CT scanner. The scanner is currently in use in a temporary facility attached to the hospital building until permanent quarters are constructed as part of the hospital renovation.

    Rush County Memorial Hospital continues to provide a number of “Specialist Clinics” with area doctors coming to the hospital offering a wide variety of specialized medicine locally.

    A new doctor is establishing a practice in Rush County joining one currently practicing physician and physician’s assistant.

    Rush County received a grant to purchase a semi-truck and trailer to serve as a Mobile Emergency Operations Center and Haz-Mat and Disaster Response unit.

    The La Crosse/Brookdale township and City of La Crosse fire departments will merge at the beginning of 2009 to become Rush County Fire District #4. The City of La Crosse will contract with the new fire department to provide fire protection for the city. Fire District #4 has just completed construction of a 6,000 sq. ft. fire station that will house the 5 pieces of equipment owned by the district.

    In 2006, Fire District #4 received a 95%/5% grant to purchase a new 1250 gallon per minute pumper truck.

    The three ambulance districts in Rush County merged to become Rush County Ambulance District. EMS service is provided by one unit housed in Otis, two units in La Crosse, and one unit stationed in McCracken.

    Strategies and Opportunities:

    5.1 Encourage broad-based support for improvements to the Rush County Memorial Hospital as needed. Objective: In 2009, the hospital will begin a $4 million expansion and renovation project.

    5.2 Consult with the Rush County Nursing Home to evaluate needs for additional services and to determine funding options. Options may include an assisted living facility to serve the needs of individuals who fall between the "Locust Grove" independent living facility and full-time nursing home care. Objective: to “fill the gaps” present in providing life long medical care.

    5.3 Continue to work with Rush County Memorial Hospital to assess the needs of local physicians and assist wherever possible to maintain quality healthcare locally. Objective: With the aging population of the county, adequate physician services are necessary to provide quality healthcare.

    5.4 Research feasibility of re-establishing a locally-based home health care provider. Reveal possible sources of funding for home care of those who currently do not qualify for existing programs. Objective: to fill a gap resulting from the loss of two local home health providers.

    5.5 Continue support of county Emergency Preparedness and maintenance of existing Mobile Emergency Operations Center and Response Unit to remain in compliance with recommendations of Federal Homeland Security. Objective: to provide the best possible emergency response in event of a natural or man-made disaster.

    5.6 Assist with fundraising for Rush County fire districts for the acquisition and maintenance of equipment and for training and recertification materials. Objective: to provide the best possible protection from fire and other disasters. Also, a high-rated fire district will reduce insurance costs.

    5.7 Assess needs of the Rush County Sheriff’s Department and the LaCrosse Police Department for equipment and recertification training and possible cooperative efforts. Objective: to provide quality law enforcement without unnecessary burden to taxpayers.

    5.8 The Rush County Economic Development could host a public “Emergency Services Day” which would showcase county emergency services and provide educational displays to teach the public emergency preparedness. Objective: To increase public awareness and involvement.





    Tourism and Heritage Preservation

    Rationale: Travel and tourism is a viable industry and Rush County has several museums and recreational attractions to offer.

    Observations:

    Rush County possesses great potential for travel and tourism because of its unique heritage and excellent location. La Crosse features three museums; The Rush County Historical, The Post Rock, and The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum. Bison has one museum; The Bison Community Museum, and McCracken operates an historical museum in the old city jail. St. Joseph's Church in Liebenthal is an excellent example of the dedication and perseverance of nineteenth century German-Russian immigrants.

    Rush County is situated just twenty-five minutes south of Interstate 70. Two major east-west highways and one major north-south highway serve the county. Rush County is also situated on the historic Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Trail, and on the Fort-Hays - Fort Larned Trail. It is located less than 30 minutes from three state and national historical sites.

    Rush County citizens participated in choosing the Eight Wonders of Rush County initially sponsored by the Rush County News and Hays Daily News. Additional sponsors were: Rush County Chamber of Commerce, Rush County Economic Development, and Rush County Historical Society.

