Friday, August 31, 2007

Empty buildings downtown

Did you guys read my story Wednesday about the numbers of businesses downtown?

You hear often about all the empty business in Arkansas City, and how more and more businesses are closing, being run out of town by the ugly big box store.

Well, I decided to check it out, so I walked up and down a four-block area, and counted them for myself. From Adams Street, north to Chestnut, there were a grand total of four - yes FOUR - empty storefronts. There were 54 that had some sort of activity going on.

I did my little walk just after 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning - not exactly when you would expect businesses to be at their peak.

Eleven of those were government type offices, or places like Sally's Palace that don't really fall into a commercial category. there were eight businesses that were not open at the moment for whatever reason, leaving 34 commercial type businesses open at that moment.

"All the empty buildings in Ark City" seems to be one of those urban myths.

I didn't look real closely, but it seems there are only one or two empty businesses south to Madison, and not all that many north, but i didn't walk the street and count them.

I was also trying to think of how many businesses have closed in recent years.
There was a furniture store that closed, but there's a new store in there already. A Jeweler closed and that one is empty.
I think maybe a second-hand store closed. The grocery store shut down recently.
What other ones ?

One reason for the perception of "all the empty buildings" idea might be the upstairs. If you drive down Summit, your eyes are naturally attracted to the second floor, especially in your peripheral sight.
Many of those do look empty, and many are boarded up.

A little dressing up there wouldn't hurt.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I've heard several people say they would shop more with local merchants if the stores stayed open longer. On the other hand, I've heard shop owners say they don't stay open later because no one comes to shop.

It does make sense though, to think that people might go shopping more if downtown stores were open after people get off work.

Say its 7 p.m. and you need or want a widget. There's a couple stores downtown that have them, but they close at 5 p.m., but that big ugly box store on the north side is open, so ... where you gonna go for that widget?

We just started a new web poll with this question. So far people are saying they would shop more downtown if stores were open later.

Another point to consider is that people like to walk around in Arkansas City, and often in the evening you can see people walking along Summit downtown. Maybe they would go inside a store that was open?

Some people weep and wail about the big box store and say it is running businesses out of town.

I am not so sure that is the case. Times change, and those businesses that adjust will survive.

A little story I heard some time back .

Two bobby pin makers were in New York City. Hair styles changed and women stopped using bobby pins. One of the companies went broke because they made bobby pins and no one was buying them anymore.
However, Mr. Clairol understood that he was in the hair care business.
He quit making bobby pins and started making what women were using.

Anyways, it would be interesting to see if local businesses would stay open later. Then we would have to see if people would shop more.

Of course, this assumes that the local businesses have good products and offer good service. From what I have seen, most do. It is possible that any of them could have a bad day, but on the whole, I've been happy with service downtown.

It is true that the big ugly box store is cheaper on most things. But the products are also cheaper. For the most part, you get what you pay for. Quality is usually better in the long run.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I went to the training exercises for the police and school officials Saturday at the Arkansas City Middle School.

It went fairly well according to Chief Sean Wallace. They learned some things that they need to work on, and found out what worked and what didn't work.
I can't tell you all the details because we don't want to tip off the crooks and bad guys.

Generally, there were some communication issues. That was complicated a bit because the 911 system as not used. That had to be kept clear just in case there was a real emergency.

Logistics, as far as getting people around and in position, went really well.

They went through several scenarios. They had a shooter randomly shooting people. The shooter took hostages in another scenario.

Ive heard that some people criticized this exercise as a waste of time, or inviting criminal activity. That's about the most ludicrous thing i've ever heard.

Can you imagine someone walking by the school and saying "hummmmm, the cops are practicing how to stop violence, I think I'll go shoot someone and see how it works."

The naysayers will always be around I guess, but some people need to get a hobby, or a life.

I'm not going to bother explaining why this was a good idea. If you have a grain of common sense, you know.

Music festival

Just wanted to remind everyone that the River of Life Music Festival is less than two months away. It will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23. That's the Tuesday of Arkalalah week.

Its going rather well at this point, and a lot of people seem interested. We are also getting some support, but need more money.

See the post on the festival blog, which you can access from this page.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

underage drinking

Interesting discussion at the city commission worksession last night.

Several businesses were caught in a sting operation last April selling beer to minors.
It is an interesting topic, and I'd like to know what our readers think.

Realize first, that we are not talking about enticing 12 year-olds to drink. We are talking about businesses selling to people who are around 18, and they have sold it through carelessness more than some evil intent.

