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Opening the book on little libraries BOOKS
Little library makes a big mark
Remodeled home designed to fit large family
Student athlete breaking records
From the Publisher VOLUME 2 • NUMBER 3
CO-EDITORS Don Ratzlaff Wendy Nugent
FEATURES, PHOTOGRAPHY Wendy Nugent Kelley DeGraffenreid Blake Spurney Don Ratzlaff
SALES Bruce Behymer Wendy Nugent
CREATIVE Shelley Plett
PUBLISHED BY Kansas Publishing Ventures LLC Joey Young, Publisher 116 S. Main, Hillsboro, KS 67063 620-947-5702
his is the third issue of the magazine I have had the pleasure of publishing. This small space has allowed me to introduce myself and speak about things I enjoy in Harvey County, and I have really loved sharing those things with you. This quarter, this space is going to be used to tell you about something I couldn’t be more excited about. In August—yes, that seems like a lifetime from now—the same group who puts this magazine and the Edge together (and will continue to) will be launching a new product, a more intimate product, a news product. In August, we will launch Newton Now, a weekly local community newspaper, which will bring you a look into Newton you haven’t had in quite some time. We know community journalism. Our two weekly papers, The Clarion and Hillsboro Free Press, are really good at it. Years ago there was a newspaper in this community that provided local community journalism, but years of corporate ownership have seen several great journalists and publishers leave and the product has grown tired, with lots of world and national news to go with a sparse local presence. We are here to change all of that and bring good, local journalism back to Newton. For years, I and former publisher, Joel Klaassen, have had folks ask us to do something in Newton like our other products, and it’s time to answer that call. You will see our staff in the community, most of you already see Bruce Behymer all the time, and you will see us participate in the community. I welcome your questions, suggestions, and any thoughts you have on this new project. I honestly couldn’t be more excited to bring a community-oriented newspaper to Newton. This will be your community newspaper, and I promise it will be a place for discussion and local news, so until then, enjoy this magazine and the content. There will be much more coming soon. If you are interested in finding out more, check out harveycountynow.com, and go to the Newton Now tab. ~ Joey Young
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Contact: Bruce Behymer email@example.com 316-617-1095
Local mom makes the most of her role
Wendy Nugent firstname.lastname@example.org 316-284-0408
HarveyCountyNOW.com 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.
2 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Spring 2015
Eleanore Myers offers prayers and a helping hand.
22 16 Home
1900s Sedgwick home given new life
Library Eichelberger offers resources through library
ON THE COVER: Wendy Funk Schrag and Paul Schrag have had a Little Free Library in their Newton yard since January 2014. Wendy Nugent / HarveyCountyNOW
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nspiration struck Wendy Funk Schrag one day when she was pulling weeds. The inspirational seed grew into a blooming flower, spreading joy throughout their neighborhood and the rest of Newton. Funk Schrag was at the corner of their property, which is at West 15th and Westborough Drive in Newton, in spring 2013. A lot of children were in the nearby duplexes playing outside instead of being inside with video games. “I thought we’ve got a lot of these kids in the neighborhood right now,” Funk Schrag said. “I think that would be a fun thing to do.” The fun thing to do was something she read about in the Oprah magazine; it had to do with the Little Free Library movement. Funk Schrag wanted to put up a Little Free Library on their property. Funk Schrag and husband Paul put up their Little Free Library in January 2014 on the edge of their property facing north where it’s easily accessible from West 15th. “We are book lovers, so what could be better than running a library — even if it’s a little one?” Schrag said. The Schrags’ Little Free Library is the only one in Newton (as of December). It contains about 40 books for children, teens and adults. Titles have included “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Grapes of Wrath” and “The Hobbit.” The Schrags also have put seasonal books in the Little Free Library. During the holidays, they offered Christmas books and did the same at Halloween. “We’re always looking for more books to keep rotating,” Funk Schrag said. “I try to keep some of those older classics in there — some of those older classics you hope kids will read as they’re growing up.” Unlike other public libraries, patrons don’t need library cards — they don’t even need to talk to anyone when they get a book. People have the option, when they take a book, of donating another book or bringing the borrowed book back. And there are no due dates. The Schrags don’t always see who uses the library, but sometimes they notice books are gone. “I see it as a way of promoting libraries in general, because if you want to do a lot of reading, a little library isn’t going to be enough, but it might get you interested in going to the library,” Schrag said. “I think this might get you into the library habit, you might say.” Funk Schrag said her favorite day was when seven kids from the duplexes came over and got books. Then they sat in a circle and read. 4 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Spring 2015
“It was really fun at first,” Funk Schrag said. “Our neighborhood changes a lot because these are all rentals,” she added, gesturing to the duplexes across the street. People might be timid about walking into someone else’s yard to get books, but Funk Schrag doesn’t want them to be. “We want people to stop and browse,” Funk Schrag said. One such person is their mailman, who also likes to take books. The first time, Funk Schrag said, the mailman wrote something like this on a piece of paper, “I took ‘The Little Gingerbread Boy’ for my grandchild. I’ll bring it back.” He also added a thanks. “People can drive by and come visit us at any time,” Funk Schrag said. Kids do bring books back and get more books. But if books don’t come back, the Schrags aren’t worried.
Article and photos â€˘ Wendy Nugent
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ ABOVE Wendy Funk Schrag and Paul Schrag of Newton put up their Little Free Library in January 2014 in the yard of their Newton Home. LEFT: Wendy Funk Schrag and Paul Schrag's Little Free Library has about 40 books in it at any given time for children, teens and adults. HarveyCountyNOW.com | 5
.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Wendy Funk Schrag, right, shows neighbor Carmody Beckmeyer the Schrags' Little Free Library.
“We’re not terribly concerned if books disappear,” Funk Schrag said. “The main thing is to promote reading and community,” Schrag said. One of the advantages of having the Little Free Library is it helps people get to know their neighbors.And neighbors and friends have donated books to the library. “There’s more books than you see at any one given time,” Schrag said. Funk Schrag enjoys seeing people use the library.
6 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Spring 2015
“I get excited every time I see someone stopping by and taking a book,” she said. “It’s just a lot of fun.” Once in a while, when she notices someone there, she’ll go out and introduce herself to get to know who’s in the neighborhood. “It’s been fun seeing people of all ages stopping,” Funk Schrag said. Usually people who stop are out walking, like parents with strollers, or kids on bikes.
