Page 1 SPRING 2014

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Revs up for 10th anniversary

Two men win national award with app

Piecing Together a quilting business

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Spring 2014

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From the Publisher


CO-EDITORS Don Ratzlaff Wendy Nugent


SALES Bruce Behymer Wendy Nugent

CREATIVE Shelley Plett


PUBLISHED BY Kansas Publishing Ventures LLC Joel Klaassen, Publisher 116 S. Main, Hillsboro, KS 67063 620-947-5702


his issue of is No. 4 and marks the completion of the first full year of quarterly issues—Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring.. I must say it has been a rewarding experience from our side of the fence. The positive reviews we have received from you, our readers, have been good for our souls and we appreciate that you like what we are doing. We have printed 10,000 copies of each issue and they all have gone to a good home within the first month of hitting the streets. Thank you for picking them up at one of our many distribution spots around the county. We hope you all know that it is perfectly OK to comment on the website about what you are reading, or to post photos or events occurring in your lives that you wish to share with the community. This would include photos of little league teams, family gatherings, obituaries along with photo(s), to name a few. Post a classified ad or a calendar event for your church, organization or club. Also know this is all free of charge to you. Harvey County Kansas has a lot going on and we now know what we felt all along—that we will never run out of great feature ideas about the people and places in this sweet spot of central Kansas. If you would like to have copies of the magazine available in your place of business, please contact Bruce Behymer or Wendy Nugent. Their contact information is printed on the left side of this page. We would be happy to hear from you. If you have an idea for a feature article, or want to share what’s on your mind, contact Wendy via e-mail at Serving you is our purpose, Joel Klaassen, publisher


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Contact: Bruce Behymer 316-617-1095 Wendy Nugent 316-284-0408 does not knowingly publish or accept advertisements that are misleading or fraudulent. Publisher reserves the right to cancel or reject any advertisements. Kansas Publishing Ventures LLC does not assume any financial responsibility for typos in ads. If at fault, however, Kansas Publishing will reprint any portion of the advertisement where there is an error. Location of ads, size of type and style are left to the discretion of the publisher. Opinions in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher. ©2014 Kansas Publishing Ventures LLC.

Spring Into The Arts a new festival in Harvey County


Paging out Area men receive national honor for app

29 In stitches


Helping others

Newton woman starts quilting business

Newton couple involved in relief sale for years

ON THE COVER: Dancers Miranda Reinert, Emily Blaine and Kate Sebes strike a pose in front of mirrors Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts still needs to pay for. BCAPA is attempting to raise $5,500 for the mirrors, and the academy is part of the Spring into the Arts Festival. (See story page 4.)

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Article and photos • Wendy Nugent


Arts into the

Newton Area Arts Council receives grant for festival


oats, hats, shoes. Those items were scattered outside the door of a second-floor classroom during an ensemble dance rehearsal on a chilly January night as young ladies seemed to float across the floor in the old Washington School in Newton. This was at the Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts, which is in its new location on Main Street. They rehearsed together in time to the music, some twirling, others scurrying about. In front of the performers were mirrors the Academy needed to acquire when they moved; dancers looked in the large mirrors to see their body movements reflected. The Academy moved from its East Broadway location in July to the renovated school at 400 S. Main St. Its roots go back to 1996 at Bethel College, when it was founded by Don Kehrberg and started by offering private music lessons to the community by Bethel College staff. Dance and the Suzuki Strings philosophy later were added, and the Academy moved from the college to 123 E. Broadway in 2004. BCAPA offers lessons and classes in a variety of fine arts with dance, the largest program there, having a strong classical base, BCAPA director Danika Bielek said. Bielek became director in 2009. The academy also offers private and group traditional-based music lessons; Kindermusik for children ages birth through 8; an acting workshop; Monart drawing workshops; and Suzuki Strings. Dance classes include hip hop, belly dancing, tap, ballet and dance for Parkinson’s.

........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... TOP: Students in an ensemble class rehearse in January at Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts. BCAPA is taking part in the Spring into the Arts Festival. 4 |

Spring 2014

The dance program’s emphasis is on education. For students who wish to pursue dance performance, focus is placed on giving participants the experience of being in a dance company, Bielek said, as opposed to gearing them toward competition. The classes also prepare students for dance in college. But to keep doing that, the Academy needs to pay for the large mirrors, which cost $5,500. The Academy is raising funds for mirrors and scholarships. Anyone who wishes to donate can call Bielek at 316-2834902 or send checks to BCAPA, 300 E. 27th St., North Newton, KS 67117. The Academy is just one of several nonprofit performing arts organizations taking part in the Spring into the Arts Festival, which is being spread over five weekends March 28 through April 27. The festival is presented by the Newton Area Arts Council, a group that formed in 2006. The Newton Area Chamber of Commerce also is involved. As part of the festival, the Academy will offer two master classes for community members, teachers and advanced students. This includes a traditional Irish Ceili, an Irish dance party for all ages with traditional Irish music and folk dances everyone can do. This event will be at 5:30 p.m. April 4, and the cost is $8 for adults and $5 for children. There also will be fiddle workshops at 4:30 p.m. April 12 for beginners and 5:15 p.m. the same day for intermediate/advanced players. The Academy also plans to bring short, interactive programs for children to schools. Bielek is thrilled about the festival. “It is exciting,” she said with a big grin. “It is so fun, and it’s great to work with a bunch of organizations that are in the Newton (Area) Arts Council.” She said being part of the council and the project “has been invigorating.” The council wants the community to feel that way. “The focus is to get the entire community to celebrate the arts,” said Megan UptonTyner, festival coordinator. “It just goes to show there’s a long history of arts in the community with all of the organizations just to create — (to) come out of hiding and tout the talents that we have.” Tyner said her personal hope is people will participate who might not have had the opportunity to before. Creating and art are good for the soul, she said. “Having Newton and surrounding communities highlight that is important,” Upton-Tyner said. Organizations belonging to the Newton Area Arts Council are the Newton Mid Kansas Symphony Orchestra, Dyck Arboretum of the Plains, Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts series, The Historic Fox Theatre, Carriage Factory Gallery, Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts, Sound of the Heartland Chorus, Kauffman

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Museum, Newton Community Theatre and Newton Community Children’s Choir. Visual artists and groups not in the Newton Area Arts Council also will be encouraged to participate. The main focus of the arts council in years past has been to make sure member groups didn’t schedule events at the same time and to cross promote, said Matthew Schloneger, arts council president. The council is comprised of executive directors or board members from those organizations. The group has met about once a month. In spring of 2012, Kansas started funding the arts again, Schloneger said. The state created the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission under the Department of Commerce. “It receives less funding than the arts commission ever got,” Schloneger said. The newly formed arts industries commission put out a call for financial requests. “We applied as an arts council and received $45,000,” Schloneger said with a smile. “It’s real money.” It appears any month starting with the letter “A” is good luck for this group, as they applied for the grant in April 2013 and learned they had received the money in August. So, the funds will be used for the festival, which will highlight Newton Area Arts Council organizations in an effort at branding to get people to attend a destination festival. During the five weekends, there will be almost something to attend each day, and all organizations will have their own events. The public will have to pay to get into some events. The festival will kick off with the Soweto Gospel Choir, a world-class group from South Africa, which will perform at 7:30 p.m. March 28 at Bethel College as part of the Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts series. This Grammy-winning choir sang with the rock group U2. In a big city, tickets to see them perform would cost from $60 to $100, Schloneger said, but the highest priced ticket in North Newton is $27. “It’s a great opportunity to not only participate but to see some world-class entertainment,” Schloneger said. Schloneger and Upton-Tyner hope the festival can be an annual event. “I think that if we work together, the whole will be more than the sum of its parts,” Schloneger said. Festival planners aren’t just looking for ticket sales — they desire participation, as well. “A big push of this is to get people who aren’t already involved to be more aware of all the opportunities the Newton area can provide,” Upton-Tyner said. She said she hopes the entire month can serve as an inspiration to people so they can learn they don’t need to go to a big city to see great fine arts. Many of the local groups are grassroots organizations, and in a small town like Newton and other area towns, people need creative outlets, Upton-Tyner said. And people are doing just that in the Sunflower State. A recent survey by the National Endowment for the Arts showed Kansas led the nation in the number of people creating art. However, Harvey County has a lower percentage of people attending arts events than the average county nationwide, Schloneger said. People will be able to purchase tickets by visiting This also is where there is a full list of events. Even if the festival doesn’t become an annual event, organizers hope this will help people become familiar with the Newton Area Arts Council website. “We have everything we need,” Schloneger said. “We just need to make it a destination.” ......................................................................................................................................................... TOP: The Newton Mid Kansas Symphony Orchestra rehearses in January. The orchestra belongs to the Newton Area Arts Council. Photo by Vada Snider MIDDLE: The GrammyAward winning Soweto Gospel Choir will perform at 7:30 p.m. March 28 at Bethel College in North Newton as part of the Spring into the Arts Festival. Photo by Lorenzo Di Nozzi. RIGHT: Sound of the Heartland Chorus will be in the festival. Here, members Cathy Stenz, left, and Mary Jane Waltner rehearse. 6 |