    Project Successes (2005-2008):

    In 2004, the Rush County Historical Society relocated the former Nekoma State Bank building from Nekoma to Grass Park in La Crosse. Nekoma State Bank was chartered in 1916 and the building has undergone exterior and interior restoration to portray an early 20th century museum dedicated to the banking heritage of Rush County and the area. Although the museum was dedicated May 4, 2007 for public enjoyment, it remains as a work in progress for several projects including: an ADA compliant handicap ramp with sidewalks, limestone front steps, and restoration of the President’s office with period furniture. Also under development is a pictorial gallery of previous and current Rush County banks and educational programming for area youth.

    The former Timken Santa Fe Depot (Rush County Historical Museum) and Post Rock Museum, both operated by Rush County Historical Society, underwent an interior renovation in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Displays were reorganized with new labeling and painting with various color schemes utilized to complement exhibits and dioramas.

    The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum is also located at the museum complex in Grass Park. In 2008, the museum gift shop was given a new look. Wall space was better utilized to embrace memorabilia and new colors were added to brighten the gift shop as visitors enter the museum. The museum exhibits over 2000 varieties of barbed wire along with fencing tools. The research library with conference room is the national headquarters for the Antique Barbed Wire Society (ABWS) organized to promote the hobby. The library houses the largest collection in existence of patent information and history for barbed wire and the fencing industry. The ABWS hosts a website as well as producing numerous publications. Collectors come to La Crosse for the annual barbed wire show in May and again in October for a three day symposium.

    The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum has recently developed an endowment trust to provide financial stability for future operations without depending upon tax-based support.

    Complete historical restoration of the Rush County Courthouse continues within the guidelines of its placement on the National Register. Most county offices and the courtroom have been completed including grants to restore windows on all levels.

    Fairview Farms Alpacas near Liebenthal has been raising and boarding Alpacas for several years and is developing the farmstead into an agri-tourism business. Fairview Farms hosted their first Alpacas Day in 2008 with a mock show ring presentation and demonstration of spinning Alpaca fleece into yarn.

    For hunting, Rush County is a haven for an abundance of wildlife including deer, pheasant, quail, turkey, and dove. The opening and duration of pheasant season is exemplary of the economic impact from out-of-county and state visitors. Stone Lake and other watershed lakes along with farm ponds provide recreational fishing.

    The Rush County News asked county citizens to name the 8 Wonders of Rush County. The final eight were: St. Joseph Church, Liebenthal; Rush County Courthouse, La Crosse; Rush County Museum Complex, La Crosse; Barnard Library, La Crosse; St. Mary’s Church, McCracken; Lone Star School, Bison; Rush County Fair; and Old Iron Days, Otis.

    Strategies and Opportunities:

    6.1 Seek additional advertising for the museums in Rush County. Forms of advertising include: placement of signs along US-183, K-4, and K-96 highways; publications for local, regional, and state distribution. Objective: to increase visitation, thus increasing revenues in the museum gift shops, and local businesses.

    6.2 Continue working with area museums to promote Rush County's attractions. This includes being involved in Kansas Museums Association, and the Kansas State Historical Society. Objective: to maintain a working relationship with area museums and to take advantage of cooperative advertising that individual institutions could not provide alone.

    6.3 Compile a listing of persons to contact for visits to county attractions closed during the “off-season” or not open on a regular basis. (Example: Bison Community Museum, Lone Star School, McCracken Museum). Objective: to promote historical institutions who do not have the notoriety as the Post Rock or Barbed Wire museums.

    6.4 Develop a new color brochure featuring the museum complex in LaCrosse for April / May 2009 distribution in cooperation with the Rush County Historical Society, Antique Barbed Wire Society, and Kansas Barbed Wire Museum. Continue printing a revised edition of the Rush County Tourism Tabloid for April 2010. The tabloid, coordinated by the Rush County Economic Development, will be inserted in the Rush County News in late April and distributed at museums, service stations, restaurants, motels, and public events. Objective: to provide travelers and other interested individuals with information about our county’s history.

    6.5 Research the feasibility of creating a museum in the Otis Community related to helium processing. Objective The museum could depict the history of the U.S. Government Helium Plant located south of Otis and helium processing in the area through the present day.

