Category: Rural by Choice

A sense of community, low crime rate, friends that are more like family, these "Rural by Choice" features show what it means to Live in Lincoln County.
(The phrase, Rural by Choice, and the logo, are used with permission of the Kansas Sampler Foundation. For more information, visit

Elijah & Lara Keever

Elijah & Lara Keever are Rural by Choice in Lincoln County, KS. (Photo by Tyler Gier)

While Elijah Keever grew up in a small, north-central Kansas town similar to Lincoln, his wife, Lara, made the switch from Boston-living to the rural lifestyle in Kansas. The family owns Keever Auto & Ag, and have operated the business in Lincoln for five years. “We got to know some wonderful people here in Lincoln, and were given an opportunity to start a business,” Lara said.

Al Joe Wallace

Al Joe Wallace is Rural by Choice in Lincoln County, KS. (Photo by Becky Rathbun)

Al Joe Wallace, who currently serves as one of the Lincoln County Commissioners, has lived at the same farmstead for his entire life in the Salt Creek township. “I like the community,” Wallace said. “I like the people, and so I had no desire to leave.”

Jared Spear & Lisa Simmons

Jared Spear & Lisa Simmons are Rural by Choice in Lincoln County, KS. (Photo by Becky Rathbun)

Jared Spear, who was born and raised on a family farm in Lincoln County, enjoys rural living and took an opportunity to open a business in his hometown. Once he did that, he decided to open other businesses in town. He and his fiancé Lisa Simmons enjoy the community “where people care about the well being of the community and other local businesses.”

The Labertew Families

Stan & Sandy Labertew and Ben & Angie Labertew are Rural by Choice in Lincoln County, KS. (courtesy photo)

The Labertew families take education seriously and have also built a successful family agri-business in Labertew Apiaries in their spare time. They’ve made Sylvan Grove their home and believe it is a great place to raise a family and find a real sense of community.

Craig & Mary Ann Stertz – Rural by Choice

Craig & Mary Ann Stertz are Rural by Choice in Lincoln County, KS. (courtesy photo)

When Craig and Mary Ann Stertz purchased a crumbling, falling building on Lincoln Ave., they saw an opportunity to restore it. With 36 years of marriage to their credit, the couple is still together after 4 years of working out different opinions on the loft renovation. Those interested in staying the loft can rent it out via Airbnb.

Jason & April Coover

Jason & April Coover are Rural by Choice in Lincoln County, KS.

When April Coover attended a career fair, she discovered a career opportunity at the pharmacy in Lincoln. Not long after her move to Lincoln, she went on a “successful” blind date with her husband, Jason Coover. “We can let the kids play outside and know that our neighbors look out for them, love them and treat them just as they do their own kids/grandkids,” she said.

Jim & Faye Metz


Jim Metz took the long way home. After graduating from Kansas State University, and spending time in the Peace Corps, Metz took a job working at a resort in the Pacific island nation of Samoa. There he met his wife Faye, and just two years ago they decided to return to Jim’s hometown to raise …

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Jason & Annie Dohl

Jason Annie Dohl

Jason and Annie Dohl returned to Jason’s hometown of Sylvan Grove in the early-2000s to raise a family and pursue their dreams of owning their own businesses. “We wanted to raise our children (Valden, 12; Vance, 9; Tevis, 7) in a small town,” Annie said. “We wanted to allow our children to feel safe and …

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Jude & Rachel Stecklein


The Steckleins made their lives and raised their family in Sylvan Grove. Jude has served as an administrator for Unified School District 299 for the last 33 years. His wife, Rachel, recently retired as the Sylvan Grove city clerk after more than 29 years in that role. Jude says Sylvan Grove has provided a great …

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Grant & Felicia Heller

Grant Heller returned to the area he grew up in to practice chiropractic and after a year he purchased the Lincoln practice in 2014. His wife Felicia is a sales associate with Farm Bureau Financial Services in Lincoln. The couple both enjoy traveling the area rodeo circuit, Grant as a steer wrestler, and Felicia as …

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Brennan and Allison Johnson

Brennan and Allison returned to her hometown of Lincoln a little over three years ago when Allison was offered a job as a Speech Language Therapist based at the Lincoln County Hospital. While Allison’s home base is in Lincoln, she travels across North Central Kansas to visit patients. Brennan started his own construction company, Elite …

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TJ & Sheri Jonsson

It was 14 years ago when TJ and Sheri Jonsson moved to Lincoln so TJ could take a physical therapy position with the Lincoln County Hospital. His wife Sheri serves as a dietitian and nutritionist at nearby Ellsworth County Medical Center, and she says the proximity to Wilson Lake, the beautiful rolling hills and limestone …

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Cody Robison & Beranda Pickering

Cody and Beranda started BC Diesel in Lincoln less than a year ago and have already expanded to five full-time employees. Beranda says Lincoln County’s centralized location and proximity to major highways were two key selling points. “As a native of Lincoln County, I knew how much this community had to offer both our business …

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Dan and Traci Bates

Dan and Traci both grew up in small towns in Kansas, but after living in Kansas City for a number of years they relocated to Lincoln to get back to the rural lifestyle. “We both worked full-time jobs, with long commutes that took away from time with our boys,” Traci said. “I wanted to be …

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