Homepage for De Soto Container

Posts for May 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Estuardo Garcia May 31, 2010 at 9:52 a.m.

David Cuba played the bugle during the ceremony.

David Cuba played the bugle during the ceremony. by Estuardo Garcia

Memorial Day ceremony

Estuardo Garcia May 31, 2010 at 3:17 a.m.

Drew Culbertson, De Soto VFW 6654 post commander, is inviting everyone to come join them during their Memorial Day ceremony at 11 a.m. The ceremony will honor and remember all our fallen heroes, who sacrificed their lives so we might enjoy ours.

The ceremony will be in front of the VFW Veterans Memorial at 84th Street and Penner Avenue.

Happy 90th birthday!

Estuardo Garcia May 31, 2010 at midnight

Bullfigther doesn’t clown around when aiding cowboys

Estuardo Garcia May 28, 2010 at 9:37 a.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2008/may/25/24351/

At first glance, Dusty Tuckness looked like the many clowns hanging around Friday night at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds.

He, like a group of Shrine clowns at the Abdallah Shrine Rodeo, was wearing face paint and ragged, colorful clothing. But a closer look revealed a purpose other than humor to Tuckness’ outfit.

He wore body-hugging undergarments beneath the clown get-up and a new pair of sleek Bones athletic shoes.

When your job is to step between the biggest of barnyard animals and a fallen cowboy, you don’t wear floppy clown shoes.

And make no mistake, every cowboy who climbs on a rodeo bull gets bucked off whether or not he makes it the eight seconds needed for an official ride. When he does, it’s the job of the 24-year-old Tuckness and other bullfighters to be the target of the animal’s anger until the rider makes it to safety.

It’s a job Tuckness said he has loved since he took it up at 11 years of age.

“It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s great to go out there and be able to control an animal and just keep on top of it,” he said. “There’s some adrenaline, but it’s about being a cowboy lifesaver and making sure everybody gets out of there safely.”

He followed the career path of his father, who was a professional bullfighter, Tuckness said. Growing up in Meeteetse, Wyo., he had early opportunities to hone his skills while working his way up from rodeo’s minor leagues.

“You got to work the smaller stuff — get out there and work your name and be seen,” he said.

There’s no scoring system for bullfighters, Tuckness said. Reputations are based on the opinions of those who recognize good work.

Tuckness, fellow bullfighter Dan Robinson and clown John Harrison are working for the Abdallah Shrine Rodeo for the event’s contract stock provider.

Having paid his dues, Tuckness now works the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit, doing 60 to 65 events or 130 to 140 performances a year. Last year, he was one of the bullfighters chosen to work the Wrangler National Finals in Las Vegas.

Injuries are part of the game. And Tuckness’ list includes two dislocated shoulders, a dislocated kneecap and numerous broken bones.

“If it’s above the waist, it doesn’t stop you,” he said. “When I had the dislocated shoulder, I just went on with it. If you’re not working, you’re not getting paid.

“When it’s your wheels, you can’t work.”

Bullfighters are aware of bulls with reputations for being mean or hooking riders and bullfighters with horns, Tuckness said. Because of their unpredictable nature, he “prepares for the worst, but hopes for the best” with every bull.

“I’m very calm when I’m in there,” he said. “I get really focused when the bull comes out of the chute. You have to be able to keep yourself relaxed.

“I’ve been in bad positions and been able to get myself out of it.”

His goal is to stay in the profession as long as he can. To that end, he works out regularly, watches his diet and doesn’t drink.

“I”m still pretty young,” he said. “I’ve got 20 more years in me, the Good Lord willing.”

It's rodeo time for local bareback rider

Estuardo Garcia May 27, 2010 at 5:20 p.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2009/may/26/29934/

By Ruth Nicolaus

Tonganoxie- Justin Williams is an old man in the sport of rodeo. The bareback rider from De Soto is 37 and competing against cowboys nearly half his age.

Williams will compete at the Shrine Rodeo in Tonganoxie May 27-29.

He grew up on a horse farm outside De Soto and got on his first bareback horse at age eight, but it wasn’t pretty. “I got thrown off pretty quick,” he said. But his destiny was set. “I told my dad, that’s what I want to do, and he said, that’s fine but you’re going to wait until you’re physically mature.”

So Williams was 16 when he got on his next bucking horse in high school rodeo competition.

During high school, Williams had a high motivation to succeed, and it was evident in three areas: football, wrestling, and the Naval Junior ROTC program, which he loved.

“During the summer I had to go to boot camp and I enjoyed it,” he said. “I was very into the discipline part of it.”

He planned on following one of those three paths after high school, but he realized he wasn’t good enough to play pro football, and the only path beyond school for wrestling was the Olympics, so he didn’t pursue that.

After high school graduation, he reached a fork in the road: the military or rodeo.

He accepted a college scholarship to rodeo, and took that path, and even now, he doesn’t know if it was the right one.

“I still don’t know if I chose the right path,” Williams reminisced. “But I’ve made a lot of friends in rodeo, and I still enjoy myself to this day.”

He exercises to stay in shape at an age when most bucking horse riders have retired.

Work requires two to four miles of walking every day, and he uses a weight machine, lifts, and runs daily. And his discipline has paid off. He has qualified for the regional championships, the Prairie Circuit Finals, 17 times, winning the year-end championship once.

Last year, he won the pro rodeos in Coffeyville, Manhattan, and Strong City. At the Shrine Rodeo, he’s placed second four times.

Williams is married and has six-year-old twins. He credits his work ethic for his success.

“Bareback riding is so physically hard on you,” he said. “You have to be extremely tough, and if you want to be good at it, you have to refuse to lose and do whatever it takes to win.”

Williams is a sore loser, too.

“Whether it’s rodeo or golf, I absolutely hate being number two,” he said.

In his prime, twenty years ago, he was competing at upwards of 100 rodeos a year. Now, with a full time job, a wife and kids, he goes to about 40 rodeos a year. He stays within the Prairie Circuit, pro rodeos in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma, and that allows him to compete for the Prairie Circuit Finals champion.

His age is starting to catch up with him. He has spent the last five months recuperating from his second knee surgery, and early this year, wasn’t sure he wanted to get on another bareback horse.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to rodeo anymore,” he said. “But it was the winter drolls. Once spring comes, I crave getting on bareback horses.”

The travel is getting to him too.

“I hate to say it, because I love to (rodeo), but I don’t crave driving anymore. I just don’t want to travel a whole lot.”

After four times as runner up at the Shrine Rodeo, Williams is looking for that number one win. He, along with several hundred other rodeo athletes, will compete at the 61st Annual Shrine Rodeo May 27-29 in Tonganoxie. Two other pro rodeos take place Memorial Day weekend, in Hinton and Claremore, Okla.

For more information on the Shrine Rodeo, visit www.ShrineRodeo.com. Rodeo competition begins each night at 7:30 pm.

Moms scramble for new graduation party location after storm

Estuardo Garcia May 27, 2010 at 4:56 p.m.

Planning a post graduation party has three key ingredients: victuals, visitors and a venue. But five De Soto moms found themselves in a scramble the morning after a storm had knocked down the White Waitzmann Barn at Zimmerman’s Kill Creek Farm, where they had planned to hold a graduation party for their kids.

Carrie Dvorak, mother of recent graduate Joe Dvorak, said she found out about the barn after her husband left for work.

“I got a call from him and he said, ‘you have to come out to see… the barn’s gone,’” Carrie said.

Because they live close to the barn, Carrie left to go inspect the damage.

About the same time Pam Konetzni said the word was getting around to the students via text message that the barn had been destroyed. Soon her son, Andrew Konetzni, who also graduated, was relaying the information to her. She immediately called the Dvoraks to get more information.

Joe answered and told her they could no longer see the barn from their window and that her parents were at the farm.

“I looked at my son and said, ‘I’ll be right back,’” Pam said.

Shortly after Pam was taking photos with her cell phone and sending them to the other moms.

Calls were made to other different places around town to see what was available.

Konetzni said Drew Culbertson, De Soto VFW Post 6654 commander, returned their phone call and told them the VFW hall would be available in the afternoon on graduation day.

Carrie, Pam, Nancy Roberts, Janell Slater and Rose Burgweger gathered at the hall at 6:30 p.m. that evening to see if the site was suitable.

Because these moms had had previously planned a joint graduation party for their other kids, Pam said they had a system worked out.

“We just needed to see what was in there and talk about the layout and find out when we could come in,” she said.

She sad Culbertson was very accommodating and even matched the price for the hall as the price for the barn.

Joe, Andrew, Rebecca Roberts, Jordan Slater and Ben Burgweger’s party was saved.

“It was a stress-filled day but we figured it out,” Pam said.

The party was bittersweet for Rebecca Roberts. While she was glad to be finally finished with school and she was enjoying the party at the VFW she knew how much of a loss it was to the community to lose the big red barn

“I loved that barn and I know Mr. Zimmerman did too,” she said.

Click here for a list of the graduates and photos from the ceremony. And don't forget to read Phillip Hamilton's very funny speech to the class of 2010.

Neighbors

Estuardo Garcia May 27, 2010 at 3:26 p.m.

The De Soto Methodist Church observed Pentecost at their worship services on May 23. Marilyn Layman was there. Organist today and Janice Wilcox was their liturgist. The staff parish meeting was held following their worship services.

• The De Soto Methodist Church will have their confirmation on Sunday June 6 during their 10 a.m. worship services. There is five youth being confirmed. There is to be a potluck brunch after the worship service in the fellowship hall. Suggested menu is breakfast casserole, sweet rolls, breakfast sausage and bacon. If you forget they’d like for you to stay anyway as there is plenty of food.

• The weather was beautifully on Sunday for all the many activities in the community and many motorcycles are going by here.

• The De Soto Baptist Church attendance was down. Rick Walker led the congregation in singing. Doug Updycke gave the offertory. The grandute youths were recognized and also the youth in the church sang “You Raised Me Up” with Maryetta Copeland on the piano.

• The church bulletin had a sheet of yellow color for the congregation to sign up for working in the vacation Bible school to be held from 9 a.m. – noon, June 14 – 18. Our theme this year is high seas expedition.

• We also like for children to fill out a yellow sheet to tell what class they’ll be in. If you have any questions call Karen Wall at (913) 583-1503 or Richelle Hodges at (913) 583-9912 or Reverend Copeland at (913) 583-1425.

• My son Jerry is to take me to the 10 cemeteries in southern Missouri and Kansas. Debbie and I went to the De Soto Cemetery on Sunday after coming home from the hospital. I decorated 10 there. I’ve got them all labeled for rest and they were more expensive this year too.

• The Willow Springs FCE club will have the Hillside Nursing home birthday party Friday May 28 at 2 p.m. We will serve them lunch and cookies and gifts for their birthdays.

• My great-granddaughter in Texas played a piano recital. Her selections were memorized. She is 10 years old.

•My great-grandson Hayden is on the De Soto High School baseball team. They played Eudora High this weekend in De Soto and won with a score of 1-0. He loves baseball. He got the yard mowed this weekend too. The trimmer is broken now.

• Those having birthdays this week are: Mary Crupen, Juanita Marshall, Joy Palters, Dave Hendricks, Jerin Riffel, Stephanie Slitor, Janice Wilcox, Elizabeth Plummer, Kirk Tiedman, Abby Rains, Nicholas Cardiff, Raquel Krout, Jamie Tounner and Mary Jo McDaniel. • Those celebrating Anniversaries are: Raymond and Louis Tripkog; Gary and Rita Bolay; Art and Sandra Hoover; Jim and Karen Walker.

• Here is a more complete list of the De Soto Baptist Church graduates: Casey Allen, bachelor’s degree in education with honors from Haskell University; Chelsey Allen, with a liberal arts degree with honors from Haskell University; Nathan Cardiff, bachelor’s degree in fine arts with film and media from Kansas university. Ross Stone from Pittsburg State University; Kimberly Davis, business degree with honors form KU. The high school graduates are: Trevor Eugene Ross from Wellsville High School, Bethane Nichole Baird from Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Oklahoma; Sydney Smith, granddaughter of John and Jo Sweat and niece of the Beelseys. De Soto graduates Josh Below; Julie Davis, Susie Gulley and Jamie Zvirgzdins. Quite a list.

• Those on the sick list are many: Shirley Brunner is still unable to attend worship service. We went to her house to check on her after worship services and she said she was still having foot and leg pain and wants to get a walker. I know the feeling. I went to the Olathe hospital after the Baptist Church’s worship services. I had a real red ankle and pain on my left foot that I’d been wearing the black boot on for three weeks. I’m still having pin in my heel and sole of my foot, but I still have redness there. After many shots and lots of exams their verdict was pills every six hours and a new bandage in the area each day and not to wear the boot now. I was there fore more than three hours with all the tests and to get the prescriptions filled later.

• Many Shared their families needs: Josh Childers, still needs prayers and Jeff Coatney’s cousin bought a four-story home and moved it to a new location. The Virgil Deans need prayers. Virgil Dabbs has passed away and Bill Russell too. The Darrel Zimmermans need prayers as they rebuild another barn. Billy Boyd is not feeling good.

• Our Wednesday Bible group was missing someone from it due to health reasons. • The De Soto High School alumni are having an auction June 10 at the De Soto High School. They are asking for donations for it.

Fun in the sun

Estuardo Garcia May 27, 2010 at 3:15 p.m.

Obituary: Joshua David Childers

Estuardo Garcia May 27, 2010 at 10:45 a.m.

Joshua David Childers De Soto

Memorial services for Joshua David Childers, 31, De Soto, will be 7 p.m. Sunday at De Soto Baptist Church, 8655 Church St. Mr. Childers died Wednesday, May 26, 2010. The family will meet friends from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at the church.

Funeral procession to take firefighter past former station

Estuardo Garcia May 27, 2010 at 10:43 a.m.

Watch John Glaser's funeral live at http://glasermemorial.cor.org/

The city of Shawnee will get to do its part to pay tribute to its fallen firefighter, John Glaser, during a funeral procession Thursday.

A firefighter funeral procession will take place beginning at 9:30 a.m., leaving from the Amos Family Chapel of Shawnee, 101901 Johnson Dr., driving past Shawnee Fire Headquarters at 65th Street and Quivira Road, and continuing to The United Methodist Church Of The Resurrection, 13720 Roe Ave., Leawood, where Glaser’s funeral is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Share your tributes, memories or thoughts about John Glaser, the first Shawnee firefighter killed in the line of duty, by clicking on his photo and posting a comment.

Shawnee Fire Department

Share your tributes, memories or thoughts about John Glaser, the first Shawnee firefighter killed in the line of duty, by clicking on his photo and posting a comment. Continuing Coverage

Come back to shawneedispatch.com Thursday for a live video stream of the special firefighter funeral procession, beginning around 9:30 a.m.

We'll also have stories and photos from Thursday's events, plus any updates to the investigation into the fire's cause.

The Shawnee Police Department announced Tuesday that more than 100 Emergency Response Vehicles, including large fire apparatus, are expected to take part in the funeral procession. Police say motorists should expect traffic delays of up to 20 minutes along the route during the procession.

The procession will move from the Amos Family Chapel west on Johnson Drive to Nieman Road; south on Nieman to 65th Street; west on 65th Street to Quivira, passing Shawnee Fire Station 71; and then south on Quivira Road to 135th Street, where it will continue to Roe Avenue and the church.

John Mattox, Shawnee fire marshal, said the funeral would include other traditional elements to honor a firefighter, such as bagpipes, participation by the Shawnee Fire Department Honor Guard, as well as that of Olathe, and a last alarm broadcast over the emergency radio in Glaser’s honor during the services.

Jeff Kilgore, funeral director with Amos Family Chapel, said a Marine Honor Guard also would participate in the funeral. Leading up to the funeral, a firefighter also will always be present with Glaser.

Kilgore said the family has been getting calls from fire departments around the country asking to take part in Thursday’s procession. He said the greatest distance to travel he had heard thus far was a department from Fort Worth, Texas, that plans to take part.

A visitation for Glaser will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, at the church.

County's parks district invites families for a free day in the park June 5

Estuardo Garcia May 26, 2010 at 12:59 p.m.

The Johnson County Park and Recreation District will be offering free admission to the Shawnee Mission Park Beach, free pedal boat and canoe rentals at Shawnee Mission Park Marina, and will be waiving district fishing permits.

Several other free activities will also be available. The June 5 date ties into National Trails Day the district’s annual free fishing weekend when both Kansas and district fishing and boating permits are waived.

Marina hours on June 5 are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and beach hours will be extended on this date to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Park patrons can always bring a picnic lunch to the park, but on this date, concessions will also be available for purchase at shelter no. 3 near the marina parking lot from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., families will have the opportunity to go geocaching with GPS units available for use. And for those who have always wanted to give disc golf a try, the district will have discs available for check-out near hole no. 1 in the North Walnut Grove area so your family can enjoy some time on Shawnee Mission Park’s disc golf course.

Park visitors will be encouraged to experience the beautiful trails in Shawnee Mission Park by taking a leisurely (or vigorous) walk or run. Although not an organized race, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., staff will be at the “starting line” on the trail directly across from the marina parking lot to provide course maps of different distances to park visitors. Those who take advantage of this opportunity will receive a commemorative JCPRD gift upon completion of their walk/run. And don’t forget to bring your dog.

Jill Geller, JCPRD Superintendent of Recreation, said the idea for this event grew out of the “staycation” concept where families take vacations in their own communities rather than going elsewhere.

“We thought, ‘what a great staycation opportunity if we offer a day in the park when families can come and enjoy all the amenities we have to offer: the beach, the marina, disc golf,’ “ Geller said. “We’ll have activities going on all over the park, encouraging people to utilize the trails and off-leash area, and showcasing all that Shawnee Mission Park has to offer.”

“This is a service that we want to provide,” Geller added. “Times are tough right now, so all activities on this date will be free of charge. I can’t think of a better way for a family to kick-off their summer than by enjoying a great vacation day at this beautiful park right here in our own community.”

Computer training to help recent grads looking to enter workforce

Estuardo Garcia May 26, 2010 at 12:52 p.m.

Workforce Partnership has an opportunity for new grads.

The organization will have free computer hardware and maintenance training for Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth County residents aged 18-21 years old. The training will be form 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, June 2 – June 30.

This training is for young adults who are no planning on continuing education this fall and have basic math and reading skills.

$500 will be paid to those who have perfect attendance and a certification of completion.

Transportation reimbursement and bus passes will also be provided. For more information call Workforce Partnership at (913) 577-5923 or e-mail them at youth@workforcepartnership.com.

Sailing away: Park district class, society bring sport to Shawnee Mission Park

Estuardo Garcia May 26, 2010 at 9:42 a.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/26/36603/

By Caroline Boyer

Saturday proved there is such a thing as too much wind when sailing.

The gusts that blew across the lake at Shawnee Mission Park were too much at times, but proved a good training ground for the graduates of the Sailing I class offered through the Johnson County Park and Recreation District. Class participant Melissa Hawkins of Overland Park said she set out to sail by herself for the first time and learned an important lesson.

“Don’t ever let go of the tiller,” Hawkins advises.

The graduates and members of the Johnson County Sailing Society gathered at the lake for the society’s “Come Sail With Us” event, in which society members offered the public a chance to sail.

Hawkins said she took the class after seeing the sailing society’s booth in February at the boat show at Bartle Hall.

“It sounded like a lot of fun, and I had always wanted to do that,” she said.

After two classroom sessions, learning the terms and rules of sailing, and four on-the-water lessons in groups, Saturday was a chance to put theory to practice.

“Today I’ve learned more because I did solo for the first time, and after what they’ve taught us, I was able to put two and two together,” Hawkins said.

John Truitt, a member of the sailing society, teaches the course. He has been teaching sailing courses through the county since 1976.

The class serves as a good recruitment method for the society, which generally has between 28 and 40 members. Hawkins said most of the class members have decided to follow through with the Sailing II class, and many other society members are class graduates.

Cindy Blair of Overland Park took the class with her husband, Kerry, last May and is now a society member.

Cindy Blair said they first became interested a few years ago when they saw sailboats while kayaking at Shawnee Mission Park. Last year, they got the county’s recreation program catalog and noticed the sailing classes.

“It is so much fun,” Cindy Blair said. “I never would’ve thought they’d have sailing in Kansas.”

The Blairs have latched onto the hobby so much that they now have several sailing boats.

“We’ve got six kids, so we were wanting them to get enthused about it, too,” Cindy said.

Lynn Rojohn and her husband Ed of Olathe also became society members after Ed took the classes a few years ago.

“My husband retired, and the day he retired, he signed up to take Sailing I and II,” Lynn explained. “And the day he graduated from Sailing II, he came out and got his boat.”

The impression that landlocked Kansas wouldn’t have much of a sailing culture is unfounded, said Pat Baldwin, commodore for the society. There are four sailing clubs in the metropolitan area — the Lake Quivira club is the only other one in Johnson County — and several in Kansas.

“There is quite a bit of sailing in Kansas,” Truitt added. “You just have to know where to look.”

The sailing society conducts races at 1 p.m. every Sunday at Shawnee Mission Park from May through September. The society will have another “Come Sail With Us” event starting at noon July 31 at the park.

St. Louis girl drowned at Walden Pond Saturday

Estuardo Garcia May 26, 2010 at 9:35 a.m.