    6.6 Continue to assist, when necessary, community groups and individuals devoted to the preservation of buildings having significant historical value. An example would be the Lone Star School, one of the recently designated 8 Wonders of Rush County. The former country school, built in 1878, has been nominated to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Objective: Many of our historical buildings that symbolize our county’s heritage have already been lost.

    6.7 Assist with fund-raising to complete a banking heritage museum in the former Nekoma State Bank building in Grass Park in LaCrosse. Objective: This former structure was one of the last banks to operate in its original wood-frame building and most of its original equipment is still in existence. In addition, Rush County has a dramatic banking history.

    6.8 The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum has developed a newsletter to inform hobbyists about membership and museum activities. The museum webpage and or e-mail could be used as an avenue for member communications.

    6.9 Rush County Economic Development has designed an envelope with an illustration of Post Rock Country and the county logo on the front and a listing of towns, special events, and the eight wonders of Rush County on the back. The Rush County Chamber of Commerce would be the contact and support group to promote the envelope use by businesses and individuals.





    Arts and Recreation

    Rationale: Recreation and leisure activities promote wellness, and foster cooperation among communities and age groups.

    Observations:

    Recreational opportunities and artistic outlets for all age groups, and the offering of leisure activities bring people of the various Rush County communities together socially and cooperatively. The needs of all age groups are recognized and should be considered in plans to be implemented.

    The primary goal in creating recreational activities should be to fulfill unmet needs in leisure opportunities, and to expand upon existing ones. The recreational program should offer a variety of leisure activities such as arts and crafts, theater, literature, physical fitness, ethnic culture, garden, and special event activities which would encourage county-wide participation.

    Project Successes (2005-2008):

    Over the past years, local annual and special events have continued to show increased attendance and popularity. Examples include: Otis Old-Iron Days, La Crosse Barbed Wire Festival, La Crosse All-School Reunion (held every 5th year), McCracken Rodeo and Alumni Weekend, Rush Center St. Patrick's Day Celebration, and the Rush County Fair.

    Rush County continues to have active programs for all ages of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and 4-H.

    A private business provides Karate, dance, and gymnastics programs for area youth. Participants have won awards in regional competitions.

    The Barnard Library in La Crosse installed new energy-efficient windows.

    Youth football teams continue to participate in both in-county and out-of-county competitions. There are multiple youth as well as adult baseball leagues which are able to play on local fields sponsored by the Lions Club and public schools.

    The Rush County Amusement has added a new consolidated concessions building and upgraded several rides and games. The annual community carnival has grown significantly since its inception.

    The Rush County Fair Association completed a major exterior remodel of the 4-H Exhibit Building and added a new office and upgraded the interior in 2007-2008. The livestock “barns” were replaced with a new structure in 2008. The concession building was finished and air-conditioned in 2006.

    Strategies and Opportunities:

    7.1 Continue to expand upon existing special events by helping event directors to promote their events and determine where assistance is needed. Objective: Rush County is fortunate to have numerous successful events held on an annual basis. Examples include: Otis Old-Iron Days, La Crosse Barbed Wire Festival, McCracken Rodeo and Alumni Weekend, Rush Center St. Patrick's Day Celebration, and the Rush County Fair.

    7.2 Assist Rush County Amusement Company, Inc. as they continue to expand the community-owned carnival. Objective: To provide additional recreation and foster social interaction among residents of Rush County.

    7.3 Assist the Rush County Fair Assn. to continue in a growth trend, work with them on maintenance and upgrade of facilities as needed.

    7.4 Continue community support of youth and adult physical fitness programs through county, city, and private business. Objective: by encouraging privately provided services, it provides an economic benefit to the county.

    7.5 Continue support of local fund raising events such as relay for life that increase community awareness and provide financial support for non-profit causes, and create social interaction.

    7.6 Communities and churches should continue to lend support to the Community Choir and other inter-denominational programs. Objective: to foster inter-denominational cooperation between churches and social enrichment.

    7.7 County FCE units could explore the interest in community garden clubs. Objective: to provide instruction and promotion of vegetable and ornamental horticulture and provide support for the farmers' market.

    7.8 Reinstate the Pride Program on a county-wide basis under the coordination of Walnut Creek Extension. Objective: Due to the smaller size of the county, a county-wide program would promote cooperation between communities, and serve as a pilot program for the state.





