An article came out yesterday written by Mike Courson of the Great Bend Post. Mike’s a great guy from what little interaction I’ve had with him. The article was unfortunately titled “Stafford Eco Devo looking to Enhance Gateway to Quivira.” Kind of a touchy subject right now right? So here’s the back ground of how this article came about. 2 weeks ago I pretaped my monthly radio show that airs the third Thursday of every month. The radio show is a great way to get the word out about Stafford County Economic Development projects and raise awareness about issues the county is dealing with. I pretaped it as I was going to be at the Kansas Housing Conference. Mike created an article based on my pretapped radio program. I did not know he was going to write it. He has written articles based on the radio show before so it doesn’t suprise me. You can hear the full taping here:

We have been developing a program with Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (KCAIC) that draws people together. It’s a placemaking program that has grant funds attached to it. In the development of the ideas we came up with a plan to tap into the potential tourism market that Quivira attracts. The numbers of tourists that come into the county because of Quivira is really unknown but there are seasonal tourists that come to hunt, fish, bird watch, or to see the monarch butterfly migration. The City of Stafford is considered the Gateway to Quivira and we wanted to play on this monicor to develop a place in the downtown area of Stafford. The place includes a band shell, mural, benches, and additional beautification of the downtown area. Some of these things incorporated animals like cranes and butterflys. The place will be used for Octoberfest and any other events that Stafford comes up with to draw people into the community to shop at local businesses.

The past week I’ve been a part of a group that has been discussing the very important water issue that threatens the local economy. The Rattlesnake Creek water rights issue could be catastrophic to our communities. That’s why Carolyn Dunn has been putting together a letter of 35 signatories from 4 different counties to submit to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to stop what they want to do in diverting water. I myself am a signatory and also helped in securing a number of the signatures in several of the counties. Our office is against what’s happening and working to make sure that what they are planning doesn’t come to fruition.

The KCAIC placemaking project is not connected in any way to Quivira. It does not help Quivira in anyway. It helps Stafford to develop a space they can use for events, something they had already in the works. Something that will help their businesses make money. I do stand by the article from Mike and the Great Bend Post because it’s not connected in anyway to the water issue. It’s an economic development project for Stafford. The timing of the article is aweful and the name of the project will be changed soon before the project gets off the ground. The project will be really good for Stafford and we are excited to see the event space when it’s done.

Here’s the Great Bend Post Article:

Working for you and not against you,

Ryan Russell

Executive Director

Stafford County Economic Development

Grant Writing Certification 

If your organization wants to build capacity in grant writing, then check out these great opportunities where you can send someone to get trained.  Stafford County Economic Development will have some limited funds available to give scholarships to individuals that wish to attend. 

Fort Hays State University Grant Certification Program  

• 8 Weeks  

• All Online  

• September 6th Start Date  

• Program cost $175 USD  

This is an introduction to the grant proposal writing, although several highly experienced proposal writers have found great value in our course as a review and refresher course. The areas of focus will be the key parts of the most sophisticated type of proposals: title page, abstract, statement of need, goal, objectives, procedures, budget, qualifications, evaluation, sustainability, dissemination, sources cited, and appendix.

Nancy Daniels Grant Writing Workshop  

• 1 day  

• In person (Dodge City)  

• September 26th or 27th 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.  

• Program cost $40 USD includes lunch  

K-State Research and Extension Office Community Vitality Specialist, Nancy Daniels, will share her knowledge on how to write a grant and where to find grants.

“A Refuge to Explore” is a program developed for Stafford County with the goal to cultivate a county level pride/identity. It’s part of the Engaging Placemaking for Innovative Communities (EPIC), which is a placemaking pilot program lead by the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (KCAIC). The goal is to find, preserve, and provide programming that taps into a community’s history and enhances the cultural environment for locals and tourists.  