A 2-year-old St. Louis girl drowned Saturday at Walden Pond in southern Shawnee. Anighya L. Payne was visiting Shawnee with family for a pre-wedding celebration near the pond, said Capt. Bill Hisle, police spokesperson.

At 11:53 a.m., emergency personnel responded to the 6500 block of Bradshaw on a drowning call.

Police Sgt. Sam Larson said the girl received immediate medical treatment from off-duty fire/medical personnel already at the scene. Shawnee Fire Department and Johnson County Med-Act personnel treated the toddler, but Hisle said the girl had no pulse or heartbeat. She was transported to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Hisle called the drowning a tragic accident.

Rabid bat discovery in county prompts warnings

Estuardo Garcia May 26, 2010 at 9:33 a.m.

Johnson County public health officials are urging caution after they confirmed a case of a rabid bat over the weekend in the county.

The Johnson County Health Department did not release details of where and when the rabid bat was discovered but instead focused on the dangers of rabies and ways to keep bats out of homes.

Health officials said bat exposures often were difficult to determine. But if bats are found in your home, especially in areas where individuals are sleeping (especially children, the elderly, or those unable to communicate), officials said local animal control officers or professional pest control companies should be contacted to remove the bats and submit them for rabies testing.

Health officials also said individuals whose homes are exposed to bats should talk to their doctor about possibly receiving post-exposure vaccines. They said people should not wait until symptoms of rabies, which is a fatal illness, appear. By the time symptoms develop, it is too late for treatment. There are currently no tests available to diagnose rabies in people prior to the onset of symptoms.

Here are the Health Department’s tips for keeping bats out of your home:

Keeping bats out of your home is easy by following a few simple steps.

• Do not leave unscreened doors or windows open to the outside. Make sure all doors that open to the outside close tightly.

• Make sure doors and windows are screened, chimneys are capped, and electrical and plumbing openings in the structure are plugged.

• Seal openings larger than .25 inch by .5 inch square that would allow access into the attic, basement, walls, or living areas of a structure.

• Utilize materials to seal or cover gaps and holes including spray-on expanding foam, wire mesh, netting, caulk, or tight-fitting wood. Steel wool or caulking can be utilized around pipes that enter buildings.

Health officials suggest extreme caution in dealing with all animals, especially unfamiliar ones, to reduce the risk of being bitten.

Fallen Shawnee firefighter described as hero, husband and dad

Estuardo Garcia May 26, 2010 at 9:19 a.m.

http://www2.ljworld.com/photos/2010/may/25/192559/

By Caroline Boyer

On New Year’s Eve 2009, this status update appeared on Facebook: “John Glaser is looking back on how much his life has changed over the past decade. It was a crazy ride but he couldn’t be happier with his final destination.”

It was a time full of changes for the 33-year-old Shawnee firefighter. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Glaser had gone from working at Hallmark to living in Tampa, meeting the woman who would become his wife, coming back to Kansas City and becoming a firefighter, and finally having two children. He had completed his first triathlon and learned to scuba dive.

“I used to joke there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do, and he lived like that,” said longtime friend Kevin Konen of Prairie Village. “He lived his life to the fullest.”

As the community mourns the loss of Glaser, who died in the line of duty Saturday, friends and family are remembering Glaser’s humor, drive and determination.

He was born Oct. 7, 1976, in Kansas City, Mo., the son of Arvon and Patty (Reardon) Glaser.

A 1995 graduate of Blue Valley Northwest High School, Glaser earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 2000 from Kansas University, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. His friends all knew him as a die-hard KU fan — his “man cave” in the basement is adorned with front-page replicas proclaiming the Jayhawks’ national basketball championships in 1952, 1988 and 2008, as well as a fan of Lawrence-based Free State Brewery.

Konen met Glaser in 2000 when they worked at Hallmark together in the same sales department. Konen said they became buddies, going to lunch together and hanging out on weekend.

“He just had such a great personality; he was someone you always wanted to be around,” Konen said.

Glaser had an incredible sense of humor, Konen said, often quoting movies or leaving funny voicemails for his friends.

“I’d save his voicemails for so long because he would just crack me up,” Konen said.

Glaser was a Marine veteran and his service greatly impacted his life. Konen remembers a time when troops were first coming back to the area from the Iraq War in 2003, Glaser made the trip to the fort where they were returning.

“I said, ‘Did you know one of them?’ and he said, ‘No, I just wanted to be there,’” Konen said. “And that said a lot about his character.”

Konen said he also witnessed Glaser meet a World War II veteran once in a grocery store.

“He made a point to tell him how much he loved and appreciated him,” Konen said. “It brought the guy to tears, and his wife wanted to hug John.”

Damion Freeman of Shawnee remembers working with Glaser in the Marines, when Glaser was his squad leader.

“I didn’t know what to expect, he being a corporal and me just a Pfc., but he was very laid back and did his best to keep things relaxed while still maintaining Marine protocol,” Freeman said. “I will always remember he tried to make the best out of the situation, no matter how bad it got.”

Glaser also was the type follow through on his goals and plans.

“If he said it, he did it,” Konen said. “He’d say, ‘I’m going to train for a triathlon,’ and you’d think, ‘Wow, that’s pretty daunting,’ but he did it.”

Meghan Downey-Flavin of Kansas City, Mo., went through high school and college with Glaser and agreed that Glaser was driven.

“We were never best friends, but he was the guy that didn’t care whose ‘group’ you were in and just liked people and was fun,” she said. “The one word that I would use to describe John is passionate. Whatever he did, he did it with passion and with 100 percent of his attention.”

One example is in 2003, when he decided he wanted to live closer to the water and, on a whim, moved to Tampa.

“That was kind of his attitude – he didn’t have a job lined up, but he said, ‘I’ll find something when I get there,’” Konen said.

It was in Tampa that he met his future wife, Amber Plumb Glaser, a Kansas City native who, it turned out, grew up not too far from Glaser.

“I joked with him that he went all the way to Florida to find his Kansas City wife,” Konen said.

Her parents now live in Lawrence.

It’s also where he decided to dedicate his life to the fire service. Konen said Glaser told him about driving by a fire department in Florida and suddenly deciding to stop, just to pick the firefighter’s brains about what they do and why they do it.

“He said he wanted to help the community,” Konen said. “He said ‘If I can’t be in the military and help that way, I want to help as a firefighter.’ He was just one of those friends that just kind of blew you away because he just wanted to help others, make life better for people.”

Konen said when Glaser did some fire training in Florida, the chief took Glaser aside to tell him that though he was the smallest guy there, he had the biggest heart.

On June 21, 2004, Glaser began his career as a firefighter with the Shawnee Fire Department, where he was a member of both the Swift Water Rescue and the HazMat teams.

It was the last full-time job he ever had — unless you include parenting.

Glaser and his wife are parents of two children, Brecken, 2, and Emma, 5 months. On Glaser’s Facebook profile, he lists “Changing Diapers, Playing Peek a Boo and Making Bottles” among his activities.

He talked about taking his son to Dinosaurs Come Alive at Union Station and enjoying his first Daddy-Daughter Day.

In March, a friend posted on Glaser’s page that Glaser’s brother woke up that day sobbing. “He had a vivid dream about you and really missed you. True story,” the friend wrote.

Glaser responded, “He told me. That just goes to show you what kind of brother I am. He can’t quit me.”

GLASER SERVICES A procession honoring firefighter John Glaser will begin at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Amos Family Chapel of Shawnee, 10901 Johnson Drive, and will continue past Shawnee Fire Department headquarters at 65th Street and Quivira Road, before continuing on to United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, 13720 Roe Ave., Leawood. Glaser’s funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. at the church. Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the church. The John Glaser Memorial Fund has been set up through Bank of America. Donations can be mailed to the fund at: Bank of America, 175 Claireborne Road, Olathe, KS 66062

All-School reunion set for June

Estuardo Garcia May 25, 2010 at 5:16 p.m.

The De Soto High School's all-school reunion dinner and dance are coming up on June 12.
The class of 1970 will have its 40th class reunion lunch at noon on the same day at the De Soto Community Center. For more details on the all-school reunion, contact Ron and Kay McDaniel at (913) 585-1902.

For details on the class of 1970 reunion lunch, contact Tim Maniez at (913) 583-3609 or Lana McPherson at (913) 585-1827.

Jessica Dain's big gulp

Estuardo Garcia May 25, 2010 at 4:23 p.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/25/36594/

One of Starside Elementary School Principal Jessica Dain's favorite drinks is a diet cherry limeade from Sonic Drive-In. One of the favorite things the students at Starside like to do is dunk her in a big tank of it. As a reward for students participating in the school's reading challenge, a select number of the school's top readers were given the opportunity to knock the principal into a specially prepared tank of the drink - with lime wedges and cherries included.

Kindergartner Robert Carrillo read for 1,624 minutes

Kindergartner Eva Brackney read for 3,005 minutes

Second-grader Autumn Childers read for 3,910 minutes

Fifth-grader Emily Parr read for 3,981 minutes

First-grader Jack McCracken read for 4,030 minutes

Fifth-grader Quentin Childers read for 4,060 minutes

Third-grader Victor Berumen read for 4,669 minutes

Fourth-grader Emily Davis read for 4,673 minutes

Fourth-grader Gabby Collins read for 4,715 minutes

First-grader Joshua Bunselmeyer read for 4,460 minutes

Fifth-grader Kim Earl read for 4,923 minutes

First-grader Kate Kowalik read for 5,115 minutes

First-grader Riley Harmon-Moore read for 5,278 minutes

Second-grader Hayle Ellis read for 5,325 minutes

Third-grader Cesar Flores read for 6,435 minutes

Fifth-grader Becca Clancy read for 7,694 minutes

Kindergartner Sara Murphy read for 8,245 minutes

Third-grader Tony McCarty read for 8,507 minutes

Third-grader Cody Murphy read for 9,007 minutes

Second-grader Kailyn Rogers-Hinds read for 10,150 minutes

Fourth-grader Patrick Whitaker read for 11,495 minutes

Second-grader Anthonie Felkins read for 12,450 minutes

And topping the list was fourth-grader Lexi Felkins who read for a whopping 13,425 minutes. That's like reading nonstop for 9.32 days!

Starside teachers also got involved. Coleen Marney, fifth-grade teacher, read for 10,000 minutes and Reba Berola, food services staff, read for 21,000 minutes.

Tanya Byers, the school's reading specialist, wanted to thank Sonic for providing incentives throughout the year to motivate readers and for providing the cherry limeade and the dunk tank for today’s event.

Watch the video here. Editor's note: I was pulling double duty both shooting photos and trying to get the video. The first part of it is not that great, but it does get better.

Wildcat track athletes heading to state

Estuardo Garcia May 25, 2010 at 1:02 p.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/24/36542/

Congratulations to the following track and field athletes who qualified for the state championships this weekend in Wichita: Lacey Erickson, 1600m run and 3200m run

Katie Gorman, 100m hurdles

Elise Miller, Lacey Erickson, Jordan Kline, and Beth Reichenberger, for the girls 4 x 800m relay

Ashley Gorman, long jump and triple jump

Leah Lail, pole vault

Jordan Riffel, 100m dash and 200m dash

Angel Vasquez, 1600m run and 3200m run

Jeff Bowen, 110m hurdles and 300m hurdles

Caleb Adkins, 110m hurdles

Caleb Adkins, Josh Lahr, Jeff Bowen, and Jordan Riffel for the boys 4 x 100m relay

Chad Ollendick, Philip Kaul, Angel Vasquez, and Emilio Sanchez for the boys 4 x 800m relay

Brent Johnson, pole vault

Competition begins Friday morning at Cessna Stadium on the campus of Wichita State University.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/24/36541/

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/24/36540/

Video surveillance could be coming to the De Soto School District

Estuardo Garcia May 24, 2010 at 6:15 p.m.

Vandals beware. By sometime this fall the district might have its eye on you.

During Monday night’s USD 232 Board of Education meeting, Barney Carroll, with Surround Consulting, presented his safety and security analysis for the board.

During his presentation, Carroll said there were five phases to school safety: video surveillance, visitor identification, access/key control, crisis management and policy and procedures.

"We all believe we are safe,” Carroll said. “We want to and need to believe we are safe. Hopefully our preparedness will allow for decisive action and a positive resolution.”

Most of Carroll’s presentation focused on the first phase of the plan.

He said the school district is put in the role of filling the parenting gap when the students aren’t at home but, “no matter how many administrators we put in the school, the students will always outnumber them.”

He said that surveillance was key in preventing some of the problems in school.

He listed a number of recent security and vandalism issues in the district including people shooting pellet guns at Countryside Learning Center, missing students, theft and pranks.

Carroll said the camera’s wouldn’t always prevent things from happening at the school, but could help to the faster resolution of a situation.

“Video will never solve anything, but it certainly helps with a lot of things.” Carroll said. “I say that because no matter how much you cover, something will happen at the far reaches (beyond coverage).” Board member Tammy Thomas was surprised to learn that the De Soto School District was the only district in Johnson County that did not have any video surveillance.

The board was given a plethora of different options from different vendors that had varying levels of coverage with varying prices.

Carroll reported that 531 cameras would be needed to cover the entire school district at a cost of $955,000. For $668,000 the district could use 331 cameras to cover most of the buildings.

Because this was the first time many of the board members had seen the cost of the system, Superintendent Ron Wimmer suggested that the board’s…. sub committee look at the different bids and to look at funding options and bring a report back to the board for a final vote.

The board agreed to take the bids back for further review.

In other business the board:

• Recognized the service and work done by many people in the district. For their 20 years of service the board recognized: Sarah Brown, gifted teacher at Starside Elementary School and Lexington Trails Middle School; Debra Gudenkauf, social worker, Horizon Elementary School and Mill Valley High School; Deborah Likes, paraprofessional at MVHS; Linda McPherson, music teacher at Mize Elementary School; Jacqueline Traylor, second grade teacher, Clear Creek Elementary School. The board gave the Kansas University 25 Years in Education Award to: Joyce Curry, media specialist, HES; Susan Holloway, fires grade teacher at MES; Denise Reinoehl, reading teacher, Prairie Ridge Elementary school; Janice Wilcox, computer teacher, CCES. The district also recognized those who have worked for the district for 30 years: Patricia Long, instructional specialist for the district’s special services; Patsy Lucas, English as a second language teacher, LTMS. The board also recognized Margo Fairchild, physical education teacher at Mill Creek Middle School for her 35 years in the district.

• The De Soto Teachers Association also presented the following teachers with a Teacher of Excellence Award: Nancy Perry, DHS; Laurie Deuschle and Kale Mann, MVHS; Gayle Moriarity, LTMS; Dena Novak, MCMS; Kathy Hawkins, MTMS; Julie Barcus, CCES; Carlie Gill, HES; Christy Kaminski and Monica Wooten, MES; Brandi Leggett, PRES; Tammy Whitlow, Riverview Elementary School; Kristl Llamas, Kris Meyer and Vergie Opodycke, SES.

• The board recognized the retirements of Carol Acheson, business and computer teacher at DHS; Linda Acton, administrative assistant at the district’s technology department; Sue Andrews, third grade teacher at MES; Tamara DeMuth, special education teacher at LTMS; Fredda Doerksen, math teacher, MTMS; Margo Fairchild, physical education teacher at MCMS; Barb Goodin, music teacher at MTMS; Barb Inman with Parents as Teachers; Debra Litton, gifted and communication arts teacher at DHS; Jan McElwain, art teacher MES; Joe Novak, principal at MVHS.

• Unanimously approved a $258,032 contract from O’Donnel Way Construction for parking lot renovations at MVHS, DHS and MTMS.

• Unanimously approved a $223,761 bid from Rangel Television Systems to install a new media room for the MVHS students.

• Met in executive session for 15 minutes.

Live Streaming by Ustream.TV

Wildcats fall in regional championship

Estuardo Garcia May 24, 2010 at 12:20 p.m.

The De Soto High varsity softball team ended its 18-5 season with a loss to Basehor-Linwood in the Class 4A regional championship.

The De Soto High varsity softball team ended its 18-5 season with a loss to Basehor-Linwood in the Class 4A regional championship. by Contributed Photo

The De Soto High Wildcat varsity softball team season ended Friday night with a loss to Basehor-Linwood in Class 4A regional championship.

The regional semi-final and championship games, delayed since Tuesday because of rain, were ultimately moved to Basehor's home field at Field of Dreams.
The De Soto Wildcat varsity softball team season ended Friday night with a loss to Basehor-Linwood in Class 4A regional championship. The regional semi-final and championship games, delayed since Tuesday because of rain, were ultimately moved to Basehor's home field at Field of Dreams.

Basehor won their semi-final game against Bishop Ward, and De Soto defeated St. James, to set up the championship.

In the semi-final game against St. James, Katie Williams dominated over seven innings, allowing only 2 hits and striking out 11.

The Wildcats gave up their only run in the first inning, on a two out double following Williams only walk of the game. The team's offense roared to life in the second inning, scoring four runs, to take and hold the lead.

In the second, Hannah Jokisch reach on error and Laura Meyers drove her to second with a single. Sophia Templin advanced the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt, but also reached on error. With bases loaded, Brianna Rogers took a walk, scoring Jokisch. Hunter Klamm then drove in Meyers and Templin with a line drive single to left center. Jordin Burford singled, advancing Klamm to third, and then Williams drove in Klamm for the fourth run of the inning. The Wildcats scored two more in the third, bringing the final score to 6-1, on a two out single down the right field line by Brianna Rodgers, driving in Makenzie Shackley and Jokisch.

The championship game was played immediately after De Soto's semi-final win. Katie Williams again took the mound, and despite a tremendous effort, she registered 5 strikeouts while surrendering 3 earned runs on 12 hits in the 6-1 loss. Fatigue may have played a factor in the game as the usually sharp defense yielded 4 errors, three of them leading to Basehor scores.

Unfortunately, the offense was slow to get rolling, with the only real scoring opportunity coming in the 7th inning. Hannah Jokisch drove a two-out towing home run to center, scoring the Wildcats only run. Laura Meyers then took a line drive to right for a single and Sophia Templin singled to right and Marisa Jarboe was brought in as a pinch runner.

With two on and two out in the bottom of the seventh, Kelsie Gower pinch hit for Brianna Rogers, but the Wildcats were unable to keep the rally going.

The Wildcats ended their 18-5 season as regional runner-up, and sadly said farewell and good luck to their outstanding seniors.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/24/36569/

Free tennis lessons this summer

Estuardo Garcia May 24, 2010 at 11:53 a.m.

If you don’t ant you kids making a racket during the summer, just have them come by the De Soto High School this summer to pick up a racket.

From July 19-23 Kevin Kowalik, a United States Professional Tennis Association certified tennis professional, will be offering free junior tennis lessons.

The lessons are open for children the ages 5-13 years old and will be staffed by the De Soto High School tennis teams.

Lessons for 5 and 6-year-olds will be from 3:30 – 4 p.m. Lessons for 7 and 8-year-olds will be from 4 – 4:30 p.m. Lessons for 9 and 10-year-olds will be from 4:30 – 5:15 p.m. And lessons for 11 and 13-year-olds will be from 5:15 – 6 p.m.

Sign up for the lessons by contacting Kowalik at kctennispro@gmail.com

Daily Poll

Estuardo Garcia May 24, 2010 at 10:50 a.m.

Obituary: Virgil N. Dabbs

Estuardo Garcia May 23, 2010 at 10:42 a.m.

Services for Virgil N. Dabbs, 48, De Soto, were conducted Friday, May 28, 2010, at Cedar Crest Memorial Chapel in De Soto. Mr. Dabbs died Saturday, May 22, 2010.

Congratulations class of 2010

Estuardo Garcia May 22, 2010 at 1:08 p.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/22/36533/

Congratulations to the class of 2010.

Logan Abbott, Rebecca Adcox, Cassandra Ahrens, Cameron Arens, William Atchison, Britainee Baker, Alec Barowka, David Bedford Jr., Wendy Behee, Crystal Bell, Joshua Below, Tyler Berg, Emily Boerckel, Christian Brewer, Clint Brooks, Matthew Buehler, John Buery, Tyler Buffkin, Dylan Burford, Jordin Burford, Benjamin Burgweger, Kristin Cadwallader, Randall Callaway, Jerika Chicoine, Julie Childers, Emilia Ciaravola, Logan Clark, Bradley Cook, Alexandria Cox, Alexander Crall, Tami Crow, Hanna Crump, Jessica Dailey, Brent Dalsing, Daniel Davis, Jared Dees, Karina Diaz, Katherine Diaz, Lizeth Diaz, John-Patrick Doherty, Jacob Dotson, Joseph Dvorak, Trevor Elmer, Karina Espinoza, Kelsey Fisher, Madison Frehe, Fernando Garcia De La Torre, Reuben Garrison, Sabrina Giersch, Morgan Gillihan, Kelsie Gower, Tyler Gregg, Lynda Gulley, Matthew Hamilton, Amanda Hanson, Matthew Hanson, Rachel Hanson, Skyler Haslett, Duncan Henderson, Alexander Henning, Brett Hevel, Eric Hill, Austin Hinchey, Stephanie Hopkins, Samantha Israel, Dianna James, Marisa Jarboe, Michael Just, David Karnitz, Dustin Kelly, Joshua King, Andrew Konetzni, Kayla Kopp, Corina Kronenberg, Clare Krska, Joseph Kuhn, Lydia Lail, Cody Lane, Janessa Lane, Katherine Leir, Harrison Linduff, Lyle Logan, David Longman, Sarah Longman, Angela Longman-McCabe, Sharon Lucas, Nancy Marquez, Taylor Martin, Thomas Martin, Tamara McFarland, Christian McGraw, Andrew Mechler, Ariel Mendiola, Amanda Miller, Foster Moore, Shannon Moore, Júlia Morais, Kayla Nowak, Joseph O'Neill, William Papp, Kimberly Patton, Ry Patton, Jonathan Pelkey, Daniel Peterson, Simone Pfeifer, Richard Philbrook, Sierra Phinney, Michael Pierce, Andrew Rhodes, Katelyn Ridings, Rebecca Roberts, Mary Rust, Tiffany Savner, Samuel Seibolt, Eric Seymour, Jason Sherman, Brendan Showen, Jordan Slater, Chelsea Smith, Paul Stallbaumer, Carly Stanley, Cody Stopa, Dalton Tenney, Austen Todd, Nickolas Umholtz, Lizbeth Valenzuela, Ruby Varvil, Edith Villa, Kent Weas, Lacey West, Fabian Wiechert, Lori Wilkerson, Catherine Williams, Paige Wilson, Sophia Young, Emily, Zahner, Jamie Zvirgzdins

Phillip Hamilton addresses the class of 2010 in a very funny speech.

