Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2001

De Soto joins nation in mourning, seeks to aid rescuers, survivors

September 20, 2001

De Soto mourned the victims and sought to comfort the survivors as the community attempted to come to grips with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City's World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Nearly 70 members of the De Soto community came together to remember the victims of the attack at a prayer service Friday in City Hall. Mayor Dave Anderson asked the audience to honor the memory of those municipal employees killed in the line of duty at the World Trade Center with moments of silence in the coming days. Appropriately, city first responders rushed from the room to answer an emergency call minutes after the mayor's remarks.

Audience members responded to the Rev. Richard Copeland's request for prayers by asking for God's grace to help overcome hatred, mercy on the victims of the attacks and protection of those engaged in rescue activities in New York and Washington.

Concerned residents filled churches in De Soto last Sunday. Copeland said Tuesday that although attendance Sunday at the De Soto Baptist Church resembled Christmas or Easter services, the mood was much different.

"Attendance was up 30 percent," he said. "It was somber. People talked in whispers before and after the service. It was a very quiet atmosphere."

A somber mood prevailed at Starside Elementary last week, too, said counselor Paula Henderson. The attacks left students "sad and afraid," she said.

"That sums it up for adults, too," she said. "The kids wanted reassurance that they were safe. They wanted reassurance our country would be OK."

Monday, the Starside Student Council decided to start a penny drive for victims of the attack. Students who donate money in the morning are rewarded with a flag lapel tag. Henderson said the drive gave the students a way to deal with their emotions.

"Adults can go give blood, donate or go help in some way kids can't," she said. "One little girl forgot about the drive, but she said, 'I know I have a couple of pennies in my backpack.' She came back just beaming because she had found three pennies instead of two."

At De Soto High School, seniors Dave Moore, Jamie Atwell, Caffie Everson, Elizabeth Juarez and juniors Tiffany Roy and McKenzie King organized a fund-raiser for the Salvation Army's New York City Disaster Relief Fund.

The students made about 300 red, white and blue ribbons at school last Thursday and Friday and at the football game Friday evening, said Amy Peoples, community service teacher. Their efforts netted about $150 for the relief effort.

Like must Americans, De Soto High students where confused by the attacks, Peoples said.

"I would say more than anything they were just trying to understand what was going on," she said. "In my classrooms we talked about the history of the Middle East and how this didn't all the sudden happen. I know other teachers did as well."

Peoples said this week she detects a resolve on the part of the students to support any actions the country takes to combat terrorism.

In response to the bombings, the Department of Defense had called 50,000 Reservists and Guardsmen to active duty. Steve Larson, public affairs officer for Kansas Adjutant General's office, said the initial call up didn't include any Kansas Army or Air National Guard units. According to the Army Reserve Web site, an Iowa-based port security unit is the closest of the nine Reserve units called up thus far.

But, Larson said the situation could change as the country mobilizes for action.

"The president has said we're in this for he long haul," he said. "Looking at a cross section of what might be needed, it's pretty much everything."

Uncertainty of how the coming conflict will affect the already questionable economy lead to a 7 percent decline in stock market when it reopened Monday. Don Clark, owner of an Olathe investment company, said the decline wasn't as bad as some feared.

"Actually, I was pleased," he said. "We were hoping for a 7- to 10-percent decline. You need an immediate sell off at times to get rid of those people who don't really want to be in the market. Those people that bought in really want to be there. I think we have established a solid base for the market."

De Soto manufacturers contacted reported few problems from the shut down and subsequent of cut backs in air freight.

Engineered Air plant manager Laine Wright said the shut down and subsequent delays haven't caused any production problems at the plant.

"We do have parts come in occasionally, but luckily the timing worked out for us," he said. "It has affected our outbound shipments. Customers haven't gotten things as quickly as they would have liked.

"The best bet is to ship it by ground, rather than wait for answers."

Bud Philbrook, executive vice president of Huhtamaki Consumer Packing, said his company brings raw materials in by train and ships by truck.

"We did have people out around North America," he said. "They had some long drives when the airports closed down."

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