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Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development

1995 Profiles

Jim Blaylock
Today let's go to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirate. A turbocharged diesel engine is arriving on a freight shipment. And where in the world do you think it might be coming from?
Well, if you've heard this program before, you probably won't guess New York or LA. Sure enough, this international product originated in rural Kansas.
Meet Jim Blaylock. He is president and owner of Blaylock Diesel Service Incorporated in Baxter Springs, Kansas. Baxter Springs is a town of 4,351 people in Cherokee County in the very southeast corner of Kansas. The town is two miles from Oklahoma and seven miles from Missouri.
Now Baxter Springs isn't exactly a big city, but it is larger than Jim Blaylock's original home. He grew up on a farm near Fairland, Oklahoma which at the time was a town of about 500 people. Now, that's rural.
Jim married a girl from the area and moved to Baxter Springs. He had a diversified career after junior college and the Army. His positions varied from welding to mining to dairy farming to construction to Delta Airlines to Yellow Freight.
In 1980, his job was eliminated by the recession, so he opened a welding shop in his garage. He started rebuilding diesel engine parts for the Cummings engine company.
At that time, Cummings was having turbocharger parts remanufactured by a company in California, but Cummings wasn't satisfied by the turnaround time. They asked Jim Blaylock if he could do better.
He could -- and the rest is history.
Today that shop which started 15 years ago with one guy in a one-car garage has become a multi-million dollar company with 26 employees producing components going virtually all over the world. In 1991, Jim bought out that California company. Today Jim's company is the largest independently owned remanufacturer of turbocharger components in the nation.
Jim says, "God has really been good to me." In three years, he predicts sales to be more than 5 million dollars.
Now what exactly is it that Blaylock Diesel Service does? It starts with turbochargers. These are mechanisms that go in the exhaust stream of an engine which use a turbine to force compressed air back into the engine. The result is that the engine burns cleaner and generates more power. That's why you'll find turbochargers on your Maseratis and Mercedes.
Experts say a turbocharger can increase an engine's horsepower by 50 percent without any loss of fuel efficiency.
Of course, these high-powered mechanisms will eventually experience wear. Jim's company remanufactures individual components which go into a turbocharger as repairs when needed. They also remanufacture complete units.
These turbochargers are widely used in trucking, construction, and automotive industries.
And how did this business become so international? Jim decided to advertise in trade publications for the heavy equipment industry. These publications are interesting. You might have heard of one called Diesel Progress, but my favorite is the one named Rock and Dirt. That's a little more basic than Field and Stream -- but it sure isn't the Rolling Stone...
Anyway, these ads produced results. Today Jim ships all over the U.S. and to Canada, Mexico, Chile, England, Venezuela, Australia...you get the idea.
So why stay in small-town Kansas? Jim Blaylock says, "We have an excellent labor force. We are centrally located. We get good help from Pittsburg State. And I just happen to think it's the best place to live in the whole U.S. I go to California and the East Coast, but I'm always glad to get back here."
It's time to say goodbye to Abu Dhabi and its new turbocharger. In our minds, we'll make our way back to where it came from in Kansas, where an international entrepreneur named Jim Blaylock is making a difference in the rural economy.
Bob Cox, M.D.
Today let's visit a patient of Doctor Robert Cox in Hays, Kansas. This particular patient is a little boy named Nicholas, who has a heart condition. Nicholas has been seen by a cardiology specialist located at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City 8 or 10 times -- but he has yet to make a trip to the KU Med Center there.
How is this possible? The miracle of telemedicine.
As we told you, Nicholas is a patient of Dr. Robert Cox. Dr. Cox is a strong believer in utilizing telemedicine effectively for the benefit of rural Kansas.
He comes by his concern for rural Kansas honestly. Bob Cox is originally from McDonald, Kansas. McDonald is in Rawlins County in northwest Kansas. If you really want to know, it's located between Atwood and Bird City. McDonald is a town with a population of 184. Now, that's rural.
Bob went to KU for medical school, spent two years in the service, and then he and his wife came to Hays where he entered the practice of pediatrics. Over time, he felt the pressures of practicing medicine in the rural west.
When one of his fellow pediatricians left their practice, the resulting workload was overwhelming. Dr. Cox says, "Every hour of the day I was on call or asleep."
That kind of demand would burn anybody out. Dr. Cox began to think about other ways of providing needed medical service more efficiently. One of these is telemedicine.
Today Dr. Cox is the first KU medical school faculty member located outside of Kansas City or Wichita. His position is jointly funded with KU and the Hays Medical Center.
In this position, he is involved with telemedicine. Telemedicine means using technology to connect the specialists at the medical school with doctors and patients in the field. A specialist can even conduct an examination of a patient using interactive video.
In the demonstration I saw, the young patient named Nicholas was in the exam room at Hays. His image was being televised to the specialist at the med school, and the specialist's image was transmitted back. These video images are converted into digital electronic signals that are transmitted on telephone lines and reconverted back to show on the monitor screen.
Dr. Cox was in the exam room in Hays also, holding a special stethoscope to the patient's chest. Meanwhile, the specialist in KC can hear the heartbeat using a specially designed electronic headset. The benefits of the technology are remarkable. Of course, the darn thing probably still feels cold to the patient's chest...
The point is that such technology meets the patient's need immediately. It saves the time, money, and anxiety surrounding a five-hour drive to see the specialist.
More than 400 patients have been seen using the interactive video system between KU and Hays. The system can also send EKGs, echo cardiograms, and x-rays for specialists to review. Dr. Cox says that a psychiatrist can even hypnotize a patient over interactive video. Of course, any parent of a teenager already knows how television can hypnotize someone...
Dr. Cox believes that rural communities have a great deal to offer, and that telemedicine can help rural communities retain doctors. He says, "Here we have a quality of life and incredible educational opportunities. These schools enabled my kids to excel." The Cox's have two daughters at K-State.
Dr. Cox says telemedicine can make the demands on a doctor's time more manageable. He says, "Using telemedicine a physician might need to be on call only one night out of seven, instead of every waking hour. If we can compete with urban areas on the medical professional lifestyle, we can beat urban areas on the personal lifestyle."
It's time to say goodbye to Dr. Bob Cox and his patients in Hays. We're thankful for Dr. Cox's innovative leadership and especially his heart for rural people. He's someone who's making a difference in rural Kansas.

Donna Kreutziger
Recently I drove to Canada. As you may know, I've been doing a lot of work and travel regarding NAFTA and north-south trade. But this driving trip to Canada was a little different: I was home in time for supper.
Our story today begins in south central Kansas. As I was driving home from a business trip recently, I looked at the map. There happened to be two Kansas maps in the car. One was printed some years ago, and the other was a brand new edition.
I noticed one difference between the two maps: the older one had a town printed on it that the new one did not. The town was named Canada. So, I made a one-mile detour and drove to Canada.
Meet Donna Kreutziger. Donna and Warren Kreutziger are residents of Canada, Kansas. In fact, they own one-tenth of all the houses in Canada. In other words, they own one of the ten houses in the town. The total population is approximately 25 people. Now, that's rural.
Canada is not incorporated, and it's been taken off the new maps. But there is a new business in Canada. The owners are Warren and Donna Kreutziger.
Warren was born and raised in the area. Donna is originally from Kensington in western north central Kansas. Warren and Donna met and married. They wanted to raise their children in the country so they moved to a small town in the area: Canada, Kansas.
Warren is a supervisor with the local co-op. He and Donna also operate a Christmas tree farm, using seedlings from K-State Extension forestry.
Since Warren loves to fish, they are in a wonderful location near Marion Lake. But, the old bait shop closed down. Warren wanted to have bait handy, so they finally decided to open their own bait shop. In May 1994, the Canada bait shop was born. If there hadn't been a sign on the highway to show the turn-off to the Canada bait shop, I'd never have found the town.
But I did. The bait shop is located near the Kreutziger's home. The doorbell at the bait shop rings inside the Kreutziger's house also.
Donna Kreutziger is very helpful. She says that Warren knows what kind of bait and tackle to have. They sell hunting supplies during the fall, plus an assortment of convenience goods year-round. You can get anything from pork & beans to paper towels.
Donna says, "This has been a joy. We've had lots of good comments that the area needed something like this."
In fact, the new bait shop is the only store in Canada. The old Canada grain elevator is now owned by the co-op. The post office, school, and general store closed years ago. People's mailing addresses are a rural route of Marion, the nearby county seat.
But Donna believes there is new life in Canada. She says, "As people retire, others are moving in. People like being near the lake. And they want to get away from the drive-by shootings and all the hubbub in Wichita."
She says, "It's easier to drive from here to Wichita than to get through the city."
She believes the rural quality of life has a great deal to offer. Donna says, "For our daughters growing up, this is a safe and beautiful place to live."
Yes, recently I drove to Canada. The trip didn't require twenty hours in a car; just a quick trip on a Kansas county road. What I found in Canada, Kansas was a special community spirit and quality of life. It's built by people like Warren and Donna Kreutziger, who are making a difference in rural Kansas.
And to top it all off: soon after my trip to Canada, I drove through Mexico....Mexico, Missouri.
One day, I was looking at a book entitled the Capper/MRI Quick-Fact Book of Kansas. This book is a compilation of interesting facts and information about Kansas.
In the population section, I spotted a listing that caught my eye: The ten smallest communities in Kansas.
We began looking at these communities, to see how they are surviving and what makes them tick. By smallest towns, I mean in terms of population, not geography. And I also need to define "town:" in this case, I mean an incorporated town. Around Kansas, there are probably unincorporated towns with more people than some of these incorporated towns. But if a town isn't incorporated, it will not have an official census count of its population.
So based on the official records, I have a list of the ten smallest towns in the state.
Today we'll visit one of these towns in north central Kansas. Scottsville is in Mitchell County near Beloit. It is a town of 26 people. Now, that's rural.
Lowell Palmquist lives in Scottsville now, having farmed for years near Concordia. His daughter and son-in-law live there, so Lowell moved there three years ago. Two of Lowell's grandsons, from Scottsville, attended K-State.
A printed history of Scottsville says that the town had a population of 500 at the turn of the century. By 1910, it had dropped to 248.
Today, Lowell Palmquist says with a smile that the population might be about 30, "counting the cats."
The mailing address for the residents of Scottsville is rural route 2, Beloit. There is no post office there and no business of any kind, except the grain elevator which is a branch of the co-op in Beloit.
Housing is cheap in Scottsville. In fact, there are abandoned homes that are now lived in only by fox and raccoons.
Coming into town, which one does by gravel road, one of the first things you see are the old stone walls of an abandoned building. That is the beginning of a fascinating story.
When this town first began, it was a thriving little community. But the city fathers knew that it was vital to attract the railroad to the town.
One of the problems that the city faced is that there was really no water well for the town. The city fathers knew that they needed water to be attractive to the railroad, so they came up with a plan.
They dug a pit and hauled hundreds of gallons of water in to fill it up. When the railroad agents came, they noted what appeared to be a water well and so the railroad was brought to Scottsville.
That worked fine until there was a major fire in town. Of course, there was no real water well and so no way to fight the fire. The wood frame buildings were severely damaged, but of course the stone walls were left standing. It is those stone walls that we still see today. The old stone school was closed in the 1940s.
Lowell is a member of the city council. He says, "There's so few people here, there's a good chance of getting elected."
While most of the other institutions have withered away, a cornerstone of the town remains: the Scottsville Community Church. Lowell Palmquist says that the church couldn't afford a pastor by itself, but it receives support from the village missions church and is very active.
And that is one of the secrets about the good life in one of these smallest communities.
Lowell says, "It's like a family. The church is non-denominational, and everybody goes to it. Each month they have a dinner and honor those who have birthdays that month."
In a town of 26 people, they have 40 at church and 60 at the monthly birthday party! Now that's a good record.
Lowell Palmquist says, "This is a close-knit, loving community. If somebody gets sick, everybody is concerned. Everybody looks after everybody else. They are a wonderful group of people. If you had a crisis, every neighbor would be there for you."
Yes, that's what I found on this list of the ten smallest communities: towns like Scottsville, with a community spirit of neighbor-helping-neighbor in a way that makes a difference in rural Kansas.
On our next program, we'll make another stop on our list of the smallest 10.
Donna Kreutziger
Recently I drove to Canada. As you may know, I've been doing a lot of work and travel regarding NAFTA and north-south trade. But this driving trip to Canada was a little different: I was home in time for supper.
Our story today begins in south central Kansas. As I was driving home from a business trip recently, I looked at the map. There happened to be two Kansas maps in the car. One was printed some years ago, and the other was a brand new edition.
I noticed one difference between the two maps: the older one had a town printed on it that the new one did not. The town was named Canada. So, I made a one-mile detour and drove to Canada.
Meet Donna Kreutziger. Donna and Warren Kreutziger are residents of Canada, Kansas. In fact, they own one-tenth of all the houses in Canada. In other words, they own one of the ten houses in the town. The total population is approximately 25 people. Now, that's rural.
Canada is not incorporated, and it's been taken off the new maps. But there is a new business in Canada. The owners are Warren and Donna Kreutziger.
Warren was born and raised in the area. Donna is originally from Kensington in western north central Kansas. Warren and Donna met and married. They wanted to raise their children in the country so they moved to a small town in the area: Canada, Kansas.
Warren is a supervisor with the local co-op. He and Donna also operate a Christmas tree farm, using seedlings from K-State Extension forestry.
Since Warren loves to fish, they are in a wonderful location near Marion Lake. But, the old bait shop closed down. Warren wanted to have bait handy, so they finally decided to open their own bait shop. In May 1994, the Canada bait shop was born. If there hadn't been a sign on the highway to show the turn-off to the Canada bait shop, I'd never have found the town.
But I did. The bait shop is located near the Kreutziger's home. The doorbell at the bait shop rings inside the Kreutziger's house also.
Donna Kreutziger is very helpful. She says that Warren knows what kind of bait and tackle to have. They sell hunting supplies during the fall, plus an assortment of convenience goods year-round. You can get anything from pork & beans to paper towels.
Donna says, "This has been a joy. We've had lots of good comments that the area needed something like this."
In fact, the new bait shop is the only store in Canada. The old Canada grain elevator is now owned by the co-op. The post office, school, and general store closed years ago. People's mailing addresses are a rural route of Marion, the nearby county seat.
But Donna believes there is new life in Canada. She says, "As people retire, others are moving in. People like being near the lake. And they want to get away from the drive-by shootings and all the hubbub in Wichita."
She says, "It's easier to drive from here to Wichita than to get through the city."
She believes the rural quality of life has a great deal to offer. Donna says, "For our daughters growing up, this is a safe and beautiful place to live."
Yes, recently I drove to Canada. The trip didn't require twenty hours in a car; just a quick trip on a Kansas county road. What I found in Canada, Kansas was a special community spirit and quality of life. It's built by people like Warren and Donna Kreutziger, who are making a difference in rural Kansas.
And to top it all off: soon after my trip to Canada, I drove through Mexico....Mexico, Missouri.
One day, I was looking at a book entitled the Capper/MRI Quick-Fact Book of Kansas. This book is a compilation of interesting facts and information about Kansas.
In the population section, I spotted a listing that caught my eye: The ten smallest communities in Kansas.
We began looking at these communities, to see how they are surviving and what makes them tick. By smallest towns, I mean in terms of population, not geography. And I also need to define "town:" in this case, I mean an incorporated town. Around Kansas, there are probably unincorporated towns with more people than some of these incorporated towns. But if a town isn't incorporated, it will not have an official census count of its population.
So based on the official records, I have a list of the ten smallest towns in the state.
Today we'll visit one of these towns in north central Kansas. Scottsville is in Mitchell County near Beloit. It is a town of 26 people. Now, that's rural.
Lowell Palmquist lives in Scottsville now, having farmed for years near Concordia. His daughter and son-in-law live there, so Lowell moved there three years ago. Two of Lowell's grandsons, from Scottsville, attended K-State.
A printed history of Scottsville says that the town had a population of 500 at the turn of the century. By 1910, it had dropped to 248.
Today, Lowell Palmquist says with a smile that the population might be about 30, "counting the cats."
The mailing address for the residents of Scottsville is rural route 2, Beloit. There is no post office there and no business of any kind, except the grain elevator which is a branch of the co-op in Beloit.
Housing is cheap in Scottsville. In fact, there are abandoned homes that are now lived in only by fox and raccoons.
Coming into town, which one does by gravel road, one of the first things you see are the old stone walls of an abandoned building. That is the beginning of a fascinating story.
When this town first began, it was a thriving little community. But the city fathers knew that it was vital to attract the railroad to the town.
One of the problems that the city faced is that there was really no water well for the town. The city fathers knew that they needed water to be attractive to the railroad, so they came up with a plan.
They dug a pit and hauled hundreds of gallons of water in to fill it up. When the railroad agents came, they noted what appeared to be a water well and so the railroad was brought to Scottsville.
That worked fine until there was a major fire in town. Of course, there was no real water well and so no way to fight the fire. The wood frame buildings were severely damaged, but of course the stone walls were left standing. It is those stone walls that we still see today. The old stone school was closed in the 1940s.
Lowell is a member of the city council. He says, "There's so few people here, there's a good chance of getting elected."
While most of the other institutions have withered away, a cornerstone of the town remains: the Scottsville Community Church. Lowell Palmquist says that the church couldn't afford a pastor by itself, but it receives support from the village missions church and is very active.
And that is one of the secrets about the good life in one of these smallest communities.
Lowell says, "It's like a family. The church is non-denominational, and everybody goes to it. Each month they have a dinner and honor those who have birthdays that month."
In a town of 26 people, they have 40 at church and 60 at the monthly birthday party! Now that's a good record.
Lowell Palmquist says, "This is a close-knit, loving community. If somebody gets sick, everybody is concerned. Everybody looks after everybody else. They are a wonderful group of people. If you had a crisis, every neighbor would be there for you."
Yes, that's what I found on this list of the ten smallest communities: towns like Scottsville, with a community spirit of neighbor-helping-neighbor in a way that makes a difference in rural Kansas.
On our next program, we'll make another stop on our list of the smallest 10.
"Old is a condition of the mind." That's a quote from someone who ought to know: Howard Cannon, of Cedar, Kansas. He's a mere 91 years young.
Cedar is one of the ten smallest towns in the state of Kansas. Today is another stop in our series on these ten smallest towns. We'll look at the town of Cedar, which by the way is spelled C-E-D-A-R, just like the tree.
The senior resident of Cedar is undoubtedly Mr. Cannon, at age 91. But he is conditioning his mind to stay young. He is living by himself in his own home.
Cedar is located in Smith County in north central Kansas. It's a town with a population of 25. Now, that's rural.
Mr. Cannon grew up on a farm in Smith County. He bought the farm near Cedar in 1931. Times in the depression were tough, but Mr. Cannon says he made it through with the help of a good banker, Andy Lull of Smith Center
After a bout with bad health, however, he and his wife decided to move to California where Mr. Cannon's parents had moved. His dad was a realtor by then, so Howard Cannon joined him in business. He says he made more money in 15 years as a realtor than in 35 years of farming.
At age 67, Mr. Cannon decided to retire and move back to his home area, so they came back to Cedar. His wife has passed away, so now Mr. Cannon lives alone.
One day a friend of Mr. Cannon's was tearing down an old ranch house. He found an 8 foot board with a hand-carved inscription on it that says, "Cedarville takes the cake."
That was a little bit of history. It dated back to the time when the original name of the town was Cedarville. The railroad asked that the name be changed because it was so similar to the name of the eastern Kansas town of Cedar Vale. The request was granted, and the last syllable was dropped.
Mr. Cannon says, "Originally, this was a thrifty little village. It had everything; a doctor, bank, lumberyard, two groceries, garages, car dealers, a high school, and two or three produce stations." But today, there is no evidence of any of that.
What happened to Cedar? Mr. Cannon says with fire in his eyes, "I saw it die." He says Cedar was originally the county seat, but this was taken from Cedar and moved to a more central location in the county. Then businesses from out of state came in and undercut local businesses. As business owners got older, no one replaced them and the businesses closed. Today the only institutions left in Cedar are the grain elevator, the church, and the post office -- and the postmistress is in her '70s.
The town council consists of retired people, except one. But the town is growing: a baby boy was born recently. The baby is a Kirchoff. Mr. Cannon praises the Kirchoff family, which has generated much of the economic activity in Cedar through their feedlot, grain elevator, and substantial farming operation.
He says he has a standing offer of a $20 gift to the next Kirchoff baby if named Dick after his great-grandfather Kirchoff, who was a good friend of Mr. Cannon's.
Mr. Cannon wants to promote Cedar. He found a picture of a mill which had been at Cedar back in 1911, before it was washed away by a flood. He used that picture of the mill and made a design which he had printed on 206 t-shirts.
Word of the design spread among former residents of Cedar around the country. Mr. Cannon got calls from Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Oregon, Georgia, and California. Next he printed up 500 balloons with Cedar's name on them. Mr. Cannon says, "I sold two of them and gave all the rest away."
Now he has contacted a supplier about getting caps with "Cedarville my hometown" printed on them.
Why such a community spirit? Mr. Cannon says, "Because I love Cedar. It's been good to me. My neighbors are the best in the world."
He says, "If I don't come get my mail, the postmistress will check on me." Now that's an example of the type of neighborliness and support that you can find in rural Kansas. There's no government health care program that can match that.
And when he gave away the balloons, the kids got great big smiles on their faces. Mr. Cannon says, "I got as much pleasure from that as they did."
Old is a condition of the mind. Howard Cannon says, "I know my Heavenly Father has something more for me to do or I would not be here." He's staying young and making a difference by his commitment to one of the 10 smallest towns in Kansas.
On our next program, we'll make another stop on our list of the smallest ten.