Start your day with pancakes at Starside

Estuardo Garcia May 22, 2010 at 8:17 a.m.

If there is a better way to start a Saturday – especially graduation Saturday – than with a belly full of pancakes, I don't know of it.

Oh and did I mention it was free?

From 7-10 a.m. today the PTA will be holding a pancake breakfast at Starside Elementary School, 35400 W. 91st St.

They are doing this to celebrate Starside students and families and their wonderful efforts for another successful year.

Stop in before the graduation ceremony starts at 10 a.m. just east of Starside at De Soto High School.

The PTA said any donations are welcome and will all go toward supporting PTA funded activities next year.

Bobcats blast Wildcats, lock up state berth

Estuardo Garcia May 22, 2010 at 8:10 a.m.

Nick Bratkovic

Basehor-Linwood’s softball team captured the Class 4A regional championship in dominant fashion on Friday night.

As a result, the Basehor-Linwood softball team is returning to the Class 4A state tournament in Salina for the first time since 2005 and the fourth in coach Susan Mayberry’s career.

The Bobcats had to overcome multiple days of rain delays and a venue change from Spring Hill High School to Field of Dreams in Basehor, and then they had to beat Bishop Ward and De Soto.

BLHS took down Ward in the semifinals before defeating De Soto in the title game, 6-1.

Basehor-Linwood scored first in the bottom of the first inning. Megan Rehm singled and scored on an RBI double by Hannah Tush. In the second inning, De Soto had runners on first and second with two outs. BLHS left fielder Olivia Cowan made a diving catch in shallow left field to end the inning and thwart the rally.

Basehor-Linwood answered with two more runs in the second inning. Tara Chumley reached base and scored. Later, Rehm scored again on a Courtney Leive RBI.

Following the inning, pitcher Brooke Redmond continued to shut down the Wildcat batters. She faced just 13 Wildcats over the next three innings. She struck out three during that stretch and also received strong defensive support.

Basehor-Linwood added three more runs in the fifth inning.

With runners on first and second, the Bobcats received a great sacrifice bunt from Rachel Neal that helped score two runs. She scored on a Chumley base hit.

De Soto trailed 6-0 in the seventh inning when Hannah Jokisch blasted a home run to score the team’s only run of the game.

Redmond then retired the next batter to win the game.

BBQ enthusiasts flock to Sandstone

Estuardo Garcia May 22, 2010 at 8:07 a.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/21/36512/

By Melisa Treolo

Though Pellet Envy was disqualified Friday from the Oklahoma Joe’s World Brisket Open for using the wrong presentation box, the husband and wife team still managed to grab third-place overall in the Kansas City BBQ Store Invitational.

“For him to get a disqualification is pretty shocking,” said event coordinator Paul Satterfield of Pellet Envy member Rod Gray, who Satterfield described as the “number one-ranked barbecue pitmaster.”

Pellet Envy, from Kansas City, was one of 204 teams from across the country going grill-to-grill this Friday and Saturday during the Great American Barbecue Festival at Capitol Federal Park at Sandstone in Bonner Springs.

In addition to the invitational and brisket open judging, Friday’s lineup included a Kidz Que, where youths were give the chance to compete with the help of their parents, a Williams Wings judging and a people’s choice sampling tent, where festival goers got to sample 160 different kinds of barbecue sauces and cast a vote for their favorite. Sauces in the people’s choice tent could also be purchased, with all proceeds going to charity.

“It’s fun, it’s a lot of fun,” said Claudia Grehl, from Harmony, Minn., of the festival while sampling some sauce on a bed of beef brisket. Grehl said she and her husband Jerry had heard about the event after reading about it in a magazine. “We brought the camper and here we are.”

The barbecue festival brought many teams who have competed in the festival before, including returning team Burnt Finger BBQ, from Kansas City, renowned for their pork-infused creation the Bacon Explosion. The three-member team competed in the brisket open and will compete in the Open contest on Saturday. Though member Jason Day suspected his team’s brisket wouldn’t land Burnt Finger a top 10 placement in the brisket open on Friday, he said the competition was all about doing the best you can.

“We liked our brisket, we’re happy with it,” Day said prior to Friday evening’s award ceremony. “That’s all you can do.”

Team members from KC Jakes, De Soto, said Friday they were confident about what their standings would be in Saturday’s Open competition. The team has won several awards over the years competing in the Great American Barbecue Festival, including a grand champion placement for side dishes two years ago.

“We’ve done really well out here,” said member Jack Dunlab, noting that he expected himself and his team to pull an all-nighter getting prepared for Saturday’s Open.

As to whether the lack of sleep would be worth it?

“Absolutely,” Dunlab said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

During the Kidz Que, possible future adult members of barbecue teams seasoned and grilled pork chops and steaks on mini-grills. Competitor Kaylin Groneman, age 9, might describe herself as a barbecue expert, as she has been taking part in barbecue competitions since she was age 5 and already has two first-place wins under her belt.

“All of it,” Groneman said during the competition of what she liked about barbecue. “I like being with my barbecue friends and my family. Prior to placing her pork chop on the grill, Groneman said if she didn’t win first-place, she at least wanted to “beat my sister,” who was also competing.

Competitions on Saturday will include the Open, where contestants will cook meats ranging from beef to pork butt, side dish, dessert and a rib eating competition. The festival also includes food vendors, free samples, a carnival for youths and cooking demonstrations. The people’s choice sampling tent will also be open.

Saturday’s festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is $10. For more information, visit thinkbbq.com.

UPDATE: De Soto High loses during championship game

Estuardo Garcia May 21, 2010 at 5:33 p.m.

De Soto ends its season with a 2-0 loss to Hayden.

De Soto's on TV

Estuardo Garcia May 21, 2010 at 1:33 p.m.

Adobe Flash player 9 is required to view this video
Get Adobe Flash player

De Soto's 30 second commercial

Ever wonder how long it takes Mayor Anderson to finish a 30-second commercial?

By his own admission, it took him 30 minutes.

I think it looks and sounds pretty good. It will start running in June for Time Warner Cable customers.

What do you think?

Don't forget, if you want to reserve your space for an ad in this year's De Soto Days Guide, call Sally Milgram at (913) 962-3000.

Good morning Old Glory

Estuardo Garcia May 21, 2010 at 12:54 p.m.

Newsletter time

Estuardo Garcia May 21, 2010 at 12:24 p.m.

That blue bag on your driveway wasn't delivered to the wrong address.

Yesterday the Lawrence Journal-World delivered a free copy of the paper along with this month's latest edition of the City of De Soto and the De Soto Unified School District's newsletters.

Check it out!

Board accepts Schmidt's resignation

Estuardo Garcia May 21, 2010 at 8:17 a.m.

During an special meeting Friday morning, the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education has unanimously accepted the resignation of Mark Schmidt, the district's director of human resources.

"Right now I just think this is the right time for myself and my family and this is in the best interest for myself and my family," Schmidt said. "I’ve truly enjoyed working with all of the dedicated staff in USD 232 over the past 12 years. However there does come a time when you start to look at what the next adventure is going to be and I feel right now is that time for me."

The board met briefly in executive session to discuss non-elected personnel. Board members Janine Gracy and Randy Johnson cast their vote over the phone.

De Soto Superintendent Ron Wimmer said he appreciated all of the hard work Schmidt had done for the district and wished him the best of luck and success.

"I'll do whatever I can to assist him in his future plans," Wimmer said.

Schmidt began his career at the school district as principal of Lexington Trails Middle School for nine years. In early 2007, he became the district's director of human resources.

Schmidt said he plans working in the education field as some sort of administrator.

"Education gives meaning to my job," he said.

Schmidt will work throughout the end of his contract, which ends in June.

Wimmer said superintendent-elect Douglas Sumner will take over for Schmidt's duties for the 2010-2011 school year.

Daily Poll

Estuardo Garcia May 21, 2010 at 12:52 a.m.

De Soto City Council meeting

Estuardo Garcia May 20, 2010 at 6:53 p.m.

Streaming .TV shows by Ustream In other business the De Soto City Council:

• Held a public hearing or the city's choice for the 2011 Community Development Block Grant project. The project city staff selected was to replace a waterline the on 84th Street west of Kickapoo Street. This was the same project submitted for the funding last year. Because no one from the public came forth to comment during the public hearing, the council proceeded to unanimously select this project for the grant application.

• Listened to a request from Kala Glass to hold the Relay for Life event at the community center if the weather doesn't allow the event to be held at the De Soto High School.

• Unanimously approved resolutions 876, 877, and 878 for vehicle code, structure code and junk in yard violations at 8400 Jaycee St.

• Tabled a discussion on temporary use permit fees.

• Heard a request from Cameron Pflaum for funding for his trip to Washington D.C. The council denied any funding requests stating his request did not meet city policy. The council suggested other revenue sources for the 11-year-old.

• Listened to a presentation from the Larkin Group on the public wholesale water supply district feasibility study.

• Unanimously approved amendments to article five, section 10 of the city's zoning regulations concerning architectural projections into setbacks.

• Unanimously accepted a bid of $10,195 from Douglas Pump Service for base and acid treatment of Sunflower Well No. 8.

Neighbors

Estuardo Garcia May 20, 2010 at 1:10 p.m.

• The De Soto Methodist Church had their reading circle to meet on Tuesday May 18th at noon. Also on Wednesday May 19th, they held a meeting at 7 p.m.

Also on Thursday May 20, the Agape Circle met and next Sunday, May 23rd is Pentecost Sunday.

• The Methodist Church is having a staff parish meeting on May 23 following worship services in the pastor’s office.

• They are also having some of their youth graduating from De Soto High School. The ones to be honored are: David Bedford, son of David and Darlene Bedford; He plans on majoring in mechanical or electrical engineering at K-State or Kansas University.

Mathew David Buehler, son of Steven and Penney Buehler. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the National Honor Society. He also is co-editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper and plays soccer and rugby. He plans to attend Kansas University to study biology.

Tyler Gregg, son of Dough and Barb Weis and a grandson of Roy and Gladys Bowlen. He plans to attend Johnson County Community College.

Erica Rains, daughter of Wes and Julia Rains and granddaughter of Jay and Ellen Rain. She is graduating from Gardner High School and plans on attending Kansas State University or Creighton University.

Adam Wilcox, son of Ed and Janice Wilcox, graduated from K-State with a degree in secondary education and is looking for a teaching job in social studies.

• The De Soto Baptist Church’s youth graduating from De Soto High School are: Susie Gulley, also Josh Belon. Both will graduate with honors. Jamie Zvirgzdins was involved with school and participated in many activities.

The ones in college graduating are: Nathan Cardiff, who is graduating from KU and he majored in filmmaking.

Ross Stone, who also was a college graduate and he majored in theater. He graduated from Pittsburg State University.

• The De Soto Baptist youth and graduates will meet next Sunday, May 23, at 9 a.m. for breakfast at the home of Joe and Anita Woywood, after graduation exercise on May 22 at the high School.

If anyone in Baptist Church has relatives graduating from schools other than our De Soto High School or college, give their names and names of their school to Rose Mary at (913) 585-3166 or to Richard Copeland at (913) 583-1425.

• The De Soto Baptist Church is asking for volunteers. They are needed for the children church. Please let Richelle Hodges or Copeland know if you can spare a few Sundays in this important ministry of the church. All that is required is a half hour or 40 minutes time with them.

• I had lots of Mother’s Day cards. Some from my Grandkids and friends. The ones in Texas sent pictures of bluebonnets and cactuses. They had gone on their fourth wedding anniversary to see them. The one picture had 15 miles of bluebonnets.

• The need for the De Soto community center this week are: Dried pasta, Rice, Canned Ravioli, Spaghettie-Os, canned tomatoes, canned baked beans, sugar, jelly, peanut butter, and next week canned tuna.

There is also a need for paper goods, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, and diapers for babies sizes 2, 4 and 5. They always need children’s clothes and coats and sweaters. Don’t leave things outside of the building. Call Jodi Hitchcock at (913) 583-1152 to make a delivery.

• My son Michael in Oklahoma called to check on my health. I did send each one a list of my medicines this week and also I’m sending them a list of where all of my collectibles are and important papers are. He said in Oklahoma they had hail the size of baseballs and lots of rain too.

Edwin and wife Jeanne called me Sunday night from Texas and said they had nut and Maui last 21 days, but their church had put on the play Nona’s Ark this week and their granddaughter Lisa had sung a solo at church. Her voice was great also she was in a piano recital this week. My great-grandson Hayden Chandler keeps busy with ball practices and games too. Lots of his clothes goes into the washer everyday. DHS is going to regionals this week.

• The cemeteries are to be decorated with many flowers. I hope I can fined bouquets.

• Those having birthdays this week are: Kenneth Lafferty, Dixie Kurtzi, Elizabeth Plummer, Janice Wilcox, Bill Lafferty, Tari Thompson, Jennifer McDaniel, Bob White and Jayme Nelson. Also, Kathy Hayden turned 60 on Sunday May 15.

• Those having anniversaries are Jeff and tracy Griffin, Gary and Rita Bolay and my grandson Brad and Colleen Chandler, who live in Gardner.

• The Bible recipients at the De Soto Methodist Church were Blake Tucker who is currently attending Linwood Elementary as a third-grader. He is the son of Dan and Annette Tucker and brother of Luka Stucker. He is active in 4-H Club shooting, fishing, hunting. He likes playing four-square and video games.

• A Bible was given to Kyler Gish who attends Starside Elementary School as a fourth-grader. He is the son of bill and Wichaelane Gish and the brother of Cody Gish.

• Those on the sick list I know are: Donnie Waldo, who is in Shawnee Mission Medical Center and needs prayers; Linda Lane, who had surgery this week. Prayers are needed for Dennis and Christine Allan. We need to pray for Donna Hansen, she isn’t able to attend worship service. I also we need to pray for Jo Sweatt who had surgery too. I thank you note was read from Barb and Karl Beasley for their memorial fo their son. Prayers are going up for Darrel and Ruth Zimmerman and family with the lass of their barn when it was destroyed completely. Not a board was left unbroken. The Roof was in shambles and also trees were split all around the farm too. The Barn was used by many for so many things.

• I also had a big problem on Friday. I had to get up out of bed earlier and went to the bathroom. I did my bed exercises of nine with a county of 30-40 times. I went to get up for the day and the mattress on the bed slid over 8-10 inches off the box springs. I went to get up I slid off on to the floor. I was there for 45 minutes before I got the telephone on the TV table with my cane. I couldn’t get a hold of Debbie and got her answering machine. So after calling the Beauty Shoppe to give Deanna my code to come in she urged me to call 911, which I did and two guys came to my rescue. Reverend Copeland was called by. Doug Bedford and he came too. I was helped back up ton my bed by 911 guys and I got helped back into my house coat before they left. I was able to use my walker then. I was really short of breath for a while. I’m lucky I know. 011 guy pushed the mattress back onto the box springs. K”ll watch that from now on.

• Sympathy goes to the family of Jammie Wallnelson in the loss of her father-in-law.

Flood watch

Estuardo Garcia May 20, 2010 at 11:58 a.m.

Board names new principal to MTMS

Estuardo Garcia May 20, 2010 at 11:33 a.m.

By Ashlee Kieler

Brian Schwanz enjoyed teaching middle school students.

In the fall, he’ll be leading them.

Schwanz was confirmed as the new principal at Monticello Trials Middle School during a special USD 232 Board of Education Meeting on Wednesday.

“De Soto has such a great reputation,” he said of his decision to apply in the district. “The reputation and excellent team education and students are some of the main reasons I looked at De Soto.”

And he’s jumped in head first to his new position, which begins in July 1. He is already assisting in hiring a new associate principal for the school.

The school’s current principal Tobie Waldeck and associate principal Matt Fedde will be moving across the street to Mill Valley High School.

Schwanz has served as the principal at General Omar Bradley Elementary School in Fort Leavenworth since 2006.

In 1995, Schwanz began his teaching career as a high school math teacher in Ruthven, Iowa. In 1998, he began teaching seventh grade math in Ralston, Neb., where he also served as substitute principal beginning in 2002.

In 2003, he moved to Kansas and began teaching math at Basehor-Linwood Middle School and High School, before accepting the seventh grade math instructor position at General George Patton Jr. Junior High in Fort Leavenworth.

Schwanz made the jump to administration in 2006.

“I loved teaching and students,” he said. “When the right opportunity came up, I took it. That’s what happened at Fort Leavenworth.”

Now, another opportunity to return to middle school education has presented itself.

“I’m ready to give back to the middle school,” he said. “It’s a great age group to work with.”

Schwanz said he’s ready to continue quality instruction at MTMS.

“I always look at continuous improvement,” he said. “Make sure the students are moving forward.”

Schwanz graduated from Morning Side Community College in Sioux City, Iowa in 1995 with a Bachelor degree in mathematics education, a minor in physical education and a coaching endorsement.

He then attended the University of Nebraska in Omaha to receive his Master’s in educational administration in 2002.

Schwanz plans to finish his district level license this summer from Pittsburg State University. Next, he plans to tackle a Doctorate degree.

“Education is important, not just to students but to us adults,” he said. “You should learn something new everyday.”

Eudora answers protest with ‘No Hate’

Estuardo Garcia May 20, 2010 at 9:28 a.m.

http://www2.ljworld.com/videos/2010/may/18/30682/

By Mark Boyle

Eudora — Finding creative solutions to difficult problems is the art of teaching.

Teachers in the Eudora school district have recently gotten the opportunity to share this lesson with their students.

Teachers in the Eudora school district have organized a “No Hate” campaign to raise money for Lawrence’s Headquarters Counseling Center.

When it was learned that the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka would be picketing the Eudora High School graduation Saturday, the district organized a “No Hate” campaign. The money donated in protest of the anti-homosexual group led by Fred Phelps will have a positive outcome.

“Eudora’s perfect because word gets around fast,” said Cheyenne Bueno, a Eudora High School junior. “It’s a really great way to focus on everything positive and give funds to a positive cause instead of focusing our negative energy toward a negative cause.”

Westboro Baptist Church, known best for protesting funerals of military veterans, also targets high school graduations across the country. Lawrence High School and Free State High School are also on the group’s calendar for protests Sunday.

Eudora teachers began a Facebook page soliciting donations for Lawrence’s Headquarters Counseling Center, 211 E. Eighth St., and the movement has taken off. In just two days, the campaign has raised more than $700.

“We chose Headquarters, which is a counseling facility out of Lawrence … that gives the chance for students and teenagers to get counseling in all aspects of life,” said Amy Gingrich, who is an art teacher in Eudora.

The school’s goal is to raise $1,000 by graduation.

Daily Poll

Estuardo Garcia May 20, 2010 at 9:20 a.m.

Day in the Park offers free beach admission, rentals

Estuardo Garcia May 19, 2010 at 11:55 a.m.

Johnson County Park and Recreation District is offering a number of free activities as part of a new special event called A Day in the Park June 5 at Shawnee Mission Park, 7900 Renner Road.

Activities will include free admission to the Shawnee Mission Park Beach and free pedal boat and canoe rentals at Shawnee Mission Park Marina. The district also will waive district fishing permit requirements. Several other free activities also will be available.

The June 5 date ties into both the district’s annual free fishing weekend when both Kansas and district fishing and boating permits are waived, as well as National Trails Day.

Marina hours on June 5 are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and beach hours will be extended on this date to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Park patrons can always bring a picnic lunch to the park, but on this date, concessions will also be available for purchase 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Shelter 3 near the marina parking lot.

Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., families will have the opportunity to go geocaching with GPS units available for use. Discs will be available for check-out near hole No.1 in the North Walnut Grove area of Shawnee Mission Park’s disc golf course.

Park visitors will be encouraged to experience the trails in Shawnee Mission Park, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., staff will be at the start of the trail directly across from the marina parking lot to provide course maps of different distances to park visitors. Those who take advantage of this opportunity will receive a commemorative JCPRD gift upon completion of their walk/run.

