The story of Kress is a similar story to many towns in west Texas. Once a decently sized rural town with many businesses and citizens, the fall in demand for labor has caused the population to dwindle to less than one thousand. The town has stopped thriving and simply has just enough to survive, meaning a small local government and a school. This brings about the importance of organizations like Ogallala Commons and their work to build up the small communities in the mid-plains. One of the ways they do this is to seek out and emphasize the importance of commonwealths that these communities already possess, and teach ways that we can preserve them.
One of the commonwealths most small communities still possess is an education system. Kress still has the Kress Independent School District which consists of an elementary school including pre-k through sixth grade, and a combined junior high and high school that includes seventh through twelfth grades. The school provides students with a basic education as well as working hard to encourage them to seek higher education. They do this by stressing the importance of continued education in elementary school by making it a theme and inviting guest speakers who talk about college. In the high school they encourage it by providing dual credit courses that count toward their bachelor’s degree. This is a very useful commonwealth, and in Swisher County they take it further with programs like the Farm Safety Day where younger students learn how to live and interact in a rural community while being cautious with their surroundings.
Another basic commonwealth of Kress is their foodshed. While the closest grocery store is in Tulia which is fifteen minutes away by car, we do have a small family owned convenience store and a restaurant open four days out of the week. On the spirituality front the town of Kress has several churches where people go to worship and feel a sense of place.
Other commonwealths include the history of the area recorded and demonstrated in the Swisher County Museum in Tulia, as well as the “history walk” for the third grade students where they visit various landmarks in the town of Kress. Arts and Culture include local talents like Gary Williams the Bluegrass and Old Country music performer and composer, as well as Kenneth Wyatt the famous Swisher County painter. One of the most popular recreational activities for the town of Kress is to attend the sporting events of the Kress Kangaroos, many citizens are dedicated fans of the football, basketball, and baseball programs.
Commonwealths like this are valuable to the small Midwestern community, and must be nurtured and valued. Through the help of the Ogallala Commons and organizations like it we can preserve these small town gems and use them to the advantage of building up the communities and overall region.