Monday, December 31, 2007


Hey folks
i am in tennessee visiting family.
its about 60 degrees here on new years eve, but snow is predicted.
a good snow here is 2 inches.

ill try to check in now and then
lets get some ideas going

its up to us the people to make things happen....

you can make your own reality :)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Moving on

We have had over a week now of comments about the Big Box store. We have collectively complained, bitched and moaned ... called names and pointed a few fingers.
I believe this is therapeutic but it is time to move on.

More pointing fingers and name calling will get us nowhere. Both sides will continue to claim they are right and the other side is wrong. I believe we have heard most of the arguments on both sides.

I don't want to stifle debate, but I do want to try to direct our energy a bit.

There are real issues that we need to debate and directions we need to take.

• Should we use incentives to attract business and industry?

• Do we need industry or retail?

• What do we want the city to look like in 20 years?

These are items that I feel need to be debated.

At present we are divided and a divisive issue has shown that. What we do now really matters. If we stay divided we will get nowhere.

We need vision and purpose, and we all need to do our part to make those visions happen.

How can we all get together and decide on some goals for the city?


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day ... dreams

On the evening of Christmas Day, I thought about the big box flap and where we might go from here.
We can argue about who is at fault, who was right or wrong, until the cows come home and it wont matter much. Even if someone is proven wrong, they wont admit it anyways, so we might as well move on.

Now is the time to get something going. We have some energy going, it just needs to be channeled in a positive direction.

Sometimes i get off on some wild tangents on the internet, and sometimes it leads to ideas. Many ideas never see the light of day, but some do, like the music festival last fall.

I do have a dream for Arkansas City. It might be considered strange, but if you take into account our very early history, it isn't.

The first part of my dream started last fall with the music concert on the levee. The River of Life Music Festival was a great success thanks to help from a whole lot of people - nearly all Arkansas City people by the way, who just helped out as needed.
A lot of people also helped out with money.
We are already planning next year.
I would like to have a few more people on my inner committee to work from about the first of February on it.

I hope to build up the music festival, and perhaps to even add some other musical performances during the year. I hope to pull off something small in the Spring - just a basic indoor concert.
The festival itself will likely be the first weekend in October next year.
But thats not set. If you would like to get involved, get in touch with me.

The second part would be another type of entertainment - story telling.
I believe we could have a story telling festival here. This is a big trend that is growing nationwide.
There are festivals all around us - Oklahoma,Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa for goodness sakes, Colorado etc.,
But not many in Kansas.
Soooooo we have a chance to get in on the ground floor.

Some might laugh - some laughed at the music festival last fall., but consider ...

Branson, Missouri was a junky little town with nothing much going for it 20 years ago.
The Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield wasn't much 35 years ago.
The site of the International Story Telling Championship - Jonesboro, Tenn., was a town of 1,000 people with a bypass and nothing at all happening there 25 years ago.

So why can't we do that here ?
where will we be in 25 years ?

Thoughts anyone ?


Monday, December 24, 2007

poll question

Our latest poll question shows that 75 percent of the people believe the city did not fairly represent them by rejecting the big box TIF district proposal.
As people have voted the past few days, the percentage has not changed.
Right now its
238 - 78

Anyway, I got to wondering.
We did a poll late in November, about a month ago, on the TIF district.

The vote, published in the Traveler on Nov. 30, showed :

243, or 41 percent supported the TIF
320, of 54 percent did not support the TIF
32 were not sure.

The tide defintely has turned.
What do you make of this?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

my column, where do we go from here?

Here is my column that was in Saturday's paper.
I would appreciate any comments.

Now we have an opportunity.

Half the town is up in arms about the city's rejection of the TIF district that killed the Lowe's proposal before it got off the ground.

The response has been overwhelming on my blog. I've been doing the blog for six months. I have had more visitors, page views and comments, over the past three days than I have had the previous six months.

At first, the outrage against the "three amigos" was overwhelming, but lately the other side is starting to post.

"Three amigos" is a phrase that has been attached to the three who killed the proposal, Mayor Dotty Smith and commissioners Mell Kuhn and Scott Margolius.

Of course, proponents of the project are angry. And of course, the opponents are furiously defending the amigos.

The discussion has been good, though heated, and at times perhaps a bit beyond the boundaries of good taste.

But I still think it is a good procedure and a debate that needs to happen.

I do believe that all the commissioners were sincere. The "three amigos," as well as proponents Joel Hockenbury and Patrick McDonald, all did what they thought was right.

Only history will tell who is right, and I'll not be surprised if both sides are partly right and partly wrong.

But I have not seen this type of public outcry since I have been here. The annexation and foundation of Parkerfield, and the yard-parking fiasco don't even come close.

You can talk about who is at fault and who was right or wrong forever, but the big question is: Where do we go from here?

It's time to look beyond who is to blame and who knew what and when they knew it.

Now that we are all talking, it is time to get down to some serious debate - and find some solutions along the way.

Key to the debate is what kind of town we want. Another key is how to get there.

I'll be the first to admit I don't have any answers. I do think we need to be more creative and try new things. But beyond that and a music festival, I don't have any solid answers.

But that is OK.

But what I do have is a positive outlook and a belief that we as a city can solve most of our problems.

This latest controversy might just be the thing that could bring us together. It could also tear us apart and take us back 50 years.

That choice is up to us.

What we need now is to realize that there are good people on both sides, and assume that your worst enemy is at least sincere in his or her beliefs, however misguided.

Beyond that, we need to talk - and talk and talk.

That is where solutions are found. We also need to be willing to do whatever we need to do to make things happen.

The City Commission can do a lot, but they cannot make Arkansas City prosperous. That job is up to us, the citizens.

They have given us a spark. What will we do with it?

Friday, December 21, 2007

you can see it again

According to city officials, the meeting Tuesday night is going to be broadcast several more times over the next few days.
Sometime this afternoon they hope to air it again on the local access chanel, cable channel 7.
it will run continuously through Saturday, commissioner Patrick McDonald told me.

Also, I asked the mayor about televising the public comment section of the regular meetings. She would like to do so. They are not currently televised.
This is referring only to the time for general public comments before a meeting, not to public hearing events.

SOrry about any confusion. They are having some technical difficulties I understand.

Smoking guns and corridor studies

Here is the page everyone has been talking about
both sides have cited this page as proof that they are right. I talked with Warren Porter, city manager in Winfield, and asked him who he thought was right. He said both sides were right, "just depends on how you interpret the data."
See commentary below the pictures

To get the best look at these charts, click on them and they will open in another window, in a more readable size

It is true that the study says about Lowe's
A closer analysis indicates that the US-77 Corridor can only support lower additional square feet for such stores. It would be more appropriate to fill this retail gap with a smaller store, such as a Sutherlands. ...

On the other side, in the chart, note tha Lowes is listed as a "representative retailer" that could fit there, if it used its smaller store .. which is what was in the proposal way back when it was brought to the commission.

so the page seems to say on the one hand that while there is a need for such a store, a lowes is too big, but even in saying that, it says a smalelr lowes would work.
I did manage to get my hands on a copy of the report, it is interesting reading.
I may try to post more of it later.


Thursday, December 20, 2007


Someone asked about where to find that 77 corridor study. Ive looked around most of the afternoon and cant seem to put my fingers on it.
Ill keep looking.
Ill find it and let you know.

there are also other points raised id like to address, but that will have to wait a bit. Ill hopefully get to that later tonight or tomorrow.

One point I want to make is that opportunity we have here.
We have lots of energy going right now, and much of it negative. Its understandable. people are disappointed, enraged, upset ... lots of feelings going around.

But the good thing is everyone is talking. Now we need to keep talking.
We have good people on both sides who feel passionately that they are right and that the other side is wrong.
There's probably some truth to both sides here, and no one is totally wrong.

The thing is though, to take this energy and do something positive with it.
THe real debate is what we want the future to be.

We also need people of action.
I still believe differences can be made, and I think a lot of people on here posting could do a lot of good if they could get together and get some common goals going.

So keep talking people.
Lets also start showing up at meetings. Question everything, and think about everything, and then offer ideas. Of course, if you offer an idea, that - to me at least - implies some ownership and a willingness to work toward that idea.

You probably know about the concert I helped get started last year. I talked to a lot of people before I got started, including city people. The city did help, but only after I had a plan in mind and means to accomplish the goal at hand. The city gave me no money, but they did let me use things that are available to the public such as stages, tables, portapoties, and even the field where it was held.
I still had to do the work.

I just want to encourage everyone to keep talking and to try to make things happen.
If we can do this, then the big box flap will have a positive outcome.

Blaming and pointing fingers is ok for awhile, even theraputic, but maybe its time to move ahead and make something good happen.

What do you think ?

let's be civil

Hey folks.
This is an important debate that needs to happen.
I think this is a good format for it I believe.
It does seem that it is getting a bit personal though, and a bit too rough.
Go ahead and say what you want, but lets also try to be civil and respectful of others who have different views.
The internet does give anonymity, and that makes it easier to be hostile and perhaps more aggressive.
Just asking that you keep these things in mind as you post.

