Editor’s note: Outside of the coronavirus, these were chosen as the biggest stories of 2020. Following are the rest of the top stories of the year, by community. Compiled by Nancy D. Borst.
County removes ambulances, places rapid response vehicles
Sedgwick County added a pair of rapid response vehicles in rural parts of the county at a cost of $125,000. The vehicles are based in Cheney and Clearwater and will be staffed with an Advanced Life Support paramedic 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Federal money from the CARES Act is funding this change.
The county also pulled the ambulance from Fire Station No. 39, located at 267th Street West near Viola. That decision, plus a perceived lack of communication about it, concerned some community leaders. Among those concerns is the ambulance in Goddard being pulled into Wichita, and not returning for hours.
Garden Plain mayor Kevin Hammond was frustrated about a lack of communication about the change.
“They’re not worried about these small towns,” he said. “I think Garden Plain got screwed on this. Our response time will get longer.”
Local volunteers will continue to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will respond alongside the county ALS staff and vehicle. Response times in Clearwater became a concern earlier this year after the city disbanded its local ambulance service due to high costs.
The rapid response vehicles are a “pilot program,” said county manager Tom Stolz. The goal is to get a high level of care to people quicker. But these vehicles are not ambulances and will not transport injured or sick people. State law requires a minimum of two people to transport. The county said it will take time to gather data on the program.
Accident claims lives of four children, one adult
A horrific two-vehicle accident in southeast Sedgwick County Sept. 25 claimed the lives of five people – a mother and four of her children; all the children were age 10 and younger.
The accident occurred when an SUV driven by Jessica “Tess” Noel, 32, of Viola, was struck by a semi-tractor pulling a loaded grain trailer. Noel and three of her children died at the scene. The children were Hank Thompson, 4 months; Jeffrey Thompson III, 4, and Anaiah Brady, 10. A fourth child, Mack Thompson, 23 months, was transported to the hospital with critical injuries and died the next day.
The accident happened at the intersection of 71st Street South and 263rd Street West, which is between Viola and Garden Plain. The driver of the semi-trailer ran a stop sign at the intersection. The SUV collided with the trailer pulled by the semi. The semi driver was not injured. Noel’s SUV was southbound on 263rd Street West and the semi was eastbound on 71st Street South.
A GoFundMe page identified surviving family members as Jeff Williams and his daughter, Brooklyn. A memorial was held at the Central Park band shell in Conway Springs, drawing more than 100 people to say goodbye to the victims.
Multiple lawsuits were filed after the crash, including a civil suit filed by Jeffrey Williams, husband of Tess Noel, that sought more than $75,000 in damages. Named as defendants were Andrew Specht and L.B. Trucking Inc. of Wellington. Another lawsuit was filed by Mark and Carrie Brady, grandparents of Anaiah Brady.
Rumble strips were added not long after the accident. Additional upgrades could be made depending on reports from law enforcement and the county’s traffic engineer. Eight accidents had been reported at the intersection since 2015, none of which resulted in injuries.
New name for local newspaper
After printing special combined editions for several months, the owners of Times-Sentinel Newspapers, LLC announced that the newspaper would now go by the name “TSnews.” TSnews takes the place of The Times-Sentinel, the Haysville Sun-Times and the Conway Springs Star & Argonia Argosy.
The new name is an effort to reflect all the newspapers that came before it. The “T” and “S” can represent The Conway Springs Star, The Haysville Sun, The Haysville Times. The “News” part of the former West Sedgwick County News-Sentinel is included. The past also included The Cheney Sentinel and the Clearwater Times. The only name that isn’t directly reflected in “TSnews” is the Argosy. Bur rest assured, we love you, Argonia, the owners wrote.
TSnews is succinct and it has familiarity for all our readers, especially because of the shared website for the newspapers, which is tsnews.com. Logos from the three merged newspapers will still appear in the masthead.
It was noted that the COVID-19 pandemic that caused the merging of three newspapers also revealed how interconnected all the communities served really are. A single, larger newspaper has allowed for new features, including lifestyle stories and columns.
The newspaper’s website also got an upgrade, including a paywall. Virtually all printed stories now will be published on the website. Future goals include creating a true e-edition.
Amid these changes, there are things that have not changed. The commitment to serving advertisers and providing community journalism endures. Please continue to let us know how we are doing, the owners wrote.
Wichita area experiencing tornado drought in 2020
The Wichita area appears poised to complete the year 2020 without a tornado.
In August, the area set a record for the longest stretch in a calendar year without a tornado. That happened Aug. 21, breaking the previous record of Aug. 20, which was set in 1989. At that point in the year, the odds still favored the area seeing a tornado before year’s end. But now, the year appears to set a whole new record for tornado drought.