Have you ever heard the phrase "a working mayor" -- as in, some person is the "working mayor" of a city? Today we'll meet someone who was a working mayor. Not only was he mayor, he did the work of rebuilding some of the city's trucks.
Today, we'll make another stop in our series of programs about the ten smallest towns in Kansas. Welcome to the town of Penalosa, population 21 people. Now, that's rural.
Penalosa is in Kingman County in south central Kansas, due west of Wichita. It is close enough to Wichita that some people can live in Penalosa and commute in to the city to work.
One person who did that is Ralph Lackey. Ralph grew up on a farm near Pretty Prairie, moved to Kingman and married a Kingman girl, and later moved to Penalosa. He worked for Cessna in Wichita and retired early in 1982. And in Penalosa, he served as the working mayor.
Ralph says that in the 1920s, a regional power company wanted to bring electric lights and telephones to people living in that area. However, they wouldn't come in without it being an incorporated town. So, the residents incorporated.
Penalosa used to be quite a community, with lumberyards, a hotel, grocery stores, banks, and a creamery. But the lumberyards burnt down, the banks closed during the depression, and the other businesses slowly withered away.
Today, Ralph says, "The only business here is the co-op. We lost the post office 5 or 6 years ago, but we have two churches."
So why remain incorporated? Ralph says, "It's an advantage. We don't have to get permits for everything."
Housing is cheap. Imagine buying a two-bedroom house for $6,000. You can in Penalosa.
There is an interesting relationship between Penalosa and Wichita. The east-west county road on which Penalosa is located is an extension of Wichita's 21st street west -- that is, 57 miles west. Ralph found that the commute wasn't too bad. He says, "When it snowed, we'd drive in to the plant, but people on the other side of Wichita itself couldn't make it."
Ralph and his wife had two sons who attended K-State. One is an electrical engineer in Seattle and the other has his own business in Manhattan.
In Penalosa, Ralph served on the city council and was mayor. And when I say he was a working mayor, I mean it: The city bought a used firetruck from Reno County when that county was getting a bigger one. Ralph rebuilt the tank and installed a pump. After the city purchased a used fuel truck from Midwest Airlines, Ralph used his mechanical skills to convert it to carry water as a firetruck. He's done the same for another truck as well.
Ralph is concerned about fires. He says, "When we started, there were 8 or 10 guys at the co-op. Now they aren't there, and there's not enough people for a volunteer fire department."
And he worries about the future. He says, "I'm getting old. I've had two lung operations, and I can't do it any more." He says the average age of people in town is nearly 70.
I asked him what Penalosa would be like in 20 years. He replied, "Gone, I guess. At least somebody else will have to worry about the mandates from EPA and all the rest."
Even so, he enjoys the quality of life in the community. Ralph says, "If you want to go to a restaurant or store, you have to drive a little further. But we're in an awful good community. We have good land and good water. And there's a quietness here, without a congestion of people."
Yes, we have come to know Ralph Lackey as a former working mayor of Penalosa. But we've also come to know him as a good citizen whose commitment to the community is making a difference.
Next week, we'll make another stop on our list of the ten smallest towns.
Are you tired of hearing about city budgets that need hundreds of thousands of dollars? Today, we'll hear about a city budget that has just one thousand dollars. No, I don't mean the annual increase was a thousand dollars, I mean the total budget is one thousand dollars.
Today is another in our series on the ten smallest incorporated towns in the state. This is the story of Latimer. Latimer is in Morris County, south of Junction City near Herington.
Latimer is a town with a population of 20 people. Now, that's rural.
In Latimer, meet Bob Diekmann. He was born and raised north of Latimer and then moved to Colorado. Bob went into construction and worked in various locations around the midwest.
In 1975, his knees went out, so he went into sales. And in 1978, he and his wife moved back to Latimer.
Today, he sells specialty food products such as meats and cheeses for a company called Sausage Man. He also is involved in consumer networks, with a comprehensive line of products available.
In addition, Bob is the mayor of Latimer. Now how does a town of 20 people maintain a city government? The answer is, everybody pitches in. For example, an 80 year old is the city treasurer. Bob is the mayor. Bob's wife is the city clerk. And his second cousin is among the city council members.
There certainly is continuity in a town this size. Latimer was incorporated in 1929. Charley Kasten was mayor till 1959. Charley's son then served until 1991 or so, when he appointed Bob Diekmann.
Bob has certainly seen the town change. Years ago, Latimer had a grocery store and post office, lumberyard, barber shop, cafe, car dealerships, implement dealerships, and two churches.
Today, the only institutions that are visible are the church and the grain elevator.
So what should be done about these communities? Bob Diekmann says, "The biggest problem for small communities is too much government. Mandates come down from the state or the feds. You have to comply, and we just don't have the money to do it."
For example, the grain elevator in Latimer sold gas on the side. Bob says, "Selling gasoline wasn't a big money maker for the owner of the elevator. He just did it for the convenience of the people who lived there. Then the environmental regulations came down. Under the regs, he either had to remove his gas pumps or buy one million dollars worth of insurance."
Well, he removed the pumps. And now residents of Latimer have to drive 10 miles for the gas they used to buy locally.
The elevator also sells fertilizer, but now that is in jeopardy. New environmental regulations have come down on that one too. The owner of the elevator is just three years from retirement. He estimated that he would have to be in business for 15 more years just to pay for the cost of compliance.
Bob Diekmann gives one other example. The school at Latimer had closed, and the township decided to donate it to the town to become a community center. But under the law, funds had to be spent to make the building handicapped accessible -- even though no one in town is disabled. That meant the budget had to be about doubled.
It's a challenge for a small community. But Bob Diekmann still wouldn't trade it.
He says, "My work sometimes takes me to cities like Denver, Dallas, or Atlanta. And when I get back, I always say, 'God, I'm glad to be home.' There's no traffic jam in Latimer -- in fact, there's no traffic."
Bob says, "These days people are afraid to go to the mall in the city because of gangs. Here, we don't have that kind of hassle."
Have you been hearing about city budgets of hundreds of thousands of dollars? Relax. The town of Latimer has a budget of only one thousand dollars. But it also has volunteers like Bob Diekmann, whose service and entrepreneurial spirit are making a difference in rural Kansas.
Next week, we'll make another stop on our list of the ten smallest towns in Kansas.

Taxes are always a hot topic. Sometimes the level of the mill levy in various communities comes in for debate. So imagine a town with a zero mill levy. That's right, I said "zero" mill levy.
Today we'll visit a town like that, as part of our series on the ten smallest incorporated towns in the state.
Let's go to Bassett, Kansas. Bassett is located in Allen County in southeast Kansas. It is a town with a population of 20 people. Now, that's rural.
Meet Darrell Buss. He's the mayor of Bassett. He says it's not a terribly time consuming job.
Bassett is unique among the 10 smallest towns in that it is nestled in very closely with another, much larger community. It is just across the creek -- I would say "crick" -- from Iola, a town of more than 6,000. Iola is the county seat and has a community college as well as quite a bit of industry.
Darrell Buss says, "Bassett is a bedroom community for Iola. We have no business here at all. We are totally zoned residential." Their mailing address is Iola and the utilities come from Iola.
In fact, Darrell came to the area as a youth when his father took a job in Iola. Darrell went to school and community college there, served in the Army, and went to Emporia State. He went to work for Boeing in Wichita and then in New Orleans.
One day he was back in Iola on vacation visiting his parents. He went in to the local savings and loan to make a deposit and happened to visit with the manager. The next day, the manager called and offered him a job. He took it, and as of next April 1, that will have been exactly 30 years ago.
In 1971, Darrell and his wife built a home on the lake near Iola. Their new home was in Bassett.
Darrell says, "When I moved in, they made me a commissioner immediately. We're required to have 5 commissioners and a mayor."
Boy, talk about involving people in government. Having six out of 20 people on the city commission is a pretty high percentage!
Darrell says the city of Bassett began in 1903. It was founded by the president of a local cement plant. At one time, it had a population of perhaps a hundred people. But the 1951 flood took out the only remaining business.
Today Bassett consists of 7 permanent dwellings and some mobile homes on two blocks square, surrounded by Iola. Darrell Buss says the official population estimate is low, perhaps only half the actual.
And sure enough, Bassett operates with a zero mill levy. Darrell Buss says, "We get some gas tax money and we used to get revenue sharing. But we don't spend money. Everything we do is volunteer."
In fact, this is a great story. Darrell says that the city commission discussed paying the clerk a small salary for the work that she did, but she decided she didn't want it. The reason was that she was the one who would have had to do the additional paperwork it would have required, and it wasn't worth it to her!
This volunteer spirit is just a part of being in rural Kansas. Darrell Buss says, "Being in the loan business, I see lots of interest in being outside of town. We enjoy the best of both worlds in Bassett. We're out in the country and a mile from town."
Yes, it's possible to find a town with a zero mill levy. It functions because of volunteers, people like Darrell Buss who care enough to make a difference in their community.
Next week, we'll make another stop in our series on the ten smallest towns of Kansas.
Today let's go to the post office. No, not just for mail or to see the wanted posters, but to learn about the community. Don't go looking for a big fancy marble building, however -- you'll find the post office in a mobile home.
Welcome to Waldron, Kansas. This particular town has saved its post office through a lot of effort. Currently the post office is housed in a small mobile home.
Today is another in our series on the ten smallest communities in the state of Kansas. In this town, the post office is the place to start. There we will find Shirley Nelson.
Shirley is the postmistress of Waldron. Waldron has a population of 19 people. Now, that's rural.
Waldron is located in Harper County, in far south central Kansas. When I say far south, I mean it. In fact, the post office is two blocks from the Oklahoma line. When the blacktop turns into gravel, you know you've reached the state border.
Shirley Nelson's mother lived here at Waldron and was mayor for four years. Shirley married and was living on a farm in Butler County. Her husband attended K-State.
By 1980, Shirley's mom was in failing health. Shirley and her husband decided to move to Waldron to look after her mother. In fact, an old schoolhouse was up for bid, so Shirley and her husband bought it. Now he commutes to work in Wichita.
Shirley says, "People bet we wouldn't live here six months, but we've been here ever since." That was 14 years ago. When it was time to elect a new mayor, the person who got the job was Shirley Nelson.
Now how does a post office -- much less a community -- survive with just 19 people? The answer is, with a lot of effort.
In fact, the post office was placed on a list to be closed a few years ago. The old post office building didn't even have indoor plumbing. The lady postmistress was 80 years old and her husband was in bad health, so she retired. The person who stepped in to save the post office was Shirley Nelson. Shirley took on the job of postmistress with a goal of restoring it to viability.
She says, "Our post office in Waldron was generating less than $4,000 in revenue each year. Today, it's up to more than $50,000." And the latest news is: the post office in Waldron has been taken off the to-be-closed list.
By her count, there are 22 people living in town and another 34 boxes out on the rural route. She increased revenues by meeting unmet needs. For example, a woman at church told her of a postage problem she was having which required her to drive some distance. Shirley worked with her to solve the problem, which generated several thousand dollars for Waldron. Relocating the post office to the trailer, which is then leased to the postal department, is another of the ways they economized.
In my study of the ten smallest towns, the two institutions that I seem to find in most of them are the grain elevator and the church. In Waldron, I could see the church but no grain elevator.
Shirley explained that the grain elevator burned down three years ago. Now they move in portable scales during harvest to weigh the grain.
Waldron used to have many more businesses. Years ago they had two banks, two newspapers, two railroads, two depots, and more. But the town has been hit with two tornadoes and two major fires, and has found it difficult to recover.
Shirley says that 90 to 95 percent of the residents are senior citizens. One 93 year old man walks to the post office every day. And there are 9 people over 80.
Shirley says, "There must be something good here for people to live so long. My 15-year-old grandson lives in Wichita. He went with his church group to a fast food restaurant in the city. Some guys in a car drove by and pulled a gun on him. He wasn't hurt, but my grandchildren love to come down here. Here they can walk freely and not be afraid. They love the peace and quiet and neighborliness."
Yes, we find the post office in a mobile home. That's also where we find Shirley Nelson, who is making a difference by serving her community and working to maintain that high quality of life that makes rural Kansas so special.
Next time: another stop in the ten smallest towns in Kansas.

