Posts tagged with Citizen Journalism Academy

Chapman Tornado

Graduates of Chapman High School are a proud bunch. Not so many years ago my husband and I called ourselves the Fighting Irish, wore green and white and knew we were lucky. Chapman High School and the city of Chapman were not so lucky Wednesday night. A tornado ripped through our familiar small town, devastating schools and homes. My mother is a resident of Chapman Valley Manor, one of the few places with very little damage. It served as a makeshift motel with beds from the basement Wednesday night. They have their own generator so all is well there.Not so well in other parts of the city. My brother and sister-in-law intended to check on Mom this afternoon and provide help where necessary. Authorities were not letting anyone in the area. Jennifer Latzke, Dodge City, a Chapman High School graduate and knowledgeable about procedures after Greensburg explained."They'll need help cleaning up, but they have to account for everyone first. After Greensburg, the responders did a lot of extra training and adjusting to their responses. It may seem like anarchy to keep people out of a town while they check door-to-door but it cuts down on the number of secondary injuries non-trained personnel suffer that take away from the resources to get the town back on its feet." Thankfully, none of our family had damage. A large well-preserved old barn on a farm less than a mile from my husband's brother is destroyed. My sister-in-law described what she saw in one of their fields near that farm."All the trees in the ravine were topped. It was like something cut the tops of them off. The bottoms were fine."We speculated it was at that point the tornado lifted and spared family as well as the town of Junction City.The following are pictures sent by a resident of Chapman. The first is a street scene, followed by the Chapman United Methodist Church. The last three are the high school and elementary school.


Clothesline Wisdom

In the fifties when I was a young girl there were unwritten rules about hanging laundry on the clothesline. The ladies did not sit at Home Demonstration Unit meetings or church socials discussing pros and cons. They just knew and each generation passed the knowledge on early. My mother was no exception. Why? Because neighbors drive by and notice. An important fact to keep in mind. Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to share my wisdom. This is especially important for you men, who seem to not understand the concept, and women who are planning using an outdoor clothesline to save electricity this summerFirst, hang sheets and large towels sorted by color and size, on the side of the line of the wind direction. That way they blow with no interference. On the next line hang jeans by waistband and turned wrong side out to avoid fading. Upside down is bad form with jeans. Clothes pin underwear by similar style. Do not hang boxers mixed with whitey tighties. (You get my drift) You may mix washcloth or t-shirt colors, but do not put anything together you would not wear to church.Socks. As you can see, they should all be the same direction and sorted by mate. Very important. An observer will catch a slip up in a second if you don't take the extra time at this point.Finally, here comes the fun part. Go in the house, stand at the window and admire your clothes flapping in the breeze all organized. It makes a day, especially if someone honks in passing!


Kansas Native Plant Foray

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usBy LindaKShirley Braunlich, Lawrence, Board Member of the Kansas Native Plant Society is excited to see the federally protected Mead's Milkweed in the Coblentz Prairie last Sunday afternoon.The Native Plant Society from the State of Virginia joined Kansas society to appreciate not only this Mead's milkweed but many other plants on our native prairie right here in Douglas County.The Third Biennial Coblentz Prairie Foray, co-sponsored by KNPS and Grassland Heritage Foundation, enjoyed a sunny and nearly cloud free day of identification and discovery. Co-leaders of the event were Braunlich and Jeff Hansen, Topeka, KNPS Past President and Board Member.We learn June is Kansas Native Plant Appreciation Month. The prairie is beauitful this time of year.Everyone quickly forms small groups with Braunlich, Hansen and Carl Paulie, an expert identifier with the distinction of finding the elusive Mead's milkweed later in the afternoon.I chose Shirley Braunlich's group because she said she "talks" in common names. Then she hands me a list containing 287 plants of Clinton Lake Wildlife Area Coblentz Marsh. I am excited. Not a good thing when trying to take pictures and scribble names.All I heard was "this plant was used in ceremonies." Did not get a picture or name. Prairie potato, often gathered by Native Americans. Did get picture and name. Rattlesnake Master, it is said to have been used to treat rattlesnake bites. Yes, picture and name. The vastness of the prairie seemed to narrow down to each individual plant and its story.The guests from Virginia were gracious, happy to share their knowledge. I learn many Kansas native plants and non-native noxious weeds are found in Virginia as well, perhaps because the climate is similar. They have traveled 20 hours to visit our prairie and look forward to the Council Grove Flint Hills followed by Konza Prairie near Manhattan. Their group formed for the purpose of a Kansas native prairie vacation.All to soon, everyone disperses. I download my pictures which in my excitement and rush are somewhat disappointing. Then my notes do not follow the pictures. The Kansas Native Plant Society, Monarch Watch Milkweed Photo Guide and Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses web sites are helpful. Thank you Shirley B. for completing my identifications.What did I learn from this educational afternoon?A prairie speaks beautifully for itself.

