Solomon Valley Economic Development – March 2017


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Solomon Valley Economic Development held their March meeting on Thursday at Jewell Grocery owned and operated by Kevin Thompson. He previously worked for Wal-Mart for seven years helping set up stores. The next seven years he spent working for Catlin’s Friendly Apple Market in Beloit.

Since purchasing the grocery store in Jewell, Thompson has expanded the store and diversified the business to help it remain viable and strong by offering multiple services to the community. This includes meals and catering. He is also looking to expand upon the expansions further after having purchased the building to the west of the store and planning to utilize upstairs portions of the buildings for business as well.

Thompson talks about coming back and being a business owner in his hometown.

Jewell Grocery is open seven days per week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. with five employees offering noon meals, a Sunday lunch buffet. But Thompson said he’s there at other ours as well and if his pickup is there you are welcome to come in. They plan to soon offer evening meals with more menu options as well thanks to new kitchen equipment which is being installed. The store provides meat to area restaurants and healthcare facilities. They also put out a Sunday noon buffet.

Darrell Bohnert, owner of Bohnert Welding and the Pioneer Seed Distributorship in Jewell also addressed the meeting. His business currently have three full time employees plus his son Damon who focusses primarily on the seed business. They have undergone multiple upgrades to their facilities and new buildings as the businesses have grown. Bohnert is also the Jewell Mayor and Fire Chief.

Bohnert discussed his operations located on the north end of Jewell on the east side of Highway 14.

Solomon Valley Community Development Director Heather Hartman reported that a Solomon Valley Community Foundation press release announcing the latest community foundation grant awardees is coming soon. Public reception to be held

She also noted a community forum in Hays where new Dane G. Hansen Foundation initiatives will be unveiled along with education break-out sessions next week on the 23rd. Hartman also discussed Community Clean-up Grant work will be scheduled in late May or early June. All Mitchell County communities will participate.

Business appreciation month has two nominees so far and Hartman said they are are looking for more.

The Façade Improvement Program is still ongoing and accepting applications for loans of up to $5,000 for exterior improvements to businesses.

On March 22 and 23 the Tree City USA event will take place in Beloit. On the 22 attendees will tour areas of Beloit including the North Campus, Chautauqau Park, NCK Tech and more. The business meeting and programs will take place on March 23. Fred Deneke, one of the Tree City USA founders, will be keynote speaker on the second day at the.

Harman also announced that the City of Beloit will be applying again for the Housing Rehabilitation Program.

She is conducting a county wide assessment to identify needs for Automatic Electronic Defibrillators. She is working with Mitchell County EMS Director Kelly Hawk as well as community leaders and fire department officials.

The First Impressions Program through K-State Research and Extension has found a sister city for Beloit to work with after several months of looking for a comparable locale. Beloit will be working with Clay Center. Three to five people from each city will come in a evaluate community features and report back to each other. The evaluators will be anonymous in regard to visitors to Beloit will not be announced as being part of the program and vice versa. Results will be used to assist in community improvement projects and grant writing. This will take place in April and May.

Mitchell County Tourism Director Lucille Heller distributed information about a new Mitchell County Tourism site which is She said they will also be working with Trip Planner to highlight points of interest county-wide. She invited any business who is listed on the Mitchell County Kansas website hosted by the community foundation are invited to be included on the tourism site as well. Heller is also working on getting Mitchell County back in the Kansas Tourism Guide.

Leadership Mitchell county held their last local session recently in Downs. Soon the class will spend three days in Wichita at the Kansas Leadership Center.

Bob Lampert of First National Bank in Beloit told the group that the Harbuagh Scholarship funds have been transferred into the USD 273-Beloit Endowment Fund which has increased the amount of money available. There are currently $1.4 million dollars in the fund. Applications will be accepted from students at all Mitchell County High Schools.

Beloit Area Chamber of Commerce Director Gina Broeckelman said the next Chamber Coffee, originally scheduled for April 14, has been moved up to April 7 at the Guaranty State Bank.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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