From 1950 to 2019, there have been about 107 tornadoes in either September, October, November or December. Kansas averages zero tornadoes in December.
Among places that have seen more tornadoes this year than Wichita, according to the NWS, are the Philadelphia area, 23 tornadoes; Albany, N.Y., 15 tornadoes; Portland, Ore., five tornadoes, and New York City, three tornadoes. Even Las Vegas and Phoenix reported a tornado in 2020.
A look back – 2020 in review
January – The Conway Springs Development Foundation will take over operation of Argonia’s two rodeos, the Argonia Rodeo in May and the Bronc Kraft Memorial Rodeo, held Labor Day weekend.
February – Robert Dolley was hired as the city’s new maintenance supervisor. Hope Casner and Isaiah Lacey were crowned winter homecoming queen and king.
March – The Argonia Fire Department received a donation of a grain tube from Mid Kansas Cooperative; the tube is used to rescue people trapped in grain bins. Dr. Julie McPherron, who has led Argonia schools as superintendent for 25 years, is leaving to become an assistant superintendent with the Rose Hill district. Argonia native Donovan Weik helped launch Grocery Getters, a Facebook group to make sure groceries get to those who need them.
April – Sumner County has been placed under a stay-at-home order. The city council met via Zoom. Luke Greenwood has been hired as the new principal at Argonia High School. Greenwood is an Argonia native and 2003 AHS graduate. The city added a “drag Main” event, from 7-9 p.m. on Saturdays. Eight years ago this month a tornado outbreak caused damage south and east of Argonia. The city’s water tower sustained thousands of dollars in graffiti damage. The vandalism forced the city to repaint the exterior sooner than planned. Dr. Rustin Clark is the new superintendent of the Argonia School District. He is a Mayfield native.
May – AHS senior Hayley Sprouse is the first recipient of the Saundra J. Johnson Memorial Scholarship. Johnson was a nurse and Sprouse wants to pursue a nursing degree. Two minors faced fines and community service in a contract approved by the city council after the minors vandalized the city’s water tower. Stephen Mattice was hired as the new chief of police; he originally is from Staten Island, N.Y.
June – Additional safety measures will be used when the city pool opens this month, including no tables and chairs and only pre-packaged concessions. The city council got an update on River Park and agreed to add more speed limit signs. The Teen Center served food daily through wheat harvest; proceeds will be used to send youth to camp.
July – Argonia High School seniors wore Argonia Raider face masks after their graduation ceremony.
August – The first day of school was delayed because several elementary teachers were quarantining due to possible exposure to COVID-19. School now will start on Aug. 28.
September – The Bronc Kraft Rodeo was held Labor Day weekend. Argonia High School crowned Destiny Baker and Ross Carter as homecoming queen and king after the Sept. 11 game.
October – The city’s water tower was shut down for repairs, after vandalism and a subsequent inspection revealed there was a need; residents likely noticed a drop in water pressure due to the repairs.
November – Main Street Plaza, a flea market vendor building, is the latest effort to revitalize downtown. AHS drama students staged the murder mystery “Café Murder,” a one-act play that includes audience participation.
January – USD 268 demolished two homes near Cheney Elementary School. Both were unoccupied and belong to the school district, which did not have immediate plans for the properties. The QP Express convenience store, formerly known as KAPS, is back under the control of Kansas owners. The city council approved more generous grants to encourage residents to replace sidewalks. The 2020 Keep It Clean Kansas calendar will feature artwork created by Cheney students Shay Peters, a kindergartener at St. Paul’s Lutheran School, and Ariel Stamback, CHS senior.
A pair of trucks were stolen in town Jan. 20, one of which was reported as a carjacking. Both were recovered relatively quickly. Cheney High School art students fared well in the Kansas Youth Art Month flag competition, including a first place finish by senior Joselle Courchaine, whose design will represent Kansas on the Kansas Youth Art Month flag.
A new teen advisory board is off and running at Cheney Public Library, with a goal of getting more teens involved in the library.
February – The Fairall family of Cheney made the trip to Miami to watch the Kansas City Chiefs win their first Super Bowl in 50 years; back home, a new record high of 76 was set for Feb. 2. Shanna Henry helped save a friend’s life with the help of a 911 dispatcher in Kingman, administering CPR and receiving the city’s Citizen Lifesaving Award. The city again upped is sidewalk repair grants, which now will reimburse up to two-thirds of the cost of repair or replacement, up to a maximum of $750. A total of $10,000 is budgeted. Cheney High School’s Heart-to-Heart crowned Kade Wahlers and Sabrina Veith as king and queen. The Chamber of Commerce is planning new Christmas lights for downtown. Benny’s Burgers and Shakes has a new owner, Chelsea Hunt, who also owns a Papa Murphy’s in McPherson.
