Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Im torn a bit. Some said to give the immigration thing a rest, so I did, but then, not as many people discussed the posts.
Soooooo .... makes me wonder whether i should be responsible and talk about what needs talkin about, or whether I should just stir things up to cause a ruckus to get more discussion on my blog.

Oh well.
Here goes my foray into the school bond issue.
Its about time to vote, if you have not voted, you need to get that ballot mailed in.
If you didn't get a ballot, you can get one at the courthouse in Winfield.
Ballots have to be in by noon Tuesday, NOT mailed by then, but in the ballot box in Winfield at the courthouse.
So even mailing it Monday probably won't work.
We had a story about one problem that is developing, and that being the fact that a lot of ballots have been returned by the post office as undeliverable.
This is because people have not changed their address when they have moved. We got ballots for the people who used to live in this house, but they don't live here anymore. I dont know where they live, but I dont think it is Arkansas City.
Obviously they have not changed their address with the voting people.

Now before the naysayers get riled up about this, you have to realize it is just a quirk in the system. I dont think its some grand conspiracy to either get it passed or to derail it, depending on which side of the conspiracy you are on.

If you are a registered voter in the district, you can still get a ballot even if one did not come in the mail.
It will just be a bit more hassle if you didnt change your address.

I am begrudgingly supporting the bond issue.
You can tweak with details and argue the various points to death. I am sure some parts could be made better, but I dont think that helps anything.
If we really think a detail should be changed, we can go to the school board and make the case.

I see it more as giving a general approval to a building program that will improve schools. I dont really care if they follow the plan exactly, though they may have to.

I dont have kids in school, but I believe in supporting my community.
It is a quality of life issue, and it is going to cost me about an extra $60-$70 a year for 20 years. Taxes are already high, that much more wont break me.
But I do sort of object to the fact that renters are not paying any of the freight.
Still, its a good thing to do for the community.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Curry FIeld

By request.
I was thinking about Curry Field, and what would happen if the school bond issue passes.
They would be building a new stadium near the high school, but that would take some time. Even if if passes, I would imagine at least one more football season at Curry Field.

So you could have a "farewell tour" for the field. Make i a marketing thing.

Im not from here and don't have a huge emotional attachment to Curry FIeld, though I do understand why some people would.

If parking were not an issue, I would say you could have outdoor concerts there. I know, i think everywhere would be a good site for an outdoor concert, but this would work.

It could stay a field for intramural sports with Cowley College.
What if Cowley brought football back?
If they did they would probably have to rebuild the facility anyway, but that would be ironic. Ive not heard anything about Cowley having football again. Its a very expensive proposition, so I wouldn't hold my breath.

I did some research awhile back. Back in the 1890's and 1900's there was an adult men's football team here. That was about the same thing that college teams had. It was pretty loose. I remember reading that in 1910 a coach at Oklahoma was in hot water for insisting that college players actually be enrolled at the school.

But the cool thing was, OU played at Curry Field and lost. Ark City is 2-1 against Oklahoma. Thats a better winning percentage than KU has against them:) They also played against Chilocco Indian School.

If they do get the bond issue, and build a new stadium, i am sure we will do an detailed history of Curry FIeld.

did ya'll see this ?

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez’s government is taking its battle against U.S. ‘‘imperialism’’ into Venezuelans’ dictionaries, urging state phone company workers to avoid English-language business and tech terms.
Through a campaign launched Monday, newly nationalized CANTV hopes to wean employees and others from words like ‘‘staff’’ (‘‘equipo’’ is preferred), ‘‘marketing’’ (‘‘mercadeo’’) and ‘‘password’’ (‘‘contrasena’’).
Stickers and banners printed up by the company exhort Venezuelans to ‘‘Say it in Spanish. Say it with pride.’’
The Communications and Information Ministry said in a statement that Venezuelans must recover Spanish words that are ‘‘threatened by sectors that have started a battle for the cultural domination of our nations.’’
Other English words targeted include ‘‘mouse’’ (the company prefers ‘‘raton’’), ‘‘meeting’’ (‘‘reunion’’) and ‘‘sponsor’’ (‘‘patrocinador’’) — all of which have become common in Latin American countries.
The leftist president has sought to counter what he calls U.S. cultural imperialism on all fronts, financing Venezuelan cinema as an alternative to the ‘‘dictatorship of Hollywood’’ and forcing radio stations to play more Venezuelan music.English is still taught in schools alongside other languages, however.
Chavez himself often breaks playfully into English during speeches, sometimes to salute his close friend, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, saying: ‘‘How are you, Fidel?’’

