Hutch CF helps welcome lieutenant governor’s visit

Hutch CF helps welcome lieutenant governor’s visit

Hutchinson Community Foundation helped host Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers’ visit to Reno County on June 17 as part of the kickoff of his summer Rural Prosperity Tour.

Community foundation President & CEO Aubrey Abbott Patterson serves as a co-chair of the tour that was born of the newly formed Kansas Office of Rural Prosperity, which aims to create a strategic plan for rural economic development. Patterson is the only community foundation representative serving as co-chair.

Foundation staff, along with Hutch Chamber President Debra Teufel, accompanied Rogers and his team for a look at some of the unique things happening in Reno County as they relate to issues identified as key by the Office of Rural Prosperity: economic development, rural housing, main street corridors, rural infrastructure, rural hospitals and medical care, accessible state government, manufacturing, tourism, and agribusiness.

At various points, representatives from the city of Hutchinson, the Reno County legislative delegation and the local media joined the day’s journey.

For a peek at urban farming and agribusiness, the tour stopped at Simple Abundance Farms in South Hutchinson, owned by Adam and Maggie Pounds.

The group ventured to the Stevens building on Main Street to hear about owner Scott Cooley’s vision for the repurposing of an existing downtown resource in Hutchinson’s oldest building. A walking tour from the Stevens building up Main Street – with a stop at Smith’s Market; a painting session at SculptureArtWalk’s new collaborative mural that was partially funded by a community foundation grant; and a stop at Hutch CF partner Stage 9 – provided insight into the spirit of entrepreneurship and public art coalescing in the city’s downtown corridor.

After venturing to Hutchinson’s landmark R-B Drive In for limeades, the caravan drove farther up Main Street and eventually west to the Townhomes at Santa Fe on Fifth Avenue. There the lieutenant governor learned about the New Beginnings-operated example of walkable, workforce, pocket-community housing, funded in part through a community foundation impact investment.

For a look at Reno County’s manufacturing and workforce sector, the tour also viewed the Siemens Gamesa and Kuhn Krause plants.

The lieutenant governor then made friends with a whole new batch of constituents when the tour arrived at Hedrick’s Exotic Animal Farm to see Nickerson’s contribution to Reno County tourism. Rogers fed porcupines, kangaroos and was introduced to camels and a menagerie of other exotic animals before venturing inside to the bed and breakfast.

Before arriving at Nickerson’s locally owned Main Street eatery Pizza Connection for an evening meal, the group ventured through the city’s K-96 corridor, past the co-op, convenience store and high school, to see evidence of the recent historic flooding that inundated the town’s southern half.

The tour concluded with a listening-and-learning session at the Nickerson Community Center, where more than 110 people from across the county gathered to participate in group conversations about Reno County’s strengths and obstacles. Data collected from the session will be compiled at the end of the summer tour and distributed for consideration in future policy work.

For more information about the Office of Rural Prosperity, visit

Contact Wendy Skellenger, communications officer:

Photo gallery