March – Cheney High School FFA students helped remodel the Cheney Senior Center. The scope of the project grew in size and cost but the work was completed, thanks to the students. New chamber of commerce board members were chosen, as were new officers. Ryan Runnells will be chamber president.
April – Cheney Recreation Commission encouraged the community to take a “bear hunt” – place a teddy bear or other stuffed animal in a front window or on a porch and enjoy “hunting” for bears. Boy scout Robert Clear won the Washington Chapter of the National Sons of the American Revolution Arthur M. and Berdena King Eagle Scout Contest. His entry included an ancestor chart and an essay on the American Revolution. The city purchased a new fire truck at a cost of $199,000. The new truck will be the first to head out on calls and has a 2,500-gallon tank. Jeff and Brent Albers will again be involved with Art’s and Mary’s Tater Chips. The pair owned the company from 1999-2016 and were lured back after Chuck Singleton bought the company for a second time. Linndy Frieden was hired as the new CHS boys basketball coach. He comes to Cheney from Silver Lake.
May – A USD 268 bus stolen from a repair shop ended up near Bloom, Kan., south of Dodge City. The 16-year-old driver led authorities down county roads and Highway 54 before surrendering and facing numerous charges. Sabrina Veith has been named to the 2020-21 cheer team at Kansas State University.
June – The city will receive a law enforcement grant through the COPS Hiring Program, which will pay to hire a school resource officer. The city won a Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission grant of approximately $10,000; it will be used to fund an art installation by Kelly Caswell in the empty lot between the health center and pharmacy on Main Street.
July – Doug and Donna Veith went into action to save an unresponsive boater at Cheney State Park whose boat was going in circles; the couple maneuvered their sailboat to get Donna on the boat. The couple received an award of commendation from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. A chase that ended just outside Cheney left a child with critical injuries and the driver of a stolen truck in custody; two other vehicles were damaged, including a Cheney police vehicle and Chief Ken Winter had minor injuries. A new housing addition would add up to 85 homes and some commercial development; the new addition would be called Bison Ridge. Developer Roger Zerener said it was still in the concept phase. CHS held graduation ceremonies July 19 that included social distancing.
August – New Christmas lights to line the tops of downtown buildings were purchased through fundraisers and the Sedgwick County Electric Cooperative will help with installation.
September – The city council extended the city’s local emergency disaster proclamation for the pandemic for another 180 days; a previous proclamation would have expired this month.
October – Mason Schneider, a senior at Cheney High School, completed his solo flight as part of earning his pilot’s license, which he hopes to do this month. CHS crowned Brady Hillman and Halley Jones fall homecoming king and queen. Jill Albers was recognized by the American Cancer Society with the 2020 Pat Flynn Spirit of Relay Award for her many volunteer efforts to raise funds to fight cancer.
November – The annual Cheney Elementary School spook parade was held without candy handed out. Instead, businesses donated candy to class Halloween parties. Body Forge Athletics and Fitness moved to a new location at 105 Shadybrook. Precision Plumbing moved into Body Forge’s former space at 104 N. Main Street. The city purchased a new generator to back up electricity at city hall.
December – Artwork created by Cheney students Abigail Vanjar and Chloe Young will appear in the 2021 Kansas Keep It Clean calendar.
January – CHS students once again held their annual Season of Sharing event. The juniors were the winning class, with 2,543 points. Clearwater Chamber of Commerce members kicked off the year by discussing the group’s role in the community, which includes helping businesses and community events.
USD 264 school board members conducted interviews with four superintendent candidates the last week of the month. CHS students were raising funds for a joint trip with Belle Plaine High School to Germany and other European countries this summer. The trip will focus on central Europe and the Holocaust.
February – Cecil Stonehocker, who was an army private in World War II, was honored at Clearwater Nursing and Rehabilitation for his 97th birthday. He received a Quilt of Valor made by 7-1/2 Sisters in Schulte. USD 264 hired Chris Cooper as its new superintendent. He comes to the district from Abilene and replaces Paul Becker. The city will enter a contract for utility geographic information system services. Kirk Ives is the new police chief for the city. He comes to the city from Oxford. The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office sought help locating whoever fatally shot a horse near the city. Another horse was shot but is recovering. CHS students staged “Almost, Maine,” which is nine short plays set in a mythical town. The Ole Sew N Sews quilting group held its sixth annual Quilts of Valor presentation to 10 local veterans.