Principal’s days at Mill Valley to end soon

Estuardo Garcia May 19, 2010 at 11:19 a.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/19/36437/

With the end of the school year quickly approaching, packed boxes are piling up in the corner of Joe Novak’s office in Mill Valley High School.

Novak came to De Soto’s USD 232 in 1989 as an assistant principal at De Soto High School. Twenty years later, he’s retiring as principal at Mill Valley High School.

“The original plan was to retire when my youngest daughter graduated; that was last spring,” Novak said. “With all the district changes, the Board (of Education) asked me to stay one more year, work with the new superintendent and see through the construction at the high school.”

While Novak’s plans for life after retirement aren’t solidified, he’s unlikely to sit idle.

He’ll spend another summer teaching a course in resource management and education finance at Kansas University.

“If I could wish for another job, it would be to teach young educators and serve as a mentor,” he said. “I was always told ‘do what you love, love what you do.’”

Novak said he would miss his MVHS family come next fall, but he’ll look back with fond memories.

Working with the ACCESS and Bridges programs stands out for Novak.

“When you go down to the class and watch them progress and how happy they are and how they love unconditionally, you realize how blessed you are,” he said.

Interacting with his students was always a highlight for Novak. For example, the drama department regularly invited Novak to participate in shows.

“I was able to get to know students that I might not necessarily see all the time,” he said.

“These are all my kids, maybe not biologically, but they are my kids.”

That won’t be evidenced more than on Saturday, May 22, at graduation, where Novak has been asked to speak by members of the senior class.

“It will be very emotional,” he said. “I’ll take a deep breath and get through, but it will be difficult.”

Seniors Allison Rollig, Alaina Fairbanks and Kyndra Zeigler said they’d remember Novak when they look back on high school.

“He has a smile on his face every morning when he’s greeting students,” Kyndra said. “He really built Mill Valley.”

Alaina will remember Novak’s drive to be with students.

“He always participated in school events,” she said. “Whether he was at soccer games, football games, plays or knowledge bowl, he always wanted to be there.”

Allison said Novak’s example would stay with her.

“He always says ‘hi’ in the halls,” she said. “He’s really shown us how to be leaders.”

Although they know it’s selfish, the girls are happy Novak will be leaving with them.

“He makes MVHS feel like home,” Kyndra said. “We love him.”

Never one to shy away from sayings, Novak thinks of one in particular when his departure is mentioned.

“Live, love, learn and leave a legacy,” he said. “I think my greatest legacy will be to know I helped others learn to love people. People learn from and emulate the things you find important. If we can mentor young people in the ways that are right and they do those things, you’ve left a legacy.”

Novak’s life lessons aren’t all he’s leaving behind at Mill Valley. He’s built a solid staff, and test scores have improved over the years.

“The curriculum and classes are more wide-ranging than when the school opened in 2000,” he said. “We have more kids involved in school, we’ve got more hooked academically.”

Novak’s bond with staff goes beyond the classroom. He’s hired and watched young teachers grow into their own.

“It’s been great watching individuals reach their greatest potential,” he said.

So in July, Novak will hand over the school’s reins to Tobie Waldeck, the school’s new principal.

“I’ve had the good fortune of being blessed finding a rewarding and meaningful job,” Novak said. “I’ve worked with a supportive community, a supportive group of young people and a respectful staff.”

2010 Chamber Day to make its home at the speedway

Estuardo Garcia May 19, 2010 at 11:17 a.m.

The Kansas Speedway will play host to the 2010 Chamber Day sponsored by Bank of America from 4-7 p.m., on June 2 in Kansas Speedway's Sprint FanWalk in the infield. This networking event will include the latest information on the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, an update on Kansas Speedway and special guest, 2004 NASCAR Cup Champion Kurt Busch, who currently drives for Penske Racing.

Some lucky guests will also have the opportunity to cruise around Kansas Speedway in Richard Petty Driving Experience cars.

Contact the De Soto Chamber of Commerce at (913) 583-1585 to purchase the $20 tickets. Other participating Kansas Chambers of Commerce include Kansas City, Bonner Springs/Edwardsville, Fort Scott, Leawood, Lenexa, Northeast Johnson County, Olathe, Ottawa, Shawnee, Overland Park and Spring Hill. Participating Missouri Chambers of Commerce include Grain Valley, Independence, Lee's Summit, Parkville, Platte City and Peculiar.

Make a run to the border, Taco Bell and KFC are back in business

Estuardo Garcia May 19, 2010 at 9:56 a.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/19/36439/

Those of you craving a KFC Double Down sandwich in De Soto need not worry. The Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell are back open. On Monday the Kansas Department of Revenue and Alcoholic Beverage Control agents executed a tax warrant filed in the Johnson County District Court after the owners failed to pay $18,077.98 in delinquent sales tax.

Freda Warfield, the department’s spokesperson, wrote in an e-mail that the department seized the business’ assets including, “all known bank accounts, on-site cash, business inventory, and personal property assets.” Then the state sealed closed the business.

On Tuesday, the restaurant’s owners contacted the department to get the restaurant reopened.

“We have reached a repayment agreement and released the restaurant back to the owner to reopen,” Warfield wrote.

Warfield added, “warrant execution occurs when all other collection attempts, including multiple letters, telephone calls, letters of impending legal action, tax liens filed with the District Court of domicile to secure the debt, previous bank levies and on-site till taps are executed to bring the taxpayer into compliance have been exhausted. After several unsuccessful collection attempts, or lack of response from the taxpayer, the Department is forced to take aggressive warrant execution action of seizing assets, which in this instance resulted in the business being closed.”

The restaurant’s owners could not be immediately reached for comment.

5 questions: Medicaid changes

Estuardo Garcia May 19, 2010 at 9:24 a.m.

Sandy Preager, commissioner of insurance, answers questions on Medicare Supplement plans.

Q: What do seniors need to know about Medicare Supplement plans?

A: Kansans who have Medicare Supplement plans will see additional plans offered and some current plans sales eliminated on June 1. Two new Medicare Supplement plans (also called Medigap plans) will be available then, and the sale of four current plans will be stopped.

Q: What kind of changes?

A: Currently, there are 12 different types of Medicare supplement plans, labeled Plan A through Plan L. The changes will provide lower out-of-pocket expenses to consumers and give some additional benefits in the ongoing plans.

Q: What is the Kansas Insurance Department’s role in regulating Medicare and Medicare supplemental plans?

A: Medicare supplement plans are plans sold by private insurance companies to cover healthcare costs that are not benefits of Medicare in original Medicare plans. The Kansas Insurance Department does not regulate Medicare, a federal program, but it does have the power to regulate supplemental plans.

Q: What state regulations does the state enforce?

A: Medigap plans available in Kansas must abide by all federal and state laws that are designed to protect consumers. However, because these plans are sold through private insurers, prices for the same plan may vary from company to company.

Q: Where can I get more information about Medicare supplemental plans?

A: Information about the supplement plans is available on the Kansas Insurance Department’s website, ksinsurance.org, under the Quick Link “Medicare/Seniors.” Additionally, the department’s booklet “Medicare Supplement Insurance Shopper’s Guide” is scheduled for publication in the near future. Booklets can be ordered or downloaded from the website. The guide complements “Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare,” which was created by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Board of education taps Schwanz for MTMS

Estuardo Garcia May 19, 2010 at 7:58 a.m.

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education unanimously voted to approve Brian Schwanz as the new principal for Monticello Trails Middle School.

Schwanz has been the principal at General Omar Bradley Elementary School at Fort Leavenworth since 2006. Schwanz has a bachelor's degree in mathematics education from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, a master's degree education administration and supervision from the University of Nebraska.

Daily Poll

Estuardo Garcia May 19, 2010 at 6:42 a.m.

Honey Creek recycling drop-off center moving to City Hall

Estuardo Garcia May 18, 2010 at 4:57 p.m.

If you find yourself in an empty lot near the old grocery store with car full of recyclables thinking you must be going crazy because you remember there used to be giant blue recycling containers here, but now they've vanished.... Well I don't know if you're crazy, but I can tell you where to find the recycling bins.

On Tuesday, city officials said they have moved the recycling bins to the west parking lot of City Hall to clear the space for the new owners of the grocery store.

The De Soto Rotary Club's bin has also found a new home at City Hall.

Now when you drop off the kids at the pool, don't forget to bring your 1-7 plastics, tin and aluminum cans, paper board and newspapers.

Rail hub could be coming to the county

Estuardo Garcia May 18, 2010 at 4:44 p.m.

A provision in the revenue package approved last week by the Kansas Legislature will trigger construction planning of a major freight hub in Johnson County this year. The Kansas City Intermodal Facility (KCIMF) will be constructed on a 443 acre site in Edgerton in southern Johnson County. In addition to BNSF Railway's rail-truck shipping center, a separate logistics park development project is planned by The Allen Group on an adjoining 557 acres.

In a joint statement from BNSF, The Allen Group and the Kansas Department of Transportation, which helped structure the incentive provision, the Legislature and Governor Mark Parkinson were commended for supporting the plan:

The Kansas Legislature and Governor Parkinson have created an incentive to accelerate the investment of more than a half-billion dollars of private capital into one of the state's most significant economic developments.

"Advancing the construction schedule of the KCIMF will create immediate local jobs, enhance revenue for the state of Kansas and create a long-term economic growth engine for the state and surrounding region." During the 10-year build-out of The Allen Group's logistics park, the project will grow approximately 8,700 permanent jobs. BNSF's separate intermodal project will also create 660 construction jobs in the near term.

The revenue bill provision allows the state to make a $35 million grant immediately available to BNSF, in return for its commitment to begin the construction process before the end of 2010. The grant will be repaid to the state from the utilities sales tax generated on the KCIMF /logistics park site.

"Rail intermodal facilities such as KCIMF help improve freight mobility, attract the kind of job-creating, energy-saving logistics development that grows the economy, help take trucks off the road to ease long-distance highway congestion and maintenance costs to taxpayers, and reduce overall emissions generated by the transportation sector," according to the joint statement.

"KDOT, BNSF and The Allen Group appreciate the support of the many legislators, public officials, business and community leaders who have worked so hard to support the KCIMF project when the Kansas economy needs it most."

Neighbors

Estuardo Garcia May 18, 2010 at 4:32 p.m.

• The De Soto Methodist Church’s confirmation class will have different youths of their assemble different products together for the community center. A great variety is listed, from cereals, pasta, noodles, canned goods, peanut butter and jelly. They are also collecting money. They started this project on May 2 so they are asking their congregation to support this youth project.

• The De Soto Methodist Church honored and recognized the many mothers with their pastor Jerry Vaughn message titled “A mother’s love.”

• The Silver Circle met at 1 p.m. May 10. I did have to dispose of my beautiful bouquet they gave me as they began to droop. I had enjoyed them. The snow balls were so big and beautiful. I appreciated them.

• The Methodist Church AD Board met on May 13 in Fellowship Hall. Also ascension of the Lord then too on May 15 the united Methodist men met at 7 a.m. in Fellowship Hall. There ABC’s game was very interesting.

• De Soto Baptist Church had several visitor introduced. We hope they do come back for membership if moving to the community. Rev. Karl Beasley brought forth some words to all too. Lucas Walker led the worship in songs for the congregation. His solo of “No One is Alone,” was very outstanding. With Maryetta Copeland at the piano. He reached the high notes beautifully.

• Rev. Copeland had all the mothers stand. I couldn’t count them, but there were many. I received a cup with a cactus planted in it for being the oldest present at 94 years. The youngest was in the Bowers family and the Brashear family had the most children present. All were recognized and received plants. This is an annual gift to from Lawhead family. The Sanctuary had many vases and baskets of flowers from the Cardiff’s services.

• Mother’s Day Brunch was well attended. Many had their daughters from out of town and out of state with them. We had a good program with Louella Davis singing a solo “Tell Mother I’ll be There.” Debbie Maniel gave the welcome and Mary Gale Kramer gave the benediction, “He Washed My Feet.” Lana McPherson had table grace. Jo Sweat gave the message we have lots of talent in our church.

• Prayer pamphlets were passed out a week ago for the National Day of Prayer on May 6. There were several categories that were listed on each page. Karen Wall is the one who arranged this and did the research of the different topics. Our nation needs to pray for every day and not once a year.

• My Mother’s Day was very much an honor to me. I’m spoiled by my children. On May 8, I received a pink rose corsage and a red rose from my son Carlin and his wife Nancy from Illinois. A local shop delivered. Then I also received red and white impatiens from Edward and Jerry and Michael’s cards and tokens from Debbie and Hayden. They took me to JT’s for dinner after church with Jerry and Linda and my great-great granddaughter Isabell and great-granddaughter Lindsay. I received many Mother’s Day cards. Some from friends too. I had a card from Florene McMillan. I also had my friends that used to live in De Soto put my garden in. Roger and Hazel Verrill came on Saturday and visited and saw my new purchases. Roger has another year to work at Mill Valley School’s kitchen. Then I hope he can put my garden space in. I do wish someone would take this garden and plant some corn and peppers in and tomatoes. There is no charge for the ground. I’ve got garden tools for them to use.

• I had an invitation to the gruaduation of Carol’s daughter at Wellsville High School on Sunday at the football stadium.

• The Relay for Life will be held on June 4 and 5 at the De Soto High School football field. The Baptist Church’s team held a bake sale of desserts. After worship service on the front lawn on May 9 we brought some goodies there. The captains of the church’s Relay for Life team are Monica Walker and Richelle Hodges. They welcome new members to join.

• The ABW Summer/Conference is to be held June 4 and 5 in Heston. You need to register by May 24. See Anita Woywod or Maryetta Copeland for a form. My Friend Louella Tillery called me Sunday evening. My son Mike called and had his son-in-law Ralph, who is Michell’s husband back from Italy. He had been there on business for two weeks. On Saturday the AB Boys had a campfire and cookout at Larry West’s farm. My son Edward and his wife Jeanne, who live in Texas, called. He is going to have dental surgery. They had lunch with their daughter and granddaughter. Lisa is singing with a select group.

• Those having birthdays this week are: Richard Alanton, Larry Lefferty, Gary Bickelmeyer, Jerry Morton, Brianna King, Brian Don Prince, Blake Lindbloom, Kyle Walker, Heidi Gutknecht, and my granddaughter Linda Nalley (Michael’s wife) in Oklahoma.

• Those having anniversaries re Jim and Dee Aubert with 46 years of marriage. Rob and Debbie Prince, Bob and Shirley Thomas, Junior and Jean Maness, Terry and Paula Rhodes.

• The need at the De Soto Community Center this week is: Canned meat, pasta, pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, baked beans, sugar, paper products and baby diapers, newborn sizes 2, 4-5. Also cleaning supplies too.

• Our Community of De Soto has escaped many tornadoes that come to do so much damage in several cities in the Midwest. I always pray when they are predicted they’ll not happen or be out in the woods if they come.

• Those on the sick list are: Shirley Brunner who was able to come home from Olathe Medical Center on Sunday. She had some Internal problems she needs our prayers. Brady and Baily’s grandmother in Maine passed away and they’ve gone to be with family in Maine. Now Jean Eppers son’s niece needs our prayers. Sonnie Waldo is in Shawnee Medical Center and in serious condition he needs prayers. Karl and Barbara Beasley’s wished to thank everyone for their support in their loss of their son Don Chamberlain. Mark Coatney is doing better from his recent surgery. His work place is being sold and he needs a job. Sympathy goes to the gamily of Jon Gribbins in the loss of his sister-in-law. Jean Epperson’s nephew Josh Childers still needs our prayers as he still is serious condition in Overland Park Regional Hospital Sympathy goes to the family of David Cardiff. His son Nathan spoke at the funeral service Saturday. Darrel Zimmerman has sunflower seeds to sell for $5 of which $4.70 goes to fight polio.

Ribbon Cutting

Estuardo Garcia May 18, 2010 at 9:46 a.m.

Area nonprofits may face losing tax-exempt status

Estuardo Garcia May 18, 2010 at 9:25 a.m.

By Christine Metz

Area nonprofits could have their tax-exempt status called into question after missing an important tax-filing deadline Monday.

Since 2007, all tax-exempt organizations, except churches and church-related groups, have been required to file an informational form with the Internal Revenue Service. Organizations that fail to file that form three years in a row automatically lose their federal tax-exempt status. If the organization’s fiscal year ended Dec. 31, the deadline was Monday.

Monday was the end of the three-year grace period.

While the deadline isn’t much of a concern for larger nonprofits with payrolls and big-time donors, some worry that smaller groups that operate on next-to-nothing budgets had no idea they were supposed to file a tax return.

“Those organizations that have operated on a very small scale for limited purposes simply haven’t in the past had to deal with filing federal tax returns,” said Chip Blaser, Douglas County Community Foundation executive director. “Those are the very organizations that there is a concern about.”

The National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute compiled a list of nonprofits that had tax-exempt status and hadn’t filed a tax return. Those on the list in Lawrence included sport booster clubs, neighborhood associations, parent-teacher organizations and hobby-based groups.

United Way Executive Director Erika Dvorske said some on that list are now defunct or file under an umbrella organization. Dvorske said none of the 24 nonprofits funded under the United Way would be affected. In order to tap into United Way money, organizations already had to fill out tax forms.

But some nonprofits, such as Lawrence High Band Parents, had no warning they had to file a tax return.

“You would think the government would be able to send us a notice,” said Terry Jacobsen, the organization’s co-president.

The Lawrence High Band Parents doesn’t raise more than $5,000 each year, so the real benefit of tax-exempt status is to allow donors to deduct their contributions from their individual taxes.

“If we lose that status, that could affect people’s willingness to donate to us in the long run,” Jacobsen said.

And the parent group actually has until Nov. 15 to complete its paperwork, because its fiscal year doesn’t end until June 15.

An IRS spokesman encouraged any group that missed the deadline to complete the 990 form and send it to the IRS.

Those nonprofits that bring in less than $25,000 a year can fill out a post-card version electronically, IRS spokesman Mike Devine said. To determine whether an organization currently has tax-exempt status, Devine said, people can visit www.irs.gov.

Starside recognized for character building

Estuardo Garcia May 17, 2010 at 3:19 p.m.

On May 6, Starside Elementary School was given and award by The Kansas Schools of Character Recognition Program. The program acknowledges schools for their support of character education as demonstrated by various principles of character as well as the successful implementation of effective programs in the school. The Kansas Department of Education in partnership with the National Park Service award these schools through a grant sponsored by the Character Education Partnership, a national organization promoting character education programs in schools.
Janet Waugh, state school board chair, left, and Interim Commissioner of Education Diane DeBacker, right, presented the award to, from left, Elyzabeth Navarre, Paula Henderson and Jessica Daine.

On May 6, Starside Elementary School was given and award by The Kansas Schools of Character Recognition Program. The program acknowledges schools for their support of character education as demonstrated by various principles of character as well as the successful implementation of effective programs in the school. The Kansas Department of Education in partnership with the National Park Service award these schools through a grant sponsored by the Character Education Partnership, a national organization promoting character education programs in schools. Janet Waugh, state school board chair, left, and Interim Commissioner of Education Diane DeBacker, right, presented the award to, from left, Elyzabeth Navarre, Paula Henderson and Jessica Daine. by Contributed Photo

5 questions: Be bike friendly

Estuardo Garcia May 17, 2010 at 10:40 a.m.

Shawnee’s Bicycle Advisory Board shares some information about bicycling in recognition of National Bike Month. Q. Why is Shawnee’s status as a bike-friendly community special?

A. Kansas ranked only 33rd out of 50 states in the Bike Friendly America standings by the League of American Bicyclists. But Shawnee has received a Bicycle Friendly Community designation every year since 2003. Shawnee is one of a very few non-university towns to have achieved this ranking. Shawnee is the only BFC in the Kansas City metro area, and Shawnee and Lawrence are the only BFCs in Kansas.

Q. What does Shawnee have that makes it so bicycle friendly?

A. Shawnee was the first city in the metro area to adopt a bicycle transportation plan. Its Bicycle and Recreational Trail Master Plan boasts nearly 18 miles of existing on-street bike lanes, 41 miles of share-the-road routes and 26 miles of off-street recreational trails. Proposed additions would approximately double those figures. Shawnee’s Bicycle Advisory Board advises the Parks & Recreation Department.

Q. What are some safety tips for recreational bicyclists?

A. Sidewalks are designed for pedestrians. If cyclists choose to ride on sidewalks, they should: yield to pedestrians; dismount and walk the bike across all intersections; and stay off of sidewalks in pedestrian-only districts. On recreational trails, bicyclists should remember to: pass on the left; yield when entering and crossing other trails; give an audible warning when passing; and yield to all other trail users.

Q. What about biking on the road?

A. On roadways, use the bike lane when one is available. Vehicles are required to yield to bicyclists in a bike lane and are not allowed to obstruct or park in that lane. Bicyclists may ride outside a designated bike lane when overtaking another bicycle; preparing for a turn, or avoiding hazards.

Q. What if there aren’t bike lanes?

A. In the absence of a designated bike lane, bicyclists may ride in regular lanes of traffic and should: stay near the right side of the roadway, ride no more than two abreast, use proper hand signals for turning and stopping and observe all traffic signs and signals.

Holland decries Brownback’s auto dealer exemption plan

Estuardo Garcia May 17, 2010 at 10:35 a.m.

