Humboldt actively working to bring people back to town
Humboldt, a town with a population of about 1,953 located in southern Allen County, “has glided into the 21st century with charming vigor.’’
One of the interesting things that the town of Humboldt starting doing in 2007 was actively working to invite high school graduates back to the town to work and raise their families.
Cole Herder, a Humboldt resident, recalled attending a town meeting at the local library that year after the local newspaper - The Humboldt Union - failed, the local grocery store was on the verge of closing, a local official had been caught embezzling city funds, sidewalks and streets were crumbling and the town’s population was plummeting.
Herder told his wife he was going to the meeting but would leave if people starting talking about the town in a negative way.
No one did, Herder said. And he stayed and went on to become city administrator for the town.
“One of the things we’ve learned is that we need to help locals grow their businesses and start businesses,’’ Herder said. “But it also includes having our youth come back to Humboldt and make a living, raise a family and enjoy a good life.’’
Each year, Herder addresses graduating seniors, it was reported. He presents each of them with mailboxes in the school’s colors - black boxes and orange letters. Each box has the student’s name and “Humboldt, Kansas’’ stenciled in orange letters.
Inside the personalized mail box is an invitation.
“We need people,’’ Herder writes in the invitation. “I make an appeal. We want Humboldt to be an option. We tell them to go get an education, go get some experience and work someplace. And then, when the time is right or every time you make a decision, ask yourself, ‘What’s next? What’s the fork in the road?’ Then, put Humboldt on one of those forks and ask yourself, ‘Is this the right time to come back to Humboldt?’”
Herder also commented for the story that when townspeople are positive and optimistic for the future, that in itself is an attractive feature for any town.
P.S. The Humboldt Union newspaper is back and that’s good news for the town, too.