March – Since January, Elementary West has launched a new initiative in which volunteer third graders greet fellow students and others before school begins. The city council voted to move forward with bringing Plains Cotton Cooperative Association to the business park. The chamber of commerce moved its meeting to the USD 264 board room after the normal meeting place became off limits due to COVID-19.
April – CMS student Weston Burford’s photo of an approaching storm won the cover contest for the SKT telephone directory for Clearwater/Conway Springs/Viola. A two-day drive restocked the Clearwater food bank, which is run by the Ministerial Alliance out of the Methodist church. The city council approved industrial revenue bonds for Plains Cotton Cooperative Association and cancelled purchase of a police vehicle that did not arrive on time. The city is working with a company to create Cheney apparel and promotional items, with profits going to help businesses that are struggling due to the pandemic.
May – Anderson & Forrester, a leader in orifice and conversion fitting needs, moved from Denver to Clearwater’s Business Park.
June – The annual fireworks show will be bigger and better, thanks to cancellation of another show by the same company. The city hired a third party to file for CDBG funds for community response to the pandemic.
July – USD 264 superintendent Paul Becker retired after a 39-year career in education. Ground was broken for an expansion of the Clearwater Wellness Center; the expansion will be built behind the current facility and connected by a walkway. CHS held its delayed graduation ceremonies July 26.
August – CHS freshmen Emily Cotton and Aubrey Gill won regional, state and national cooking competitions through the Family Career and Community Leaders of America; the pair created a plant-based taco with no meat or animal products, which earned a national gold medal. The 2020 Fall Festival has been cancelled. Earl and Jay Lauer are sharing their passion for cars in a joint business venture that includes sales and repair. Klausmeyer Dairy Farm and Pumpkin Patch added a new agri-tourism venture: 40 acres of sunflowers, which proved to be especially popular during the pandemic when outside activities are preferred.
September – New furniture has been installed at Clearwater Public Library, including a new staff desk and patron center. The city council is considering letting golf carts and utility vehicles legally drive on city streets.
October – The police department got the OK to continue with phase 2 of the police station remodel now that funds are available. CHS’s career and technical educational program received a $10,000 grant; funds will help map students’ study plans, develop work study and market the program. CHS crowned Abby Hutchinson and Dalen Ankerholz as fall homecoming queen and king. Yvonne Coon was awarded the Mayor’s Citizenship Award for 2020; Coon served the city in various roles for 49 years.
November – CHS drama students staged “Sabrina Fair, with limited seating and social distancing. The city approved a sidewalk café ordinance to allow restaurants to serve food outside with a permit. Clearwater alumnus Melissa (Brockelman) Holle coached the Hanover Wildcats to the Class 1A State volleyball title. Twin Valley Management Inc. has purchased Southern Kansas Telephone (SKT) of Clearwater; the deal includes SKT’s equity in Kansas Fiber Network.
December – Wanda White of Clearwater has done all kinds of painting and now is a paint party artist.
January – The city council voted to hire a new full-time EMS director after the resignation of Dawn Cornejo. Conway Springs schools is one of the top performers in the Kansans Can Star Recognition Program from the Kansas State Department of Education; the district earned stars in all four of the program’s categories. The Conway Springs Development Foundation will take over operation of Argonia’s two rodeos, the Argonia Rodeo in May and the Bronc Kraft Memorial Rodeo, held Labor Day weekend.
February – Conway Springs High School student Marley Mooneyham organized a fundraiser to benefit animals harmed by Australia’s wildfires; she raised funds online and through a bake sale. City clerk Crystal Hinnen resigned after accepting a private sector job in Wichita. Students from Kyle Trueblood Elementary and St. Joseph Catholic School took part in the Body Venture program. The traveling exhibit gave students a chance to learn about making healthy food choices and being physically active. Luke Bellar and Kylie Ast were crowned winter homecoming king and queen Feb. 14. A new introduction to computer science class at CSHS focuses on teaching students how to computer code, a valuable skill for future careers.
March – The city hired Christina Jones as the new EMS director – marking the first time the city has had a full-time, paid EMS director. Conway Springs couple Duane and Betty Bonebright were killed in a motor vehicle accident at K-42 Highway and Maize Road. Don Riggs was honored for 60 years as a member of the American Legion A. Tom Kirk Post 265. Aubrey Hill was hired as the new city clerk; he also will remain chief of the local volunteer fire department.