These days, all of us are worried about crime. One Kansas town has found an innovative solution to address the crime problem: it is to have everybody in town work for the police department.
Of course, I don't mean that literally -- not everyone in town is employed by the police department -- but that's the phrase one man used to describe how the residents of his community look after the security of their town.
It's another stop on our list of the ten smallest communities in the state. Welcome to Frederick, Kansas.
Frederick is in Rice County in central Kansas. It is located between Salina and Great Bend. Frederick has an official population of 18 people. Now, that's rural.
Meet Ed Behnke. Ed was born and raised on a farm not far from Frederick. He went to the service and then married a Pennsylvania Dutch girl. He lived in Pennsylvania for 24 years, before moving back out to where his roots are: Frederick, Kansas.
Frederick used to have more people in it, but a tornado hit in 1914. Then several houses burned down in a fire in 1934. Times were tough, and people didn't rebuild. Gradually, jobs and people left the area.
In several of the ten littlest towns, the two institutions that we still find in town are the grain elevator and the church. Frederick used to have three churches, but all have now closed. Ed Behnke says the grain elevator is the backbone of the town.
This is a strong farming area. In fact, people are literally farming the town. The crops came up to the edge of town anyway, so farmers were able to expand their fields by purchasing the lots and tearing down old abandoned houses. In some parts of what used to be the town, they are tearing up what's left of old sidewalks and farming the town.
But that's the only business to be found. Ed says, "There's nobody making a living in this town." In fact, some residents are retired and only live there half of the year.
That makes it doubly hard to function as a town. Frederick has streetlights but no water or sewer system. The mailing address of the residents of Frederick is rural route, Geneseo. When I asked Ed Behnke how many people actually live in Frederick, he counted eleven -- and he listed every person by first name.
Having only 11 people in town is challenging, especially when you consider that the minimum requirement for incorporated towns has been to have 5 council members. Sure enough, Ed Behnke says, "Just about every resident here is a councilman." I dare any big city in the country to match that in terms of percentage of people involved in city government!
More recently, there was an amendment which allowed the town to go to a system of a two member council and mayor.
Ed sees several pluses about living in Frederick. He says, "In Pennsylvania, an unimproved one acre lot might cost $45,000. Add zoning, septic, and so forth, and it might cost you $100,000 total for a home." He says, "I bought here for $5,000."
And then there are the other factors. He says, "People are good here. There's so few of us, everybody has to work together."
And that leads us back to the topic of crime. Ed Behnke says, "We don't have a city police department, so it's like everybody works for the police department. We watch and see if everything's okay. In a larger town, someone wouldn't know me. Here, it's a safe, quiet community."
Talk about community policing. Here, the community is the police! It's a part of that rural quality of life shared by Ed Behnke, who is making a difference in his community.
Next time, we'll take a look at another town on the list of the ten smallest towns in Kansas.
BenedictSometimes people say that living in small towns is like being with family. Today we'll meet someone who definitely knows about small towns, and about family. She herself has nine great-grandchildren -- and she lives in one of the smallest communities in Kansas.
Meet Mabel Floyd. She is a member of the city council in Benedict, Kansas. This is another in our series of programs on the ten smallest towns in Kansas.
Benedict is in Wilson County in southeast Kansas. The Census Bureau lists the official population of Benedict as 16 people. Now, that's rural.
But here we need a clarification. On this one, I think the Census count missed it by a mile. As I drove into Benedict, it seemed much larger than a town of 16. And Mabel Floyd told me that the city council estimated the population, by their own count, at about 101 people.
How could a Census count be so wrong? Mabel says one possible explanation is that many people in town switched their address from a town address to a rural route so that they would get their mail delivered. Otherwise, to get their mail they would have to physically go to the post office, which is only open from 9 to 1. Those hours make it difficult for people who work to get there.
In any event, Benedict has suffered the same struggles as other little towns. Mabel Floyd says that Benedict used to have a high school, grade school, hardware store, blacksmith shop, restaurant, grocery store, drug store, and two filling stations.
Today, however, Mabel says, "Everyone who works goes out of town." There are lots of retirees in town also. Mabel herself is age 71.
Mabel was born and raised at Humboldt, Kansas. She and her husband moved to Benedict to be closer to his job. He passed away some years ago, and she managed a filling station before retiring. Then she was elected to the city council, which meets monthly.
Do you ever complain about the cost of bureaucracy? Well, in Benedict, all of the elected positions are volunteer. The city clerk, who keeps track of all the bills, gets paid the steep sum of $10 a month.
So what should the government do to help small towns? Mabel Floyd says, "We'd be alright if the government would leave us alone. Just let us go at our own pace."
For example, the people in town are on a rural water system and have their own septic tanks. Now the government inspectors from EPA are coming to inspect the septic systems. Mabel says, "Most of our older people are on a fixed income. We can't afford a sewer system."
The town does have streetlights on the power poles and well-painted street signs, as well as a "Welcome to Benedict" sign. Mabel says the street signs were put up by the Extension Homemakers Unit of which she was a part.
And what does she like about Benedict? Mabel says, "It's easy living. Nobody bothers us. You can walk in the evening and there's no fear."
It sounded to me like the one hazard would be trying to walk someplace quickly. Mabel says, "Everybody knows us. You might start walking up the street and stop at every place."
Small-town Kansas has a community spirit as well as a resiliency. We find a way to cope.
For example, the rules came down which prevented dumping of trash. This was a problem. Benedict didn't exactly have a municipal trash department. Instead the trash needs to go to the center in a nearby city. So, Mabel says, people get together and whoever needs to go to town takes everybody's trash.
That's not a government solution -- it's a people solution. It's a community solution.
Yes, living in a small town can be like living with family. Mabel and her nine great-grandchildren know about family. Mabel also knows about the spirit of community service and volunteerism, which is making a difference in these smallest towns of rural Kansas.
Next week, a look at another of these ten smallest towns.
"Oak Hill is a city I'se have you know
With business pluck and bound to grow,
The mail is brought with the speed of the wind,
By the Iron Horse with its speed and vim.
While the merchants all at their posts are found
To deal with the man that tills the ground."
This original poem was written by a resident of Oakhill, Kansas prior to 1915. Oakhill is another stop on our list of the ten smallest towns in Kansas.
Oakhill is located in north central Kansas on the western edge of Clay County. It is a town of 13 people. Now, that's rural.
At the edge of the town of Oakhill, we find Truman and Leona Woellhoff. Truman and Leona raise grain and beef cattle near Oakhill. In fact, they live in the house where Leona was born. The original part of the house was built in 1887.
Truman was from nearby. He and Leona married and had three daughters. Two daughters and three son-in-laws graduated from K-State.
Leona provided me a written history of the city of Oakhill compiled by her local Extension Homemaker's Unit. It includes the poem I quoted from a minute ago. This poem was written by an Englishman who came to Kansas and ultimately settled in Oakhill.
Despite the optimism of the poet, however, the jobs and population have gradually declined in Oakhill. The post office closed 10 or 15 years ago. The school closed more than 20 years ago. There are no city services.
In several of our littlest towns, I could still find two institutions: the grain elevator and the church. In Oakhill, the grain elevator is now closed.
There is a garage in town which does machinery repair but it doesn't sell gas. Truman says it used to, but the new EPA regulations required substantial liability insurance, and the gas sales weren't enough to justify it. Isn't that a sad commentary on the perverse affect of well-intended regulations?
In 1987, the town of Oakhill was approaching its centennial. No one was sure what should be done about it. The people who stepped in to give leadership to the centennial were Pat Trickle and Leona Woellhoff.
Leona and her Extension Homemakers Unit assembled histories and sold belt buckles and mugs. They did other volunteer activities to raise money, such as a house tour and dinner. They promoted the celebration to the area.
And when the day of the centennial celebration came, this town of 13 people played host, by one estimate, to more than 3,000 people.
It's phenomenal. And it's testimony to what a volunteer can do.
There is still optimism in Oakhill. Leona says, "At one time we were down to just three kids in the church. Now there are 23."
There are some young farm families in the area, and now a couple of military families have moved in, with one or both spouses working at Fort Riley. In fact, the most recent informal count shows that there are now 13 families and 38 people -- a veritable population explosion.
And why would someone live at Oakhill? Truman says, "This has always been a clean little town." The low cost of living is bringing people in. Leona says, "There is a solitude and a tranquility here. You can walk downtown and know that you're safe."
"Oak Hill is a city I'se have you know
With business pluck and bound to grow..."
Well, perhaps someday that poet will be right after all. In any event, we know that at Oakhill we can find Truman and Leona Woellhoff, people with a community spirit and volunteer service that is making a difference in rural Kansas.
Next week, a look at the last little town on our list of the ten smallest towns in Kansas.
Today is the final stop in our series of programs on the ten smallest communities in Kansas. I shouldn't say that I've saved the best for last, but there is no question that I've saved the smallest for last.
Welcome to Freeport, Kansas: population eight. Yes, I said eight. Imagine an incorporated town with just eight residents.
Well, stay tuned. Meet Russ and Joyce Jolly of Freeport, Kansas. Freeport is in Harper County in south central Kansas.
Joyce Jolly is the mayor of Freeport. She says she had to battle the Census bureau, because the 1990 Census reported that Freeport had only eight residents. In fact, there are ten residents -- and Joyce can list them all by first name. After a long struggle, the Census Bureau finally amended its report to show Freeport with 10 residents. Even so, that's rural.
Joyce was raised here in Harper County. She had an aunt and uncle who lived in Chicago, so she moved up there. While in Chicago she met a young man working at NBC radio, and in less than 6 months, they were married.
Her husband Russ had a career in radio, university teaching, and the Presbyterian church. In 1968, he took a position with the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. in New York. But after 13 years, he got tired of commuting in the city traffic.
In 1981, he learned that a small-town presbytery in south central Kansas needed a lay preacher. Joyce told him "it will never work" but he convinced her, and they moved to Freeport.
Russ says, "We have loved it from day one." Joyce says, "People in Freeport have brought us in and treated us like family."
Russ says, "For 13 years, I spent four hours a day commuting to and from work in the city. Now I can walk to work in less than two minutes. The people are marvelous, and I'm enjoying it immensely."
The church really is the "soul" of the community -- perhaps literally. The building is a registered national historic landmark. On Christmas Eve, this church in a town of ten people may have 120 people in it.
Historically speaking, the population of Freeport probably peaked at 750 people in 1893, just before the Oklahoma land run. Harper County adjoins the old Cherokee strip. But after the land run, Freeport went from boom town to bust. The businesses and population gradually declined.
Today, there's not a lot of business in Freeport, although there is still a branch of a bank open there. Since a town is to have 5 council members and a mayor, how does a city function with just 10 people? The answer is, volunteerism.
In October 1987, Joyce Jolly was appointed mayor. She has been elected unanimously three times since...How many big-city mayors could make that claim? Joyce and Russ give lots of credit to a lady named Leafy Brooks. Leafy came to Freeport in 1914 at the age of nine. Her late husband was mayor of Freeport for more than 30 years, and now she's city clerk as well as a council member.
Joyce says, "We don't have many bills. There are four stop signs and nine streetlights." The city council meets at the call of the chair.
On election night, as you might guess, it doesn't take long to count the ballots in Freeport. But a few years ago, the state was going to modernize the elections so they computerized the process. Then there was a glitch on the computer, and it took two days to find out the election results. So much for big government efficiency...
Today is the final program in our series on the ten smallest towns in Kansas. Out of 627 incorporated Kansas communities, today we've profiled the smallest of them all. But instead of the depressing decline one might have expected to find, in Freeport I found a community spirit and a feeling of neighbor-helping-neighbor that can still be found in rural Kansas.
In 1985, Freeport had its centennial. This town of 10 people had an estimated crowd of 1,100 people. The parade was three-quarters of a mile long.
This community spirit and good humor have not gone unnoticed. Within the last year a New York photographer and a Charles Kuralt television crew have found their way to Freeport.
Russ Jolly says, "This is a wonderful place to live. It is a community in a larger sense. We really love it."
And that concludes our series on the ten smallest towns in Kansas -- with people like Joyce and Russ Jolly, who are using their faith and community spirit to make a difference in rural Kansas.
Dr. Jody Galichia
Today let's get right to the heart of the matter -- and I do mean the "heart" of the matter. When someone in rural Kansas has heart trouble, what do they do? Where do they go?
That's a worry about living in a rural place. Being away from a city, we just don't have access to a large state-of-the-art medical facility in our neighborhood....Or do we?
Imagine a nationally recognized expert in heart medicine who builds a network to provide special medical care in rural communities all over Kansas. Sounds exciting, doesn't it?
Meet Dr. Jody Galichia. Dr. Galichia is Founder, President and Medical Director of The Galichia Medical Group, PA. The Galichia Medical Group, or G-MED, is based in Wichita, Kansas, but it has a network of 80 satellite clinics in more than 40 communities across the state.
Dr. Galichia comes by his concern for rural Kansas honestly. He is a native of Arma, Kansas. Arma is in Crawford County in southeast Kansas. It is a town of 1542 people. Now, that's rural.
Jody Galichia graduated from K-State and got his medical degree from KU. He has practiced cardiology in the Wichita area since the late 1970s. He formed GMED in 1984.
Dr. Galichia is a nationally recognized pioneer in something called "interventional cardiology." I think that means fixing heart problems before they become problems.
More than a decade ago, Dr. Galichia studied in Switzerland under the tutelage of two doctors who invented the balloon angioplasty technique. That is a way of clearing a blocked artery without surgery, by expanding a tiny balloon inside the blood vessel.
Thanks to Dr. Galichia, the regional medical center in Wichita was among the first institutions in the nation to perform more than 1,000 angioplasties. Countless lives have been saved and improved.
Dr. Galichia's trail-blazing work continues. He has participated in the clinical study of such pioneering initiatives as thrombolytic therapy, atherectomy, Rotablator, laser, stent technology, intraluminal ultrasound, and other things very hard to pronounce....
It's nice to know that such technology can be found in Wichita. But what does that mean if you're a heart patient in, say, Tribune? It's not right that rural people should be denied access to this vital service.
Dr. Galichia is concerned about these rural Kansans too, so he established the aforementioned satellite clinics in cooperation with physicians throughout the state. These clinics provide specialized consultation and care on a regularly scheduled basis in more than 40 towns.
Listen to the towns served. There are the larger ones you'd expect, such as Hutchinson, Salina, and Dodge City. But there's also towns like Ashland, Dighton, Erie, Harper, Leoti, Medicine Lodge, Sedan, and Syracuse. Sure enough, there's Tribune, population 918; Howard, population 815; and Cedar Vale, population 760. Now, that's rural.
There's even Galichia Laboratories, which is a mobile treadmill and ultrasound service that provides convenient testing to people all across the state. You might call it Heartbeat-in-a-Van...
Today GMED is a multi-specialty practice that provides comprehensive medical services at all four of Wichita's hospitals.
Dr. Galichia and his wife, also a K-State grad, remain loyal to the university. Most recently, they donated funds for a new Galichia Institute for Gerontology and Family Studies at KSU. Dr. John Murray, head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, says, "Not only are the Galichias making outstanding contributions to their profession, we are delighted they are investing in the future by supporting our students in aging and family issues."
Let's get to the heart of the matter. Not only does Kansas have state-of-the-art technology for heart patients, in Dr. Jody Galichia, we have someone with a heart for rural people. That concern, innovation, and commitment are making a difference in rural Kansas.
Earl Brookover
Today let's meet a pioneer. No, I'm not talking about somebody wearing a coonskin cap from 200 years ago, I'm talking about someone who was a pioneer in the economy of rural Kansas. The actions he began have had monumental benefits for our state.
Meet Mary Cummings. She is a co-owner and partner of Brookover Companies in Garden City, Kansas. She is also a daughter of Earl Brookover, the founder of these companies.
Mary says with pride that her father Earl was a pioneer, and she is right.
Our story begins on the Brookover family farm north of Scott City, Kansas. Scott City is a west central Kansas town of 3,785 people, due north of the unincorporated town of Shallow Water. Now, that's rural.
Earl Brookover was raised on that farm. He graduated from K-State with a degree in Civil and Irrigation Engineering.
Many people know the Brookover name, but they may not have known that Earl went to California for a time to assist with municipal water systems there. They also may not know that Earl took a job with a company in Peru in South America in the 1940's.
He quickly worked his way up to supervisor with the company and was heavily involved in the development of irrigation in South America. He brought that experience back to Scott County and was among the first to irrigate crops to any degree...a pioneer in irrigation.
In 1951, Earl Brookover established the very first commercial cattle feeding operation in the region. He envisioned vast amounts of irrigated grain growing in the region and he predicted that Garden City would become the center of the cattle feeding industry.
In the early 1950's, that was far from reality. Today, the proof that he was right is all around us. There are five packing plants within 60 miles of Garden City and a processing capacity of 20,000 head of cattle per day.
Here's a quote from a book titled The History of Cattle Feeding: "Earl Brookover, more than any other, was responsible for cattle feeding on the high plains." He was instrumental in starting the Kansas Livestock Association...A pioneer in the cattle industry.
And then there was the oil and gas business. Years ago, it was highly speculative to tap into what was to become the Hugoton gas fields. Earl Brookover drilled one of the first wells in Grant County. This developed into a long and successful partnership in the eight mid-continent states....A pioneer in oil and gas.
Earl Brookover had a keen appreciation for the value of land. He worked to develop the Big Sky area of Garden City, and then the Southwind Country Club and residential area....A pioneer in real estate.
Then think about Earl Brookover's contribution to his community. He was a co-founder of the Garden City Sale Company and Garden Belle Lumber, the predecessor to Home Lumber. He worked for years to promote the Beef Empire Days celebration. In the late 1970's, Garden City was searching for a location to build a new 18 hole golf course. Today, that is a fabulous city course named Buffalo Dunes. The person who donated the land, of course, was Earl Brookover.
This Kansas pioneer passed away in 1985. Today, the Brookover's four children are the co-owners, including son E.C., Mary Cummings, and two sisters who live out of state. This latest generation of Brookovers has taken the operations to new heights.
Mary Cummings has a friend in Topeka whose family is from Thailand and who recently came to visit Kansas. They went to the Brookover operations, and were overwhelmed by what they saw. Not only were the feedyards huge, they were mightily impressed by things such as the computerized feed systems in the feed trucks. The man from Topeka said, "Mary, people in the cities don't understand how much modern technology you're using today."...Pioneers in modern livestock management.
Yes, there are still pioneers in Garden City today. It starts with an Earl Brookover, a man of vision and grit, and it's carried on by Mary Cummings and the Brookover family, who are pioneering the modern techniques of the cattle feeding industry. These pioneers aren't someone in a coonskin cap, they are progressive entrepreneurs who are making a tremendous difference in the Kansas economy. Next time, we'll hear about another side of this remarkable family.
Mary Cummings
Today let's visit the Bronx Zoo in New York City. Of course, New York City is sort of a zoo in itself...but in any event, let's go see the elephants and giraffes and the other animals at the real zoo.
Look at the size and strength of the unit that elephant is in. It's incredible how the zoo can handle animals that size. And where do you suppose such handling equipment came from?
Well, you're wrong unless you guessed Garden City, Kansas. That's where we find our story today.
It's another interesting chapter in the life of some remarkable people. Today is the second and final profile in our series on this Kansas family.
Meet Mary Cummings. Mary, her brother and two sisters are the co-owners and partners of the Brookover Companies, founded by their father Earl.
Mary grew up at Garden City, graduated from Fort Hays State, and is closely involved in the family cattle business. Today the Brookover Companies are involved in commercial cattle feedyards, cattle ownership, ranching, farming, real estate development, country club ownership, and oil and gas production and development. The operations are based in Garden City, except for a feedyard in Oklahoma and a custom feed blending company in Sublette, Kansas. Sublette, by the way, is a town of 1378 people. Now, that's rural.
So, what does this have to do with the Bronx Zoo? Well, the story starts with Mary's husband Bill Cummings, a lanky cowboy and entrepreneur.
Bill was born in Ohio, reared in south Texas, and came to Kansas after college. He met and married Mary in Garden City.
In 1976, Bill and a partner founded a company named C & S Cattle Handling Equipment. It produces the normal things you would expect to find in the heart of cattle feeding country: heavy duty panels, squeeze chutes, and other things you would use to move cattle safely and humanely in and out of a feedyard.
Bill has taken this equipment yet another step, however. For example, he devised a unit that not only holds a beef animal securely in place, it has a hydraulically controlled spray system which allows an operator to mechanically apply a precise amount of pest control chemical on the animal's back where needed. This saves time, money, and stress.
What's that? The Bronx Zoo? Oh yeah, I'm getting to that.
Because of Bill's expertise in designing equipment, the local zoo at Garden City called on Bill when they needed special equipment built to handle some of their large animals. It was so successful that other zoos became interested as well.
Today C & S Cattle Handling Equipment not only produces the traditional equipment you would expect to find at a beef feedyard, plus innovative new models for use in cattle feeding, it also produces custom-designed equipment for handling these specialty animals.
You want a containment unit for an elephant? Call Bill. You want a new home for a buffalo? Call Bill. Ostriches? Call Bill.
His products have gone to zoos from New York to LA, and even internationally.
Both Bill and Mary Cummings are entrepreneurs. They have taken their respective companies to new heights. They are also involved in service, to their industry organizations and their community, and they believe in rural Kansas.
Bill Cummings says, "I can go spend two weeks in Houston at the stock show and understand why people shoot each other on the freeway. It is a rat race down there.
He says, "Garden City is the beef capital of the world. This is where I want to live."
Mary Cummings agrees. She believes what matters most is the people factor. She says, "We have a wonderful value system and work ethic in Kansas. Our people are outstanding and progressive."
She says, "Recently we had visitors from Bangkok and they were overwhelmed by what they saw. Maybe sometimes we take these good things for granted."
Well, we finally made it to the Bronx Zoo, but sure enough, it led us back to Kansas. That's where we find Mary and Bill Cummings, entrepreneurs and Kansas leaders who are making a difference in our state.
Northern Sun
It's time to catch some sun. No, I'm not talking about getting a tan, I'm talking about sunflowers.
In Kansas, the term "Sunflower State" has taken on new meaning. The sunflower isn't just a symbol or a pretty design, it's a strategy for economic development. And it's not only a crop which allows farmers to diversify, it's now a source for value-added processing, for jobs and growth.
Let's go to Goodland, Kansas. Here we find a sunflower processing plant by the name of Northern Sun. Northern Sun is a division of ADM, the agribusiness company. General manager of the Goodland plant is Rick Campbell.
Rick explains that the facility was originally a sugar beet plant that was abandoned in 1984. The plant stood vacant for eight years, and then reopened in 1992. Instead of processing sugar beets, it was retrofitted to process sunflowers. ADM bought the plant in 1994.
Rick is bullish on the prospect for sunflowers. It is a crop that offers a good return to farmers, it is good for crop rotations, and it produces a product that is in demand internationally.
Let's start with the production. Increasing numbers of farmers are producing sunflowers, especially in northwest Kansas. Sunflowers are an excellent alternative crop, which don't need as much water as corn, for example. The sunflower plant also grows a large taproot down into the ground, which tends to break up the hardpan which can form under the soil surface with conventional crops and limit growth.
With all these benefits, it's understandable that sunflower acreage has grown. In just three years, acreage in Kansas went from 75 thousand acres to 180 thousand acres.
It's a mighty pretty sight to see a field of growing sunflowers, with the big heads and golden petals. When those fields are harvested, the big flowers yield seeds in the hull. Those are then trucked to the plant, just as you would bring in wheat to a grain elevator. After that, however, the process is different.
The sunflower seeds are run through rollers to break down the cells and put in vertical cookers. Next they go through a screw press that squeezes out 70 percent of the oil and leaves a cake. The remainder of the oil is removed by solvent, which is recovered and re-used in a distillation process.
The meal and hulls go into livestock feed. The sunflower oil has high value as a cooking oil or a salad oil.
This plant can process 550 tons of sunflowers a day. That's the equivalent of 1,000 acres a day. The plant provides jobs for 45 employees. And, there's lots of room for growth.
All this happens through a sophisticated, computerized process. As evidence, note that it took a $12 million investment to upgrade the plant. Nearly $2 million of that was for electrical work. How would you like to pay that light bill?....Other companies are coming here to this plant to get acquainted with the most sophisticated technology.
The man whom ADM brought in to manage this new plant was Rick Campbell.
Rick grew up in southeast Illinois and went to the University of Illinois. His career with ADM took him to various locations around the continent, including Iowa, Canada, Minnesota, and Mississippi before coming to Goodland. Coincidentally, however, his very first assignment with ADM was in Fredonia, Kansas. Fredonia is a southeast Kansas town of 2599 people. Now, that's rural.
And how does he feel about being in Kansas again? Rick says, "I'm lucky. People here have been very friendly and nice."
He says, "Our goal is to expand, and to use local people. We want to be a good neighbor and a boost to the community."
Let's catch some sun. This time, it's a Northern Sun, the name of this vital state-of-the-art sunflower processor in northwest Kansas. That's where a progressive manager like Rick Campbell is making a difference.
Manoj Jain
Remember the old joke that went like this: "What's that ball made of?" "Hide." "Hide??" "Yes, hide -- the cow's outside." "Well, why should I hide from a cow?"
That's the end of the joke. Somehow it seemed funnier when I was in the sixth grade...
But sure enough, today we're talking about hide, the cow's outside. Yes, we're talking about cattle hides. But today we're not thinking of them as just the by-product of the beef packing industry, we're seeing them in a whole new light, in a way that brings healing to people.
Meet Dr. Manoj Jain. Dr. Jain is president and founder of a company called BioCore Inc. This company takes shavings from cattle hides and converts it into a new and exciting medical use: wound dressing for humans.
The key product in this process is collagen. That's a natural protein found in humans and animals. It's been studied since ancient times, but Dr. Jain found a way to process the collagen from cattle hides into wound dressings economically.
Today BioCore Inc. markets collagen-based wound dressings to doctors and hospitals for use on skin wounds, burns, scrapes, punctures -- virtually anytime there's a break in the skin.
It's applied to the wound just like any other dressing. However, since it includes the natural product collagen, it virtually mimics what the body does to heal itself.
Depending on the wound, it can be used in several forms: pads, particles, or a gel.
There are several benefits from this type of product. For example, collagen dressings were used in a recent study with burn and serious abrasion patients in Indiana. The physician involved said, "I'm seeing less pain with the wound that is treated with Kollagen, and about twice as fast healing."
A Topeka woman who has diabetes credits the BioCore product with healing in nearly four months a wound that she had suffered for six years.
Demand for the product is growing rapidly. And how did all this come about?
The originator is Dr. Manoj Jain. Dr. Jain is a native of India. He came to the U.S. at age 5 and grew up on the east coast. He received a degree in biomedical engineering from Rutgers University. When his father came to Topeka for a position with the VA, Manoj relocated here also.
He founded BioCore four years ago, and the company is growing rapidly. BioCore went from six employees to 45 in just sixteen months. The company expanded from 350 square feet of office and lab space to a total of 27,000 in two locations.
The state of Kansas has been quite supportive of the company. The Kansas Value-Added Center and Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation have all provided assistance.
The office headquarters is in Topeka, and BioCore now owns a former meat packing plant in Oskaloosa also. Oskaloosa is a town in Jefferson County north of Lawrence. It has a population of 1,074 people. Now, that's rural.
And today this rural setting is part of a remarkable company that is marketing these products from coast-to-coast. Growth in sales has been fantastic, and January '95 was a record-breaking month.
It's an outstanding example of the value-added principle, taking something like cattle hides and processing them into a new, high-tech, high-value medical product. In the process, it creates jobs and generates growth, as well as new markets for the agricultural economy.
And as a BioCore spokesperson says, ""We're very committed to staying in Kansas. The state has been very good to us."
We started out today talking about hide. Hide, the cow's outside. No, you don't need to hide. Instead, we can celebrate how cattle hides can become wound dressings. We celebrate the development of this new high-tech company and its founder, Manoj Jain, whose entrepreneurship and vision are making a difference in the economy of Kansas.
Jeff Hart
You've heard of the movie "Back to the Future"? Today, let's look at something the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls the "field office of the future."
USDA, the national agricultural agency, operates through a network of thousands of field offices located in counties across the country. Now USDA is pioneering some new ways of doing things.
For an example, we need travel no further than to Osage County, Kansas.
There we find Jeff Hart. Jeff is the district conservationist for USDA in Osage County. He is one of those involved in this innovative effort to restructure USDA county operations.
Jeff has a good background for USDA. He grew up in Lincoln County in central Kansas, near the town of Barnard. Barnard is a town of 129 people. Now, that's rural.
After graduating from Fort Hays State, he went to work for the Bureau of Land Management and then the USDA Soil Conservation Service. His USDA career took him to Phillipsburg, Fort Scott, Winfield, and nine years ago, to Osage County. Osage is located due south of Topeka.
Within USDA, there are several agencies which provide services to farmers through county offices nationwide. One of these provides soil and water conservation services and another administers farm commodity price support and payment programs. Both of these maintain offices in nearly every county in the country.
In Osage County, Jeff Hart explains that these agencies have had offices for 55 years, but because of where they started, they were in two different towns. For years, there was talk of consolidating them. When USDA reorganized in the 1990s, the two co-located together.
Today there is a single USDA office building in Osage County. It serves both the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Consolidated Farm Service Agency from a single facility. The building is in Lyndon, the county seat.
The agencies' building is built in the shape of a Y. The two wings of the Y each house the personnel of the two respective agencies. Between them is a common computer room and work area. This enables them to share copy equipment, printers, and office supplies. The base of the Y includes a conference room and kitchen so that it can be used by the community.
As a farmer or landowner walks in the front door, he or she is greeted by a single receptionist who serves both agencies. When I say a single receptionist, I'm not referring to her marital status: I simply mean that one receptionist can refer the people to either agency as needed. This allows for good efficiency of operations.
Another difference from the old way of operating is that a farmer doesn't have to do all his business while standing at the front counter in earshot of other farmers. Now, a farmer is brought back to an individual office where there is more privacy and more personal service.
And what does Jeff Hart see as a primary reason for co-location of these offices? He says, "Convenience of our cooperators. Now, the other agency is right across the hall, so it saves our cooperators making several stops."
Jeff Hart enjoys his work. He says, "There's a sense of reward in helping save soil and water resources. I've traveled to the big city but I have no desire to live there. I enjoy rural activities and rural people."
No, it's not the movie "Back to the Future." It's the field office of the future. Jeff Hart's innovative efforts are making a difference in this county.
But co-location of offices is just a part of what makes this the field office of the future. There is an even more exciting dimension to this, and we'll hear about it on our next program.
Osage County
Today let's visit a field office for a federal agency which is testing some state-of-the-art computer technology with several partners. It's the only arrangement just like it in the country.
Are you ready to go? Don't worry. You won't need your suitcase. Our destination is Osage County, Kansas.
No, you won't have to travel to the Silicon Valley of California to find this computer technology at work. Just come to the U.S. Department of Agriculture county office in Osage County, Kansas.
The office is located in Lyndon, due south of Topeka. Lyndon is a town of 964 people. Now, that's rural.
Jeff Hart is the district conservationist for USDA in Osage County. He tells us about the innovative efforts that are underway there.
Some people have referred to the Osage County office as the prototype "field office of the future." One reason is that there are two USDA agencies co-located and jointly managed in the same building. The other reason has to do with some cutting edge technology being utilized here.
The Osage County office is testing a new electronic partnership called PRISM. No, not "prison" as in jail, but PRISM with an M. That stands for Property and Resource Information Systems Management.
The idea is that several agencies within USDA, as well as others outside, use much of the same information about land use in their work. PRISM brings together information from several of these agencies to eliminate redundancy, and does so in a new high-tech format.
In 1992, Osage County applied to the national USDA to be a pilot test site for study of this new technology. The county was one of only three selected, and it is the only one in the country to involve a local unit of government.
In Osage County, four partners are cooperating in this effort: The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Osage County Conservation District, the USDA Consolidated Farm Services Agency, and the Osage County Appraiser.
Historically, each of these entities has maintained separate records on land ownership and use in the county for its own purpose, whether it be taxation, farm programs, or natural resource conservation. Now they are exploring whether a single electronic data base could serve several agencies and avoid duplication.
They utilize something called G-I-S: Geographic Information Systems. This is sort of like a computerized, electronic map with layers of data contained within it. It makes it possible to store and use an incredible amount of data.
Together, the agencies have mapped nearly all of Osage County using GIS. Aerial photos of the county are being augmented by digital, computer-based orthophotography. Perhaps 100 layers of data are available through the computer. All four agencies can now access the joint data base.
There is great promise in the efficiencies offered by the technology. For starters, Jeff Hart says, "There's no reason for all three offices to type into their records the same legal description of someone's land. We need to reduce duplication of effort."
Jeff says, "There's the example of a farmer who told the USDA fieldman, 'You're the third person who's come out here to see whether I had milo planted here or not' -- and each one at taxpayer expense."
He goes on to say, "With this system, a county wide classification of a field's susceptibility to erosion which would typically take 2 and a half years of staff time can now be done in four hours of computer time. And then there are questions which would typically take 30 minutes to answer by leafing through a file, manual, or soil map. Using this computer system, we can point and click on the computer screen and have the answer in seconds."
Yes, we can find this state-of-the-art computer technology at work right here in Kansas. Jeff Hart estimates that these agencies' joint efforts on co-location and technology have saved $150,000 annually for the county. That's making a difference for the farmers and taxpayers of rural Kansas.
Don Keesling
Recently a group of 50 people from Denmark visited Kansas while touring across the U.S. They only made one tour stop in Kansas. Do you want to guess where it was?
Well, it wasn't Topeka and it wasn't Wichita. It wasn't even Dodge City. It was near the town of Chase, population 577 people. Now, that's rural.
Why would a group from Denmark travel halfway around the globe to visit a small town in Kansas?
For the answer, let's meet Don Keesling. Don is the farmer near Chase who hosted the delegation from Denmark on his farm. Chase is located in Rice County in south central Kansas.
Don Keesling explains that this was an agricultural group from Denmark, so it was actually quite logical that they would come to rural Kansas. But out of all the farmers in Kansas, why come to Don Keesling's farm?
There are probably several answers to that question. The Keeslings are fourth generation farmers. Their farm is located on the historic Santa Fe Trail. They have hosted a number of international guests over the years. And Don has been a leader in agricultural organizations, especially those relating to wheat.
Don, his wife Jo, and son Doug farm more than a thousand acres, most of which is wheat. He also has milo, pasture, sheep, and cattle.
As a boy, Don went to a country school with no more than 20 people in it. He graduated from K-State in agriculture, and returned to the family farm.
Don sells some of his wheat as certified seed. That means he produces grain which other producers can plant as seed for their next year's crop. It is certified by a state organization to assure that is produced under certain high standards and conditions.
Don is quite involved. He is an active member of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and past president of the Kansas Crop Improvement Association.
In 1987, the Wheat Growers formed a task force to look at a new topic: white wheat. This was a change for the grain industry. Most of the wheat grown in Kansas is the traditional hard red winter wheat.
Now, the Wheat Growers were considering the potential of wheat that was white instead of red. They began to see some advantages in this new product.
In April 1988, a farmer-owned cooperative was formed called the American White Wheat Producers Association. The president of this new group was Don Keesling.
Don says white wheat has several advantages. He says, "White wheat flour requires less sugar and has no bitter aftertaste. It needs less spices and other ingredients you would otherwise need."
This natural sweetness is a plus, of course. The association even has a logo with the words "natural s'wheat" -- spelled E-A-T, as in wheat.
Dillons and others have become interested in the new product. More and more farmers are as well.
The American White Wheat Producers Association serves as a contracting and marketing cooperative for this product. Farmers contract with the association to produce a certain amount each year. The association then markets the grain as flour.
Don says, "We carry wheat a couple more steps into the marketing chain, which provides some opportunity for profit."
He says, "We've expanded our growers and acres substantially from last year." That demonstrates that a market incentive will work. Don says, "Contract growers can expect as much as 50 cents per bushel above the regular cash price, depending which option they choose."
And that kind of positive economic return makes for some good rural development.
So why would a group of people from Denmark come halfway around the globe to visit a small town in Kansas? The answer is the hard work and entrepreneurship of producers like Don Keesling, who are making a difference in the rural economy.
Veryl Switzer
He was a three-time football All-American. He played for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL. He was a conference champion in track.
And what was this remarkable individual's first memory of competition? Football, perhaps? Maybe track or basketball?
No, it was none of these. The first competition he remembers was competing in spelling bees and math contests in a one-room school in rural Kansas.
That's an indication of the kind of man we'll meet today: a true student-athlete with rural roots. He's a familiar face to folks around Manhattan, and a legend of Kansas sports. His name is Veryl Switzer.
Today, Veryl Switzer is associate athletic director at K-State, as well as assistant vice president for institutional advancement. He speaks fondly of growing up in the rural town of Nicodemus.
Nicodemus is in Graham County in northwest Kansas. Veryl estimates that the population today is about 25 people. Now, that's rural.
Nicodemus has an unusual history. It was founded as an all-black colony by a group of freed slaves more than 100 years ago.
Veryl was born and grew up in Nicodemus. He was a remarkable athlete. But the first competition he remembers was at the blackboard in his one-room school.
Veryl says, "Our teachers would have us do spelling bees and math problems at the board, to see who could do the problem the fastest. It was a close-knit community. I had lots of cousins in class, so I didn't want to lose!"
This motivation and work ethic were to serve him well. He went on to nearby Bogue High School and was an outstanding athlete there.
This is what life is like in a rural school. Veryl says, "There were only 24 kids in the entire school, and eight in my class." That meant that Veryl played both offense and defense in football, and while still in uniform, played the tuba in the school band at half-time. In my opinion, that's why kids from rural schools are some of the most well-rounded students that we have.
Anyway, he had an outstanding career. And interestingly, Huck Boyd and Bob Boyd were among those who notified K-State that Veryl was an outstanding athlete. He came to K-State on a football scholarship, and the rest is history.
Here are just a few of his achievements at K-State: In track, he was league champion in the indoor long jump. In football, he was a three-year All-American and three-year all-conference. He led the team to victory over KU in Lawrence. He led the nation in punt returns in 1953, averaging 31 yards per carry. And all this while playing defense, as well as offense.
It didn't stop there. He was the fourth player selected in the 1954 NFL draft -- not the fourth round, the fourth player in the first round. He spent more than five years in professional football, with a list of achievements too numerous to mention.
Veryl served two years as a first lieutenant in the Air Force and worked for the Chicago Board of Education for 10 years before coming back to K-State in 1969. Since then, he has served a variety of administrative positions in academics and athletics.
Of special note is the leadership he has given to encourage the minority community. He helped establish the Minority Affairs office, the Minority Resource Center, and the Educational Opportunity Center at K-State.
Veryl Switzer remains thankful for his rural roots. He says, "When I was a boy I wanted to be rancher. So later on I bought some farm ground in Graham County. I still love getting out there. I can't get enough of it."
Yes, this former NFL standout has some fascinating memories. But his first memory of competition wasn't on the football field, it was in a rural schoolhouse. Those are the rural roots of Veryl Switzer, whose commitment to equal opportunity is making a difference for Kansas.
George EschbaugToday let's visit a multi-million dollar advertising agency with high-tech equipment. It sounds like Madison Avenue, doesn't it?
Well, it's not on Madison Avenue, but it is on Avenue M. Avenue M is the gravel road west of town.
How did a multi-million dollar ad agency come to be located on a gravel road? The answer is, it grew there.
This is the story of George Eschbaugh. He is President of George Eschbaugh Advertising in Wilson, Kansas.
Wilson is located in Ellsworth County in central Kansas. By the way, there's also a Wilson County in Kansas, but that's in a different part of the state altogether. Wilson city is a town of 834 people. Now, that's rural.
Here in Wilson we find George Eschbaugh and his advertising agency. George was born and raised here. After graduation from KU, he worked for an ad agency in Kansas City and then enlisted in the Air Force during World War II. After the service, he returned to Wilson where he started to farm.
Then there was an opportunity to use his ad agency skills by doing some ads for the local farm equipment dealers. One thing led to another, and soon the ad agency became his fulltime work.
In 1954, he started screen printing. This is a specialized type of printing which has several advantages.
Again, one thing led to another. The screen printing was such a success that he finally dropped the ad accounts altogether.
George was doing this work in a three-story building in back of his house near Wilson. In April 1975, the building burned to the ground.
For some businesses, this would be a fatal disaster. But not George Eschbaugh. He put up a Butler building and was back in business within a month. And within the first year after the fire, business doubled.
George says his goal is to put out a first-class product at a fair price and on time. These are the results:
His first year of operation, George had about $4,000 in sales. Today, his sales are more than $2 million every year.
George says, "Every time I got a dollar, I got a concrete block. When I got enough blocks, I built another room." By now he's added on at least a half dozen times.
The art department uses computers and the screen printing enables him to produce large size products. His company produces a lot of ad decals, labels for machinery, and those huge banners you may see in front of a convenience store. They can print something up to 15 feet in size in just one pass.
George's company employs 42 people, but they're not into bureaucracy. George has been known, with tongue in cheek, to consider his black Labrador dog Sam as his company vice-president. That might be the only company in the world where the company vice-president takes his Christmas bonus in dog chow...
And how can a company that deals coast-to-coast operate in rural Kansas? George says, "I can FAX a letter to San Francisco cheaper than I can mail it. Some people want to work in a small community. And frankly, those people are more dedicated."
He says, "You're not bothered by walk-in salesmen out here. We work in less stressful conditions than in the city. Here, there's security and people are friendly. Everybody waves."
He goes on, "You can charge your groceries and they'll pump your gas for you, and send you a bill at the end of the month. You can't beat it."
No, this high-tech, multimillion dollar company is not found on Madison Avenue; it's on Avenue M, the gravel road west of town. That's where we find George Eschbaugh. Through his vision, entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to rural Kansas, he is making a difference in the Kansas economy.
Dane Hansen
What do you do with 100 extra mules? Yes, I said mules. It sounds like a stubborn problem, doesn't it...Well, it's probably not a problem you've dealt with lately, but is an interesting sidelight on today's story.
Today we'll visit about one of the most successful home-grown entrepreneurs of Kansas history. He was to become a titan of Kansas business, a behind-the-scenes leader in the nation's government, and a tremendous benefactor of rural Kansas.
His name is Dane Hansen. His niece by marriage, Polly Bales, shared his story with us.
Dane Hansen was born in 1883 to pioneer parents. His father was a Danish immigrant who came to Kansas and met and married a young schoolteacher in Logan. Logan is in Phillips County in northwest Kansas.
Here in Logan was where Dane Hansen was born and grew up. He had the eye of an entrepreneur. As a child, his father had a grist mill. Young Dane would go to the river crossing to watch for farmers bringing wagonloads of wheat to town to be processed. Young Dane would ask for a ride and then direct them to his father's mill, until it was time to go again for the next prospective customer.
After high school, he took one year of business studies in Missouri and returned to the family's general merchandise store in 1905. His career as an entrepreneur was just beginning.
He and his father opened a lumberyard. Then they expanded their ranching operation, breeding Hereford cattle.
And what about the mules? Well, when the U.S. Army needed mules in World War I, Dane Hansen the entrepreneur scoured the countryside and bought mules to sell to the Army. That worked fine until the Armistice. Suddenly the war was over, and Dane Hansen had more than 100 mules with no market for them.
For most people, that would have been a disaster. But Dane Hansen had the eye of an entrepreneur. He set up a construction company and used those mules for earth-moving and then to build roads. That was the way roads were built in those days, and it was a success.
The Hansen Construction Company was to grow and diversify. Sometime after 1923, young Dane Hansen tried yet another enterprise. He said that he "began to fiddle a little in oil...picking up a bit of a cheap royalty here and a bargain lease there."
His fiddling was to pay off in a big way. In 1941, oil was discovered south of Logan. This led to Dane Hansen creating his own exploration company and ultimately to become one of the largest independent producers in Kansas.
Good citizenship was another hallmark of Dane Hansen. At age 27, he was appointed Logan's city clerk, and he served his community in several capacities. He became deeply involved at the national level as well, although he did not choose the limelight for himself. From 1920 to 1960, he never missed a Republican National Convention.
He was a national figure in Republican politics. He was a multi-millionaire in business. He could have located the headquarters of his operations anywhere. Instead, he kept his office right where he began: Logan, Kansas, population 633 people. Now, that's rural.
Dane Hansen was a devoted family man, although he himself never married. So in 1964, when symptoms of ill health began to surface, he thought about how to leave his inheritance and put it to the best use. The result of that thinking was the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, established after his death in 1965.
To date, the Foundation has donated more than 20 million dollars to various good causes benefitting Logan, northwest Kansas, and the state as a whole.
All Kansans can appreciate Dane Hansen. Senator Harry Darby described him as "a symbol of all that's good about Kansas. He had all the virtues: integrity, humility, honesty, kindness, dependability, loyalty."
What do you do with 100 extra mules? You make a problem into an opportunity. That's the spirit of entrepreneur Dane Hansen, whose life made a difference in rural Kansas.
There's another part of the legacy of Dane Hansen which we haven't yet discussed. We'll talk about that on our next program.
Polly Bales
Today let's go see a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution. While we're at it, let's see some early American coins and guns as well as oriental art.
Does this sound like a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City? It might be. But don't pack just yet. You can find these exhibits in a museum right here in Kansas...in fact, in rural Kansas.
Meet Polly Bales. Polly is president of the Dane G. Hansen Museum Association. This organization supports the work of the Dane G. Hansen Museum, which includes exhibits from the Smithsonian and much, much more.
Polly is very proud of this museum, and with good reason. The Hansen Museum is an absolute gem, and it is found in a very rural community. It is located in the northwest Kansas town of Logan, which has just 633 people.
Polly Bales knows the value of small towns. She is originally from the town of Whitewater in south central Kansas. Whitewater is a town of 683 people. Now, that's rural.
Polly went to KU and met the man she married: Dane Bales. Dane was a nephew and namesake of a successful businessman named Dane Hansen.
Dane Bales served in World War II, and after the war he and Polly came to Logan for him to work in Dane Hansen's various enterprises. Years later, after Dane Hansen's death, Dane and Polly played a key role in perpetuating his legacy.
Today, the Dane G. Hansen Memorial Plaza is in the heart of Logan. It is located on the exact same city block on which Dane Hansen was born and built his businesses.
Today this site houses a multi-purpose building surrounded by beautiful landscaping. The building includes a community meeting room, museum, and gallery. It is elegantly decorated and is the finest structure of its type in the area.
The building was dedicated in April of 1973. The first president of the Hansen Museum Association is still president today: Polly Bales.
But that's just the beginning of Polly Bales' service to the community. She has a long and impressive record of service to various causes, starting with her family and church. She has been deeply involved in various organizations, dealing with women's groups, the University of Kansas, and the Republican Party.
Polly is a remarkable lady. Not too many people in rural Kansas have traveled around the world or gone on African safari. This lady of class and elegance even goes to New York for concerts, ballet, and Broadway shows.
Still, she takes special pride in the facility at Logan. The Hansen Museum has been called the "Smithsonian of the Plains.
It includes a permanent display of Dane Hansen's old office and oriental artwork from his sister's career as a missionary in Japan. There is a remarkable collection of valuable coins, guns, swords, and knives which a local retired farmer had amassed before his death. There is a Kansas patchwork quilt and various artworks purchased by the association.
And then there are the traveling displays. Here are just a few of the exhibits that have been hosted at the Hansen Museum: Peter Max artwork, Victorian glass from London, Royal Copenhagen porcelain, Norman Rockwell prints, Japanese dolls, Chinese jade, antique toys, "Models of Leonardo da Vinci," and a piece of moon rock borrowed from NASA in Houston.
I find this amazing. And I suspect that most Kansans don't realize that this gem of a museum is right here in our backyard: in rural Kansas.
Polly Bales says, "We've been blessed to travel all over the world, but we're so glad to get back home."
Yes, let's go to a traveling exhibit of the Smithsonian Institution. But you don't need to fight the crime and traffic of New York City, just make your way to Logan, Kansas. That's where you'll find the Dane Hansen Museum and people like Polly Bales, whose commitment to improving the culture of our people is making a difference in rural Kansas.
Joe Palacioz
Today we'll meet a city manager who learned his work from the ground up -- and I do mean the ground up. This man's first job with the city was as a maintenance worker at the city landfill. Now, he has risen through the ranks to become city manager of a town of nearly 40,000 people.
Meet Joe Palacioz. He is city manager of Hutchinson. The story of Joe and his delightful wife Criss is a fascinating one.
Joe's grandparents on both sides were born in Mexico. They came to Kansas on the railroad. Joe's father lived at Florence, Kansas. Florence is a town of 636 people. Now, that's rural.
Joe himself was born and raised at Newton. He attended Bethel College and Hutch Community College. One night he went to his cousin's wedding dance and met a young lady. Sure enough, she became his wife.
Money was tight for the newlyweds. Criss and Joe were both working and Joe was going to college. Then one day Joe was laid off. He kept looking for work, but couldn't find it.
Joe says, "One Sunday we were down to two dollars cash. We went to church and a missionary told about the poor villagers in Latin America. He said any donation that we made would be repaid to us ten-fold. I struggled with the decision, but I donated that two dollars." Four days later, he got a job.
Joe says, "I figure I was repaid."
The job, however, was not exactly glamorous: maintenance worker at the landfill. There is no job lower on the municipal totem pole than that one.
But Joe was a hard worker. He continued his education, taking classes at night and ultimately getting bachelor's and master's degrees from Wichita State. Meanwhile, he worked his way up through the municipal structure. He was helped by the practical, first-hand knowledge of the city which he had gained along the way.
In January 1989, the former landfill worker was named city manager -- the first Hispanic city manager in the state.
Today, Joe has an impressive list of honors and achievements. For example, Joe is president of a group called Local Government for Superfund Reform. Recently he testified on that topic in Washington DC. The speaker who followed him was someone else you may have heard of: Newt Gingrich.
It's just one example of how far this young man has come. Joe gives much credit to his wife Criss.
Criss says, "Joe loves working with people. He loves public service." Criss herself is quite remarkable. She says, "Our four children are my shining stars." She is also involved in a variety of church and civic activities.
For example, she was one of three founders of the Cinco de Mayo festival in Hutchinson. Cinco de Mayo is Spanish for the Fifth of May, which is a Mexican Independence Day like the Fourth of July.
So the community of Hutchinson now celebrates Cinco de Mayo every year with parades, music, dances, and dinners. It's a lot of fun, but that's not the only purpose.
Criss says, "We brainstormed about what to do with the festival, and we decided that kids are really our future." So, the activities are designed to promote education for hispanic and disadvantaged children in the area. In just three years, the effort has generated more than $17,000 in scholarships for needy kids. The chairman of Cinco de Mayo this year is Criss Palacioz.
Criss and Joe have given a great deal to their community, and they are proud of Hutchinson. Joe says, "We have a big city atmosphere but with rural values. You can go to all the franchises you would find in a bigger city here, but you still know your neighbors."
Yes, this is a city manager who learned his job from the ground up. He started at the bottom of the city structure, but with energy, hard work, and education, he has earned his way to the top. It's a trademark of Kansas communities, where people like Joe and Criss Palacioz are making a difference.
Marci Penner
Today let's meet a Kansas explorer. No, I'm not talking about Lewis and Clark or Coronado, I'm talking about a modern-day explorer of Kansas. And this explorer doesn't only go to new physical surroundings, she helps us see existing Kansas with new eyes.
No, I'm not talking about an eye surgeon either. This is a person who works to benefit small towns and rural Kansas. Her name is Marci Penner.
Marci is, among many other things, the founder of the Kansas Explorers Club. Now that's not a group of people who take trips to Alaska or somewhere else; in fact, it's really just the reverse. The Kansas Explorers Club is designed to help people explore and discover the good things right here in Kansas.
Marci comes by this interest honestly. She grew up on the family farm near Inman. Inman is a south central Kansas town of 1,035 people. Now, that's rural.
Marci went to KU, got her masters at Wisconsin and after five years as a school counselor in the Philadelphia area, she moved back to Inman.
Marci's father Mil had produced a book of beautiful photographs called Kansas Journeys, and now people were saying, "Oh, we loved the scenes which we saw in your book. How do we get to them?" So Mil and Marci decided to produce another publication called Kansas Weekend Guide, which tells about these special places and how to find them.
That was just the beginning of Marci's creativity. She and Mil published a second guidebook, and in 1993, they established the Kansas Sampler Foundation to preserve and sustain rural culture. Marci says, "We want to do whatever we can to help small towns stay alive and thriving." The Foundation sponsors an annual Kansas Sampler Festival on their farm near Inman every fall.
The Foundation is based in the Kansas Sampler Center on the Penner farm near Inman. A 100-year-old barn was recycled into the lobby of the building, where Kansas products are sold. The building itself is new construction in a rustic design, and it houses an auditorium which can be rented for meetings.
The building was made possible by a major donation from the parents of Sharon Schmidt, a local girl who was seriously injured in a car accident in 1969. Sharon still lives at the Winfield State Hospital.
But what about the Kansas Explorers Club? Well, Marci formed the club in January 1995, and already it is up to more than 180 members (I think I'm number 144...).
The membership fee is 18 dollars and 61 cents. That number's not because of the tax; the unusual number is used because 1861 was the year Kansas became a state.
It's an example of the fun thinking that goes into the Explorers Club. A member gets a bimonthly newsletter, a membership card, an opportunity to participate in bus tours, and the secret ritual. I know I won't divulge what it is...
The key to success is, as Marci puts it, to "see Kansas with new eyes." That means looking for the subtle nuances all around us. It means thinking of our towns as something intriguing to explore.
For example, Marci is president of the Inman chamber of commerce. She had the idea of holding a competition in round bale art. What is round bale art?
Well, round bales are those giant bales of hay you see around farms and fields as you drive across Kansas. Someone might say, "Well, that's just cattle feed" -- and it is. But when you look at it with new eyes, you see new potential.
So last fall the Inman chamber had a farmer bring 20 round bales to town and invited people in the community to decorate them. Someone added colorful decorations to one of them to make it look like a giant turkey. It caught people's attention, and inspired someone else to try a different design - and then another and another.
Marci says, "We had traffic jams in Inman. People came from as far away as Japan, California and Texas to see the round bale art."
Marci says, "People think there's nothing to do in small towns, but there are infinite things to do. We just need to use our creativity and have fun."
It's time to say goodbye to this Kansas explorer. She's not someone from our past, she is here and now in helping rural communities make themselves better. With her exploring spirit and her passion for rural people, she is definitely making a difference in rural Kansas.
Vern Silvers
Here's a question for you: where is the largest fluorescent lamp manufacturing plant in the world?
Well, if you're a regular listener to this program, you've probably guessed that it's not in New York or LA. Sure enough, the world's largest fluorescent lamp plant is in Kansas, in the town of Salina.
That's also the home of a remarkable man who we'll meet today. His name is Vern Silvers.
Vern traces his family roots back to southeast Kansas, where his grandfathers came from. Specifically, they came from near Arcadia in Crawford County. Arcadia is a town of 338 people. Now, that's rural.
Vern himself was raised in Kansas City. He graduated from Pittsburg State and received a business management degree from the Alexander Hamilton Institute plus certification from Oklahoma State University.
In the 1960s, the Westinghouse Company was considering a location for a new lighting plant. As Vern tells it, a lot of data was fed in to the corporate computers in Bloomfield, New Jersey to find the optimum location. The computer analyzed the availability of the needed raw materials, such as sand and fresh air, plus work force and distribution issues.
The computer analysis produced a map showing the best area for location. It was a triangle in the central U.S. When it was all said and done, the plant was located in Salina, Kansas.
Vern Silvers says the first lamp was produced in March 1967. In 1983, the plant was bought by the Philips Company and it received a major upgrade.
Today, the plant is huge. To manufacture fluorescent lamps, it is melting 200 tons of sand a day. Small wonder that one out of 10 fluorescent lights found in the world is made in Salina, Kansas.
And the Engineering Project Leader at Philips Lighting is Vern Silvers.
But there's more about this remarkable individual. He is also President of Vern Silvers Associates, a management consulting, training, and speaking company. One of his associates is Jack Parr, the former K-State basketball great. Vern is a sought-after speaker, who has made presentations throughout the country and internationally.
Community service is another hallmark of Vern Silvers. He is or has been on the Board of Advisors of Kansas State University - Salina, the Board of the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation, and is Chairman of the Board of the School of Technology and the Technology Transfer Center at Pittsburg State University. He's also been a school board member and is chair of the city drug prevention partnership.
But it seems that what Vern likes best is making presentations that can touch people and make a difference in their lives. That's why his motivational speaking is so much in demand.
And through it all, he remains an advocate of rural Kansas. Vern says, "In New York, the crime has gotten so bad that women are paying $119 dollars for inflatable dummies to go in their cars to keep away muggers."
That's a sad commentary on urban life. Vern Silvers' message helps us appreciate the quality of life around us and helps us make things even better.
Yes, the world's largest fluorescent lamp plant is found right here in our state, in Salina. It's also home to Vern Silvers, whose motivational leadership is making a difference in the lives of Kansans and others across America.
Bob Garlow
It's almost time for the Kansas FFA Convention. All eyes are on the stage, where the top FFA chapter in the state is about to be recognized. There on stage is a beautiful trophy to be presented to the winner -- an unusual trophy, when we stop to look at it.
It is a five-sided wooden trophy, surmounted by a golden cup surrounded by various symbols in gold displayed around the top. There's a flag, a cross, a public speaker, an ear of corn, and a musical symbol.
It's called the Bob Garlow trophy, and its unique design makes a person curious about its history. Today we'll learn that history and the Bob Garlow story -- a story of leadership, sorrow, and hope.
Bob Garlow, a son of Burtis and Winifred Garlow, grew up on the family farm outside of Concordia in north central Kansas. Their address was actually Ames, Kansas. Ames is no longer an incorporated town, but it is estimated to have a population of 15 to 20 people. Now, that's rural.
Bob loved the farm life, and he excelled in school as well. He was enthusiastic and outgoing, musically talented, and devoted to his church.
When he got to high school, he joined FFA, which is a national organization for students of agriculture. Again, he excelled in the organization and worked his way up the ranks.
He was elected FFA chapter vice-president, district president, and president of the National Leadership Conference in Washington, DC. Next he was elected as a state officer of the Kansas FFA. That meant he and his fellow officers were to spend a year traveling around Kansas and promoting FFA.
That fall Bob went off to college. He enrolled at Mid-America Nazarene College in Olathe. Again, his leadership quickly came to the fore, as he was elected a freshman class officer. Bob's musical talents also were noted, as he was selected to the college's prestigious singing group. Bob even formed his own singing group, a trio which quickly became popular all over the state. It was a fun and exciting time.
Then came April 20, 1974. Bob and his trio had given a performance at a church in western Kansas, and they were flying back east in a small plane. Over central Kansas, a furious thunderstorm suddenly hit the plane. The plane crashed. Everyone aboard was lost.
Why do these things happen to someone so young, so talented, with so much potential? Lots of people asked that question. But family and friends took some comfort in a small scrap of paper found among the wreckage at the crash site. It was a charred page from one of the boy's Bibles with the words of a Scripture verse, saying "In Thy presence is fullness of joy."
That meant a lot, and it still does. You see, I was a state officer of the Kansas FFA that same year, and Bob was a very special friend.
His enthusiasm and leadership were an inspiration to me and many others. So, it was only fitting that a special award be presented in his honor. It was decided that a trophy would be designed to go to the top FFA chapter in the state. The trophy would be custom-made to reflect Bob's varied interests and talents.
And that's how a five-sided trophy adorned with various symbols came into being. Still today, the Bob Garlow memorial trophy is being presented to the top FFA chapter in the state.
It's almost time for the Kansas FFA Convention. And you can be sure that the top chapter will receive the Bob Garlow memorial trophy, in honor of this young leader who made such a difference in the lives of young people.
And there is even more to this story. We haven't yet told you that Bob was one of a pair of twins. He had a twin brother, who was not in the singing group and not on the plane that fateful day in 1974. We'll hear the story of Bob's twin brother on our next program.
Bill Garlow
You know what it's like to go back to your old high school gym? It's a special homecoming. For some people -- not including me -- it brings back memories of athletic successes and winning basketball games.
Today we'll meet a young man who has such memories of his high school gym in a small Kansas town, and he has never forgotten his rural roots.
Meet Bill Garlow. Bill is a medical doctor specializing in radiology in Salina, Kansas. He grew up on a farm near Concordia in north central Kansas.
Bill was a talented and successful young man. He was involved in church, FFA and other activities, but what he really liked was sports. He was a K-State fan, and he had some great games in that Concordia high school gym.
After graduation, Bill and his twin brother Bob enrolled at Mid-America Nazarene College. Bill wasn't sure what he wanted to do, so he was just majoring in a general curriculum. Then one day came shocking news: his twin brother had lost his life in a small plane crash in central Kansas.
Bill says, "Suddenly life got more serious. After the accident, it was almost like Bob's mantle fell upon me. He was the one who was taking a lot of science, but when I tried it, I developed a serious interest in it. I had been thinking about pre-med, and I visited with some cousins about it."
Bill made his choice. He went to medical school, and did his residency. When graduation came, there were job openings in Kansas City as well as out-of-state. But Bill made the decision to come back to the heartland of Kansas.
Bill says, "When we were entering med school, the state was offering financial incentives for students who would promise to remain in the state. So, I had an obligation to stay in Kansas, but I really wanted to anyway."
There were no openings at that time back in his hometown of Concordia, but there were in nearby Salina. So Bill joined a practice there called United Radiology.
Now, despite what you may think, radiology is not the study of radios. It is actually diagnostic imaging done in hospitals and clinics. In earlier days, that consisted of X-rays, but today it includes cat-scans, MRI, sonograms, angiograms, barium, and nuclear medicine.
Bill says, "We can put a radioactive isotope into the body and tag it to go to any organ. If you want to do the bones, for example, we can tag it for the bones. It will go past the lungs, past the heart, past the brain, and give us an image of only the bones."
Another technology is called MRI. With MRI, a patient receives a magnetic force 2,000 times the strength of the earth's natural magnetism, which produces a visual reading of the inside of the body.
Bill says, "That not only gives us a picture of the anatomy, it tells us the physiology or biochemistry of how the cells are working. That means we can detect cancer much earlier, for example."
This technology is remarkable, and it's important for such technology to be available to rural people. Through Bill's practice, he serves hospitals in Salina as well as going to surrounding communities such as Abilene, Lindsborg, Minneapolis, and Lincoln -- population 1,381 people. Now, that's rural.
Bill says, "I wanted to get into a profession where I could help people, and I enjoy getting into small towns." He says, "We really like Salina for the feeling of family and community. It's a safer, more genuine place to raise children in a caring atmosphere."
And raise children he does. He and his wife have six children. But for a former athlete like Bill, it was something of a shock when his first son was born mentally and physically disabled with Down's syndrome.
Bill says, "It was tough at first, but we became really involved in Special Olympics. Recently I took him back to my old home gym, and he was winning medals and ribbons like everything."
You know what it's like to go back to your old high school gym? It's a special homecoming. For Bill Garlow, bringing the technology of modern medicine back to rural Kansas is a special kind of homecoming, and it's making a difference in the lives of Kansans.
Ron & Karen WilsonToday I want to tell you about Ron Wilson. No, I'm not being selfish. This is the story of another Ron Wilson.
He's my namesake, and he's also someone who cares about rural Kansas. But not everyone knows him as Ron Wilson. People in his community might call him by his nickname: Washboard Wilson.
For today's story, let's go to southeast Kansas to the Stark Cafe. The cafe is on Stark's main street, which is also about the only street.
Stark is located in Neosho County. It's roughly half-way between Chanute and Fort Scott. Stark itself is a town of 79 people. Now, that's rural.
That's also where we find Ron "Washboard" Wilson and his wife Karen. Karen is a native of the area, having grown up on a farm five miles south of Stark. While working at the ammunition plant in Parsons, she met and ultimately married Ron Wilson who is from Oklahoma.
After the munitions plant closed, someone commented to Karen that there was no one to serve coffee to the farmers in the little cafe in Stark. So, she and Ron came in to help.
The cafe had opened back in 1969. It had been through several managers when Karen and Ron came into the picture. As of January 1993, they became managers, servers, cooks, and cleaning crew.
They served a hot lunch every day. Then Karen had the idea, what if we served fried chicken on Friday nights? That was the beginning.
It got more interesting when Karen's musical talent came into play -- no pun intended. She had come from a musical family, and one night at the cafe, she got out her guitar and began to play and sing. The people loved it.
Music became a regular feature. Business grew. Before long, there were standing-room-only crowds. Ron and Karen bought the building next door to expand the cafe. But to do that required removing 14 feet of rock 24 inches thick, including iron poles and cement. The community pitched in. Local people donated time and trucks, until the expansion was complete.
Today, there are chicken dinners and live music every Friday and Saturday night at the Stark Cafe, and once a month on Sunday. 85 people will pack into the Stark Cafe, for what they now call Chicken-n-pickin'.
They have an open mike, which means that anyone can come up and sing, or tell a story. Karen says, "We've had some fantastic performe
Karen says that Ron is not particularly musically inclined -- Aha, there's another similarity between me and my namesake... When he was looking for some musical instrument that he could use to add to the night's show, the first thing he came up with was a washboard. And that's how he got his nickname.
Now the show includes country, gospel, singalongs, and comedy. I think the comedy part is the specialty of Washboard Wilson...
People will drive 50 or 60 miles every Friday night for the homestyle dinner and the show. It's become so popular that reservations are now recommended.
In fact, tour buses are welcome at the Stark Cafe. Call ahead and you can reserve the whole place, or just a few chairs.
The Stark Cafe even has its own 800 number. For reservations or information, you can call toll-free 1-800-754-8654. Now I should say for the record that I am no relation to this Ron Wilson, and I don't get any kickback from the business. With that disclaimer I'll give the phone number again. It's 1-800-754-8654.
So what do Ron and Karen Wilson like about rural Kansas? Karen says, "You feel safe. You can trust people. We don't even have a cash register, just a box. We hire freshman girls to help us, and it gives them something to do. And it builds pride. We're selling coffee mugs and t-shirts that put the town of Stark on the map."
She says, "When people come to our place in Stark, they feel like they're going back home, to the good old days."
And that's the story of Ron Wilson, known more affectionately as Washboard Wilson. Through talent and entrepreneurship at the Stark Cafe, Ron and Karen are making a difference in rural Kansas.
Dr. Hertzler
You know the story of Superman who had, along with various other super powers, x-ray vision. I always liked that part. Superman had x-ray eyes so he could see through most anything.
Today you can feel like Superman if you go to Halstead, Kansas. There in Halstead is the Kansas Learning Center for Health where you can look right through the skin of someone to see the inside of a body. But don't worry about Kryptonite. This is a plastic model of a body made that way for all to see, as part of the educational display about human health.
It's just one part of the legacy of Dr. Arthur Hertzler. Dr. Hertzler was one of the pioneers of medicine in rural Kansas.
I learned of Dr. Hertzler through Kara Belew. Kara is a Haysville native and K-State grad who is now a teacher and director of development for the Hertzler Research Foundation.
Dr. Hertzler was a native of south central Kansas who studied medicine at Northwestern University and did post-graduate work in Berlin. In 1902, he came back to Kansas and founded a hospital and clinic in the town of Halstead while remaining on faculty at the Kansas University Medical Center.
Halstead is a Harvey County town of 2,025 people. Now, that's rural.
Dr. Hertzler had a real heart for rural people. As he called on them in those early days, he became known as the horse and buggy doctor.
He really knew how to be a horse and buggy doctor. You could even say he wrote the book on it. In fact, he did write the book on it.
Dr. Hertzler wrote a book about his early medical practice, including calling on patients via horse and buggy, the only transportation available at the time. His book was entitled "The Horse and Buggy Doctor" and it became a best-seller.
More importantly, Dr. Hertzler enhanced medical service to serve the people of his region. He expanded the hospital and organized a training school for nurses. He did pioneering research and set a standard for service that his successors in the clinic and hospital still emulate today.
Today the medical practice which he began in a 2 1/2 story wooden building is housed in a multi-million dollar facility offering state-of-the-art technology. The Hertzler Clinic founded by the horse and buggy doctor now has more than 100,000 patient visits each year. The Hertzler Research Foundation and Kansas Learning Center for Health help advance his legacy.
In fact, I love the way things come full circle. In 1987, the hospital initiated a "Halstead Hospital Med Xpress" transport service which consists of vans which will drive anywhere in the state to provide transportation for people seeking hospital care or physicians. And people like Dr. Tejano, an orthopedic surgeon, will fly around the state visiting patients who have had surgery in Halstead, like Wakeeney and Hill City. The old horse and buggy doctor would be proud.
Part of the appeal of the hospital is that it is in a rural setting. It has all the modern technology, but a patient doesn't have to go through a city to get there.
Kara Belew notes that being located in a rural area, personal security is not an issue as it is in the big cities and the people are really warm and helpful.
At the Kansas Learning Center for Health, one of the main attractions is Valeda, the lifesize, transparent model of the human body. It's a five foot, seven inch tall plastic model of a woman, with a clear plexiglass skin, a skeleton made out of aluminum, plastic organs, six and a quarter miles of electrical wiring, and 30 lights within her. The various organs will light up individually as she tells how they work.
This model named Valeda was built in Cologne, Germany over 30 years ago by a medical artist at a cost of more than $14,000. It's a fascinating display, and a sure hit with schoolchildren.
You know the story of Superman and his x-ray eyes. Well, you don't have to be Superman to see through the plexiglass skin of this educational display and learn about your own body. But more importantly, today we've learned about a man with a special vision of his own. Not x-ray eyes, but a vision of providing affordable and modern health care.
That's the vision of Doctor Arthur E. Hertzler, whose caring heart and commitment to rural people are still today making a difference in rural Kansas.
Dianna Carlson
Does your family ever go to a drive-in restaurant? Well, let's do something different today. Instead of a drive-in restaurant, how about a ride-in restaurant instead?
What in the world is a ride-in, you ask? Well, imagine a cafe in the middle of the grasslands where cowboys can come riding up on their horses, tie 'em to a hitching post, and come in for dinner.
It sounds like a movie, doesn't it? Or maybe Marshall Dillon. But you don't have to go to Hollywood -- it exists for real right here in Kansas.
Meet Dianna Carlson. Dianna is the owner of the Cassoday Cafe in Cassoday, Kansas. By the way, though it's pronounced Cassidee, it's spelled Cassoday.
Cassoday is a town of -- get this -- 95 people. Now, that's rural.
But unlike other small towns, thousands of travelers on the Kansas Turnpike have seen the name of this one. That's because the town happens to be located on a straight line between Topeka and Wichita, so when they built the turnpike, it came right by Cassoday. And Cassoday's name is on a turnpike exit there, because that's where the turnpike crosses Highway 177.
So thousands of travelers have seen the name of this rural town, and some have discovered the Cassoday Cafe and Dianna Carlson.
Dianna is originally from Houston. She came to Wichita and then to Cassoday. Now she and her husband live on a ranch near Cassoday, where they run cattle. A son is attending K-State.
Nine years ago, a friend of Dianna's bought the local cafe, which had been around for a long time. She asked Dianna to help her run it. Then in January 1995, her friend retired, and Dianna bought it.
You need to understand that this is the heart of cattle country. Cassoday is nestled in the southern Flint Hills, which is some of the best cattle grazing land in the world. Ranches are big and cattle are king. Horses are an active part of ranch life here.
And sure enough, there is a hitching post in front of the Cassoday cafe. Once in a while, a cowboy will actually ride in on horseback and tie up his horse while he enjoys dinner. The only problem is, sometimes there isn't room to park his horse. I don't remember Marshall Dillon having that problem...
Yes, the Cassoday Cafe is a popular place. Take a look at the guest register. There are names from Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Atlanta, Chicago, and New York.
And it remains popular with the locals. Dianna offers a buffet, which she says the cowboys really like. The buffet enables them to get a good meal fast.
And listen to this: the buffet might feature three different meats, fifteen homemade salads, and homemade desserts.
The food is good, and so is the atmosphere. The sign out front says, "Good Food and Gossip since 1879." The restaurant has an authentic feel, with western art and pictures on the wall, and red bandannas on the tables. One decoration is a piece of barbed wire in the shape of a cowboy boot, and a bootjack by the front door has "eat beef" printed on it.
One of the more unusual items I saw when I was in was a clock brought in by one of her customers who is a railroad worker. Would you believe that when the clock chimes the hour, it makes a train whistle? Now there's a gift for the man who has everything...
Dianna says that when she and her friend started, having 25 or 30 people in the restaurant was a good day. Now, 100 customers is nothing. They had 216 people for a recent Sunday buffet, and during hunting season they may have two or three hundred.
They are also doing more and more catering. For the annual festival and rodeo in June, they may serve barbecue to five or six hundred people.
And how does Dianna feel about Cassoday? She says, "It's a little town with a big heart. Everyone works hard and everyone helps each other. It feels like a family."
Would you like a change from the usual drive-in restaurant? Well, hitching posts and all, this one might be considered a ride-in restaurant. This is where Dianna Carlson is keeping alive the western heritage and community spirit that make a difference in rural Kansas.
Ken Matson
Today let's visit Bangkok, Thailand. There's a new machine there called an extruder which is making special cereal products. This technology is in high demand around the world. And where would you suppose this machine came from?
Sure enough, it came from halfway around the world, in rural Kansas.
Meet Ken Matson. Ken is president and co-owner of Extru-Tech, the company which produced this modern machine. Extru-Tech is based in Sabetha, Kansas.
Sabetha is a northeast Kansas town of 2,341 people. That's rural, but Ken Matson is originally from just west of there, in the town of Axtell. Axtell is a town of 432 people. Now, that's rural.
After growing up in Axtell, Ken went to college and then to other positions before coming back to Sabetha. In 1985, he and Ernie Keehn established their own company called Extru-Tech Inc.
Extru-Tech is a leader in the extrusion industry. But what is extrusion?
Well, if an intrusion is what happens when someone pushes his way in, then extrusion must be the process of pushing something out -- and that's about right.
An extruder is a machine with something like a giant screw which forces grain products through a process of continuous cooking. It results in light-weight cereal-based products which are in highly digestible form. You might recognize them as Cheetos or Cheerios. The same technology is used for pet foods.
Ken Matson and his partner were experienced in the extrusion industry when they went out on their own. They started in business reconditioning used extruder equipment, but the parts they produced dramatically reduced maintenance costs and business grew. In 1986, Extru-Tech started to design and manufacture an exclusive line of cooking extruders and the ancillary components which make up an extrusion system.
Today this company, which started with two men in 1985, has 71 employees and a sales force that reaches around the world. Total revenues their first year were $550,000. This year revenues will be more than $16 million.
The international dimension of Extru-Tech is remarkable. The average annual growth of export sales of Extru-Tech is -- listen to this -- 25 percent a year! In 1986, export sales were one percent of total revenue. Today, they are 70 percent. And Extru-Tech is doing business in 43 countries outside the U.S.
Why does this company achieve such rapid growth? International sales manager Bob Niehues says the keys are quality products and customer service. He says, "There's nothing more important than service. We keep a company plane on call at all times to save our customer's downtime. We even print manuals in the customer's primary language."
So why does such an international business remain in a small town in Kansas? Ken Matson says that his company has invested a great deal in research facilities to keep pace with change, and he also points to a high quality of life.
He says, "We have the best of both worlds. We have nice country living and a rural setting, and we're only a 90 minute drive to KCI. There's an excellent school system, crime is low, and it's a very supportive community."
Yes, you can go to Bangkok, Thailand, and you'll find an extruder made in rural Kansas. It's exciting to see the international impact of a company like Extru-Tech and its founder Ken Matson, whose vision and entrepreneurship is making a difference in the Kansas economy.
Barry & Shirley Stimpert
Today let's go to the International Fancy Food show in New York City. It's the largest gourmet food show in the world. Just makes you hungry to think about it, doesn't it?...
Now they're presenting the Gourmet Retailer awards for quality, looks, and presentation of product. They're announcing a winner: it's Shirley Stimpert from Bucklin, Kansas.
Bucklin, Kansas?? How did a lady from rural Kansas win this award over the chefs and big companies from San Francisco, New York, and LA? Today we'll learn the answer to that question.
Meet Barry and Shirley Stimpert. They are the founders and owners of a company called the Pickle Cottage. The company is based from their home farmstead near Bucklin.
Bucklin is a southwest Kansas town near Dodge City. It's a town of 710 people. Now, that's rural.
Shirley grew up at Bucklin and Barry was from nearby Kingsdown. They met as seniors and ultimately married. She was a writer and he was a teacher.
In 1970, they moved back to her grandparent's farm. He taught school during the school term and in the summertime, they raised vegetables on a truck farm.
Shirley says that she loved to can their homegrown produce. She was known as a good cook, and friends encouraged her to take some home-canned pickles to a farmer's market in Dodge City. People loved them. Soon Dillon's and gift shops around the state were interested in getting them.
So Barry and Shirley decided to try a small commercial pickle cannery. They went to the University of Nebraska and got certified by FDA.
In March 1992, the Kansas Board of Agriculture was preparing a promotion of Kansas foods at Bloomingdale's in New York City. The Board of Ag marketing staff encouraged the Stimpert's to give it a try.
Shirley sent a sample of her pickles to the head food buyer at Bloomingdale's with a personal note. In a few days, she got a response: he said, "Those are the best pickles I've ever eaten in my life -- send me all you have."
That was the beginning. Today, the Pickle Cottage product line, which started with 6 items, is up to 34 items. They offer pickled fruits, vegetables, and gift packs as well as relish and the traditional kosher dills. And the Stimperts are selling their products into every one of the 50 states.
Shirley says, "In the first month, I thought we were doing good to have 4 or 500 dollar orders. Now orders in the hundreds of thousands are no big deal. And we are swamped. We turn down million dollar orders because we don't have the capacity."
The Stimperts have made gift packs for everyone from Senator Dole to Boris Yeltsin to the Queen of England.
The market for her hand-packed gourmet pickles is hot right now. Business is booming. The Stimperts will be building a new facility within the year. Three of their four sons are employed in the business. The oldest graduated from K-State.
So what makes these products so hot in the marketplace? Shirley says, "We offer good taste and high quality products. But classy country is really in right now. People want to get in touch with their roots, and ours is the real thing."
For example, what do you suppose is the high-tech packaging material the Stimperts are using? Sure enough, it's the classic Kerr mason jar. And Shirley continues to custom design pickle products, while using her five-star personality to promote them.
She says the romance and authenticity of her rural setting has been a plus for her business, in spite of the drawbacks of being on a dirt road, for example. She says, "The key is not the infrastructure, it's the heart and soul and guts of the people who are making the business go."
It's time to say farewell to the International Fancy Foods show and its gourmet winner, Shirley Stimpert. We're thankful for her creativity, vision, and entrepreneurial spirit which is making a difference in the Kansas economy.

