For hundreds of years, Curtis has been the spot to live the good life
If it is true that a great life is more of a creation than an experience, and people who leave their mark are devoted to something that inspires, energizes and ultimately makes a difference in the world around us, then resident in and around Curtis, Nebraska, are living large, great lives.
The Medicine Creek communities thrive because the people set goals, donate time and money, do the work, and participate. A newcomer doesn’t stay a stranger for long because their specific talents and interests are noted, and they are recruited into the clubs and service groups that help the community thrive.
Curtis is located equidistant between McCook, Lexington and North Platte, the population centers of Frontier County. Curtis, the trade center, provides the services needed by the population in the surrounding county. The community proudly proclaims an excellent school system, and today, as it has been for millennia, the primary business in Frontier County is farming and ranching. .
Archeologists find evidence of early farmers back as far as 1300 years in this area, and their remains tell us that the population of the valley is roughly the same now as when it was occupied by Native Americans 1300 years ago. Click here to read more.
Center of the community
A community center inspired by a generous donation from an alumnus of Curtis High School houses a recreation space, city offices and a public meeting place. Dr. George Garlick offered the town a $1 million matching grant to build the $2.5 million center.
Prosperous businesses line the main street in Curtis. “Curtis is a city with no debt and a well-maintained infrastructure, including an airport and a hard surface airplane runway that appeals to business owners, hunters and leisure tourists,” said City Manager Doug Schultz.
Both banks are home owned. “Curtis is known as a great place to raise kids,” said Misty Lenz, Curtis Chamber of Commerce secretary. “Children walk to school or ride their bikes. The community looks out for the children; we all know the names of the young people in town.”
A local board oversees a healthcare system which includes a clinic staffed by physician assistant and a nurse practitioner. A dentist is available in Curtis one day a week, and the community supports an assisted living and senior living establishment, as well as independent, affordable housing for seniors with added support from the community to help them stay in their homes.
A challenging golf course
Curtis claims ownership of one of Nebraska’s finest short golf courses, the Arrowhead Meadows Golf and Recreation Area. Arrowhead Meadows is a community course, designed and constructed by Eric Senff, a Curtis resident who was also hired by Jack Nicklaus to develop the Dismal River Golf Course, a premier course in the Nebraska Sand Hills. Senff has since returned to Curtis and is now the greens keeper for Arrowhead Meadows.
The nine-hole course takes full advantage of the occasional wildlife sightings and always stunning scenery afforded by the Medicine Creek as it meanders along the fairways. Arrowhead Meadows also maintains a fishing pond stocked with trout and catfish. The Nebraska Game and Parks collaborated with the city to dredge and restore the fishing pond. “Families and school-age kids fish and catch fish, and it adds to the pleasure of living in our town,” said Schultz.
Hit the trails
Recently, the Curtis community completed a scenic trail project that appeals to walking and bicycling enthusiasts. The trail follows the Medicine Creek and circles the Arrowhead Golf Course and the Valley View Inn. Schultz said, “We recently completed 1.9 miles of armor- coated finish on the trail.”
Curtis citizens celebrate their community during every season — a harvest festival in the fall, a hometown Christmas celebration in December, and a sparkling 4th of July picnic and fireworks show. Curtis also upholds a 50-year tradition of producing an Easter pageant featuring a 35-member choir and 18 scenes involving between 4 and 20 actors in each scene. The nondenominational pageant is staged on Palm Sunday.
City leaders in Curtis will do just about anything to bring new faces to their small western Nebraska town. Free land to build a house? Done. Golf course membership and swimming pool passes? No problem. Up to $1,000 in cash for families with young children? You got it. Residents were so concerned about the town of 900 stagnating that they started funneling their resources into financial incentives to attract more young families.
The community also offers free residential lots in highly desirable neighborhoods to anyone willing to build and occupy a home in Curtis. An additional incentive of $600 was added for each child who is of school age and attending the public school. Three remaining lots even overlook the golf course, and one additional perk is a free annual membership to the golf course. Contact Schultz to learn more.
The Curtis Economic Development Corporation, in collaboration with the United State Department of Agriculture, is developing an industrial building in the industrial park adjacent to the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. The project may soon be housing a new business in the Curtis community.
With LB840 half-cent sales tax funds, the Curtis Economic Development Corporation has the capacity to develop industrial lots and attract new businesses, as well as help current businesses transition to new ownership.
A first-class rural education
In Curtis, approximately 215 youth are enrolled in the elementary and high school. According to Alan Garey, Curtis school superintendent, “Curtis offers students a challenging curriculum. From our years as a Nebraska State High School, we have a respected legacy for teaching a vocational curriculum.”
The school offers a fulltime business program, industrial arts, vocational agriculture, and consumer science, in addition to college preparatory coursework. Some 90 to 92% of students advance to post-secondary education.
Curtis offers K-12 music, theater in high school, and a full array of sports including cross country, volley ball, football, track, golf, and wrestling. “School activities attract excellent support in the community,” Garey said.
Higher learning opportunities too
For more than 100 years, the city of Curtis hosted a boarding school for high school students whose residences were far from public schools. Then in 1965, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, (NCTA) was established in Curtis as a land grant institution within the University of Nebraska system. The 102-year-old school became the only two-year college degree program of the University of Nebraska system.
The college offers four Associate of Applied Science degrees and an Associate of Science degree that allows students to transfer credits to four-year institutions. NCTA properties include a 600-acre land and livestock laboratory, the 12,000-acre Gudmundson Ranch, and 2,000-acre crop and animal research laboratory at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte.
“Our college has a unique mission in the University of Nebraska system,” said NCTA Dean Dr. Ron Rosati. “We focus on tangible learning activities and hands-on education relevant to modern agricultural careers. At the end of a day of classes, students can look back on the past few hours and clearly see that they have developed specific skills that are immediately useful in their careers.”
Good schools, a supportive community, and a beautiful environment with lots of recreation opportunities. It’s not surprising that, all in all, the Medicine Creek Valley has for thousands of years been considered a good place to call home.
In Curtis, it still is.