April – Residents restarted a bygone activity of cruising downtown on Saturday night. Up to 100 cars participated. Mission Mart hosted a “Pop-the-Trunk food drive” during the cruise event April 18. City maintenance workers approached the city council for additional training on equipment at the city’s new water treatment plant. The council hired a consultant to provide the training. Virtual tryouts were held to determine next year’s CHS dance team. Students submitted videos that met a set of required moves.
May – The city council focused on the pandemic at a special meeting with experts from the area. Numerous local organizations and departments participated in the video meeting. The city decided to open the swimming pool in June. The city also opened bids for the new pool. The front window of the original First National Bank building – after being displayed in a case at the former Star building – was saved and was searching for a new home.
June – Dondlinger Construction, Wichita, is the apparent low bidder to build the new swimming pool, with a bid of about $1.35 million. The council formally selected Dondlinger in mid-June. The plan is to tear out the old pool in the fall and have the new pool ready for the 2021 season. The city council voted to extend KPERS benefits to part-time EMS workers, which will cost about $13,000 a year. Conway Springs High School held an in-person graduation June 21, with class members socially distanced and a limited number of family members watching a live feed in the gymnasium.
July – After announcing that the 93rd annual Sumner County Fair would be held July 30-Aug. 2, the fair association cancelled the fair in mid-July. Larry Phye resigned from the city council; he is moving from the community.
August – A new charter ordinance allows the municipal court judge to issue search warrants for the police department. Haviland Telephone is bringing fiber optic technology to internet customers in town. The goal is to be finished converting homes by early 2021. T.J. Sones chose not to run for re-election to the city council but when another member resigned, Sones said his multi-month break was long enough and agreed to return to fill the unexpired term. Michael Roths was hired as the city’s new police chief; the city also hired Jared Lyden as a police officer.
October – Newly completed horseshoe pits in Central Park add an amenity to the park that could draw visitors for tournaments. Bret Martin spearheaded the effort and the city kicked in $1,200 of the cost. Others contributed materials and time. CSHS crowned Jonathan Wright and Tatum Wykes as fall homecoming king and queen. Joan Lowden, a Conway Springs native, was appointed as a 1st Judicial District Court Judge.
November – Recover-Care Healthcare is the new owner of Spring View Manor, the local nursing home that had been owned for 56 years by the Eugene and Virginia Winter family. CSHS drama students served up the comedy “Order Up!” with two performances. Downtown Christmas decorations got a new look with 17 banners for light poles.
December – CSHS senior Lucy Boyles was awarded a four-year Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Marine option scholarship to attend the University of Nebraska in Lincoln; once she completes school, she will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine corps. Conway Springs Community Theatre presented “D.K. Molar, The Devious Dentist, or There’s Gold in Them Thar Teeth!”
January – GPHS crowned its winter homecoming royalty Jan. 10, with Claire Clark and Cooper Lies crowned queen and king. An Ohio man was killed in a motor vehicle accident near 327th Street West near Garden Plain. Heavy fog was a factor. The city council approved a franchise agreement with a new internet service provider, IdeaTek Telcom, LLC.
February – Troy and Janet Loehr are the new owners of The Other Place. They took over the bar after the death of owner Ron Nett. The couple did a lot of remodeling, and hope to add a beer garden later in the year. A ribbon cutting formally marked the change in ownership. The city annexed roughly three miles of the Prairie Sunset Trail, east from the city to 247th Street West. The annexation was requested by the Prairie Travelers, which maintains the trail. The city will be the site of a state 4-H shooting sports match, hosted by the Ninnescah Valley 4-H Club in April.
March – Garden Plain High School FFA students marked FFA Week with a barnyard Olympics and other activities that included the student body. Boy Scout Christopher Wyant got approval from the city council to sell concessions at City Park this summer.
April – The city planned a family Easter egg decorating contest and a kids’ coloring contest. Families are encouraged to create an Easter egg and decorate windows, doors and yards. Coloring pages can be downloaded from the city’s Facebook page or website. The city has had one of the best responses to date in the 2020 U.S. Census. More than 68 percent of residents had responded by mid-April, making it the fifth-best city in Kansas. Downtown sprang to life April 18 as residents began a weekly cruise event hosted by the city. Dozens of vehicles participated, with people waving at each other from windows and sunroofs. Bond construction projects at the high and elementary schools are making good time and are even ahead of schedule now that buildings are closed.
May – “12 Tacos,” a story written in Spanish by GPHS student Andrew Bergkamp, has been published by Revista Literal, a monthly magazine for beginning Spanish-language students. Federal funds will pay for a floodplain mitigation analysis for the city.