Spring 2014

For a schedule of events, see page 17.

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Do you like garage sales? What do you like to do in the spring? What is your favorite sport to play? If you had one wish, what would it be?

What is your favorite color?

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Go to the park

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Riding motorcycles

Doing track and field, and eating


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Pole vault or basketball


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To share Jesus’ love, for all to go to heaven

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esston resident Stephen Owens wanted to save lives. Having a passion — and developing a phone app to apply it — landed him and partner Carlos Fernandez of Newton a first-place national Mobiley award. As a volunteer captain with the Hesston Fire Department, Owens said his job is to make sure the department has the needed resources during an emergency. “The worst thing is to respond to a call and not have the resources we need,” Owens said.

So, when he started to contemplate how they could keep track of how many volunteer firefighters were available, Owens said he couldn’t find anything that would help. “That’s when we developed the application of an on-call availability system,” he said. “Knowing who is available and who is not is remarkably important.” The app is called Page-Out, and the company is Page-Out LLC. Owens and Fernandez are co-owners. Minutes, and even seconds, can mean the

difference between life and death. “In our line of work, every second is crucial,” Owens said. “Every second that we let get away from us risks lives.” The Page-Out website has a scenario that shows how the app can save time by using a structure fire call at a volunteer fire department. When Page-Out is used, the department saves 14 minutes. As putting out fires is a team effort, so was developing the app. Owens and Fernandez knew each other before starting this business

........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Page-Out LLC partners Stephen Owens (left) of Hesston and Carlos Fernandez of Newton were awarded a first-place Mobiley award, which is a national award. Here, they’re at the Hesston Fire Department, where Owens is a volunteer captain. 8 |

Spring 2014

Article and photos • Wendy Nugent

to save lives National award winners saving lives with new app

venture. They have had previous business dealings and have been friends. They talked about the idea of PageOut and went from there. “It was an idea to some extent that he (Fernandez) helped me put together,” Owens said. Fernandez did the branding, designing, coding and developing of the app, and is the managing partner. On the app, names of those who are available show up in green, and those who are not shine in red. The app also shows who was paged out and for how long. “So the idea is simply if we have a call right now, I can see we are woefully understaffed,” Owens said, showing the app on his phone. Since he knows that, he’d be able to request assistance from other departments much sooner, which

would save time and lives. The app also has an en-route feature, so he can see who is responding to the scene or to the station. As of early January, the app had 1,700 users. Departments that wish to use the app can create an account on the website at and sign up. Users then can download the app, and they get to use it with a free 30-day trial. “Remarkably, they (users) all communicate to each other, thanks to Carlos Fernandez’s genius,” said Owens, who also owns Owens Bonding. “I could never have brought this concept to reality without Carlos.” The duo thinks the use of PageOut will grow; they anticipate it will triple or quadruple in the next quarter. They have Page-Out users from as far away as Australia, with 700 people in their brigade, and as close as Sedgwick County. “We’ve got interest from all over,” Owens said. They also have people interested in places such as Indiana, Texas,

Arizona and New Jersey, according to Fernandez. With the application on the market, the duo is focused now on the fire and emergency medical services industry. They also are looking to branch out to other industries. “A lot of other industries can benefit from on-call availability and knowing what staffing is available at any given time,” Owens said. “Fire/EMS is what I know and where the idea came from.” Page-Out has a patent-pending application; it takes a minimum of two years to get a patent. Fernandez and Owens started working on the app about one and a half years ago and launched it Sept. 6, 2013. Owens said Page-Out LLC is staying in Kansas, despite others trying to bring the technology to other areas of the country, as Kansas has its own technology. The Midwest also is referred to as Silicone Prairie or Silicone Alley, Fernandez said. “Win, lose or draw, we’re going to make technology work in this area,” Owens said.

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The award When the two learned they had received a firstplace Mobilely award, they were “pretty blown away,” Owens said. The awards are given by Mobile Future, a trade association. “The Mobileys honor entrepreneurs who inspire and make a difference through mobile innovation,” according to “The new national competition produced by Mobile Future seeks to spotlight and support early-stage wireless apps, services and/or products that make the world a better place.” The duo learned they were selected for the top 10 but didn’t think it would go any further. “It’s pretty amazing that we were even selected to be in the top 10,” Owens said. A few weeks later, they were called and told they

were in the top three, but the places the winners were in weren’t announced until the ceremony and celebration, which were in Washington, D.C. During the Dec. 11 ceremony, Owens (Fernandez was not able to make the trip) was awarded the small golden Mobiley Award by the assistant secretary of Homeland Security. Fernandez and Owens will split a $20,000 prize with the two other winners. Owens also was able to visit the White House and got to meet with the Office of Science and Technology. During the award event, Owens met with people in the technology world. “It was awesome,” Owens said. “Being in the same room with those people was an honor.” Owens and Fernandez are looking to the future. “We’re just excited to move forward,” Owens said. “We’re going to change the world.”

................................................................................................................ Newton resident Carlos Fernandez holds his phone with the Page-Out app.

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about life ........................................ TOP: Natasha Peterson, center, laughs with others attending Girls Room Only on Jan. 14 at the Newton Activity Center. Also there are, from left, Sirinity French, Zaira Solis, Lupita Lopez and Cheyenne Pohlman. This session was for fifthand sixth-graders, and the girls are cutting out images to put into their "crystal ball" worksheets that show their goals. LEFT: Katie Blaylock, right, enjoys her time at Girls Room Only on Jan. 14. At left is Abby Buller.