The police sent people in who were under 21. The people did not lie and showed their ID when asked. Even though the ID's showed the people to be under 21, they were sold beer anyway.

One interesting fact that I didn't realize is that drivers licenses in Kansas are vertical for people under 21, and horizontal for people over 21. It should be incredibly easy then, making most excuses bogus.

Another thing I did not know is that parents may legally allow their children to drink, as long as it is in their home. It must be the person's parent or legal guardian, and it must be in the legal residence.

There are lots of questions here.

Not the least of which is the whole drinking age question. Used to be it was 18, which is what it was when i turned 18. Then it was different in various states.
There is the argument that if people are old enough to go get killed in a war, they should be old enough to decide if they will drink or not.

But regardless of how you feel about the age limit, the law is the law, and the law was broken.

Then comes the question of what is fair punishment. The law says they lose their license for three days for first offense, and a week for second offense. None of the current offenders are on their second offense.
This does not apply to liquor stores which are under state authority.

So which days?

The commission debated setting the three days to be Labor Day weekend. That would really hurt financially, and some commissioners thought it would be good to do that to get the attention of the ones who violated the law. Others thought that was too harsh. One jokingly suggested consecutive sundays (when no beer can be sold anyway).

Likely they will make it the weekend after Labor Day, which is sort of a compromise.

What do you think?

What is legitimate punishment?

Is it entrapment?

Let me know what you think.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Monday blues

Greetings all.
It's been a couple of days. But its finally nasty hot out, around 100, more like a typical Kansas summer.
It is really hot, but I rather like hot weather. If I had to choose, I'd rather it be 100 then 35 and wind.

It has been really slow news-wise lately. Just the dog-days of summer. People are either still on vacation, or having returned, are recovering. No one wants to do much of anything, so its just a slow time of year.

We have had to scramble for any kind of news story to put in the paper. The paper must come out, whether we have enough to fill it or not :)
Of course, this time of year, stories take longer too because there is not so much hard news available, so we end up with less stories.

It's not just us. Have you noticed the Eagle out of Wichita lately?

Also various people at the paper have been on vacation, which is another good excuse to use:).

Football season is about here, and fall is approaching. Life will start getting busy soon enough, so I'm just going to enjoy the slow days while I can.

The Walnut Valley Festival is also fast approaching. That will be followed by lots of other festivals and events, leading all the way to Christmas.

City Commission meets this week and there should be some good things - or at least interesting things - coming out of that.

(Be sure to check out the music festival blog.)


Friday, August 17, 2007

our birthday

Greetings all.
The Traveler will turn 138 Saturday.
We are planning a small celebration by giving a little something back to the community.
Several local merchants will have special papers at their location Saturday morning. These are regular papers, but with a special page added, and only available through this promotion.

There will be an advertisement for a special deal for subscription rates. This will be for either new subscriptions and renewals.

Also, we will put special prize coupons in some of the papers. These will be coupons for free classified ads and even better subscription deals.

We like to mark milestones such as birthdays. Of course the round numbers get more attention. I suppose we will do something bigger for 140.

The Traveler is the oldest continuous running business in Arkansas City. In fact, we are older than Arkansas City.

Like most towns being settled in the days after the Civil War, they started a newspaper even before the town got started.
A group of 10-15 men came here and started the Arkansas City Town Company.
The final group came here from Emporia, but some of them had started in Manhattan and even Illinois.

That group included the guy who started the Traveler. Buckskin Joe was the scout that led the party.

The Traveler may have started as a weekly, but soon became a daily paper. It is kind of amazing to think that the original settling party brought a printing press along with them.

There were other settlements in the area. The original settlement, even before Buckskin Joe and company showed up, was the spot where the Walnut River feeds into the Arkansas River. They soon saw flooding and realized it was no place for a permanent settlement and moved upland.

Anyway, that special paper will have the history of the Traveler in it, written by Foss Farrar. Foss is one of the best historical writers I have ever met. I am sure it will be an interesting read.

Thats all for now.



Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Talk to me

We have this new blog set up on this new server. It is supposed to be easier to use, and easier for people to make comments.

The strange thing is, people commented on the old one but they are not commenting here.
I know people are stopping by because we have a counter that tells us. (There's no such thing as privacy on the internet.)

To comment, you don't have to sign in or anything. You don't even have to put your name on it, or even a fake name.

Just go to the end and click on the link there at the end of the post. A screen will pop up with same space for you to write in. That's all there is to it.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I noticed that the city of Winfield has a small controversy going over whether a person can have more than three animals , which is what the city ordinance says. Part of the problem there too though is the breed of dog. The people have Rotweilers and Pit Bulls, not exactly the kind of dog you want to see in any kind of numbers.