June – Citywide garage sales were held June 4-6, despite the pandemic. Jaycee Brown was featured on a “Furry Friends” segment during “Good Day Kansas” to demonstrate her pupsicle recipe. The segment was shot in Brown’s kitchen. A broken water main led to a boil order for the city, after an auger used by Evergy to install poles hit the line. City council members voted to forego any pay for the rest of 2020. Pam Weber created the winning button design for the city’s Fourth of July celebration. Neighbors and friends harvested Jerry Hahn’s wheat crop; Hahn was getting chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.
July – Rural Garden Plain resident Stephanie Hays joined Sedgwick County as the new 4-H youth development agent. GPHS held its delayed graduation ceremony July 26.
August – Sheila Meggers was hired as the new elementary school principal. City council members are interested in seeing the Prairie Sunset Trail be extended all the way through Garden Plain. GPHS student Hannah Kitzmann is designing a mural to be painted on the north side of the Dooley building as part of revitalizing downtown. Dan Adelhardt now leads the Garden Plain Owls’ football team as its new head coach.
September – A new phase of Pretty Flower Estates may be in the works, according to developer Mike Long.
October – The city council discussed ideas to improve Main Street and as part of that discussion, the idea of hiring a city administrator came up; no action was taken. Local teacher Nicole Schell is a recipient in the Country Music Teacher Classroom Initiative; country musician Jake Gill will provide a song writing session to one of her classes. A car chase in and around the city resulted in an arrest downtown; the chase interrupted the city council meeting when police chief Robert Sharp had to leave and council members got texts and messages. GPHS crowned Alli Puetz and Tranden Daerr as fall homecoming queen and king.
November – The city will purchase new computers and software updates for the sewer plant. GPHS drama students staged “Check Please” and “Check Please: Take Two,” a pair of one-act comedies that will be the last shows performed in the old gymnasium. Bond project improvements in local schools are mostly complete.
December – The Council of Hope Christmas light display returned for its second year, featuring a 50-foot tree and two new 25-foot trees. Down Home Nutrition smoothie and juice bar opened last month downtown and owner Adara Bogle said business has been good. Members of the Squires group at St. Anthony Catholic Church and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Aleppo held a successful Box of Joy drive, collecting 279 boxes.
January – The Goddard Chamber of Commerce moved to its own new office space at 222 N. Main. Ribbon cuttings also were held this month for Bling N’ Things and Farmers Insurance. The city sold $3.55 million in general obligation bonds to replace temporary notes issued to fund the STAR Bond project. City council member Joe Torske did not seek re-election and Jan. 6 was his last meeting after 10 years of service. Eisenhower High School celebrated its winter homecoming Jan. 17, crowning Justus Stroud and Makayla Brungardt king and queen. EHS students staged the popular musical “Grease.” The show had a cast of 40 and a total of about 60 students were involved in the production.
Times-Sentinel reporter and Goddard resident Sam Jack now is the public relations and special services supervisor at the Newton Public Library. He will continue to report part-time.
February – The city has three new housing subdivisions in process, which will add hundreds of homes to the community. Michael Proctor was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the city council. Amelia Earhart Elementary students raised more than $3,600 for cancer patients, including special education teacher Bonnie Saunders. Students have rallied around her with meals as well as funds for her medical bills. The community remembered longtime leader Bob Means, who served as a mayor or council member for more than 20 years. Means died recently. The Goddard Chamber of Commerce held a Health Fair Feb. 22 at Pathway Church. Dove Estates was honored as Business of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce.
March – Local volunteer Donna Estep was named Goddard Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year at the chamber’s mixer at Tanganyika Wildlife Park. Goddard’s two high school choirs will combine to perform Gabriel Faure’s Requiem at Plymouth Congregational Church. For the second straight year, GHS students have been named national finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. The students created a device that connects with a cellphone and sends an alert when the device is removed from a safe. The city approved $1 million for a new sewer lift station to serve a new development. Neighbors United was rescheduled from April to sometime in the fall.
April – A graphic novel by Terry Scruton and Mark Teel memorializes the late Greg Clamons, who died unexpectedly in 2015. The book is titled, “Larger Than Life (Greg Clamons is Alive & Well!).” Clamons was a longtime teacher and administrator in the USD 265 district. Boy Scout Troop 1776 – an all-girl troop based in Goddard – won two awards at a Dutch oven cookoff in Winfield featuring chicken-based foods. Construction continues at the STAR Bond project, with walls going up on the natatorium. The city council rejected hiring an outside firm to conduct a utility rate study for the 2021 budget. A van full of flowers arrived at Dove Estates Senior Living Community, donated by the Dillons store in west Wichita. The business donated the flowers, which brought cheer to residents.
