By: Kaylee Denny
The town, Ulysses was founded in 1885 and was named after the president, Ulysses S. Grant. Ulysses is a very small, pass-through town, where no one would think it would have such an interesting story behind it. Ulysses was lifted onto skids and moved three miles where the original homestead was first located. At one point Grant County had 20 different post offices but only the Ulysses one survived; making it to be the small town I live in today. It was kind of difficult finding 12 key assets of commonwealth examples in the small town of Ulysses, Ks. Some were very obvious and then others I had to dig a little deeper.
The first one is “Health”. We have one main hospital and other little facilities around town. Our main hospital is called Bob Wilson Memorial, and it is a Catholic-based hospital. We also have Genesis which is a nonprofit organization that offers healthcare, dental care, social services, and much more. We also have two dentists in town and a chiropractor.
“Spiritually” would be next on the list and what town wouldn’t be complete without a church? We have multiple churches throughout Ulysses, Ks, ranging through different religions. Our biggest religion here is Catholicism, which is also one of our biggest churches. “Mary Queen of Peace” is a pointed building with large stained glass windows. Another example is my small house church called “Mercy, Grace & Truth”. This church is family run and the attendance is around 20-30 people every Sunday. When my Papa Kenneth moved here from Texas, he and my granny ran a country church on the West side of town. Then due to financial issues they had to switch over to the little house.
Next on the list is “Water Cycle”. A small town in Southwest Kansas is very sparse in water, so I had to think outside of the box for this one. My first example is Frazier Lake. Frazier is a man-made pond for city waste. You can fish in this pond but for obvious reasons, you have to throw whatever you catch back. Then my second example is my out-of-the-box idea. Dragon-Line provides irrigation systems to farmers for precision farming. Since agriculture is so big in our town but we have so little water, we have to make our own system for irrigation.
“Wildlife & Natural World” was a hard one to come up with. The only thing we have here relatively close to natural nature is Frazier park. Now I mentioned Frazier lake above which ties into Frazier park. Frazier is a park and a pond. This is a man-made park that has walking trails and informational poster stands about the wildlife that inhabits these facilities. Other than that our wildlife comes out of the corn or wheat fields.
The fifth key asset is “Renewable Energy”. I will admit this was also a difficult one to come up with. Being in such a small town in Kansas the only example I could think of is wind energy. I found out we have a wind farm, called “Buffalo Dunes” Northeast of town. This farm has 135 running wind turbines and is producing 249,750 kWh of power.
“Leisure & Recreation” would be a hard one, especially for people who are from the big city, but for me, it’s a piece of cake. I have lived in Ulysses since 2006, so I had to find things to do to keep my busy mind active. A big hit in our small town is the “Grant County Pool & Gym”. You can go swimming and hit up a yoga class right after. They have an outdoor pool and an indoor pool, so you can swim any time of the year. The gym is small but they have every piece of equipment to get you to break a sweat. Throughout the whole year, you can catch a high school ball game, either on the court or out on the field. Cheering on the Ulysses Tigers is always a fun thing to do on a Friday night. Another fun thing to do it will keep you busy is the “Grant County Fair” in July. Everything from indoor exhibits, livestock shows, live music, and great food trucks.
Next on the list is “History”. I thought this one was fun to research because I learned more about my small town of Ulysses. If you want to take a stroll through history, I highly encourage you to walk through the historic adobe museum. Many of the museum exhibits tell the story of life on the high plains. Then “Hotel Edwards” and an old school house resides right next to the museum that was built back in 1887. “Hotel Edwards” is one of the last remaining buildings from old Ulysses. “Wagon Bed Springs” is another great historic site known in Ulysses. This was one of the well-known stops a Sante Fe traveler would make. This was the only known water source they would encounter after the long journey from the Arkansas River. This area also has many Indian burial sites and they later found out a lot of trading happened at the springs.
“Foodshed” was quite easy to do because a lot of the local food suppliers have been here for a very long time. We have one grocery store and it is named “Lowes”. They have a wide variety of pantry items, meat, and fresh produce for your everyday needs. Another example is “Bear Creek Coffee Shop”. Bear Creek is a newer business but serves delicious breakfast and lunch items, and has delicious caffeinated beverages. The last example is “El Ranchito Cafe”. El Ranchito or Chito for short opened in 1968 and is still in business today serving delicious Mexican food.
Next is “Education”. The Schools located in Ulysses are a prime example of our education. We have Hickok (PreK-2nd), Sullivan (3rd-5th), Kepley (6th-8th), and the High School (Fresh-Sr). The other example of education would have to be the “Grant County Public Library”. I think this is a great example of education because they have so many books about everything you could imagine. They also have programs for the younger generation to help them get interested in reading.
The “Arts & Culture” category had me stuck. We have the “Main Artery” which is an art studio but nothing else comes to mind unless you think outside the box. The main artery holds art classes for the public and sells art created by the artists who work there. My other example is the Creative Creations Flower shop. This one is overstepping a little but I believe making bouquets of flowers is an art. I took a floriculture class through the public high school and there are a lot of things you have to consider before putting together flowers and leaves.
The “Soil & Mineral Cycle” key asset was an easy one. Our town is based on agriculture, and anything that grows needs soil to grow in. We have multiple businesses going out and testing soil samples to make sure our crops grow efficiently. The “K-State Research & Extension Office” (Also where I am interning) and “Skyland Grain” both have facilities where they can send soil samples to get tested. These tests help determine whether or not you need to add or take away something in the soil you’re growing crops on.
My “Sense of Place” in Ulysses is the Ulysses FFA Barn. For the past four years, I have kept the livestock that I show at the fair there and also my horse resides there also. I like to go to the barn in my free time and spend it with my animals. I feel quite relaxed when I am out there because I have no one telling me what to do and I can just work on things I want to work on. I am sure this varies from person to person because everyone has a different opinion but that is my sense of place.