“A Refuge to Explore” focuses on Stafford County being the gateway to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Quivira is a wetland of international significance with proximity to the Central Flyway migration route and the salt marshes on the refuge combine to endow the refuge with a large variety of birds. Many of these birds are uncommon in other parts of Kansas or even the central part of the continent. Quivira also boasts as a migration stop for Monarch butterflies who stop in Quivira to rest and eat.   Quivira has untapped tourism potential as a destination for bird watching, hunting and fishing, and education for young families. It’s a place that can be leveraged to develop the economy of the county. 

The Stafford County EPIC cohort’s plan is to develop 3D statues of whooping cranes at the entrance of each city just off the highway that highlights Quivira. The whooping cranes outside of Stafford will invite guests to enter their gateway to Quivira. Stafford intends to develop an event space that incorporates a spot where monarchs can stop and eat, a park where people can enjoy learning about the different animals from Quivira while listening to music or enjoying a picnic with friends. A band shell will be placed in the park for the many events that Stafford does downtown including their Octoberfest that is continuing to grow. Another event is going to be created to kick off the spring season to invite the migration of both the birds, monarchs, and tourists. A Crane mural will be painted on the side of the old lumber yard to enhance the beginning of the downtown area.  Steel banners will be added to the light poles showcasing the majesty of the crane with its wings outstretched. All of this enhances the gateway to Quivira and invites people to “Explore the Refuge”.  

We will also be offering smaller cranes and monarch butterflies that families can put in their yard or on their houses as a fund raiser to fund further tourism activities. 

People living in Stafford County know that this county has an abundance of raw materials. 

We are agriculturally focused. 

 We have everything from orchards, a tree farm, a flour mill, watermelons, honey, vegetables and several farms producing high-quality meat and dairy products to name a few. However, there are still just a few farm to table products developed within Stafford County.  

The reason for this has to do with available facilities and also the cost of setting up manufacturing.  There are opportunities to get support from places like Land of Kansas that help support local small food producers ( with advice on setup, labeling, and even have a marketplace to sell products they support. 

Hudson Cream Flour ships flour to biscuit makers and bakeries.  We have the ability to not only create products within our own communities but because Hudson Cream Flour ships anywhere in the U.S. and with the market access the internet give us today through platforms like, it would be great to see Stafford County products in stores across the U.S. and around the world. 

 What about salsa?  What about cheese?  What about jelly for your PB and J?  What if you created those things? 

That’s why Stafford County Economic Development is working on a pilot project to support Farm to Table Food Processors.  We will be launching this pilot project soon to 1) locate all the people and businesses developing value-added food products, 2) provide mentoring through the business plan/product development process, 3) connect these entrepreneurs or businesses to food processing resource experts (production, packaging and marketing), and 4) help them make connections with sales channels in and outside of the county. 

If you have a desire to create a food product for commercial purposes, please reach out to us.  We want to hear from you.  Whether you want to create a product or support the pilot project as a partner business, please reach out to Ryan Russell at [email protected] or 620-314-5561.   

Raindrop Repair started with Stephen Batten’s passion for problem solving and the fact he was talented with electronics. 

“It was a good fit,” says his wife, Tammy Batten, the office manager at Raindrop. 

Located on US-281 highway, south of St. John, the business is family owned. Their son, Shawn, represents the next generation of the Reinke irrigation dealership. 

“My husband started working just out of high school over here (Stafford County) for a farmer,” Tammy Batten said. “He ran his pivot irrigation systems.” 

Stephen Batten continued working in the area through college and the first years the couple were married. 

She grew up in the panhandle of Oklahoma. 

“My husband grew up in Lyons, so not that far away from here,” Tammy Batten said.  

They both loved the rural lifestyle that Stafford County offers. 

“We don’t care for the city,” she said. 

Raindrop employs six people. 

The company draws customers from not only Stafford County but many surrounding counties, as well. 

“Our customers are the cream of the crop,” Tammy Batten said. “I don’t know if you are going to stereotype a group of people or not, but I would say farmers are your best group of people to work for.”