“It’s a good feeling to share books that we’ve enjoyed and hope others will enjoy them too,” Schrag said. Because kids sometimes have to cross the street to get to the little library, there’s a sign posted for them to be careful when crossing the road. Even with all this fun, the Schrags don’t want to be the only ones in town with such a library. “It would be fun if we weren’t the only one in town,” Schrag said. That way, people
We are book lovers, so what could be better than running a library — even if it’s a little one?” won’t have to drive across town — they could just stay in their own neighborhoods. The Little Free Library movement was started in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wis., as a tribute to his mother, who loved reading and had been a schoolteacher, according to littlefreelibrary.org. Bol constructed a model of a one-room schoolhouse and filled it with books. He then attached it to a post in his yard. “His neighbors and friends loved it,” the website stated. “He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said, ‘FREE BOOKS.’” Bol then teamed with Rick Brooks from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and they saw an opportunity to “achieve a wide variety of goals for the common good.”
One of the Little Free Library movement’s goals was to have 2,510 little libraries in use, which was as many free public libraries Andrew Carnegie supported in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Carnegie’s support of the libraries was one of the duo’s inspirations, the website stated. “Quickly, it just took off,” Funk Schrag said of the movement. By August 2012, the goal had been met, a year and a half before the target date. As of January 2014, the number of registered little libraries in the world was estimated at about 15,000, and thousands more were being made. In May 2012, littlefreelibrary.org officially was established. Anyone interested in having a Little Free Library can purchase a premade version.
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“You can buy different styles from the website,” Funk Schrag said. Or, people can build their own and register with the organization. Those registering will get a plaque with a registration number on it, and then they’ll get put on the website map. “The Little Free Library in our yard offers a way to share good things to read and to connect with each other as neighbors,” states a sheet of paper the Schrags, who are called library stewards, hand out to people. “All of us can help by keeping this collection stocked with family friendly reading material for children, youth and adults, and keeping it free from harm (like vandalism). Whose library is this? It belongs to everybody — neighbors, friends and people we don’t even know yet. Anyone can use it.”
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Article and photos • Wendy Nugent
here are as many different kinds of mothers as there are moms. All of those millions of moms get honored every year on Mother’s Day — at least in the United States. This past New Year’s Eve, one such mom and her husband, Trenna and Jim Davenport, helped their kids dress in costume, since they don’t dress up any other time of year. The parents know how to enjoy themselves, and they share that with their children. “We wanted to start a new family tradition,” Trenna said. “All the kids jumped right on board when we brought it up to them. Everything’s more fun in costume. It’s just neat to see their creativity light up.” Trenna, who has celebrated Mother’s Day as a mom for about a decade, and Jim have four children: Ruby, 11; Simeon, 8; Josiah, 5; and Gideon, 2. Ruby dressed as the Queen of Hearts, while Simeon was decked out as a card man from “Alice in Wonderland.” Gideon chose to be Mr. Incredible, while Josiah was Batman, the caped crusader. The parents didn’t dress up because they spent the day making costumes for the kids from items found around the house.
This new tradition goes along with several of the 35-year-old mom’s parenting philosophies. One she was taught by her mentor at Newton Christian Church, Janet Ingmire, who said every moment with kids is a teaching moment. Parents can take advantage of many times throughout the day to instruct their offspring, like teaching them to cook at dinnertime or using addition and subtraction at the grocery store, for example. Dressing in costume allowed the children to use their creativity and just to have fun.
Trenna enjoys her children, fixing them an afternoon snack of Parmesan popcorn, comforting a crying 2-year-old and playing jump rope in the living room with her kids. She creates an atmosphere of fun and juggles many duties at once. The new costume tradition also can fit into another one of Trenna and Jim’s other parenting philosophies. “Scripture says, ‘Do all things for the glory of God,’” Trenna said. “We want our kids to do that when things are stressful, when they’re sad and their expectations aren’t met.”
........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... OPPOSITE: Trenna Davenport (right) holds onto her youngest, Gideon, during jump rope while Ruby holds the other end of the "rope." Simeon is getting ready to jump, and Josiah is in the background. ABOVE: Trenna Davenport (second from right) sits on the davenport with her four children, from left, Josiah, 5; Simeon, 8; Gideon, 2; and Ruby, 11. 8 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Spring 2015
â€œWe just want to have a teachable spirit as parents and to learn from people who survived it.â€?
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A new creative family tradition can honor the Lord. Becoming a mom has given Trenna a new outlook on life. “I love how it has changed my perspective in that I don’t (just) think about myself anymore,” the Newton resident said, adding it opened her eyes to how selfish she was. “So now I am just more willing to share my talents with people in general — help them or serve them. It’s given me a long-term look at life instead of being so focused on the now.” Trenna also is glad about what she’s learned from people who have already raised their offspring. “We are so grateful to people that are looking in from the opposite end of the parenting perspective,” she said. “We just want to have a teachable spirit as parents and to learn from people who survived it.” Trenna and Jim seem to have teachable spirits, as well as teaching spirits, as they home-school their children. The state of Kansas requires home schools to have a name and a principal. Jim is the principal, and the Davenports’ school is called Schoolhouse 27. They picked the number 27 because Trenna and Jim have birthdays on the 27th of different months, and they were married on the 27th. Trenna does most of the teaching, although Jim takes the kids on outings, such as playing golf. “He is the even-tempered helper,” Trenna said. “All children love to spend time with their dad.” Although he helps with home-schooling, Jim is employed as a community case manager at Prairie View, where he works with children ages 5-18. There, Jim teaches coping skills to clients to
manage strong emotions, and improve behaviors and social skills, he said. “He’s just naturally gifted from God with that,” Trenna said. Both are gifted in art and studied art in college. They bring that gift home to their children and also share it with other homeschooled children. Once a month, the Wichita Art Museum sponsors Artventure, and the Davenports take kids there. God put people in the kids’ lives who can teach them about things the Davenports aren’t interested in, like horses, Trenna said, and they can teach those people’s children things in which they have an interest. Trenna appears to have a teachable spirit. She said she’s grateful God puts new women in her life through her different seasons and things she’s going through. These are women who help her, like her mentor at church. Another is Michelle Ruebke, a midwife, who taught Trenna about nutrition, which changed the way Trenna cooks for the family. Her mentor at church influenced Trenna to start quilting, and then Janet and Trenna taught Trenna’s daughter, Ruby, to quilt. Trenna said she hoped her daughter would like quilting. She did. “She fell in love,” Trenna said. Something many parents taught the Davenports is parents don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun with their children. The family loves the outdoors, as they all play golf and other sports, and camp. Another thing the family hopes to do together is sell their house and go on the road, working with different missions. The couple decided they wanted to do this about a year ago. They’d like to work with missions already set up and travel in a bus or recreational vehicle in the United States. Their plans are to sell the house in the spring; when the house sells, they’ll go. If it doesn’t sell, the Davenports will look for more confirmation from God to continue serving in Newton. Trenna and Jim are taking a Perspectives class, which gives people the opportunity to mesh with those who are bringing Christ to others in a tangible way, Trenna said. They want to do that as a family, and they already are learning to be more effective locally, but now they’re learning how to do that globally. If they stay in Newton, there’s still a global effect for Christ, Trenna said. Traveling and working with missions combines Jim’s and Trenna’s dreams. Jim wants to travel with the children before they’re grown, and Trenna has a desire to serve as a missionary. “Our job is to prepare them to serve the Lord, use their talents and gifts for his glory, so just start ’em young,” Trenna said.
