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Back on board

Jan. 19—ELLINWOOD — Nancy Baird has lived in Ellinwood since 1996 and can't imagine living anywhere else.

She will be married to her husband Kris for 30 years in June and they have raised a daughter Bailey and son Kaden there. Bailey and her husband Jonathan live close, in Claflin, and she is employed as a third-grade teacher for USD 428 in Great Bend. Kaden is a student at Barton Community College majoring in health care.

"We love the Ellinwood community and have no plans of moving," Nancy said. "This community welcomed us with open arms in 1996. Kris and I had both grown up in small communities and the Ellinwood community has always been so welcoming. We chose this community for how clean the town was, the active business district, and the strong Christian beliefs."

It is wonderful to stop in a business where they call you by name, and truly care about how your day is going or how the family is doing.

Nancy Baird

Finding a home

Baird spent the first 18 years of her life on a farm by Lucas. "My parents ran a dairy farm, cattle herd and farmland. My upbringing definitely taught me what hard work was," she said.

After grade school and high school in the Lucas-Luray school system, Baird attended BCC and graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education.

While she was in college, she found opportunities in her career path. Friends from Ellinwood coaxed Baird and her husband to look for a house there.

"We had some great friends that lived in Ellinwood that encouraged us to look for housing in the Ellinwood community. They felt the community would be a great fit for us, and boy were they correct," she noted.

Since October 2005, Baird has worked at Doll Insurance Group & Finance Services LLC in Ellinwood.

"My specialty in our office is working with clients that are turning 65 and all aspects of Medicare insurance," she said. "Originally, I started part time as a front desk receptionist but am very thankful to owner Richard Doll for encouraging me to get my insurance license. He pushed me outside my comfort zone and has faith in me.

"I absolutely love my career getting to work with amazing clients and our terrific work family. I truly have the best coworkers. I enjoy meeting new clients and over the years I have developed some great friendships with clients. My heart is happiest when I have the opportunity to help others and my career is very rewarding."

The Chamber connection

Currently, Baird serves on several boards and committees as her schedule permits. She is a member of the United Way of Central Kansas board, church council at her Ellinwood Community Church, and her Focus on Ellinwood radio show highlights upcoming activities within the community. In the past, she has served as Recreation Commission director.

She's also a big supporter of the Ellinwood Chamber of Commerce. She had served as director of the Ellinwood Chamber for six years, organizing Ellinwood's annual After Harvest Festivals, chamber coffees and after hours and other Chamber events. In 2013, she decided to take a step back and focus on her family and her job.

But last year's 50th anniversary of AHF brought her back into a leadership role, sharing co-chairmanship with Doll on the planning committee. She will admit that the annual summer fest is her favorite, both as a community event and economic backbone of Chamber operations.

While she was coordinating the AHF event, she cast a look toward rejoining the Chamber board. This year, the Chamber is undergoing a revamp as it becomes more social media accessible and is streamlining operations to better serve its membership.

"I love small-town living, and something that just warms my heart on a daily basis is the friendliness of our businesses," she noted. "It is wonderful to stop in a business where they call you by name, and truly care about how your day is going or how the family is doing. A trip to the store can turn into a quick reunion of friends or meeting someone new in the community."

After hours

"I don't really have a lot of extra time for hobbies, between my career and serving on several boards. I do love to cook and bake when time allows," she said. "During the summer our family loves to go boating, camping and hang out at Wilson Lake. I love to walk when the weather is nice outside, which is another opportunity to visit with others that are out and about."

Her church involvement is council member of the former Ellinwood United Methodist Church, which merged recently into the Ellinwood Community Church as non-denominational.

"The support we have had from our church families and friends throughout the years is a treasure that this amazing community of Ellinwood has blessed us with," she said.

An active community

What makes Ellinwood special is the level of engagement and community activities, she said.

"We also love how active our community is," she said. "There are different activities or events being hosted by many different organizations and businesses throughout the year. The activities bring opportunities of socializing and fellowship.

"We are blessed with an amazing city crew that goes above and beyond to keep our town clean," she noted. "We have a friendly police department that patrols our community 24 hours a day and keeps us safe and protected.

"We truly live in a wonderful town," she said.