Monday, December 22, 2008

January Meeting...

Visioning Partners,

Remelle so graciously reminded me that the first Thursday in January is Jan. 1st. So she recommended we move the meeting to January the 8th. I plan on watching College Football all day on the 1st, so please change your schedules for january the 8th. Please try to make it, as we are going to have to work and plan for the celebration dinner.

The January Visioning Meeting will be January 8th, at 3:30 PM at Pepper's in Knox City.

Thanks
Travis C. Floyd
Knox County Judge

Monday, December 8, 2008

North Texas ED Summit


Join us Tuesday, December 16, 2008,
For The North Texas Regional Economic Development Summit!

Dillard College of Business - Midwestern State University Wichita Falls
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Lunchtime presentation...

by Commissioner Todd Staples
Texas Department of Agriculture

Summit workshop topics include:

  • Growing Your Own – A Recipe for Rural Success – Remelle Farrar, Knox County Visioning Team
  • Regionalism – Nicki Harle, Texas Midwest Community Network
  • Retire in Texas - Sherri Gothart-Barron, Texas Department of Agriculture
  • When Hollywood Comes to Town - Carol Pirie, Texas Film Commission
  • Made in Texas – Darrell Dean, Texas Department of Agriculture
  • Manufacturing Retention – Ernesto Villalobos, Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center
  • How Entrepreneur Ready Communities Grow Local Businesses - Dr. Greg Clary
    Agrilife Extension Service

$25.00 per person includes lunch and program materials
Checks should be made payable and sent to:

MSU SBDC
Dillard #159
3410 Taft Road
Wichita Falls, TX 76308

Registration deadline = Friday, Dec. 12th. Registration will be accepted at the door. For meal and handout purposes, please try to pre register.
Directions: http://www.msusbdc.org/location_map.htm
MSU will be out for Christmas break - parking will be a breeze.

For Questions please contact:
Amy Lorance
Rural Economic Development
Texas Department of Agriculture
940-473-1723 cell
amy.lorance@tda.state.tx.us
http://www.tda.state.tx.us/

The Summits' Registration Form

Registration

North Texas Regional Economic Development Summit!

$25.00 per person includes lunch and program materials
Checks should be made payable and sent to:

MSU SBDC
%Linda McIntier
Dillard #159
3410 Taft Road
Wichita Falls, TX 76308



Name:____________________________________________________

Organization:_______________________________________________

Address:__________________________________________________

City, State, Zip:________________________County:_______________

Phone Number:__________________Cell Number:_________________

Email:____________________________________________________

Registration deadline = Friday, Dec. 12th. Payments will be accepted at the door. For meal and handout purposes, please try to pre register.
Directions: http://www.msusbdc.org/location_map.htm
MSU will be out for Christmas break - parking will be a breeze.

For questions please contact:
Amy Lorance
Rural Economic Development
Texas Department of Agriculture
940-473-1723 cell
amy.lorance@tda.state.tx.us
http://www.tda.state.tx.us/

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Wooden Nickel


What is the world is the Wooden Nickel??? Everyone has offered their best guess…many went and saw for themselves. They were invited by Steve and Kay Pepper to the Wooden Nickel’s open house for snacks and refreshments on Tuesday. Downtown Knox City just got more interesting!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Visioning Meeting

This is a reminder of the monthly Visioning meeting scheduled for this Thursday evening, Dec. 4th, at 5:30 PM at the Benjamin courthouse Assembly Room. If you have any agenda itmes that you want on there, please let me know.

Thanks,

Travis C. Floyd
Knox County Judge

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Award Honor


Business/Community Recognition

ABILENE, TEXAS— On Wednesday, October 15, 2008, at 11:30, 400 Oak Street, the Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas Board, at their regularly scheduled meeting, introduced local employers and community organizations nominated for State recognition for outstanding service. Mary Ross, Executive Director of Workforce Solutions Board explains, “Each year, the Board has an opportunity to nominate employers, projects and partnerships for awards at the Texas Workforce Commission annual conference. Each of the 28 Board areas selects a local employer of excellence, who is recognized at the state conference. Additionally, local boards may nominate an outstanding employer of the year and employers who have demonstrated excellence in working with current workers, transitional workers or youth. Typically, only one employer is selected in each of these categories and recognized at the State conference. Local Boards may also nominate projects or partnerships in the areas of Service to Business, Services to Workers, Service to Community or Industry Sector Outreach.

This years nominees include Hendrick Medical Center, nominated for Local Employer of Excellence and Employer of the Year; Lauren Engineering and Constructors nominated for Current Workforce Employer of Excellence; Service to Business Award nomination goes to the Career Pathways project. This project was designed to provide high school students with local career information/opportunities and the necessary work skills required by local employers. Development Corporation of Abilene and Cisco Junior College, nominated for Service to Workers Award for the “Fast Track Welding” initiative. The Knox County Visioning Team has been nominated for Service to Community Award. Industry Sector Outreach for the development of the Healthcare Industry Cluster, which meets quarterly to address such issues as the critical shortage of regional healthcare workers.

Mr. Steve Anderson, with the West Texas Coalition for Innovation and Commercialization was the guest speaker. He provided information and success of the Emerging Technology Fund and the projects underway in our region.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Scoop

Wow! What an exciting time to live and work in Knox County and especially to be involved in the Knox County Visioning Team!

You would have been inspired too, by the excitement and energy of the group at our November Visioning Committee meeting. Every community in Knox County has had exciting developments in the last few weeks, each worthy of their own heading and story! I’ll try to get a separate “write-up” on each of these exciting goings on for you soon. But rather than wait, let me give you a run-down of the reports, made by those who were able to skirt all the scheduling conflicts and be at our VC meeting, of our many activities and on-going programs. October was one jam-packed month!

Maybe there's just something about the coziness of meeting at the Knox City Community Center, an inspired re-use of an old family home, or maybe it was the Fall themed refreshment table and smaller than usual group gathered around the table, or the comfortable relationships that develop between people who have worked closely together over an extended period of time. Whatever, the inspiration, our evening meeting felt very much like the visiting that goes on around the table at a multi-generational family meal, with a few out of town relatives over to share their stories too!


We have two big projects to finish this next week, so you won’t find me hanging out around the Courthouse much. I will, of course, be available by cell phone, 806-255-0909 or my e-mail remellefarrar@sbcglobal.net., but I admit I’m going to have to hide out a little ‘till these are done, so be patient and I promise to get back to you ASAP.

I mentioned already the paperwork, which includes hammering out all the details, for our TDA intern program, that has to go to Austin by the first of December.

And, our very supportive EDC Boards from Knox City and Munday approved funding of a two page layout in Images magazine. This marketing piece will also include website materials and pull out advertising, with circulation of the magazine throughout Texas and copies available for us to distribute at will. This is an important step for us in spreading the word about Knox County’s assets and opportunities, both for visiting and living and working, but it came with a very short deadline. Fortunately, with Dwayne’s inspiration, Wyman’s talent, Kacy’s skill, Barbara’s good humor and organization and my commitment, we will get it done and done well! Can hardly wait to share it with you!

Check out the rest of my calendar on the side bar. And enjoy the scoop in smaller portions...

The Scoop on Charlie


Getting around to “Remelle’s Scoop”, a review of the “official” appearances and programs presented about the Visioning Team and Knox County in October and early November revealed how each one had led to more opportunities, assets, tools and support for our work.

I wasn’t the only one out on the road for KCVC this month. Charles Lankford shared with us his experience speaking to the study club at Haskell. This group is looking for a blueprint for a community and economic development program for their community, had heard about Knox County’s Visioning Committee from Charles, who serves on our Board of Directors, and his wife Jan, and asked him to come over and talk with them.

Armed with our slick new handout on Knox County Visioning Team…neighbors working together, our highlights review for 2008, and our Adventure Country tour map, Charles slicked up and went visiting. He and the KCVG were a great hit! Charles has declared any of our committee members could do the same and challenged you all to take this show on the road! Call me if I can provide you with any support and materials, then let’s get more faces out there representing Knox County and the work you can be proud of.

