By MIKE COURSON
Great Bend Post
A trio of new Barton County Commissioners will be seated in early January. Tricia Schlessiger will replace current Commissioner Jon Prescott, who has been active in the revitalization of Pawnee Rock in his final months on the governing body. He may be leaving one role, but said he hopes to continue working to improve the small community.
"That town has incredible history with the Sante Fe Trail going through," Prescott said. "The Pawnee Rock was a critical spot of protection for settlers as they were moving west. That town, they've had some tough times, but there is still great property over there, structurally in good shape, some great old architecture that can be restored."
Prescott has been working with a local committee of eight members and the state historical preservation out of Topeka to work on restoring old homes. Prescott said many grants are available with different levels of matching funds from the state, but more planning is needed to obtain those funds. Restoring the community park is a high priority.
"Then families will say, 'This is kind of cool. I can move my family here. I can get a house that's pretty reasonably priced, might get some state funding to help restore that house,'" Prescott said. "And I have a place for my kids to play, too. A lot of people love small communities."
Another property of interest is the old opera house located just off US-56 Highway. The building was one of the first erected in Pawnee Rock after the railroad went through in 1872. It has served several purposes, most recently as an antique store.