If anyone is seriously doing anything about a recall, please get in touch with me.


The morning after

Oh my goodness.
I have never seen such a public outcry. I have been doing this blog for nearly six months. Yesterday I had more visits, and more comments, than I have had in any previous MONTH.

Several observations here.

The nature of the Internet is that it is anonymous, and even if you sign your name, there is no way to know who is really posting.

When you feel you were not listened to, it can leave a bad taste politically, but there is plenty you can do if you are serious.
The work session meetings are open meetings, just as the regular meetings are.
Showing up and speaking out in the public comment time is still your best bet. That is televised and people see it and there is no question as to whether it is a real person.
I have seen huge change take place in other cities.
I remember, in South Carolina, this little old lady who was ticked about her property taxes doubling. She went to every meeting, questioned every penny, demanded copies of every scrap of paper that existed. In two years she started a movement and EVERY member of the commission was voted out of office. It can happen but it takes persistence and ummmmm intestinal fortitude. I do appreciate all the comments on here, but it takes more than typing comments while sipping coffee to make things happen.
I thought those people were crazy at the time. But then I moved to Kansas and saw my property taxes more than double. hmmmmmm, now I'm not so sure.

I am not taking sides in this fight. I do think it is a shame that the proposal was not at least listened to, but ... still I am not taking sides.
Two commissioners did accuse me at the meeting of being biased in our reporting - reporting too much for the pro side and not enough for the con side, in our regular news pages. You know Scott was one of them obviously.
I really don't think we were. Patrick even said we didn't report enough of the pro-side. (My general rule is, if you please both sides, or aggravate both sides, you were probably balanced in your reporting.)
I do think we could have reported more before the fact. I just ran out of time.

This debate needs to continue.
It is not really about the big box or about Lowe's. It is about the direction of the city and our future. So don't give up. Just put some action behind your rage. I'm not sure a recall is the answer. I still believe showing up, investigating thoroughly and speaking out, is the best bet.
An old preacher used to tell me, "half of the fight is just showing up."
I have asked before ... what do you want and what are you willing to do to make it happen.

They talked about the feasibility study that would have to be done. Now it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that this report already exists. Had the matter passed we would have had a copy by the end of the week.
I would like to get my hands on a copy, and Ill try. If i do ill share it of course.
I asked Doug Russell about it after the meeting.
He said I would have to go through the developer.

I will say that I believe Dotty thinks she voted the will of the people. Whether she was correct is another matter, but after talking with her yesterday, I am pretty sure she is sincere in her belief.
After attending earlier meetings, I was not surprised at the vote at all. Sides were drawn pretty early in this fight. The question is, were their votes based on public input or on their own agendas. Dotty was the "wild card." Going into the meeting, I thought there was a chance she might vote for it, but her vote was the only one I was not pretty certain about.

David Allen made an astute observation in his blog. Three commissioners who were sitting at this time last year, who are not now members, all spoke for the development. Had the vote been taken a year ago, the result would have been different.

Some have commented about Mel's "attack" on the developer and about his remarks about "hicks."
I do believe in fairness. The attorney and the developer were less than forthcoming with the truth, so Mel pressed them. We know now that the developer did indeed get rejected in Winfield before he came to Arkansas City.
Also, I really don't recall Mel saying the people of Arkansas City are hicks. Ive been to about all the meetings and I think I would remember that. He might have used the word, but ... context is everything.

Today is another day.
The story will continue I'm sure.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Winfield Connection

I just got this information, and not in time for the paper today, but wanted to get it out there.
Don't know if this will temper anyone's feelings, but it turns out that Winfield did reject a similar deal with the same developer - and with Lowes - three years ago.

Last night Mel Kuhn grilled the developer and his attorney on this question. The attorney and developer were very vague and never answered the questions.
Kuhn's questions were :
Did you go to Winfield first?
DId you propose this to Winfield first ?
he never got a straight answer last night, though the developer did imply that he did not. He said he "did not recall" whether they stopped in Winfield on their way to Arkansas City.

Here is what we found out from Winfield City Manager Warren Porter.

A Lowe’s home improvement store was the object of a Winfield City Commission meeting three years ago.
When business developers Kessinger-Hunter, out of Kansas City, informally proposed to commissioners that a Lowe’s be built at the intersection of Country Club Road and U.S. 77, Porter said the developers wanted an incentive in the form of tax increment financing (TIF) for that particular district. However, city commissioners didn’t oblige.
“They knew what was and was not on the table,” said Porter. “They knew the city wasn’t interested in doing a TIF for that particular development.”
“It was a tax equity issue,” said Porter. “It would’ve created an unfair competition balance.”

Whether Kessinger-Hunter will reattempt the development in Winfield is still in question.

As an aside, this is a huge reason to have openness in government. And a reason for city's to not have executive sessions.
This information was not available last night, and of course the lawyer and the developer were not going to give it out if they could help it.

Does this change anyone's feelings ?

the debate

There was a good debate and good public discussion at the city commission meeting Tuesday night. They voted down the establishment of a Tax Increment District, which was the first step in looking into bringing a Lowes to town.

There were about 200 people there and about 30 spoke. Most spoke in favor. according to my count, there were 20 for it, 12 against it ... and there were two that I really could not tell which side they were on.

The debate centers around the idea of protecting local merchants versus taking advantage of an opportunity.

It is hard to say what the effect of a Lowe's would be on the city. There were good arguments on both sides.


Late in the meeting Scott Margolius took another cheap shot at the Traveler. Don't know if you saw it, but he was jeered a bit for making a trite remark about us having taken a position on the issue.
We have not taken a position and neither have I. (But even if we did, that wouldn't be wrong.)
But I hope the commissioner realizes these things can go both ways.
He has done that a few times during public meetings for no apparent reason.

Pretty late about now. Ill try to blog more on this later.
This is a larger issue than a Tif district or a Lowes.
The real underlying issue is what do we want Arkansas City to be.
And what are we willing to do to make that happen.

During meetings commissioners have repeatedly said the local merchants have to "step up to the plate."
They are right about that.
We cannot expect the commission - or the city government - to do it for us.
Their job is to provide basic services and keep the peace so that we, the citizens, can make things happen.

more tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

big box crushed

City Commissioners voted down a tax increment district by a 3-2 vote at their meeting tuesday, that would have paved the way for negotiations to begin to bring a Lowes to Arkansas City.

After hearing over 20 people speak, commissioners voted at the end of a 3 and a half hour meeting.

Mayor Dotty Smith cast the tie-breaking vote. Scott Margolius and Mel Kuhn voted against the measure. Patrick McDonald and Joel Hockenbury voted in favor.

More coming soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

season for giving

Our bell ringing for the Salvation Army went very well last Friday. People were very generous and we raised just over $4,000. KSOK raised more money than we did, but we had more change ... more coins, than they did.

We have not forgotten the pie. We will do our drawing today and probably stage an event before the week is out, possibly at country mart. The names will be drawn an those people will get to put a pie in the face of a Traveler staff member.

The Salvation Army is a great orgaization. They really do help a lot of people.
I know some wonder whether people really need help, and all the other excuses people have for not giving. You could also blame the person for being in need to start with.
But that is not the way of compassion or the way of real Chritians.

I have copied an article below. Im on the mailing list of the "Christan Newswire." I dont know how I got on the list, and as often as not it should be called the "republican newswire" but thats a blog for another day.
Anyways, it is a good article on giving, with some good tips.

As it is written in the good book "be innocent as doves and wise as a serpent."
We do need to keep our eyes open when giving. THere are lots of cons out there, so it is hard to know the real from the counterfeit.
This article has some tips, and some web sites, to help make wise choices.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Dec. 11 /Christian Newswire/ -- Billions of dollars will be given to charitable and religious organizations by December 31st. "With the recent inquiries by US Senator Grassley into questionable financial and lifestyle practices of six leading televangelists and many people's mail boxes flooded with donation requests, it is important to know how to make wise decisions in making year-end contributions," reports generosity expert, author, and speaker Brian Kluth.

Kluth's generosity website offers these TOP TEN reminders and recommendations concerning making year-end contributions:

To be deductible on your 2007 taxes, donations by check must be given or postmarked on or before Monday, December 31st. Avoid giving loose cash because it is not deductible and can more easily be stolen.

To give electronically by December 31st visit the organization's website OR go to: (this website allows you to give secure electronic donations to any organization on its list of over 1 million non-profit organizations and houses of worship).

If you are a person of faith, make it a priority to generously support your local house of worship.
Give your largest donations to organizations where you have visited their offices and/or you personally know and trust someone in the organization's leadership.

Find out how much your favorite charities pay their top executives and how they spend their donations by reviewing their on-line 990 forms found at

Determine through the organization's website,,, and/or Google searches if the group has a track record of effectively serving people with the donations they receive. Be cautious about supporting organizations that spend a large percentage of their income on fundraising activities.

