• Summer 2020 Update •
We know that many families have been affected by current events, and we would like to first and foremost extend our well-wishes to you as the year continues. We hope that this update provides a bit of sunshine and a peek into bright opportunities for the future of Woodson County. 🌻
Despite the stay-at-home orders and slowdown created by COVID-19, the Board of Directors for RevitalizeYC have been busy making progress on several initiatives while meeting virtually monthly, over the past several months. In an effort to keep the community informed of the work the organization is doing to serve the community, below are details of the projects RYC is working on and the progress made so far.
Kansas PRIDE Program Project
RevitalizeYC was awarded a Kansas PRIDE Program grant through K-State Research and Extension. The group worked with the City of Yates Center and decided to use the funds to place cedar wood benches along the Yates Center town square. The benches will be built by YCHS wood shop students, led by Mike McCullough. The school closures have slowed the progress of this project. Completion for this PRIDE project is set for this fall.
One concern the organization has heard many times over the past couple of years, is that people are unsure what commercial buildings or sites are for sale around the county and who owns them. Last year, the Department of Commerce made the organization aware of a national online database for listing available buildings and sites. This system allows people to search for available commercial or industrial property across the country. The database will allow people to list commercial properties or sites for free. This tool is important as individuals or developers look for available buildings or sites to start or grow a business. Tom Hibbard has graciously volunteered his time to help find available commercial properties and get the information from property owners or their agents to list on the site.
• If you are a commercial/industrial property owner and would like more information about listing your property on the database, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RevitalizeYC has been working with the City of Yates Center to create a Land Bank. The City receives properties due to unpaid taxes, as well as individuals who may not want to invest money into a property. The RYC Land Bank would allow the City or individuals to gift these properties into a designated land bank. RevitalizeYC would then work to improve the properties in an effort to beautify the community and attract potential residents to the area, as there is a great housing shortage.
RYC has been working for many months on applying for a Community Service Tax Credit Program to fund the non-profit Land Bank. The CSP provides non-profit organizations a way to improve their ability to fund major capital fund-raising campaigns. Tax credits are allocated each year and awarded to non-profits throughout the state on a competitive application basis. In order to apply, an organization must receive letters of support from individuals and/or businesses that will have a state tax liability pledging that they will donate an arbitrary amount of money to the non-profit in exchange for tax credits toward their liability.
More details on how the program work can be found on the Department of Commerce website. The COVID situation slowed the progress of obtaining letters of support and pledges from area businesses. We will work on finalizing pledges this fall and be ready to apply for the CSP grant in March 2021. If you are a business or individual that will have a Kansas income tax liability and would be interested in tax credits to support a land bank, which would improve housing for the community, please email Laura at email@example.com to request a pledge form.
BlueCrossBlueShield Pathways to a Healthy Kansas Grant
The organization applied for a Pathways to a Healthy Kansas Community grant funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield. This is a huge opportunity for our community! The four-year grants are aimed at improving healthy lifestyles and creating healthy places using a community-wide approach, improving the quality of life now and for future generations. A maximum of 24 communities across the BCBS KS service area will be awarded this opportunity. There are 6 “pathways” the grant will fund: Community & Social Context, Neighborhood & Physical Education, Food, Healthcare, Education, and Economic Stability.
The group worked to identify different projects within each category the grant could fund. One example provided by the Board Grant Manager, Trevor Hoag, Ph.D., included was “Initial Neighborhood and Physical Environment package(s) that will be linked to enhanced trail infrastructure. A Woodson Trails committee already exists and has mapped out opportune areas for trail construction. One of our coalition members even worked at "the king of trails,” Thrive Allen County, and formed collaborative relationships regarding the trail-construction process. There already exist excellent trail sites and colleagues at locations like Toronto Lake, and the coalition has connections to Parks and Recreation as well.”
Another example in the grant application given was: “Initial Food package(s) that will be linked to farmers’ markets. Woodson County was born to be a food hub and was one historically; hence, nearly every member of the organization has ties to farmers and agricultural institutions. A farmers market has existed in the recent past, and at times had a C.S.A. style program attached to it. A model and institutional memory for these projects therefore exists to which the organization has ties, but an absence of funds and facilities has made the market/C.S.A.s disappear. Organization members also have ties to K-State Research & Extension, which will be a huge boon in actualizing any food projects.”
The entire Board was ecstatic to learn we earned a site visit, which was conducted virtually due to COVID-19, on May 15th, 2020. In attendance at the virtual site visit were: RYC Grant Manager, Trevor Hoag; Board President, Emily Steele Beesley; USD 366 Board Representative, Mike McCullough; and community members Shelia Lampe, Susie Shaffer, and Chardelle Hastings of the Woodson County Health Department. Grant award recipients will be notified by July 1, 2020.
RevitalizeYC has several other projects in the works and will provide updates as we move forward. We appreciate the community's support in our efforts and look forward to what can be accomplished when we all work together.
How Can I Help?
You can support RevitalizeYC by participating in local fundraisers, purchasing a t-shirt to show your hometown spirit at TradeWinds or Cornerstone Bakery, or by volunteering.
Amazon donates 0.5% of purchases when you sign up and use Amazon Smile (smile.amazon.com), with RevitalizeYC as your designated charitable organization.
Memorial contributions, legacy gifts to honor a loved one, bequests, and gifts of stock, property or land are just a few more ways to offer support. In addition, you can donate by going online to www.revitalizeyc.com, and providing a one time gift or by participating in our monthly giving plan.
If you're interested in joining our team, check out our Community Teams page and our Available Board Positions page. There's a simple online application - we are always looking for individuals who are passionate about Woodson County!
Thank you for your continued support!
Our timeless unisex Hometown Pride shirt featuring an illustration of the Historical Yates Center Town Square and our newest unisex design - a spooky depiction of Kalida Castle that will be perfect for the fall season - are available for purchase at Trade Winds Flea Market in Yates Center! They will also be available for purchase at Cornerstone Bakery soon!