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2/16/2005

The New Homestead

Ellsworth is in the news! USA Today caught wind of Ellsworth’s free land giveaway last week and the story generated 250 inquiries at the economic development office.  
 
The notion of free land has attracted nine families and two new homes to Ellsworth, since its Welcome Home Plan was launched 18 months ago. Anita Hoffhines, executive director of Ellsworth County Economic Development is pretty busy these days fielding questions from interested families and news media alike. The program has also produced 16 students — worth $6,000 each in state aid — for the public school district. 
 
Ellsworth town began their Welcome Home Plan with 19 lots to give away. Those who receive the lots are required to build a home within two years. They also have to be prequalified for a loan. Ellsworth County is even helping out with that by offering up to $3,000 in down payment help. 
 
Television journalist Allan Villafaña and chief photographer and producer Carlos Barquin were in Drovers Mercantile yesterday. I think they thought they had walked through a time warp when The Cowboy stepped out of the back. I noticed a startled look in Barquin’s eye. Once the shock of starin’ into the past wore off the two had a great time perusing the store. They will soon be telling Ellsworth’s story on “Hoy en el Mundo” which means “Today in the World”. The Telemundo Network is a Spanish language network based in Miami, Florida.  
 
Free land, of course, is nothing new. The United States Government used the same concept to populate that vast open prairie with the Homestead Act back in the late 1800’s. Today, that same part of the country is quickly depopulating. Disastrous agricultural economics have turned rural American towns into mere shadows of what they once were. Ellsworth is just one of several towns that are fighting back.  
 
We may not have the flash of the big city, but rural Kansas has so many qualities that make life here desirable. Open space for one. We value our space. Rolling hills, the meandering Smoky Hill River, and beautiful sunrises and sunsets are a natural part of who we are. There is plenty of room for others to enjoy our little pleasures. Small town lifestyles allow children to live in an atmosphere that promotes community and easy-going family values. I could fill pages with what makes Kansas special. Our new homesteaders will soon discover that for themselves. 
 
If yer interested in Ellsworth’s Welcome Home Plan give Anita Hoffines a call at 785-472-4136. If ya want to learn more about Ellsworth click Visit Ellsworth on the left hand side of this page. You’ll be glad ya did. 
So Long, 
The Cowboy  
 
 

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