Call the organization and request they email or mail you a list of special projects and programs needing year-end funding. Also ask for a copy of their audited financial statements.

Be extremely cautious about giving money to any organization where there are verifiable reports of extravagant luxury lifestyles by leaders or any indication funds have been misused.

When supporting evangelical religious organizations, check the organization's standing on the following websites:,

Make sure the purpose and values of the organizations you support match up with your personal beliefs and values.
Kluth said, "If you follow these guidelines in your year- end giving decisions and you will give with greater confidence and your donations will be wisely used to help others." Kluth recently authored the best selling book, 40 Day Spiritual Journey to a More Generous Life that is being used by churches across the country and around the world.

Brian Kluth is the author of the bestseller, 40 Day Spiritual Journey to a More Generous Life (200,000 copies in print and translations underway in 23 languages). His website is ranked as one of the world's leading websites on Christian giving. He has been interviewed by Kiplinger's magazine, NBC-TV, CBN-TV, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Brian is a guest commentator on "Money Matters" 1000 station radio program.

Brian Kluth is also the co-creator of the " Financial Funnies" Cartoon Series

For a free review copy of the "40 Day Spiritual Journey to a More Generous Life" devotional, please email:

Saturday, December 8, 2007

ringing the bells

We didn't win the game, but it was still a lot of fun and the one we all wanted to win was the one who came out ahead in the end.
Friday night the Traveler and KSOK radio raised over $4,000 for the Salvation Army by ringing bells at Country Mart.
When we heard that the Salvation Army's annual red kettle drive was not going so well, and that they were having trouble getting bell ringers, we decided to get involved.
We "challenged" KSOK to a competition in the front of Country Mart and we all rang bells on Friday night. We realized we were in trouble when we saw they were all out in costumes and had the radio station's truck on hand playing music.
Going up against a radio station at fund raising in a public location was probably not the best strategic move. They are professionals and we were taking them on at their game on their own court so to speak.
But it wasn't about winning. It was about doing something positive for our community, and having a bit of fun along the way.
When the money was counted, KSOK had a lot more than we did, almost twice as much. The total between us was $3,975. That does not count the change that was donated, so the total would easily be over $4,000. It also does not count the donation Country Mart made, which was going to be based on its profits while bell ringing was taking place.
The Army still needs money, so don't stop putting money into the red kettles. We can only hope other bell-ringers have as much fun as we did.
Part of the fun was checking out each other's costumes. When we heard KSOK was going to be in costume, of course, we had to come up with some as well.
Costume shops in town were busy Friday.
By time time I got ready all the ringers from the Traveler were gone. Action! editor Sydney Bland had left behind a Santa costume, and so I decided to try to wear it.
I had never put one on before, and didn't realize at the time that I was putting it on backwards. Lots of people pointed out the problem.
The real problem was that my wife wasn't there to tell me how to dress.
This is what small town journalism is all about, and what community journalism is all about.
As the "media" our job is to report the news, to tell you what is going on in the community.
At times it is also to get involved an try to help out where we can.
The newspaper has promoted the Salvation Army a lot this year. It is a good organization that does a lot of good. They are the first ones there when there are disasters. They also help to make sure that those who could not afford it otherwise, are able to have something during the holidays.
We try to support other good causes during the year as well.
It's that time of year again, the time when people are decorating their houses with lights. One great tradition is to drive around and look at the lights.
As usual, we will try to let you know where the lights are.
I would like to ask our readers to let us know where the good lights are, so we can pass that along. Send me an email, (, or call us (442-4200) , to let us know.
We wi ll start running the list in a week or so.
Our friends over at the other radio station in town, KACY, also stopped by to visit us during the bell-ringing.
You can get a sneak-peek at what is going to be in the Traveler each day at 1 p.m. on their radio station. At that time each day either myself or another staff member, gives a brief synopsis of the day's news.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Competition and a pie

Greetings everyone.
Sometimes I'm too creative for my own good. As you may know, we are going to be competing with KSOK radio tomorrow - Friday, Dec. 7, - from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., at Country Mart in Arkansas City, at bell ringing.

We will be ringing bells for the Salvation Army. The winner gets bragging rights, and of course we want to beat that radio station.

We will be at one door and the radio station will be at the other door. So come by and drop off some money, but be sure to do it in our buckets.

KSOK has said it will give away prizes, so we thought we had better up the ante as well.

Our very own Action editor, Sydney Bland, will be giving out kisses while she is there.

Also, everyone who donates $10 or more will get a chance to be in a drawing to put a pie in the face of a Traveler employee.
There will be two winners chosen and the winners get to choose from among certain Traveler employees, myself included.

The Salvation Army has had trouble getting enough bell ringers this year, and as a result, they are a bit behind in their fund raising. The "Red Kettle" campaign is their major fund raiser for the year.
They do a lot of good for people in need in our area. They also help with disasters such as tornadoes and floods.

Also, Country Mart will be donating some of its profits from the 4-hour period of bell ringing.

Monday, December 3, 2007

city stuff

Greetings all.
There's lots of information on the city's web site. A recent addition is a copy of the bills the city paid over the month. Want to know what they spent on light bulbs? snacks? electricity? ... It's all there.
Here is a link

You can also get there by going to their site - - click on City Government, then on document center, then click on city commission.
then click on Scheduled Payment List.

Their web site isn't the most user friendly. You do have to fish around a bit, but its no more difficult than anyone else's web site. (I went to a seminar on web sites last week, so I'm seeing how sites could be a lot more user friendly.)

Last month the city spent $232,279.20

Its Monday so it must be time for a city commission worksession meeting.

Another cool thing on the city's web site is the meeting agenda, along with an information packet. The packet has some background on every agenda item. It's located at the same place as the list of payments.

You can also look at previous agendas there.

Tonight is the work session, where items are discussed. Most of the time this is more interesting than the regular meeting, which is on tuesday.
Often they discuss things not on the agenda, and take no action. It gives an idea of where they are headed on various issues.

Tonight's agenda includes
Introducing the new director of building, planning and codes.
Awarding a big on a vacant lot on S. Summit.
Considering renewal of beer licenses for 2008.
Award construction bids for Radio Lane sewer line repair.
Public hearing and budget amendment for project Independence Fund.
Consider engineering assesment of Walnut River sewer line collapse.

Other itemes by city manager or commissioners.
(this gets interesting at times)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bell ringing challenge

Next Friday, Dec. 7., the Traveler will be out ringing bells for the Salvation Army. We will be at Country Mart from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., at the south door.
We decided to get involved after learning that the Salvation Army is having trouble getting bell ringers this year.

To make things a little more interesting, we have challenged local radio station KSOK to also ring bells. They will be at the other door, also at Country Mart, at the same time.

So come out that day and give us some support. Be sure you put your contribution into "our" kettle though. We really want to beat the good guys.

The Salvation Army is a great organization that does a lot of good. We are fortunate to have a center here. We need to support it as it is the main relief agency in our area.

We will see you Dec. 7 at Country Mart.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Salvation Army

Last night we (my wife and I) were at the Salvation Army headquarters helping count money from the kettles collected that day. There were not very many kettles. We soon found out that the reason was, there is a big shortage of bell ringers.

This has been a growing trend and has been compensated for in past years by paid workers filling in as needed. This year they are having trouble even finding people to ring the bells for pay.

However, this year that has not been happening. I was told that the Salvation Army can't even find people willing to ring the bells for pay.
There are many needs met in the community by this organization not only during the Christmas season but throughout the year. The Salvation Army also assists with providing school supplies to needy families. The local store in Arkansas City provides low cost clothing and is managed by both volunteers and staff who are paid much less than those in the private sector.

The Christmas season contributions make up a huge amount of the operating funds of this organization. If they do not receive money, they will definitely have to cut back on services provided. If we do not support this organization, we are hurting the people who benefit from their services.

As is often heard at this time of year, the spirit of Christmas is giving and there are few better ways to give than to give of your time to help those in need. The only requirement is a willing heart. Even if we can't afford to give money, we can give of our time. When you give of your time to ring the bell, then you give others the opportunity to donate money.
Please don't take the presence of the Salvation Army for granted. It will only exist in Arkansas City as long as the community provides financial support.

Recently, with the River of Life concert received a tremendous outpouring of support from this city, especially from the Christian community.
This is another great opportunity for the Christian community and all of those who care about the poor, the homeless, and the needy to come forward and show what Christianity is all about----showing God's love to the world.

If you are willing to help with ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, please contact the local office and they will be more than happy to find a time that will fit you.

To volunteer to ring bells, call 442-4357.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy THanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Hope everyone enjoyeod the volleyball coverage and the pictures.
I enjoyed it a lot. And the people involved.
Ill try to write more about the trip soon.