The Scoop on the award and ORCA

Judge Floyd and Brenda along with Tammie Trainham of Goree represented KCVG this month. They attended the Texas Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas Board of Directors Meeting, where Knox County was recognized as recipient of the Texas Workforce Commission Service to Community Award, which will be officially announced at the Commission’s annual meeting next month. You can read the newspaper article sent by the Workforce Folks separately on the blog to learn more about this honor.

Brenda and Travis also represented us, the really rural Texans, at the Office of Rural and Community Affairs’ rural policy workshop. This event was a first, an opportunity for rural leaders to work together to develop recommendations to ORCA and the legislature on what they feel we need to support the work we are doing in our own communities and the kinds of statewide programs and funding that would most help us. Travis has some pretty definite opinions on those, and is an articulate speaker on his concerns and hopes for rural Texas. Brenda offers the passion and caring of someone who cherishes the heritage of her family and their place and the preservation of this lifestyle. Between them they are the perfect team to represent our KCVG. I hope these workshops will be expanded to a regional level so more “real” rural citizens will be able to attend and offer their ideas.

The Scoop on TMCN and Job Corps


Dwayne and I attended the Texas Midwest Community Networks Annual Conference, the launch of the year long Big Dream program for our regional economic development and marketing partnership. Each year high school students are invited to attend with their community representative and learn more about what their town’s leaders are doing. A separate breakout session for them is held during the morning workshops.

This year I was invited to present that workshop, inviting the key note speaker, Mitch Matthews, catalyst, co-founder and Head Coach of Big Dream Gathering and Jimi Coplen, Aspermont EDC Director, to join the teens in a trial run of the Big Dream Gathering that will be hosted by TMCN in March. The students defined and refined their own “big dreams” adapting the model of our treasure hunt, get a clue and decide where and how you want to live your life approach of our Youth Engagement program in Knox County and our Real Ranch Country Communities to define and support your own and others dreams project. As usual, the teenagers proved they really are smarter, or at least quicker, than the rest of us, catching on and putting “legs” on the idea immediately.

In fact, that’s my new mantra for every thing we want to accomplish. I’ve settled on the phrase “Got legs?” to best define in one sentence what it is a Visioning Committee does, turning dreams into achievable goals by giving them the “legs” needed to stand and go somewhere!

Also working with my favorite people, kids, I presented our Youth Engagement, Entrepreneurship support and ‘brand new this year’, work experience, on-the job for high school students, technical education for work force age folks and “Come Back-Give Back” scholarship programs at the Region 14 Challenges in Education Day, sponsored by our friends at the Work Force. My co-presenter was the Job Corps Director for Texas. I did not realize, before meeting with her, what an opportunity Job Corps might offer, partnering with us, for our Knox County students, to finish high school, attend college, with full financial assistance, or participate in job training for a number of in-demand-in our-region careers.

Sharing this information with the Visioning Committee led to discussion among several members who have worked with Job Corps before, all of whom were positive, and whose experience will be vital to partnering with our schools to making this tool available to our local students. I think this may have filled in the missing piece we haven’t been able to identify for those young people Judge Floyd and others of you expressed concern about being able to look in the eye and say “We are offering a real future for you in Knox County.” the very first time I met with you…..one year ago!

The Scoop on spreading the vision...

Other opportunities to visit with our neighbors about Knox County included speaking in Seymour at their Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. I probably got more inspiration, than I offered there. The Fire Chief was recognizing the retired Volunteer Firemen, when he was interrupted from the audience with “You forgot to name…..” No, the Fire Chief said I didn’t forget… went on to recognize the active Volunteer Firemen. Again, the voice, “You forgot…. No, I didn’t” Then he recognized the Volunteer with most years of Active, underline Active, service…52 years as a Volunteer Fireman. Now, how tired are you? Left me without any excuse I could think of not to get dressed, get in the car again, spend another evening…

I’ve also had the privilege the last two weeks to share with County Judges, School Superintendents, AgriLife Extension Agents and community volunteers from King, Dickens and Kent Counties, the story of what the Knox County Visioning Team is doing and of our partnership with Ogallala Commons and our Foard County and Baylor County neighbors in the Real Ranch Country Communities partnership. It is so important for us to remember that we either thrive together or die together here in our area. It looks like our neighbors in King, Dickens, Kent, Cottle, and Stonewall County are going to be joining our Real Ranch Country Partnership, giving us added strength and inspiration from their successes also.

The Scoop on McAdoo wind project...


A huge boost for our neighbors to the West came about in McAdoo this month. Barbara Bogart, who works with all of the communities in the Caprock Telephone Company service area, reported to the Visioning Committee on the ribbon cutting for the Invenergy Wind Energy project, investing $155 million in the area in wind turbines, lines and production. Congratulations!

We’ll be watching and waiting for our own projects in alternative energy as the PUC builds those promised and now funded utility lines for gathering wind energy from our region onto the grid. As we shared with you before, the new lines recently approved include portions built across Knox and Foard Counties tying the plant at Oklaunion to a proposed 2nd plant there and to the major metro areas of Texas where the demand is.

Barbara who is the most informed person I’ve found in Texas on the state of development of alternative sources and actually seeing those in place and profitable for our rural communities, tells me we need to be just a little patient, as those of us on the next tier will be in the best position to recoup the investments and see real revenue, especially from wind energy as the technology improves every year.

The Scoop on Tx Parks & Wildlife

Also on hand for our meeting was Bob Rogers, with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Bob had joined Amy and Remelle for the afternoon to tour and begin planning with the Benjamin Chamber of Commerce on an improvement and use plan for Benjamin’s City Lake that would make it more of an asset for the community and for tourism in Knox County.

An enthusiastic supporter of Knox County and the Visioning Team, this was Bob’s first time back after helping us with the Real Rural Tourism Symposium. He shared his experiences with having people who are becoming familiar with Knox County approach him at programs he presents in other locations to learn more about what’s going on here!

Apparently, we’ve also become known for our colloquial use of the term “fixin’ to” as several folks have commented to Bob on how engaging they thought our talk of all the things we’re fixin’ to do was. Ah well, so long as they remember us, come back and spend some more money while they are here!

The Scoop on TDA

Joining the “locals” for our meeting was Amy Lorance, our Texas Department of Agriculture Rural Economic Development Specialist with two important opportunities to discuss. First, TDA will be hosting the North Texas Economic Development Summit in Wichita Falls December 16th. Remelle Farrar will lead off as the days’ speaker, setting the theme and focusing on our KCVG work of putting legs on dreams, envisioning success and “growing” it yourself for your community’s future. The agenda and registration information are here on our blog. There’s a challenge here for us. Amy’s gone out on a limb; folks in Austin are convinced we can’t get a crowd together in our “remote” rural part of Texas to make bringing such a program as this to us worthwhile. With Commissioner Staples actually making the trip and speaking at the program, this is our chance to prove just how pro-active we are, willing to meet more than half-way any assistance available to us in our fight to insure the future of our hometowns. We want to have a great showing from Knox County, and that means you need to go with us. So, put the date on your calendar, now flip on over to that registration and sign up. Check back with us later for car pool information.

Remember I said two important opportunities? Well, here’s the biggie! TDA is launching a new program to place interns to assist local community development efforts in pilot communities, one per region. I believe in our case, Amy’s region is 35 counties. That one “community” is Knox County. What an affirmation of all your hard work! I’ll submit the paperwork before December 1st and we’ll have fresh, smart, energetic and plugged in help this summer. Be thinking about, and let me know, your ideas for how to best use our interns time and talents and let’s have a plan in place to maximize this opportunity.