Today let's go to center court at Wimbledon, the location of the classic English tennis tournament. The groundskeepers know that the grass on the court must be perfect, so when they test the soil under the grass, they must send it to the best possible place for testing. And where does it go? Sure enough, it goes to rural Kansas.
This is the story of Servi-Tech, Incorporated. Servi-Tech is based in Dodge City, Kansas. It might be described as an agronomic consulting firm. That means it provides scientific assistance to farmers and others regarding crop production. Servi-Tech even analyzes soil samples for special places, such as Wimbledon.
Meet Fred Vocasek. Fred is an ag-environmental specialist with Servi-Tech. He tells us how the company was founded in 1975, when the OPEC oil embargo, rising interest rates and inflation were putting a squeeze on Kansas farmers.
Three farmer-owned cooperatives in southwest Kansas felt they should find a way to assist farmers in those troubled times, so they went together to form Servi-Tech.
Today that company which began in 1975 with one employee has 170 employees and income of eight and a half million dollars.
Fred Vocasek says that Servi-Tech operates in two divisions: the crop services division, and the laboratory division.
Crop services involves a team of agronomic specialists at locations around the central plains. Farmers will contract with Servi-Tech for their services.
The specialists will then meet with these farmers before the growing season and make recommendations for management practices. At planting time, the Servi-Tech specialist will help adjust the planter and help calibrate the sprayer. Then during growing season, the specialist will monitor the crop each week and schedule irrigation of the crop and application of pest controls as needed. The result is optimum management of the crop for efficient production.
The laboratory division involves scientific labs at Dodge City and Hastings, Nebraska. The two labs have modern equipment for testing soil, water, and animal feed samples. In a given year, the labs will receive 100,000 soil samples, 6,000 water samples, and 40,000 feed samples for testing. The lab will analyze for the requested data and respond, typically within 48 hours.
In the beginning, the lab did testing strictly for agricultural purposes. Now the business has grown to take in increasing numbers of towns which are sending water samples for analysis. And then there are special cases of soil testing, such as Coors Field in Denver, where the Colorado Rockies baseball team plays. I'll bet they're glad they don't have astroturf there...
Fred Vocasek says the Crop services division provides a valuable service also. He says, "Our goal is to increase the farmer's profitability and therefore improve the quality of life, since each dollar from ag production turns over seven times in the community." He says the ag research from K-State and other universities is very important.
Fred suggests another rural development benefit which results from Servi-Tech, and that is their people. The Servi-Tech crop specialists are not concentrated in a single place, they are dispersed around the high plains of the U.S. in order to be close to the farmer-customers. They are also highly trained, typically having at least a B.S. degree.
"So if you're concerned about the rural brain drain," says Fred Vocasek, "we're helping reduce the brain drain by providing good jobs for the educated young people to come back to a rural setting. And, we encourage them to be involved in their communities."
For example, Servi-Tech specialists can be found in such Kansas communities as Satanta, population 1,073; Dighton, population 1,361; Montezuma, population 838; and Almena, population 423. Now, that's rural.
Fred Vocasek says that Servi-Tech provides a valuable service. Clients estimate that they receive from 3 to 10 dollars return for every dollar that they invest for the service.
It's time to say goodbye to center court at Wimbledon. The soil samples are going halfway around the globe for analysis at Servi-Tech, where the people of this progressive company are making a difference in the Kansas economy.
Martha Slater
Some time ago there were a couple of announcements about tourism. One was about a book which ranked Kansas dead last as a tourist attraction. But the other announcement was which state had the highest percentage increase in foreign visitors of any state in the nation. And what state was it?
Well, it wasn't New York or California. Sure enough, it was Kansas.
To Martha Slater, that's a reminder that tourism has a lot to offer. She believes this is a special opportunity for rural Kansas, to promote tourism in our smaller communities. And, she helps make it come alive, through the magic of video.
Martha Slater is a Kansas native who grew up in Hutchinson, where her mother's family goes back five generations. She attended Northwestern University and then studied for four years in London, England -- an experience which changed her life.
Martha says, "If I hadn't gone away, I don't think I would have the passion for Kansas that I have today." Her experience overseas gave her a special appreciation for the wide open spaces and people of Kansas.
In 1977, Martha moved back to Kansas. In 1979, she helped found her own video production company, called First Generation Video Marketing, Inc.
Martha says, "In those days, video wasn't as well known as it is now. We practically had to explain what videotape was."
Today, First Generation produces video programs for clients all over the country. A special emphasis has been tourism and economic development. First Generation has produced numerous promotional programs, some of which are showing on national cable television.
The videos may be used to promote a company, sell a product, or market a community.
Since 1979, Martha's company has produced award winning videos for Hutchinson, Topeka, and Manhattan, as well as Newton, Great Bend, McPherson, and Garden City.
But it's not only for the larger cities and mid-size towns. Her company has also produced videos for Goodland, population 4,983; WaKeeney, population 2,161; Council Grove, population 2,228; St. Francis, population 1,495; and Syracuse, population 1,606. In fact, the Cheyenne County video included Bird City, population 467. Now, that's rural.
These videos promote quality of life, increase industrial recruitment, and stimulate travel and tourism. Besides recruiting new businesses, they have also been used to recruit new physicians, for example.
Most recently, Martha developed a 30 minute documentary entitled "There's No Place Like Home: The Discovery of Rural Tourism and How It Helps Preserve Small Towns in Kansas." A comprehensive workbook accompanies the video. It is available for $35 from the Travel Industry Association of Kansas.
Martha believes very deeply in this. She has served as chairman of the Kansas Film Commission and president of the Travel Industry Association of Kansas, and is very involved in tourism activities around Hutchinson.
Martha contends that rural communities have more tourism opportunities than they themselves realize. She tells the story of a Japanese delegation that was visiting Kansas. They called ahead to one of their stops in Kansas to make a request because there was something they wanted to make sure they could see a horizon. That made me worry. We don't have mountains or oceans. But what was it the Japanese wanted to see? Simply, the caller said, "Some of our people from Japan have never seen a horizon." They wanted to get away from crowded cities and pollution, and were assured that a horizon is something that can be seen in Kansas. Now doesn't that make you appreciate the wide open spaces we take for granted?
And then there's the people factor. Martha says, "I feel blessed to live here. It reminds me what's important in life: knowing your neighbor, caring, and being there to help."
Yes, the state with the largest increase in foreign tourism was Kansas. And now Kansas rural communities are realizing what they can do with tourism, thanks to the creativity and energy of people like Martha Slater. She's making a difference in rural Kansas.