By Scott Rothschild

Topeka — A proposal by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., to exempt automobile dealers from the oversight of a proposed consumer protection agency has drawn fire from military officials and Democrat Tom Holland, who will probably face Brownback in the governor’s race.

The dispute is over part of an overhaul of U.S. financial markets being debated in Congress.

The Defense Department, credit unions and numerous military organizations want auto dealers to come under the oversight of the proposed Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

“Protection from unprincipled auto lending enables our soldiers to concentrate on their primary mission — protecting our great nation,” Army Secretary John McHugh said in a letter to the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

But Brownback has proposed an amendment that would exempt auto dealers that assist customers in financing from the proposed consumer protection agency.

Holland, a Democratic state senator from Baldwin City, said that was wrong.

“The Department of Defense, along with many military support groups, oppose the Brownback Amendment because it harms our fighting men and women’s ability to be battle-ready,” he said. President Barack Obama is opposed to the amendment, too.

Brownback said his amendment, supported by the National Automobile Dealers Association, is needed because auto dealers are currently subject to federal regulation and state laws, and that unless the amendment is approved, lending could be hampered and hurt consumers by increasing the costs of vehicles. “Auto dealers are a part of Main Street, not Wall Street, and they are not responsible for the financial meltdown,” he said.

Brownback and Holland are expected to face off in the November election for governor.

Konetzni places fourth at State tennis

Estuardo Garcia May 17, 2010 at 10:29 a.m.

De Soto High School senior Andrew Konetzni serves during his semifinal loss at the 4A State Tennis Tournament in Pratt.

De Soto High School senior Andrew Konetzni serves during his semifinal loss at the 4A State Tennis Tournament in Pratt. by Michael Sullivan

By Michael Sullivan

De Soto High School senior Andrew Konetzni closed out his tennis career Saturday with a fourth-place finish at the 4A State Tennis Tournament in Pratt. Konetzni moved into the semifinals after defeating Chanute’s Matt Stutt in the opening round and Wellington’s Evan Turner in the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon.

In his semifinal match, Konetzni fell in a close three-set match to the tournament’s overall No. 2 seed and eventual runner-up Kent Toland of Iola. Konetzni then lost to Hesston’s Jesse Voth-Gaedder in the third-place match.

Konetzni closes his career with a career singles mark of 122-19. His finish marked his fourth consecutive top-7 medal at the state tournament, making him the most decorated boys’ tennis player in the history of De Soto High School.

De Soto City Council meeting agenda for April 1

Estuardo Garcia May 17, 2010 at 9:58 a.m.

De Soto City Council: 7 p.m., May 6, City Hall, 32905 W. 84th St. Roll Call by Mayor David Anderson and Pledge of Allegiance.

PUBLIC HEARING: Select Community Development Block Grant project for 2011.

Consent Agenda Items will be acted upon by one motion unless a Council member requests an item be removed for discussion and separate action.

Consent Agenda

a. Approve Minutes of the Council Meeting of May 6th, 2010.

b. Approve Pay Ordinance No. 641.

c. Approve Resolution 876 for Vehicle Code Violation at 8400 Jaycee

d. Approve Resolution 877 for Structure Code Violations at 8400 Jaycee

e. Approve Resolution 878 for Junk in Yard Violation at 8400 Jaycee

Call to Public:

“Members of the public are welcome to use this time to comment about any matter relating to City business not listed on this Agenda. The comments that are discussed under Call to Public may or may not be acted upon by the Council during this meeting. There is a four-minute time limit. Please stand and wait to be recognized by the Mayor. You must state your name and address.”

Chamber / EDC Report

Old Business

a. Discuss Temporary Use Permit Fees - Tabled

New Business

a. Consider donation request from Cameron Pflaum, a Starside student.

b. Receive presentation from Larkin Group on Public Wholesale Water Supply District feasibility study.

c. Consideration of an amendment to Article 5, Section 10 of the Zoning Regulations concerning architectural projections into the setbacks.

d. Consider bids for treatment of Well #8.

Executive Session

Advisory Reports a. City Administrator

b. City Attorney

c. City Engineer

d. City Planner

e. City Clerk

Council & Mayor Comments

Adjournment

Board calls for special meeting Wednesday morning

Estuardo Garcia May 17, 2010 at 9:48 a.m.

The Board of Education of Unified School District No. 232 will hold a special meeting at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. The purpose of this meeting will be to conduct an executive session for non-elected personnel. Action may be taken on this matter only. No agenda will be provided.

The Board will meet in the boardroom at the district's administrative offices, 35200 W 91st St.

Community gathers to help clean up historic barn

Estuardo Garcia May 14, 2010 at 7:13 p.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/14/36381/

When the residents of De Soto heard about what had happened to Darrel Zimmerman they said they would do anything to help.

Friday evening, they didn’t disappoint. “We weren’t expecting this many people”, Dee Mandich, Zimmerman’s daughter, said about the volunteers who started coming in after work to help clean up barn wreckage at Zimmerman’s Kill Creek Farm. “People just started showing up. We definitely didn’t have plans for this many people.”

Shortly after 3 p.m. the call went out for people to come by and help in the clean up of the historic barn that was destroyed Wednesday night.

By 5:30 p.m., more than 20 people armed with work gloves and a willingness to help heeded the call.

Some people were working on clearing damaged trees and fallen branches from the storm, while others were finding salvageable parts from the barn wreckage. Even children, including Zimmerman’s grandkids, were out helping anyway they could. The owner of the local Sonic Drive-In donated some food and water to help feed the volunteers.

“I’m just a little bit in awe,” Zimmerman said. “If I wanted to say something about it without saying any swear words... it’s damn nice to live in a community where you get this much community spirit to help somebody in need.”

Zimmerman wanted to get as much salvaged as he could before the big machinery comes in Saturday to start hauling away the rubble.

But there probably won’t be an empty space at the farm for long.

Zimmerman said he’s already received four leads on replacement barns.

“Right now he’s pretty gung-ho about rebuilding, but I bet he’ll be sore tomorrow,” Mandich said.

County commission chair candidates speak

Estuardo Garcia May 14, 2010 at 4:40 p.m.

Before Johnson County residents cast their ballot for their new county commissioner chair the candidates were allowed to make 10-minute presentations a the Sunflower Republican Club meeting Thursday. Before Johnson County residents cast their ballot for their new county commissioner chair the candidates were allowed to make 10-minute presentations a the Sunflower Republican Club meeting Thursday.

First to make a presentation was long-time county resident, former Overland Park mayor and current fourth district commissioner Ed Eilert.

He said that the residents of Johnson County want value for their tax dollars and that the county is full of dynamic and innovative business as well as hardworking and generous citizens.

“I believe that it’s time for the leadership of the county step up and match those values that our citizens so aptly demonstrate everyday,” he said.

If elected, he said his goals would be an efficient government, effective leadership and economic opportunity

“In this day at looking for governmental efficiency, we need to look at our county organization from top to bottom and see if in fact we have the best structure not only to meet the demand for service in the county but to operate in the most efficient and tax effective manner.”

He described Johnson County as one of the main economic engines in the state and in the metro area exercise.

He wants to establish trust and credibility with state, local and school officials and with the state delegation.

He said his main goal would be to eliminate structural deficits in the county’s budget

He recalled his first time creating a budget for the county in which the financial forecasts showed deficit spending for years to come.

“How can we do that? I can’t budget deficits,” he said. “I can’t spend more money than I have coming in or else I’m in trouble.”

He said if the county keeps spending at that rate it could lead to higher property taxes.

He also wanted to focus on economic opportunities in the county but he wants to leave the economic development up to the cities.

He said he wants to create a group called Jobs for Johnson County that would take advantage of a voter-approved 1/8th cents sales tax that supports the Kansas State University campus in Olathe, the Kansas University Edwards Campus and the Kansas University Medical Center.

He wants to bring in leaders from these institutions as well as leaders from community colleges and the school districts to “develop a strategic economic plan to maximize the benefit of job opportunities of that public investment at those three universities. I believe quite strongly that a concerted effort to build on that public investment can pay big dividends in Johnson County for those who seek a job in our community.”

Annabeth Surbaugh, who was slated to speak at the event was unable to attend the meeting because her daughter just had baby that morning. Anne Hodgdon, Johnson County Mental Health Governing Board Member spoke in her stead.

She read from a bulleted list of points Surbaugh wanted her to cover.

“Bare in mind, if I make a mistake and read one of these bullet points wrong and attribute Annabeth to having invented the Internet, forgive me,” she joked.

She said Surbaugh’s priorities for the county were: accountability, accountability, accountability.

“That’s her mantra,” Hodgdon said. ”She believes that the government belongs to the people.”

Hodgdon said Surbaugh hired an internal auditor to make sure county departments remain accountable.

Hodgdon said Surbaugh’s strong points for the past five years include her fiscal responsibility. Hodgdon mentioned how Surbaugh has frozen salaries, slowed down hiring and restricted expenditures.

Hodgdon said Surbaugh wants to develop a plan to reduce the size of county government and has asked staff to come up with a detailed plan to eliminate things that weren’t necessary.

Surbaugh was also proud of the AAA ratings from Fitch Inc., Moody’s Investor Service and Standard and Poor’s.

“We are only one of handful of counties in the United States with three AAA ratings and that’s really key to whether or not this county is attractive to business thinking of locating here,” Hodgdon said.

Hodgdon mentioned how the county has remained in good shape despite difficult times. She said Surbaugh believes the county’s reserves is what has allowed the county to weather the storm even thought she took criticism for it.

“Holding on to those reserves has been what has been able to keep the county strong.”

Hodgdon said Surbaugh follows conservative budgeting principals.

“She believes that the best government is the government that is closest to the people the more that our citizens are involved the better we will be,” Hodgdon said. “Government needs to be from the people up not down to the people. We must govern with the people and for the people not to the people.”

Hodgdon said Surbaugh was very approachable, listened to the concerns of residents, never takes an arrogant attitude and listens to both sides of an issue before making a decision.

Hodgdon also touted how Surbaugh has lead the charge for the county to be green.

She said that Surbaugh started as a citizen activist. Sharing her concerns with the Blue Valley School District and that is why she understands when people fight for their beliefs.

“When she believes in something she will fight for it,” Hodgdon said.. Wants to keep government open. Mentioned how you can watch the meetings live.

Said she will listen to all sides of an issue before making a decision Hodgdon said Surbaugh knows that these are difficult times and the county needs to remain vigilant with people’s money.

“We cannot raise taxes that will make our economy worse,” she said. “I believe in Annabeth Surbaugh,” Hodgdon concluded. “And I know that her heart is in what she’s doing.” http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/18/36426/ http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/18/36425/

Barn clean up to start at 4:30 p.m.

Estuardo Garcia May 14, 2010 at 3:10 p.m.

Clean up of the White-Waitzmann Barn at Zimmerman’s Kill Creek Farm, 9210 Kill Creek Rd., is going to start today. Darrel Zimmerman, the farm’s owner, said anybody wanting to help can start coming by at 4:30 p.m. today. Bring gloves, boots and a cooler.

De Soto resident gets home makeover

Estuardo Garcia May 14, 2010 at 11:25 a.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/14/36375/

Move over Ty Pennington, there’s a new extreme home makeover crew in town. On Thursday, a sea of red-shirted Keller Williams real estate agents descended upon the city.

Their goal? Remodel a home that has fallen into disrepair and owned by a resident who recently was diagnosed with bone cancer.

“It looks so good,” Debbie Wilburn, the home’s owner, said about her house. “(The Keller Williams agents) have helped me out so so so much.”

For one day, nearly half of the agents at the Keller Williams Legacy Partners Market Center in Shawnee donated their time and energy for the second-annual Renew, Energize and Donate, or RED Day.

Elaine Gufstafson, team leader, said the day was created as a way for the Keller Williams to give back to the communities that helped grow its business.

For the first RED Day event, the Shawnee team went to the Olathe to help TLC for Children and Families Inc.

This year they wanted to do something bigger.

They partnered with Jodi Hitchcock at the De Soto Multi Service Center. With the help of the city, Hitchcock found a house on which the team could work. Wilburn’s home was chosen because it was in violation of some city codes and the city knew Wilburn didn’t have the ability or resources to bring it up to code.

At first Todd and Barb Hoever, with Keller Williams, thought it was only a matter of rebuilding a fence and doing some work on the exterior of the house, but soon they grasped the magnitude of the project they had embarked on.

“We kept finding more and more things happening with this house that needed to be fixed,” Todd said. “It’s like peeling away the layers of an onion. When we got inside we saw there was a lot of work to do.”

Some of the work to remodel the home started before Thursday, and some will continue for the next few days. But Gustafson said the bulk of the work was completed on RED Day.

Throughout the day, more than 40 agents and 20 other contractors and other volunteers worked nonstop fixing up the house. Even Wilburn’s son-in-law, Rob Tooley , and his friend Steve Claxton worked for 30 hours remodeling the kitchen.

While crews from Inner Urban were putting up new siding on the outside, the Keller Williams folks were working on the inside, painting rooms, installing fixtures and nailing down baseboards.

By the time they are done, just about everything in the house will be new ,from the carpet to the garage door. All of the materials were donated for this effort from more than 20 different companies and vendors.

“When she moves back in, she will have a safe and functional place to live,” Gufstafson said. “Maybe it will help her in her recovery.”

Around 5:30 p.m., Wilburn came from where she was staying in Eudora to her house to check on the progress.

She and her two daughters, Felicia Tooley and Renee Bayer, were in shock at the home’s transformation.

“It’s a blessing for all of us,” Tooley said. “It couldn’t have come at a better time. When she first found out they were going to do it she was all excited and started crying.“

Bayer agreed.

“I was blown away to see all of the people here and all of the work they did,” Bayer said.

Once the house is complete, Bayer said she would move into the home with her mother and care for her while she continues with her chemotherapy treatment.

After the dust begins to settle from the De Soto construction site, Gufstafson and the rest of the Keller Williams team will start planning next year’s RED Day activity and they hope it will be even bigger.

Tornado-like storm fells trees, damages homes in De Soto, Shawnee

Estuardo Garcia May 13, 2010 at 8:33 p.m.

Winds from Wednesday's storm pushed a trampoline into the back of Bill Beeler's home near Clear Creek Parkway and Lakecrest Drive.

Winds from Wednesday's storm pushed a trampoline into the back of Bill Beeler's home near Clear Creek Parkway and Lakecrest Drive.

By Caroline Boyer

Marilyn Cox had just gone to bed Wednesday night when a sound like a train rumbling overhead woke her.

“I heard that and I said, ‘I know what that means: that’s a tornado,’” she said. “I got out of bed to run to the basement, but I only got to the top of the stairs, and it was over.

Her husband, Jim, was downstairs watching a movie. He said the storm hit about 11:30 p.m.

“When it hit us, the power went out, and I couldn't see a cotton-pickin’ thing,” Jim Cox said. “And then the window broke, and I thought ‘Uh-oh, we’re in trouble.’ But then it was over with.”

The Coxes were just one of several families reporting similar experiences Wednesday in western Shawnee , with a storm that residents are still debating the status of: microburst or tornado?

The Coxes found the storm had completely torn out two large Cottonwood trees in front of their house on 66th Terrace near Mize Road, in addition to taking off the tops of two large maples in their backyard. Branches from the trees felled in their front yard hit their home, causing structural damage that appears to be minimal.

With what seems to be a clear destruction path, plus area trees blown down in several different directions, rather than just one direction as might be caused by a straight-line wind, Marilyn and Jim Cox believe it was a tornado that didn’t touch down.

“It was like a shrill wind — it didn’t sound like regular wind,” Jim Cox said. “It was the weirdest-sounding wind I’ve ever heard.”

The storm moved from Gardner to De Soto into western Shawnee, causing damage along Mize Road before heading further east about 63rd Street. On the east side of Kansas Highway 7, most of the damage seems to have been caused between Monticello Road and Marion Street, north of the 6000 block to Johnson Drive.

No injuries were reported with the storm, which knocked out power for some western Shawnee residents until about 11 a.m. today. Shawnee Public Works crews were out beginning at 2 a.m., clearing Mize and Clare Roads of downed trees and other debris from 71st Street north to 63rd Street.

On 63rd Street east of Clare, Paul Marquis said the storm blew away his neighbor’s small barn. He believes it couldn’t have been a microburst.

“It was more than a straight-line wind,” he said. “It didn’t last more than 20 or 30 seconds. It was substantial. There are sticks planted straight down in the ground, six inches deep. I’ve got pieces of my neighbor’s barn in my yard, and stuff from my yard that I don’t know where it is.”

Steve Kingsford, who also lives on 63rd Street, had several trees down on his wooded lot — one fell on his house. He also had damage to his backyard pool and worried that insurance wouldn’t do much to help.

“Instead of my $500 deductible I’ve been paying for years, now 1 percent of my property value is my deductible,” he said.

The storm wreaked havoc on several trampolines and backyard playsets.

Bill Beeler, who lives near Lakecrest and Clear Creek Parkway, was watching television and his wife was in bed when the storm hit. He got up from a chair to look out another window when a trampoline from two houses down was blown into his house — the legs actually imbedded into the wall of the second-floor master bedroom, where his wife was sleeping, and the ground level family room, taking out a window.

“Glass sprayed all over where I had been sitting, so it was good that I’d gotten up,” Beeler said.

A few houses down, the storm took out large Australian willows in Jay Larson’s back yard.

He had been watching television when he got up to check out the storm from his southwest facing front windows, and he said he could see it coming.

“All of the sudden, everything was going like this,” he said, waving his arms in a circular motion, “and I seriously thought a funnel was going to come down. (The wind) was going in every direction… The kids were upstairs sound asleep, and by the time you could react, it was over.”

Just to the north, JoAnn Converse had a majority of an ornamental pear tree knocked down in her backyard, thankfully landing on her patio just shy of her house. She and her husband had gone to bed, though her husband had gotten up to go to the bathroom when the storm hit.

“He came running in and said ‘Jo, we need to get down to the basement because it sounds like a train going overhead,’” she said.

Converse said her rain gauge had four inches of rain in it. Surveying the damage to her yard and the untouched trees in the yards behind her, she also found the path of the storm interesting.

“It’s like it stopped right there; it hit my tree and said, ‘I’m done,’” she said.

A similar thing happened tin eastern De Soto.

Jackie Smith was sleeping when the storm hit her house. Patricia Smith, who was awake and in the house, came running to wake up Jackie when the windows started rattling.

“I’ve never really heard it before, but it really was like a freight train noise,” Smith said. “It woke me up instantly and I went flying out of bed. We ran to the basement.”

It wasn’t until this morning that the Smiths saw the extent of the damage to their property. The fence holding their horses in was knocked down, their deck was damaged and a fireplace in their back yard was knocked down.

Update: Storm destroys barn at Zimmerman's Kill Creek Farm

Estuardo Garcia May 13, 2010 at 9:04 a.m.

http://www2.ljworld.com/videos/2010/may/13/30609/

For 10 years the barn at Zimmerman’s Kill Creek Farm has been a lot of things to a lot of people. It was a place for reuniting families to come together. A place for a man and woman to be united in matrimony. A place to come get fresh vegetables from local farmers. A place to bring your kids to pick the choicest pumpkins for carving. But after a Wednesday night’s storm, the De Soto landmark is no more.

“There is literally no hope for this (barn),” Darrel Zimmerman, owner of Kill Creek Farms, said. “I always figured the barn would outlast me.”

Around 11:20 p.m. Wednesday, high winds traveling in a northeasterly direction hit the area around Kansas Highway 10 and Kill Creek Road.

Dee Mandich, Zimmerman’s daughter, was at the home next to the barn when the winds hit.

“The whole house was shaking,” she said. “It sounded like the end of the world.”

She and her husband ran into the basement to take shelter.

After the storm had passed, they inspected the damage. Mandich looked out the window to see trees down, but no real damage to the house. But something was off. She grabbed a flashlight and went outside.

“There was something different out there,” she said. “When I looked out… there was no barn.”

She called her father and brother to come over to inspect the damage.

Zimmerman and his son Barry Zimmerman surveyed the damage. At least what they could see. After a while they went home where Darrel had a tough time trying to sleep, he said.

The true extend of the damage wasn’t known until the sun came out Thursday morning. That’s when Darrel and his family fully grasped how much they had lost.

Holding back tears, Darrel recalls a story he used to tell students about a man and oak tree.

“There used to be a man who had a big oak tree in his yard,” he said. “Every time he stepped on his porch he got to see this big oak tree. It used to give him shade. Then the water table changed and the tree started dying from the top down. After a few years they were forced to cut it down and split it up for firewood. After that he would stand up on his porch and look where the tree had been and there was a hole in the sky.

"That’s what it’s like for me. Without the barn and windmill, there’s a hole in the sky.”

Raising the barn

In 2000 Darrel and a group of community volunteers began tearing down, transporting and then rebuilding a 120-year-old barn from Gardner.

For the next five months, the group worked hard to restore the barn.

“Even though I own the property, the barn belonged to the community,” he said. “It was the community that restored the barn.”

In September of 2008 the barn sustained some damage after a tornado traveling in about the same direction hit De Soto. The barn’s roof was lifted, damaging roof braces and moving the roof out of position. It also knocked down the outhouse.

Aftermath

As Darrel inspected the land surrounding the barn Thursday morning, he saw trees along a valley southwest of the barn completely uprooted and a clear path of destruction heading northeast of the barn.