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.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Newton Presbyterian Manor resident Eleanore Myers teaches a Bible study in the Manorâ€™s Chapel, which is a few feet from her apartment. 12 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Spring 2015
Myers honored with Volunteer of the Year award
o the casual observer, Eleanore Myers appears to be sitting in a library at Presbyterian Manor quietly folding aprons. What the observer can’t see is Myers also is praying for the people who wear the aprons— he dietary staff at the Newton retirement community. She prays for their good health, challenges some have at home, understanding their jobs and good teamwork. The meals and meal service are excellent, Myers said. “I just feel that those prayers have an effect on the staff people,” Myers said, sitting in her clean, homey apartment at the Manor. “I feel very close to the dietary department, and I want them to have clean aprons. They’re so appreciative.” On Monday and Thursday mornings, the 82-year-old washes, dries and folds the black aprons. “I wash 60 to 70 aprons each time.” When Myers started volunteering with the laundry at the Manor, she did so with her husband, Clarence. They found a note on a bulletin board at the Manor stating the Manor needed help with apron laundering. That was in May 2013, when they moved into assisted living. “There’s so much that we can do here,” Myers said. “I just feel sorry for people who have not found their niche, and I found it in volunteering for the Manor here.” When the couple moved into the main part of Manor, they were in assisted living,
Article and photos • Wendy Nugent and after Clarence passed away in September 2013, Myers found a place in independent living. At the time Clarence volunteered, he was on oxygen and riding a scooter. In addition to staying at the Manor after Clarence died, Myers continued to volunteer, and she spread her volunteer wings into other areas. For her efforts, Myers was chosen by LeadingAge Kansas as the 2014 Quality First Award of Excellence Volunteer of the Year. “I have heard people that are busy are happy, and I am happy helping others,” Myers said about why she volunteers. “People who are busy and thinking of others are the happy people.” Myers seems to have a kind, gentle, giving spirit about her, and that shows up in various areas of her life, including her volunteer work. In 1999, when the Myers couple lived across the street from the main Manor building in a cottage, Myers’ cousin and his wife resided in independent living. When he died, Myers was asked to start a Bible study in the
widow’s apartment because she was timid, and there was fear she’d withdraw. Myers talked to the widow and asked her if she’d like to be the hostess. She agreed, and they started with six women in 2000. “And now there are 64 ladies on the roster,” Myers said. The attendance averages from 35-40 women, and they meet in the chapel. “So, that is kinda how it all started,” Myers said. Myers is the Bible study’s teacher, and as of January, the group was studying Psalms, which they had been since January 2012. They were on Psalm 129, having learned
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“I just want to live for the Lord to guide me and to do his will.” about one Psalm per week. The group meets for an hour at 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays. “All the Psalms are very special to me,” said Myers, who teaches the group in the Manor’s chapel a few steps from her apartment. Her Bible study duties aren’t just limited to Tuesdays, however. “I spend a lot of time on the phone with the ladies in the Bible study,” Myers said. More than half the women in the study are widows, and Myers spends a lot of time on the phone with them praying for their needs. Half of the women in the study don’t reside at the Manor. “For people outside of here, it’s like they have a ministry, and the people who live here, it’s like getting company,” Myers said. In addition to those duties, Myers chairs the Spiritual Life Committee at the Manor, which arranges the Sunday morning and evening chapel services two months ahead. On Fridays, Myers plays the piano for the 10:15-11 a.m. service in the Alzheimer’s unit and sometimes during the 11 a.m. service, which is for everyone. In 2014, Myers was one of many who contributed to the total volunteer hours, a total of 2,644, just for chapel services by people from area churches, as well as the Manor. On Sunday evenings, people sing
hymns at the Manor for 30 minutes, and volunteers are needed to lead and play the piano and organ, as well as bring residents in wheelchairs or who need someone to walk with them to Chapel. Myers spends her Saturdays confirming volunteers will be at the Sunday morning and evening services. Myers also helps the Manor in another way — by getting volunteers to read obituaries during the monthly memorial service. “(The memorial service is) like a closure, not only for the family, but for the residents here,” Myers said. “It’s like a big family — you really get attached to the people here.” Myers’ giving attitude also shows in her chosen career, as she’s a retired nurse. After attending Bible college and nursing school, she spent 10 years in Honduras. After that, she was employed at Wesley Hospital and also worked with the health department in the Spanish section of Wichita. Myers also worked for the Red Cross Blood Mobile, but then her resume took a one-year break because of back surgery. Before working at Wesley, she was an industrial nurse at Cessna, which is where she met Clarence. In 1982, the couple moved to South Carolina, where Myers was a nurse at a paper mill. While there, she and Clarence served
with The Gideons International, of which she still is a member. “That was wonderful for both of us because we traveled and did jail ministries and Scripture distribution,” said Myers, who was born and raised in Whitewater. In 1999, Myers said her husband wanted to move to Newton, which was about a halfway point between her sister in Moundridge and a brother in Whitewater. In addition, Myers’ mother had been living at Asbury Park in Newton, which was Friendly Acres at the time. “So Newton was kind of special to us,” Myers said. She and Clarence were married for 40 years. “It was an adventure,” she said, adding when she married Clarence, he had three children, who now are scattered across the country. Myers’ purpose in life is simple. “I just want to live for the Lord,” she said. “I ask the Lord to guide me and to do his will. I read the Bible every day. That gives me courage when I’m discouraged. My motto is the Lord will provide. That’s true with my life. It’s hard to prepare to be a widow. I have learned that God always provides. It’s just an amazing thing.”
