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.