He is almost certain it was a tornado that had come through the area, although he didn’t hear any sirens last night.

“I just heard this screaming wind,” he said. “I turned on the TV to check the weather, but I didn’t see anything.”

Mandich began calling people who had reserved the barn for a special occasion to inform them what had happened. The barn had been rented each weekend for the next nine weeks for weddings, reunions or graduation parties. Darrell was especially upset that an organization raising money to combat cystic fibrosis was going to auction off the use of the barn in a fundraiser would have to be taken off the auction list.

Throughout the day a steady stream of people from the community stopped by to survey the damage and to check on the family and see if there was anything they could do.

“It’s just devastating to the community,” said Mitra Templin, a De Soto City Council member. “It was something that we all took pride in.”

A sign-up sheet was started for people wanting to help in the cleanup and possible restoration of the barn.

Kris Johnson, 2010 De Soto Chamber of Commerce president, said she was shocked after seeing the damage.

“I don’t know what we’ll do, but the city has to come together and we have to figure out something to get this back,” Johnson said.

Darrel thinks the community will come back to build a new barn.

“There’s been enough support in the past for what we do and enough encouragement that we will move forward and search for a similar structure that we can put back on this foundation,” he said. “It will never be exactly the same, but I would like to come back with a structure that was similar to it.”

Previous stories on the barn:

DeSoto man has help in relocating, raising 120-year-old barn

Twister damages buildings in De Soto and Eudora

Daily Poll

Estuardo Garcia May 12, 2010 at 11:19 p.m.

Doctors to be available for fall sports physicals tonight at DHS

Estuardo Garcia May 12, 2010 at 2:15 p.m.

Students interested in participating in sports or cheerleading next year in the De Soto School District need to heed what Olivia Newton-John kind of said in her hit 1981 hit: let’s get physicals. School district officials said students entering seventh – 12th grades at Lexington Trails, Monticello Trails and Mill Creek middle schools as well as Mill Valley and De Soto high schools need to get a physical to participate in fall athletics.

To make it easier, four doctors will be available from 5-9 p.m. today at De Soto High School, 35000 W. 91st St., De Soto.

Officials said students must be accompanied by their parent or guardian so they can sign all activity paperwork including emergency medical releases or the students can bring the signed paperwork along with them.

The cost of the physical is $20, but $10 is returned to the school.

Crime lab shows off toys at Law Day event

Estuardo Garcia May 12, 2010 at 1:54 p.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/12/36252/

By Caroline Boyer

Abigail Fry of Overland Park examined the pattern on the paper curiously.

She had just pressed each of her fingers to it, and then made use of the magnetic powder to dust it for her own fingerprints.

“I have a swirly thing on my thumb,” she commented.

Rebecca Vincent-Giles, crime scene investigator with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, studied it and confirmed Abigail’s assessment.

“That’s really unique,” Vincent-Giles said. “It’s called a double-loop whirl.”

Learning about the science of taking and matching fingerprints was just one of the activities in the Sheriff’s CSI presentation Thursday at the Johnson County Bar Association’s Law Day in the Johnson County Courthouse. The crime lab workers got to show off a few tools of the trade to those touring the courthouse for Law Day events, which also included ask-a-lawyer services and presentations on renowned murder trials.

In the CSI room, a LASER beam and “photofog” spray showed how CSI analysts reconstruct a shooting to determine bullet trajectories. A bluelight flashlight showed how different filter heads put out different light wavelengths and could make bodily fluids and other materials more visible.

Visitors learned that computers matched fingerprints at certain points within the print, and that usually didn’t link to one particular suspect in the records system like on TV shows. Often, a fingerprint will come up with 20 matches, Vincent-Giles said, and so analysts will have to pull the fingerprint cards of those matches and then compare them to the evidence print.

Younger visitors at the CSI booth were most impressed with the magnetic fingerprint powder and the magnetic pen the investigators used to clean up the excess powder.

The DNA analysis area couldn’t be quite so impressive, unfortunately.

“The instrumentation is hundreds of thousands of dollars and can’t be moved,” Ross Capps, forensic scientist, explained.

So Capps had to settle for a DNA genetic profile chart to show how they study 15 DNA locations when comparing a sample collected from evidence to a suspect’s sample.

As Abigail and her brother Christopher compared the evidence DNA chart to that of two “suspects,” Capps explained how siblings — even twins — might have similar DNA, but it still wouldn’t be exactly the same. So the charts had to match exactly to implicate a suspect.

“If it mismatches even one, he’s out,” Capps said.

Capps said the DNA equipment couldn’t be displayed, but the crime lab soon would get some new equipment that would allow more testing to get done.

“It will streamline things,” he said. “We’ll be able to get results out quicker.”

Tax statement draws denial from Pilcher-Cook

Estuardo Garcia May 12, 2010 at 1:51 p.m.

By Scott Rothschild

Topeka — Two state senators got into a brief debate Monday on how many of them voted for a tax increase.

Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, maintained a total of 38 of the state’s 40 senators voted for a tax increase.

Francisco noted that 23 voted for the one-cent sales tax rate increase, while 15 different senators voted earlier for an amendment that increased the sales tax rate by nine-tenths of a cent and would have also levied sales taxes on abortions.

Francisco’s assertion caused state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, to stand up quickly.

Pilcher-Cook was the author of that amendment.

Pilcher-Cook maintained her amendment was really a tax decrease because it would have reduced the proposed increase by one-tenth of a cent. Francisco disagreed, saying Pilcher-Cook’s amendment proposed increasing the state sales tax from the current rate of 5.3 cents per dollar to 6.2 cents per dollar. The amendment failed.

RED Day volunteer effort seeks more help

Estuardo Garcia May 12, 2010 at 1:49 p.m.

Keller Williams Realty associates are putting the finishing touches on a project for their observance of RED Day, and they’re seeking a little help from the public to be sure it gets done. Elaine Gustafson, who is the team leader for Keller Williams Legacy Partners Market Center, 21648 Midland Drive, said RED Day — short for “Renew, Energize and Donate” — was created to unite Keller Williams realty offices and associates in an international day of service. A year ago, the company donated more than 130,000 hours of service worldwide.

This year RED Day will be Thursday, May 13, and the local Keller Williams associates are working on a home at 32650 Lexington Ave. in De Soto, near 83rd and Lexington. Gustafson said the home, which is inhabited by an elderly person, is undergoing a complete renovation, including new windows, a new interior and landscaping. Work has been taking place at the home for several weeks, and the team hopes to complete its work on RED Day. Gustafson is inviting members of the public, colleagues in the real estate industry and building supply vendors to help finish the job during by volunteering anytime during daylight hours Thursday.

“Our goal is to complete everything by 5 p.m., and we’d love to have help,” she said.

Last year, the local beneficiary of RED Day was TLC for Children and Families.

In addition, Keller Williams is organizing a drive for food and hygiene products throughout the month to benefit Shawnee Community Service Center and De Soto Multiservice Center.

Anyone wanting to donate items to the drive can do so by stopping by the Keller Williams office on Midland Drive. In addition, Gustafson said, many banks in western Shawnee are accepting items for the drive in their offices.

Keller Williams Legacy Partners also will be doing yard work for seniors and home repairs for families in need throughout RED Day.

For more information, contact Keller Williams at (913) 314-4104.

Governor to sign tax increase

Estuardo Garcia May 12, 2010 at 10:09 a.m.

By Scott Rothschild

Topeka — Reaction came swiftly Tuesday to the $314 million sales tax increase approved by the Kansas Legislature as the 2010 session closed.

Gov. Mark Parkinson said he would sign it, and the accompanying budget, into law by the end of the month.

“The bipartisan, balanced budget on its way to my desk reflects the values and priorities of Kansans,” Parkinson said.

“The 1-cent sales tax is a temporary solution which prevents permanent damage to our children’s education, our communities’ public safety and the care we provide to vulnerable citizens,” he added.

His comments came after a dramatic showdown in the House where the tax increase gained final approval on a 64-61 vote around 2 a.m. Tuesday, after the roll call was kept open for more than four hours.

Under the tax bill, the state sales tax will go from 5.3 cents per dollar to 6.3 cents per dollar for three years, starting July 1. Then on July 1, 2013, the tax will decrease to 5.7 percent with revenue from 0.4 of a cent going toward highway construction.

The budget and tax bills were crafted by a coalition of Democrats and some Republicans over the objections of a majority of Republicans, including House leaders, and business interests that opposed a tax increase and wanted more cuts.

Dan Murray, Kansas state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the Legislature “made a big mistake” in approving a tax increase because it will hurt businesses.

“Our members are furious with lawmakers for raising taxes now,” Murray said. “Kansas is still trying to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression. Our members understand that the state is facing a huge budget deficit, but a tax increase is going to make our economy worse, not better.”

But education advocates praised the legislators who pushed the tax bill through.

Rick Doll, Lawrence schools superintendent, said the Legislature’s action regarding the sales tax increase means the school board won’t have to make additional cuts for next school year.

Lawrence board members in March made $4.6 million worth of program and administrative cuts that caused the district to not offer new contracts to more than 30 teachers. Other cuts included moving the East Heights Early Childhood Family Center into Kennedy School, a 2 percent pay cut through four furlough days for administrators plus one furlough day for classified staff members, and Broken Arrow and Wakarusa Valley schools sharing a principal.

“You hate to say they only cut $4.6 million,” Doll said. “But it’s good they didn’t have to go any deeper.”

Doll said that if the state’s revenue picture worsened in coming months, the district could have to make mid-year cuts, but he said administrators were not thinking about that after Tuesday’s news out of Topeka.

Jill Docking, chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Regents, commended legislators who voted to protect higher education funding and approve a tax bill.

“Now is the time for regeneration — the time for the state to invest in its higher education system to lay the foundation for its future economic recovery. To those legislators who were willing to cast such critically important and responsible yes votes, thank you for investing in the future of Kansas,” Docking said.

When Kansas fell into the national recession, state funds dried up. For the first time in modern history, Kansas experienced a decline in tax collections for consecutive years. State officials cut nearly $1 billion as revenue declined and still Kansas faced another $500 million shortfall.

The bipartisan coalition fashioned tax and budget maneuvers to cover that $500 million gap.

Area legislators who voted for the tax bill were Reps. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence; Tony Brown, D-Baldwin City; Paul Davis, D-Lawrence; Ann Mah, D-Topeka; and Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence. Those voting against it were Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, and Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie.

Both the House and Senate adjourned Tuesday afternoon. Legislators will return for a brief ceremonial end of the session May 28.

Ponytails rounded up for charity

Estuardo Garcia May 12, 2010 at 10:04 a.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/12/36250/

By Ashlee Kieler

The scissors were sharp and the crowd was chanting “cut, cut, cut” Friday afternoon as 91 inches of hair was collected at the Pony Tail Roundup.

Nine volunteers, two moms and seven girls showed their courage and character as they shed their ponytails for Locks of Love and Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths at the Horizon Elementary all-school assembly.

The Pony Tail Roundup began as a community service project for Girl Scout Troop 5748, comprised of 10 girls from Mize and Horizon elementary schools in De Soto USD 232.

Jolene Hayes, troop leaders, said the girls brainstormed a list of possible community service projects in January.

“They liked this one, so we decided to talk to their principal about the idea,” Hayes said.

Soon after, Horizon principal Kim Gracy met the troop to hear its plans. She came onboard, and the planning began.

Mothers of troop members were able to secure help from stylists at Zenergy Salon, Styling Studios and Remiez Salon.

“We put an announcement in the school news for people willing to donate their hair,” Hayes said. “Some of the girls had friends that volunteered and two girls in our troop donated.”

The troop chose to donate a majority of the hair to Locks of Love, which provides hairpieces for financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada suffering from longterm hair loss diseases.

However, a few volunteers didn’t meet the 10-inch donation minimum, so Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths was contacted. Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths donates hairpieces to women who have lost their hair from cancer treatments. The minimum length requirement is 8 inches.

“I feel really happy to be able to make someone else feel better that they can have hair now,” said Kati Gribble, a Mize third-grader.

Kati and Josie Hayes, a Horizon third-grader, each donated 10 inches of hair for their troop on Friday.

“I donated my hair because I wanted to help people,” Josie said.

While it only took about a minute to cut off their ponytails, Josie and Kati said it was hard to get used to having short hair.

“It feels weird because I’m used to having long hair,” Josie said, while running her hands through her new bobbed haircut.

But the girls said the feeling wouldn’t last long, especially since they knew it was for a good cause.

During the assembly Horizon counselor Kim Gasiorowski praised the girls for showing true character.

“I’ve donated my hair twice for Locks of Love,” Gasiorowski said. “These girls have inspired me to continue to donate. They have shown the ultimate responsibility and caring by being so generous to give their hair to others.”

Hayes said she hoped the day would stand out for the girls for a lifetime.

“I hope they always remember how it felt to do something so selfless,” she said. “I hope this shows them that they can do something big, that they can bring their whole school together. This was truly driven by the girls.”

Josie and Kati are already talking about holding a roundup next spring.

“I want to do it again someday,” Kati said. “Maybe next year when my hair’s all grown out again.”

Wildcats sweep Eudora, prepare for playoffs

Estuardo Garcia May 12, 2010 at 10 a.m.

The De Soto High Varsity softball team ended its regular season with their sixth sweep of the year Tuesday at Eudora. The team takes a 16-4 record into the Regional Playoffs, which start Monday at Spring Hill. De Soto won the first game 2-0, behind Katie Williams dominant pitching. She only allowed two hits against 27 batters in the shut-out. The game was decided during a fifth inning two-run, one-out, rally. The rally started with a bunt single by Hunter Klamm, who was moved to second on Jordin Burford's sacrifice.

Katie Williams singled to left and reached second, while driving in Klamm. Lauren Mabe and Makenie Shackley walked, loading the bases for Hannah Jokisch. Jokisch drove a single to left, scoring Williams, but Mabe was thrown out stretching for home, ending the inning.

In the second game, the Wildcat's offense came alive after falling behind 1-0 in the first. On their way to a 7-1 final, Hannah Jokisch led the team going 3-4, with two doubles and driving in two RBIs. Jordin Burford and Lauren Mabe also went 3-4 in the contest. Sophia Templin drove in three RBIs and Brianna Rogers had two hits with an RBI. Katie Williams pitched her 13th win of the season, recording eight strikeouts along the way.

Daily Poll

Estuardo Garcia May 11, 2010 at 11:49 p.m.

De Soto's star-powered school

Estuardo Garcia May 11, 2010 at 11:46 p.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/11/36248/

The 2009 Kansas Green School of the year just got a little greener. On Tuesday, a crew from The Energy Savings Store installed four solar panels and started installing a wind turbine on the roof of Starside Elementary School in De Soto.

“This is so exciting,” Paula Henderson, the school’s counselor said. “We’ve been waiting for years to do this.”

The panels and turbine are a part of the school’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint while teaching the kids about sustainability.

Each solar panel will be able to produce about 175 watts of electricity. The amount of electricity produced by the panels and the wind turbine will be charted and put on display on the schools website.

Henderson said teachers will be able to show their students how much power the panels and turbine have created that day or since they were installed.

She said the amount of energy the panels produce won’t be enough to power the school, but they bought unit that can be expanded to produce more electricity.

The total cost of the panels and turbine was about $12,000. The school raised $3,000 for the project and received grant money for the rest.

The wind turbine’s energy will be used for another project that will begin this summer.

Henderson hopes to install an electric train set behind a display case just inside the school that will be powered by the turbine. The train will travel around a green town. The train will make stops at the recycling depot or the houses of clay models that represent the Starside teachers.

“I think it will be a fun thing to watch,” Henderson said.

When not powering the train, the extra electricity will be used to charge rechargeable batteries for the school.

The solar panels and wind turbine are just a couple of more things the school has done to become more sustainable. Besides a major recycling effort, the school has recently started an organic vegetable garden that uses the compost made out of worm farms in the classrooms.

USD 232 to implement activity fees

Estuardo Garcia May 11, 2010 at 11:36 p.m.

Middle and high school students in De Soto USD 232 will have to pay to play next year after the Board of Education approved the implementation of an Activity Participation Fee during the regular meeting Monday night. Middle and high school students in De Soto USD 232 will have to pay to play next year after the Board of Education approved the implementation of an Activity Participation Fee during the regular meeting Monday night.

The district approved the measure that would require a participation fee of $50 for high school students, $30 for eight grade students, $25 for seventh grade students and $10 for sixth grade students in any activity that requires a coach or sponsor.

Alvie Cater, director of administrative services and community relations, said the fee would be used to pay supplemental contracts for coaches and sponsors.

The district modeled the fee program after one the Blue Valley School District implemented in 2007.

The fee will not replace any other fee currently charged for the activity. Students qualifying for free and reduced meals will not have to pay the fee.

A maximum fee per household family will be $100 for grades 9-12 and $60 for grades 6-8.

Fees will be collected at the time of school registration, however, payment plans can be arranged.

Those students who do not participate in any activities, school clubs or other non-required activity may request a fee refund.

Partial list of activities

Football

Basketball

Track

Wrestling

Cheerleading

Baseball

Softball

Volleyball

Soccer

Cross Country

Tennis

Golf (Boys or Girls)

Drama

Instrumental Music

Vocal Music

Forensics

Debate

Drill Team/Dance Team

Weight Training

Yearbook

Newspaper

Student Council

National Honor Society

Publications

Pep Club

Scholars Bowl

Flag Team/Color Guard

Science Olympiad

Robotics

Musical

FHA / FACS

Junior Class

Leadership

Knowledge Bowl

Sending a message: Texts cause accidents

Estuardo Garcia May 11, 2010 at 1:20 p.m.

KU survey: 95% of students are texting behind the wheel

By Christine Metz

David Sehorn walked through Hite Collision Repair Center’s back lot where rows of banged-up cars sat. Front bumpers were crushed, air bags hung out of steering wheels and a line of busted fenders leaned against the fence.

Spring used to be a quiet season for the repair center — the calm in between hazardous winter roads and the vehicle scrapes that come with college students returning to Kansas University in late summer.

“We don’t have to worry about a downtime anymore,” said Sehorn, the shop’s general manager.

Each week, two to five cars come to Hite Collision, casualties of texting-while-driving accidents.

“Now, it’s just constant because people text and drive every day,” Sehorn said. Rusty Elliott works on a car at Hite Collision Repair Center, 3401 W. Sixth St., which sees two to five vehicles a week from accidents where text messaging is involved. A Kansas University professor recently polled 400 college students and found that 95 percent of them drive and text at the same time.

Hard-to-find data

The text-damaged vehicles seen by Sehorn far outnumber those recorded by local law enforcement agencies.

In 2008, the Kansas Department of Transportation reported that distraction from cell phone use contributed to 394 accidents in the state, and 33 of those accidents were in Douglas County.

“It’s hard to get a good number,” KDOT’s Traffic Safety Manager Pete Bodyk said of data kept on texting-while-driving accidents.

In 2003, Kansas law enforcement agencies started indicating on accident reports when a driver was distracted by a cell phone. But the form doesn’t specify texting. And, most of the time, police officers rely on drivers being honest about their cell phone use.

“A lot don’t admit to that,” Bodyk said.

In accidents with serious injuries or deaths, cell phone records can be subpoenaed, Lawrence Police Sgt. Bill Cory said. Sometimes witnesses will pass on information, and it’s routine for officers to ask if cell phones were in use.

“It’s difficult to track, unless someone there tells us,” Cory said.

For Sehorn, it’s much easier to get the truth, besides the fact that he has a good eye for the tell-tale signs of a texting fender-bender.

“If it looks like something was happening due to text messaging, I’ll ask them, ‘Were you text messaging?’ And this is in private, usually away from the insurance companies, of course, and maybe their mother and father, too,” he said.

Countries that have better data and reporting methods for tracking cell phone involvement in accidents also have stronger laws against using them while driving, said Paul Atchley, a KU associate professor of psychology.

“It’s tough to get the data when you aren’t collecting it. So it’s difficult for us to use data as an argument because you just aren’t looking for it,” Atchley said.

This legislative session, Kansas lawmakers have discussed proposals to make texting while driving illegal.

Backing that ban is KDOT. As part of a campaign to persuade people to stop texting while driving, KDOT has printed posters, urged drivers to sign Oprah’s No Phone Zone pledge on Facebook and held a news conference that featured a 16-year-old high school student who crashed her fully-loaded Malibu while checking a text message.

As of last week, 25 states had passed laws against texting while driving.

An epidemic

What worries Atchley is the newest generation of drivers and its propensity for texting.

In a recent survey of 400 college students, Atchley found that 95 percent of them drive and text at the same time.

“Basically, everyone at KU who drives and owns a cell phone texts while driving at least some of the time,” Atchley said.

In his study, Atchley found that students had different standards for engaging in texting.

• About 70 percent said they would initiate a text conversation while driving.

• Another 11 percent said they would initiate a text while sitting at a stop light.

• About 84 percent said they would reply to a text while driving.

• Another 11 percent said they would reply to a text while sitting at a stop light.

• About 98 percent of students said they would read a text while driving.

The findings are scary for Atchley, who says that texting while driving is an epidemic.

“They represent the future of our roadways,” Atchley said. “If 98 percent of them are texting and driving, think about what the roadways are going to look like in 10 years.”