........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Newton resident Eleanore Myers folds aprons at Presbyterian Manor, which she’s been doing for quite some time. 14 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Spring 2015
HarveyCountyNOW.com | 15
Article and photos â€˘ Wendy Nugent
16 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Spring 2015
Historic home remodeled to make space for everyone
he decorative piece on the living room mantel says it all – “Family.” That’s what the Harris-Sharbutt home in Sedgwick seems to be all about – their family. Beth DeGraffenreidHarris and Jimmy Sharbutt are engaged, with a wedding date set for March 14, and they’re combining their families under one roof. “We like it,” Beth said about the home. “I love it. Do you love it?” she asked her fiance. “Yep,” he said. The couple has enough spaces so the kids, five in all, can have their own bedrooms. Between Beth and Jimmy, their children are Ashley Sharbutt, 16; Kaylee Sharbutt, 14; Garrison Harris, 13; and twins Blythe and Gage Harris, 8. “They all like the fact that they have their own room,” Jimmy said. Beth and Jimmy happened to be high school sweethearts, who parted ways and had other relationships and their own children before they started dating again years later. Beth was raised in Sedgwick, while Jimmy moved there when he was a high school freshman.
Their three-story dwelling seems to be a dream home for the family, but it didn’t start out that way. When the couple closed on the home Feb. 24, 2014, it needed a lot of work, which probably is an understatement. Some of the walls were bowed out, the floor joists in the bathrooms were rotten, there were unlevel floors, and there were lathe and plaster walls. The couple gutted the home down to the bear studs. What’s left that’s also original to the 1917 home are the foundation, a portion of the original framing and the roof structure. “Originally, it was just a plain Jane house,” Jimmy said. “There just wasn’t a lot of frills to it.” When the couple purchased it, the home hadn’t really been taken care of for 30 years, they said. “He did most of the (remodeling) work,” Beth said about Jimmy. Jimmy isn’t just some ordinary do-ityourselfer, as he does this kind of work for a living. He’s the owner of James Sharbutt Remodeling and Construction. “I did the majority of the work in my spare time after work … evenings and weekends,”
Jimmy said, enjoying a snack in the remodeled living room. “ … There were quite a lot of things from when the house was built. … The floors weren’t level.” They began work March 9 and completed it Dec. 13, or as Jimmy put it, it took 41 weeks and four and one-half days from start to finish. Now the historic home has six bedrooms; three baths; a formal dining room; eat-in kitchen; second-floor laundry; wood floors throughout; and an added third floor, where there’s a kids’ bonus room complete with a nook where the they can curl up, read and look out the window. They also added onto the back of the house with an eat-in kitchen, and they put in a bedroom and additional bath on the second floor, and they added a pantry. “We added 400 square feet,” Jimmy said about the approximately 2,900-square-foot home that has an unfinished basement. The bedrooms on the second floor were reconfigured, as originally there were four. Now, they have five, which all lead off of a landing. There’s also a laundry room off the landing. The remodeled home also boasts
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... OPPOSITE: The dining room has a understated sophistication with exposed beams in the ceiling. ABOVE: The family's kitchen has a variety of features, like stainless-steel appliances and a large sink. HarveyCountyNOW.com | 17
new stair configurations, new Icynene spray foam insulation, new water heater, two furnaces and two central air conditioning units. The spacious kitchen has a 20-cubic-foot freezer and a 20cubic-foot refrigerator, as well as granite countertops. They’re in the process of completing a wrap-around porch on the outside of the
Where every purchase is a gift to the world. ewton Et Cetera Shop is a nonprofit thrift N shop with a mission to provide quality, affordable, recycled merchandise to the community; encourage volunteerism, stewardship, and recycling; and benefit the work of Mennonite Central Committee. Mennonite Central Committee is a global agency that responds to basic human needs and works for peace and justice in over 50 countries, including the United States. Since 1976, Newton Et Cetera Shop has donated over three million dollars to MCC. In 2012, Et Cetera Shop also began setting aside ten percent of its proceeds in a local giving fund. Since then, Et Cetera has awarded nonprofit agencies in the Newton area $42,000. Et Cetera Shop depends on the gracious gifts of people in the Newton area. Without your donations of quality items, your loyal patronage, and the countless hours of devoted volunteers, its mission could not continue.
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18 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Spring 2015
home, and future plans include finishing part of the basement and erecting an oversize garage. A wrap-around porch was not original to the home, and the porch railings still need to be done. There was a door in the living room when they started the project, and now there’s a majestic fireplace in its place. Although Jimmy did a great deal of the work, there were some things he didn’t do, which included the heating and air work, plumbing, sheet rock, insulation and electrical. They saved all the original doors, and used some to make a bench in the kitchen. Remodeling a home is hard work, and Jimmy has some advice for anyone wanting to take on such a project. “Call a professional to do it,” he said, adding it would have been less expensive and faster if they had bulldozed the home and built the same thing. Although Jimmy did most of the remodeling, Beth had her hand in decorating, which mostly is in tones of gray with
pops of blue and yellow here and there. However, all of the kids’ rooms have three gray walls, and each child was allowed to pick one accent color for the other wall. One child chose a very bright green. Jimmy doesn’t do the decorating, but he does weigh in on those matters. “I give an opinion if I don’t like something,” he said, although he designed the fireplace. “There’s not much decorating,” Beth said. “It’s kinda sparse.” “The inside is done,” Jimmy said. “She’s just gotta finish furnishing it.” “It’ll get there,” added Beth, who is a social worker who covers Newton for Harry Hynes Hospice.
One of the home’s features is decorative and functional. The ceiling beams in the dining room help to hold up the second floor, while other ceiling beams in the living room and kitchen are decorative. “The rest of them are decorative so (they) didn’t look out of place,” Jimmy said. Before any of that remodeling could have taken place, the home had to have been built. Jimmy said it was constructed by a woman from the Frye family and a man from the Arrowsmith family. A man named P. Frye or “old man Frye is what I was told,” Jimmy said, owned a mill nearby, and that’s where the wood for the house was cut. The house was made from cottonwood from the Arkansas River.
While the house was being built about 100 years ago, the family lived in small quarters. “They lived across the street at the shed over there,” Beth said, which could’ve been a barn at the time. That building still stands. Jimmy and Beth have heard a variety of stories about the home, and some of those include the number of children Frye and Arrowsmith had, ranging from six to 11. And now the home almost has the same number of children again.
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... OPPOSITE: Blythe Harris plays with a stuffed animal on her bed. The home, pictured, was built in the early 1900s. ABOVE: From left, Gage Harris, Blythe Harris, Garrison Harris, Kaylee Sharbutt, Ashley Sharbutt, Beth Harris and James Sharbutt are enjoying their remodeled home. Photo by Kelley DeGraffenreid
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Article and photo • Kelley DeGraffenreid
arvey County has a man with a heart and a head for public service at the helm. County Administrator John Waltner has been in public service for well over three decades and continues to thoroughly enjoy his chosen path. Harvey County is a half a world away from where Waltner’s story began. The child of missionaries, Waltner was born in India. At the age of 6, he began school at the Woodstock School, a famous international boarding school in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India, about 1500 miles away from where his parents were working. “There were children from 18 to 20 nationalities” represented at the school, he said. One young man from Waltner’s class would later become the King of Nepal.