May – A team of GHS students are finalists in the 10th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest and won a $50,000 prize for their school; they will compete virtually for the top prize.
June – First Baptist Church announced it will close on June 28 after 133 years of ministry in the Goddard community. The 183rd Street frontage road realignment will go forward without changes to the intersection as was previously planned. City council members rejected a request from the Goddard Public Library to increase its mill levy from 3 mills to 5 mills. City staff was directed to research a non-binding public referendum on the subject.
July – A new project will add memorial bricks to the area around a statue of Cecile Kellenbarger in Linear Park; proceeds will support the Prairie Sunset Trail, which has seen its usage climb during the pandemic. Goddard high schools held their delayed graduation ceremonies outside at the district stadium.
August – Goddard mayor Jamey Blubaugh, citing a problematic relationship with the city administrator, abruptly resigned at the end of the Aug. 3 meeting. Shortly after his resignation, Blubaugh and his wife were charged with one count each of counterfeiting tickets to the 2019 Zoobilee, the large annual fundraiser for the Sedgwick County Zoo. Iron Nutrition, a smoothie and juice bar, was finally able to have a ribbon cutting after being open since January. The community’s annual Fall Festival has been cancelled. Tanganyika Wildlife Park hosted a successful Twilight Tour fundraiser.
September – Tanganyika Falls is a new 5,000-square-foot splash park, located inside Tanganyika Wildlife Park. Construction has concluded on the roughly $52 million bond issue for Goddard Public Schools.
October – USD 265 superintendent Justin Henry was named the 2021 Kansas Superintendent of the Year. Eisenhower High School crowned Madisyn Hagel and Nicholas Hogan as its fall 2020 homecoming queen and king.
November – The city council discussed the community center, which needs repairs; among ideas floated was building a new center. Volunteers from the Goddard Lions Club and the community planted 27 trees around the community garden and in Linear Park. The city council voted to pursue a new modified council-city manager form of government, which would establish a five member council and eliminate an elected mayor. Amelia Earhart Elementary held its first-ever Thanksgiving parade, with floats, balloons and costumes. Avid local cyclist Wanda Groves packed a lot of living into her 98 years; she died in October.
December – Santa had to think outside the box this year, connecting with children online at Goddard’s Christmas on Main Street event; he also held Facebook live events. Operation Mitten Tree, coordinated by the Goddard Lions Club, served a record number of people this year with holiday food and gifts; nearly 500 children had brighter holidays as a result. An amendment to the STAR bond project was approved; it will add five additional baseball/softball fields and a sand sports complex to the existing features.
January – Glenn Crum retired from the USD 261 school board. He served the Haysville schools in one capacity or another for more than six decades, either as a teacher, counselor or school board member.
Dr. John Burke, USD 261 superintendent, was recognized as the Kansas School Superintendents Association Distinguished Service Award. He has served USD 261 for 17 years. Campus High School students and fans raised more than $1,100 at home basketball games for student and cheerleader Jessica Kilpatric, who is fighting cancer. T-shirts sporting “#jessicastrong” also were being sold.
Dignitaries, a marching band and a convertible car were part of the dedication of the new pedestrian bridge on Haysville’s northwestern edge Jan. 27. The bridge, which had been on the city’s wish list for a decade, runs alongside Meridian Avenue and crosses the MS Mitch Mitchell Floodway. The city council voted to add “wayfinding” signs on city arterials to help anyone find key landmarks and structures. Longtime USD 261 school board member Susan Walston stepped down after nearly three decades on the board.
February – Steve Dannels, longtime Haysville resident and banker at Community Bank, died at age 70. The fifth annual Polar Plunge attracted a brave band of people who jumped into Riggs Park pond to support Special Olympics Kansas. Isabella Lindsay, 14, Haysville, was honored as a top Kansas youth volunteer with the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. She is the middle school honoree. The city council approved a revised plan for a beer garden for the Party in the 060. Former athletes Brandon Johnson and John Ward were inducted into the Campus High School Hall of Fame. Johnson played basketball and baseball, and Ward participated in football, basketball and track.
March – Campus High School’s Mane Stage Players performed “Mockingbird” and “Booby Trap.” The annual Swim to a Wish involved five members of the CHS swim team joining to swim 100 miles to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The Haysville Activity Center has closed indefinitely as a preventative measure for community health. The city council modified its meeting by seating members at least six feet apart on March 23.