Hope everyone has a blessed and happy holiday.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

season wrapup, notes

The Cowley College volleyball team arrived home Sunday after winning fifth place Saturday at the National Junior College championships.
Fifth place is nothing to scoff at when you realize that this is fifth in the entire nation. There were hundreds of teams that did not even go to the tournament.
Even so, we must admit that they lost a game they should have won.
There were many factors.
They had the other team down and let up just a bit. Just enough to let them get some confidence, and then it snowballed on the team.
They played two games the same day.
They also spent the entire day at the gym.

But also, games are not played on paper, and you never know what will happen.
I have never seen a game in any sport turn so quickly and so dramatically.
In the first game it was vintage Cowley at its best. They were a machine and won easily. The second game seemed to be going that way as well, when suddenly Cowley started making mistakes. Also the other team started blocking shots that they had not been blocking earlier.

Next thing you know the tables are turned and Southwestern Illinois looked like the better team.

There was parity at this year's tournament. Cowley was the third seed and lost to the sixth seed, which is not that big of an upset.

Four sophomores finished their Cowley careers Saturday. It was a bit sad, but they did have a great career here. Courtney Shanklin, Valerie Cox, Andea Mitchell and Brazillian Lillian Rezende all finished their career Saturday.
Rezende is the last of four Brazilians that catapulted Cowley to the elite teams in volleyball. Thats not to say that she will be the "last" Brazilian, but she is the last of the four that change volleyball at Cowley.

Freshman Lucie Cizmarova is the lone returning foreign student. She is from Europe, and assuming she comes back, she could anchor the team.

The freshman on the team are very good and create a great nucleus for next year.
Victoria Green and Crystal Garmon will be offensive forces next year, as will be defenders Jacey Sechrest and Jessica Fiscus.
Kendra Miller also established herself as a setter.
Arkansas City residents Kasha Kelley and Keshia Clark will also be back. Kelley had her moments during the season. Clark was injured before the season began and did not play.

It will be interesting to see what players coach Joanna Pryor adds to next year's team.
Another Brazillian perhaps?

This is the final year for the tournament to be held in Arizona. The tournament is held for three years by schools that win contracts. The next three years the tournament will be held at Kishwaukee College in Illinois. This could spell trouble as Kishwaukee has won two consecutive national titles.

During the touranment Kishwaukee players cheered for Cowley players during their game for fifth place, and some of them were wearing Cowley t-shirts. During the title game Cowley players returned the favor and cheered for Kishwaukee.
They played Kishwaukee at a tournament during the season and made friends.
Of course, that Kishwaukee was playing Johnson County was even more incentive.

Cowley players were irked that Johnson County had been able to watch them lose earlier.
That rivalry keeps growing.

Coach Joanna Pryor had a baby just before the season began. Her parents have been involved with her volleyball for a long time and have made trips to Arizona with the team. This trip the coaches mother has double duty. She sits with the baby at side court during the matches, usually oblivious to his surroundings. During the first match he was taking a nap while his grandmother tried to watch both the baby and the game.

Several parents made the trip to see the team play. Kendra Miller’s parents drove and made some side trips. Just about everyone else flew down.
Ironically, the dry land of Arizona was not so dry on Thursday. Most of the day was cloudy and there were showers now and then. Temperatures were in the low 70’s.
From the interesting hobbies department. Jessica Fiscus, a freshman libero. Likes to hunt raccoons with her brothers. Both of her brothers are either playing, or have played, college football at small colleges in Kansas.
One thing missing this year was Cowley’s dance before its matches. Last year when the team had four Brazilians, they had the dance. The Brazilians taught the dance and little song to the team and they used it as part of their pregame ritual. It was always entertaining. This year the team has only one Brazilian, and she did not continue the tradition.

cowley wins fifth place

Cowley wins fifth place

The Cowley College volleyball team beat Central Illinois College 3-1 to take fifth place Saturday at the national junior college championships being held in Scottsdale Ariz.
Cowley won 30-28, 30-28, 23-30, 30-26.
Cowley trailed by as much as 9 or 10 points in each of the first three games but rallied.

Coach Joanna Pryor said the team started blocking better and that allowed them to rally.

Later on in the day Kishwaukee beat Johnson County 3-1.

During the Cowley game the Kishwaukee team was cheering for Cowley. During the title game Cowley returned the favor.

Lillian Rezende and Lucie Cizmarova were named to the all tournament team.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Late Friday

The Cowley volleyball team had a nice time a the Olive Garden in Scottsdale. The place is at a strange intersection and the team had a bit of a problem finding it, but once they got there, everyone had a good time.

The team is set to play at 3 p.m. Saturday for fifth place. They will be playing Central Illinois.

The team should arrive in Arkansas City about 4:30 p.m. or so on Sunday. It would be nice if there were some people there to welcome them home.
They will be flying into Tulsa at about 1:30.

Everyone was upset of course about losing on Thursday night. They realize they let the game slip away, and that they lost to a team they should have beaten. But thats why they play the games. You never know what will happen.
Anyway, they decided to pull themselves together and had a good game on Friday, winning in three straight. It was a hard fought match even though Cowley won all three games.
At this level everyone is good.

Some people were trying to get in a little sight seeing and fun between volleyball games.
There is a good contingent of parents at the tournament. Curtis Shanklin, father of sophomore Courtney Shanklin, was trying to get someone to go play golf on Saturday. Not sure whether he was successful or not.

The Shanklin's are an interesting story. Both of her parents are in the army. Courtney has lived in nine states. Her father was in Iraq last year, and this year her mother, Colleen, is in Iraq. Curtis has been video taping all the games. He puts them on a DVD and mails them to Colleen who gets to watch them about a week later in Iraq.
Courtney said she still talks to her mom every day.
She usually tells her who won the game.

on the rebound

The Cowley Tiger Volleyball team rebounded after an upset loss Thursday night, to beat Des Moines Area College in three straight games, 30-27, 30-26, 32-30, on Friday..
Each of the games were close, but Cowley managed to pull out each one with some clutch plays and good defense.

After the game the team decided to go back to their hotel and get cleaned up.
They are going out to eat at Olive Garden.
That is very close to where my hotel is, and I dont want to miss that.
As soon as I get back Ill post some pictures and more information.

yall come back now, ya hear


OUCH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Cowley Volleyball team let the game get away from them Thursday night, losing to Southwestern Illinois 16-30, 30-25, 20-25, 30-15.
In a strange game of huge momentum shifts Southwestern slowly but surely wrested the game away from Cowley. By the last game it was pretty well over.

Cowley plays again at 3 p.m. Friday. The team could play again at either noon or 3 p.m. Saturday, depending on the outcome of Friday's game.

"We just got out played. You can't expect to win when you do that," coach Joanna Pryor said.
"We did not do well under pressure."

She noted that the team missed five serves in the third game, and those came at crucial times when Cowley was starting to get some of its momentum back.

In the first game Cowley steamrolled Southwestern 30-16. Cowley had several five or six point runs and outscored Southwestern 16-6 down the stretch.

In the second game Cowley jumped out to a 6-2 lead and seemed on its way. The team stretched the lead to 14-8, but then Southwestern began its comeback.
With a few missed serves and with Southwestern playing much better, Cowley was outscored 22-11 from that point.

The third game was close throughout and again Southwestern prevailed 30-25.
In this game shots were just not falling for Cowley. The same shots that were kills in the first game, were hit to defenders and blocked in this game.

The final game was tied at 8 but after a couple blocks, Southwestern went on a 7-1 run and never looked back.
Cowley had lost its spark by the final game and lost 30-15.

Southwestern coach Jeff Juenger said errors were the key to the game. He noted that his team made 11 in the first game while Cowley only made four. THey had about the same amount in the second game, but in the third game his team cut its errors to three and that gave them the margin they needed.

He said he told his team after the first game that they had to cut out the errors, which they did.
"There was a huge momentum shift. The first game you are just finding out about each other. Its's the second and third games that matter most in these matches," he said.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Off to a good start

The Cowley College Lady Tigers opened the national tournament with a convincing 3-0 (30-17, 20-28, 30-27) win over Grand Rapids Thursday morning.
Cowley cruised in the first game and then held off a furious rally by Grand Rapids.
Coach Joanna Pryor was glad to see the team get off to a fast start and was not too surprised to see Grand Rapids play them tougher in the second and third games.
"I didn't think they would lay down. This is the nationals, so I thought they (Grand Rapids) would step it up against us," she said. "We had a few lulls, but I thought we stayed strong throughout and closed."
In the first game Cowley got kills from four different players in a 5-0 run that gave the team a 13-6 lead. Lillian Rezende had three consecutive kills late that sealed the win.
The second game was much closer, though Cowley built a 20-15 lead to one a couple of times, but could not overtake the Lady Tigers.
Grand Rapids managed to tie the game at 27. A block by Coutney Shanklin gave Cowley a 29-28 lead. The winning point came on a serving error by Grand Rapids.
The third game was just as close. Cowley lead 8-3 but Grand Rapids came back and tied the game at 10-10.
From there it was close with Cowley building a four-point lead that it held until near the end when Grand Rapids managed to cut the lead to two.
Pryor said she was a bit concerned in the second game and used a couple timeouts to calm the team down and to break momentum Grand Rapids was building.
"I really didn't want to lose that second game. If you are going to lose one, it's better to lose the third one," she said.
In the third game Cowley seemed to be in control, but at times they were a bit too relaxed for Pryor's taste.
"They drive me crazy sometimes with that, but it is good to play relaxed," she said.