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About Girls Room Only Financial donations are welcome to Girls Room Only. Checks may be sent to Newton Activity Center, Attn. Audrey Gann, 415 N. Poplar, Newton, KS 67114. Checks should be designated for Girls Room Only. Money is used for activity fees, snacks, events, like when they bring in instructors, and supplies. For more information, visit The group also has a Facebook page. Anyone with questions, comments or ideas can call Gann at 316-283-7330 or email her at


here’s a saying that goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” However, in the case of Girls Room Only, offered through the Newton Activity Center, that saying could have this added to it, “And when the teacher is ready, the students will appear.” Audrey Gann, program director at Newton Activity Center, leads the groups, which are, as the name implies, for girls only. It seems as though the teacher and students were ready for each other, with Gann teaching the girls about life and giving, and the girls eagerly learning and trusting in her enough to have her be a role model. Gann also is learning through this experience. “That’s the funniest thing about this — ideas — I’m finding I’m also able to apply them to my life, which is really nice,” said Gann, who is in her second year leading the groups. “They’re life-long skills.” An unexpected benefit of leading Girls Room Only for Gann has been that her confidence has increased, she said. “I really do believe that in order to lead this group, I need to embody the things I’m saying,” Gann said, adding she finds herself doing the things she’s teaching while she goes about her day. Given the laughing, talking and joking around during meetings, the girls seem to enjoy the group, too. “You get to see your friends a lot,” said Cheyenne Pohlman about why she likes Girls Room Only. “You like learn things, and like you can be yourself. You get asked questions, and if you answer it right, you get a reward, and we have opportunities to help out with the community like the homeless shelter and stuff.” Another girl, Lupita Lopez, also enjoys the group. “You can express your feelings and your personality,” she said. “It’s fun because you learn new things. It is also good because we

help the environment, and it’s a very fun place to be.” Girls Room Only has two groups. One group, which is for seventh- and eighthgraders, meets at 3:30 p.m. Mondays at Chisholm school in Newton. The other, for fifth- and sixth-graders, gathers at the same time Tuesdays at the Newton Activity Center. The groups meet only during the school year. Parents are welcomed, and Gann appreciates their feedback. Meetings last an hour. Both groups cover the same topics the same week, Gann said. During one week in January, for example, Gann said the groups reflected about the past year and talked about looking forward to the new year — which was a way to segue into setting goals, which Gann taught the following week. Gann said she uses different formats for the age groups because the groups are at different places in their mental development. “We cover self-confidence, leadership, careers they’d like to have in the future, relationships with friends and parents,” Gann said, sitting in her office behind her desk, which is adorned with youths’ drawings and a thank-you note from a parent regarding Girls Room Only. “It’s a really fun time,” Gann said. “We have a good time — a really neat group of girls.” As of the first part of January, 60 girls were signed up, but not all girls go to Girls Room Only all at the same time. With the older teens, usually about 10 show up at any given meeting, while about 30 attend meetings for the younger crowd. Those wanting to join can just show up, Gann said. “It’s never too late to start,” Gann said. “Everybody’s welcome.” The groups bring girls together who wouldn’t normally interact at school. “It’s a completely different environment

for the girls to interact together, whether they’re friends or not,” Gann said. “When you’re in this group, you leave everything outside.” After arriving, girls sign an attendance sheet; girls who go to more meetings have a better chance to attend some special events. For example, at Christmastime, girls who had been to the most meetings were allowed to go for a trolley ride in Wichita to see holiday lights. The trolley only held 26. The groups also raised money so they could do that. Gann also likes to keep attendance so parents know if their girls were there. After signing in, Gann goes over what will be covered during the meeting, and snacks are served. Upcoming activities also are announced, such as a dance they had in January. During the Jan. 14 meeting for the younger girls, Gann also talked about new words. Each member gets a binder so they can keep all their Girls Room Only materials in one place. They bring this to the weekly GRO meetings. The binder also is where the girls keep their journaling. GRO members also take part in special activities, as well as community service projects. Activities include 5K runs, like the one called Girls on the Run, which is in the spring and fall in Wichita. They also had a mother/daughter potluck Thanksgiving dinner the week before the national holiday. For the dinner, Gann had the girls write letters to the women they brought to the dinner, whether it was Mom, a grandma or an aunt, telling them why they’re thankful for having them in their lives. “(That was the) first time we’d ever done that, and it worked out really well,” Gann said. Their volunteer work includes cooking and serving a meal every other month at the Harvey County Homeless Shelter, and picking angels off the angel tree at Wal-Mart and

.......................................................................................................................................................................... Makayla Pearson, left, enjoys herself during a Jan. 14 session of Girls Room Only at the Newton Activity Center. Also pictured are, from left, Natasha Peterson, Cheyenne Pohlman and Sirinity French. 12 |

Fall 2013

funding presents for those on the “angels.” The latter was a project for the older girls. They also plan to take care packages to the homeless shelter this spring. In addition, the younger girls made cat toys, which were to be given to the Caring Hands Humane Society in Newton. Two times a year, in the spring and fall, the girls spend about one and a half hours picking up trash at Sand Creek. Gann said they’re looking to do community-service kinds of projects. Their fundraisers have included delivering magazines door-todoor, selling suckers and having a fifth-/sixth-grade dance two times a year. Working helps the girls learn they have to put in some effort when they work, Gann said. Fundraising isn’t the only way the girls have acquired money. They also received a grant from the Women’s Community Fund. “I was very excited about that,” Gann said. Before any of their fundraising, the group had to start. Jenny Lester initiated GRO last year, Gann said, as a project for a college class, running it for four months. When Lester was no longer able to run the program, Gann took it over. Gann is formulating the curriculum as she goes along, getting many ideas from Internet research. This year, she’s kept track of what she does at meetings, so she’ll have a curriculum, which will take two years to compile. The reason for this is she doesn’t want to repeat what she did with one group and then do the same thing the next year — she wants the fifth- and seventh-graders to have something different both years they’re in their groups. The most popular topic is friends, Gann said. “The reason being is they fight with their friends; they love their friends,” Gann said. “They are all over the map with their friends.” The groups address what to say to friends when feelings are hurt and about expectations of friends. “The girls really enjoy it,” Gann said. When she’s out in public, girls run up to Gann and want to talk. “It’s fun being a positive role model in their lives,” she said.

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BUT NOT FURIOUS Newton Downtown Car Show celebrating a decade of fun


ars, engines and speed are in Joe Smiley’s blood. The Newton native picked up the love of these rolling machines from his father and grandpa. He said he came by the talent and interest understandably because, even though they both worked for the railroad, his mentors dabbled in mechanics. When Smiley was young, he recalls his grandfather working on Model Ts and Model As. “I was brought up around cars, and my brother is into custom cars, so I guess I came by it naturally,” Smiley said. “Also, since I’m retired and my wife is gone, I have a lot of time on my hands. I just enjoy the old stuff.” He even worked around cars.

“I bet I worked at darn near every service station in town,” Smiley said. “Always interested in cars and going fast and all that stuff.” After graduating from Newton High School in 1961, Smiley operated two service stations, doing a lot of mechanical work there, as well as selling gas. About that time, he also had a drag car; he has been racing since he was 16. “I’ve been involved in all kinds of car racing all my life,” he said, which includes dirt-track racing. Smiley hasn’t always had jobs with cars. In fact, he retired from Westar Energy after 34 years and as a reserve officer with the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office after the same number of years. Currently, Smiley owns a couple of classic cars

— a 1957 Chevy Bel Air two-door hardtop and a 1966 Corvette with 66,000 miles on it. The Chevy might be closest to his heart, as he keeps it at his Newton home, while the ’Vette is housed at Backstretch Racing in Newton. “I like to take it to the local shows because I know all of the people,” he said. Smiley has brought his Chevy to area shows, including those in Burrton, Walton and Newton. He’s also shown the Corvette at area events, including the Newton and Walton shows, as well as the All Wheels Run at Lake Afton. He said he plans to bring both vehicles to the Newton show in May. The 10th annual Newton Downtown Car Show will be from 8 am. to 4 p.m. May 3, with

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............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Newton resident Joe Smiley stands next to his 1957 Chevy Bel Air, which he made into a creature comfort car. This vehicle resembles a vehicle he had years ago, and he plans on entering it at the Newton car show.