    Transportation

    Rationale: Adequate and diverse modes of transportation are a vital link for commerce. Railroads, an airport and well-maintained roads all contribute to the maintenance and growth of our county.

    Observations:

    The transportation infrastructure of Rush County is a vital element in the growth and sustenance of the county. Transportation through and about the county is provided by state and locally maintained highways, a commercial airport and two short-line railroad lines. Without an adequately maintained transportation system, the economic health of our county be threatened and the quality of life for our citizens will be diminished.

    Rush County's grain elevators continue to rely heavily on rail transport of grain. Rail transport is provided to McCracken, La Crosse, Bison, and Otis by the K&O Railroad, a short line that leases a portion of the former Missouri Pacific line from the Union Pacific Railroad. Rail transport to Alexander, Rush Center, and Timken is also provided by the K&O Railroad who acquired the former AT&SF branch line. Following an abandonment proceedings in 2004, the Union Pacific removed rail in northern Ness County from McCracken west. Many persons are concerned that the remaining line in central Rush County, now partially isolated, is “at risk” for abandonment.

    Several years ago, Rush County lost most of its blacktop roads due to the high cost of repair. Over the past few years, the county has "ground up" the blacktop and returned the roads to sand to allow for better and less costly maintenance. The few miles of county blacktop that remain continue to be a financial burden to the county.

    Prior Project Successes:

    The City of LaCrosse utilizes a 1% city sales tax for an annual program of street repair and sealing.

    In recent years, the K&O railroad completed upgrades to rail lines through the southern tier of townships.

    Strategies and Opportunities:

    8.1 Continue maintenance of the Rush County Airport. Objective: Although the airport is in good condition at the present, it is necessary to maintain the runway and other facilities to avoid a costly “urgent-need” situation in the future.

    8.2 Monitor the status of current and future rail transportation. Objective: Although the status quo no longer compares to that of a few years ago, we must continue to monitor the situation and determine the best course of action to meet needs of grain elevators and to ensure, as best we can, the future of rail transportation through our county. This includes close monitoring of railroad abandonment requests.

    8.3 Monitor the condition of remaining county blacktops and other county roads. Objective: The RCED will cooperate with the Rush County Commissioners to seek the most viable and cost effective solution keeping in mind the needs of local citizens and businesses.

    8.4 Cooperate with Kansas Department of Transportation and local business and industry for maintenance (seasonal and general) of state highways and areas of ingres



    County Support of County-Wide Strategic Plan and County Incentives

    Resolution # 09-00 (to be adopted)

    A RESOLUTION of support for the qualifying county strategic plan and requesting that the Secretary of Commerce & Housing approve the County of Rush as a designated Kansas Enterprise Zone non-metropolitan region.

    WHEREAS, A county strategic plan, required by K.S.A. 74-50,116(c)(2), has been adopted by the Commission of the County of Rush on June 12, 1995; and

    WHEREAS, Local business incentive of free dumping at the county landfill for one year to all qualified newly locating or expanding businesses in the County. The businesses would be required to haul any quantities of material, on their own, to the county landfill except materials designated as hazardous by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the E.P.A.; and

    WHEREAS, All qualified businesses will be notified of the availability of the business incentive indicated above by The Commission through a meeting with the Commissioners, The Rush County Economic Development, and newspaper announcements.

    WHEREAS, The Commission of the County of Rush chooses to participate as a designated Kansas Enterprise Zone non-metropolitan region as provided for by K.S.A. 74-50,116; and

    WHEREAS, The Commission of the County of Rush has received an Opinion Letter from the County Attorney finding compliance with the Kansas Enterprise Zone Act, K.S.A. 74-50,113 et seq., as amended:

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Commission of the County of Rush: That the Secretary of Commerce & Housing is hereby requested to approve the County of Rush as a designated non-metropolitan region pursuant to the Kansas Enterprise Zone Act.


     
    signed:
    Norman Legleiter, Chairman
    Rush County Commission

    ADOPTED BY THE COMMISSION OF THE COUNTY OF RUSH ON THIS ___  DAY OF FEBRUARY, 2009.

    COUNTY SEAL

    signed
    Barbara Matal, Rush County Clerk


    Return to Top