Lucie Cizmarova, 16 kills.
Lillian Rezende 12 kills, 11 digs
Crystal Garmon 9 kills
Victoria Green 8 kills, 4 blocks.

What the players are saying.

Sophomore Courtney Shanklin was relaxed because she had been here last year and knew what to expect.
"I felt like it was a regular season game. I was just calm," she said.
She felt the team had a good game, but she said the teams would get tougher as the Lady Tigers advance.
"We could do better on our serving. That's likely to matter at the end of the game at some point," she said.

Sophomore Lillian Rezende said the team let up a bit in the second game after winning the first one relatively easily.
"I think we made more mistakes in the second game," she said.

Lucie Cizmarova
said she was relaxed but felt the game was more important.
"It just felt exciting, like I was playing in a more important game," she said.

Sophomore Andrea Mitchell had a good game setting and spent a lot of the game on the front row.
The game felt intense to her, and she said that is the way she likes the games to be.
"We did kind of let up in the second game, but we still won."
Once the Lady Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the best of five series, Mitchell said she felt the team had the match wrapped up.
"We should have killed them, but we knew we had it." she said.

There were a couple of double passes in the match which set up nice kills.
Mitchell passed to Crystal Garmon, who passed back to Mitchell who then set up Victoria Green for a kill. It was a move Grand Rapids was not expecting.

"We had worked on that in practice. I was glad we were able to use it," Mitchell said.

Crystal Garmon had several kills and helped set up some nice kills for other players.
She too felt the team let up in the second game, but she also credited Grand Rapics wiht fighting back.
"They played better in the second game, and we started making a few mistakes," she said.

Freshman Victoria Green had some kills and blocks that helped stop comeback attempts by Grand Rapids.
"I wasn't very nervous. We all had a good game. There were a couple shots I would like to have back where they blocked me," she said.

Libero Jacey Sechrest felt relaxed and wasn't intimidated by the surroundings of a national championship tournament.
"We felt confident after the first game. We let up a little, but we were confident and we had a great game," she said.
she said she was a bit nervous at first, but settled down when she and the rest of the team were warming up.
She also felt confident after watching Grand Rapids warm up.
"Once you see a team warming up, you know what to expect," she added.

Cowley wins opener

The Cowley College volleyball team beat Grand Rapids 30-17, 30-28, 30-27 Thursday morning in the opening round of the National Junior College volleyball championships.

more coming soon

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cowley Volleyball, arrival

We have all arrived in Arizona. Seems that everyone's flight was pretty uneventful, which is always nice.
The team arrived Tuesday evening and got settled in to their rooms.

The Lady Tigers had their first practice at the Scottsdale Junior College Wednesday morning. It was a spirited practice.
"We were focused. Everyone was excited out there," coach Joanna Pryor said.
She was pleased that the sophomores were being vocal and leading the way.
THey were here last year of course, and know what to expect.
The freshmen seem to be enjoying everything and are not intimidated at all.

At the morning practice session they were in the same gym as Kishwaukee and Johnson County. Those two and Cowley are the top three seeds at the tournament.
There might have been a temptation to watch the other teams a bit, but Pryor kept them focused on their own work.

At this point you are not putting new things in. Its just a matter of getting loose and getting familiar with playing in a new environment.
The girls also had a practice Tuesday before they left Arkansas City.

"We know what they do, what they have," Pryor said of the other top two teams, so there wasn't a lot of looking around at other teams.
To a great extent volleyball teams need to concentrate on themselves and keeping their own game sharp, instead of worrying too much over other teams.

Cowley is to open play at 10 a.m. Thursday against Grand Rapids College.
They don't know much about the team, but again, they will be focusing on themselves and trying to play their own game.

If they win they will play again at 6:30 p.m. in the round of eight.
There is also a "opening ceremonies" to be held around 5 p.m.
That is a nice ceremony where every team comes in and is recognized. Of course it does seem a bit silly to have it after the tournament has started.

Assuming Cowley wins their opener in the morning, they would play right after the opening ceremonies.

After the first game the team will eat at the school and hang out for awhile and watch other teams play.

Ill let you know what happens in the morning soon as I can.

Monday, November 12, 2007

long rant on state of the city

this is my column that ran in the paper on saturday.

Some wise old philosopher once said "if you're not busy being born, you're busy dying."

I'm not sure who said it, but I think it is true. The same could be said for Arkansas City.

Many people have already written the city's obituary and believe what they have written.

I see a different Arkansas City, and a lot of people are starting to also catch the vision.

I will be the first to admit that I wish we had more and better eating establishments, more entertainment options and more variety in shopping. Even so, you can see our city growing and things happening right before our eyes.

* Recently we have had a great Italian restaurant open, which is as good as any Italian joint you would find in a much larger city.

* Several fast food places are refurbishing, expanding and growing here in town. This year and next, we will have a new Pizza Hut, Braum's and Sonic. There are other places opening, as well.

* Walgreen's is on its way, and now we have the "big box" store being talked about north of town.

* And, did you see "African Footprint" last Tuesday? That was the type of show you would expect to see in New York or Chicago, not necessarily Arkansas City. I am not usually one for dancing and such, but I was mesmerized through the whole thing.

Those type shows don't go just anywhere.

* There is a hike-and-bike trail coming on the levee.

There are lots of good things happening here. Far from dying, I see Arkansas City as a city on the brink of greatness.

There are people moving into town for various reasons. Not by the busload, but they are coming.

Those of us who live here have the privilege and the responsibility to keep it under control and make it into what we want it to be.

There will be some growing pains; not the least of which will be the development of the "big box" store.

Just as Wal-Mart, and then the Super Wal-Mart caused heartburn in some circles, the "big box" will do the same.

We do need to be careful and choose the kind of progress we want, but we also need to realize that times change and that we can become a great city as we continue to be born.

* * *

The "big box" store is becoming a big story in Arkansas City as we thought it would.

There is some consternation and concern because it could hurt some local businesses. I am sure there will be more debate, but we do want the public to understand the real situation.

The developers have come up with a new idea called a "Tax Increment Finance District," which will allow them to help themselves build the facility. It's not really a new idea, but it is a new approach to development.

Tax Increment Finance Districts are used to improve blighted areas. Somehow they have managed to find a way for this farmland off Skyline Drive to be designated a "blighted area."

Basically, they would pay for infrastructure with the taxes on the property. As I understand it, this would include property taxes as well as a special one-cent sales tax that would be collected only in the development.

So they would still be paying taxes, but the tax money would go to pay for things like water and electricity or parking lots.

The city only has to "let it happen." The city - which means the citizens - will not be paying anything. The burden, and the risk, is totally on the developer, which is how it should be.

While the infrastructure is being paid for, the city would get taxes from some smaller businesses that could develop. The percentages of that will have to be negotiated. Eventually the city would get all the taxes from the property.

I am pretty sure it is a Lowe's. The developer has developed a lot of shopping centers and all of them included a Lowe's. That's no guarantee, but you can draw your own conclusion from that. The city isn't saying what it is because it is not a settled deal and there are legal issues there.

But it doesn't matter which home improvement store it is.

I thought it was interesting to see what market data this is being based on. Big companies don't build big stores where they are not pretty sure they will be able to make a lot of money.

According to an independent study done a few years ago, people in Arkansas City and Winfield spend $27 million annually on home improvement items in other areas such as Wichita, Derby or Ponca City. Most of the home or garden stores in those towns know my wife by her first name, so I am not too surprised.

In theory, a store like that could come in and do that much business and not cause any of the local businesses to lose money. Of course, that is just theory, but it does seem that with all that money leaving town, local merchants might not be hurt so badly.

Another thing that we have not really talked about in the paper is the rest of the development. This is not going to be "just" a big box store. The developers plan to bring in other businesses. There are all sorts of packages out there, and certain type stores follow big stores to locations.

In larger towns, for instance, you will see the same businesses near big box stores. That's no accident. There are certain businesses that follow Lowe's, Home Depot, Wal-Mart or any of those big stores.

There will likely be at least one restaurant. There are several needs for stores in the town.

Another study done just last year showed that 51 percent of the people in Arkansas City believe that there are not enough shopping opportunities here.

It will be interesting to see what develops, and what new businesses we get.

The town does seem to be moving north and that creates some interesting challenges for downtown, but that also creates opportunities.

It doesn't look like the city is blowing away to me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

City Commission and big boxes

The City Commission work session lasted four hours last night and it was fairly interesting.
They did spend about 45 minutes in an executive session - a nice word for a private meeting. It was for personnel and attorney-client privilege, which are both legitimate. Ill just say again, that the law never says they HAVE to have a private meeting, only that they MAY.

