Friday, January 24, 2014


                            YOU CAN LEAD A MAN TO CONGRESS,
                                   BUT YOU CAN'T MAKE HIM THINK.
                                                    Milton Berle

            My great grandfather traded a farm in Oklahoma for the home place in Sedgwick County Kansas in the early 20th century.  My Grandfather rode his pony up the former Chisholm Trail herding the livestock while the girls and Great Grandma rode in the automobile.  It must have been quite an adventure.
      The home place is on 119th street west juts north of 23rd (Pawnee).  My dad's folks bought a farm on Maize Road just north of Harry street.  That farm had been owned by a local bootlegger.  I always wondered why the great big chicken house had a full basement under it.  Come to find out the place could have been paid for if grandpa had just let the bootlegger use his straw stack to hide hooch in.
      I am 3rd generation Goddard graduate and went to work for the Sedgwick County Fire Department.  My first station was right on Tyler Road which at the time was the Wichita city limits.
     I also served as an elected official (township trustee).  I also worked for two years at Old Cowtown Museum.  Without going into further detail I use this to qualify myself as being close enough and experienced enough to write about Wichita Kansas.
      It seems that now someone has Century ll in their sites and tearing the structure down really seems to be the goal.  The specifics are a bit fuzzy but the theme is to attract more convention business.
      Many in the power structure of Wichita have always had the tendency to tear down and build new things.  It is like an infection, though there is a strong historic sense in the community, these seem to be outnumbered by those who want to build grand schemes on the foundations of history.
     Those who would point to Old Town as an example of historic preservation and re purposing need to stop and realize that much of what pushed the great area today was by the Minnesota Boys who came in with a lot of dreams and sand and did what those locally could not do.  Now the boys are gone.
      Those of us who were, or are, close to Old Cowtown have had the impression that someone has been lusting for the real estate under it for some new development.  The West Bank Stage that was built by volunteers and paid for by local business, was let fall into disrepair and demolished.  Now apartments are to be built there.
      The community party that is the Wichita River Festival was taken over by those who are into the fast buck and not the party it started out to be.  Now I avoid it.
      The County built the Kansas Coliseum in an area with enough acreage and traffic access to be a major attraction in the Midwest.  All it really lacked was a hotel and a little updating.  The updating was funded and the slight of hand happened when the Intrust Arena was built.  No one yet has explained where the money for the Coliseum went and the property was sold for pennies on the dollar.
     Thank goodness the new owner left the pavilion buildings open because there was never a replacement for them anywhere.
     Looking at the Century ll complex and having been in it many times from the basement to the back stage, I am left wondering at what is so wrong with this place?  The building has become a trademark with, and for Wichita.  If more space is needed then add on.  They are moving the Library anyway.  But to tear it down borders on insanity.  Unless of course you are in a position to do the work.
      Developments like this are another reason that I love living in Barber County where the pace is slower and common sense has not left everyone.
      A word to those in power.  Do what you will but the insanity will label you forever when you tear that building down.  I hope you can manage the new facility better than you have the Water Walk.

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