Kansas Sampler Festival
What is a Sampler? You might think it's the guy who takes water samples to test for safety. I thought it might be a person who takes some food from every dish at the church pot luck dinner.... My wife tells me a sampler is a collection of needlework designs, such as on a quilt.
Today, we'll hear about a sampler that is extra special. Among other things, it's an event.
Every fall there is an event called the Kansas Sampler Festival. It's a project of the non-profit Kansas Sampler Foundation, whose director is Marci Penner.
Marci says the festival brings together more than 100 Kansas communities to tell about the things to see and do in Kansas. The festival offers lots of fun, with ethnic food, arts and crafts, surrey rides, sky-diving, a petting zoo, quilt demonstrations, blacksmithing, antique tractors, and more. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
It's become an annual event, designed to help Kansans feel good about being Kansans. The purpose is to inspire travel statewide and to promote rural culture.
And where is this grand two-day event held? It's on the Penner family farm, near Inman Kansas. Inman is in south central Kansas, halfway between Hutchinson and McPherson. It's a town of 1,035 people. Now, that's rural.
But for this two day period, more than 6,000 people will come to the Penner farm.
A 20-acre area of the Penner place has been converted from a working farm to a beautiful place in the country. There are 51 varieties of trees and shrubs, flower gardens, a pond, a two-acre prairie with trails, a tree-lined creek, and more. For the festival, this area will turn into a beehive of activity.
The entrepreneur behind all this is Marci Penner. She and her dad, Mil Penner, founded the Kansas Sampler Foundation two years ago. The Foundation seeks to promote rural culture, and the festival is a way of showcasing the many things which Kansas communities have to offer.
There are a lot of booths -- no, not booze -- booths of exhibits from various communities and businesses. There are slide shows and videos as well as stage acts.
Acts on stage include cowboy poets, character portrayals, storytelling, ethnic dancing, dog demonstrations, rattlesnake demonstrations, and all kinds of music: ragtime, country, bluegrass, gospel, and something called the singing nuns!
The festival will include some new features in 1995: the Round Bale Art state championships, a llama obstacle course, and the Kansas Explorers Club.
Some people use the festival as a test market. For example, the Tall Grass Prairie beef producers will be test-marketing their tall grass beef as shishkabobs.
All in all, it's a good time and a good cause. There's lots and lots to see. So what's the best part?
Marci Penner says, "Some communities say the best part for them is networking with other communities. They pick up a lot of ideas and discuss common issues. It is hard work trying to keep small towns alive and thriving. This festival gives everyone a shot in the arm and provides the message that we are all in this together."
In 1995, the festival will be October 7 and 8. In a minute, I'll give a phone number to call for information. Admission is three dollars for adults, two dollars for kids 7 to 11, and children 6 and under can get in free. For information about the festival, call 316-585-2374. That number again is 316-585-2374.
What is a sampler? Well, it can have several meanings. The sampler festival provides people a sample of the wonderful things that can be found in rural communities. It's another part of the good work of Marci Penner, whose heart for rural people is making a difference in rural Kansas.

