Grow Custer County contest set to begin

A new spring season of competition is about to commence in Custer County and the town teams are gearing up for the second Grow Custer County contest. Towns will vie against each other for improvement points. The community doing the most in volunteerism and image improvements may be able to unseat Ansley, which won the initial county-wide competition last fall. “They hit it out of the park,” said Melissa Garcia, president of the Custer Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), which is sponsoring the competition in partnership with the Custer County Chief and radio station KCNI/KBBN as a county-wide unity and community building exercise. “We want make sure the coffee house conversation isn’t always on the problems but is more like “look how we’re moving forward,” said Garcia. Community groups generate points through new building and public space improvement projects, community spruce up events, rehabilitation of vacant properties and general nuisance abatement. Garcia said she thought the participating communities rallied together last year for the common good and see the value in cooperating with community image improvement projects like they have for years with education resources. So much interconnectedness in jobs and economic links has helped “bring everybody into the conversation” about housing and infrastructure improvements in every community in the county. So many people live in one town, work in another and do business in all of them that we can’t see ourselves as separate and unconnected any more, Garcia said. The participating communities, all seven of them, will go through a first round of judging at the end of April with the final results judged at the end of May.