April – Haysville USD 261 students and teachers reconnected when staff drove through students’ neighborhoods. Master Police Officer Keith Luongo was the 2019 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, so honored by the John M. West American Legion Post 408 Derby-Haysville. He was honored at the Legion’s 101st birthday celebration in Derby. Project Graduation made yard signs for member of the Class of 2020 for Campus and Haysville high school seniors. City workers received a donation of face masks from Weckworth Manufacturing, one of Haysville’s largest employers. Haysville librarian Ken Bell is working while the public library is closed, revamping sections for new materials. The chamber of commerce moved into the historic Haysville State Bank Building, in the historic district.
May – A May 2 house fire claimed the life of a 65-year-old man and injured a 58-year-old woman in Haysville. Rolando Romero runs 5Ks to honor family members who have died – he lost eight family members in 10 months. The city of Haysville has more than $60,000 in unpaid water bills; there is a statewide order forbidding utility shutoffs during the pandemic. Expansion of the Haysville Senior Center was completed and added a dedicated game room. This year’s CHS Swim-To-A-Wish raised $12,188 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
June – The city will pursue grant funds for small businesses impacted by the pandemic to help retain low-income jobs. The city is in good financial shape, with the most recent ad valorem tax distribution totaling 98 percent of expected revenue. Detailz Doctor Automotive Detail Center held a ribbon cutting with the chamber of commerce; it is owned by Shawn and Michelle Simoens. The body of a missing Wichita woman – Savannah Schneider – was found outside Haysville. Nelson Elementary teacher Steve Crum was named Kansas’ crossing guard of the year in Safe Kids Worldwide’s America’s Favorite Crossing Guard competition; he started this duty after a student was seriously injured in the crossing in 2014. The Haysville Chamber of Commerce held its annual Gold Star Banquet, which included a meal, casino night, auctions and recognition for scholarship winners and outgoing board members.
July – “Peter and the Wolf” kicked off a series of summer park performances in Riggs Park; the ballet was performed by the Metropolitan Ballet. David and Gerry Straub were named Haysville’s Citizens of the Year during the community’s July Fourth celebration; they are longtime volunteers at the senior center and the school district. The city’s economic development director now is housed in the historic Vickers service station in downtown Haysville. Bob Curless continues to work the farmstead where he was born 95 years ago. National Night Out and Party in the 060 have been cancelled due to the pandemic.
August – Campus High School held its graduation as a drive-thru event at the school. The city council approved improvements to Dorner Park, including the Angel of Hope Memorial, an inclusive playground and a shelter. An expansion has more than doubled the clinic space at the Pritchard Animal Hospital. The original building also was remodeled. 060 Technology Solutions is a new retail computer store in Haysville; it’s an expansion of Rolando Romero’s existing business, which provides internet technology services, phone and network solutions and web design and hosting. New traffic signals and extra lanes greeted returning students at the corner of 55th Street South and Meridian Avenue, near Campus High School.
September – The Dog Daze of Summer swim attracted canines large and small to Dewey Gunzelman pool to close the season. Haysville resident Lexi Duff crushed the Guiness World Record for most pencils in a single collection by garnering 50,000 pencils, many of which were donated. Jarrod Craig is the new principal at Prairie Elementary School. More than $2 million in general obligation bonds will pay for community improvements and the city’s new rotary press sewer plant. The community lost longtime resident and public school teacher Marion Renner at the age of 87; she was known by many students as the old-time school marm at the Living History Rendezvous.
October – Blaine’s Candy and Gifts is a new business in Haysville, owned by Dale and Vicki Blaine; the business includes nostalgia candies and craft soda. The city will undertake a corrosion control study as part of its effort to deal with elevated levels of copper in the water supply; after the study, the city will install corrosion control treatment. The city’s new public transportation, the Haysville Hustle, is ready to begin service. Local student Kayley Miller has been painting windows at Diversicare to cheer residents who cannot have visitors. Campus High School crowned Malone Gates and Hassan Al-Amood fall homecoming queen and king.
November – The city’s new veterans memorial hosted its first Veterans Day program. Secondary students in Haysville schools moved to remote learning Nov. 18. The city approved CDBG-COVID grants to 21 local businesses from the CARES Act. A new memorial entryway is the latest addition to Randal L. Dorner Park; each of the poles in the entryway represents a year of Dorner’s service to Haysville.
December – The Haysville City Council declined to enact local enforcement of county health orders. A remodeling project at city hall is mostly complete; it includes an enlarged council chamber and windows for conducting business with the public. The first Angel of Hope statue and memorial in Kansas is now complete in Dorner Park. The annual Christmas tree lighting at Haysville PRIDE Park was virtual this year with no in-person crowd.