Angela Bates & Barrie Tompkins
Imagine an old-time military wedding on the Kansas frontier. The groom is a U.S. Cavalryman, a striking figure in his dark blue uniform trimmed in gold stripes and a gleaming saber at his side. The bride is beautiful, and they are preparing for a new life together.
It's a pretty picture, isn't it? Well, you don't have to imagine it from 100 years ago. It happened in the summer of 1995, right here in rural Kansas. And how it happened is an even better story.
Meet Angela Bates. Angela is Executive Director of the Nicodemus Group, which is a research and educational development company specializing in African American western history. Her company takes its name from Nicodemus, the all-black colony in northwest Kansas settled by black immigrants from Kentucky in 1877.
Angela is a third generation descendant of Nicodemus. Both parents are from Nicodemus, but moved to California when she was 5. She came back to Kansas to go to Emporia State. After graduating in 1975 with a degree in education, she moved to Washington DC and then to Denver. Longing for the rural lifestyle and "home", she moved back to Nicodemus and established her own educational consulting company.
Today she lives just a few miles from the original settlement of Nicodemus. Her business is based in the Graham County town of Bogue, population 150 people. Now, that's rural.
Angela had grown up hearing the stories of her grandparents, and her research on the role of African-Americans in the American West brought her back in touch with these roots.
One of the interesting stories of American frontier history is that of the Buffalo Soldiers. These were all-black cavalry units, nicknamed Buffalo soldiers by the Cheyenne Indians. Several of the original buffalo soldiers still live around Kansas City and Fort Leavenworth. They served their country with bravery and distinction, and a statue was recently erected at Leavenworth in their honor.
In 1992, Angela Bates was in Kentucky doing a presentation on the history of the Buffalo Soldiers. She met a young man by the name of Barrie Tompkins. Barrie portrayed a buffalo soldier at the Kentucky Horse Park where he was also their full time farrier. He wore an authentic U.S. Cavalry uniform complete with boots and spurs and even rode a wild mustang.
By trade, Barrie is a professional farrier -- that means horseshoer -- and blacksmith in the thoroughbred racing industry. He has a BS in Animal Science from Eastern Kentucky University.
Barrie's family has been in the thoroughbred racing industry for generations. He is a third generation farrier, and his great uncle shod the great racehorse Man O' War. Barrie himself has 19 years experience in the racehorse industry, and shod the 1987 Kentucky Derby winner, Alysheba.
When Barrie saw Angela and her cousin Gil Alexander's performance as a buffalo soldier, he realized that was what he wanted to do. So Angela invited Barrie to come to Kansas to do a horse shoeing demonstration at Nicodemus Pioneer Days and a buffalo soldier presentation in Baxter Springs.
It went so well that he ended up joining Angela's company, moving to Kansas, and doing these educational, historical reenactments from here. In doing so, he became the first resident of Lexington, Kentucky to migrate to Kansas since the original Kentucky settlers migrated in the 1800's.
And how does a transplanted Kentuckian like Barrie feel about Kansas now? He says, "Coming from a large city, I never thought there was a place where you could leave your door unlocked. I fell in love with the countryside."
And that's not all he fell in love with. Sure enough, a romance developed. Barrie and Angela decided to get married. They did so in style, holding a buffalo soldier historical period wedding at the Nicodemus First Baptist Church on July 29, 1995. Barrie was in uniform, and Angela was also in period attire.
Their work to promote and preserve African-American western history goes on, and Barrie continues to do professional horseshoeing. They continue to do reenactments, and they are helping to develop Nicodemus as a historic and educational site.
So, imagine a military wedding on the Kansas frontier. Yes, it's a buffalo soldier and his bride, but it's happening for real in 1995. We are grateful to Barrie and Angela Bates Tompkins, for remembering their roots and enriching our people by making history come alive. As their company slogan says, they are "making a difference for a positive change."

