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Matt & Claire Prince were named Volunteers of the Year by the Eads Chamber of Commerce at the annual Kiowa County Economic Development Foundation’s annual meeting. Pictured are L to R: Dennis Pearson (Eads Chamber), Matt Prince, Doris Lessenden (Chamber member) Claire Prince and children Charlie and Colin Prince.

Community Awards Presented at the Annual Kiowa County Economic Development Foundation

By Betsy Barnett

May 11, 2022

On May 5 the Kiowa County Economic Development Foundation (KCEDF) was able to finally hold their annual meeting after two years of dealing with restrictions due to the Covid pandemic. The annual meeting was held in the lovely Eads Senior Citizen’s Center with approximately 50 people in attendance including the KCEDF Board of Directors, foundation administrator Cindy McLoud and presenter Stephanie Gonzales from the Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development (SECED) group with offices in Lamar.

McLoud first introduced the board members including Chairman Craig Kerfoot, Commissioner Donald Oswald, Chamber representative Brandon Hoffman, Town of Sheridan Lake representative Jerry Weber, Town of Eads representative Dennis Pearson and the two C Class Business representatives Matt Prince owner of CWC Rail, Inc. and Betsy Barnett, owner of the Kiowa County Independent.

The crowd was then served a lovely meal cooked out of the new kitchen in the Center and prepared by Cardon and Joyce Berry as well as Gail Voss, Eads Senior Citizen’s Center Director.

McLoud stated, “Stephanie Gonzales, Executive Director of Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development, was the speaker and besides giving an overview of the services she offers as a partner with KCEDF, she was able to give details on all the new housing construction we are starting to see in Southeast Colorado. A project that is unique to Kiowa County, is the Cactus Corner duplex project in the Kiowa Creek Estates located immediately south of Eads that is being built and will be managed and maintained by SECED. This will fall under the label of affordable housing. For this project, that means your income can be up to 80% of AMI to be eligible to rent there.”

McLoud went on to explain, “AMI is an abbreviation for ‘area median income.’ It’s different for each area. For Kiowa County, the 80% of AMI is $46,050 for a single person, $52,600 for a couple, a family of four would be $65,750, and so on. Another piece of interest is that those living at Cactus Corner will not have to do yard work! Those units will strictly be for rent. The Corners will have a play area, car ports, and 2-or 3-bedroom unit options.”

After Gonzales’ informative presentation that highlighted the positive advancements Eads and Kiowa County are starting to benefit from, the annual community awards were presented.

The first two awards including the Citizen of the Year award and the Volunteer of the Year award that are voted on and presented by the Eads Chamber of Commerce. Representing the Chamber and making the presentations for those two awards were Chamber members Dennis Pearson and Doris Lessenden.

Lessenden first presented the Citizen of the Year Award to Gail Voss.

In her presentation about Voss’ contributions to the community, Lessenden stated, “The Eads Chamber of Commerce recognizes Gail Voss as the Eads Citizen of the Year for the many roles she plays in this community now and in the past. Currently, she is the Eads Senior Citizen Director and has been for four years. Many people depend on her for help and services besides the many duties she fulfills at the new Eads Senior Center where she does most of the cleaning, monthly decorating, and preparing main dishes for the monthly brunch and meeting day noon meal. Gail Voss is also the Lay Leader for the Eads United Methodist Church which entails planning and organizing weekly worship services, cooking for many funeral dinners, leading worship services at the nursing home and other duties. Gail has led teen youth groups, taught Sunday School, and leads a weekly Bible Study class on Wednesday evening at the church. Gail often helps other people within the community. Through the years she has spent many days driving people to doctor appointments to front range cities and to Kansas doctors. She spends many hours mowing lawns or gardening for other people as well as caring for animals. Plus, she is a popular favorite seamstress who sews felt letters on school jackets and uniforms as well as mends garments.”

Many members of Voss’ family arrived for the presentation and to congratulate her for the powerful and important recognition.

Next, Lessenden presented the Volunteer(s) of the Year Award to Matt & Claire Prince.

In her comments about the contributions made by the Prince family, Lessenden stated, “Matt Prince moved to Eads three years ago from the southeastern part of the country and was followed by his wife, Claire and their sons, Colin, a freshman at Eads High School, and little Charlie who is in Kindergarten. Their graciousness and vibrant willingness to volunteer and work on committees immediately warmed many people’s hearts. Prince is the owner –operator of CWC Rail, Inc. that is based in Eads. He and his employees have rehabilitated the rail tracks from the Kansas border near Towner to the west near Boone, about 122 miles. Matt Prince has made many various monetary donations to a number of events in Kiowa County since moving to Eads such as the Kiowa County Fair banners, CLCEC sponsorships, the winter Ag Festivals and school events. Matt and the Prince family added to the anticipation of Christmas the last two years by bringing Santa Claus into Eads on rail cars that also brought Santa and his gifts for the children. Matt told the Chamber that they plan to bring Santa Claus into Eads this year on a Train! So, let’s watch for that December date for “Merry on Maine” when Santa comes to town!”

Lessenden continued, “Matt’s wife Claire has an educational background in Business, Psychology and Elementary Education. She is pleased to be on the Eads Elementary staff as a para-professional and substitute teacher. Claire has been a valuable asset to the Crow-Luther Cultural Events Center Board and the Hospital Board. As a CLCEC Board member, Claire brought new and innovative ideas for the Kid’s Zone at the Maine Street Bash in July and for “Merry on Maine” in December as well as the “Ag Day Celebration “ this year. The Prince parents guides their sons in the 4-H programs, in church, school, and athletics. As busy as they are, they also try to be at all those events their children are involved in. The Weisbrod Hospital Auxiliary appreciated the Prince family very much on November 20th when the Fall Bazaar ended the people dispersed, but the Prince family stayed and all picked up brooms and chairs and swept the whole Community Building. What a couple! What a family! We are glad they moved to Eads America!”

The last award of the evening, the Business of the Year Award, was voted on by the KCEDF board and presented by Director McLoud.

The Business of the Year Award was given to the owner of CWC Rail, Inc. Matt Prince.

In her nomination, McLoud stated, “CWC Rail, with its hands-on president Matt Prince, was hired by Colorado Pacific Railroad to rehabilitate, maintain, and now operate the line that runs from Towner Colorado here in Kiowa County to the NA Junction just east of Boone Colorado in Pueblo County. Going west to ports on the west coast only makes sense and gives our ag producers the ability to be competitive on the international market by helping to keep transportation costs down. As Doris Lessenden has highlighted how the Prince family has contributed on a very personal level to the betterment of our county, this award of Business of the Year recognizes the company’s contribution to helping our economic stability.”

McLoud continued, “CWC has now operated in Kiowa County for about four years and it’s that kind of stability that helps keep a vision going forward. This continuity of operation makes it possible for other activities like distribution centers as well as the confidence of our ag producers to continue their operations.”

Prince was genuinely moved by the award and stated, “There isn’t a better place I’d put my business than Eads and Kiowa County. My family and I have come to love this community.”

Kiowa County Economic Development has been working to develop more lots out on the Kiowa Creek Estates located just south of town with Jackson’s Pond as part of the development. The foundation also provides grant writing services for local non-profits and governments and works to market and highlight the potential future opportunities Eads and Kiowa County holds.

If you have a business idea or would like to get more involved with the Economic Development or Eads Chamber of Commerce, give McLoud a call at 719-438-2200.

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