Local eco-dev group continues to gather positive momentum
About 30 people attended a local economic development meeting here on the evening of July 18 at the Holton Elementary School commons area.
Those in attendance were reminded of the hardships that the “free state settlers’’ from Milwaukee, Wisc. must have faced on their 611-mile trip by horse and oxen and covered wagon to the Kansas territory in 1856.
Upon establishing the town of Holton here, named after Edward D. Holton of Milwaukee, who financed the expedition of the free state settlers, the town reportedly grew from 200 residents in 1857 to 1,645 three years later.
Mark Aeschliman, a speaker at the meeting, said the same kind of entrepreuership that Holton’s settlers had in 1856 is the same kind that is needed today.
In order for more of the next generation of Jackson Countians to continue to live in the community, there needs to be more skilled and professional jobs here to choose from.
Janet Zwonitzer, a Jackson County commissioner, reported that the county commission is working to re-instate a Neighborhood Revitalization Program.
In the program, Zwonitzer said, homeowners and business owners could apply for tax breaks for any real estate improvements valued at more than $15,000, over a five-year period.
The Neighborhood Revitalization Program would not decrease the amount of county taxes collected, but it would encourage investment in the community and allow homeowners and business owners to defer the taxes on the new improvements over a five-year period.
Zwonitzer said the Holton City Commission would be asked to adopt the Neighborhood Revitalization Program for Holton as would the Holton school board for the Holton school district and the other town and school taxing districts in the county.
Bob Davies, superintendent of Holton schools, reported at the meeting that the local schools are looking at ways to expand career exploration efforts at the middle school, high school and elementary school, too.
Davies said there are more skilled trade careers than ever, making the demand high for good-paying careers in heating, cooling, electrical, plumbing, systems controls and more.
New studies show, Davies said, that about half of high school serniors should be going to vo-tech after high school graduation and about half should be going to traditional colleges after high school graduation.
Brooks Barta, a high school teacher and coach, echoed the comments by Davies, saying more career and health seminars are coming to the high school this year, giving students more exposure to possible career paths.
Some other discussion at the meeting revolved around the economic development successes that continue in the Sabetha and Nemaha County area.
It was decided that the next meeting of the group should possibly involve setting up subcommittees in the areas of housing, workforce development and business and industry retention and recruitment.
The group has held six meetings now, it was reported, and meets on the second Wednesday evening of the month.
Good things are sure to start happening in the community when there is this kind of goal-setting.