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more than 300 cars and 120 trophies, according to Thousands of people attend each year. Main Street will be closed from Fifth to Seventh streets with food vendors, street vendors and trucks, motorcycles and cars on display. Sponsors include Bumper to Bumper, Prime Time Stores, Conklin Cars of Newton, Mike’s Rent to Own, Sonic and Horizon Milling, Smiley said he always has at least one car at the Newton show and refers to the Chevy as his main car. After he purchased the vehicle in 1985, he drove it for four to five years the way it was, then “I tore it apart,” he said. “I went through it from stem to stern,” Smiley said. “I don’t think you’re ever done working on a car. There’s something you always want to do or have to do.” The 70-year-old Newton resident calls this vehicle a “creature comfort car,” as he has added

a variety of features, including air conditioning, which is hidden, a super stereo, cruise control, power brakes, power steering and a new crate motor, which had zero miles on it. The vehicle has its original colors — sierra gold for the body and abode beige for the hardtop. “My theme was I wanted it to look like it did in ’57,” Smiley said. “And it runs really, really well.” The car has a 400 horse-power engine, and Smiley didn’t make it to race; he just wanted something nice to drive, he said. Back in 1961, Smiley owned such a vehicle, which even had the same colors. “I always said I wanted that car back, and I’ve got one just like it, only better,” he said, standing in his garage, where he works his magic on the vehicle. And although Smiley has enjoyed redoing the vehicle, his late wife, Jeanne, teased him about it, calling it “the money pit.” Smiley said he has a pile of paper with information about how much he’s spent on the car, but he really doesn’t want to know how much money he’s spent. In fact, he’d like to burn that pile, he said with a laugh. His beloved vehicle has earned him best-of-show awards, as well as other trophies. He has put only 6,500 miles on the car on it since it was rebuilt, he said. He was able to purchase the car by a stroke of luck. One day, he noticed the back of the car sticking out of a garage with the garage door down on the tail fins. “So, I just went up and knocked on the door,” Smiley said. “We finally got together on a price, and I bought it.” Both the Corvette and the Chevy Smiley purchased were the result of divorce settlements

where the wives were awarded the cars. Of the Chevy, Smiley said someone “botched the engine,” so he turned it into an originallooking creature comfort car. Smiley is quite proud of the vehicle’s oldfashioned tachometer, which was given to him by a friend. A tachometer indicates the revolutions per minute of a disk or shaft, like in a motor. The tachometer Smiley has is a 1960s-era after-market one, which was not stock on his Chevy. “The reason I wanted it was because I had it on my old-timey ’57,” Smiley said. When Smiley was given the tachometer, there was no battery in it, and those batteries are no longer available, so it was transistorized, he said. The Corvette is entirely original, and he also has the original title and bill of sale, as well as the original Protect-O-Plate. “It’s a cool little car,” Smiley said. “It’s like an oversized go-cart.” Smiley belongs to a variety of car groups, including the National Street Rod Association, which inspects the car every year at his request. The Newton resident also became an early member of the Railrodders, a Newton car club that isn’t particularly active now. “We think we’re one of the oldest clubs in the nation,” Smiley said. The group formed in 1956, and Smiley joined in 1959. Many local men were in the group back then; in the 1960s, the group convinced the city to let them have drag races where the city/county airport is now. “We bought all of our own clocks and equipment and even our own tower,” Smiley said. “It was quite the three-year event.” One thing club members still do, though, is set up a booth at the Newton car show. “We don’t get together much anymore, but we always keep in touch,” Smiley said. Many of the members have died. The group, which formed in Newton, used to meet above the old police station at Fifth and Poplar. They had a good rapport with the Newton Police Department, but that didn’t mean they never got into a little trouble, he admitted. Smiley also is a member of the Kansas Antique Racers, which has more than 150 members in central Kansas. At any given show, 20 to 30 members will show up, and they are busy during the summer. “We do it strictly as a hobby,” Smiley said about racing antiques. “We think we’re kids; we like to think we can go fast.” The group’s No. 1 priority is to make sure nobody gets hurt. After that, the priority is they don’t want vehicles to get hurt. About eight to 10 years ago, Smiley’s best friend, Bill Mills, and his late brother, Bryson Mills, got Smiley back into antique racing, although he doesn’t race such cars now. He raced for about six years a decade ago, he said. Smiley’s view of himself and cars can be summed up on a coffee mug given to him during a recent birthday. It says: “I’m not old. I’m classic, and I still play with cars.”

............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ Joe Smiley appears in the taillight of his 1957 Chevy. 16 |

Spring 2014

downtown car show brings thousands to Newton


hat started out as Michael White wanting to park a 1932 coupe in front of the Fox Theatre in downtown Newton has turned into a nationally recognized car show. During the Buddy Holly show at the Fox one year, White thought it would be great to have a vehicle from that era in front of the Newton theater. Then, someone else suggested they have a car show, and it was thrown together in two months. The Newton Downtown Car Show, now in its 10th year, draws between 8,000 and 10,000 people each year; during a normal year, 300 to 400 cars are on-site for people to see. The show is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 3. Each year, organizers White and Dave Baughman and committee members shake things up a little.

“We try to change it up a little every year to make it better,” Baughman said. This year, the show will feature more classes than last year, with more than 50, and prizes will be given for first, second and third place. First-place winners receive large etched glass mugs. This year, White and Baughman also are working on getting hot air balloons (weather permitting), and an Elvis impersonator will perform around 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. “We’re called the car show with class that gives out the glass,” White said. Awards include mayor’s choice, best engine, best paint and sheriff’s choice. The show has seven to eight qualified judges. During one car show, the 500 block of Main Street had cars worth a total of $3.5 million on display, White said. As part of the show, a Sonic Cruise is planned for 8 p.m. May 2. People who don’t have car show-caliber cars and other cars can cruise from Sonic to Sonic. Those cars will gather at 6:30 p.m. in the Newton High School parking lot. White said people line up on Main Street to watch the

cruise, like it was a parade. There is no cost to take part. Also at 8 p.m. May 2, the movie “American Graffiti” will be shown at the Fox with no admission charge. “We’re one of Kansas’s premier shows,” White said. “We’re not the biggest, but we’re the best.” The local car show has been featured on national TV, including “Street Rodding American Style” on PBS. Cars come from all over the country, including California, Houston and Iowa. The caliber of cars they get is higher than those in smaller shows. “We get representatives from every car club in Kansas,” White said. There is a charge for entering vehicles in the show, but the show is free to the public. The show also is family oriented. A large portion of the show’s proceeds are donated to the Fox Theatre. “We enjoy it,” Baughman said. “We like to hear good comments about it.” For more information or to enter a car, call 316-283-0391 or 316-409-3048 or visit

March - April 2014 Newton • Kansas E

Newton Area Arts Council is committed to the support, promotion and celebration of arts programming in Harvey County and south central Kansas throughout the year and during the month-long Spring Into the Arts Festival every March.