Kansas Native Plant Society Coblentz Foray
Click on picture for slide show.

The Old Farmstead

The valley is mostly green on this beautiful spring day. Off to the southeast is a group of tall green Elm and Oak trees scarcely visible among the other foliage. Sometime over the years, we named this location The Old Farmstead. The Corps of Engineers demolished The Old Farmstead to establish flood easement area for Clinton Lake. The farmland became part of the Wildlife and Parks hunting area. Each spring we visit The Old Farmstead. Red cedars planted in rows provide the windbreak for the ghost home, remnants of a foundation the only hint of its location. Clumps of iris and daffodils bloom along a sidewalk that leads to nowhere. Fragrant overgrown lilacs flourish as if decorating the grave of a loved one long deceased. Could a fenced clearing have been the garden? We feel the spirit of the family who lived, loved and laughed in the yard, acknowledging their presence as our neighbors.One day a young lady asked if she could park at our house and walk down to The Old Farmstead as it was her grandparent's farm. She could remember visiting there when she was young. She didn't stay long. She said it made her sad.The lake changes how we perceive the land and soon there will be few who remember how it was before. However, we will remember The Old Farmstead as a special place, not yet ready to send it back to the land forgotten.


Kansas Small Town Needs Votes

Wilson, Kansas, population 800, has pride.With declining school enrollment and more than one-third the commercial downtown buildings vacant, David Criswell, President of Wilson PRIDE, Inc. decided to write a grant to the Case Foundation, an organization committed to helping cities achieve sustainable solutions to complex social problems.Recently he was informed his city made the Top 20 out of 4,641 applications. Not only is Wilson the smallest community in the Top 20, but the only one in the middle of the US. Other finalist cities include Denver, Colorado, Vancouver, Washington, Chicago, Illinois and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.Placing in the Top 20, awarded the city of Wilson $10,000, which Criswell says, "We will use to do an aggressive community outreach, visioning and goal setting project."If the grant entitled "Wilson For The Ages" gets enough votes to make it to the Top four, they will get an additional $25,000, a significant achievement for the small town midway between Salina and Russell on I70.Wilson needs our on-line votes to compete against the big cities in the competition.Voting is simple. Click here on Case Foundation, vote for four, placing Wilson first, and follow the commands. To record your vote go to your email in-box and click on the link sent to you by the Case Foundation. Hotmail and gmail type accounts might not work. Your internet carrier issued email address is best. Votes must be confirmed by April 22, 2008.After last week, the Lawrence community appreciates the pride that comes with hitting a goal. Help Wilson Kansas hit theirs.


