Mar 032011

The newly released Census numbers show some Southeast Kansas communities have seen a decrease in population. Baxter Springs is one of those communities.
KOAM and FOX 14’s Zach Fletcher spoke to the Chamber of Commerce President, who says the numbers are a wake-up call.

Kansas counties in the KOAM viewing area all saw a decline in population except for Crawford County, which saw an increase of 1.64 %. The city with the biggest decrease in population in Cherokee County is Baxter Springs. It lost more than 450 people since the 2000 census. Those are numbers that shock Baxter Chamber of Commerce President Charlene Hunley.

Baxter has really seemed to grow in the last five years, tremendously. So I was surprised that the growth has gone the opposite direction.” says Hunley.
Hunley says some people are packing up and moving to the outskirts of Baxter, creating subdivisions outside the city limits.
She says even with the decrease in population, businesses are still coming to Baxter Springs.

“New restaurants that have come into town, we’ve got various other businesses. They may be small, but a small business or a large business is wonderful.” adds Hunley

Hunley says revitalization of the historic downtown area helps bring businesses to Baxter Springs.

Even though the census numbers are down business owner Richard Sanell isn’t discouraged.

“I want to keep a watchful eye of course to make sure we’re still intriguing individuals to make the step. They’ve lived in Joplin for four or five years to give Baxter Springs a thought to move into.” says Sanell

Richard Sanell, owner of cafe on the route says he’s actually seen an increase in business.

“The longer you’re at a place, especially a restaurant the more you get to know the community you grow a reputation. Lets look at Chicken Mary’s and Chicken Annie’s.” adds Sanell

Hunley says in order to make Baxter Springs, grow it will take a community effort.

“I think that’s going to be our main goal is to get our number up and get people in here that want to live in Baxter.” says Hunley.

And with those goals the City of Baxter tries to get people back on Old Route 66.

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