If someone wanted more than three Cocker Spaniels, there might not be the outcry.

Arkansas City has a similar ordinance and also has the limit at three for animals older than six months. Obviously, if a dog has a litter of puppies, you would be over the limit probably, so that's why they set it at six months.

They way they are interpreting it, it means three of any one kind of animal. So you could have three dogs, three cats and three hamsters I suppose. Fish in an aquarium also don't count because fish are not really animals.

Hmmmm, If the Evolutionists are right, and we are nothing more than an animal that happened to evolve into a higher level of intelligence, wouldn't having more than three people in a house also be a violation? Anyone want to debate that topic?

Winfield has a provision to apply for an exception - which is what has created their little debate. Arkansas City's ordinance does not have that provision, though there are exceptions for veterinarians and maybe a couple other things.

That is part of the price you pay for living in a city. There are advantages to living in a city and to not living in a city. If you lived out in the country and it was a long way to your next neighbor, no one would care how many of what kind of animal you had.

But in the city, you are closer to others, and there is more of a chance that your animal will bother your neighbor.

We do all have rights, but our rights ends where someone else's right begins.



Saturday, August 11, 2007

The morning after

Saturday morning and the sun came up after all.

Yesterday was quiet a day at the newspaper. Friday is always the hardest day of the week because we do two papers.

I like putting together the paper (and please, no one take that to mean I think I do it by myself. I do my part, but many others do their parts as well, and many of the other parts are more essential than mine.).

But it is a rush of sorts to come in to the paper in the morning and put together the day's issue. You usually have a good idea of what is going to happen, but there are always surprises too. Some don't like such pressure, but I'll admit I like it a lot.

We are all usually tired around noon when the paper gets done. What makes Friday hard is that you have to crank up that energy and focus again the same day. It is more a mental thing than anything, but that in itself is the biggest challenge.

Friday was no exception, except that the papers were not being printed.
This time the newsroom had no involvement. We were done on time and had been to lunch and back before we even knew about the problem.

There was a problem with the press. Something mechanical was wrong.
I don't know the details and decided that I really didn't need to know. Anyways, they couldn't get the press going until very late.

I believe it was 9 p.m. before the Traveler was done printing. They also print the Winfield paper and other papers as well, and of course they were all very late too.

About 6 p.m. the phones started ringing. We have someone answering the phone for that very purpose, and she was handling the calls as best she could, even though there were more than a human being could possibly answer.

It got so late that it was decided to just deliver Friday's paper with Saturday's.

Finally we did think of putting something on the web site, and our friends over at KACY-FM made an announcement for us.

So hopefully you have your paper by now, both Friday and Saturday.

I think we have made some progress in this area. Not too long ago, late papers were relatively common. At least it appears to me that they are getting delivered in a more timely fashion than they did previously.

In a perverse kind of way, it was also kind of gratifying to know that people were missing their paper.
I am sorry for the inconvenience, but I am glad that we were missed.

Oh well, its the weekend now, it's a beautiful day ... and I don't have to get a paper out today.

See ya later.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Update on papers

The paper did finally get printed at about 9 p.m.
It will be delivered with Saturday's which should be on time.

Sorry, but it was unavoidable.

The PAPER'S LATE !!!!!!

Its 5:30 p.m. on Friday and you may be wondering where your paper is.
Well it hasn't even been printed yet. We are having some mechanical problems, but we will get it printed and out as soon as we can.
So your paper will be very late tonight. I don't even know how late.
We appreciate your understanding and apologize for the inconvenience.

The editor.

aimless rambling

I realized I have not blogged since Wednesday, so thought I should write something. I don't really have anything to write about, so here is some pointless rambling.
After re-reading it, it seems to be about various states I've lived in.

The Dog Days of summer are finally here in Arkansas City. I don't know why they are called that. Its the time when not much is going on, its beastly hot, and towards the time when school restarts.
It is good to finally see some hot and relatively dry weather. Lately its felt like South Carolina out there. It's common there for it to be 95 degrees, 90 percent humidity and not a cloud in the sky. On the coast there is a shower about every day at about 3 p.m. that cools things off.
But that kind of humidity is not so usual here in Kansas.
I mention South Carolina because that is where I lived before I moved to Kansas.
There are lots of things I like about Kansas and some things I miss about South Carolina. I also once lived in Arkansas. I really don't care if I ever go back to that state or not.

One big cultural adjustment has been food. In South Carolina there is food at every function you go to, and usually really good Southern food.
Just a difference that I've noticed.

