St. John, KS – The plaster dust was flying in the air on Second and Main Street Tuesday morning, June 21st in St. John. A group of 27 Bike & Build cyclists from around the U.S. contributed volunteer hours at Gray’s Studio and in the County Annex throughout the day that assisted Stafford County Economic Development in housing project efforts.
“Not only did we accomplish a remarkable amount of work in one day, but I also think it is reaffirming that this group chose our community and the projects we are undertaking as worth their time to stop and contribute,” said Carolyn Dunn, Executive Director of Stafford EcoDevo. “The work we are doing in revitalization, entrepreneurship development, and even in promoting public health are a part of why they have pledged their time and money here.”
Gray’s Studio is the inspiration that Dunn speaks about when educating others on the soon to be built Launch Pad Business Incubator that will be located at the Northwest corner of Main and Second Street, across from Gray’s Studio. Both of these buildings have two levels of space; an open area on the main level for business development and an apartment upstairs for entrepreneurs to live at a minimal to no cost amount. Gray’s Studio is a historic building undergoing major renovations and will focus on arts-based ventures, while the Launch Pad Business Incubator will be new construction and be available for any type of business that will fit in the 1350 square foot building.
This Bike & Build crew removed plaster and exterior walls’ lathe Tuesday morning to further the renovations on the interior of Gray’s Studio. Following their morning in the heat and dust, the crew went back to the Oddfellows Lodge for a lunch that was prepared by the Jolly Workers 4H Club and some local Boy Scouts.
After regaining some energy from the morning, the group headed over to the County Annex building where cabinets were assembled for the Launch Pad Business Incubator apartment kitchen and bathrooms. By having the group assemble these cabinets it saved approximately two thousand dollars over what would have been spent on buying pre-assembled cabinets. Bike & Build contributes hours of labor when they stop for workdays along their route across the United States.
“There is so much energy when this group gets to town,” said Stafford County Economic Development Program Director, Ashlee Bevan. “It’s just neat to share with these 27 bicyclists, mainly from the east coast, what we’ve got going on in our county of 4,200 people in the middle of Kansas.”
For most of the bicyclists, this was their first time ever being in Kansas. Eco Devo introduced the group to a typical evening in a wheat field during harvest. Everyone had a chance to ride in a combine and ask local farmer Brian Dunn many questions while chowing down a local entrée of homemade bierocks.
“It’s incredible, the generosity and just the welcomness of everyone we’ve met and the experience to learn from locals along the way, like we did in the wheat field tonight,” said Nicholas Allen, a 2014 University of Virginia graduate.
Ryan Bush, a 22 year old Bike & Build cyclist from Chagrin Falls, Ohio chimed in, “These small communities are just very open and welcoming. They’re small towns we’d never go through otherwise if it wasn’t for this [Bike & Build] experience.”
For more information about Bike and Build visit www.bikeandbuild.org and for Stafford County Economic Development visit www.staffordecodevo.com.
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Stafford County Economic Development
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