Rose Hill Honors Veterans

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By Julie Pots

It was almost standing room only for the unveiling of Rose Hill’s new Veteran’s Memorial, designed and sculpted by John Parsons of Derby, Kansas, with the help of some military personnel, just to make sure all the little details on the statue were correct.  

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Sculptor John Parsons, left, and Mayor Beth Pompa

Mayor Beth Pompa started the meeting by thanking the many citizens and businessmen involved in making this evening finally happen. After a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance, Mayor Pompa recognized several special guests, asking for a standing ovation for all veterans in attendance, and acknowledging council president Roger Perryn, council members Lionel Diamond, Bob Klem and Bill Baker, Commissioner Dan Woydziak and former Rose Hill Mayor Jason Jones.  Several members of the Rose Hill Planning Board were in the audience, along with representatives from corporate sponsors Viking and Dynamic.

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City Administrator Austin Gilley

The Veteran’s Memorial Project began in 2003, and several fundraisers, donations and volunteers later, has finally come to fruition.  Right now the area of sidewalk where  it will be placed is being revamped in preparation for the statue’s permanent installation. 

The statue, weighing 325 pounds, will rest on a base of special bricks, each having been imprinted, in remembrance, with the name of a veteran.

The bronze statute will be placed in front of city hall, and November 11, Veteran’s Day, is the date that’s been set for the dedication ceremony.

County Loan Program Launches Two Businesses

By Lee White

Note: The above video came from The Wichita Eagle’s YouTube channel and the one below from Goodwin’s channel.

Wichita Eagle reporter Carrie Rengers in her “Have You Heard?” column on Wednesday profiled Johnathan Goodwin’s latest endeavor. Goodwin is best known for building the prototype of rocker Neil Young’s electric 1959 Lincoln Continental known as the LincVolt (click here for the Wikipedia entry). These days, he’s converting Humvees into more powerful, comfortable, and fuel-efficient vehicles, according to the newspaper column.

The story mentions that Goodwin, dubbed “mechanic to the stars,” had been keeping a low profile the past few years, working out of a garage in El Dorado. Goodwin’s company, Clean Futures, LLC, received two loans totaling $125,000 from the Butler County Economic Development Department. According to county commission minutes from February 9, Clean Futures still owed $84,498 at that time and was making “adjusted monthly payments.” Click here to view the minutes.

Although Goodwin has moved his end of the business to Sedgwick County, the company he started in Butler County remains there today and is apparently stronger than ever.

El Dorado businessman Steve Waite, who backed Clean Futures, has purchased Goodwin’s interest in the company and employs five people at 621 N. Star in El Dorado. The company’s name changed to Twisted Conversions, LLC, in March. A new website is in the works, but click here for the company’s current site. Waite said he and Goodwin are still friends, but that he didn’t want to get into the business of completely remanufacturing Humvees, which Goodwin is doing in space he leased at the Kansas Coliseum Pavilions.

Twisted Conversions focuses on H-line conversions — converting engines in H1 and H2 Hummers from gasoline to diesel while increasing both fuel efficiency and horsepower, according to the company’s website. Goodwin performs similar engine conversions on Humvees at his Sedgwick County facility. An original Hummer gets between eight and 12 miles per gallon with a 325 horsepower engine. Once converted, they get up to 25 miles per gallon with a 650-plus horsepower engine capable of running on biodiesel.

Waite said his company continues to make payments on the county loans, the bulk of which came from a fund set up around 2001 when commissioners had designs on taking over the rail line between Augusta and Andover. The Butler County Economic Development Department has loaned money to businesses as diverse as Jacob’s Well, a downtown El Dorado restaurant, and BG Products, a lubricant and automotive chemical maker that relocated much of its operation from Wichita to the El Dorado Industrial Park.

Loans are available to new and existing businesses in Butler County, according to Economic Development Director David Alfaro, who spoke at the February commission meeting. Loans are considered a last resort — businesses must present a letter of denial from a bank — and there had been no applications within the prior two years. Most of the loans come from the Revolving Loan Fund, which had a balance of $33,494. Others come from a micro-loan program, which had a balance of $88,922. Both those programs originated from state grants. Click here for the department’s website.

