What’s to like about Arapahoe? Better ask what’s not to like.
What’s to like about Arapahoe? We asked Arapahoe businesswoman Becky Crawford, and it didn’t take her long to reel off an impressive, if eclectic, list.
- A health clinic with physician services open five days/week
- Connie’s Dance studio, which offers tumbling, clogging and dance classes for youth and attracts students from “miles around Arapahoe”
- A library system that per capita is the best-used library in the state of Nebraska
- A movie theater managed by volunteers, where 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 plans for a new community pool
- Housing for retirees including both assisted living units and a nursing home
- Two day care centers and a preschool integrated into the public school
- Active 4-H Clubs, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts— Crawford told us five boys are seeking their Eagle Scout award this year
- A museum of local artifacts in an historic store front building
- The Fatima Shrine at the Catholic Church featuring Rachel Weeping for her Children by noted sculptor, Sondra Jonson
And, really, that’s just the beginning.
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 Scott Fisher. “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, 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.
In 2005 the city drilled a new deep well to supply city water and today there’s no need for slices of lemons to cut the chlorine taste since chlorine is not needed nor added to Arapahoe’s city water.
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. An 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.
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. Mayor Fisher says, “We make the work fun.” The community plans Halloween and Christmas celebrations that attract visitors from a 50-mile radius. People in the business community dress in costume for Halloween, and the town serves soup and sandwiches and sponsors a parade. Santa comes to town before Christmas and the holiday season lasts long and is festive. The 4th of July is Arapahoe’s day. The town, businesses, churches and organizations sponsor a parade, homemade ice cream in the park, a barbecue, games for youth, and music by The Mavericks, a local band.
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 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.
Probasco developed two science curricula for which he and the Arapahoe Schools were awarded a Christi McCauliff, (former teacher and U.S. astronaut) award. Probasco designed outdoor science curricula to honor and celebrate Arbor Day and invited 500 students from neighboring towns to participate in outdoor science projects and activities with plants. The program won a National Arbor Day Foundation award.
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, elementary 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 on-line college courses to interested high school students. Currently 12 Arapahoe students are enrolled in McCook Community College and earning college credits.
It’s a system that works. Arapahoe students do well on Iowa Test for Basic Skills and the state and national testing. For students to “get lost” in the system is unlikely, proven by a 99% graduation rate.
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 9 through 12.” Scholarships are available to Arapahoe graduates, and over 70% of the graduates take advantage of the opportunity to further their education.
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 Elementary School
Principal, Bob Braithwait