The Scoop on Goree Homecoming

Speaking of young guns, at our last meeting we “quality tested” the sack lunches the Going for Greatness in Goree Committee was planning to sell for a fundraiser the next day at Goree’s homecoming. What a story that group has to tell about their success this month. Hosting multiple activities and playing Tammie’s new, tear jerker of a nostalgic look back at downtown Goree on the big screen at every one, the Going for Greatness Group reported back not just great sales, but happily hefty donations and support of their labor to clean up and re-purpose, re-invigorate their hometown.

I visited them last week to view the collection of historic homey furnishings and d├ęcor that families have donated in the last two weeks to furnish the City Hall Lodge. You’d best make your reservations soon as “A Place to Stay”, “Miller Creek Ranch” and other local entrepreneurs, who were looked at very skeptically just a few months ago, are now in constant demand. They’ve even had to pull out the old RV and make up beds a couple of times already to handle the visitors. Besides, how many people do you know who will be able to say they’re sleeping at City Hall. Next Goree goal? How about listing with the Texas Film Commission as 1920’s boomtown movie set?

The Scoop on the Pumkin Shoot Out

Several of our VC members attended "The Great Pumpkin Shoot-Out", on Saturday October 25th, This event was doubly exciting for us. Everyone enjoyed the drama, and the adrenaline filled races, of the, get this, over 400 young contestants, on go-karts and lawnmowers. Even more exciting, for us, was this successful launch of projects by the “Young Guns”. One of the first "ah" moments of the VC after our Real Rural Tourism Symposium woke up the enthusiasm of some dynamite folks, was Steve Pepper's idea that we could jump start our goals.

Specifically, our goal of involving younger Knox County leaders by hosting them for a good dinner and sharing our vision and energy, offering them our support for any improvements they'd like to make to life in Knox County. After just one "revivial" session with Preacher Pepper, Marla and Don Hawkins, Judge and Brenda Floyd and Remelle, this engaging and exciting group of life-long 20 and 30 something friends from Knox City announce that 'they could do anything, if they could do it together'. Wouldn’t you like to spread that message all around?

After a lively discussion of assets they felt would improve the quality of life for their families and friends here in Knox County, the Young Guns settled on a desire to have a softball park, especially for their young daughters who have never been able to play at home, always traveling outside the county for games. They approached the City of Knox City for a location, donated land owned by the City, and the County for some dirt work, got both and went to work.

Looking for a way to raise the needed funding, they came to the go-kart circuit several of their own children were participating in, worked with the City of Seymour, over in Baylor County and cooperated with them to host this and future races. Watch for the softball field to be in play this spring and this group of “get ‘er done” leaders to achieve more great things. My and your role here is to get out and support these fun activities. They could use a few concession stand workers, shovel pushers and paint brush snappers, too!

The Scoop on the Beach House

That same week we also celebrated the opening of the new Beach House location in Munday. Barbara Rector filled in the group on what our visionary Knox County Entreprenuer, Glenna Decker, is doing for us. With this second location up and going, the first is successfully operating now in Seymour, Glenna has already met with the Knox County EDC and started to work on a location in Knox City. We are so blessed.

While rural communities everywhere are struggling with how to provide the medical and residential resources needed by our seniors, Knox County has excellent hospital facilities, Dr.s, pharmacy and nursing homes. But, we have had a big gap that caused many of our older citizens to choose between leaving Knox County for larger towns that offered retirement or assisted living facilities, to go to the nursing home sooner than they needed to, to move in with their children, hire full time help or (rather than give up much of their quality of life and independence in order to be safe and healthy) make the risky choice of continuing to live alone past the point it was logically feasible to do so.

With Glenna's visionary provision of the opportunity, for those who need a little help, to still live in family home settings, in real houses, not institutions, with homey kitchen's and living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, and "family" to interact with every day, more of our Knox County elders can enjoy the lifestyle they treasure for longer. Turning this into a workable business model that also offers new jobs and building renovation in our little towns is just gravy!

Thank you and kudo's Glenna and the Munday and Knox City EDC’s ! By the way, I’m passing on an invitation to all of you from Glenna and the Beach House family..."If you are alone for Thanksgiving join us at the Beach House. Bring your favorite dish, or just yourself and join our family! Any other day you have time to visit, play a hand of domino's, look through a cook book, talk about your favorite recipe or read the newspaper, you'd be welcome and appreciated in our living room then, too!" Do yourself a favor and go by for a tour of the facilities and a visit with the staff and residents. Glenna emphasizes “Your welcome any time!”

The Scoop on the book premier...


Just a few days after our last meeting, the Visioning Committee hosted a book signing and celebration of Wyman Menzer's new book "Inspiration Texas Style", the first publication of Sylinda and Wyman's new publishing company, Badland's Design and Publishing, and Sylinda's first full editor, publisher credit. Our folks are still really pumped about this business right here in Benjamin. Wyman has always credited his hometown and the surrounding rugged beauty for his inspiration and has determinedly held onto his roots, living and working here at home throughout his career. Being able now to also produce and retail his works from downtown Benjamin is undeniable proof that you can live, work and make your dreams come true at home. Great inspiration for all of us!

Dwayne Bearden who has taken particular pride and pleasure in the VC's hosting this event, and one of those who showed up early to help, reported on the party, good attendance, beautiful setting in Jerry Bob and Eugenie's "new" lodge in downtown Truscott, and an insprining presentation by Wyman on the individual pictures and quotes from the book. Did I mention inspiring?

Well, Dwayne's inspiration from the Knox County portraits, over half the book features location shots made within a few miles of Benjamin, is that this is the theme for our ad/story/layout in "Images" magazine. His idea sparked so much "inspiration" in the rest of the group that we had a hard time getting back to the business at hand. But, more on that later!

Dwayne's report of the party ended with a great big thank you to Marla Hawkins for the "inspired" idea to host the book signing, and for the way over the bar amount of work she put into building a contact and invitation list we can make great use of in the future. Thanks also go to Barbara Rector, Dwayne, Adrin Fletcher and Don Hawkins for all the work and to Jerry Bob and Eugenie, who shared both their place and their anniversary with us! Judge Travis Floyd took the pics, so you can enjoy a peek at the Circle Bar Lodge and all the fun!




The Scoop from the November Meeting

Wow! What an exciting time to live and work in Knox County and especially to be involved in the Knox County Visioning Team!

You would have been inspired too, by the excitement and energy of the group at our November Visioning Committee meeting. Every community in Knox County has had exciting developments in the last few weeks, each worthy of their own heading and story! I’ll try to get a separate “write-up” on each of these exciting goings on for you soon. But rather than wait, let me give you a run-down of the reports, made by those who were able to skirt all the scheduling conflicts and be at our VC meeting, of our many activities and on-going programs. October was one jam-packed month! (reports will appear in different posts)

Maybe there's just something about the coziness of meeting at the Knox City Community Center, an inspired re-use of an old family home, or maybe it was the Fall themed refreshment table and smaller than usual group gathered around the table, or the comfortable relationships that develop between people who have worked closely together over an extended period of time. Whatever, the inspiration, our evening meeting felt very much like the visiting that goes on around the table at a multi-generational family meal, with a few out of town relatives over to share their stories, too.

We have two big projects to finish this next week, so you won’t find me hanging out around the Courthouse much. I will, of course, be available by cell phone, 806-255-0909 or my e-mail remellefarrar@sbcglobal.net., but I admit I’m going to have to hide out a little ‘till these are done, so be patient and I promise to get back to you ASAP.

I mentioned already the paperwork, which includes hammering out all the details, for our TDA intern program, that has to go to Austin by the first of December.

And, our very supportive EDC Boards from Knox City and Munday approved funding of a two page layout in Images magazine. This marketing piece will also include website materials and pull out advertising, with circulation of the magazine throughout Texas and copies available for us to distribute at will. This is an important step for us in spreading the word about Knox County’s assets and opportunities, both for visiting and living and working, but it came with a very short deadline. Fortunately, with Dwayne’s inspiration, Wyman’s talent, Kacy’s skill, Barbara’s good humor and organization and my commitment, we will get it done and done well! Can hardly wait to share it with you!

