Brannon Green of Labette County High School has been nominated as an Old Spice Red Zone Player of the Year.
Green is now eligible to be selected as a national Red Zone Player of the Year and be honored in a full-page feature in USA Today in February.
High school coaches across the country are naming one player from their team as their Player of the Year.
Green is also eligible to be named one of 50 national Players of the Year. The top 50 players nationwide will be named Red Zone Players of the Year and will receive a plaque and other awards.
The Chetopa Chamber of Commerce is planning for its first Christmas Bazaar which was formerly sponsored by the Chetopa Catholic Church. The Bazaar will be held on Saturday, Dec. 6, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge.
The following events are being planned: Soup feed (soup, pie, drink for $5), bake sale, food sale, raffles, and grocery give-away. Anyone wishing to donate items to the bazaar or toward the events, or give-aways, contact George Davis (Chamber President), Cynda Jarrett or Debbie Cassell.
The proceeds will go to provide for the Fourth of July Celebration, Spring Fling, Christmas Tree Lighting and other community-based projects.
A bright light at the county commissioners meeting on Monday was a tourism update from Jim Zaleski.
Zaleski, Labette County tourism director, said the 2008 third quarter tourism bed tax outpaces ‘07 by 30 percent. The Parsons and Greater Labette County tourism department said the third quarter receipts from the city’s hotel/motel occupancy tax was approaching $43,000. The tax collection is evidence of approximately $725,000 in gross sales for the city’s hotel industry in the third quarter of 2008.
“This growth is wonderful, I am sure it is a welcome sign to the area considering the economic uncertainty we face as a city and a nation,” Zaleski said, concerning the new Sleep Inn hotel property.
Sleep Inn is located north of Parsons at the intersection of Highway 400 and 59. This was a $10,000 increase over the same period last year representing growth of more than 30 percent, he said.
He stressed it is vitally important to continue to explore potential state and regional groups, small conferences and sporting events to provide future business for the hotels.
He pointed out that these taxes are not a burden on residents or a drain from the city’s general fund. The six percent city occupancy tax is collected on room sales of city hotels and is the direct funding source for the tourism department.
The tourism department promotes the economic growth of the hospitality industry fulfilling the role of sales, marketing and service organization for the region. Through increased visitor spending and continued industry growth the department strives to increase the positive fiscal impact of the industry, thus creating the quality of life for residents, he added.
IN OTHER ACTION TAKEN at Monday’s meeting:
• Approved pay request #5 to Laura Moore for the Osage Township Fire Department/Community Center project at Dennis, in the amount of $59,909.
• Lume Poe and Johnia Franklin gave the commissioners another update on their GIS online training sessions. They have completed the course and have received their certification. More classes are available in Wichita in January and February.
• Prior to the commission meeting, interviews on the appraiser position was held. David Louiselle of Columbus was offered the position at $46,000 per annum.
• Approved the application for a cereal malt beverage license for Greg Ramsey, owner of Ramsey’s, located at the Dennis corner on Hwy. 400.
• Approved the service contract for the Appraiser’s Department with McCarty’s Office Machines of Parsons for $416, same as last year.
• Approved a request for the Treasurer’s Department for a CIC computer upgrade in the amount of $600. Funds will be taken out of special auto and it will keep the system current with the state VIP registration.
The commission meeting was recessed and a Local Redevelopment Planning Authority special meeting was held at 10:30 a.m. It was held in executive session. Those attending from the LRPA was Ann Charles, deputy director, Bill Wheat and Pete Rhodes. No action was taken.
The commission meeting was re-opened and the commissioners discussed the correctional camp options during a working luncheon with LCCC Administrator Tom Bringle and Labette County Sheriff William Blundell.