The only reason I mention it is that it was supposed to only go for 20 minutes.
The city is certainly no worse than anyone else with private meetings.

The more interesting thing,
I suppose, was the talk about the "big box store," that could come to town.

It looks like it will be a Lowe's, but as they pointed out, there is no deal, or no proposal on the table yet. Commissioner's do not "know" what it is. The developer has not said publicly what it is, so one could honestly say it is not known what the store will be.

I did some research. The developer in question has developed several shopping areas, and all of them that had a home improvement center, had a Lowe's. He could start with a different store this time, but you can draw your own conclusion from his track record.

But it doesn't matter what it is. What brand name is irrelevant. The more relevant issue is whether we want to make it possible for them to come here.

What is being discussed at the present time is whether to create the conditions needed for the developer to develop. Once that is in place, the developer can move forward and actually make a proposal. At that time the brand name the store will be revealed.

This developer has brought a new proposal for financing, that requires the city's cooperation, but will not result in any out-of-pocket expense for the city.
This deal would create a special finance district. Taxes would be paid, and those taxes would pay for all the improvements such as utilities and parking lots. The developer would have to pay for building the building and everything else.
The property would also have to be annexed.
Those are the issues that the commission is dealing with now.

This could hurt local hardware stores. But will it ?

There was a study done a couple years ago by a third party on economic development issues. The results showed that people in the "Highway 77 Corridor" - which means from the state line north to above Winfield .. something like $27 million is spent out of the area on home improvement items.
This is what is happening now. People are leaving Arkansas City and Winfield and going to Wichita or Ponca City, and spending $27 million each year.
The developer is projecting sales of $22 million.

City officials say this is money that is leaving the area, and that having a store like that here, would keep the money here.

It is an interesting point.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

cowley volleyball

The Cowley Volleyball team beat Neosho County 3-1 Saturday to win the District M title in Chanute.
This means the team again qualifies for the nationals, to be held in Arizona.
This is the third year in a row the girls have gone to nationals.
Congrats and good luck to the Lady Tigers.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

domestic abuse

I went to the program on domestic abuse last night at Cowley, which was put on by Safe Homes. Safe Homes is a place for battered women to go.
The program was moving and makes one think.
There are many forms of abuse, and the abusive type quality seems to get passed on generation to generation.

There were several characters who told stories of abuse.

One talked about how she was surprised to find that her son was being abusive toward his girl friend. Then she recounted how her husband had been abusive to her and she realized that her son HAD been raised that way.

It is also hard to understand why people in abusive situations do not leave, and why they even cover for their abusive spouse.

The reason is that their self esteem gets so battered down that they no longer think they can function on their own. They are too scared to leave. They may also become convinced that they deserve the treatment they get, or that it is normal.

I have had a few instances at the paper where women have called trying to keep their husband's name out of the paper for domestic abuse. Some will say it didn't really happen , it was a misunderstanding, or whatever.
One said if it came out, it would look like her husband didn't love her, and she kept assuring me that he did truly love her. I felt bad over that one, the desperation in her voice, the fear even over the phone, was obvious. He probably blamed her for it, and she probably accepted the blame.
I still put their names in.

The answer of course, is to get out, to leave ... period.
But thats easier said than done. It could be like trying to leave drugs behind. If you are not addicted you wonder why they cant just lay it down. Unless you are addicted, you don't understand why they "cant." They can, but it is very difficult.

Also at the program last night, it was pointed out that men are also victims at times.
There is also a thing called "toddling" where both parties are abusive toward each other. That makes law enforcement even tougher, but some are starting to differentiate and arrest both parties when both are abusive.

The hardest thing is to get the abused person to press charges and testify in court. Fear and intimidation are hard to overcome. Abusive people also are good at finding ways to get to a person.

There is also the embarrassment which makes some unwilling to report the situation.

If you know someone in that situation, try to get them to leave, and try to be supportive.

Prayer can also help.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Arkalalah is in full swing. It's always a great time of year, and a fun festival.
I like festivals and go to lots of them in the area. I have not been to many in Oklahoma, so maybe I'll get to some of them.

But now we are in Arkalalah. The food vendors are my favorite part of the festival. This week we will eat just about every meal down there, and then some.

Part of that is the lack of variety here during the year. When Arkalalah comes there are just more choices. We are getting more choices in eating here, it's getting better, but the lack of eating choices is always a drawback in a small town.

Local businesses are also taking advantage, with Grinderman and Gambino's Pizza getting in on the food frenzy. Grinderman has some really cool chocolate items during Arkalalah. Their chocolate and caremel covered apples are pretty amazing, and Gambino's is offering pizza by the slice. I'd like to see Gambino's do that all the time.

Today and tomorrow are the big days. Today is the kid's parade, which is always cool. It's my favorite parade. Ive never been much for night parades, and the big parade is ... well, big. Either the paper or my church always has a float, and ive been in the big parade a few times. I have not actually watched the big parade in a few years. This year i'll get to see it.

Tonight of course is the coronation. IT is interesting how they pick the queen. People at the event vote, which is interesting. But there are only so many seats available and it has an air of secrecy about it - whether thats true or not is a different matter - but that is my impression.
It would be fun if it were more public, and more of the public was involved. Not sure how to do that.

I don't mean that as a negative at all. The selection of the Arkalalah queen is a long standing tradition and has worked well.

Getting back to the food, I am sure I will eat myself silly over the next couple of days. There is the eating competition, but i'm not going near there.

Did notice in the brochure that has the schedule that the beer garden is called a "refreshment" garden, and that there is no mention of beer at all. It does mention Ale and I assume that doesn't mean Ginger.

I have noticed on this blog that most people read it Monday through Friday, and that Monday and Friday get the most visitors. Also it is interesting that very few people read it on Saturday and Sunday.

As a result of that, I am going to be sure to post on Mondays and Fridays, and not worry about posting over the weekend.

So everyone have a fun Arkalalah. I'll be back on Monday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More on the concert

We're about to get over the concert. I was so tired when it was over I could hardly think. We are catching our breath and gettng our feet back under ourselves. "We" being members of the committee.

I was amazed at how well it went, and I really am thankful to all the people and groups that helped it happen, and to the people who showed up.

We definitely want to do it again next year.

One question is when we should have it. It is kinda neat having it connected to Arkalalah, but the weather is so questionalble. We could have it earlier in the year, but we dont want it at the same time as the Walnut Valley Festival.
It would probably need to be either early September or early October.

So what do you all think?
Should we keep it loosely connected to Arkalalah, or should we try to have it earlier and have a better chance at nicer weather.

Of course, the weather was wonderful. God supplied great weather. I do believe God intervenes at times in our lives. Of course, it could have been that God knew the weather would be nice that day, and nudged us spiritually to set the date for that day. Either way works for me.

One person that needs to be given lots of credit is my partner in this adventure : Telisa Rohr.
She was just the person I needed.
I am good at coming up with ideas, and having faith to keep going no matter what.
My weakness is the details. Often Ill miss some details, and before you know it, im off track and on to something else, and the original idea gets laid by the wayside.

But Telisa is so organized and detail oriented, even her details have details. She is also a dynamo at getting things done.
She gave me the structure I needed, and helped me to focus my efforts on actually doing things instead of just dreaming.

We had a small group that also helped off and on. These people were Monica and Paul HInson, Kim Haggard (sorry if the name's spelled wrong.), Tim Durham, Page Butler... just to name a few.
There were many other volunteers that worked hard and I hope to try to name them all and thank them all personally and publicly as soon as i can.

We hope to soon get organized for next year, and get our committee a little bit more defined.

So, let me know what you think about the timing of the concert.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

the concert

The concert was a blast. Lots of people showed up and had a good time. It was really even better than I had dared to hope.

Some people said there may have been 1000 people there. That may be a bit over-generous, but I do think there were well over 500.

At about 5:45 there were about 10 non-workers there and I was getting just a bit nervous. Soon cars started rolling in, and by 6:15 we had a good crowd and were ready to start the 6 p.m. show.

I definitely was encouraged enough to think I want to do it again next year. Probably a few weeks earlier in the year. It did get rather chilly, even though the weather was about perfect. It is a good thing God is in control of the weather. The forecast didnt look good on Saturday, but the forecast gradually got better. At one point we thought of moving it to a church, which I really didnt want to do.

I really wanted the festival type atmosphere and that is what it was.

The local bands were great. Tim Durham is always good, and I enjoyed the Butler Brothers a lot. I hear them in church every Sunday, but to hear them performing as a band was different, and very nice.

Then came the out of town bands. I had listened to them, but you never know.
But Ashley Reynolds was as good or better than advertised. A very nice young lady with a great voice and an engaging stage presence.
Remedy Drive was good too. When they arrived, a few hours before the show, it was clear that they were tired and they still had to set up and all that. They were true professionals. They sucked it up and put on a great show.