The railroad project that gave rise to the rail fund eventually morphed into the Augusta-to-Andover rails-to-trails initiative. County commissioners insisted at their May 17 meeting that they are not planning to use the rail fund to pay for the rails-to-trails project. Click here for a transcript of the discussion. As of May, there was $545,000 in the rail fund.

Here’s some impressive video of the fastest Humvee on the road:

Mandate For Change

By Lee White

My dad kept a copy of Dwight David Eisenhower’s memoir “Mandate for Change” on one of his many bookshelves. That title came to mind in the wee hours of this morning as I was trying to make sense of last night’s election results.

To hear Kelly Herzet and his supporters talking in messages to me and in The Wichita Eagle, one would think he truly had received an overwhelming mandate from voters to keep right on doing what he has been doing the past five years.

Herzet may have won the race, but 40 percent of the vote does not a mandate make — at least not a mandate for four more years of the same. Or is it three and out the door with Tony Wilhite appointed sheriff by the governor with the blessing of Herzet’s pals on the Republican Central Committee?

Understand this: 5,366 Republicans voted for a change in leadership. Only 3,625 voted for Herzet.

It’s crystal clear to anyone who bothers to do the math that a solid majority of Republican voters wanted somebody else running the sheriff’s department. They just couldn’t agree which one of the three challengers should get the job. That’s the risk any politician takes with a crowded primary field.

Another tome referred to the Eisenhower years as the “Hidden-Hand Presidency.” Herzet’s candidacy could be referred to in the same manner with regard to mudslinging.

Herzet’s campaign manager, Tresa Boline, told the Eagle that “we didn’t criticize others. We didn’t sling any mud.”

No, Herzet didn’t sling any mud himself. He had others do it for him. To be fair, so did the other candidates and I certainly carried water and mud for a couple of them (Walker Andrews and Mike Holton), but don’t feed me a line of crap that Herzet’s campaign didn’t engage in mudslinging and expect me to believe it. (Click on images for a larger view.)

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I raised the possibility last night of a write-in campaign. I contacted Herzet’s three opponents and suggested the possibility. Write-ins are a longshot, but with unity and hard work — much harder work than anyone did in the primary — someone might have a chance given the 1,741-vote deficit when one subtracts Herzet’s votes from the total number of votes cast for candidates who ran against him.

But all I’m going to do is suggest. I ceased direct involvement in any campaigns in mid-July and will continue that policy going forward. Why? Quite simply, because I don’t need the headaches and I don’t need to campaign for anyone. As I told a couple of Herzet supporters who sent me messages last night, I had (at the time) 1,643 Facebook “likes.” As of this writing, I’m up to 1,648.

My audience — and influence — is growing. I’m already inching close to the number of “likes” the El Dorado Leader’s Facebook page has. My goal is to top the Times-Gazette’s page likes, which stand at 7,109. At some point, this hobby will turn into a business. Although I don’t foresee moving to Butler County — if commuting’s good enough for EMS Director Chad Pore, it’s good enough for me! — I’ll likely be spending more time there.

Someone once said, “Write what you know.” I know Butler County. Don’t wanna live there, but, hey, neither does Pore and he seems to be doing well.

So save me a bunk at Station 2 and get ready for four more years — of me! Ain’t it great to be a winner!

 

Rose Hill Getting Another ‘Grocery Store’

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By Julie Winslow

It was great news that Austin Gilley, Rose Hill City Administrator, and Beth Pompa, Rose Hill City Mayor, shared with the Rose Hill Council Monday night – the Dollar General store is moving from its current Rose Hill location into the newer building abandoned by Walmart approximately six months ago.  A total of 41 “express” stores in various locations were recently purchased from Walmart by Dollar General.

Although Dollar General operates several ‘Marketplace/Express’ stores other places, the store here will not be called a ‘marketplace’ or an ‘express’.  But, with a much larger building than usually houses Dollar General stores, the one that is scheduled to reopen in this location will add produce and meat to its current selection of wares and will also operate the adjacent fuel outlet.

The Rose Hill community was thrilled when Walmart purchased the land here and proceeded to build a new Walmart Express.  The store operated for approximately one year before is was suddenly closed.