Check out the rest of my calendar on the side bar.

Free Clinic


Rolling Plains Rural Health
Partnership is sponsoring a


Sleep Apnea Clinic


When: Thursday, November 20, 2008
What Time: 6:00 pm
Where: Haskell Hospital Education Building


Cost: Free


The Sleep Apnea Clinic will present valuable information on a
variety of sleep disorders that may potentially be affecting your
sleep and overall health. Mike Ring with Sleep Release Experts
will be the guest speaker. Local health related organizations will
have information tables set up and representatives available to
answer questions.


Door prizes and refreshments will be provided.
Contact Judge Travis Floyd, 940-459-2191, with questions.

Monday, November 17, 2008

North Texas ED Summit

Please share with your community leaders, volunteers, City and County representatives! Spread the word and let's have a crowd in Wichita Falls!

SAVE THE DATE!


Join us Tuesday, December 16, 2008,
For The North Texas Regional Economic Development Summit!

Dillard College of Business - Midwestern State University Wichita Falls
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Lunchtime presentation by Commissioner Todd Staples
Texas Department of Agriculture

Summit workshop topics include:

  • Growing Your Own - A Recipe for Rural Success – Remelle Farrar, Knox County Visioning Team
  • Regionalism – Nicki Harle, Texas Midwest Community Network
  • Retire in Texas - Sherri Gothart-Barron, Texas Department of Agriculture
  • When Hollywood Comes to Town - Carol Pirie, Texas Film Commission
  • Made in Texas – Darrell Dean, Texas Department of Agriculture
  • Association of Rural Communities in Texas (ARCIT) – Donna Chatham, ARCIT
  • How Entrepreneur Ready Communities Grow Local Businesses - Dr. Greg Clary, Agrilife Extension Service
  • Manufacturing Retention – Ernesto Villalobos, Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center


$25.00 per person includes lunch and program materials
Registration details coming Tuesday, November 18th!

Amy Lorance
Rural Economic Development
Texas Department of Agriculture

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Next Meeting...

Visioning Partners,

I hope you are having a wonderful Fall Season. I have been out of town, so I apologize for being late in getting this notice out to you. Our monthly Visioning Group meeting will be in Goree at the Community Center at 5:30 PM this Thursday. Please plan to attend. Good things are happening all around us.

Thanks

Travis C. Floyd
Knox County Judge

Monday, September 29, 2008

Service to Community Award

Greetings,

The Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas Board has nominated the Knox County Visioning Team for a Texas Workforce Commission Service to Community Award. The award will not be announced until the State conference in early December; however, the Board would like to recognize the Knox County Visioning Team at our next meeting on Wednesday, October15. We will be presenting KCVT with an award and would like to invite team representatives to join us for lunch at 11:30 a.m., followed by the Board meeting at noon. I realize this is the same day as the TMCN meeting, which is in San Angelo, so I know that may be challenging.

Please let me know if you or other representatives will be able to attend to accept the award and if so, how many folks will be joining us for lunch. We appreciate the great work that you're doing in Knox County and look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me, if you have any questions.

Thanks,
Mary Ross,
Executive DirectorWorkforce Solutions of West Central Texas Board

Book Premier Party

Hey gang,

Everyone is invited to a book premier party, October 20th, 5:30 - 8:30 pm at the Circle Bar Ranch Lodge, downtown Truscott.

The Truscott ladies will prepare desserts for 200 servings. I suggested cakes and cobblers, their specialties etc. We talked about the hors devoures and pretty much both agreed it would be too much, but Eujanie wants to think about it some more. I'll talk to her again closer to the date, and order whatever they don't do.

We didn't talk the other day about plates, cups, napkins, serving pieces, centerpiece etc. or at least I don't remember it if we did. Any thoughts?

Marla, I am so glad you suggested this location! It was inspired! Even with having been there this summer, I was awed at how beautiful the place is now. The bedrooms and great room are partially furnished, there's still some touch-up work to be done and lots of clean up but both Eujanie and the contractor (who was there this morning when I got the grand tour) assure me it is not a problem and will be ready.

And, knowing Eujanie, ready is an understatement...it will be perfect! She seemed genuinely happy that we asked, just worried about whether anyone will want to drive to Truscott. I assured her for a sneak peak at the Lodge before it goes public, and a chance to hear Wyman, congratulate Sylinda and get their book(s) signed before the holidays.....they'd probably walk! Of course, we might need to be a little cautious, and issue a warning, as there is no telling what the Visionaries like Pepper will be inspired to do when they see this!

So let's, "Come on over and see what they've done now! Join in for the first party at the Circle Bar Ranch Lodge, our just completed renovation of Truscott's historic rock church."



  • Isn't it exciting? All these firsts: Sylinda's first book publication with Badlands Design & Production, located right here in Benjamin, Texas.


  • Wyman's first self-published book, in partnership with Sylinda, and his first inspirational volume.


  • Jerry Bob and Eujanie, renovating another much loved landmark and opening the first official lodging in Truscott.


  • And, all these are new businesses in Knox County, with all of them reflecting our history, heritage, natural resources and talented folks! I'm glad the new book is inspirational....because this whole thing is INSPIRING!

I think there's another inspirational story here, too, in Marla, from Knox City, having the idea of a book signing party, but suggesting it be held in Truscott. And, her belief that our High School students need to attend and that their teachers will encourage, in fact bribe, them to do so, because they need to know the official State Photographer of Texas grew up and lives right here in Knox County ...proving you can aspire to be anything, even, oh my, an artist right here at home. Oh yeah, let's don't forget, she didn't just have a great idea, she's taking on the lions' share of the work to get it done. Now Marla, that's neighborly!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Ripple Effect~

Remember how your Mom always told you that everything you did influenced your little brother? Or the encouraging words about whenever you planted a seed, ….. Or dropping a small pebble in a pond leading to wider and wider circles of ripples in the water?

Well, it was true. Every time we work together on a project to benefit Knox County, good things happen. Sometimes, totally beyond what we were aiming or even would have hoped for.

Let’s look at some after affects of the Real Rural Tourism Symposium:

Our buddy, local mover and shaker over in Knox City, Steve Pepper finally took Marla Hawkins, Chamber President, seriously when she assured him going to Foard County first really was an ok plan and that he really didn’t have anything more important to do that Friday than drive a tour “bus” for us. Here are the ripples in chronological order, as best I can tell:
  1. Steve ended up being the guide for April, a Texas Historical Commission representative, who was so taken with our friendliness, enthusiasm, respect for our heritage and awesome activities that she went back to Austin and suggested that we could be teaching them the course they were putting together for Texas cities on Civic Tourism…and she has been bragging about Knox County statewide ever since. Our friends in Abilene this week told me we were the example ad nauseum at last weeks conference/workshop for the board members of the states 10 Heritage Trails. Hmm… good advertising?

  2. Steve got so excited, about the entertainment he found better than Branson, that he “converted” to the Visioning Committee’s way of thinking and went right to work to catch up. First, he renovated, remodeled, refined and re-defined an abandoned building on Main Street, downtown Knox City…now he’s making it available for all kinds of community and county-wide events. Go look at this fab place… rock front, red awning, rustic interior with real wood slab walls, generous public restrooms, glorious kitchen, comfy outdoor seating and all.

  3. Then Steve and Marla, looked around and said…We gotta get more of our young adults involved in Knox County’s future and the Young Gun program was born. Two gatherings already, every one of the identified “mover and shaker” young families that were invited came, one group met in Munday at Judge and Brenda Floyd’s home and the next enjoyed a steak dinner at the Chamber building in Knox City. The message…y’all are not the future…y’all are the NOW of Knox County. So, what do you want to do and how do you want us to help you?