Previous research has estimated that texting while driving is six times more dangerous than driving drunk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributed 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries to distracted driving in 2008.

“It’s a tragedy in the making,” Atchley said.

A generation of texters

Sending roughly 100 text messages a day, KU freshman Christina Gibson is among the generation of drivers Atchley finds so concerning.

Gibson no longer has to look at the keyboard when she types. And those texts help her firm up last-minute plans before going out at night.

She admits to narrowly avoiding a few wrecks with her texting. And her parents hate that she does it.

“Um, out of habit,” Gibson said when asked why she texts while driving. “It’s one of those things where you don’t think it is going to happen to you until you look up and you are like, ‘Oh, wow, I almost rear-ended that person.’”

Friend and fellow freshman Annie Pauls can vouch to that fact.

“She does text a lot. And sometimes I am scared in the passenger seat,” Pauls said.

Pauls has tried to curb her driving and texting, mainly because her parents are “hard-core advocates” against it. And she has seen the Oprah Winfrey special that pointed out “no message is that urgent that it could put someone’s life at risk.”

“I’m guilty of sending back that text, which I feel bad about. I shouldn’t,” Pauls said.

An addiction

Like Pauls and Gibson, the students Atchley surveyed knew texting and driving was risky, even more hazardous than talking on the phone. But they did it anyway.

What Atchley found most disturbing was the tendency for students who were texting and driving to change their perception of how risky the roads were.

Take a freeway, for example. When reading a text, students associated a freeway with intense driving conditions. When replying to a text, they compared it to normal traffic conditions. And when sending out that first text, those surveyed classified the roadway as calm.

“If you do something that you know is something you shouldn’t be doing, you have two choices: change your behavior or change your attitude,” Atchley said. “What we are finding is people change their attitudes and cognition rather than their behavior.”

Quickly becoming the primary way to communicate, texting is addictive for younger generations, Atchley said. His advice for students is to throw their phones in the trunk before getting behind the wheel.

“Because if it goes off, you are going to answer it,” he said.

Sehorn, who sees the results of texting and driving at his repair shop, agrees the habit is addictive.

Case in point, the story of a young woman who took her car to the shop just last week.

Sehorn relayed the woman’s explanation: “I wasn’t texting. No, the guy in front of me was. The light turned green, everyone took off. He didn’t leave because he was texting. He sat at the green light. So I rear-ended him.”

“I said, ‘That’s your fault though because you rear-ended him,’” Sehorn replied.

“I was reading my text, but I wasn’t texting,” she told Sehorn.

To Sehorn, there’s little difference.

Tax, budget bills sent to governor

Estuardo Garcia May 11, 2010 at 1:10 p.m.

http://www2.ljworld.com/videos/2010/may/10/30538/

By Scott Rothschild

Topeka — In a dramatic vote, the Kansas House early Tuesday approved a $314 million state sales tax increase to fix the budget crisis and bring the 2010 session close to an end.

The 64-61 vote came after months of bitter debate and required some last minute arm-twisting and vote-shifting after the roll call was kept open for more than 4 hours. One legislator was summoned back from Coffeyville and the final vote was taken after 2 a.m.

On Monday, the Senate, with the bare minimum 21 votes, OK’d a $13.6 billion budget.

Both the budget and tax increase have now been approved by both chambers and will go to Gov. Mark Parkinson, who has indicated support.

Under the tax bill, the state sales tax will go from 5.3 cents per dollar to 6.3 cents per dollar for three years, starting on July 1. Then on July 1, 2013, the tax will decrease to 5.7 cents per dollar with revenue from four-tenths of a cent going toward highway construction.

The budget and tax bills had been crafted by a coalition of Democrats and some Republicans over the objections of a majority of Republicans, including House leaders, who opposed a tax increase and wanted more cuts.

State Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, said the tax increase will hurt the economy. “We are voting to put Kansans out of work,” Kinzer said.

But the coalition, backed by Parkinson, a Democrat, contended that the tax increase was needed to avoid devastating cuts to schools, social services and public safety.

And, they argued, failing to pass a state tax increase would simply force local governments to increase property taxes.

“We can either take responsibility and do it here, or we can put it on the local people. I’m taking responsibility,” said state Rep. Vincent Wetta, D-Wellington.

When Kansas fell into the national recession, state coffers dried up. For the first time in modern history, Kansas experienced a decline in tax revenues for consecutive years. State officials cut nearly $1 billion as revenue declined and still Kansas faced another $500 million shortfall.

The bi-partisan coalition fashioned taxes and budget maneuvers to cover that $500 million gap.

Area legislators who voted for the tax bill were Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, Tony Brown, D-Baldwin City, Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, Ann Mah, D-Topeka, and Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence. Those voting against it were Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, and Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie.

After the vote, Parkinson issued a statement, saying the increased tax would prevent "permanent damage to our children's education, our communities' public safety and the care we provide to vulnerable citizens." He added, "No tax is a good tax, but a penny is a small price to pay for a state as great as ours."

The tax increase has drawn the ire of several groups, especially the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

On Saturday, Chamber President Kent Beisner criticized legislators, saying, “As of today, the Legislature has failed to address the needs and wishes of the business community. It has instead catered to the needs of those at the government trough."

That prompted a response Monday from Parkinson, criticizing the Chamber for “fanning the flames of partisanship.”

He added, “It is heartbreaking to think that somebody would equate the disabled, the elderly, school children, veterans, law enforcement and the poor to pigs at a trough. The hurtful words of the Chamber are not reflective of the Kansas I know and love, and they are not acceptable in a time of crisis.”

Despite progress on the budget and taxes, a number of issues still are scheduled to be dealt with, including a transportation plan, increased seat belt enforcement and a nursing home bed tax.

Council honors Doug Smith for 25 years of service

Estuardo Garcia May 11, 2010 at 1:06 p.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/... For the last 25 years, Doug Smith, wastewater superintendent, has been working behind the scenes to help keep the utilities in De Soto running. On Thursday, Smith, while in front of the De Soto City Council and the public, was presented with a plaque by Mayor David Anderson honoring his time in the city. “I know the times I’ve been here, you’ve kept us out of trouble and you’ve done service that’s above and beyond.” The plaque thanked Smith for his 25 years of dedicated service from April 1, 1985 to April 1, 2010.

Smith said he started working for De Soto part-time as night shift operator at the water plant in 1984 before coming on full-time. “I appreciate working for the city,” Smith said. ”It has allowed me to do things that I have an interest in and it’s just great.” During the public comment’s portion of the meeting, Darrel Zimmerman, owner of Zimmerman’s Kill Creek Farm, shared his appreciation for Smith’s work. “Not only is he a servant to the city of De Soto, but also of the entire community,” he said. “I’ve been the recipient of a lot of his good deeds.”

In other business the De Soto City Council:

• Tabled a discussion on the temporary use permit fees.

• Listened to a report from Audrey Odermann of Lowenthal, Webb & Odermann certified public accountants, about the city’s fiscal year 2009 financial audit. Odermann said city staff had done a great job and that she had no recommendations. The council unanimously accepted the audit.

• Authorized Patrick Guilfoyle, city administrator, to approve the sandblasting and repainting of public works equipment by Eagle Auto Stripping for $8,800.

• Unanimously approved resolution no. 875 adopting Johnson County’s multi-hazard mitigation plan, which will allow the city to receive money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency during disasters.

• Met in executive session for 10 minutes to discuss attorney client privilege.

•Unanimously approved the authorization for the mayor to execute a settlement agreement with amendments for Sunflower Park.

• Listened to a report from Mike Brungardt, about the installation of seven new street lights on Ottawa Street. The lights will be installed by Westar Energy. Five of the lights will be placed on Ottawa Street north of 82nd Street. He also informed the council that Olathe will be contacting residents about acquiring easement for a new 48 inch water main they want to install.

• Listened to comments from Lana McPherson, city clerk, about the National Day of Prayer event she organized for the city. “I couldn’t do these thing without the support of the mayor and the council,” she said. “You always have my back when I get fired up about my projects. I am truly blessed to be here.”

Prostitution sting leads to 37 arrests, 10 in Shawnee

Estuardo Garcia May 10, 2010 at 1:52 p.m.

Shawnee police joined other Johnson County police departments this week to conduct a prostitution sting that resulted in 37 arrests, 10 of them in Shawnee.

From May 3 to 5, the multi-jurisdictional operation made arrests for prostitution, soliciting a prostitute and promoting prostitution. Of the Shawnee arrests, one was for prostitution and the rest for soliciting.

Capt. Bill Hisle said Merriam and Overland Park police departments led the effort, and Prairie Village police and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office also were involved. The stings largely used advertisements on Internet sites and in publications to track down suspects, he said.

Enrollment for the 2010-2011 school year now available

Estuardo Garcia May 10, 2010 at 12:59 p.m.

De Soto School District officials have some important information to share with district parents: Online enrollment for the 2010-2011 school year is now open. Step-by-step instructions on how to enroll can be downloaded here.

Please contact Ann Clark at (913) 667-6200 if you have any questions.

Second Basehor-Linwood teacher sentenced for inappropriate behavior with student

Estuardo Garcia May 10, 2010 at 12:23 p.m.

By Kaitlyn Syring

A former Basehor-Linwood High School teacher will see no jail time for engaging in inappropriate behavior with a student.

Kevin Vincent, who was a high school science teacher and boys soccer coach, received a six-month suspended sentence Monday morning in Leavenworth County District Court for one count of battery.

Vincent, a 30-year-old Shawnee resident, pleaded no contest to one count of battery for repeatedly and intentionally touching a 16-year-old female student in an offensive manner. The behavior took place from September 2007 to May 2008, according to County Attorney Todd Thompson. Judge Michael Gibbens ordered Vincent be on probation for one year, during which he must complete sexual counseling. He will also register as a sex offender for one year and surrender his teaching license. As part of Gibbens’ ruling, Vincent may not have any contact with the student or her family.

Thompson said considering the facts available in the case, he was pleased with the outcome.

“The family’s main concern was that he not be able to teach again or to see the student again, and we got that,” Thompson said. “I’m satisfied with the facts we had and charges we could file. Sometimes we don’t always have the most clean cut case or get exactly what the victim or victim’s family wants, and in this case it was what we could do.”

Information about the inappropriate behavior between Vincent and the student was uncovered during a Basehor Police Department investigation of a sexual relationship between former Basehor-Linwood High School history teacher and wrestling coach Scott Neil and the same female student. School officials first brought the student’s case to the attention of law enforcement authorities on May 19, 2009, Basehor Police Chief Lloyd Martley said.

Vincent was suspended with pay July 15, 2009. On Aug. 10, 2009, the board continued the suspension without pay, and his resignation was accepted Sept. 14.

Seven students take science projects to state

Estuardo Garcia May 10, 2010 at 12:01 p.m.

Seven students from De Soto High School presented their Honors Biology research projects to judges at the Kansas Junior Academy of Science state meeting Thursday, May 6, at Wichita State University. Read more at http://bit.ly/ahw2Pe

Neighbors

Estuardo Garcia May 10, 2010 at 12:08 a.m.

The DeSoto Methodist Church’s confirmation class will be doing a project for the DeSoto Multi-Service Center. Each child is responsible for promoting a certain “kid-friendly” food. Mitchell Mikinski (cereal) Joel Rains (boxed macaroni and cheese) Nathan Roberts (canned goods) Annie Schmucker (granola and cereal bars) Lukas Tucker (peanut butter and jelly) The children are also taking collection money for the Center.

The youth at the Desoto Methodist Church are having a spaghetti dinner and concert on Saturday, May 8th at 5:00 p.m for a fundraiser. The cost is $6.00 for adults and $4.00 for a child. This fundraiser is to go to help youth to attend this summer’s United Methodist Boys’ Ranch in Gore, Oklahoma. After the meal in their sanctuary they are to attend the Kaw Valley Community Chorus at 7:00 p.m. as they present Water Sketches, Nature’s Imprint on the Human Canvas.

The De Soto Baptist Methodist Church had a busy week. I was one of their recipients of a beautiful bouquet of flowers. When I went to answer the doorbell on Saturday, May 1st, there was a huge bouquet in the lady’s hand. She put them in a pitcher for me and put them on my kitchen table where I can see and smell them. This brought back memories of my youthful days when I would take bouquets on May Day, May 1st, to our neighbors and friends all over my hometown of Anderson, Missouri. I’d go out in the woods and along creeks to pick wild flowers. This gift was from the Silver Circle and I’m very appreciative of it.

Our house was very busy this week and I had my great-grandson Paul Chandler who is eight months old from Gardner to visit me with his mother and dad, Colleen and Brad. I got to hold him and he has two bottom teeth already. I heard no crying. We also sold a lawn mower they had brought over. In fact, I could have sold it several times.

DeSoto Baptist Church was privileged to have a guest speaker, Jo Sweatt, speaking on Prayer Changes Things. Jo has served as a Pastor of Prayer at the Metro Christian Fellowship Church and also had a radio prayer program. She became actively involved in prayer ministry in 1979. We appreciate her sharing with us. She and Karen Wall were also childhood playmates. Her husband John, who is retired, shares in her ministry.

The Baptist Church is having a busy week with the meeting Monday, May 3rd, of the Doers of the Word Bible Study and Prayer at 6:30 p.m.; Tuesday from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m The Group of Women Sewing for Others ; Wednesday, May 5, at 10:00 a.m. Bible Study; Saturday, May 8, at 7:30 a.m., the men’s breakfast at J.T.S.

On Thursday, May 6, the National Day of Prayer will be held. A signup was scheduled for ½ hour sessions around the clock. I have an 11:00 a.m. time and my daughter Debbie is 5:30 a.m. before going to work.

May 8 at 10:30 a.m. is the Matthew daughters’ brunch. Bring a covered dish and wear your apron.

I still have an empty garden for someone to put in. I have the tools so you won’t have to buy any tools. Please come to my rescue.

Those having birthdays this week are: Jim Aubert, Ellsworth Warfel, Peggy Stumpff, Roy Bowlin, Mike Rumsey, Chris Buehler, Dakota Slitor, Erin Cahoone, Tammy Mikinski, Samuel Wilcox, Makala McAvoy, Marilyn E. Therton, Cheryl Towner, Jamie Zvirgzdins, Allison Haynes, Larry Gulley Jr., Jacob Miller, Amy Culver, Dale Lindbloom, Jean Maness, Paula Rhodes and my grandson, Brad Chandler.

Don and Mary McDaniel celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary at the Baptist Church Fellowship Hall on Sunday, May 2, at 6:00 p.m. They asked for no gifts. I was unable to go, but I sent a card and have great and fond memories of them

For my Mother’s Day my daughter, Debbie, took Hayden and me out for our dinner on Sunday after church. She knew my favorite, KFC cole slaw, Sonic onion rings and chicken sandwich and her’s and Hayden’s sandwiches and drinks.

I received refund checks on all my Explorer subscriptions I had for my five children. It was their Christmas gift each year. I’d rather have the Explorer and others do too. Those in need of a prayer are many. Josh Childers with his heart is in intensive care at Overland Park Regional Hospital hospice. Joe Kessler was able to attend worship services. We need prayers for Shirley Brunner after her fall. Sally Schrader is still in need of prayers. The Deans also wish for prayers. The daughter-in-law of the Sweatts needs prayers.

The needs at the De Soto Community Center this week is for Hamburger Helper, pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, canned baked beans, sugar , pancake mix, syrup, also paper goods and canned meats and baby diapers, newborn and size 4-5.

Brian King, a teacher a De Soto High School, was selected as the teacher of the month.

Jean Epperson’s relatives got together on Saturday, May 1, at the clubhouse at the apartments. She said many she hadn’t seen in a long time.

The folders put out on prayer were very good. National leaders thanks.

Those on the sick list are many throughout the community. The list gets longer and I am one that’s adding to it too. Jerry took me Tuesday to the Orthopedic’s and they did x-rays and gave me an injection in the right knee. It helped. Then they put me into a walking boot on the left leg. It’s to my knee and many straps to hold it on. My pain was in the left heel and arch of the foot. It is better but pain now is on the sole of my foot and at the back curve of that foot also the leg has to be padded too. Then on Thursday Jerry took me to an Internist and he ordered x-rays on my swollen leg and right one too. Looking for bloodclots. I also had chest x-rays too. He added more medication. I take 34 pills a day.

There are memorial services for Dan Chamberlain at the Lawrence Funeral Chapel, 3821 W. 6th St., Lawrence, KS, with visitation on Saturday, May 8, from 10:00 to 2:00 p.m. with services at 2:00 p.m. He is the son of Barb Beasley. He had cancer and was only 47 years old. Don’t give flowers but memorial gift.

My son Edwin and his wife Jeanne called me Sunday night from Texas. He said he had spoken at the Baptist Church there and they raised money for 150 Gideon bibles. He was happy. My son Michael in Oklahoma called too to check in on my health. I asked all to pray for my healing.

Former prosecutor recalls Grissom case

Estuardo Garcia May 8, 2010 at 10:30 p.m.

Richard Grissom Jr. was convicted in the 1990 murders of three Johnson County women, although their bodies have never been recovered.

Richard Grissom Jr. was convicted in the 1990 murders of three Johnson County women, although their bodies have never been recovered.

By Caroline Boyer

Olathe — To convict a man in the murders of three women occurring in areas from Wichita to Lawrence to Kansas City, Mo., it took many small details to create a big picture.

Paul Morrison, former Johnson County district attorney and Kansas attorney general, discussed Thursday how Richard Grissom Jr. was convicted in the murders of three women, without the bodies ever being recovered.

“It was a thousand little things that if you put them together, it painted a picture that was irrefutable, at least I think,” he said.

Morrison was one of several local attorneys and judges who discussed major cases in case studies presented at the Johnson County Bar Association’s Law Day events at the Johnson County Courthouse.

Morrison gave a presentation on the trial of serial killer Grissom with the aid of District Court Judge Kevin Moriarty, who at the time of the case was an attorney working on the defense team.

In 1990, a Johnson County jury found Grissom guilty in the first-degree murders of Joan A. Butler, 24, Overland Park, and Theresa Brown, 22, and Christine Rusch, 22, Lenexa.

Grissom’s background

Morrison laid out a timeline of events, from Grissom’s first murder of a Lansing woman when he was 16 — tried as a juvenile, he only served three years — to the 1989 deaths that put him in jail for four consecutive life sentences.

Morrison said Grissom used his job as a painter for apartment complexes to gain access to his victims. It is believed he first killed Terri Maness, a girl in Wichita whom Grissom had taken out on date a week prior, though he was never charged or convicted in Maness' death.

Then came the disappearances of Butler, then roommates Brown and Rusch, and even an attack on a Kansas City, Mo., woman who managed to get away from Grissom, though the attack wasn’t linked to Grissom until nearly a year later.

“We were able to show that he was in a cycle; about every week, he was trying to kill someone,” Morrison said.

Prosecutors faced even more challenges. A police officer found Butler’s driver’s license and bank card in a car Grissom had been using without getting a warrant to search the car first. There was Grissom himself: He was extremely intelligent, Morrison said, and like a chameleon, “the type that could sell ice to Eskimos.”

Connecting puzzle pieces

It was other bits of evidence that led to the truth. Grissom was discovered driving Butler’s car at a Lawrence apartment complex. Though he got away from police, they found Butler’s blood in the trunk. And then there was a co-worker who stated Grissom had gotten into Brown and Rusch’s apartment and gone through personal items.

“It’s like if you’re looking at a puzzle from six inches away — all those pieces don’t look like much,” Morrison said. “When you pull back and see all the pieces, they make a complete picture.”

Grissom was later tracked to Texas, where a former girlfriend lived, and he was arrested at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Now Grissom is serving four life sentences. He has been shuttled among various Kansas prisons because his charisma has gotten him far with the guards in the past, Morrison said.

“He’s such a massive escape risk. He gets moved every nine months,” Morrison said.

Morrison said he didn’t think Grissom would ever tell where the bodies of the women were, and given the extensive searches that have been done over the years, Morrison didn’t think the bodies would ever be found.

“There’s always been a school of thought that he buried the girls somewhere around the dam at Clinton Lake,” Morrison said. “My personal opinion is that I think there’s a good chance they’re in a landfill — when something is put in a landfill, a couple of hours later, it’s 200 feet down.”

Weekend work to close lanes on I-435 bridge over Kansas River

Estuardo Garcia May 7, 2010 at 10:32 p.m.

Repairs to expansion joints will reduce traffic on the northbound Interstate 435 bridge over the Kansas River to one lane, beginning at 6 p.m. Friday. The Kansas Department of Transportation said the work also would force closure of the entrance ramp from Holliday Drive to northbound I-435.

Work will continue throughout the weekend, with the lane and ramp closures to end at 6 a.m. Monday, May 10.

Advance message boards will alert drivers to the lane/ramp closures. No marked detours will be provided for the ramp closure.

KDOT said drivers should expect minor delays and are advised to use alternate routes if possible.

Inclement weather would delay the work, KDOT said, but National Weather Service forecasters say the chance for rain this weekend is negligible.

Manchester United to play Wizards in July at Arrowhead

Estuardo Garcia May 7, 2010 at 10:26 p.m.

