Above: Norma and Danny Scott. | Download this photo
Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Danny Scott, Caney Community Betterment Group Foundation
Sept. 22, 2021
By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University
“Betterment: The act or process of improving something.”
This definition certainly applies to the work of a group of volunteers who are helping to improve their rural southeast Kansas community.
Danny Scott is with the Caney Community Betterment Group Foundation. He told of how Caney has made progress, thanks to the Kansas PRIDE Program, First Impressions, Rural Grocery Initiative, the City of Caney and members of the community.
Danny and his wife Norma have rural roots. They grew up in Chautauqua County near the rural community of Niotaze, population 82 people. Now, that’s rural.
Danny and Norma were in 4-H together and went to K-State before getting married. He started working at the bank in Caney during the summers and joined the bank full-time after earning his ag economics degree. He then worked for a computer network company in Coffeyville before coming back to Caney’s Community National Bank & Trust, from which he retired in 2019. He had become quite concerned about the community’s trajectory.
“Caney was running downhill,” Danny said. Downtown businesses were boarded up, the grocery store had closed, the town’s old swimming pool was leaking, and the chamber of commerce closed down. “It was discouraging,” Danny said.
In 2015, the city hired Fred Gress as city administrator and he started working immediately on infrastructure.
In 2017, Danny and others got with the K-State Research and Extension local director to see what could be done to help. They formed the Caney Community Betterment Group Foundation, which joined the Kansas PRIDE program.
The group set out to conduct fundraisers to support diverse community improvements. One was for the swimming pool, another was to raise funds for a police drug dog, and another was for new Christmas lights downtown. “For every fundraiser we’ve had, it’s been different people that have stepped up,” Danny said. “Alumni and other people from out of town are donating too.”
These investments began to make a difference. A drug dog was purchased. A new swimming pool was built. Then there was the long-term question of grocery service in the town.
“Our grocery store had closed more than 10 years ago,” Danny said. “We tried all different alternatives but none of them worked.” Gress knew of an example where the grocery store was municipally-owned and they finally decided to try it.
The city bought the former grocery store building and a bank loan helped finance the operation. Caney Market opened in March 2021 with help from a marketing analysis study provided by K-State’s Rural Grocery Initiative. “They’ve been wonderful,” Danny said.
“Kansas PRIDE has helped us a lot,” Danny said. “They helped us participate in the First Impressions program and hosted a grant-writing class provided by K-State Research and Extension.We’re very appreciative of the PRIDE program.”
Danny also credits Gress. “He took the lead on several of these projects. Without him, many of these things wouldn’t have happened. Hiring a good city administrator is worth the investment.”.
Last spring, Caney hosted a May Fest event at which more than a thousand people attended. A couple of K-State grads initiated a downtown outdoor live country music concert series called 4th and Live featuring Nashville recording artists. The concert series has proven quite popular.
“We have had several news businesses move to downtown,” Danny said. “We want to keep the positive momentum going. People have been good to us and I owe it to the community to improve it so it will be good for the future.”
For more information, search for Caney Community Betterment Group Foundation on Facebook.
Betterment is defined as the act or process of improving something. The community of Caney has benefitted from such improvement thanks to the work of committed volunteers such as Danny Scott and dedicated public servants such as Fred Gress.
We commend the Caney Community Betterment Group Foundation and all the donors and volunteers who are making a difference by investing their time and treasure. They are making their community a better place.
Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.