  4. Their answer? Well actually they had lots of ‘em…but they got on the ball, too and October 25th these YOUNG GUNS are hosting the Great Pumpkin Shoot Out featuring one of the entertainment ideas they proposed over dinner…professional lawn mover and go-kart racing. That’s right! With the support of the City and Chamber they’ll offer all of us the excitement of gas fumes, crashes and blowouts on our own Knox County track, plus a Halloween Spook House, Concessions and a surprise…pumpkin shoot-out. Don’t miss it!

  5. Not to be getting behind the youngsters, Steve and Kay looked around again and said “Hey, those tourist people were right.” They said, “Gotta have a place to put folks up overnight.” Now, Kay’s driving Steve, his words not mine, to have their new B&B, the old 2 story next door, ready by Christmas!

  6. And, while Steve was looking for a way to get his rock on that Main Street building, a couple of strangers came in to shop @ Peppers. Of course, Kay struck up a friendly conversation, found out the gentleman was a stone mason…got that done…then that they might be interested in a new place to call home. So, spent the day this past weekend touring them around via…you guessed it, the Adventure Trail, developed for our Real Rural Tourism Symposium!
And speaking of our Adventure Trail, coming soon, very soon, you will be able to check out our cool new ad for TMCN, which will also morph into our Knox County is Adventure Country brochure and trail map…and serve as the logo for a partnership with the Knox County Historical Commission and their Adventure! Advertising!

These ripples just keep going around and around!

'The' Survey

Here it is… the famous survey you’ve heard your neighbors talking about, you saw Brittany out on the streets and in stores interviewing folks, asking them these questions. Now it’s your turn, just in case you didn’t get a chance yet to participate…. we really do want to know what you think. Print it out and mail to us at P O Box 77, Benjamin, Texas 79505, or copy and paste as an e-mail attachment and send to us at remellefarrar@sbcglobal.net. Read the notes under our Summer Intern story and Brittany’s picture to see what your neighbors are saying:

Knox County Visioning Committee’s
We Really Want to Know What You Think Survey


Why do you live in Knox County?

How long have you lived here?

If you could wave your magic wand and “fix” one thing in Knox County, what would it be?

What one thing are you most concerned about when you think about the future of Knox County? Your community?

Do you own a business, farm or ranch in Knox County?

Are you employed by a locally owned business?

What do you see as the greatest challenge local businesses face?

Did you grow up in this area?

If not, what brought you here?

Do you believe you live here now by choice or would you like to move if you could?

Are you aware of the Knox County Visioning Team?

How did you find out about the Team?

Have you been involved in working with the Team?

What other volunteer activities are you involved in?

Did you participate in the Job Fair, Youth Engagement Day or Rural Tourism Symposium hosted by the Visioning Team this year?

Did you think it was worthwhile?

What was most important/interesting?

Would you be interested in seeing a follow-up program to any of these? Which ones?

What would you change if the program was done again?

Have you read any of the newspaper articles or the column in the newspaper about what the Team is doing?

Have you looked at the Blog?

Any thoughts you’d like to share about either one of those?

Do you believe we have more jobs that need to be filled, or more people who need jobs in Knox County?

Would you be interested in any kind of job training or continuing education for either yourself or your employees? Another family member?

If you own or manage a business have you encountered any challenge in finding new, capable employees?

What would help you with that?

Would you be willing as a business owner to mentor or have as an intern a Knox County high school student? If the program was free to you? If you had to pay them as a part time employee?

Would you be willing to “coach” someone interested in participating in the Entrepreneurial Fair or starting their own business? Help them develop a business plan? A model/display of their business idea? Find and compile financial information? Put together and make a presentation about their idea?

Would you be interested in teaching a class on your particular skills?

Have you looked for a job in Knox County in the last 3 years?

What did you find was available?

What additional skills or education would you need to either find a better job or move into your “dream” job/career?

If you have children or grandchildren:

Do you want them to live in Knox County as adults?

Do they?

Why not?

What would have to change for your family to live here for another generation?

Have you or anyone you know bought or rented a house in Knox County in the last year?

Did you/they have trouble finding something?

Do you know anyone who doesn’t live here because they couldn’t find a house, or a house they liked, could afford?

Do you think we have enough available houses or good enough quality housing to attract people to live here?

If not, do you think we need more low income housing, middle class new houses, apartments, a mobile home park?

Do you think you will always live in Knox County?

What would cause you to leave?

What would it take to change your mind about leaving?

Do you buy groceries in Knox County? What about your other shopping, do you do that locally or where do you go?

How many businesses in Knox County would you guess you go into in a month?

Do you go to the Dr here or somewhere else? Where do you go to get your prescriptions filled?

How often do you or your family eat out? Where?

Name a business you think could succeed in Knox County that we don’t have now.

Do you get one of the local newspapers? Which one?

How do you find out about local events?

What radio station do you listen to?


Summer Intern Program

On the last day of summer break, in between volleyball practices, Brittany reflected on her summer intern experience:

Brittany Coop

On my first day of this internship, I wrote a short essay on what I thought The Knox County Visioning Committee and Ogallala Commons meant to me. My definition of these two organizations has been greatly influenced and expanded by my work here. My internship has not been very long, but already I have learned so much more about where I live. Even though I have been here almost all my life in this county of just over 4,000 people, I have never really gotten to know the residents of each town until now.

At the beginning of my internship, I interviewed Knox County Visioning Team members about where the Team has been and where they would like it go. Each one had a genuine interest in making Knox County beautiful and resourceful, and a place our children could come back home to. After meeting with several local leaders from different areas of the County, I learned that, among other objectives, they all had a common goal: to bring a sense of community between the different towns.

Whenever I got a chance, I worked on compiling and organizing a mailing list of the young families in Knox County. After completion, I learned that it was to be used by the County Judge, Travis Floyd, to invite some young families to his home for a get-together. There was eating, visiting, and a discussion of what was going on within the County, and how they could get involved with local events. I was pretty surprised and honored when Judge Floyd asked me to attend as well. One of the most interesting and fun things about the night was that the couples were encouraged to bring their families, and I got the chance to help another teenager watch some of the younger kids. Overall, it was a very fun and informative night.

Next, the annual Donald Johnson Memorial Watermelon Festival was upon us! This event is the perfect opportunity to get the word out on local organizations, and we did not want to miss it. After securing us a place to set up a display, work began on an exhibit that would clearly and simply tell people what The Visioning Team is, while still making it eye-catching to the many different people who walked by that hot Saturday afternoon. The main idea of the four posters I assembled was “Opening the Door to New Possibilities.” One told of the origins of the Knox County Visioning Team, another detailed the future and the other two utilized quotes from Board Members discussing the progress so far. I also made postcard-sized flyers detailing what the Team was, and how they could find out more about it. Many people stopped by to learn more about us, and they almost always expressed, “I’m so glad we have something like that!”

In the final week of my internship, I surveyed local residents from all walks of life about what they feel the County is, what they love, and what they would like to change about it. My answers were not as common-goal oriented as they had been when I interviewed Team Members, but instead turned out to be as diverse as the people who live here. From talking with the people I met, I felt that I was able to get the word out on The Visioning Committee. After I collected all the surveys, I took the information and opinions I received and created a profile on the project. The most striking thing I learned from this was that nearly everyone I spoke to truly loved their hometowns and wanted to tell everyone they could what a wonderful place we live in!

I have had such a great time and learned so much in the month I have been here; that I wish the summer wasn’t over! I have at times stepped out of my comfort zone and met people from all over the community and learned that I had more in common with than I would have previously thought. I hope to continue working closely with all the organizations and people I have come in contact with, and watch our community flourish!

I hope Brittany truly did enjoy and learn from her time working with the KCVC and Ogallala Commons. We were surely blessed to have her! You’ll be seeing more of her innovative ideas in the next few months!

On the street interviews...