Monday, February 25, 2008


Really got people going last week with the immigration thing.

I would say there is a difference between "being" a racist and having racially bad attitudes.
I guess everyone knows by now that the racism thing - or racist attitudes - is a hot button for me.

I dont want to call anyone that word. But when you go blaming problems on a certain race of people - i don't know what else you can call it.

Here is another post office story, from a different angle.
In South Carolina, a hot August afternoon. I pull up to the post office. All my windows are down, no auto-windows on this car. I have $3,000 worth of camera equipment laying in the seat.
Need to mail a package and have to go inside to pay postage.

Small post office in a rural area. When i drive up to the door there is no one around except this one guy standing by the door. He is black. Doesn't look unusual at all. He is just standing there. At the door, five feet or so from my car.

I really think i would have had the same concern if it had been a white guy, hispanic guy or whatever. Or even if it had been a female :) .
My concern was that I had to leave my camera stuff in the car and it was an easy target. And to roll up the windows would make it obvious that I did not trust the person, which is what was bothering me more than anything.

I was also concerned that he would think it was because of his color that I was locking up my car.
and as I said, these were manual windows. four of them. so whatever i did, would be obvious ..

So what to do?

What would you do?

Friday, February 22, 2008

An email on small steps

Here is an email I received from a friend from far away, about a post this morning. Just thought it was insightful.

"I guess it is true that changing a name of a pond isn't exactly earth shaking news that will change Arkansas City forever. But then again, if everyone took on a project of some kind ... it just might."

That's a great attitude to disseminate. The TV Age has reduced our hopes for making small changes and reduced our belief that small changes add up to great things. But in actuality, small changes are all anyone is ever allowed. We're not God, we're people. People are given small areas in which to be faithful to God's call.

And those "big stories" of "huge" improvements? They're all made up of small changes over a long period of time. It's enough that God allows us, no, encourages us to be co-creators with Him in His on-going work. Pretty amazing, actually. A God that wants to do things with us. WITH us! With US! Just way cool.

And He makes that possible with just the small items that are within our small reach. It's sad anyone ever sits at home and complains instead of jumping into the excitement right at their doorstep.


Agents of change

With the talk about the role of the city commission, I wanted to talk a bit about something that actually happened.

You know they re-named the north pond, McFarland Pond at the meeting the other night. I know this isn't earth shaking news, and isn't all that important in the grand scheme of things. It made Mrs. McFarland happy, and the family, which is one good result.

I just want to make the point of how it happened.

A group of people approached the commission and asked them. They had to go through channels, and they did, and the city gave the OK. (The request to open it up for fishing has not yet been approved, still some channels involved there.)

They were all Lions Club members, but it is not a Lions Club project.

THese are the same people - Bob Mathews, Gary Hale, and a couple others, - who got the name changed to Veterans Lake at 6th St. Pond.
The Lions CLub is building a small shelter and plans to put up a flagpole and a flag.

The guys who approached the commission are also heavily involved in the fishing derby, which is growing each year.

They wouldn't be above using McFarlands Pond - or even other ponds and or lakes - for future fishing derby's. In just four years they now have literally hundreds of kids involved.

These sames guys are trying to get Veterans Lake cleaned up. Theres a lot of brush, weeds, briars and such, that need to be cleaned up. They are trying to have a workday Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. They have made a fair amount of progress already.

They could sit around and moan about how the city isn't cleaning up Veterans Lake, and how it isn't fair that the north pond isn't named after the people who once owned the land. AND they could complain about kids hanging out causing trouble.

Or they could start a fishing derby to get kids involved in fishing, and then they could draw attention to the city's lakes by working toward getting them presentable and usable.

