What’s to like about Arapahoe? Better ask what’s not to like.
What’s to like about Arapahoe? It doesn’t take long to reel off an impressive list.
- A library system that per capita is the best-used library in the state of Nebraska
- A remodeled movie theater with digital picture and sound and a new digital marquee. The Crystal Theater is managed by volunteers, and for $20, you can take the whole family to the movies and buy them popcorn and sodas too
- A nine-hole, par-three golf course and club house
- An airport for small planes
- A swimming pool and splash pad
- Housing for retirees including assisted living units, luxury retirement apartments and a nursing home
- A preschool that is integrated into the public school
- Active 4-H Clubs, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts
- A museum of local artifacts in a historic storefront building
- The Fatima Shrine at the Catholic Church featuring Rachel Weeping for her Children by noted sculptor, Sondra Jonson
- And, to top it all off, the City of Arapahoe recently announced that it is giving away FREE lots plus $25,000 to anyone who wants to build a house in the town’s newest subdivision.
The population of Arapahoe has hovered near the 1,000 mark for decades. And, recently, the City of Arapahoe created a new incentive to boost the number of people who call Arapahoe home.
The City of Arapahoe developed a new housing subdivision called Northern Estates. The area contains 14 lots, and the City is giving away those lots for free, Mayor John E. Koller said. Plus, the city is offering a $25,000 gift (with some restrictions) to help with construction costs.
Plus, the town’s residents recently passed a $12.6 million bond to renovate and add onto the Arapahoe Public School. Once complete, the PreK-12 classes will all be under one roof in a modern school building. The project is expected to be completed in December 2018.
Location, Location, Location
Arapahoe’s geographic location is a prime advantage for the local economy as well as for tourism.
“Arapahoe’s location is fortunate,” says Arapahoe Mayor John E. Koller. “Two major highways, U.S. 6 & 34 and U.S. 283, intersect in Arapahoe. Tourism, shipping and manufacturing businesses all benefit from our efficient transportation system.”
Arapahoe is also located within an easy drive of three major reservoirs, Harry Strunk Lake, Johnson Lake, and Harlan County Reservoir. In addition, Arapahoe borders the Republican River and one can’t blame citizens taking for granted the stately trees, a variety of plant and animal species, panoramic views of sunsets, and the many thousands of birds pausing in the grain-rich river valley during the spring and fall migrations.
A thriving business community
The area business environment is healthy and you can buy what you need in Arapahoe including hardware, furniture, groceries, clothing, pharmaceuticals, gifts and fresh flowers. A historic pharmacy and candy store featuring a 1920-vintage soda fountain with employees who know how to make phosphates, ice cream sodas and fountain cokes adds flavor and charm to the business district.
Several new businesses have opened in Arapahoe in the last few years, including Arapahoe Physical Therapy, a baby and children’ clothing boutique called The Littlest Thing, and Tornado Alley fun center where families can bowl, play pool and eat a delicious meal.
John Koller, community leader and owner of Arapahoe Hunting Lodge and guide service says, “Arapahoe business owners are smart, tough, efficient and effective. They put in lots of hours and hard work.”
Arapahoe is plugged into global communications and offers residents the latest advantages in communications technology. ATC Communications, a family owned and operated telecom business provides telephone and Internet services to customers in Arapahoe in the surrounding region. The company offers digital technology and fiber optics that assure a fast, clear connection. John E. Koller, ATC Communications CEO said, “ATC Communications fulfills a role as a leader in rural telecom services. The technology improves the quality of rural life and attracts urban refugees who can thrive in the world economy and enjoy the amenities and delights of small-town life.”
Whether over the internet or face-to-face, Arapahoe citizens bring their talent, time and energy to improve their community and support the school and the children.
The community plans Halloween and Christmas celebrations that attract visitors from a 50-mile radius.
Tammie Middagh, the secretary of the Arapahoe Chamber of Commerce, said the Halloween parade starts at the nursing home where about 200 kids are treated to popcorn balls and other treats before heading downtown for a costume parade and then trick-or-treating downtown followed by a free Heavenly Hotdog Supper at the Arapahoe Christian Church. The high school band leads the procession of trick or treaters through downtown, and nearly every business owner participates in the fun.
Santa comes to town before Christmas and the holiday season lasts long and is festive. The chamber sponsors an annual Easter Egg hunt that also starts at the local nursing home.
The 4th of July is when Arapahoe celebrates big with its Prairie Pioneer Days. Activities include the Firecracker 5K Walk/Run, a patriotic music program in the city park and a parade followed by games and food vendors in the City Park.
Arapahoe is the kind of place where if you can imagine it, the Arapahoe community will help you do it.
A prime example is when former Arapahoe science teacher George Probasco wished his students had more opportunities to plant a garden, identify native trees and grasses, explore living organisms from bugs to birds, and combine nature studies with creative writing classes, music and art lessons. He noticed a vacant lot and persuaded the owners to sell the property at a reduced price to the Arapahoe/Holbrook Education Foundation. The Foundation, in turn, donated it to the Arapahoe School for use as an outdoor classroom.
The Horticulture Department of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in nearby Curtis designed the plan, Adams Construction Company, an Arapahoe business, leveled the plot of ground, and dozens of businesses, organizations and individuals gave money and labor to complete the design. Currently, the school, the city of Arapahoe and volunteers coordinate to maintain it.
The Outdoor Classroom is often booked for weddings, receptions and class reunions as well as for science education. Recently, the Arapahoe School purchased approximately 5,000 sq. feet to enlarge the Outdoor Classroom.
A small but efficient school system
Two handsome school buildings side by side on a single campus house the preschool, elementary school, middle school and high school programs. The school sparkles as an example of superb leadership and management.
Bob Braithwait, K-12 school principal, says, “The high school principal and I collaborate. I lead the work on curriculum development for kindergarten through 12th grade, and the high school principal handles the assessments and standards for all grades. We work together on schedules and school improvement projects.”
Collaboration is evident elsewhere in the system. Elementary and middle school teachers teach courses occasionally in the high school, and the 5th and 6th grades also share teachers with special expertise. McCook Community College collaborates with the Arapahoe School by offering online college courses to interested high school students.
Braithwait says, “The Arapahoe School System is led by a progressive school board with members who want us to always move forward and better prepare our graduates for life in the 21st Century. An example of that kind of forward thinking is the school board’s decision to purchase laptop computers for every student in grades K through 12.” Every classroom also has smartboards. Scholarships are available to Arapahoe graduates, and more than 70 percent of the graduates take advantage of the opportunity to further their education. The school also has a Teammates mentoring program.
Braithwait admits that he enjoys life in Arapahoe and is an example of someone who fell victim to the town’s charms. “I came intending to spend three years as a basketball coach, and I stayed for 20 years,” he said. “The town gets a grip on you.”
Who to Contact
John E. Koller
Arapahoe Public School
Principal, Bob Braithwait
City of Arapahoe