Dorene Anderson
The sign above the door says "Valkommen" -- that's Swedish for welcome. Across the brick street you see Scandinavian cottages, as traditional Swedish music wafts through the air. Are you in Sweden? No, you're halfway around the globe from there, in Lindsborg, Kansas.
Meet Dorene Anderson. Dorene is executive director of the Chamber of Commerce in Lindsborg, a community also known as Little Sweden.
Dorene tells us that Lindsborg has a can-do attitude. It is renowned as a center of Swedish history and culture in the U.S., yet it's a town of only 3,076 people. Now, that's rural.
Dorene herself is a native of western Kansas. She went to Bethany College where she met and married Don Anderson. They had two sons, both of whom graduated from K-State. And 15 years ago, when the Lindsborg chamber needed an executive director, the person who was hired was Dorene Anderson.
Dorene tells us that more than 125 years ago, Swedish settlers came to America and established the community of Lindsborg. Modern Lindsborg has built on this Swedish heritage to attract tourists and retirees.
Years ago, a local artist did a mock-up of what the downtown buildings could look like as Scandinavian cottages. The idea caught on, and buildings were remodeled in that design.
Today, standing on main street gives you the feel of a village in old-time Sweden. A speaker system plays authentic Swedish music. Bethany College offers frequent cultural events, and the city regularly celebrates Swedish festivals.
For example, every fall the community celebrates a festival called "Hyllningsfest." Now there's a word guaranteed to stop the spell-check on your computer...
Hyllningsfest is a three day event honoring the pioneers who founded Lindsborg. In a given year, it may attract more than 40,000 people to the town. In 1995, the Hyllningsfest is October 13, 14, and 15.
The community also celebrates its faiths. A Messiah festival is held during Holy Week. Handel's famous work is performed, along with a Bach oratorio on Good Friday.
Private businesses have developed based on the Swedish theme also. Ken Sjogren left a position with the college in 1984 to open a business with his wife and neighbors. The business is named "Hemslojd," meaning "homecraft." It is a craft shop specializing in selling Swedish goods, but it is also a place where tour buses stop to watch craftsmen at work.
Sjogren says, "In Sweden, the people watch the craftsmen working in the glass factories." "We wanted a place where visitors could see action also." Hemslojd produces the Swedish dala-horse, custom glass-etchings, and old-time Swedish appletrees.
Hemslojd started in a converted filling station. Today their catalog of authentic Swedish goods goes to 30,000 people across the U.S.
Lindsborg's Swedish heritage is truly internationally renowned. For example, back in 1976 a local committee was planning for the local celebration of the U.S. bicentennial. In their wildest dreams, someone had the idea of inviting the King of Sweden to Lindsborg. Now, that seemed a bit unlikely to me.
But as Dorene said, there is a can-do attitude in Lindsborg. A lot of work was done and contacts were made with the Swedish Ambassador and Senator Bob Dole. And to make a long story short: on April 17, 1976, Lindsborg welcomed none other than His Majesty Carl the XVI Gustaf, the King of Sweden.
Now, that's a sign of a can-do attitude.
The sign above the door says "Valkommen." And indeed, people are made welcome in this town of Lindsborg. The entrepreneurship of a Ken Sjogren, the community spirit of Don and Dorene Anderson, and the can-do attitude of the people are making a difference in rural Kansas.

Randy Reinhardt
Today let's go to the coast of China. A U.S. ship is arriving, to deliver American goods. First off the ship is a conveyor system, with components made in Kansas.
What are these items from Kansas doing halfway around the globe in China?
For the answer to that question, meet Randy Reinhardt. Randy tells me his company fabricates these conveyor systems and other products which have gone global.
The name of the company is Zephyr Products, Inc. Zephyr is a custom manufacturer of sheet metal products. The company is located in Leavenworth, in northeast Kansas.
Randy himself is from a dairy farm in southeast Kansas. He's originally from near Erie, a Neosho County town of 1,276 people. Now, that's rural.
Randy grew up there and graduated from Kansas State. He pursued a career in banking, with major banks in Kansas City. One of his career goals was to be president of a bank while in his thirties. Well, that goal hasn't come to pass -- but stay tuned.
One of the accounts which Randy handled for his bank was Zephyr Products. Zephyr was founded in 1979. Two of the partners had been there for fourteen years. In 1993 when a new partner was needed, the person they wanted was Randy Reinhardt.
So at age 32, Randy found himself president of his own company after all. It's nice to see goals achieved, one way or another.
Randy is excited about the Zephyr company. He says it is a job shop, meaning that it produces specific products when needed for its major customers.
He says, "We are an extension of our customer's operations. Pricing is important, but quality and delivery are important to us also."
Zephyr makes metal products. These products may vary from doors for a small airplane hangar to frames of partition panels to hinges on railroad cars. Zephyr products have gone all over the country, and to many parts of the world. The conveyor system, for example, is used to unload U.S. grain when it is shipped overseas.
Zephyr also makes a stainless steel industrial oven and high-powered industrial saws. Randy says the company does some reengineering of products for clients as well, when they can find a way to add value or produce a better product.
The work force is an important issue for Randy. He says his people are as productive as any work force anywhere.
Randy says, "We take the team approach. We have about forty employees."
And how has Zephyr fared with this new young president? Randy says, "In 1994, we experienced a 50 percent increase in sales to existing customers." He is also quick not to take credit for that growth himself, but to praise his co-workers.
Recently a professor from Toronto, Canada called on Zephyr. He is writing a book about innovative state approaches to business, and will be featuring Zephyr.
Randy finds that his rural roots come in handy, even though the business is located in the city of Leavenworth.
For example, can you imagine a Kansas City banker who knows anything about a welder? Well, when the Zephyr people first met Randy, he amazed them by telling how he had used a welder as an ag student on the farm. It has certainly paid off.
It's time to say farewell to the coast of China, where we found a conveyor system which was built all the way back home in Kansas. That global presence makes us thankful for young people like Randy Reinhardt, whose entrepreneurship and hard work and leadership are making a difference in the Kansas economy.