This is what Arkansas City can do. This was the work of a community coming together to make something happen. I did kinda get it started, but it also took on a life of its own and by the time of the show i was totally out of control, which was ok.

So many people helped and had a hand in it.

I hope this will encourage other people in Arkansas City to do similar things.

I was amazed at how smooth it went.

THanks to everyone who had a hand in it, and to everyone who showed up and made it a great show.

There's more to come.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Full speed ahead

The River of Life Music Festival is today at 6 p.m.
Everything is set and ready to go.

We have been sweating out the weather forecast as we anticipated the concert on the river.
The forecast for today and tonight looks excellent at this point.
Should be clear and in the low-60s when the concert starts, and in the mid-50's by the time the show starts.

Saturday morning the forecast was for rain. We had some alternative sites ready, but thankfully we will be able to move ahead with plans.

It has been a wild ride getting to this point. There have been obstacles, but in every case we have had divine intervention to make things work out. You can call it coincidence if you like, but I don't think anyone could be that "lucky."
Timing has been amazing, and things have been provided at just the point needed.

Realize too that this is our first adventure with putting on a concert. We don't even know what may go wrong tonight. Surely something will. We will deal with it as best we can so I hope people will bear with us.

People have asked why it is on the river.
That really is the point of the concert. That field by the levee, by the old meat packing plant on Summit, is a perfect place for outdoor concerts. I Hope to show that it can be done, and hopefully other people will want to do the same thing.

Here is my ulterior motive :)
That we have more musical events there, and many that im not even involved with. Then, after we get that going, maybe we can get some trees and brush cleared out on the other side of the levee, and have a real riverside park.

For 5 years Ive said we need to develop the river areas. We are wasting a tremendous resource by ignoring our rivers. This is the first step.

So come on out tonight and enjoy the show. It's free.

There's something for every age musically speaking.

Friday, October 19, 2007

more commission

After doing a bit more research, it seems my argument is more with the state of Kansas than with Arkansas City's city commission.

Some of the commissioners were a bit upset with yesterday's post. I did say they did nothing wrong. I was just questioning a matter of form. They are saying that they announced that they would put it on the agenda Monday night. I never heard that, even though it did seem headed that way.

So they were totally in the right. It just seemed to me that it went through too quickly, but according to state law, it wasn't. So it is a bit subjective.

Kansas is very loose in what it allows commissions and other governing bodies to do.

According to state law, governing bodies - such as city commissions - only have to notify the public that there will be a meeting, where and what time. They do not have to have an agenda. They are also not bound by their agenda if they have one.

There are also things they can bring up and pass immediately.
Such as the resolution Monday night.

I just felt there was no opportunity for the public to weigh in, but when its a resolution, there is no requirement to do so.

In many states much more is required. Even for resolutions, they have to have two or three "readings" before an issue can be voted on.
Some states require three readings. In the first "reading" the matter is announced. In the second "reading" there is a public hearing, and it may be voted on in the third reading. (Some states allow the second and third readings to happen at the same meeting) That seems best to me, but that isn't the case in Kansas.

The downside is it takes at least six weeks to get anything passed. The upside is that it allows public input on just about every issue or action.

I wonder if anyone cares about the resolution itself. Does it matter to you if Arkansas City affirms what the state did in declaring English the official language?

Maybe there are other things that could become the "official" item in Arkansas City.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

politics returns

Hello everyone.
It went by so fast we nearly missed it. Tuesday night the city commission passed a resolution saying that English is our official language.

This is one of those hot-button issues that has no substance whatsoever. Nothing changes as a result of the action. The city does provide some information in other languages, but not a lot.

The state, earlier this year, passed the English is the official language bill, becoming the 30th state to do so. What it means is that the state, or cities, do not have to print material in other languages. States or cities "may" still do so if they want.

Still it is more of a symbolic move than anything else.

But what was interesting to me was the way it went down. This measure sneaked in the back door. It was legal, but just barely. It followed the letter of the law, but did not follow the spirit of the law.

The measure was added to the agenda Monday night. That it was going to be voted on was never made public. The paper is supposed to let people know what's on the agenda, and we do, but in this case, we didn't know either.

I was at the meeting Monday and it was not clearly stated that it was going to be added to the agenda. It was talked about some, but I didn't expect to hear it come up Tuesday.

Tuesday, at nearly the end of the meeting, it was brought up and voted on with very little discussion.

The move was symbolic in that it makes people feel like they are protecting the English language. It does reduce some paperwork, which may not be so bad.
There is another symbol here though, that I think is more important.

This commission has prided itself on being open and responsive to the public.
They have done well for the most part.

Sneaking something by is also symbolic of what is wrong with politics.

They did this to avoid a big public debate. You can hardly blame them for that. They didn't want the controversy, but still wanted to get the thing through.

Ive been accused of being a "homer" for the commission, only writing good things. I do try to be positive and present the facts. When I think they are wrong, I'll say that too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

city commission update

Monday night's meeting was long.
But it was a work session, and that is where issues get hammered out.
There was not a whole lot on the agenda, which made time for commissioners to present topics of their own. They took advantage of it. I left just after 10 p.m. - four and a half hours after it started - and they were going into executive session.

Executive session is a nice word for private meeting. There's nothing illegal about them, and there are times when it's probably a legitimate and good idea. If you were negotiating a contract, for instance, you might tip off the person they were negotiating with and give that party an unfair advantage.
So I don't have too much of a complaint.
I don't think the city commission abuses executive session very much. I just have to get on my soapbox about it every now and then.
The law lists a few reasons that a commission MAY have an executive session. The law never says a commission HAS TO have an executive session.

I have been around commissions and boards and such that were much worse than our local commission. Still, its a good idea to put them on notice occasionally that we're at least paying attention.

Last night was interesting though. There were not any big developments, but there were some previews of coming events that could get interesting.

They put off the economic development policies issue so they could hash it out some more. This will give potential developers at relatively simple means of seeing what is available and how to go about getting it. They are planning a special work session to deal with the policies which are about 50 pages worth of material.

Other issues that came up were the canopy or awning at Mozitti's, the quorum debate, hike and bike trail, chickens in town, preserving buldings and several other things.

One philosophical debate that wove its way through several topics is the idea of having set policies and whether or not to give exceptions.

Some feel that there needs to be set policies that you follow no matter what. When you start giving exceptions, you open the door to more exceptions, and soon you don't have a policy any more. Others feel that you should be able to have some flexibility so that you can meet the need of the moment.

How flexible should your policies be?
If you give an exception to one person, how do you justify denying the next person who asks for an exception?

One's philosophical view here affects many issues.

That issue also comes up at the paper. I feel the fewer set policies you have, the better off you are. When you have policies you should follow them, but at times policies can prevent you from doing the right thing.
Sound policies help make sure everyone is treated the same. At the same time, life is rarely a matter of a simple black and white choice.

There's some fodder for a future post.

What do you all think?


Friday, October 12, 2007

local education

We will have a story today about Arkansas City winning a bunch of "awards of excellence" from the state dept. of education.
These are banners schools get for reaching certain goals, such as students being proficient in areas like reading, writing and other subjects.

Arkansas City has won so many of these banners its almost getting to be commonplace.

Education is one area where Arkansas City is doing well. It is something to take pride in.

There is a lot of information available about this at the state web site. Here is the link to the report cards.

From there you can view the report card on the whole state, district by district, and even by school building. It isnt very user-friendly, and is kinda hard to understand, but ... it is there for those of you who want to look.

And here is a link to follow the money. Budget info on any district in the state.

And you know the district is pushing for a large bond issue vote to fix up buildings.
The state did fork over a lot of new money last year, but that just got the district kind of caught up.

I sat through a long presentation on the bond issue at a recent Lions Club meeting. It was interesting and they make a pretty good case.
One thing to note is that a new football facility is not the only thing on the table, and is not even the centerpiece. Replacing heating and cooling units are the biggest expense.

When you say $ 30 - some million, that sounds like a lot of money and it is. But, this will cost the homeowner of a $100,000 house about $75 extra per year on his or her property taxes. The median priced house in Ark City is $54,000, and the extra property taxes would amount to about $36.

This may be a hot button issue, but we do need to get at the facts and decide what we want.

I will say that the athletic facilities here are rather pathetic.

The bond issue will be coming up. Just not sure when. They were going to do it in November, but decided to do it at another time. They felt they needed more time to educate the public - which is political speak for - they were not sure it would pass.

What I would suggest is educating yourself. The above links are a good place to start. Base opinion on fact, not on rumor and other people's opinion.

No one wants to pay more taxes. Taxes are high here. I know they are higher than what we were paying in South Carolina. There politicians lived in fear, knowing that if they raised taxes they would be voted out of office next time they were up.
State taxes are higher here too.
Part of the reason is the population. We had a lot more people there, and there were constantly new people moving in. The tax base was growing by leaps and bounds. The school district where I lived was building a new school about every year. So they had increases in spending every year without raising taxes.

But we don't have that here, with a relatively sparse population and not much growth.
Not sure there is anything we can do about that.