Brittany designed and constructed a multi poster sized display to help tell the story of KCVC and then interacted with hundreds of visitors who visited our “booth” at the Knox City Watermelon Festival, on the hottest day of the summer. She felt the heat again in August when she visited all of our communities surveying the citizen on the street to find out what they knew about their home county and the Visioning team and its work, and what they thought should be happening! We were prepared for folks to hurry by and not take time to talk to her…boy, were we surprised. Seems almost everybody was just waiting for someone to ask their opinion! People who really couldn’t take time to participate requested surveys to take home, and actually returned them! And, they asked for extra copies to take home to their family or friends to complete. Here’s Brittany’s review of what they said:

Interview Notes
Brittany Coop

  • Biggest difference in answers came from gap between lower and higher income:
    ~low income tended to be more negative when talking about overall satisfaction or opportunities within the county
    ~higher income tended to be more positive when talking about overall satisfaction or opportunities within the county; were only group to mention drug problem
    ~Those of higher income tended to believe we have more jobs that need to be filled, and were willing to pay a little more to keep their business local, while those of lower income tended to believe we didn’t have enough jobs and were looking for the lowest price.
  • Not as much difference between races as anticipated.
  • People under the age of twenty-five were more likely to indicate that they were here because “they had to be.” Also, most likely to put that they were leaving and nothing was going to make them stay. Of those who would like to stay, most put they would leave for a better job, while older people tended to put that nothing could make them leave.
  • The surveys indicated that many residents had been raised here and had lived here all their life.
  • Many people were most concerned with the County not being here in the future, or being a very changed version (some towns drying up, being controlled by people with no ties to County)
  • The things most often cited by residents as needing to be “fixed” included more jobs, more recreational activities (this was listed most by younger people), the lack of a variety of retail stores, and a lack of more places to eat.
  • Many said that for their family to live here for another generation, they would need more opportunities: more jobs and more housing.
  • Most thought we did not have enough quality, available housing; several people indicated that they knew someone who couldn’t live here because they couldn’t find a house.
  • Many people expressed that to get their “dream” job, they would need more education.
  • Jobs most often listed as being available when residents searched in the last three years included: school systems, hospital, and retail.
  • Most people were enthusiastic about job training for themselves or someone in their family.
  • Not many people volunteered to teach a class on their skills (but this most often seemed to be because the interviewee didn’t think they had any skills).
  • Many people said that the greatest challenge for local businesses was the competition from Wichita Falls, Abilene, and Lubbock.
  • Many people were aware of the programs and activities of the Visioning Team, but not the actual group itself. After telling them who has been behind the County’s progress, they were eager to know what was planned for the future.
    ~Of those who were already aware of the KCVT, many learned of it by attending a program, knowing someone on the committee, or through an event like the watermelon festival or parenting fair.
  • Not many people knew about the blog.
  • Most people received at least one of the two local papers, and looked to them for information about community events.
Along with the entire Jr and Sr classes at Benjamin High School, Brittany participated in our Ranch Country Communities Youth Engagement Day, with students from Knox City and Munday High Schools. Her report of the day follows:

Brittany Coop

The Youth Engagement Day was a program intended to show students in Knox County the opportunities that abound in our home communities. With a treasure hunting theme, the day really showed Knox City, Munday, and Benjamin students what opportunities could be found right here at home. Stacy Henry, Vice President of Crowell State Bank, presented “Show Me the Gold”, a workshop that asked us, "How many of you are ready to leave town? And never come back?" He shared that he too had been in that position, but found his dream job in his hometown. Tibb Burnett, cowboy poet, gave “Clues from the Past” which was a telling of the history of our region through poetry and the melodies of his harmonica. He instilled in us a sense of pride and amazement at the wonders of our county. Remelle instructed us to attach clues we had picked out to a bulletin board. We chose which was most important to us: excitement, closeness to family, career, etc. When the bulletin board was turned over, it revealed a map that showed us all the things we wanted could be found in Knox County. This was unexpected and got our attention. Barbera Rector, Amy Lorance, and Lorrie Coop were our group leaders and escorted us to the various workshops and lunch. Karina and Remelle led “Mining the Riches”, where we found out the abilities and gifts we possessed and matched us to a career path in Knox County. Area Health Education and Texas Workforce Commission partnered with the Visioning Committee to present this workshop. We learned that there were a lot more great careers here than we thought! Health proved to be a major career path of interest for many students, which was interesting to me after we realized how many health related jobs were in the area. Sylinda Meinzer, Jennifer Shaw, and Tammie Trainham presented “Creating Your Own Treasure”, where we learned about developing a career that is not necessarily on the map. The entrepreneurial spirit of these ladies was very contagious, and definitely made me want to open my own business! Fall 2008 Ranch Country Youth Entrepreneurship Fair was introduced by Darryl during “Leadership NOW”, a workshop where we learned about getting ahead through service activities. This was very important because most of us are college-bound, and leadership activities can definitely have an influence on a college application. An interview of a few students followed lunch, and it was revealed that we had learned a lot that day about what our County had to offer us for the future.

Ogallala Commons

The KCVC works hand in hand with the Ogallala Commons, a multi-state rural resource network, and is the center of the Real Ranch Country Community program. Brittany outlined the philosophy of our partnership this way:

Brittany Coop

Ogallala Commons is a nonprofit organization intended to help sustain our rural communities. It addresses the six common challenges that face us:

  • By assessing and prioritizing, we know where we are and where we hope to go.
  • By conserving natural resources, we are able to establish practices that conserve and regenerate our natural capital.
  • By growing leaders, we are able to turn responsibility over to the next generation.
  • By engaging youth, we encourage them to seek out a career here, rather than lose them to the impersonality of a large city.
  • By supporting entrepreneurs, we are able to establish goods and services here in our own community and eliminate the need to spend money on these in a larger town. This boosts our hometown economy and creates a new career path for our residents.
  • By harvesting wealth, we are encouraging lands and businesses to stay in the control of people with ties to our hometowns.

The six “fenceposts” represent common obstacles facing rural communities today.

The commonwealths are community assets that can be invested in to create new resources over long term time frame. There are twelve commonwealths of Ogallala Commons: sense of place, education, health, leisure and recreation, spirituality, history, renewable energy, foodshed, soil &mineral life, wildlife & the natural world, arts & culture, and the water cycle.
These factors are the top twelve things a person would look for when choosing where to live and build their future. For me, these are things I want more developed in my community so that when I return from college, my hometown is a place where all my needs can be met.
If our communities could pool our assets and come together, I feel like Knox County could meet these commonwealths and strive for even more for our residents.
From what I have seen of Ogallala Commons, the rural spirit is alive and well. If we can help our residents develop the skills they need to sustain our communities, Knox County will be a place youth will wish to return to year after year.

Interviews

You probably noticed the reference of what Lorrie, and yes, she is also Brittany’s Mom, had to say about the Visioning Team. That’s because another of Brittany’s first assignments was interviewing Visioning Team members to get their perspective on who we are, what we are trying to do and why.

Here are some quotes from other members she interviewed that first week:

  • Barbara Rector- Knox City, City Manager- “it is important to support the businesses we already have. It is extremely difficult to start a business right now, so we need to help the ones we have.”
  • Durwood Thigpen- Munday, Chamber of Commerce - “the Visioning Committee is about getting people to realize what resources we have in the county. The main purpose is to think about the county as a whole instead of as just towns. The Tourism Symposium opened people’s eyes to what we have in Knox County.” He said it even surprised him. “Youth Engagement Day planted the seed for Young People. The question was asked “How many of you want to leave and never come back?” “At the beginning of the day, 90% wanted to; at the end of the day the question was asked again and the number wanting to leave had been reduced about 30%.”
  • Lyndell Reeves-Banker- Munday- said he came to realize the redevelopment of this area would be more effective if the citizens worked as a county wide group. “The Visioning Committee is a long term commitment. We have to accomplish our initial goals then we will be able to clearly see what new goals need to be set.”
  • Dwayne Bearden- City manager- Munday- said that he Judge Floyd and Mark Reed attended a Texas Midwest Community Network program in Ranger on what small towns were doing to jump start their economic development and survive. On the way home he wondered, “what will we do with this new knowledge?” One of the programs that came from trying to answer this question is the sponsorship of job skill training classes. Dwayne chairs the committee that has successfully offered Certified Nursing Attendant, EMT and Welding Classes. The committee’s targets for the future include filling classes in heating & air conditioning repair, plumbing , electrician and small engine repair. “We don’t have enough craftsmen to meet the demand for their services, and this lets us create opportunities, one job at a time.”
  • Judge Travis Floyd- Knox County – summed up the attitude of the Visioning Committee - “We’ve drawn a line in the sand. No more losses, now we are going to grow !”

