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Curtis, Maywood are beautiful spots to live the Nebraska good life
If it is true that a great life is not something we experience, it’s something we create, and that great lives are devoted to something that inspires, energizes, and ultimately makes a difference in the world around us, then Curtis, Maywood and Frontier County citizens are living large, great lives.
The Medicine Creek Valley 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 and Maywood are equidistant between McCook, Lexington and North Platte and comprise the population centers of Frontier County. Separated by only seven miles, both communities proudly proclaim excellent school systems and today, as it has been for millennia, the primary business in Frontier County is farming and ranching. Archaeological evidence suggests 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.
Of the two towns, Curtis is the trade center, providing the services needed by the population in the surrounding county; Maywood is essentially a bedroom community where residents live by choice, commuting to jobs in less appealing larger cities.
Center of the community
Curtis residents recently completed a community center that houses a recreation space, city offices and a public meeting place. According to John Wilkinson, a former banker, they identified a need for a community center over ten years ago. It became a reality when an alumnus of Curtis High School, Dr. George Garlick, offered the town a $1 million matching grant, allowing them to build the $2.5 million center.
Prosperous businesses line the main street in Curtis, Wilkinson said. “A well managed city with no debt and a well-maintained infrastructure including an airport and a hard surface airplane runway attracts business owners.”
Both banks are home owned. Recently, the Curtis State Bank was sold by its former owner and president, Wilkinson, to a Curtis businessman, Mike Kelly.
“I’m proud of the bank and our customers,” Wilkinson said. “I wanted to pass the torch to someone I knew well and I wanted it to remain a home-owned bank.”
Curtis is known as a great place to raise kids. Lacy Bryant, Curtis Chamber of Commerce secretary said, “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 several kinds of fish.
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 fifty-year tradition of producing an Easter pageant featuring a 35 member choir and 18 scenes involving between 4-20 actors in each scene. The nondenominational pageant is staged on Palm Sunday.
To help the town attract new businesses and residents, The Curtis Development Corporation has set aside lots on the main street for investment and recently the community began providing 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. A few of the lots even overlook the golf course, and one additional perk is a free annual membership to the golf course.
Maywood residents live there by choice
Maywood’s magnificent view of the Medicine Creek Valley is one reason families live in Maywood and commute, usually no more than 35 miles, to jobs in North Platte or McCook.
“Today both mothers and fathers often have jobs with the Union Pacific Railroad or Wal-Mart Distribution Center in North Platte and various industries in McCook,” said Lynn Wilson, a Maywood community leader
Harold Brummer, Maywood City Manager said, “We chose to live in Maywood because we believed we had a better shot of raising our kids in a small town where everybody knows your kids.” Wilson and Brummer agree that in Maywood someone is always around to keep an eye on the town’s kids.
Maywood’s business community includes the Ag Valley Co-op, a primary business in the Medicine Valley shipping 4-5 million bushels of grain every year to the Trenton ethanol plant, North Platte Feeders, and globally. Three trucking companies also maintain their corporate offices in Maywood along with many other independent truckers who haul cattle, grain and distiller’s grain from the Trenton Ethanol Plant to the cattle feed yards in the region.
Maywood is known for clear, clean, fresh tasting water, Brummer said, and the city improved the water and sewer system in the last ten years so the city infrastructure is prepared for new and expanding industries.
Because the demand for housing in Maywood exceeds the supply, the Maywood housing agency is buying older homes, restoring them, and then renting them.
Brummer said the community also recently financed and built an attractive Habitat for Humanity house that is well appreciated by its owner.
A ton of community support
The year’s big celebration is Old Glory Days, scheduled for the last weekend of May. Rebecca Marrot, administrative assistant for the City of Maywood, said the town buys meat and potatoes and serves a huge barbecue to crowds of as many as 500.
“We all bring a dish for the pot luck and make a free will donation,” Marrot said. “That provides the money for Maywood to celebrate with a town barbecue again the following year.”
Maywood is managed through a seven-member Village Board supported by a board of villagers making decisions about managing the Community Hall, and a planning commission responsible for developing and overseeing a comprehensive plan for the village.
“We built our park and playground and improved the Community Hall six years ago,” Brummer said. The town raised $37,000 in matching funds through spaghetti feeds, pancake suppers and community meals to receive a grant from the Peter Kiewit Foundation to pay for the improvements. “We serve a lot of community meals in Maywood to support our community projects.”
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 90-92% 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.
Maywood Schools offer similar extra curricular activities and opportunities for the youth to explore their interests and talents.
Jeffrey Koehler, superintendent and principal of schools in Maywood said, “The Maywood school system is strong because Maywood families strongly support the school.” He noted nearly every resident of Maywood comes to the sporting events, school concerts, theater, and other programs.
Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture
In addition to two strong schools in the Medicine Creek Valley, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, (NCTA) was established in Curtis in 1988 as a land grant institution within 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.
Dr. Weldon Sleight, dean of the college feels a rare passion for rural communities and the rural lifestyle.
“NCTA is a rural institution in a position to help rural Nebraska and in many cases, rural America,” he says. Dr. Sleight is convinced that we need to bring people back to our rural communities, and toward that end, every senior is enrolled in a course developed at NCTA titled, “Rural Community Career Development.” Future graduates develop a career plan and analyze opportunities available to them in their hometowns.
NCTA professors want their graduates to own businesses in their rural communities. “This big Nebraska offers space and opportunities for people to own their own business, and when we own something we take care of it differently,” Dr. Sleight said. Two programs at NCTA address ownership directly, the 100 Beef Cow Ownership Advantage and Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots. Both programs are designed to help those individuals interested in owning a beef cattle operation develop it while receiving instruction on a part time basis.
NCTA is dedicated to providing every student with an agricultural education based on research that is critical to the future of Nebraska, the nation, and the world.
“In 2010 the Nebraska State Legislature approved new buildings at only one education institution in the state of Nebraska, and the money was allotted to buildings at NCTA including a new dormitory and a $12 million education center.” Dr. Sleight adds, “Enrollment is up by 40% in 2011.”
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 and Maywood, it still is.
Who to Contact
Curtis Chamber of Commerce President
Curtis Chamber Secretary
Free lots in Curtis:
City of Maywood
Superintendent of Schools
Weldon Sleight, Dean
404 E 7th Street
Curtis, NE 69025
Dancing Leaf Lodge
Les and Jan Hosick
6100 E. Opal Springs Road
Wellfleet, NE 69170