20 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Spring 2015
Waltner is grateful for the time in India. “The experience of living in another culture was a gift in many ways.” In 1956, when Waltner was 10 years old, his family moved to North Newton, and he started school at Santa Fe Middle School. His mother worked at Bethel College, and his father worked for the General Conference Mennonite Headquarters where he would eventually become general secretary of the Conference. After graduating from Newton High School, Waltner married Mary Jane. They had met in high school. He would first attend Bethel College and then The University of Kansas for graduate school. “I was going to be a historian,” he said. He and Mary Jane brought two daughters into the world and begin their professional lives. Waltner was first drawn to teaching. He entered the Urban Teacher core program at Wichita State. He then taught school in Burrton for a few years before landing in Hesston where he taught high school social studies for many years.
In addition to teaching, Waltner was drawn to serve the local government, and he was elected as Hesston’s mayor in 1985. He served as mayor for 25 years and was in office in March of 1990, when “The Hesston Tornado,” tore through Harvey County devastating parts of the town. He remembered the time immediately after the storm as “very challenging — but more than anything — it reinforced my sense of how important it is to be engaged in local government.” The city was fortunate; there were no fatalities and no major injuries within the city limits. The cleanup and rebuilding were difficult. But Waltner emphasied, “A lot of significant things can be done to help communities get back on their feet,” after a devastating event. He is grateful the community had enough warning that the storm was approaching and that people did what they were supposed to do — “take cover.” In 2001, he went to work for Harvey County as the special projects director. Through this position, he worked closely with
County Administrator Craig Simmons and other county officials. Although, he had “thoroughly enjoyed teaching,” he was becoming more and more interested in local government. He believes “local government is the government that affects the quality of peoples lives more than any other.” He worked alongside Simmons for nearly a decade before Simmons retired in December 2009, and Waltner was slated to take over. Waltner has numerous challenges as the county administrator. Revenue is a huge aspect of his job “Funding programs is a problem,” he said. “It is always a challenge, always has been, always will be. Because in local government, we function because we take people’s money in the form of taxes.” The real challenge that stems from this is “to make sure people understand they are getting good service for the money we take from them.” And funds are spread thin these days. “When I started working as special projects director for the county, we could do a road for $34-35,000 a mile.” That same mile of road costs $125,000 today. Maintaining the county’s infrastructure is an enormous job. There are 165 miles of blacktop roadways that the county must
maintain and 282 structures, “defined as bridges,” the county is responsible for maintaining. Many of those structures are ageing, and some have already had to be closed. This will continue to be a challenge. Waltner is proud of the work he has been able to do with the county departments. “I wanted employees to think more clearly about themselves as being county employees instead of individual departments,” Waltner said. He has strived to put a “focus on mission core values and core competencies” for each department. “It has been an interesting challenge, but people have been very supportive, allowing us to do things that allow us to think of the entire organization as a whole.” The county continues to move forward with Waltner leading the way. He is excited about the positive impact technology is having on the way the county runs. The addition of Anthony Swartzendruber as an assistant county administrator has been key to the county’s development and use of technology. Another big project has been the work being done at the courthouse. Anyone who has been to the courthouse in the past several months cannot help but notice the grand scale of this project.
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“This building is nearly 50 years old,” Waltner said. “We have a building here that belongs to the people of Harvey County, and it is our responsibility to safeguard it.” A lot of deferred maintenance is finally getting done, and as a result, the building will be much more efficient. The county is installing a geothermal system and making many other energy and resource saving changes that will save the county money for years to come. When asked about this future retirement plans, Waltner smiled and said, “I have not set a date.” Many of his friends have retired and he admitted, “there are a lot of things in the world I want to do.” He would like to travel, but he is not quite ready to move on yet. In fact, even in retirement he does not see himself walking away from public service completely. He has been very involved REAP (The Regional Economic Area Partnership) and hopes to continue to promote and support the organization. “I want people to understand their destinies are tied to the health of the region,” and REAP works to create a vision for economic development in southcentral Kansas. Waltner unquestionably loves his work and will continue to serve the people of Harvey County as long as he is able.
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Article and photos • Wendy Nugent
n any given day, Newton Public Library is bustling with patrons working on computers, searching for that special book that might help them learn to cook or use a camera, or sitting quietly reading a magazine. Staff members sit behind glass windows near the check-out counter, laughing, enjoying themselves and working hard. One staff member, director Marianne Eichelberger, also is behind the scenes, making sure things run 22 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Spring 2015
smoothly at the library, and through the library, she lives out her philosophy on life. “To serve others, to help others,” Eichelberger said about her viewpoint, sitting at a table in her office. One of the favorite things about her job, she said, is working with the community, such as with businesses and organizations, to see how the library can help them. “(We want to) provide quality library services for everyone,” Eichelberger said.
“We’re always interested in seeing ways we can help the community.” And help the community they do. The library provides not only books, magazines, DVDs and many other items for checkout, but a variety of services. These include ENLITE homebound delivery, talking books, meeting rooms, tax preparation assistance, computer access, interlibrary loans and genealogy programs.