Spring into the Arts - Third Thursday...............................Thursday, March 20 “Faith County” (Fundraiser for Harvest of Love) .................Friday, March 28 Soweto Gospel Choir ..........................................................Friday, March 28 “Faith County” (Fundraiser for Harvest of Love).............Saturday, March 29 Spring Pops Concert “Pops a-Plenty”................................Sunday, March 30 Traditional Irish Ceili ................................................................Friday, April 4 The Goonies .............................................................................Friday, April 4 Historic Organ Concert ........................................................Saturday, April 5 Erin Bode Group ....................................................................Sunday, April 6 Spring Into the Arts Festival Concert .................................Thursday, April 10 Muzart on 6th Street .........................................................Saturday, April 12 Art and Music in the Heart of Newton ..............................Thursday, April 17 Prairiestock Local Music Festival .......................................Saturday, April 26 Rock for the Fox ................................................................Saturday, April 26 Sounds of Spring..................................................................Sunday, April 27

SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS: Art Works • National Endowment for the Arts • Kansas Dept of Commerce • City of Newton Newton Medical Center • Holiday Inn Express • City of Hesston • Excel Industries • Flint Hills Design

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n a c s e s i a n e R man a

Article and photos • Wendy Nugent


any people in retirement can get stuck in their ways, doing things the way they used to do them and not trying to learn anything new. Not so with 99-year-old J.O. Schrag, a resident at Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton, who will celebrate the century mark April 30. For instance, Schrag used to use a writing tablet when he was in school many years ago, and now he uses a computer tablet. He doesn’t shy away from technology, as he, even now, uses Skype to visit with this grandsons and great-grandchildren. Beth Penner, life enrichment director at Kidron Bethel, called Schrag a Renaissance Man, meaning he has expertise in many areas. He’s been a dentist, teacher and farmer. After he retired from dentistry work, he jumped head-first into creative endeavors, like painting and jewelry making. “I used to scribble on my desk when I was in grade school,” Schrag said. “I think I was interested (in creativity) all the time. It just didn’t show.” Schrag graduated from Bethel College in 1938, during the Great Depression. At the time, he couldn’t make a living with art, and, besides, it wasn’t something a man would do at the time. “In those days, you were a farmer or you were a fake,” Schrag said. “Times were so hard, so bad, you did whatever you could (to make a living).” Schrag, who was born April 30, 1914, at the family farm in rural Moundridge, seems to have been blessed with many talents, and he’s used them throughout his long life. This is reflected in his philosophy of life. “Everyone has a gift that comes with him, and if you use your gift, I think you have found your purpose in life,” he said. Schrag did find his purpose — or many purposes in his case. After college, where he majored in industrial arts, Schrag worked in various professions. “Well, I did a little farming and some high school teaching and coaching,” he said, adding that he coached “everything.”

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Spring 2014

He taught industrial arts and coached at schools in Maxville and Burlington. “He always has enjoyed working with wood and making things,” daughter Sandee Zerger of Newton said. “We have several pieces of his furniture in our home now. As a coach, he took teams to state, so he must have

been pretty good.” But before that, he and his wife, Esther, met at Bethel College. “We had a romance for about six years off and on — from beginning of college on,” Schrag said. After graduation, both taught at different places, but they didn’t have enough money to get married. That concern to be able to take care of herself financially carried throughout Esther’s life, as she had a separate checking account until the day she died, said Becky Fretz, one of their daughters who resides in Olathe. Even when the couple moved into a duplex at Kidron, they gave Kidron two checks — one from her and one from him. Fretz was on a speaker phone during Schrag’s interview. “They were considered very old when they got married,” Fretz said. She was 27, and he was 29. Esther was teaching in Hillsboro when she became pregnant (after marriage), and she

......................................................................................................................................................... J.O. Schrag, a resident at Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton, will turn 100 on April 30.

was let go because of that, Schrag said. After their two girls were born, Schrag applied for dental school and was told there was no way he was going to make it because he was too old. He was about 30 years old when he started school around the fall of 1945. He proved them wrong, graduating in three years and a summer, and was second in his class at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “That’s not surprising,” Fretz said. After teaching a couple of years, Schrag ran across a dental catalogue, and the seed was planted about becoming a dentist. He also thought dentistry might be less stressful than teaching. “Teaching — (you) take care of 30 kids at one time, and they try to get by with all the tricks they can,” Schrag said. While teaching in Maxville, Schrag’s number came up in the draft during World War II. However, he couldn’t pass the physical, so he couldn’t join the military. He served in 1-W Service during the Korean Conflict for two years. By this time, he was already a dentist, so he rode into fields on a horse in Puerto Rico and ventured into the mountains there to do dentistry work. “The age and qualifications for the draft were different for the general public and for doctors and dentists,” Zerger said. “He always

said that the experience in Puerto Rico was life-changing for him and for our family.” After serving in Puerto Rico, he set up practice in McPherson, although he had been practicing before that for about three years. Fretz began working for her father at the age of 10. Later, she became a dental hygienist, and her father hired her. She was the first hygienist in the county. Schrag decided to go by J.O. Schrag instead of “John Schrag” because there were seven John Schrags in the area when he was growing up and into his adulthood. Even at the end of his dental career, Schrag always wanted to learn and keep up to date. “He was very progressive,” Fretz said. Being progressive included having a sterilization/autoclave and X-ray machine at a time when other dentists didn’t, and getting a chair that had patients lay down as opposed to keeping them at a 90-degree angle, which was oldschool. Schrag retired at the age of 65, so that was about 35 years ago. “He still likes to talk teeth,” Penner said. He must have practiced what he preached to patients because he still has all his own teeth. He only lost one tooth because of a failed root canal when he was the patient for a dentist’s exam to become an endodontist. After retirement, Schrag pursued many

creative endeavors, such as weaving, wheel pottery, printmaking, oil painting, woodcarving, jewelry making and creative writing. “He has so many talents — creative talents,” Fretz said. His daughter also said her father told her he enjoyed every day as a dentist, and now he enjoys every day of retirement. One of the reasons he wanted to retire in North Newton was to be close to Bethel College, where he enrolled in a variety of classes, such as creative writing, pottery and other art classes. His family has reaped the rewards of his labor, as they’re using mugs and teapots he made. “He was quite prolific,” Fretz said. He also has been quite giving throughout the years, contributing at home and through work. He did housework when it wasn’t popular for men to do housework; the lines were blurred on women’s and men’s roles at the time for him, Fretz said. “I saw how difficult it was for Esther to give birth,” Schrag said. “I said, ‘That’s it — enough.’” He also helped take care of his mother for a year between high school and college. “Mom was always sick,” Schrag said, even though she lived to her early 90s. While he was a dentist, Schrag did pro



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Spring 2014

bono work for people who couldn’t pay and volunteer work in Alaska for native Americans. “He always had an interest in service,” Fretz said. Schrag visited Paraguay three times, giving of his dental services. He also taught a young man there the basics of dentistry, and by Schrag’s third visit, the young man already was practicing. Schrag had given him dental tools. Later, Schrag received a letter from someone saying they were so proud of this young man graduating the third grade. The .......................................................... young man could have been in TOP: Retired dentist and Renaishis upper teens. sance Man J.O. Schrag talks to Schrag also has given his time Beth Penner, director of life ento Bethel College, serving on the richment at Kidron Bethel Village board and being board chairin North Newton. One of Schrag's man. When he was board chair, daughters, Becky Fretz of Olathe, he had the honor of sitting near was on the speaker phone at Martin Luther King Jr. during a right. ABOVE: This photograph of banquet honoring him at the col- Esther and J.O. Schrag hangs in his lege. room at Kidron Bethel Village in “Sat right next to him,” North Newton. Courtesy photo Schrag said. Schrag described Luther King Jr. as very low key and very humble. In addition to helping others, Schrag’s interests have spread to politics. He even was a member of the Kansas Silver-Haired Legislature. “He’s very up to date and will give you homework,” Penner said. Schrag has read biographies on all the presidents and often is the one who brings a political or religious topic for discussion during the Wednesday morning men’s group at Kidron. “He likes a good debate,” Penner said. “He thrives on that. There’s still a thirst for knowledge at 99.” Fretz considers her father a liberal — more than their mother was. “Be careful when you draw a line in the sand because you never know who you love will cross it,” Penner said, saying a quote she heard J.O. say. “Very interesting, Dad,” Fretz said, laughing. “I wonder who you had in mind. With all his interests in society, he was always a wonderful father.” Fretz said her dad had a respect for children and never threw his weight around as a father. His parenting philosophy was “I trust you until you prove otherwise.” “You’re a good dad, Dad,” Fretz said. “You make us who we are.”