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Summer Intern Program

The first County wide event the Visioning Team hosted this year was our Job Fair. It was an exciting night, showcasing just how many opportunities there really are folks to live and work in Knox County. And, absolutely the most excited person there was a high school junior from Benjamin, who already knew she wanted to come back home and open her own store after college. She’d been waiting her entire life for everybody else to realize that she could! After visiting with this deceptively fragile looking ball of energy, optimism and opinions for a whole five minutes I, Remelle, found myself telling her about the Internship working with Ogallala Commons and the Knox County Visioning Committee coming up this summer. She immediately decided that was the summer job for her and convinced me almost as fast that she was THE person for the job. She was! Brittany is committed to the idea of small towns as settings for a BIG life and communicates that to everyone around her.

From her first day when she wrote the essays telling about herself and her impression of what OC and the KCVC were about, through days spent putting together, hauling around, and setting up booth displays in 107 degree heat or interviewing people in check-out lines with sticky-handed babies who couldn’t keep their hands out of that shiny blonde hair, she never lost her excitement or her commitment to the view that everyone, teens included, has a responsibility to do what they see needs doing in their hometown.

Here’s Brittany’s intro of herself and thoughts on her new job:

Brittany Coop
Knox County Visioning Team

My name is Brittany Coop. I am seventeen years old and a senior at Benjamin High School. I am active in 4-H and raise goats and sheep as a livestock project. I am captain of the UIL spelling team, play volleyball and golf, run cross country and track, and cheerlead.

As someone who is growing up in Knox County, I feel like there is a niche we, as young people, have to fill. We will travel at least 90 miles to shop, eat out, and visit the doctor. The obvious demand for these services proves that these businesses could thrive in Knox County. Every time we travel to Wichita Falls or Abilene to spend money that could be spent rejuvenating the economy here, I am reminded that we lack coffee shops, restaurants, clothing stores, tailors, etc. Who better to open these businesses than the future college graduates who sit in our high schools undecided on the future? Why not encourage us to seek out higher education and then return to our hometowns to enrich our communities?

Ask almost any high school student in Knox County if they want to come back home after graduation and not many will say yes. The reason for this is young people are under the impression that if they return after college, they must be failing at making a future for themselves. We have to show high school students that there is opportunity beyond the Metroplex. One of the most important things we can teach young people right now is that if you see something we need here, if there is a niche that needs to be filled, fill it!

Lorrie Coop, a Knox County Visioning Committee member, said the Committee would like to increase the sustainability of present businesses while bringing in new enterprises to further meet the needs of our residents. Lorrie said she felt the Visioning Team was making great strides through programs they have sponsored, including The Rural Tourism Symposium, the Job Fair, and the Youth Engagement Day. She also felt that we, as a community, need to be aware of our natural resources and what we already have to offer. The question now is, how best to promote these resources?

After college, I hope to return to Benjamin and open my own business. I chose to work with the Visioning Team this summer because I feel like rejuvenating our communities in Knox County is very important for the future of my family, my neighbors, and me.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

In the Ranch Country Cluster territory...


There's a new business in Baylor County! Smokey Bros! Atmosphere is as pleasing as the food! We are proud of this entrepreneurial pair of brothers gettin 'er done!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Visioning Meeting

Visioning Partners,

This is a reminder of the Visioning meeting scheduled for next Thursday, Sept 4th, at 5:30 PM in Munday. More information will follow next week, just wanted to give you time to schedule this on your calendar.

Have a GREAT Labor Day!!!!!


Thanks

Travis C. Floyd
Knox County Judge

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Visioning Meeting

Visioning Partners,

I have had a difficult time scheduling the August meeting. So, since the last date is not going to work, we will just go back to our regular schedule in September, which is the 1st Thursday in the month or September 4th. It will still be Munday's time to host.

Let me restate, the next full meeting will be September 4th at 5:30 PM in Munday.

There has been and is a lot going on and we have a lot to discuss, so please try to make the September meeting.

Thanks so much.

Travis C. Floyd
Knox County Judge

Monday, August 11, 2008

Visioning Meeting

We will plan on August 21st, at 5:30 PM in Munday.

Thanks,
Travis C. Floyd
Knox County Judge

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tammie's Transom

There are times when I read, hear or watch something that sends me into deep thought. My brow usually crinkles, my head sometimes tilts and my eyes gaze upward through the transoms of my hundred year old Victorian home. In those moments, visions of sugar plums dance in my head. I guess one could call it a transom trance.

I had such an experience this morning upon reading a CNN article and proclaimed, "This is it!" This is just one of the visions that we, Goree...rrrr bigger than that...Knox County, could encapsulate. Here are some of the 'buzz' phrases* that I picked up on while reading that article which was sent to me by a Goree home comer who still longs for her hometown to be the best it can be.

  • "Once we understood the vision, we chose to come here," Keith Brown said...
  • He sees it as an opportunity to help his native area, and he likes being able to keep a fishing rod in his office that he sometimes uses on lunch breaks. The Browns are happy to be close to his family, and think this is a safer place to raise their daughter...
  • They are both classical musicians...
  • They miss the arts...
  • Julia Brown is a little troubled by a lack of ethnic diversity...
  • I think it's much better for her (daughter) to live in a more wholesome place where we're not caught up in this rat race all the time," Julia Brown said...
  • The Browns can fly kites in their front yard when the wind is good, and Keith Brown likes to pack a picnic supper and take his daughter on walks up the hill behind their house to view the rolling landscape. Wendy is a big fan of the night sky, a spectacle masked by city lights. 'We'll get out of the car and she'll look up and she'll go 'Wow!' when it's a really clear night,' Julia Brown said. 'How many 3-year-olds notice that?'*

My question is how can we beckon 'big city' professionals to come home to their roots even if they've never called here home to begin with? We, KCVG, already have a plan to draw professionals with Knox County roots home, which is great. But, I thought this angle was worthy of attention, too. Let's face it, we have valid challenges. There is somewhat of a resistence from country folk towards the efforts of bringing the theatric, classical arts, music, ethnic diversity, and technological advances into our backyards. But, as the story articulates, Rural America needs to advance without losing its' sense of wholesome place in order to attract. How do you have a Starbucks lifestyle without Starbucks? I don't know the answer, 'cuz this country girl sure loves an occasional vente caramel frappucino! (See? Even my spell check doesn't know what to do with vente or frappucino, for Pete's sake?)

*The Associated Press: CNN.com/living

Monday, July 28, 2008

Next Meeting...

Visioning Partners,

This is a notice that we are recommending that we change the monthly visioning meeting scheduled for Thursday the 7th of August to Tuesday, 12th of August. Several of us will be unavailable for the 7th, so would like to make the change.

I will send out a reminder sometime next week reminding everyone.

Thanks for your understanding.
Travis C. Floyd
Knox County Judge

Monday, July 21, 2008

Congratulations!


Visioning Partners,

Congratulations!!!!!! We are a winner of the 'Communities that Care' award from Texas Rural Health Association. The county, along with our team are identifying the need for Rural Health opportunities, and taking steps in fulfilling some of those needs, that we have been noticed. Also, we have been working with the Big Country Area Health Education Center, along with Dr. Finley in providing opportunities for training interns. Anyway, we are going to be a recipient of an award. My question is, how many of you would like to go to Austin for a luncheon to receive the award? We have been given two seats, but as many as would like to go will be able to attend at a cost of $25. I am planning on attending, are there any others interested? Please let me know as soon as possible.