The library offers activities and programs for all ages, such as the summer reading program for youth, teens and adults; book discussions; story times during the school year; smart phone workshops; teen craft times and movies times; art displays; and programs for senior citizens presented by the Kansas Learning Center for Health. The Teen Video Group creates video clips that promote the library and reading. Other parts of Eichelberger’s job she enjoys are new resources and programming. Through the State Library of Kansas, Newton Public Library was the beta site for a pilot project where people check out mobile Wi-Fi routers and mini iPads. The library extended the Wi-Fi project through January, and they’re hoping to continue it. There have been nine of each available for the public, and people can check out the mini iPads through the end of 2015. “We’ve had positive response from people who have used it,” Eichelberger said, adding there’s always been a long waiting list for those items. People use them for a variety of purposes, such as job searches, homework, emails and video chats. Before she ever became director of NPL, which Eichelberger has been for more than 25 years, she had an interest in reading as a child when she grew up on a farm in rural Whitewater. She read a great deal as a youth. Eichelberger didn’t visit libraries very often, but school librarians let her take books home for the summer. When the budding librarian was a student at Remington High School in Whitewater, she was hired to work with books. “That’s when I started in libraries,” she said. “It was my senior year in high school.” There, she worked under the tutelage of a professional librarian. “Some of the stuff she taught me, I still use today,” Eichelberger said. Some of that included processing/ordering books and maintenance of the collection. While initially working in libraries, she had a good time. “I enjoyed it, and I had good librarians I worked under,” Eichelberger said, adding she also worked with great staff who encouraged her to go into that field. “Especially at Bethel (College), they encouraged me to go on,” she said. At that North Newton school, Eichelberger was a history major, as she was interested in historical books. When she received her master’s degree at Emporia State ................................................................................................................................................................... University, her emphasis was in LEFT: In her element at Newton Public Library, director Marianne Eichelberger has been director academic librarianship. While at for more than 25 years. ABOVE: Marianne Eichelberger shares a laugh with NPL employee Susan Bartel. HarveyCountyNOW.com | 23
Bethel, she worked in the library her senior year, and at ESU, she was a student library assistant. Eichelberger’s employment resume includes being a librarian at the Mennonite Library and Archives at Bethel for three years and at Hesston Public Library for 11 years. When she worked at Hesston, it was the first time the library had employed a professional librarian. When Eichelberger was employed at Bethel College, she did so under a three-year grant in a full-time position. Her job was to catch up the Mennonite Library and Archives on its collection. “They had a backlog of materials that weren’t catalogued and processed,” she said. After the three years, the position wasn’t going to be full time anymore. “So I started looking for other options,” the librarian said. That’s when she landed at Hesston Public Library. During her years as a librarian, Eichelberger has seen changes. When she worked at Bethel doing cataloguing, she typed old catalogue cards on a typewriter. Later, there were carbon copy cards. “So that was a big advancement,” Eichelberger said, smiling. Her career has gone from using typewritten card catalogues to online checkout and materials that are available through the Web. “People can check out what we have (from) anywhere in the world,” she said. Back in the day, most things were on paper, and now the big change is most things are online, which allows easier access for everybody, Eichelberger said. However, people still check out books. Some people just like the feel and smell of a book, as opposed to using a Kindle-type of machine. Books still are popular. “You bet and (people) do (check them out),” Eichelberger said. “Still very popular.” Eichelberger continues to enjoy reading, which is one of her hobbies, along with cooking, collecting recipes, working in the yard and travel. She used to like antiquing, too. “I enjoy being out in my yard in the summer,” she said, adding she’s done some landscaping. Eichelberger likes gardens and landscaping so much she came up with the idea for the almost annual garden tour that benefits the library collection for adults. She suggested it to the Second Century Library Foundation-Newton, which is under the Central Kansas Community Foundation. Second Century hosts the event. The tour has been annual except for one year when there was an extreme drought, according to the NPL website, so it’s been done 19 times. This year, the tour will be June 13-14 in Newton/North Newton. In her travels, there’s one particular trip Eichelberger noted, which was going to the Soviet Union as a Bethel student in 1972. Cornelius Krahn, faculty member from Bethel College, and Clarence Hiebert, faculty member from Tabor College in Hillsboro, led the tour of the western Soviet Union and Ukraine. “It was a very interesting time,” Eichelberger said. “That, or course, was communist Russia, but it was neat to see it in winter.” At one point, she recalled someone said it was -30 in Moscow. Eichelberger, a Mennonite, has a personal interest in Russia, as her ancestors are from near Kiev, but they didn’t visit that area. When Hiebert put together a book for the 1974 celebration of Mennonites coming to the area, Eichelberger was his assistant. The book included ship lists, photos and other things related to their immigration. Eichelberger said she’s mentioned in the book. Eichelberger said she also enjoyed doing research for Krahn’s 75th birthday; Krahn was from Russia, and she put together a bibliography of all his works. Krahn was the founding editor of Mennonite Life magazine and was involved with setting up the Mennonite Library and Archives.
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in the grass desert Article and photos • Wendy Nugent
he Predator rode a bicycle through Newton last summer and took advantage of the hospitality at the bike hostel in the Newton Bike Shop. Well, it wasn’t actually the Predator. It was an actor, Brian Steele, who played two predators, Berserker and Falconer, in the 2010 movie “Predators” starring Adrien Brody, Topher Grace and Laurence Fishburne. Steele, also known as creatureboy, was riding through Newton during the Trans Am Bike Race for 2014, which was the re-creation of the Bicentennial Race in 1976, said Heather Barringer, owner of the Newton Bike shop. Since Newton is on the Transamerica Trail, which was the path of the race, cyclists stopped in Newton. The trail spans from coast to coast and is one of the more well-known trails in the bicycling world, Heather said. Throughout the race, bikers stayed or rested at the hostel, including the race winner, Mike Hall; and Juliann Buhring, the fastest woman bicyclist in the world, who was in fourth place at the time. For this race, men and women were pitted against each other. “It was a rest, service, drop ship point, basically whatever they needed,” Heather said. “They all had different needs and came in at different times. “For every racer, the service on their bikes was free in 2014.
They only paid for parts. We also served them a meal for free. We would touch base with them on their social media a few days ahead of arrival, if possible, and ask what supplies they might need and what they might want to eat.” The Newton Bike Shop wasn’t a required stop, Heather said, but they were an unofficial checkpoint. Each participant was filmed as they arrived, and that was put on Facebook “for the world to watch,” Heather said. A crew was in Newton for four days filming the top five to six cyclists for another purpose — they were filming for a documentary by Mike Deon. “It was a fun part of the summer,” Heather said. The documentary, “Inspired to Ride,” is about the race, and will be released in April. Newton is highlighted in the film. Riders traversed 4,233 miles through 10 states during the competition. The documentary’s website (www.inspiredtoride.it) stated, “Inspired to Ride” follows closely the journey of a handful of these cyclists as they prepare, compete and experience what riding 300 miles a day feels like with only a few hours sleep.” The shop was busy night and day during the race. Customers helped operate the rest site for a couple of weeks. Half the time, Heather said, riders came through in the middle of the night. She’d make them food, and her husband, shop manager James Barringer, would service
....................................................................................................... Heather Barringer is the owner of the Newton Bike Shop, while her husband, James Barringer, is the shop manager. “We work as a team,” Heather says.