I guess it is true that changing a name of a pond isn't exactly earth shaking news that will change Arkansas City forever. But then again, if everyone took on a project of some kind ... it just might.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

a suggestion

Many of you like to post anonymously, which is OK.
However, I know some post fairly regularly. It would be nice to be able to kind of keep track of who is who.
Could you guys just create a name to post with?
Would just be a way of being able to keep track and keep the conversation going.

Use any name you like.
what do you think?

Food for thought

I was at the post office yesterday.
Standing in line behind a clean cut looking young Mexican man. Well he might not have been Mexican, but he was Hispanic, and we tend to stereotype.
The thing I noticed was, he was buying a money order for around $1,500. Looked like he was sending a registered letter back home with the money in it. His english was good.

What I thought about was this is local wages leaving the city - even the country.
What if he brought his family here and lived here. THose wages would also stay here.

How much money is leaving the area this way?

Maybe we should be encouraging people from other countries to move here and live - especially if they are working here already.
We do need more people, and if its a whole family, they may buy a house - which makes them taxpayers.

I dont care if they are from Mexico or Mongolia.

Ok, but we don't need anyone from Arkansas though, long story, but, there are limits to everything :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

almost meeting time

Just less than an hour until the next city commission meeting.
There's not a whole lot of interest on the agenda, but then that is relative to what you are interested in.

The land north of Skyline that was annexed for the possible Lowe's deal is set to be de-annexed, as per the original agreement. They have to have a public hearing on this. I'd bet a quarter no one shows up. But it would be a good time to ask about the future of the city and directions that might be taken.

About the only other thing is the assessments for mowing of weeds.

They might talk about goals some. Also the golf course is going to come up at some point.

I was not able to make it to the worksession last night, and those are usually more interesting than the regular meeting.

So ... who will be there from the public ?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

visions of oklahoma city

Just got back from a weekend in Oklahoma City. I had never spent any time there before, but just a weekend there left me impressed.
I definitely want to go back. The rain all day Saturday pretty much prevented any exploring, so I managed a little on Sunday, but that was enough.

I went for a story telling festival. That was really cool. I would like to see us have one here.
Story telling is becoming a popular art form once again.
It's kind of like what Buckskin Joe does.

There were also some great eating establishments.

Also they have made their little canal into a nice walkway with coffee shops, night clubs and trendy little eating places, and such along the way. Very nice trail, and they even have boat rides on it.

Well it is a larger city, and they are always nice to visit. The thing I liked best was that it didn't "feel like" a big city. It felt kind of like a really really big small town, which was nice.
People were nice and friendly, helpful even, and it was fairly easy to get around.

I did a little checking and found out it is not as old as Arkansas City. It was started after the landrush as a center for keeping law and order.

Found a great blog on the city ..

Made me think a lot about what could be done here.
Visionaries built Oklahoma City into what it is today.
What will visionaries do here ?

sunday evening / vision

The last two posts on the last post, were really good.
We do have some people starting to think in terms of possibilities.
see below:

Going back to the visionaries ideas, have any of you been to Atchison,KS, Weston,KS, or Parkville, MO? They are all small towns that have made a name for themselves by becoming a destination for antique/home goods/shopping for stuff that not everyone carries kind of people.

Excellent point
I still recall my trip through Arkansas City in 1991. or maybe it was 1992. We were into the antique business at the time, and bought several things here to take back to our store in South Carolina. We had a booth inside an antique mall. We were amazed at the low prices, and made a nice chunk of change from our stop here.
Seems that there were several antique stores on Summit then. But im not sure.

anyways, That could be done fairly easily.
This could also be part of re-branding the town. We also have the western heritage, landrush etc., to add to it to give it more flavor.

If we could get a Main St. Association going, I think it could help in that area.

They are all relatively close to Kansas City, but they by no means are easy to get to. Ark City could even think in that kind of direction and get people from Wichita/Ponca/Tulsa/OKC to come shop. I've heard comments from shop owners in the places mentioned above they even have people coming up from OKC to shop for the weekends. All 3 places also have converted some of their historic homes (which AC has quite a few of) into Bed and Breakfasts. The "quaint" factor goes along way with people looking for shopping out of town. Just some more to think about.

Again, great point.
Dealers love going to other towns to show at antique malls. You have a lot of stuff shifting around like that. I learned to hate dealers and quit being one, but ... it is still an interesting idea.