Article and photos Wendy Nugent


my and Matt Schmidt’s lives have been entwined with the annual Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale for a number of years — from childhood to adulthood. In fact, before the Newton residents ever started dating, the sale was where they had a chance encounter when Amy was a freshman at Bethel College and Matt a senior in high school. Amy remembers Matt making hamburgers, wearing a paper cook hat. They started dating about three years later. After that, they looked back and remembered their brief encounter. Now, as part of the Relief Sale, Matt’s duties have grown, as he’s in charge of the Silent Auction, and Amy heads up the Run for Relief event. Matt also serves on the board of directors. The Relief Sale, which benefits the work of

Mennonite Central Committee, this year will be April 11 and 12 at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson. “I’ve always just loved going to the sale,” Amy said. Matt’s early connection to MCC was when his parents told him stories about when they spent three years in the 1960s in Bolivia, teaching school in a remote village in the mountains. The only school supplies they’d receive, which they got in barrels, were from MCC. “They weren’t used to getting new things,” Matt said. Matt learned from his parents and MCC the importance giving to people who have very little or nothing, and the impact that can make. MCC also sent Christmas bundles there. “These were always powerful stories to me

growing up and served as a personal connection to MCC’s work,” Matt said. Amy also has fond memories of MCC (as proceeds from the sale benefit MCC). When she grew up in the 1970s-’80s in Oklahoma, Amy said she and her family visited Grandma and Grandpa, who resided in Newton, and would head down the road to the sale in Hutchinson. “And so we’d come to the sale every year,” she said, sitting in her dining room in their Newton home. “It was a highlight.” Amy still possesses a comforter her parents bought for her when she was a child at the sale, and, to this day, she still keeps it on her bed. “I was so excited to get it,” she said. “I’ve been using it ever since.” That comforter seems to be a metaphor for how the Schmidts, who attend a Newton

............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Matt and Amy Schmidt of Newton have been involved for several years with the Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale, which benefits the work of Mennonite Central Committee. Amy is in charge of the Run for Relief, a 5K walk/run, during the sale, while Matt heads up the silent auction. In fact, the married couple had their first chance encounter there years ago.

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Mennonite church, feel about wrapping the Lord’s comfort and love around people in need. “The goals are something more than ourselves,” Matt said. “You’re not looking for personal recognition. It’s about coming together — seeing a greater good, doing everything we can to raise the most money to help the most people around the world. We recognize we’re blessed, and part of that is to reach out and be connected to others. We

recognize that Christ calls us to be connected to our neighbors. These neighbors can be both across the street and around the world.” Matt has been heading up the Silent Auction for about 10 years. During the auction, people don’t have the pressures of bidding during a live auction — they can just write their bids on a bid sheet near the item they wish to acquire and come back later and write another bid if someone has outbid them. Items sold during this auction have

ranged from autographed pieces of the University of Kansas gym floor to gift certificates for Prairie Dunes Golf Course to a diamond ring from a Derby jeweler, and many others. They came up with the idea of a silent auction when they visited a relief sale in Canada, which was having such an auction. The Relief Sale also has a Quilt Auction and General Auction. The Quilt Auction sells numerous quilts made by many people. Last

............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Participants line up for the Run for Relief event from 2013. Run for Relief this year will be at 8 a.m. April 12 in Rice Park, which is a few blocks west of the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.

22 |

Spring 2014

year, it brought in $120,000, Matt said, while the Silent Auction raised $8,000. The General Auction in 2013 brought in $65,000; that auction sells items like furniture, antique cars and tractors, handmade furniture and donated toys. The total funds raised in 2013 during the Relief Sale were $470,000. Matt said that’s about $35,000 to $40,000 per hour raised at the sale. However, this doesn’t include the countless hours people have put in for the sale’s preparation. In 2012, all MCC Relief Sales brought in about $5 million; there are about 45 sales in the United States and Canada. Amy has been heading up the Run for Relief, a 5K walk/run, since 1998, which was the year of the sale’s first run. The event this year will be at 8 a.m. April 12, starting in Rice Park, which is a few blocks west of the fairgrounds. There’s usually around 300 runners, Amy said, and this event can bring in about $20,000. To raise funds, runners get sponsors, and those taking part range in ages from kids in strollers to folks in their 80s. “It’s always a good group,” Amy said. There are prizes for top finishes, and all participants get a New Year’s cookie. The Schmidts’ children, Abby, a high school freshman, and Luke, a fifth-grader, help with the run. “Our kids love to go,” Amy said. “They think it’s really fun.”

Many committee members also bring their families, who assist with the event. The Relief Sale is put on entirely by volunteers, Matt said, and part of the sale is to determine how they can make it fun to serve together — to bring that celebratory attitude. Hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers join in efforts to put on this large event. “There’s something for everybody to be involved,” Amy said. All proceeds benefit MCC. “One of the things we’ve always appreciated about the sale — it’s a wonderful fundraising opportunity for just an amazing organization,” Matt said. “MCC helps countless people in so many countries with relief and development around the world. The event — it’s a fun way to raise money.” During the two-day sale, about 20,000 people attend, and people don’t have to be Mennonite to go. Around 70 churches across Kansas contribute to the sale’s efforts, Matt said. The sale in Hutchinson and the sale in Michigan/Indiana (called the Michiana Sale) go back and forth on which is the largest in the United States and Canada. The sale in Hutchinson also is the secondlargest event at the fairgrounds, next to the state fair. In addition to the auctions and run, food is sold. For example, 34,000 New Year’s cookies were sold in 2013, and a variety of other ethnic-types of food to the area are

sold. New Year’s cookies are a type of glazed raisin fritter. There also are booths, children’s activities, a Penny Power challenge, plant sales and a Ten Thousand Villages store. Penny Power is a challenge to kids and congregations to collect loose change throughout the year. Last year, they gathered more than $19,000. Businesses also donate to the sale. “There’s a lot of people who come to eat food and see the quilts,” Matt said. The sale is all about joining together and helping others. “One of the things I believe is to fully experience God — that is best done in community,” Matt said.

Relief sale The Kansas Relief Sale that benefits the work of Mennonite Central Committee is from 4-9 p.m. April 11 and 6:30 a.m. to around 3 p.m. April 12 at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson. Parking and admission are free, according to For more information, visit

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Taking a better


Article and photos • Wendy Nugent


hutter speeds, apertures, ISOs, zoom lenses, white balance settings. These are some of the bells and whistles on the more complicated cameras that serious amateur and professional photographers use. While it seems everyone these days is equipped with a camera on their phones, which enables them to have shooting capability 24/7, but many people don’t know how to take great photos. People seem skilled at creating the popular “selfies,” like those that populate Facebook, but doing anything with composition, lighting and depth of field is another story. Bethel College is working on a solution to

that. A new club there, called Bethel Photography Club, helps students become more creative when snapping photos. It formed in the fall. “This is a way you don’t get their ugly selfies all the time,” said Donalyn Manion, club sponsor and Bethel College communications coordinator. The club was her brainchild. Manion led such a group at Wichita South; the group met during the lunch hour, and the high school students did homework challenges, as well as show-and-tells. Manion said she taught graphic design and photography at the school. “It was a success there too,” she said. The photo club appears to be popular with