HarveyCountyNOW.com | 25
their bikes. The shop plans to take part in the 2015 race. The hostel room can sleep five, although during the cycling season, they’re overrun by cyclists with as many as four to 10 staying overnight. The Barringers run the hostel as a motel, Heather said. It’s a place for touring cyclists to get some rest and work on their bikes, and they’re charged $9.95 per night. Bikers are allowed to labor on their bicycles after store hours, and James said they plan to add a loft for more sleeping space. The hostel area of the store has a variety of rooms, including the sleeping room, kitchen, a very clean repair shop with 690 tools, a bathroom and a room to wash bikes and clothes. There’s free Wi-Fi and Netflix. The hostel supplies needed items — everything from towels to tampons. Some bicyclists say they’ll stay just one night, Heather said, but they enjoy their time there so much, they end up hanging out for two to three days. “It takes them about an hour and a half to realize they’re in heaven,” James said. This definitely benefits the Newton community, as bikers spend about $20 to $120 per day while there. This is money that’s coming from out of town, James said. Cyclists can be anyone from retired surgeons, doctors and lawyers, to people moving, to kids cycling to college. They’ve had a variety of cyclists go through town, such as the Harvard rugby team and people raising money for charitable causes. The shop has a book and video available that tells riders about the hostel’s services, such as showers at the Newton Activity Center and the kitchen. Staffers also provide them a list of bike-friendly businesses, as bicyclists like to shop and eat at local businesses in the towns in which they’re staying, Heather said. For example, Prairie Harvest probably has served more than 20,000 cyclists during the years, James said.
“We’re very much into collaborating with our other local businesses,” Heather said. “We try to share in the commerce that’s coming into our town that people don’t think about. It always comes back 10-fold. We’re known worldwide. We just want to see as many people pedal as possible.” he Barringers ran their bike shop out of their Newton home before going to the downtown location at 131 W. Sixth St., opening in June 2013. “We’re entering our third cycling season,” Heather said. Before moving downtown, the shop already had a large customer base. The business outgrew the house, as the family could no longer park in their three-car garage, and there were bike items strewn about in the back yard. They also ran the hostel out of their home. “We couldn’t do it at our house anymore,” Heather said. The front part of the store has a front counter and a variety of items for sale, including bicycles. The east wall is painted bright green with “Newton Bike Shop” in black; the sign is joined by signatures on the wall of cyclists who have come through there. One cyclist, organizer of the Trans Am race Nathan Jones, wrote, “You are an oasis in the grass desert. Keep it up!” When the business opened, they sold used and consigned bicycles. As they grew, they carried new products. For example, they sell the Jamis line of bicycles. In addition, people can special order bikes. “We have what you need and what you want,” Heather said. “We can get that here in a couple of days.” The shop also fixes bikes. “We service everybody,” she said, adding if people are pedaling it, they’ll fix it. “It’s about the rider and not the bicycle.” The couple said they service all bicycles, from the single mom whose kid has a flat tire to the guy with an upper-end carbon fiber bike. “We bring a lot of memories back here by restoring people’s bicycles,” James said. In addition to repairing and selling bikes, they also take trade-ins and buy bikes from patrons. Since bicycles aren’t allowed at the
Harvey County Landfill, the shop has taken on the responsibility of being a bicycle recycle center. Sometimes, they sell parts while other times they sell the bikes if they’re up to their standards, Heather said. The shop also donates bikes to the Salvation Army. Before opening the shop, the Barringers had an interest in cycling. “We’ve always just been outdoor people,” Heather said. “My husband actually biked across the United States. We just love to be outdoors and active and fit.” Heather said people can bicycle as a family, and when bicycling, people also notice more of their surroundings. Heather added it’s something almost everyone can do. Newton was James’ surroundings from 1984-89 when he attended Santa Fe Middle School and Newton High School. Then, he moved away. “My mission is this is a small town that changed my life, and I want to change what’s happened to it,” James said. “Newton is not a small town that’s closing up. It’s a small town that’s just opening up. My vision creating this was putting this town back on the map,” which he believes was done with the movie and the touring bicyclists. Getting the cyclists to Newton didn’t cost much money. All the Barringers had to do was hand out cards to cyclists passing through— and smile. A smile, a thank you and a handshake are part of the Barringers’ way of doing business. “My goal here is to do my part to not let the community get consumed like most small communities,” James said, adding what he means by consumed is people moving away or box stores taking up much of the business. There is a way for Newton to not get consumed. “I want the community to focus on the fact that we are a bicycling community, and bicycles bring walk-in commerce,” James said. That is the main reason the Barringers run the bicycle hostel. James added they’re not interested in selling a bicycle — they’re wanting to sell the bike shop, the whole experience of a neat, pleasant place to purchase items, as well as personalized customer service. The shop does an amazing amount of business, and they do that because they’re personal to each individual customer, James said. “Without a bunch of overhead, that would explain why we are so personal,” he said.
..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Newton Bike Shop owner Heather Barringer works at her desk during a winter afternoon. 26 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Spring 2015
Article and photos • Wendy Nugent
oe Loganbill’s paintings percolate with timeless, peaceful images. One piece in his home depicts, in vivid colors, a portion of a snow-graced St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Newton while another is of the Administration Building against a bright blue sky at Bethel College. An additional painting is a still life that looks like it could’ve been transported from Renaissance times of an apple, pear, grapes and a bucket, and one piece of artwork is of an oldtime car with its indigo color contrasting the concrete and limestone building backdrops. Loganbill, who started painting seriously at the age of 40, said during the years, he’s seen something that’s emerged in his work, which is finding the beauty wherever he happens to be. “I think that’s the job of an artist is to do the detective work,” the rural Newton native said. “What might be seen as commonplace scenes can be a beautiful part of our lives.” In addition to finding beauty, Loganbill said he has been more intentional in locating the plot or story in the painting than he used to be and developing to focus around that. “That’s what a painting should have in it — a sense of poetry,” Loganbill said.