This is a great idea. Add a couple nice little restaurants, a coffee shop perhaps, couple bed and breakfast type places, and youre in business.
We have a couple antique malls already.
They have decent stuff in them. THey just need more customers.

Oh, and Parkville is next to a river, so they've done a lot of touristy things with that as well.

Imagine that :)

Comments on another post below

So what if the hike bike trails ended up as a simple recreational area with some really nice RV pads, hookups and bathrooms -like those at the lakes with showers etc. Then an open area - somewhere with a Bandshell or an outdoor stage?

Sounds good to me :)
just like where we had our concert.
Or the park across the street would probably work too

With the intent to schedule a Summer concert series - bluegrass, rock n roll, christian and the season culmunating with:
Me in my lawn chair, strawhat, reebox, shorts, tank top and shades - eating a steak, brat or 1 inch pork chop with fries from a mobile vendor and a large glass of ice cold tea. While listening to the great sounds of the Wichita, Tulsa, or Kansas City Symphony on a warm afternoon/evening! A talent worthy of a great crowd of all ages!

Excellent !
Add this to the antique shop motif, some historical touristy things .. maybe a raft or canoe trip down the Arkansas River ... and you've got a tourist trap waiting to happen :)
figure in the casinos as a drawing card.

So can you imagine the Ad for Arkansas City.

Small town charm between two rivers. Shop in our antique stores, eat at nice small restuarants, while you enjoy walks along the river and brick streets.
In the evening take in a concert on the river, and if that's too tame, just a couple miles south are casinos .

Maybe add a night club on Summit downtown.

Professional musicians in an outdoor setting - The acoustics of the Arkansas River - Priceless!

I am not sure you could afford or attract one of those talents - or that they would come!
But if one did?

I think we could.
Lots of times symphonies will send a few of their key musicians and pick up local musicians to fill in the gaps.
Very doable i think.
THere are also people in Arkansas City who have some money, who might be willing to help bring in such bands.

So how do we make it happen ??
That's the $50 question.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

future considerations

There were a lot of good posts yesterday about the economy and local jobs.
The jobs are not of the high paying variety, most are at $10 an hour or less, many less.
Creekstone, Kanpack and Skyline (the place that makes mobile homes) are all looking for people. They have a couple of good paying jobs, but mostly its not higher end jobs.
So maybe we do need more Mexicans.

But the dollar does go further here. As editor of the paper, i make less here than i did in south carolina as a reporter. But the money goes further here. Had it not been for family situations, I would not have considered moving here.

Taxes are higher here, but everything else is less.

The trend on the blog is just like the trend in conversation at any gathering, or among city and county officials.
We need higher paying jobs, but to get them you have to have companies that can pay that. Those companies will not come here unless there is a labor force readily available.
So you have to have the people. Its a never ending circle.

This is why the bike trail is important. It is one piece of the puzzle that improves quality of life, which attracts people to move here, which in turn could help attract a business here...
The school bond issue is another. I don' want to pay more taxes any more than anyone else does, but ... I don't see any alternative.

Sounds kinda convoluted, but that is how it seems to work.

Then people get frustrated and quit cause its so hard to make happen, and nearly impossible if you are not offering very nice incentives to the company as well - they get those incentives everywhere else, so without them you are not even in the game.

There must be an answer to this.
Maybe the answer isnt more jobs?
Maybe the answer is in re-inventing the town.

What if we did become a place that people wanted to come to?

This is what was meant at the city meeting the other night when the re-branding of the town idea was mentioned. Now dont get excited about that. It was one of about 30 ideas mentioned, and was not even top 10 material.

I think im more interested in the idea than the city is.

But just think of the possibilities.

Tiny town of Helen, Ga., just a wide spot in the road, is now an alpine village with that whole theme running throughout the town. Its a tourist place now, and crowded even.
THere's many more examples. Branson, Mo. , Dollywood, Tenn.,

Would take some visionaries, but ...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

politics and national debt

As of 2006 each man woman and child in the USA owed $35,000 on the Nation debt. (last I checked - which is a stealth tax).

I really dont understand about "national debt"
I tend to think it is something that exists only on paper and is not a reality.
remember the clinton years.
We had this huge national debt, and it went away.
Of course, clinton took credit, and the republicans said no it was due to Reagan's economic policies that came to fruition during Clinton's term.