Bethel students, as many have joined. “We’re gotten over 50 people interested in the club,” said Audra Miller, club student representative. At the beginning of the school year, the school has a convocation when groups set up booths and talk about their various clubs. Students can sign up for the groups that grab their interest Miller, a fifth-year student from Hesston and a talented photographer, has taken photos for various entities and activities at the school, including institutional communications, like for Context magazine, the president in his office and improvements on campus; The Bethel Collegian, the student newspaper; Bethel theater, which includes actor head shots, promotional poster photos and show documentation; and many senior recitals. On a January afternoon during interterm, Miller led a shutter-speed workshop. Several students took photos using higher shutter speeds to stop action. The shutter speed is how long a camera’s shutter remains open — the shorter the time it is open, the better it can freeze action in a photo. At one point, Xi Cheng, a freshman from China who has a Canon E05 Rebel T2, took photos of Miller dropping leaves on the ground. Next, Cheng grabbed more leaves and threw them in the air, laughing, as Miller snapped some photos. Then they huddled together to check out what the shots looked like. Miller also talked about slow shutter speeds and depth of field with a wide aperture. Cheng said she enjoys the club. “I like it because we can do lots of cool things with photos,” Cheng said. “I wish we had more meetings — more group activity.” Another club member, Kaylyn Rhodes, also was a model, swinging on a swing, while others took her photo. She has a fondness for photography, as well. “I like taking different angles of pictures that haven’t been seen before,” she said. The Wichita freshman has learned things in the club. “I’ve learned the rule of thirds, and… you can find different objects and images when you zoom in that you don’t usually notice,” she said. Miller has other reasons for liking photography. “I like how photographs capture a moment in time and are a way to physically save memories,” she said. For the club, the 2013-14 academic year is an experimental year to see how

....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Audra Miller, left, and Xi Cheng, a freshman from China, look over photos taken during a shutter speed workshop on Jan. 19 at the park in North Newton as part of the Bethel Photography Club. Miller is the student representative for the student group at Bethel. 24 |

Spring 2014

ABOVE, FROM LEFT: Bethel student Clint Unruh took this photo for the "lines" theme challenge. Samantha Wilkerson, another Bethel College student, took this photo as part of a challenge that seemed to be "H is for ..." RIGHT: Bethel students Audra Miler and Xi Cheng are silhouetted by the sun during a Photography Club workshop in January.

things go, Miller said. “(We’re) trying to find a way to educate people about how to use a camera and how to notice and take good pictures,” Miller said. “That’s the starting plan.” Having a fancy camera is not a condition to join. When students were signing up for the club, some asked, “What if I don’t have a camera?” Miller said. They were told, “That’s fine.” Some students use their phone cameras. In order to raise money for a camera, the club had a sling-shot booth at Fall Fest. The college has few cameras for students, and these cameras are stretched between departments, Miller said. “We thought…we could raise money to get a camera for Bethel College to benefit students,” Miller said. Initially, the club met at the beginning of the school year and had a 15-day photo challenge where every day, a different theme — such as shadows, water and getting ready — was posted on the group’s Facebook page. Members then posted photos to the page they had taken of those themes. “They really enjoyed that because it was on their own time,” Manion said. Cheng liked the challenge. “I learned a lot how to take a good picture, like rule of thirds,” she said. Another student, Zachary Preheim, freshman from Peabody, also enjoyed the activity. “I had a lot of fun finding different things to take pictures of,” he said. “I like capturing images to look back on in the future.” Manion also likes photography. Her favorite kinds of photography are street or abstract, outside of family history and documenting that. “I like that it captures the moment or time in history or you can preserve that moment,” she said.

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Article and photos • Wendy Nugent

pring Lake...

‘Best kept secret in Kansas’


n an unusually warm December day with highs in the 60s, people enjoyed themselves in the tepid breeze at Spring Lake RV Park near Halstead, driving around working on things or just being outside eating at a picnic table. Rosebushes and mums, which had suffered the affects of winter near the Welcome Center, alluded to the promise of spring. Sunlight shone on the water like a glimmering searchlight on glass. The park, which sits on 93 acres, is a hidden gem behind trees on U.S. Highway 50, 12 miles west of Newton on the south side of the road. “It’s the largest RV park in Kansas,” park manager and co-owner Mark Vogel said. The recreational vehicle park and public campground boasts 180 RV sites; tenting sites; cabins; what Vogel called “hobos,” which are small buildings that only have sleeping accommodations; a Welcome Center; two family centers; laundry facilities; clubhouse with a kitchen; and a bath house. Most of the RV sites have full hookups. Family Center 2 can accommodate 25 to 30 people, while Family Center 1 can hold 60 to 80 people. There’s also wifi. At the park’s entrance, there’s a fishing ......................................................................... TOP: This is near the entrance to Spring Lake RV Park and Public Campground. The Welcome Center is at left. RIGHT: Mark Vogel, manager of Spring Lake, talks about the park.

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Spring 2014

pond with a bridge out to a little island. The park has four bodies of water — three ponds, one of which is spring fed, and a creek. There also is a windmill, “squeaking away,” as Vogel put it, and a cow chute from the original farm that was on the property. People who use the park can enjoy hiking, fishing and miniature golf; a swimming pool; playground; picnic areas; meals; basketball;

horseshoes; volleyball; and a book exchange. Those who wish to bring RVs or tents can pay by the day, week, month or year. To become a member, the annual cost is $395. However, people don’t have to become members to stay there. “Some people live out here,” Vogel said. One man even braves the cold winter temperatures in a tent.

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“We (have) quite a few monthlies right now — the construction workers,” Vogel said in December. From April through October, the park has a full activity schedule, offering weekend meals, entertainment, bingo, a non-denominational chapel service and more. This seems to help create the feeling of community there. The park also has some activities in the winter. In 2013, the park had a variety of events, including a birthday and anniversary celebration the last Tuesday of the month; a snack bar supper Fridays; coffee and fellowship at 8 a.m. Sundays; a nondenominational chapel service at 8:30 a.m. Sundays with breakfast at 9:45 a.m.; a potluck meal and jam session the first Saturday of the month; card bingo the second Saturday of each month; a gospel concert the third Saturday; and special events, such as Fall-Fest and Christmas in July on the fourth Saturday. Seems like the park has plenty of music throughout the year. For example, they have had jam nights, as well as a bluegrass weekend once a year, and country singer Denver Aikin has been out there the past five years. Walter Plant, a blind keyboard player, brings music there in October, and gospel groups have sung there, as well as the McKinney sisters from Moundridge. Vogel said they’re planning on increasing the types of music they offer out there and want to include pop and country. The park seems to have a friendly atmosphere as Vogel greeted various people as he drove around that December afternoon. At the basketball court, Vogel pointed out, while laughing, this was where he “whipped Fred’s (rear) in basketball.” Fred is a resident at the park who said he could beat Vogel at basketball. Vogel seemed quite proud of this fact. In addition to having group activities and a variety of things to do, park management takes care of campers in other ways, like having a 10 mph speed limit and two storm shelters. One of the shelters allows pets, and the other doesn’t. The park has seen its share of owners/managers during the years. Vogel and his wife doris (yes, that’s doris with a little “d”); Vogel’s brother and sister-in-law, Eric and Doris Vogel; Wayne and Karen Gehring; and Larry and Jan Olson purchased the park 11 years ago. Then on Oct. 29, 2013, all the Vogels took over the location, although Mark Vogel was managing it a few weeks before that. A man named Bus Westerman used to own the property, said Wayne Gehring, former manager/owner. A company called Country Parks Inc. purchased it in 1984, and then in the fall of 1987, a venture out of Florida bought it, owning it for one year when they filed for bankruptcy. In 1989, a bank in Denver owned

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it as the result of the bankruptcy. That fall, Thousand Adventures Inc. purchased the place and had it until 1995, when a man out of Hillsboro, Ohio, became the owner, which he was until 2002, when the four families purchased the park. Country Parks constructed 99 percent of the park, said Gehring, who was one of the park’s original members. Up until the mid-1990s, the park was membership only. A farmhouse used to sit on the property, until the house blew up in the fall of 1984. After talking about the past, Vogel addressed the future of the park. At some point, he wants to build a stage in the area between the clubhouse and swimming pool, and he would like to add a game room with video games and a pool table. He’d also like to add a community fire area, which will give people another chance to socialize. The park has had visitors from all over — even from Amsterdam. “We’ve had people in here from every state of the union,” Vogel said. Those visitors can enjoy flowers during all seasons except winter. Earl Vanderoff is the flower caretaker. “He’s just got flowers all over,” Vogel said. Vogel said people go there to unwind. “A lot of times, people just need to get away,” he said. “They just need to relax. … And a lot of people like to camp.” Vogel wants folks to have a good time. “When you come out here, we want you to be happy,” he said. “Whatever we can do to further that.” He also said he doesn’t know how many times he’s heard people say, “You’re the best kept secret in Kansas.” “I don’t want to be the best kept secret in Kansas,” Vogel said. “ .. It’s a nice place, and it’s got the potential to be a nicer place.” To make reservations or for more information, call 866-935-3443 or visit

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Spring 2014

.................................................................................................................. A tree is silhouetted against a pond during a warm December afternoon at Spring Lake near Halstead.

