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Ellsworth Strong meeting attracts more than 125

POSTED: June 18, 2014 7:00 a.m.
Juanita Kepka/

More than 125 residents of Ellsworth County attended a meeting Wednesday night at Ellsworth's American Legion building to learn more about the Walmart Express that appears headed to town.

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Organizers of Wednesday night's Ellsworth Strong meeting encouraged the more than 125 in attendance to take their questions about a potential baby Walmart coming to town to members of the Ellsworth City Council at the council's regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

After months of speculation, city officials confirmed this week that the Missouri engineering company they have been talking with represents retail giant Walmart, which has plans to build a Walmart Express in the old rest area at the intersection of Kansas Highways 140 and 156. Walmart has not officially announced its intentions; however, a company representative called city administrator Tim Vandall for the first time Wednesday morning and provided a profile of a Walmart Express.

Former Ellsworth resident Samantha Finke, whose family owns Finke Liquor Store in Ellsworth, also announced at Wednesday night's meeting that she talked with the owner of the former rest stop property and he told her the sale was "a done deal."

Ellsworth Strong was created by Finke and others to stop Walmart if possible, but also to make the Ellsworth business community stronger and educate local residents about the importance of supporting those businesses. 

She also created a website,, to showcase information and comments about Walmart's local activities.

"We don't have to lay down and make it easy," she said. "All of you should be at the city council meeting and even more."

Former state representative Josh Svaty, who continues to farm here with his family, said the issue isn't a new business coming to town; it's a new business coming to town that only duplicates services already available in Ellsworth. Walmart Express typically has a pharmacy and offers groceries, gasoline and household items. It would be about the size of the Dollar General store across the highway.

"We should be talking about what we need instead of adding a third pharmacy in a community of 3,000 that already has two," Svaty said.

Pick up a copy of the June 26 Ellsworth County Independent-Reporter for much more on this story.


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