Kansas Waterfall Roadtrips

What is it about a waterfall. Is it the sound? Feel of mist or reflection of light as it cascades down?All together, waterfalls bring a joyous feel to nature.What if I said there are natural waterfalls just a few hours drive from Lawrence? There are--in Kansas. Come with me to my favorite.Pillsbury Crossing near Manhattan is 59 acres billed as one of the most scenic areas in the Northern Flint Hills region. We agree. Managed by Kansas Wildlife and Parks, it provides free access to a natural crossing of Deep Creek. In normal conditions, water flows gently over a natural flat limestone crossing then over a beautiful horseshoe like waterfall. The day we were there, the water was flowing over the falls nicely but still low enough families were wading about the crossing.Quoting from the Kansas Flint Hills Tourism web site: "During normal stream flow, you may canoe, kayak, or take a small row boat upstream as far as 1/2 mile. There are some areas suitable for primitive camping by special permit only. Birdwatching is popular, and there is a small hiking trail provided in cooperation with a local conservation club in Manhattan. Fishing is also popular at Pillsbury Crossing, where the fish include channel cat, spotted bass, largemouth bass, bullhead catfish, and carp."Pillsbury Crossing is a short 10 minutes drive north of I70 on Exit 313 (GPS: 39.12888 -96.44050). While in the area, visit the self-guided Konza Prairie Hiking trail . A 2.5 mile loop is perfect for the young members of the family and a full 6 mile loop for the full Flint Hills experience.Other Kansas waterfalls we plan to visit include Butcher Falls in Chautauqua county. The one mile stretch of Pool Creek has been determined by American Whitewater to be a class III section. It is located on the Bill Kurtis Red Buffalo Ranch near Sedan Kansas.The town of Elk Falls bills itself as the largest living ghost town. The town's namesake waterfall is located on the nearby Elk River is in the Ozark Region of extreme southeast Kansas.Alcove Springs was a stop on the Oregon Trail as it passed through Marshall County six miles northwest of Blue Rapids. The Alcove Spring Preservation Association in Blue Rapids, Kansas, maintains the short ½ mile hike to the actual falls where travelers waited for the Big Blue River to go down. This is a significant historical site as immigrant names carved into rocks are still clearly visible. It also has the distinction of being the burial place of a member of the doomed Donner-Reed party of 1846.Chase Lake Falls in Chase county on Prather Creek is on the Flint Hills Scenic Byway While there, we plan to visit the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve with its showcase limestone mansion and Cottonwood Falls, site of the Chase County Courthouse.Kansas waterfalls might not be as high or plentiful as those found in other parts of the country but, they are historic, beautiful in their own right and you can't beat the amount of gas to find them.FRIDAY NOTE: Below is a beautiful Kansas waterfall located on private land sent by an anonymous reader. He indicates it is not too far from Lawrence. Any other private falls out there?Note: Check Kansas University's Kansas Geological Survey Kansas Photo Display page. Scroll down to waterfalls and see pictures of those mentioned above and others of interest. Thank you to anonymous commenter Max1


Insights from the Rail

Health Care, Agriculture, and Utilities. Just a regular Monday at the Kansas legislature.Admittedly, I am not a Kansas political junkie. News media and occasional casual conversations are the extent of my participation in the legislative process. Perhaps it is time to learn my way around, so I accept the challenge to take a day off to watch and listen. The Capitol building itself is familiar. The dome, rotunda, and renovated chambers especially the senate with its ornate art work, are a Kansas treasure. Eight o'clock Monday morning finds me at the lower east entrance where a guard assesses me harmless. I locate the press room and Lawrence Journal World's Statehouse reporter Scott Rothschild. We pick up a Senate and House Calendar from the Document Room on the first floor. These may be downloaded from the internet at Kansas Legislature I scan the calendars of both chambers, circle the committee meetings of interest, and then fit them into the day.Scott is off to the no smoking debate while I attend the meeting of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. There are at least fifteen interested people waiting with me. At the stated starting time, there is an unexplained cancellation and they quickly disburse. I slip up a floor in time to catch the Senate Utilities committee meeting before it is on to the House visitor's area to wait for the call to order. Following opening formalities, there appears to be general disorder on the floor. I happen to sit next to a person who knows the procedures well. He informs me much of the talking is in fact a way of getting things done even if a person is up front is formally reading a bill or amendment. It is obvious from the debates legislators spend many hours working in committees before a bill or amendment comes before the entire house. They speak persuasively either for or against, often quoting constituents of their district. The House session spends a great deal of time discussing a bi partisan health care bill that includes a program to fund insurance for poor families, a plan that enables workers to deduct premiums, longer interim insurance in a job change, and dental care for pregnant mothers. Politics are present when members point out for the record they are making compromises for the good of the entire bill and the people of the State. Listening to the debate lets me know the state is seriously looking at this important topic. The House works through the lunch but at their adjournment, I still have time to rush to the House Budget Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. From there it is on to the formalities and business of the Senate. My assessment is the political health of our state is good. While I feel a little impatient with the procedure, our elected officials talk and work together-and apart, but that is the process. Certainly if I feel strongly about an issue, I can speak. On the other hand, if I write or call, they listen. Young people were present in the halls and chambers the entire day. They are there as Pages and groups on tours. Their participation is encouraging for the future of Kansas as well.Click on picture for slideshow of Kansas Capitol