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Article and photos • Wendy Nugent

a quilting business


ina Williams has been a medical transcriptionist for the past 20 years, but now she’s stitching together another career. She’s started a business called The Serial Quilter, where she machine-quilts bed coverings and the like for customers. “I’ve loved every minute of it,” Williams said, sitting in her tidy studio that’s equipped with warm and cool light. The studio is in the basement of her home. “I started small down here,” she said. “For now, this is adequate. I don’t need any more space yet.” Long-arm quilting is what the name implies — using a large sewing machine with a long arm to sew together layers of a quilt: the batting, bottom and pieced top. Some quilt piecers hand-quilt or machine-quilt their own quilts, while others pay someone, like Williams, to machine-quilt them. Some also pay others to hand-quilt them. Williams has been a medical transcriptionist for a total of 20 years, including 14 years with Newton Medical Center. During the past two years, she said the field has seen a lot of changes. “I decided now is the time to jump in and do the thing I really love to do and make that my prime objective,” Williams said about long-arm quilting.

When Williams was trying to think of a name for her new business, her youngest son, Conor, was taking a college class on serial killers because he wants to go into law enforcement. Several ideas were floating around in Williams’s head; she wanted to come up with something that was catchy and fun, but none of her ideas seemed quite right. Then the thought hit — The Serial Quilter — playing off the name of a class her son was taking. When Williams told her son the name, he laughed. In addition to doing transcription work, Williams has been piecing quilts for 20 years. She said she enjoys all aspects of quilting, from picking out the fabrics, deciding which colors to use, finding a pattern that speaks to her, piecing it together, selecting the batting and backing, and quilting it. She said when a person is quilting, the sky’s the limit. “I think it’s a functional piece of art,” Williams said. “I don’t know if I have a favorite part.” Williams has been creating quilts in various sizes for customers since she opened her business April 1, 2013. Through the end of 2013, she finished 42 quilts, from baby sized to queen. She can quilt on it up to a large queen-sized bed covering, as her machine isn’t big enough to

handle a king. In some respects, Williams is a lot like other quilters: She seems to be passionate about this functional art. However, unlike other quilters, who have large stashes of fabric, Williams has a small stash. It is neatly organized in a piece of antique furniture her husband found for her at a flour mill. A mill superintendent, her husband was in the mill basement searching for something workrelated when he found the piece rich in cubbyholes. “I usually have a purpose for (the fabric) or I make one in short order,” she said. Before working on customers’ quilts, Williams quilted eight of her own, and then friends let her sew on their creations. “I’m self taught,” Williams said. “I’m still learning. I think that’s essential no matter what we do.” Williams said she’s learned from a variety of sources, such as Internet tutorials, books and the like. At one point, she worked at the former Studio Q in Newton, where she learned how to load a quilt from owner Fawn Schmidt. The only class Williams ever took was in 1992 in Ohio, where she learned how to hand-quilt on a potholder.

.............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Newton resident Tina Williams works on a quilt with her long-arm quilting machine in her home studio.

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“I was hooked,” Williams said. “I just fell in love with it. I really like to sew, but I love quilting.” Williams, who has resided in Newton for 15 years, seems to come by her love of quilting naturally. Her mother was a seamstress who pieced in a factory all her life, and her paternal grandma made and hand-quilted bed coverings. In addition, Williams’ late mother-in-law was a quilter, and Williams is in possession of quilt tops she made. As of early January, she’d quilted two and is going to quilt about a dozen more to pass on her mother-in-law’s legacy to family. Although her mother-in-law was always piecing, they never collaborated on anything, until now — posthumously. Williams said she’d rather spend her time at home quilting than searching for more fabric at many quilt shops. “I prefer to be home and actually making quilts, but I’m game for always stopping and seeing what’s new,” she said. Although quilting in general has been a hobby for years, long-arm quilting is Williams’ business now; she prides herself on a quick turnaround for customers. “Usually when I get a quilt, I’m working on it,” Williams said. She can stitch a variety of designs, from

simple stippling to the more complex custom work. She can do her own patterns, crosshatching stitching or “stitch in the ditch.” She also can make use of a pantograph for a design. “I do everything from the very simple to the more complex,” Williams said. “I like to do freehand.” Williams quilts with polyester thread, although she does carry cotton, and likes wool batting, which she said is warm but light. “It’s very, very warm without being heavy, which is a plus,” she said. “I really like it. I prefer to quilt on it. It quilts like a dream.”

In addition to wool batting, Williams also carries cotton and cotton/poly blend batting. (Batting is the soft stuffing between the backing and top.) Williams hasn’t had any two quilts come into her shop that look alike, which she finds enjoyable. When Williams gets a quilt from a customer, she believes her job is to enhance what the customer has done — “basically enhancing the work that they did” and not have the quilting overpower the design. When Williams makes her own quilts, she

............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Tina Williams' fabric stash in her studio is quite tidy. The long-arm quilter doesn’t like to keep a large stash.


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Spring 2014

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likes to use brighter colors, but she has worked with everything from light to bright to dark fabrics, and she favors cool colors. She does, however, try to stretch herself to do things she wouldn’t normally do. Williams has advice for quilters: relax. She said don’t try to be perfect and to give yourself some slack, as it’s just fabric and thread. “If the corner doesn’t match exactly — it’s not the end of the world if your points aren’t perfect,” she said. At the same time, Williams admitted she can be a perfectionist to a certain degree, especially when it comes to serving customers. “I don’t send anything back to a client until I am 100 percent satisfied with the final outcome, and that is where my perfectionist nature comes in,” Williams said. “I’m not as concerned if the clients’ points are perfectly matched or not, etc.” Before stitching on a quilt, Williams meets with the customer. “I usually know what I’m going to do well before I put it on the machine,” she said. She also said sometimes, if a customer leaves the decision to her, she’ll hang a quilt for a day or two and look at it before deciding what to do. Quilts tell you what design they want, Williams said. “You can really start to see that,” she said. Williams’ plans for the future include enlarging her customer base, doing more custom work, creating an art quilt and doing commissioned quilts. She also plans to set up a Facebook page. What Williams also likes about quilting is that it’s an art form that doesn’t have rules. “When push comes to shove, the sky’s the limit — colors, patterns, textures,” she said. “Just basically you can do whatever you want. Whatever your imagination can dream up, you can do.”

Contact information Those wishing to use the services of The Serial Quilter can call 316283-6423, email Williams at or stop by her house at 127 S. Pine St. during reasonable hours.

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Profile for Digital Publisher

Harvey County NOW - Spring 2014  

Harvey County NOW - Spring 2014

Harvey County NOW - Spring 2014  

Harvey County NOW - Spring 2014