The settings for Loganbill’s paintings have been in a variety of places — from Michigan Avenue in Chicago to the plains of Kansas. “We can find as much beauty in the Kansas prairie than you can in the mountains if you take the time to look for it,” Loganbill said. Those Kansas landscapes are what the artist is painting mostly now, saying they’re more marketable in this region. “But I love to paint architecture and then sometimes enjoy portrait and still life work too,” he said. In his work, Loganbill aims for a sense of realism, but he doesn’t want his work to cross the line into ultra-realism. He desires people to know there’s paint on the canvas and doesn’t want his work to look like a photograph. He also enjoys doing small paintings, which he likened to a musician taking piano lessons instead of having a full-blown concert. (The small paintings are like piano lessons, and the larger paintings are more like a concert.) “I enjoy the immediacy of the small painting,” he said. Throughout his career, Loganibll has sold paintings. Some have sold online, and he also does commission work. He can be reached at
email@example.com or on his website at josephloganbill.com. One of his more moving projects was when a woman commissioned him to do work for her husband’s grave marker. Her husband was killed in an accident. “I was very honored,” Loganbill said. Loganbill’s work has ranged from the large to the small. His biggest work was a triptych with the biggest piece in that work at 5-feet by 12-feet. That work is at Prairie Harvest in Newton and includes at least one hay bale. He paints on prepared boards and seems to like one particular color more than others. “I put a lot of blue in my paintings, so apparently I like blue,” Loganbill said. He said being at the easel makes him feel good, and if he makes a painting others enjoy, that’s more satisfying. Loganbill’s favorite of his works, called “The Last Time We Spoke,” is a still-life setting with a framed photo of his mom and an antique camera that belonged to his late father-in-law. “The theme of the painting is on aging and losing loved ones,” he said. In addition to being in his home, Loganbill’s paintings hang in collections in the United States
............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Joe Loganbill of rural Newton works on a painting in December in his home studio. The Newton artist started painting seriously at the age of 40. NEXT PAGE: This is some of Loganbill’s work. HarveyCountyNOW.com | 27
and other countries. He also has work in three galleries — Strecker-Nelson Gallery in Manhattan, Beauchamp’s Art Gallery in Topeka and Bob Schwan Gallery in Wichita. Before he ever excelled professionally, he had an interest in art as a youngster. He said he carried a sketchbook as a kid and would draw whenever he had the chance — like when his mom went into the store as he sat in the car. He took art classes in middle and high schools, but before that, he decided he liked to draw. “Even from my earliest age, I remember that feeling of I just love to draw things,” said Loganbill, who lives in a dome house.
The artist attended Sunset Elementary School, Golden Plains, Hesston Middle School, Hesston High School and Bethel College. At Bethel, he was an art major. From there, he took classes at the Wichita Center for the Arts. “(I) tried different media out over the years and always loved drawing,” Loganbill said. “That’s kind of where I discovered the oil painting thing was really exciting for me.” He took as many classes as he could at WCA and also took workshops from artists he admired, such as Jeff Legg in Colorado, and David Leffel and Sherrie McGraw in New Mexico. They all paint “old-school style,” or chiaroscuro style. With that style, artists are interested in
seeing how light lands on objects instead of seeing objects as two-dimensional shapes in the composition. This is in the style of John Singer Sargent and Rembrandt. Loganbill belongs to several professional artist groups, including Kansas Academy of Oil Painters, Missouri Valley Impressionist Society and Oil Painters of America. He is a member of those groups for several reasons. “I think primarily to meet other artists and find out what they’re doing professionally and find out about events and make those friendships artists need, both for encouragement and to be aware of professional growth opportunities,” Loganbill said.
Honors Loganbill has been chosen as a guest artist in Where in the World is Plein Air 2015, which is June 10-12. This is the second-annual live online plein air art show with 300 paintings and three live videos per artist daily. Visit www.whereintheworldispleinair.com for more information. He also was chosen to be shown out of 160 entries in the “Looking Out My Back Door” contest by Outdoor Painter website, The Home of Plein Air Magazine. His painting, called “Orchard Sunset,” can be seen at http://outdoorpainter.com/news/what-s-in-your-backyard.html. Loganbill also will do a demonstration/talk the third Thursday in April at the Wichita Center for the Arts for the Kansas Academy of Oil Painters.
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mong the students walking the halls of Halstead High School these days is a young man who, in just a few short years, has broken dozens of school and league records. About four years ago, Steven Cline was new in town. During the days leading up to the start of seventh grade, Steven was contemplating going out for the junior high football team. But fate had another course planned for the young man when a brief encounter led him in another direction and allowed him to discover a hidden talent. Coach Curtis Vermillion met Steven at the beginning of his first school year in Halstead during a before-school parent-teacher conference. “He was visiting in my room and said he was interested in participating in a fall sport,” Vermillion said. “I asked him if he was doing football. He was almost ready to commit to football, but before
He was a natural runner and went on to win every race that first year with one exception. His teammate, and good friend, Patrick Porch, beat him in a mile cross-country race one time that first season. In just a few short years, Steven has become one of the top runners in Kansas. At the state meet in October at Rim Rock north of Lawrence, Steven missed out on the 3A individual title by 1/10th of a second in a photo finish. The Halstead boys team, however, was victorious bringing home the Championship trophy with an overall team score of 61 points, 40 better than the runner-up. Steven is a quiet young man, but he does not shy away when it comes to being a leader. He knows God has blessed him with talent, and he is thankful for the gift he has been given. Coach Vermillion is grateful for Steven’s leadership. “Steven respects and appreciates his teammates, and appreciates
He has a tremendous amount of faith, and gives God all the praise and glory for the success and accomplishments he has achieved on the cross country course or track. he answered, I said, ‘just so you know, we start cross-country today in just about two hours from now. If you like to run, seventh-graders get to compete in the mile races.’” He told Steven he looked “like a runner” and invited him to give it a try. Vermillion was glad he and Steven had that conversation because he showed up for practice a few hours later, and despite the fact that he had never really run before that day, quickly found his stride and has never looked back.
their work ethic and commitment,” he said. “In return, I feel his teammates appreciate and respect his quiet leadership and his focus on running. Steven is like most cross-country runners I’ve had the pleasure of coaching over the past 26 years. He is hard working, selfmotivated, takes his classroom studies seriously, and gives a great effort each day in practice. He wants to do what is necessary to give himself and the team the best chance to be successful. A coach can’t ask for much more.”
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Steven does not participate in a winter school sport, but he is not taking time off. In February, he attended a sprinting camp at Wichita State where he is working with head track and field coach Steve Rainbolt. He wants to improve his “finishing kick.” He also lifts weights after school most days and does running workouts on his own — all of this while working two part-time jobs. Steven is grateful to his mother Diana Cline. She has been his rock, and he appreciates how much support she has given to him. The Junior High Cross Country program has grown during the past few years, in part because of the success of Steven and his teammates. And Steven has stepped up to help those youngsters who are just starting out. Little kids at the school look up to Steven, something he describes as “very humbling.” In addition to running, school and work, Steven is very active in the Velocity Church in Bentley and is a Fellowship of Christian Athletes prayer leader. Next summer, he has plans for a short mission trip to Japan. His faith is clearly a huge part of his life. “Steven is a very humble person,” the coach said. “He has a tremendous amount of faith, and gives God all the praise and glory for the success and accomplishments he has achieved on the cross country course or track.” When asked about his future as a runner, Steven said he hopes his success leads to a “scholarship somewhere.” As for the possibility of competing beyond college, he smiles and says, “everybody dreams of the Olympics,” but he is ready to go “wherever God takes me in this — he has already blessed me.”
................................................................................................................... Steven Cline is one of the best runners in Kansas. Courtesy photo HarveyCountyNOW.com | 31
32 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Spring 2015