The Kansas City Wizards will play English Premier League powerhouse Manchester United to inaugurate the new Arrowhead Stadium at 5 p.m. Sunday, July 25. The game will be the third stop on Manchester United’s historic summer tour of North America. Though the Red Devils, as they are affectionately known, have conducted preseason tours of North America in the past, this summer will be the first time the squad will play teams from Major League Soccer.

“This will be one of the biggest sporting events the Midwest has ever seen, and it's a great opportunity for Kansas City to show that we deserve to be one of the host cities for the World Cup,” said Wizards President and OnGoal CEO Robb Heineman. “When OnGoal purchased the Wizards, we anticipated bringing high-profile teams like Manchester United to Kansas City, and with our new stadium opening in 2011, our fans can expect more games of this caliber in the future. We are incredibly excited to be able to partner with the Hunt family to bring this massive event to our city.”

“We are very excited to welcome Manchester United as the first event in the buildup to the grand opening of the New Arrowhead,” said Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt. “Manchester United is one of the most popular brands in all of sports, and we’re thrilled to have them make their inaugural appearance in Kansas City in the New Arrowhead this July.”

Tickets, which range from $30 to $200, will go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 15, and can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com, by calling 1-800-745-3000, or by visiting Kansas City area Ticketmaster outlets or the Arrowhead Stadium box office.

Kansas City Wizards and Kansas City Chiefs season ticket holders can purchase tickets immediately. A ticket to the Wizards vs. Manchester United game is included in the Wizards season ticket member package via special game tickets.

Founded in 1878, Manchester United Football Club is one of the most successful clubs in soccer history. The team has won a total of 50 major English trophies, including 18 league titles (tied for most all-time), 11 FA Cups (most all-time), four League Cups and 17 Community Shields (most all-time). The team has been especially dominant since the advent of the Premier League in 1992. Manchester United has won 11 of the 17 available Premier League titles in that span, including the last three starting in 2007. United will have a chance to capture their record 19th Premier League, and unprecedented fourth consecutive title this weekend, as they currently sit one point behind league leaders Chelsea heading into the final match day of the 2009-2010 season.

The club has also been a force at the international level, having won three European championships with the 1968 European Cup and the 1999 and 2008 UEFA Champions Leagues. United is the only British team to have won a club world cup competition, having done so twice. United defeated Brazilian club Palmeiras to bring home the Intercontinental Cup in 1999 and defeated Ecuadorian team LDU Quito to win the FIFA Club World Cup in 2008. United is known for being the first European club to accomplish the “treble” in 1999, by winning their domestic league, domestic cup and European championship all in the same season.

ABOUT THE GAME

What: Kansas City Wizards vs. Manchester United

When: 5 p.m. Sunday, July 25

Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

Tickets: Range from $30 to $200 and will go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 15. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.ticketmaster.com, by calling 1-800-745-3000, or by visiting Kansas City area Ticketmaster outlets or the Arrowhead Stadium box office. Premium tickets, VIP opportunities and group tickets can be purchased by calling the Wizards at 888-4KC-GOAL.

There is also a special presale for Kansas City Wizards and Kansas City Chiefs season ticket holders beginning immediately. A ticket to the Wizards/Manchester United game is included in the Kansas City Wizards season ticket holder package, and Wizards season ticketholders will use their special game tickets for the game on July 25. Wizards season ticket holders can reserve their seats online at http://www.kcwizards.com/ManU or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.

Fans who purchase new Wizards season tickets before May 15 will get a ticket to the Manchester United game, and will also be able to take part in the presale. Season tickets start at $150 and can be purchased by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.

Parking: $25

Estuardo Garcia May 7, 2010 at 6 p.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/07/36214/ Do you have a photo you would like to submit for photo of the day? Please send it to me at journo@desotoexplorer.com. Don't forget to include the names of everybody in the photo and a brief description of what is happening in the photo.

Bonner resident sentenced for threatening calls to KHP trooper

Estuardo Garcia May 7, 2010 at noon

Kansas City, Kan. — A former Kansas Highway Patrol employee from Bonner Springs is on his way to federal prison for threatening a trooper over a six-month period in 2009. Timothy L. Wyrick, 33, was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for making a series of threatening calls to the trooper. At the time of the crimes, Wyrick was a motorist assist technician with the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Wyrick pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan, to five counts of communicating a threat by interstate commerce. According to court records, in March 2009 a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper began to receive anonymous phone calls from a male who made threats of bodily harm against the trooper. The trooper received calls both on the trooper’s cellular phone and home phone.

According to James Cross, a spokesman for Lanny Welch, the U.S. Attorney for Kansas, , the caller left this message on one of the calls:

“You got to leave too early from your traffic stop! Had you in my scope! Well, gonna be some good things happen tonight. Oh, I got your burial site all done, ready for you. Bye, bye.”

The calls, which continued from March through Sept. 15, 2009, made repeated threats of bodily harm, described what the trooper was doing, how the trooper looked and where the trooper had been while on duty. The caller indicated he knew where the trooper lived and where the trooper’s mother lived.

Cross said some of the calls came from a pay phone at the Walmart in Paola. Other calls came from a Tracfone with a number that investigators were able to identify.

On Sept. 15, 2009, investigators watched while Wyrick used a cellular phone to make a call from the Tracfone number while he was sitting in a Kansas Highway Patrol work truck parked at the side of U.S. Highway 69, just north of a cell tower at 103rd Street and U.S. 69 in Overland Park. He was arrested and investigators recovered the cell phone from his boot.

Estuardo Garcia May 7, 2010 at midnight

The DeSoto Methodist Church’s confirmation class will be doing a project for the DeSoto Multi-Service Center. Each child is responsible for promoting a certain “kid-friendly” food.

Estuardo Garcia May 6, 2010 at 4 p.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/06/36213/ Do you have a photo you would like to submit for photo of the day? Please send it to me at journo@desotoexplorer.com. Don't forget to include the names of everybody in the photo and a brief description of what is happening in the photo.

Obituary: David Carl Cardiff

Estuardo Garcia May 6, 2010 at 2:46 p.m.

1964-2010

Friends of David Carl Cardiff, 45, may call from 7-9 p.m. May 7, at De Soto Baptist Church, 8655 Church St. Memorial services will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 8, at the De Soto Baptist Church with graveside services at the De Soto Cemetery.

Mr. Cardiff died Monday, May 3, 2010.

He was born on Oct. 28, 1964 in Pittsburg. Mr. Cardiff graduated from De Soto High School in 1983 and attended two years of college at Ottawa University. He was a member of Union Local 1290 for 15 years and was currently working for Johnson County. He was a member of De Soto Baptist Church. David was the chaplain for the De Soto VFW post #6654. He loved his boys and enjoyed being involved in all their activities.

He was preceded in death by his father, Scott Cardiff III. Survivors include his sons, Nathan and Nicholas of Lawrence, and Noah of De Soto; his mother, Eva Baker, and sister, Angela McNeel, both of San Diego, Calif.; many aunts, uncles and cousins.

Memorial contributions may be made to his sons through the David Cardiff Memorial c/o Great Southern Bank, 34102 Commerce Dr., De Soto, KS 66018.

Obituary: Irma Margaret Elmer

Estuardo Garcia May 6, 2010 at 2:36 p.m.

1917-2010

Mass of Christian Burial for Irma Margaret Elmer, 92, will be 10 a.m. Saturday, May 8, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Tonganoxie.

Burial will be in Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens, Kansas City, Kan. Visitation will be 6-8 p.m. Friday, May 7, 2010, with rosary at 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Tonganoxie.

Mrs. Elmer died Tuesday, May 4, 2010, in De Soto, KS.

She was born July 19, 1917, in Greeley, the daughter of Joseph and Mary Kreipe Miller. She married Thomas R. Elmer on Aug. 13, 1940, in Kansas City, Mo. She was a homemaker and a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Tonganoxie. She was preceded in death by her husband, two sons, Thomas C. and Ed Elmer, two brothers, Duke (Richard) and Clarence Miller, one daughter-in-law, Shirley Elmer, and one son-in-law, David Hayes.

Survivors include her sister, Isabelle Quade; her children, James and his wife, Betty, Tim and his wife, Jett, daughter-in-law Dara, Ann Hurt and husband, Galen, Rosalie Goodwin and husband, Keith, Helen Newton and husband, Duane, William and wife, Robbie, Steve and wife, Gloria, Alicia Hayes, Mark and his wife, Patty, Tony and his wife, Lynda, and Wayne; 47 grandchildren; 61 great-grandchildren; and six great- great grandchildren.

National Day of Prayer

Estuardo Garcia May 6, 2010 at 11:53 a.m.

The JO offers bus pass sales online

Estuardo Garcia May 6, 2010 at 6 a.m.

Bus passes now can be purchased online at thejo.com. Officials with Johnson County Transit, which operates The JO buses, said the online sales began Monday. Bus passes are less expensive than paying the fare for each ride and eliminate the hassle of trying to find exact change.

Previously, riders on The JO purchased passes from the driver as they boarded the bus.

Chuck Ferguson, deputy director of transportation, said online pass sales would assist riders in boarding with less hassle because it minimizes the need for riders to make purchases from drivers.

Riders can continue to purchase bus passes from The JO drivers until July 1.

Single-fare trips are still completed by a rider inserting their money in the fare box.

Have unclaimed property in the county? Come get it back

Estuardo Garcia May 5, 2010 at 3:32 p.m.

Kansas State Treasurer Dennis McKinney's office is safeguarding more than $200 million worth of unclaimed property for its rightful owners or their heirs. As a part of the Treasurer's "Unclaimed Property Returns" tour, McKinney and staff members will be in Johnson County next week talking about and searching for Kansans’ unclaimed property.

"We encourage everyone in the area to stop by and check their name and the names of family and friends," McKinney said. "In this economy everyone could use a little help and we feel it's important to be sure that these resources get back to the rightful owners. The Unclaimed Property Returns tour is a wonderful opportunity for us to connect Kansans with cash and property currently being held by our office.

Unclaimed property includes inactive savings and checking accounts, uncashed checks, stock shares and bonds, dividend checks, insurance proceeds, mineral royalties, and utility deposits.

In addition to cash, stocks and bonds, safe deposit boxes are also turned over to the State Treasurer's office on an annual basis. There are currently more than 15,718 safe deposit box properties on file. Approximately 600 new boxes are turned over to the treasurer's office each year.

"It is my job to reunite Kansans with their unclaimed financial assets," McKinney explained. "Reaching out to people in their hometowns is a great way to give back to Kansans what is rightfully theirs."

Making a claim is free and easy. There are no fees involved in searching for or claiming cash and property. To search, a last name is required and a first name is recommended.

McKinney and staff will be at the following locations May 5-7:

Wednesday, May 5 · Shawnee, Shawnee Library, 12811 Johnson Dr., from 10:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m. · Prairie Village, Corinth Library, 8100 Mission Rd., from 2:30 -4: p.m.

Thursday, May 6 · Overland Park, Central Resource Library, 9875 W. 87th St., from 9:30 a.m. – noon · Gardner, Gardner Library, 137 E. Shawnee St., from 1 - 2 p.m. · De Soto, First Community Bank, 33485 Lexington Ave., from 3 -4 p.m.

Friday, May 7 · Olathe, Indian Creek Branch Library, 12990 South Black Bob Rd., from 10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. · Merriam, Antioch Library, 8700 Shawnee Mission Parkway from 4 - 5:30 p.m.

Kansans who can't make it to one of the above locations may call the State Treasurer's office at 1-800-432-0386 or log onto www.KansasCash.com to search for unclaimed property.

KDOT wants your input on passenger rail service

Estuardo Garcia May 5, 2010 at 3:24 p.m.

The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) invites you to attend a joint meeting on the future of passenger rail service in Kansas.

Public officials from Kansas City as well as Leavenworth, Johnson, Miami and Wyandotte will convene from 3:30 – 5 p.m., June 9 at the Shawnee Civic Center, 13817 Johnson Dr., Shawnee.

During this meeting, KDOT staff will review the recently released Amtrak study, which identifies four alternatives for expanded passenger rail service in Kansas. During the meeting KDOT staff will: explain what each alternative offers in terms of ridership, infrastructure and operating costs, trains schedules and the available connections to other cities; what communities will need to do in terms of building or renovating train stations, maintaining and staffing train stations and grant monies that might be available to help with these costs; review the next steps in the process and what must be accomplished before train service could begin, and answer any questions you may have.

Immediately following the meeting with public officials, there will be a public open house meeting, from 5 – 7 p.m., with live presentations at 5:20 p.m. and 6:20 p.m.

Come and learn more about expanded passenger rail service.

Public service recognition week

Estuardo Garcia May 5, 2010 at 3:17 p.m.

Do you ever wonder who makes the water come out of your tap?

Well the De Soto Explorer would like to shine the spotlight on those who help bring clean drinking water to the city.

Clarence Brunk’s career in De Soto began in 1996 when he came to town to work as an operator at the city’s water plant before becoming the city’s water superintendent.

Over the years, he said the biggest challenge he has had with the city’s water is maintaining the system. “We’ve got a system that needs a lot of work, but we put in a lot of work in the system,” Brunk said.

Despite the challenges, Brunk prides himself on the product that he and his crew bring to the city with the resources that they have.

“We make a silk purse out of a sows ear and it’s getting better and better,” Brunk said.

He is also proud of the people he’s works with now and has worked with over the years that have made that possible. In fact, that is his favorite part of the job.

“It’s not me, it’s the men that work with me,” he said. “They are the ones that face the biggest challenges. I just present them with the problems.

“I like being able to work as a team. If you can work with a bunch of people that you enjoy and you can work as a team to maintain what is necessary for survival of the city.”

Those currently working with him at the plant are Marshal Goodnight, Rob Conley, Dennis Smith, Bill Collins, Douglas Smith, Brian Blaylock

Before coming to De Soto, Brunk already had nearly two decades of experience with water service in Edgerton and at the Sunflower Ammunition Plant

He said the thing he’s been looking forward to was the purchase and renovation of the Sunflower Ammunition Plant’s water plant for use by the city.

“We’re trying to continue that saga,” Brunk said. “It’s been going on a long time… ever since I can remember.”

He would eventually like to have a water plant that runs 24 hours a day.

Daily Poll

Estuardo Garcia May 5, 2010 at 7:55 a.m.

Estuardo Garcia May 4, 2010 at 5 p.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/04/36142/

Do you have a photo you would like to submit for photo of the day? Please send it to me at journo@desotoexplorer.com. Don't forget to include the names of everybody in the photo and a brief description of what is happening in the photo.

Woman charged in high-speed chase Saturday night

Estuardo Garcia May 4, 2010 at 11:32 a.m.

By George Diepenbrock, Brenna Hawley

Johnson County prosecutors have charged a Missouri woman with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and eluding police during a high-speed chase last weekend that ended in Douglas County on Kansas Highway 10.

A Johnson County judge has set Micah L. Richardson’s bond at $15,000. Richardson, 38, is from Windsor, Mo.

A Johnson County deputy stopped a vehicle about 10:20 p.m. Saturday near De Soto, at 103rd Street and Sunflower Road.

The car stopped momentarily, but when an officer approached the vehicle, the driver attempted to strike him while fleeing. Officers pursued the vehicle onto the westbound lanes of K-10.

“A deputy exited his vehicle to make contact with the driver when he was assaulted with the driver nearly running over him,” Master Deputy Tom Erickson said.

A chase ensued, and the suspect’s vehicle eventually headed west on K-10.

The car, which traveled at speeds as high as 100 mph, eventually crashed into a ditch near the 1900 Road overpass.

Douglas County Sheriff and Eudora police officers had deployed “stop sticks” to deflate one of the tires. No one was injured in the incident, and officers took Richardson into custody.

The female driver reportedly refused to obey officers when they attempted to get her to exit the car. She was eventually taken into custody. Clark said officers could see methamphetamine and she appeared to be ingesting it.

According to court records, conditions of her bond prohibit her from drinking alcohol and from driving.

http://www2.ljworld.com/videos/2010/may/02/30370/

Birth announcement

Estuardo Garcia May 4, 2010 at 11:21 a.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/... Dan and Aphrodite Mangum are proud to announce the birth of their son Eric Alexander Mangum. He was born April 29, 2010 at Shawnee Mission Medical Center.

Eric weighed 6 pounds 9 ounces and was19 inches long.

His paternal grandparents are Bill and Marge Mangum. His maternal grandparents are Fadon and Lidia Foundas.

Daily poll

Estuardo Garcia May 4, 2010 at 9:26 a.m.

Estuardo Garcia May 3, 2010 at 5 p.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/03/36141/ Do you have a photo you would like to submit for photo of the day? Please send it to me at journo@desotoexplorer.com. Don't forget to include the names of everybody in the photo and a brief description of what is happening in the photo.

PTA to host pancake feed

Estuardo Garcia May 3, 2010 at 10:58 a.m.

The Parent Teacher Association at Starside Elementary School wants you to save the date for its first ever pancake feed fundraiser from 7-10 a.m. May 22.

On the menu are pancakes and sausage.

They want families to recognize the efforts of the students for the work they've done this year.

All of the money raised will go to supporting the PTA next year.

Johnson County keeps top financial rating

Estuardo Garcia May 3, 2010 at 10:11 a.m.

Johnson County’s strong financial standing remains unchanged with all three bond rating agencies affirming AAA bond rating in the sale of approximately $13 million of refunding bonds. The sale included $8,530,000 in Internal Improvement Refunding Bonds for existing bond debt for wastewater, county, and airport projects in 2002 along with $4,470,000 in Internal Improvement Refunding Bonds for library bonds issued in 1998, 2001, and 2002.

The bonds, which were approved Thursday, April 29, by the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, were issued to refinance higher cost debt with lower interest rates. Current projections call for about approximately $895,000 in present value savings from the refunding.

All three bond rating agencies - Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings – rated the refunding bonds at AAA, citing the county’s strong financial operations supported by conservative management, established fiscal policies, and manageable debt burden.

“These highest ratings from the three major bond rating agencies recognize Johnson County’s fiscal strength, which is particularly significant during this difficult economic climate,” Chairman Annabeth Surbaugh said. “Retaining our Triple AAA ratings allows us to continue saving taxpayer dollars. It’s a win-win situation for County Government and for our community.”

In addition to the refunding bonds, the Board of County Commissioners authorized the Public Building Commission (PBC) to issue, sale, and deliver three bond series, totaling almost $51 million and including:

• $13,245,000 in Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds issued as taxable Build America Bonds and authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The bonds will be used for construction of a new Public Works Department building in west Olathe; and,

• Two series of Lease Purchase Revenue Refunding Bonds for $6,120,000 and $31,510,000 to refinance certain outstanding bond issues with an estimated savings of more than $1.5 million. Both Standard and Poor’s, and Moody’s rating agencies rated the PBC bonds at AAA. Fitch Ratings was AA+. The Board of County Commissioners, in its role as the PBC, approved the bonds and their sale by unanimous vote. The savings from the four refunding bond series totaled more than $2.5 million.

The best of Kansas

Estuardo Garcia May 2, 2010 at 7:14 p.m.

http://www.desotoexplorer.com/photos/2010/may/01/36067/

Before the first visitors arrived Saturday at the 2010 Kansas Sampler Festival, organizers were touting the event as the biggest and best yet. Before the first visitors arrived Saturday at the 2010 Kansas Sampler Festival, organizers were touting the event as the biggest and best yet.

With the appeal of more than 300 vendors and exhibits from approximately 140 Kansas communities, Leavenworth’s Ray Miller Park was full of life during the first day of the festival.

This year’s Kansas Sampler was the first countywide festival in which the cities of Leavenworth County participated. Leavenworth, Basehor, Tonganoxie and Lansing sponsored the festival and had individual booths set up for people to learn more about what each city has to offer. Aside from the city booths, visitors were able to enjoy live entertainment from an array of Kansas artists and musicians, grab a bite from the smorgasbord of food stands and travel from tent to tent eyeing state-made products.

“We’ve been having a great time,” Leavenworth resident Karen Rowland said Saturday at the festival. “The skit we saw when we walked in was really good, and all the booths are great. It’s all the usual, fun festival stuff.”

Karen and her husband, Larry, said one of the most pleasant parts of their festival experience was interacting with people visiting and working at the event.

“Everyone has such a nice attitude,” Larry said. “Leavenworth has some really wonderful people.”

Commending the edible aspects of the Kansas Sampler was Olathe residents Page and Jack Jennings. They found a picnic table to relax listening to Don Spain and The True Country Band while nibbling on a pork chop on a stick from Pachta Pork of Belleville.

“This is so good,” Page said of her snack.

The Jennings also said they appreciated all the Sunflower State information showcased throughout the event.

“We’ve really learned a lot today,” Jack said. “We were surprised how much we learned.”

For more than 10 years, the Kansas Sampler Festival has been traveling statewide to give residents and tourists just those things: great good, friendly people and loads of Kansas knowledge.

Penner farm in Inman was the site of the festival’s debut. The Sampler attracted people to Inman for eight years, and in 1998, the festival was on the move. Pratt was the first place to house the event in 1998, followed by Ottawa, Independence, Newton, Garden City and Concordia. The festival stays with each venue for two years then rolls to another location.

“This festival is really an opportunity for people to see how special Kansas is as a state,” said Bob Topping, Kansas Sampler Festival Steering Committee president, before Saturday’s kickoff.

Leavenworth County will play host to the festival once more May 7 and May 8 in 2011.

For more information, visit kansassamplerfestival.com.