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Byway study keys on Hoisington opportunities

POSTED October 31, 2011 2:57 p.m.
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of articles about the assessment of sites on the Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway.)

Each local community has a story all its own, and each offers something different to the local tourism industry.
Barton County Finance Office Janet Crane reported recently on reports from the Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway Internal Marketing Committee to the Barton County Commission and she noted that they show a mix of opportunities for continued growth in the county.
The report documents input about local communities and their potential for growth.
What follows are excepts from those reports.
Strengths — Hoisington has a powerful story of severe weather that all citizens can share with each other and with visitors. 
The damage caused 10 years ago by a tornado has served to focus community energy on what elements needed rebuilding. 
One of those elements was lodging, and investments by local citizens have built a new hotel that logged very strong bookings in the opening months of 2011.
Challenges — Apart from the new hotel, traveler infrastructure is geared to drive-through traffic. 
The historic downtown is handsome and has very strong visual appeal, yet does not currently offer drivers strong reasons to stop.
Opportunities —  A restaurant would serve to slow drive-through traffic and give travelers a chance to support other businesses in town. 
A place on Main Street that documented the severe weather stories and could give locals and travelers a way to share their own experiences could also help create foot traffic in downtown Hoisington. 
A self-guided tour of downtown could feature the arts including interpretation of the metal street banners that line Main Street, the WPA-era art mural in the post office, and the mural on Main Street.

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