St. John, KS — On Wednesday, July 22nd, the Kansas Department of Commerce announced that 49 Kansas communities will share more than $13 million in Community Development Block Grant funding. The City of St. John received $198,360 for sidewalk improvements. The City will contribute $13,480 through in-kind labor and $8,560 in matching funds.
The City of St. John applied for the special round of CDBG funding in May. These grants are available to communities where 51% or more of the population is low to moderate income by the program’s guidelines. The special round for CDBG funding is contributing to rural communities with needs for residential handicapped accessibility modifications, micro-loans, park and sidewalk improvements, and the construction of storm shelters.
To receive funding, local government units had to meet at least one of three program objectives: benefit low and moderate-income persons, prevent or eliminate slums and blight, or resolve an urgent need when local resources are not available, such as natural disaster. The latest census data did not show that St. John meets the low income guidelines; therefore, surveys were administered in a designated beneficiary area to establish that it would be eligible.
Eighth grade students from St. John Junior High and a total of eight adult community volunteers walked door-to-door along First Street to distribute surveys to determine the need for improvements in public facilities and services. Results showed that the area of focus for sidewalk improvements would benefit low and moderate-income persons.
“The CDBG program provides vital support to rural areas of our state,” said Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George. “Small and rural communities grow our economy and enhance the quality of life in Kansas, so it is important that we support their needs. CDBG funding helps provide deserving communities with the resources to undertake critical projects.”
The sidewalk improvements and addition of sidewalks will take place along First Street. Construction would begin 200’ west of Highway 281 and continue to Monroe, where it would branch north from First to Second. These sidewalks will be 6’ ADA-compliant and ramps will be implemented at all existing walk locations in the target area with crosswalk identification.
The preliminary engineering report suggested that the City set aside an annual amount of $256 annually for the operation and maintenance of the proposed improvements and repairs for its 40 year expected life. The St. John City Council passed Resolution #770 assuring that funds would be available for continued operation.
Sidewalk construction is expected in late spring, following development of construction plans and solicitation of competitive bids for the construction.
Sufficient sidewalks are needed to maintain the safety and ease of accessibility for community members along a heavily trafficked street. In addition to safety, sidewalks improve the curb appeal and value of homes.
For more information about the Kansas Department of Commerce and their association with the special round of CDBG visit http://www.kansascommerce.com/civicalerts.aspx?AID=1162
USD 349 Students & Stafford County Flour Mills Gain Distribution for Bread Mix Product with Ben E. Keith
Stafford USD 349 culinary arts and entrepreneurship students partnered with Stafford County Flour Mills to develop a white, whole wheat baking mix suited for a variety of bread dough recipes. Recently, their product gained distribution through Ben E. Keith, a broad line foodservice distributor based in Oklahoma City. Ben E. Keith’s foodservice division serves 11 states, Kansas being one of them.
The culinary arts students, using the Stafford High School’s commercial kitchen and advice of a food scientist and dietician created the formula for the bread mix. The white, whole wheat baking mix is light in color and has a fine texture making it accepted by those who prefer white bread, but provides all of the nutritional benefits of it being whole grain.
Taste tests were performed by the students to confirm that students do, in fact, prefer food made with this flour over conventional whole wheat. Upon successful taste testing, the entrepreneurship students developed the packaging, nutrition labels and sell sheets to promote the product.
In December 2014, the students presented the complete packaged product at a Kansas Association of School Boards Convention in Kansas City. Using leads gathered at this convention, students made sales calls to schools throughout Kansas to establish the demand for the product before approaching the distributor to carry the product.
With state interest shown in the product, the students traveled down to Oklahoma to present to a panel of three Ben E. Keith buyers in May. The students’ product is now available to schools in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas to purchase and use in school lunch and breakfast.
This student-crafted bread mix not only meets, but exceeds new USDA nutrition guidelines. The school will receive a commission from each bag sold, and the proceeds will provide ongoing support for the entrepreneurship program.
For more information about Ben E. Keith visit http://www.benekeith.com/.
Stafford County Economic Development
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