People talk about how bad Arkansas City is, but these people should visit LA (lower Arkansas) sometime and see their small towns. It really is flat. Lots of pine trees and acre after acre of farmland. Lots of cotton, soybeans and rice.
Lots of mosquitoes too.
Yep, Arkansas is a good place to be from ... a long way from.

I like Kansas a lot better, though I'll admit that my favorite state is Tennessee, which is where I grew up.
There are three main reasons, first is University of Tennessee football, second is football as played by the university of Tennessee, and third is big Orange Football.
Im exaggerating a bit, but, it is almost football season and I always get a little excited about that. Tennessee is also very beautiful, and ya gotta love that twangy southern accent.

I did live in Texas for six months, but I don't think I was there long enough to get a good feel for what it was really like.
I was in Marshall, Texas, and worked for a newspaper. The town was kinda cool, but the job was one of those horror tales you hear about.
So I don't have an opinion about living in Texas.

Well I need to get to work.

Drop me a comment sometime.



Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The music is ... on the river.

Some of you by now have heard that I am starting a music festival.
I have never tried anything like this before, so we shall see. Each day I learn something new.

The show is to be on the levee, near the old meat packing plant off South Summit Street.

Ive already started a blog on it, so click there and you may see details.

More information will be posted as it becomes available.

This is a non-profit operation. Hopefully we can break even, and if there is any money left, we will start working on next year.

My vision is to see Arkansas City become a mecca for music.


Monday, August 6, 2007

Rodeo at the fair

Here are some pictures from the rodeo at the fair in Winfield.
We had a nice picture page in the Traveler.
Pictures are by James Jordan.

Tired of Negativity

Mark Twain allegedly said "everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it."
I could say the same thing about negativity in Arkansas City.
I guess the nay sayers, and negative people just talk louder than anyone else, but you do hear it all over the place.
Like :
The town isn't what it used to be. (That might actually be good, but thats another column)
Things are going downhill.
The town is drying up.
ad nauseum

I even heard someone Monday blasting the fair because it is in Winfield and not in Arkansas City. Of course there were lots of Arkansas City people there. It is, after all, a county event. I only mention that to show how silly it can get.

Yes, Winfield is a rival. Ive only lived here 4 years, but im on the bandwagon with that.
But to me its a friendly rivalry that doesn't really mean anything.
What is good for one is good for the other. We should support each other by going to festivals and other events.

But back to my point.
For those who rip Arkansas City, I could show you some places that are much worse by comparison. Granted, that doesn't make Arkansas City good, but the point is, things are not that bad here.

It's easy to sit back and complain, moan and groan. I guess I'm just tired of it.

People should also realize that they are part of the town, so if the town is lousy, they are part of the reason for it being lousy. A town is no better or worse than the people who comprise the town. So when you live here and rip the town, realize that when you point that finger, three of them are pointing back at you.

I'd like to publicly call out all the naysayers, all the negative people.

What have you done to make Arkansas City a better place ?
How much money have you contributed ?
How much sweat have you deposited on the streets making them better ?
What projects have you participated in ?
What projects have you started ?

Go do those things for a few months and get back to me.

The old saying is true, if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

sunday rambling

Howdy everyone.
I see that some people are still stopping by the blog now that we have changed to a new sever.
However, no one is leaving comments.
I can't blame you too much though, as city business is not exactly the hottest topic to talk about these days.

This blog does need to be about other things than city government.

I do mean to keep harping on the negativity, and the need for a more positive attitude.

There are some good things happening in Arkansas City.

But even more importantly, there are good people here. If you don't see what you want, there is no reason that you couldn't do it yourself.

With that thought in mind, and somewhat of a desire to practice what I preach, I have come up with an idea.

I want to put together some outdoor music concerts.
There are lots of good musicians in the area, who need a place to play. I am not one of them, but I know several of them.

I am starting to organize, and need help. I don't know what I am doing but that might be good because that also means I don't know what can't be done.

My dream is to have a big music festival right here in river city.

The Walnut Valley Festival is coming up in Winfield soon. That started as a small gathering by another crazy many who didn't know what couldn't be done.

Why couldn't Arkansas City do the same?

Not saying that it would reach the level of the Walnut Valley Festival, or even that I want that to be the case, but I do believe we need music festivals.

This first one will be contemporary Christian rock music.

We could have other types of music in future concerts or festivals.

Why couldn't Arkansas City become a place for music festivals?

Woodstock was in a rural area, on a farm in the middle of nowhere. There isn't even a town there. People still talk about it 40 years later.

What do you all think ?