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Small Town has Large "Can-do" Attitude

By Lori Thielen

Mayor Adrian Arnoldy
Mayor Adrian Arnoldy prepares for work in the community center that will soon be renovated by community volunteers.

Small town has large “can-do” attitude

By Lori Thielen

Tipton, home to approximately 240 people in north central Kansas, has been booming the last several years, according to Mayor Adrian Arnoldy.

“The big focus has been trying to get the community back—to rebuild and grow the community,” says Arnoldy. “Building the school was the big thing because we wouldn’t be doing any of these other projects if it wasn’t for the school. Now we’re trying to keep things going and growing.”

Community members construct the roof of the new Tipton Christian School
Community members construct the roof of the new Tipton Christian School in the summer of 2003. Volunteers built the school in six weeks to be ready for the new school year.  

The school Arnoldy refers to is the one built by community volunteers in a mere six weeks to avoid losing students and the community to consolidation and school district reorganization in 2003. The new Tipton Christian School now houses kindergarten through fifth grade. The Tipton Catholic High School was allowed to absorb sixth through eighth grade in 2003, becoming the Tipton Catholic Junior-Senior High School.

It was an effort many outsiders looked upon with doubt at first, but the community pulled through. Kent Hake, city councilman for approximately 12 years, said the “can-do” attitude is common in Tipton.

“Over the years we haven’t let things that look like an obstacle stop us,” says Hake. “We’ve been told a lot of times that you can’t do it, but we’ve proven them wrong.”

Arnoldy, who has served as mayor for 24 years, says the building of the school had very positive effects on Tipton.

“I’d say building the school was a big turning point for our town and attitudes started changing when people saw what was possible,” says Arnoldy.

In addition to building their own school, the city was awarded a Kansas Department of Commerce Community Development Block Grant in 2003 to overbuild its water distribution system. In 2005 they were awarded a Kansas Department of Commerce KAN STEP grant to renovate an existing community center using volunteer labor. Their newest accomplishment is placing the former Tipton Elementary School building, which the city had purchased from the school district, for sale on E-Bay. The building was recently purchased by Markay Specialty Schools from St. George, Utah, which plans to open Tipton Academy for troubled teenagers.

The new school proposes to bring up to 40 jobs to the community, creating additional excitement in the town.

“They (the school owners) saw something in Tipton they really like because we’re small, but also very supportive of what they’re trying to do,” says Hake. “We’re real anxious for them to get up and going and see what directions things go.”

The community is in the process of identifying alumni to come back to work at the academy.
“Our main objective now is to get families to move back to Tipton, which will help keep our school going among other things,” says Arnoldy. “Right now we actually have more jobs than people, which is extremely rare for a small community.”
The reason Tipton has been so successful in helping itself is anyone’s guess, but Arnoldy has a theory.

“People around here have been brought up that it’s their duty to keep things going and people have passed that on,” says Arnoldy.

This attitude is carried out by local business owners as well. For instance, Keith and Debra Houghton, who own and operate Ringneck Ranch, a gamebird hunting business, host approximately 800 visitors each year and make every effort to do business locally.

“We’re dedicated to keeping as much business locally as we can,” says Debra. “If we can’t get something in Tipton, then we’ll try the surrounding towns.”

Houghton, who moved back in 1989 with her husband to the family farm that had been in Keith’s family since 1872, said their visitors are also impressed with the Tipton community.

“They’re surprised at the openness of the way we live,” says Debra. “The trust and sincerity of people really impresses them.”

That sincerity of people is what keeps the community going, according to Arnoldy.

It is so important for people to volunteer and do things without pay,” says Arnoldy. “Belonging to organizations that carry out community activities is also an important function.”

Long-time Tipton resident Joanne Brummer, who serves as city clerk, says volunteerism and cooperation is crucial to small communities in particular.

“We have a great sense of community in Tipton and realize the importance of the family, church, school and all the organizations working together for the common good,” says Brummer. “It’s important to set long-term goals in order to develop a sense of purpose and pride.”

It takes a lot of work on everyone’s part to keep the community moving forward, something that is helped by fundraisers. The St. Boniface Catholic Church Picnic, which takes place the first Saturday every July is the big fundraiser of the year.
“We’ve got fundraisers going on every day of the year,” says Arnoldy. “But all the community organizations work toward the same goal of the church picnic. That event really keeps us going.”
Mayor Arnoldy and the rest of the community hope the boom in Tipton continues for many years.

For more information on Tipton Schools, visit www.tiptonschools.com. For more information on Ringneck Ranch, visit www.ringneckranch.net.

 

 

 

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Last Updated July 17, 2006
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