(same thing for the Carter years, and even the Eisenhower years, but before my time.)

whichever, but the thing is, it went away.
Now it is back.
When the economy improves it will go away again.
Most likely obama will take credit, and the republicans will say no it was due to Bush or Reagan or maybe Barbara Bush....

Is the national debt just politics ?
it does tend to fluctuate quiet a bit for no apparent reason.

Taxes kind of work that way too.
When the economy is going good there is a surplus so they cut taxes, then when it goes bad they run short and have to raise taxes.
Of course, both sides take credit and blame each other.

Anyone have any thoughts on the relationship between the economy and politics .. you do have to get beyond partisan politics.

Im not republican or democrat. if anything, im a-political.
Both sides are wrong :)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

immigrants, schools

The allergies have calmed down some. I may try that buckwheat honey someone suggested. The only thing ive ever done that worked was get shots twice a week when i lived in south carolina.
When you move to a new place - Kansas - the stuff in the air etc., changes, so whats in the shots wont work anymore, and its kinda controversial in medical circles, so most insurances don't cover it.

Anyways, there have been a couple of interesting conversations on the blogs while I wasn't posting.
On immigration. I would just remind us all that we were all immigrants at one time. Most of us anyway.
While we are talking about ideas for Arkansas City, what if we made Arkansas City into a "little Mexico."
We could advertise in major Mexican cities, help them get here, offer various services. Several businesses could spring up as support services.
Could be a boom to the local economy.

I really don't think they are stealing jobs. I have heard that Creekstone buses Hispanics in from Wichita to work, I dont know if that is true, but I intend to find out. I want to know more about our employment situation.
Do we really have a shortage of workers?
Someone aught to check. Maybe the newspaper? :) :)

The school bond issue is becoming a big deal too.
Ive been looking around at the schools. We have good schools. They win awards. But the buildings are really not all that good. They look pretty bland to me, and even run down at times.

I know there is a lot of nostalgia for Curry Field, but ... its not a very nice facility. Im sure it was 50 years ago, but it doesn't compare with other facilities in the area.
Go to Derby, Wellington, or gads, even Winfield.

When I was a sports writer in carolina, I always of course, went to lots of athletic facilities. I couldnt help forming an opinion of variuos towns based on what I saw.
Even before Carolina, I was in Arkansas. I remember in Arkansas seeing a ladder up to the press box at once place, and decided that I wouldn't bother.
But athletic facilities do say something about a town or a city.
It speaks to quality of life.
and it speaks to pride of the people involved.

Im not for more taxes but we do need to do something for the schools.
I don't have any kids in the schools here, and wont.
But, at one point I was a kid in school, and someone paid taxes to pay for that.

Thats it for a Sunday night.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

what's needed

The city work session lasted almost five hours last night. They talked about ideas for a long time.
Nothing really new, but at least some of the ideas got put on the table.
The development of an industrial park seems to be a big one. Exactly what that means is yet to be determined.
(They also had three private meetings - executive sessions - for various reasons, which took about 40 minutes when added up.)

The most interesting idea to me was developing a theme, or a branding, for the city. This didn't get talked about much, but maybe it will eventually.
With all the discussion lately, I was thinking about what the city really needs.
The thing is, it isn't ONE thing.
The Lowe's deal is not going to make or break the city. The bike path isn't going to make or break the city. Any idea isn't.
The answer to what we need is that we need everything.
Its like some of the commissioners have said, we need to work on everything at once.
We need ideas, and for those ideas to be explored.
Too often, like even happens here to some extent, people just shoot down anything that smells like a new idea. It might be better if people would at least think about new ideas.

We do need a new attitude, and of course, we need to refute the naysayers at every opportunity. (That means keep speaking the truth to shoot down their negativity.)
Maybe its better to ignore the naysayers, i'm not sure.
Anyway, one thing is not the answer. The answer is everything at once.