A view from the Rail

4-H Learn by Doing

What do St. Patrick's Day and 4-H have in common?The answer is green and lucky four leaf clovers. The clover with four H's signifying Head Heart Hands and Health is familiar to many local residents who are current or former members of the Douglas County 4-H club program or clubs in other parts of the state or country.4-H clubs formed in the early 1900s teaching young people new farming and homemaking practices. "Learn by doing" was the motto. Over the years, emphasis expanded to include personal development by encouraging public speaking, talent and judging.Dr. Virginia Moxley, Dean, College of Human Ecology, Kansas State University, is an alumnus of Kansas 4-H. She appreciates the opportunities 4-H offers kids to learn from each other.

I think the greatest thing about 4-H Community Clubs is the opportunity they afford for kids ranging in age from 7-18 to learn from each other. Children today can choose from a variety of youth organizations and activities that provide the opportunity to learn. But, in most organized youth activities, the youngsters are segregated by age and led by adults.The magic in 4-H Community Clubs is that young members interact directly with older members who have clear memories of what it felt like to practice skills for the first time. These older youth mentors learn through their interactions with younger youth the skills of coaching and leading and nurturing talent. Those of us who benefited from the wisdom and coaching provided by older members in our community clubs passed the skills along to younger members--and I, for one, continue to draw on those capabilities everyday in my work.
Douglas County has an excellent selection of 4-H clubs in all areas of the county and the city of Lawrence. With summer approaching, now is the time to explore what 4-H has to offer. With the current emphasis on living green, children will learn gardening, cooking from scratch and care of animals. My personal favorite was the sewing project because the project meetings were fun.Interested? Call Emily Morehouse, Douglas County 4-H Program Coordinator at 843-7058 for information about Douglas County 4-H Clubs. Visit the official Kansas 4-H site for information about camps and other activities.

Road Trip Sandwiches

A sandwich, salad and drink is the perfect road trip meal. It may be hot or cold, fat or thin, open or closed. Sometimes the good ones are hard to locate. If a traveler passing through asked where to find a good sandwich locally, these two would be my suggestion.Grilled Portabella at Wheatfields Bakery . Of course, I would enjoy a butter sandwich with any of their delicious breads.Planet Veggie with among other things, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, and tangy olive spread at Yello or Planet Sub Both of these favorites are in downtown Topeka.Hot beef sandwich at the Downtowner just east of 6th and Kansas Ave. Worth the trip just for the retro cafe atmosphere.The Reubenstein at Classic Bean. Really, any of their sandwiches named after famous composers are good.On the way to visit family in Colorado we stop for homemade bierocks at Made from Scratch in Wilson, Kansas. It is a good half way lunch stop. Before re entering I70 at the Wilson exit, stop at the Flint Hills Winery tasting room for a bottle of wine, cheese and crackers, almost as good as a sandwich.The Hot Brown was first invented at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. Although the hotel restaurant was closed when we were there, we sampled the hot open faced sandwich at a restaurant recommended by a security guard at Churchill Downs. It was delicious but very rich.A Lobster Roll is easy to find in Maine. Small locally owned walk up places are frequent in the coastal cities. They are good, but quite honestly, I would rather have a fried walleye shore lunch sandwich, the fish freshly caught.A hot dog will certainly taste good when purchased downtown Chicago. Is there a better dog than at a football game? Yes, there is one better at the Art Fair in Breckenridge, Colorado, because it features caramelized onions. Probably the ultimate is a hot dog cooked over a bonfire.If you also have a sudden interested in sandwiches, check out the article, Best Sandwiches in America. Another gathering of lists of sandwiches is at Roadfood. The book, American Sandwich looks like a traveler's sandwich bible.These are my favorites. Additions encouraged.


Surprise Sunday Snow