I do wonder though, if there isn't a more fair way to tax than to put it on the property taxes. There are lots of people here who own homes and pay property tax, but dont have kids in schools.

Maybe a sales tax would be better ?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rights ?

The religion and politics post got a lot of responses, which was good.
I still don't really get the "forcing ones beliefs" thing on people.
It does seem that when it is Christians saying something pubicly, they get that label. But anytime there is a disagreement, usually at least one side wins and one side loses.

Ive said all along that a community has a right to set standards, whatever they may be. I once lived on Hilton Head Island, where the entire city was a covenant type situation. You could not park your car on the street period. Businesses could have only small signs, and no lighting. Was hard to even find McDonalds at night if you didn't already know where it was.

So were they forcing their beliefs?

Everyone has certain rights, but at times rights collide, and you have conflict.

Maybe people have a right to have beer at Arkalalah, and maybe people have a right to not to have to be exposed to it. Its pretty hard to have both at the same time.

What if someone wanted to open a place for naked dancers and dirty books and such on Summit Street. They would have a right to I suppose because that is not illegal. But, why would the community not have a right to say they didn't want it?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The music festival

The music festival I have been working on is coming together nicely. The blog about it has not done so well though. I have just not had time to blog about the festival. Hope to get going on that, but thought I would give the festival a shameless plug here. :)

We finally have the electricity issue resolved. That was perhaps our biggest hurdle. We will be using generators.

The festival itself is 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 23. It is in the big field where the old meat packing plant used to be, by the levy. The big field is not being used for anything, but it is part of the city's long range plan for parks and such.

The city has a building there now it uses as a shed. I was glad to see yesterday that they (not sure who "they" are) were cleaning up the piles of dirt and such, and smoothing out the driveway.

People keep asking why we are having it there, but once they get out and see the location, they understand why. It is true there are several other venues, and we may bring in some music to different places around town eventually.
But the point is the location to some extent.

My dream is to have more river access, and to have a true riverfront park. I also want to see more live music. This area is perfect for a music festival.

I hope to have a large music festival here in Arkansas City someday. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are music festivals. I think we are off to a good start. But we are only starting.

The people of Arkansas City are making this thing happen. People can say what they like about Arkansas City being a negative place, but the support I have received has been nothing short of amazing. There are a lot of positive people in this town, and a lot of people who are willing to support positive activities.

I do have a small web site up about the festival.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Religion and politics

That title should get some attention. The two things you are not supposed to discuss in polite company, religion and politics.

The posts on the beer garden have been interesting, and they made me want to do a whole post on a slightly different issue - the place of religion in the public square.

Some posters have accused religious people of "forcing" their views on others by complaining about the beer garden. Of course, this is always the refrain of many non-religious people.

I used to think it was just propaganda, but I am starting to believe that there are people who would all but ban any religious expression in public. This IS America, where you are supposed to have freedom of speech. It is a sad day when you have to defend freedom of speech for anyone in this country - let alone for people who believe in loving and caring for their fellow man.

You may say I am biased toward religion, but if you raise that objection, I'll just say you are biased against it, so we are back to square one.

The idea of "forcing" ones beliefs on another person is a totally bogus argument. In any debate, some will win and some will lose. That is just the nature of the game.

You must also admit, that if you do something that religious people object to, then you are "forcing" your beliefs on them. You cannot have it both ways. If religious people are "forcing" their views, then you non-religious people are doing the same thing by doing what they find objectionable.

The "Forcing" talk is a smokescreen to avoid talking about the real issue.

A community has a right to set standards.

The real issue with beer gardens - as I understand it, is not the beer itself. It is just the idea that it will be more public and that the city leaders are sponsoring it. People have a right to say they don't like that, and a right to try to change it

Religious people have a right to be part of that debate. Non-religious people do too. Whether they are religious or not should not even be an issue.

Why is it "wrong" in our culture for Christians to object to stuff, but then it is ok for people to object to Christians having freedom of speech? Don't kid yourself, it is a freedom of speech issue.

The moral framework of any society since the beginning of recorded history has come from religion. I would go so far as to say that there is no logical basis for any morality other than religion. In religion you essentially have a "higher power" setting the rules. If you don't have that, then its just whoever has the biggest guns or most money making the rules. There will always be "rules." Even not having rules, is having a rule.

That's not even an endorsement of a specific religion. Just about every culture that has ever existed has had a basic moral code, and the differences are very slight.

Objecting to something is not "forcing" one's views on another person. The person still has a right to do whatever it is if it is legal. Does the objecting person not have a right to not have something forced upon him?

Do people have a "right" to not be exposed to second hand tobacco smoke in a restaurant? Do smokers have a right to smoke in restaurants?

Whether its alcohol, tobacco or anything else, the question is not "forcing" one's beliefs. The issue is whose rights will have the upper hand and whose will have the lower hand.

If one person has a right to smoke or drink, they are infringing on the rights of someone else. If someone has a right to not be exposed to smoking and drinking, they are infringing. I only say that to show the silliness of the "forcing" issue.

I would think we would be better off if we supported the rights of all people to be heard.

Someone once said ... "if you do not understand your opponent's viewpoint, you don't really understand your own."

So let the debates begin.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

old buildings

There was the usual work at the City Commission's work session meeting Monday. In the middle of the usual material, an interesting discussion broke out about old buildings in town.

Nothing was decided and nothing may be for a while, but, they did bring up the question of preserving our historical buildings in town.

Specifically they talked about the old Pilgrim church, which is by the old high school on Central Avenue.
The building now holds the Vinelife Church, and the people there are doing what they can to keep the place up.

The building itself is a masterpiece of architecture. It has many of the original stained glass windows, which are irreplaceable. But the windows are getting to be in bad shape and in need of serious repair.

It is going to cost over $100,000 to fix it up, and that is to stop the deterioration, of the windows and the building in general.

They dont want to raise taxes to do it, but they do see that something is going to have to be done.

Some old buildings have been left to deterioration, and some old buildings are no longer with us. The old city hall for one, which was somewhere around where the current city hall is. Pictures show it to be a grande building, odo gne that should have been saved.

But it cost money to do that.

This really isn't something "the city" can do. Besides, they'd get ripped for raising taxes to do it.
But this is something the community should do as a matter of pride.

It needs to happen pretty soon though. Buildings do get to the point of no return sometimes.

The old buildings along Summit are in the same condition. The metal coverings over the windows looks bad, but it does at least protect them from the weather.

Owners are not taking care of the buildings and they are deteriorating.

What will Arkansas City do about it?

Will they let their city crumble into dust?

Its really up to the people of the city.

One of the commissioners pointed out that talk is cheap. What is needed is someone with vision and a willingness to work ... and a good amount of money wouldn't hurt.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Here are a few questions. I would like to know our readers' attitudes on a couple things.

Of course, in a perfect world, we would have a big paper full of really interesting, compelling and useful news, and it would be at your door the precise moment you want it there.

But we don't live in a perfect world. Some days are better than others.

So if you had to choose, which would you choose?

More in depth local stories and a little late, or ... not as in depth but on time.

Perfectly edited but not as many stories, or more stories with a comma out of place here and there.

Some stories from Winfield and surrounding areas, or state and national news.

More stories or more photos ?

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

different things

Greetings everyone.

Today, Sept. 26, would have been Jodi Sanderholm's birthday. She would have been 20 today. As you know, she was murdered Jan. 5 of this year.

It would be good to pause today and think of her family today. Maybe say a prayer for them too.

Her murder did shock us, and we need to keep her memory alive so that we know that this sort of thing can indeed happen here in Arkansas City.

There is a stalking law in the works - called Jodi's Law - which might help. There are still some legal issues with it, such as defining stalking and so forth, but on the whole it is a good thing.

Apparently it is gaining some momentun, not only in Kansas, but in other states as well.


I noticed a comment on my beer garden post. Go read it if you haven't. Its from one of those people who say "i know this wont get in but ... "
That is a tad manipulative, but I dont censor the comments that people leave, not even when they attack me peronally. Especially not when they attack me personally :).
I probably would remove one with obscene language ... but even then, I can't define obscenity. I know it when i see it though.

Its like politicians say, any attention is good attention.

It is ineresting that the poster jumped on me for being religious and accused me and other religious fanatics of trying to control everyone ... when in the post about the beer garden, I really didn't give an opinion one way or the other.

Im undecided on the beer garden. Let's see how it goes. Being a populist, Im for the people deciding.

One good source for information i wanted to mention. The city's web site has a lot of information on it. They have a "document center" which has most of the papers the city commissioners have.
A lof of rumors and oher nonsense could be put to rest if people spent some time there.
The site is
from there go to city Government .. and then document center.


I need some help at the paper. I need a copy editor, which could develop into being the news editor, which is pretty much like being assistant editor. It does require a definite set of skills and a very strong work ethic.
But, if anyone out there is interseted, get in touch with me.

The person needs strong English and grammar skills, and talent for proofreading. Also strong computer skills.