Kansas Dairy Association
Here's a question. What do the following have in common: Christie Brinkley, Joan Lunden, Miss America, Congressman Pat Roberts, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, and your two-year-old?....
Tough question, isn't it. What in the world does your two-year-old have in common with those beautiful women and those federal leaders?
The answer is, a milk mustache. Yes, I said a milk mustache. You know what a milk mustache is, it's that white band that remains on your two-year-old's upper lip after he takes a big drink of milk.
Well, a milk mustache like that has been pictured on various celebrities such as Miss America and others as part of a national dairy promotion. Perhaps you've seen the ads in various magazines showing one of those beautiful women with a milk mustache on her upper lip. The milk mustache has been used as promotion at the state level as well.
And that leads us to the story of a state-wide effort to promote dairy in Kansas. It's an outstanding example of self-help by a group of rural people.
These rural people are dairy farmers. Now, the life of a dairy farmer is very challenging. Their cows have to be milked at least twice a day, rain or shine, good weather or bad, 365 days a year. Bossy doesn't even take a day off for Christmas.
The economics of dairying are challenging too. In the 1980's, the number of dairy farmers in Kansas was falling every year.
In 1993, a group of dairymen decided to get together to help promote the dairy industry. They included leading dairymen from all over the state.
These were people like Allen Schmidt of Hays, Joe Hinton of Fort Scott, Dennis Metz of Wellington, Warren Winter of Hillsboro, Walter Burress of Augusta, Cletus Grosdidier of Eudora, Mike Currie of Gypsum, Richard Gress of Seneca, and Ron Funk of Valley Falls.
Of course, their dairy farms are out in the country, near places like Gypsum, population 365. Now, that's rural.
But these people came together with a goal of making the situation better for the Kansas dairyman. They received lots of help and support from the Kansas State University extension dairy specialists, such as Ed Call, Dick Dunham, and Jim Morrill. And so the Kansas Dairy Association was launched.
One idea which came to the group was to establish a state-level commission to promote the industry, as has been done with sheep and wheat and other agricultural commodities. And in 1995 the Kansas Legislature approved formation of a Kansas Dairy Commission.
These dairy groups are doing a lot to promote the dairy industry in Kansas. One example was at the 1995 Kansas State Fair. The Kansas Dairy Association sponsored a milk mustache contest, and both Congressman Pat Roberts and Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman agreed to participate. Sure enough, these leaders took the stage and "dipped their lip" in a big glass of milk to promote the consumption of this healthy drink.
Now how do the Kansas Dairy Association and Kansas Dairy Commission pay for their activities? Well, that might be the best part of this story.
The funds for these organizations are generated entirely from dairy producers themselves. There is not one penny of government funding which goes into their operations. They are not waiting for Uncle Sam to save them. They are pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. That's the kind of rural self-help which we like to see.
So what does your two-year-old have in common with these beautiful models and those national leaders? Oh, it's not only the milk mustache, it's the fact that milk helps keep them healthy. Beyond that, we can look forward to a more healthy dairy industry in our state because of the self-help effort of these rural leaders. Their initiative is helping to make a difference in our state's rural economy.

Myron Hancock
Today let's go to a gold mine in Colombia in South America. The engineers are installing a heavy-duty electric motor. And where do you suppose that electric motor came from?
No, it's not from New York or LA. This motor came from a business in rural Kansas. And would you believe that the Kansas company which is doing this international business was founded less than 10 years ago?
It's true. And this is the remarkable story.
Meet Myron Hancock. Myron is President of Hancock Electric Motor Incorporated in Lyons, Kansas.
Lyons is in Rice County in central Kansas. Lyons is a town of 3,688 people. Now, that's rural.
But from this rural setting a business is operating in the global economy.
Myron Hancock is originally from Oklahoma. He had been involved with large electric motors in the oil fields for some years, and he saw an opportunity in the remanufacture of electric motors. In December of 1986, his company was incorporated and it opened in Lyons, Kansas.
In getting started, Myron worked with Jack Alumbaugh of the South Central Kansas Economic Development District and Nick Hudelson of the Coronado Bank in Lyons. They helped him get SBA financing and Kansas Venture Capital funding as his business grew.
Now what exactly is it that Hancock Electric Motor does? Basically, the company buys the older style, heavy-duty electric motors from around the country and then redesigns and remanufactures them for sale. Over time, the company has diversified into industrial and locomotive motor work, pump repair, engineering consulting, and computer controlled precision machining.
In fact, there is a railroad siding which can bring train cars right up to the Hancock building. The Omnitrax company has all of its locomotive repairs for the entire U.S. done right there in Lyons.
Still, a major share of the business remains the remanufacture of these electric motors. There are several advantages in these rebuilt motors. Compared to a new-style motor, the rebuilt motors generally cost 25 to 30 percent less, delivery time is just a fraction, and service life is perhaps five times that of a new model.
As a result, motors remanufactured by Hancock are popular all over the country and even overseas. Let me give you an idea of how the business has grown.
Today that business which started with four employees in 5,000 square feet has 23 people employed in 25,000 square feet. And from January to June of 1995, total sales by Hancock Electric increased by 231 percent.
I tried to tell Myron that the reason sales went up is that his daughter got her engineering degree from K-State, but I suppose there were other reasons as well.
Today the Hancock company is working on engineering projects in Guatemala, Colombia, Honduras, Chile, Peru, and Venezuela, and they're thinking about expanding their building again. And all this growth has happened in less than a single decade.
So I asked the question: why remain in rural Kansas? Myron Hancock says, "We're 21 hours from Miami, 21 1/2 hours from Los Angeles. We're centrally located right in the middle of a vast highway and rail system. And the people here worked with us the best of anyone."
Myron says, "We really started from the grass-roots here. We have lived the American dream."
It's time to bid farewell to the gold mine in Colombia and its heavy-duty electric motor which came all the way from Lyons, Kansas. And just maybe there's a gold mine here in Kansas, in the talents of people like Myron Hancock, who is making a difference with his drive and entrepreneurship in rural Kansas.

Dolores Landry
Have you ever found yourself in church on Sunday morning, admiring the beautiful stained glass in the church window? Well, if so -- shame on you! Pay attention to the sermon the way you're supposed to!!...
Actually, most of us probably take for granted the physical surroundings of our place of worship, after we're used to them. But would you believe there is a group of creative Kansans who have used stained glass as part of a economic development strategy?
It's an excellent example of seeing Kansas with new eyes, and finding a special attraction in something which most of us take for granted.
Meet Dolores Landry. Dolores is the president of North Central Kansas Tourism, a multi-county group which promotes tourism attractions in the north central part of our state.
Dolores has been working on tourism for a lot of years. She is a Clifton native who grew up in Iowa and Missouri. She moved back to Kansas to be closer to her sister and married a farmer in the area. Today they live near the town of Ames, near Concordia in Cloud County.
Ames is an unincorporated town of about 50 people. Now, that's rural.
Dolores is a licensed beautician. After her kids were raised, she decided to devote more time to promoting tourism in the region. She graduated from the travel and tourism program at Cloud County Community College.
Three years ago, she was in an economic development meeting where a novel suggestion was made. A woman who was the former extension home economist made the comment that the region needed some distinctive yet unifying symbol, such as the Swedish theme at Lindsborg, for example. They didn't want something artificial or Hollywood, they wanted something attractive yet representative of the region.
Her suggestion was stained glass.
Now in a million years, I wouldn't have thought of stained glass. But when you stop to think about it, you realize that this region is populated with some beautiful, classic churches.
So, a stained glass task force was established. An inventory was done and sure enough, they found there was a concentration of beautiful stained glass in the region. These are works of art, whether or not you are a church-goer.
Through the work of Senator Janice Hardenburger, Cloud County was designated as the stained glass capital of Kansas.
A four-color brochure was produced, featuring beautiful stained glass designs from churches in Concordia, Clyde, Aurora, Miltonvale, Glasco, Saint Joe, Huscher, and Jamestown. For example, it shows the Nazareth Convent's rose window, which is known as the beacon light of Concordia.
The brochure includes a map and listing of lodging and restaurants. And it says, "Sample the Brilliance," which really shows in the four-color photos of these works of art.
That brochure is now being circulated, and tours are coming from around the state.
What's more, a new business has been established in Concordia. A local artist who produces stained glass found other artists through this effort, and they have opened a studio called Wellspring where people can watch artisans at work.
One of the leaders of this whole effort is Dolores Landry. She's rightly proud of their achievements and proud of the region. She says, "I like the openness and the beauty of it. It's God's country, a place where we can renew ourselves. Here you can get away from the cares of the world."
Have you ever found yourself in church, admiring the beautiful stained glass windows? Well, if so, you're forgiven. Because if you look around with new eyes, you can see something special in the simple beauties we take for granted.
And with energy and ingenuity, people like Dolores Landry are building those things into tourism development, which can make a difference in the Kansas economy.
John Miller
Let's stop by McDonald's and grab an egg mcmuffin for breakfast. Tastes good, doesn't it? Did you ever stop to wonder where the egg on that mcmuffin came from -- other than from a chicken, I mean?
I always assumed those eggs were mass-produced in California or Georgia somewhere, but if you had an egg mcmuffin around here, that egg was most likely produced in rural Kansas.
And you will be amazed at the economic impact which this business is having in Kansas -- and will have even more of in the future.
Meet John Miller. John is general manager of Cal-Maine Foods in Buhler, Kansas. Buhler is a town in south central Kansas near Hutchinson. It's a town of 1,277 people. That's rural -- but stay tuned.
John is from southern California originally. He graduated from the University of California at Davis and got his master's at Oklahoma State. During this time, he became interested in poultry nutrition. That led to several positions in industry before he became general manager for Cal-Maine at Buhler in 1989.
The Cal-Maine operation at Buhler consists of approximately 800,000 laying hens. When you stop and think about that, it boggles the mind. They produce about 51,000 dozen eggs per day. That's a lot of omelets.
The eggs are cleaned, processed, and packaged at the plant in Buhler. About 300 cases per hour can be processed there. Eggs are sold to Dillons, McDonalds, and other customers in the south central U.S. There are even occasional export sales to Mexico and the far east.
I thought all this was pretty impressive -- but it is only the beginning. Plans for an additional egg production facility are in the works -- or should I say, being hatched.
Cal-Maine is planning to build a new egg-laying operation northwest of Buhler. This one will be in Rice County near the town of Chase, Kansas. Chase is a town of 577 people. Now, that's rural.
The Chase operation is projected to begin in the spring of 1997. It is expected to include 1.5 million laying hens --nearly double that of Buhler.
The laying hens will be housed in what the company calls 12 high-rise layer houses. When I heard that phrase I visualized a chicken in a penthouse suite, but what that actually means is that the chickens are on an upper floor so that waste is accumulated on the lower floor. The waste is dried down indoors to virtually eliminate odor, and then it is applied directly on farmland as an organic fertilizer.
The processing plant at this location will be able to process 400 cases of eggs per hour -- a 33 percent increase from the Buhler plant.
And listen to the economic impact of this business. It is estimated that this business will use approximately 2.5 million bushels of grain annually and will purchase 6 million dollars of grain every year. The plant will employ approximately 80 people with an estimated payroll of 1.5 million dollars.
And if you don't mind my saying so, that's not just chicken feed.
John Miller likes south central Kansas. He says, "We looked at 8 counties and considered several factors such as water, grain, transportation, labor supply, proximity of towns and current operations, and we made the decision to come here."
Let's stop by McDonald's and grab an egg mcmuffin for breakfast. Sure enough, that egg came from rural Kansas. And it's part of an increasingly important business in our state. We're thankful for people like John Miller, who are leaders in this emerging industry which is making a difference in our state's economy.

Stan Thibault
Porky Pig, meet Star Trek.
Imagine a high-tech farm of the future, designed for the scientific production of pork. On this farm is a mama sow with a tiny radio transmitter attached to her ear. As she approaches a feeding station, a computer reads the transmitter, identifies the animal, and automatically provides a scientifically blended mix of feed tailored to the individual nutritional needs of that specific animal.
As the sow eats her supper, the machine automatically weighs her and then opens the appropriate gate to sort her into a certain pen or into another pen if medical care is needed.
Does all this high-tech stuff sound far-fetched? Well, you don't need to hit the fast forward button on your time machine. The technology I've just described is being produced and used in rural Kansas right now.
Meet Stan Thibault. Stan is president of Osborne Industries, the company which produces this high-tech livestock equipment.
Stan grew up on a farm near Osborne. Osborne is located in north central Kansas. It's the largest town in the county, with a population of 1,778 people. Now, that's rural.
After college and military service, Stan Thibault went into business. He was living in Kansas City and working on a project in eastern Kansas when he came back to Osborne to visit his family one weekend. A local banker mentioned that the people in Osborne were wanting to start up an industry there.
One thing led to another. In the end, Stan Thibault became the manager and first employee of that business in Osborne. What followed was remarkable.
The company started in an old 4-H quonset building on the county fairgrounds. The employees started making livestock equipment out of fiberglass reinforced plastic. Over the years, the company adopted innovative ways of production and expanded its capabilities.
Today, more than 20 years later, listen to what Osborne Industries has accomplished. Annual sales are more than 10 million dollars. The company produces 13 models of hog feeders, 21 models of heat pads for newborn pigs, 92 ventilation products, fiberglass penning and gating products, electronic sow feeding systems, and many more. And the company has diversified. Osborne Industries produces truck and harvester parts, refrigerator housings, basketball backboards, telephone booths, and specialized hospital equipment, for example.
Osborne Industries has six regional sales centers around the country. And products from Osborne, Kansas are being exported to such countries as Taiwan, Korea, France, China, Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, Japan, Germany, and more.
The company has nearly 250,000 square feet of manufacturing, warehouse, and office space, just across the street from the same fairgrounds where it began. Osborne Industries now employs more than 100 people, who come from 17 different communities in a seven-county area. Now, that's rural development.
Stan Thibault sees the big picture. He says, "The cities are obsolete. They grew up where they are because of historical reasons, such as being on a river. But modern communications has eliminated those reasons."
He says, "Western Kansas is the best-kept secret in the world. Our people can be more productive and creative. For one thing, they're not spending two or three hours commuting in traffic like they do in the cities. We have a better quality of life here, and that small town work ethic still exists."
Porky Pig, meet Star Trek. But our story today isn't some futuristic science fiction, it's a real live story of a state-of-the-art business operating successfully in a rural setting. We're grateful for Stan Thibault and the people of Osborne Industries, whose hard work and innovation are making a difference in the Kansas economy.
Patty Carson
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
Sounds sort of familiar, doesn't it? If you need proof that the spirit of Santa Claus is real, come with us today. We'll visit a business in a rural setting which is helping bring extra joy to boys and girls at Christmastime.
Meet Patty Carson. Patty is president of a company named Dreams Come True. Her story is one that will tug at your heart.
Patty grew up in Oklahoma and then Kansas, where her family settled in Morris County in 1976. She married her high school sweetheart, and they live on her husband's family farm there in Morris County.
Patty worked in the county clerk's office as well as the county appraiser's. In 1988, when the election for county treasurer was held, the person who won was Patty Carson.
But life has a way of taking twists and turns. In December 1989, Patty had two sick children. Her son had chicken pox, and her daughter had flu-like symptoms. Suddenly her daughter went into shock, and was in a coma for a week. The doctors gave Patty and her husband the chilling diagnosis: their daughter had life-threatening spinal meningitis.
It was a hard, hard Christmas. The children were sick and sad -- for one thing, they weren't allowed to go see Santa Claus.
And then Patty had a bright idea. With the help of her parents and friends, she arranged for Santa Claus to call her children. Sure enough, that call cheered them up.
And that was the beginning. Patty had the idea of forming a company which could share that happiness with other children. The company is called Dreams Come True, and its first product is Santa Calls.
The way this works is that a child's parent or friend calls Dreams Come True and speaks to someone there -- let's say one of Santa's elf representatives. The caller tells them all about the child -- their favorite things, what they want for Christmas, the name of a friend, and so forth. Then they arrange a designated time for Santa to call the child.
Imagine the excitement this can bring to a child. And a portion of the proceeds from each call is donated to the Easter Seals Foundation.
Patty established Dreams Come True with help from a friend named Glenna Rindt. Today, the company can provide not only Santa calls, but also a video from Santa showing the reindeer, workshop, and so forth. It can even be personalized to include the child's name.
In fact, Dreams Come True is now branching out to be a unique gifting service. You can now order roses for your wife or fine Belgian chocolates via telephone from Dreams Come True. And more is in the works.
Orders have come in from California to Boston, and more than 30 people are expected to be employed at the company by year-end.
One of the things that excites me about this company is that it can be anywhere -- it doesn't have to be located in a big city.
In fact, orders come in from all over the nation to Patty Carson's business. It's located in the central Kansas town of Wilsey -- population 149 people. Now, that's rural.
Here's a telephone number to call Dreams Come True, in case you'd like to talk to them. The number is 1-800-230-1304. Once again, that number is 1-800-230-1304.
Patty tells of a call she got from a man who was cleaning his chimney one winter, and he happened to find a letter stuffed up inside. The letter was from his son. It said, "Dear Santa, I don't know if you're real or not -- the kids at school say you're not -- but if you are, you'll get this letter and bring me a puppy for Christmas."
And you know what? That little boy not only got a puppy, he got a personal call from Santa.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Patty Carson's business is growing, and so is her family. The daughter with spinal meningitis is now 7, and she even has a little sister age 3.
So we celebrate the spirit of Christmas and of people like Patty Carson, whose caring and entrepreneurship are making a difference in rural Kansas.

Lance Woodbury
Today let's talk about Wichita. No, not the city of Wichita, population 300,000; let's talk about Wichita County, population 2,758.
Yes, there's a lot of difference between Wichita and Wichita County. It's like the difference between lightning and lightning bug.
Wichita is Kansas' largest city, with more than a quarter-of-a-million people. Wichita County, on the other hand, in far western Kansas, has less than one-hundredth of the population of its urban namesake. Yet there is a spirit of community in Wichita County which is a vital part of our state's fabric.
Meet Lance Woodbury. Lance is the economic development coordinator in Wichita County. He's also the owner of Woodbury Consulting and President of the local chamber of commerce.
Lance lives near Leoti, the county seat of Wichita County. Leoti is a town of 1,738 people. Now, that's rural.
Leoti, by the way, is spelled with the letter "i" on the end, but only the uninformed pronounce it Leo-tee.
Lance Woodbury has roots in Leoti. He went to school in Kansas City where his parents live, but when summer came he would travel here to his grandparent's ranch near Leoti. He went to Sterling College and then got his graduate degree from George Mason University near Washington D.C.
With that kind of academic record, Lance Woodbury could go anywhere. He chose to go to Leoti, Kansas.
Lance's graduate work was in the area of conflict analysis and resolution. Now he seeks to apply those skills in his consulting practice, in the form of conflict resolution training, group facilitation, and mediation. With the time and cost of litigation these days, those skills are especially important.
And his group facilitation skills are particularly useful in his work with economic development. Two years ago, Wichita County had received a strategic planning grant from the state. When the time came to apply for a follow-up action grant, the person who stepped in to help was Lance Woodbury.
The application was successful. The grant was received.
Today, Wichita County is seeking to address the four issues identified in its strategic plan: housing, health care, quality of life, and business development.
Lance Woodbury says, "We need to understand that all these are interrelated. If we were without health care, for example, a business might be unwilling to relocate to our community."
Lance points to several strengths of Leoti. He says, "There is a really strong sense of community here. People pull together. There's great support for the school and pride in our athletics."
A locally-formed amusement association owns the carnival at the annual Wichita County fair, and sells more than 75,000 tickets each year. Pride in agriculture is a strength too.
The volunteer spirit is alive and well in Leoti. Its volunteer fire department is ranked as one of the best in the state.
That community spirit was displayed during the strategic planning process as well. The Wichita County strategic planning group did a household survey, which in most cases might have a response rate of 15 percent. Wichita County had a response rate of more than double that, at nearly 40 percent.
And more than 300 people became involved in the town meetings. I don't think you'd find 10 percent of the city of Wichita showing up at a town meeting...
And by the way, you might ask, why is the city of Wichita not in Wichita County in the first place? I don't know the answer to that question, but it may be for the same reason that the town of Wilson is not in Wilson County or that the town of Lyons is not in Lyon County. It's all part of the fascinating history of Kansas.
It's time to say goodbye to Wichita -- that is, to Wichita County. We're grateful for the community spirit that we find there, and for people like Lance Woodbury, whose skills are helping the people of Wichita County to make a difference.