Thanks,

Travis C. Floyd
Knox County Judge

More Info.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Symposium Scoop

~Knox County Hosts First Ever Real Rural Tourism Symposium

Visitors from across the state pioneered Knox County’s Real Ranch Country Trail rating it as “fabulous family fun” last week during the 1st Ever Real Rural Tourism Symposium. The trail’s and Knox County’s first foray into regional tourism development drew participants from San Saba to Farmersville, Austin to Canadian with 66 people registered for the three day seminar and activities.

Gathering on Thursday evening for a get-acquainted tour, to find out what our neighbors are doing in Foard and Baylor Counties, served to prime the pump for Friday and Saturday’s assessment and planning missions. Thursday night explorers were treated to an outstanding example of “destination dining” with succulent steaks, and a great explanation of what and how by owners Duane and Margie, Doug and Angie Johnson at the Longhorn Steakhouse. They also experienced an eye-opening treat at the Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus, which few in the group had even imagined in this area, and with Carolyn Henry and Stacy Henry sharing the stories of Crowell and Foard County’s successful funding and renovation of a beautiful and functional activity center and the 12,000 acre Teacup Mountain recreation site leased by Foard County from the Corps of Engineers and managed by the non-profit Pease River Partners. Rusty and Malinda Moore hosted the group at their Crazy Lady Trading Post and Raggedy Creek Ranch a true one-stop shop offering everything from booking your trip, outfitting your hunting experience, buying all your take it home gifts, feeding you while you’re here, processing the meat and getting the mount done then bringing you back and hosting your special event. Wow, talk about inspiration for conversation on the ride home!

Friday’s road trip wound through Knox County beginning at the Courthouse in Benjamin, viewing our national landmark Brazos River Bridge, learning about Knox City’s awning, tractor art and mural projects and touring the old City Hall building. While there resource specialists from the Texas Historic Commission and Texas Department of Agriculture offered suggestions on financial support for historic and downtown building renovation and members of the tour group, many of whom were tourism and economic development professionals, shared their own experiences and ideas with the local tour group members. From Knox City the group went to Munday enjoying the sculpture and streetscape across from Munday Elementary, learning how the project was funded and is maintained, viewing the ongoing work on the old church being renovated into a theatre and Munday’s award winning Keep Munday Beautiful campaign.

Miller Creek was termed a “destination draw” that, although outside Knox County, can bring many visitors to Goree, Munday and Knox City. Positioning itself as the Gateway to Miller Creek makes sense for Goree, advised the tourism experts, as does that City’s attempts to support the clean-up and promotion of this neighboring attraction. Bob Rogers, representing Texas Parks and Wildlife and Dick Wilberforce, with the Texas Prairie Rivers Region, inspired the group with stories and examples of their nature tourism success, piggy backing private landowner and small town programs on public sites, to everyone’s advantage. With Roger’s example of the success of a program as simple as “Turtle in a Bucket” and Wilberforce’s 5 minute assessment of the seemingly endless possibilities for bird and wildlife observers right on the peninsula where the group was standing, locals and visitors loaded back up in their cars excited to see what lay around the next bend of the trail, convinced they could hold a visitors interest right in there own backyard.

Tours of downtown Goree, with the animated planning discussions led by Tammie Trainham, an eye opening visit to Todd Leake Farms in Vera and its’ 20,000 + native plants watered and fertilized from the old fish tank and drive by viewing of Knox County’s only orchard had the entourage engaged in multiple “What if” conversations as they arrived at Ranger Creek Lodge for lunch. Amid “oohs and awes” over the facility and expressions of surprise at the size of this major tourist operation, which brings guests from across the United States to Knox County, everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch, and the even more delicious air conditioning, while host Randy Walker shared the story of how this successful business started from the families need to diversify and find extra income from their traditional farming operation.

Rejuvenated, the tour moved to the beautiful and inspirational St. Joseph’s Church in Rhineland, itself a parable for the ability of a farm community to accomplish greatness with hard work and dedication. The tour guide was Dot Myers. Imagining a group of farmers making bricks, carving alters and statuary over 30 years, through the Great Depression, drought, sandstorms and World War II then putting it all together to create the magnificence and beauty of this traditionally beautiful building would convince the most cynical of what a small group of dedicated souls can accomplish.

Crossing The Narrows, Knox County’s National Historic Landmark, and the basis of Knox County’s national recognition in natural science and historic circles, taking a few moments to reflect on its’ significance as the watersheds split, sending one rivers’ water to the Mississippi and the other to the Gulf of Mexico, changing bird and wildlife designations as “eastern or western” species and historically making up the major corridor where Native American, Military and Frontier civilizations moved across the country, inspired a flurry of suggestions and comments from the tourism, nature education, history and event professionals in the group on the potential marketing opportunities to bring visitors to Knox County.

Like all good tours, the Real Ranch Country Tour paused with plenty of time and opportunity to spend money with the merchants, back in Benjamin, before gearing up again for the evenings’ entertainment in Truscott. Following a visit with Wyman Meinzer at the historic County Jail and primed for historic observation after a visit to the new Museum and presentation on the regions history by Clara Brown, participants literally stepped back in time on arrival in Truscott. An old fashioned community dinner, horse drawn stage coach, chuck wagon and “war” wagon rides and tours of the historic renovation set the stage for storytelling, poetry and harmonica by Tibb Burnett and story in song with Andy Wilkinson, Texas Tech University, Southwest Collection.

Rested up physically and charged mentally with the sights and conversations of the last 36 hours the Symposium convened Saturday morning at Stanfield’s Big Honker Lodge near Knox City. Welcomed by Knox City Mayor, and Lodge owner, Jeff Stanfield, the group began the day in awe of the fact that this small town business is the largest waterfowl hunting outfitter in the United States, even though many people in Knox County are unaware of its very existence. Professional presentations and the report from the Assessment Team, led by Eden Texas’ Economic Development and Tourism Director, Genora Young, soon turned to serious reflection and planning around the theme “How to Sell Your Hometown without Selling Your Soul”. Recurring comments by local participants like Jerry Bob Daniel, repeated their desire to diversify, to bring visitors to Knox County, to host them and have them enjoy our assets and life style and to be sure that what they enjoyed while they were here was authentic, respectful of our roots and reflective of our integrity. Andy Wilkinson led a discussion of how our art and history can frame that, Bob Rogers and Dick Wilberforce encouraged reflection on keeping it real and keeping it simple and bringing in other aspects of our natural resources. All three were key to remembering that we have more to offer than hunting. Just as these first businesses diversified from traditional commodity production agriculture to hunting, now we have the opportunity to diversify again, to expand our economy and opportunities to host and perhaps become home to others who enjoy and cherish the natural gifts we’ve been blessed with in Knox County. Resource team members from Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Workforce Solutions, Texas Historic Commission, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Baylor County and Texas Prairie Rivers Region kept local participants busy taking notes as they presented sources for funding and technical support for local development and tourism projects and offered their own commentary on the possibilities they had seen over the last 3 days.

Steve Pepper, Knox City entrepreneur, closed the symposium’s program with a local outlook and response encouraging and challenging the local group from his own changed perspective, to become aware and involved. Pepper encouraged his friends and neighbors to do as he planned to, channel the time and energy used to develop success individually into a cooperative effort to preserve and develop Knox County together, benefiting each of us personally and communally.

Knox County Visioning Team’s Community Development Director, who organized the First Ever Real Rural Tourism Symposium, when asked to comment on the success of the event and what she hoped to see come from it offered her favorite quote “Never, ever doubt the ability of a small, dedicated group of people to change the world. In fact it’s the only thing that ever has.”