Another key component is public involvement. You can't just sit back and expect the city to do everything. Of course, we should be able to expect the city to make positive activities easier, or to pave the way to progress.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

rolling on the river

When we think of the hike and bike trail and what it could mean, it seems thoughts go directly to a major development with restuarants, apartments, casinos, and many other things.
Then people say that wont work and the idea dies.
That is how things go in Arkansas City at times.
That is something I want to change.

if we get 20 ideas talked about, 3 developed, and one actually works, that is success in my estimation.
The trail is the first step. Next step is to get a few business, which might take a year or two.

Here is my story...

We need to try things.
You know we put on a nice outdoor music festival last fall by the old meat packing plant down by the levee. That is a huge field that is not being used for anything.
Now ill be the first to admit that i didnt know what i was doing, but somehow it managed to come off rather well.
( I had lots of friends come through and some divine intervention )

(This too is part of developing the rivers)

There were several reasons that it wouldnt work.
1. No one had done that before.
2. The weather is unpredictable in late October, could be bad weather.
3. There are sinkholes all over the place and new ones show up all the time.
4. There is no electricity. (a big problem)
5. The entrance is awkward and hard to see.
6. There are lots of stickers all over the ground.
7. I (we) didnt have any money.
8, It was a school night.
9. Right before Arkalalah, people are not into a concert out in the cold at night. Especially not a Christian music festival.
10. Most people were not even aware that the field existed.

Any one of those reasons would have been a legitimate excuse to not attempt such a thing. Most of those reasons were also relatively good reasons that it might not work.

I wasnt even dreaming big enough. I was thinking maybe 200-300 people might show up. We had way over 500.

Im really glad we did it and we are going to do it again.

But one thing I want to point out is, that I was willing for it to be a total disaster. That was the risk, but one worth taking.
I remember thinking a few days before the show, what if no one comes to hear this $2,000 band we have coming, and the other bands. I thought, i guess ill have a front row seat for sure then.

There's always reasons that things wont work.
Wasnt it Kennedy that said some people see things they way they are and ask why, while others see things that are not and ask why not?

So lets quit moaning about why things wont work and get to work building Ark City.

Weirder stuff has happened.
THe Giants just won the Super Bowl.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

hike and bike trail

Theres been some great discussion on the blog. The hike and bike trail has come up.
I have a story in todays -saturdays - paper about it.

Here is the real deal.
The cost is $1.2 million.
A grant from KDOT will pay for a lot of it.
The city still has to come up with about $600,000.

Creekstone pays $300,000 per year in lieu of taxes. That lasts until 2011. At that time Creekstone is to start paying regular taxes.
10 percent is to go to the schools, and 10 percent to the police dept. That leaves 80 percent for the city - that money is earmarked for parks and recreation.
The feeling is that money could be used to pay the city's part.

The decision was made years ago, and a lot of progress has been made.
They have bought up property and rights of way they will need for the project. The design work - architects etc., which are not cheap - is nearly done. Design work is to be done by the end of March and that is submitted to KDOT.

The trail could be completed by late this year - late fall.

As I said, it has been in the works for years.
If the city does nothing at all from this point, it will be completed because the wheels are in motion.

It would take an ordinance, or a vote, to undo it. That would likely take the for of a vote to return the grant to KDOT, and then to do something else with the Creekstone money.

Ive talked with the commissioners. I believe it will survive.
McDonald, Hockenbury and Smith are for it.
Margolius said he is "not opposed" to it anymore, but he said he did not know how he would vote if it were to come to a vote.
Kuhn still seems somewhat opposed, but he wants to build softball fields instead with the Creekstone money.

Mayor Dotty Smith is going to bring it up Monday night at the work session.
Nothing has to be done though, to keep it rolling.

Also, as I have said, the path is not the point. The point is utilizing the rivers and developing them.

Here is an example.
For the past three years I have gone to Scottsdale Arizona for the Cowley Volleyball team at the national tournament.
Through the middle of town is a drainage ditch. I saw it the first two years. It wasn't particularly ugly, but was just a concrete ditch with water flowing.
This year i was surprised to find it is now the "Arizona Canal."
It has (fake) grass on each side with flowers and small trees that are real. There are restaurants alreeady, several park benches and it looks really nice.

Getting a hike and bike trail on the levee is the first step in getting us to that point, of making use of the rivers.

I wrote in the paper today, the trail is not the point. If it were anywhere else in town id say save the money. The point is developing the river.