Residents of southern Labette County are being urged to sign a petition in opposition to the closing of the Labette Women’s Correctional Conservation Camp on Dec. 31. Oswego businessman and former mayor Phil Blair said the petition has been placed at the city office in Oswego and he urges everyone to drop by, read the cover letter and sign their names. “We don’t know if this will convince anyone or not,” said Blair who is chairman of the OEDC, “but we can’t just stand idly by and let the state close a facility that has been such a great community asset.” He added, “Both the men’s and women’s camps have been so successful and I think that will be the central point of our lobbying. “It has worked well. Why not let it keep working?” Blair said he was mayor of Oswego when the men’s camp first opened in 1991. “It has special meaning to me, but it also means a lot to the people in Oswego and surrounding towns,” he said. He listed Parsons, Oswego, Chetopa, Altamont, Galena, Cherokee as communities that have utilized the camp inmates for manual labor and other manpower. “The Labette County Public Works Department utilizes them more than anyone,” he said. Blair said the Oswego Economic Development Committee is working hard to show state officials that both camps should be left in operation. “We know these are tough economic times,” he said, “and that’s even more a reason to leave the camps in operation. “For now, let’s just concentrate on trying to keep the women’s camp open,” Blair said. “And while we’re doing that, maybe we can convince the state to keep both of them open.” He emphasized the importance of stopping by the Oswego city office and signing the petition as soon as possible.
For more information, see the Nov. 26 issue of the Labette Avenue. To locate previously posted death notices, enter the decedent’s last name in the archive search box on Labette Avenue’s home page. Labette Avenue publishes death notices free of charge. Paid obituaries ($20) are printed in their entirety in the Labette Avenue and online at taylornews.org.
Nadine E. Barr
CHETOPA—Nadine E. Barr, 93, a lifelong resident of the Chetopa, Kan., area, died at 1:30 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008, at the Oswego Community Hospital. She had been in failing health.
Nadine was born March 27, 1915, northwest of Chetopa, to Luther and Eva (Thompson) Wiley. She grew up and attended schools in the Chetopa area, and was a graduate of Labette County Community High School in Altamont.
On April 11, 1936, she and George Arthur Barr were married in Oswego. He preceded her in death Dec. 12, 1987.
She and her husband established Barr Lumber Company in January 1959. Following the death of her husband, she and her son continued to operate the business until December 2007.
Nadine was a member of the First Christian Church in Chetopa, the Chetopa Chamber of Commerce, Chetopa Garden Club, and was an original member of the Belmore Apartments Board of Directors.
She loved arts and crafts, sewing and tending to her flower gardens. She especially enjoyed spending time with her family and friends.
Those surviving are one daughter, Janice Wright and husband Joe, Welch, Okla; one grandson, Joe Bob Wright and wife Elizabeth, Miami, Okla.; two great-grandsons, Bart and Drew Wright; five sisters, Darlene Thomas and husband Bill, Bartlesville, Okla.; Wintress Stine and husband Bob, Bartlesville; Imogene Miller, Bernice, Okla.; Marcella Braley, Oswego, Kan.; Luvonne Hucke, Mound Valley, Kan.; and a sister-in-law, Betty Wiley, Oswego.
In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by one son, Dwane Barr, on Jan. 16, 2008; one grandson, Bart Wright; one great-grandson, Nathan Wright; and one brother, Milan Wiley.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 26, at the First Christian Church in Chetopa. Burial will be in Oak Hill Cemetery in Chetopa. The family will receive friends from 7 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, at Bath-Forbes-Hoffman Funeral Home in Chetopa.
Memorials are suggested to the First Christian Church in Chetopa. These may be left at or mailed to Bath-Forbes-Hoffman Funeral Home, P.O. Box 346, Chetopa, KS 67336.
Ronald L. Blair
OSWEGO—Ronald L. Blair, 78 of Oswego passed away Saturday, November 22, 2008 at his daughters home in Cherokee.
Funeral services will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. in the Murdock Funeral Home Chapel in Oswego with Rev. Tom Heflin officiating. Interment will follow in the Oswego Cemetery. Visitation will be 7 to 8 p.m. on Monday. The casket will be closed.
Memorials may be made to the Cherokee Holiness Church, 309 W. Magnolia, Cherokee, KS 66724.
Murdock Funeral Home, Oswego, was in charge of arrangements.
Ron was born June 2, 1930, in Franklin, Penn., the son of William Glenn and Velma W (Ford) Blair. He graduated from Franklin High School and carpentered in Pennsylvania for years before moving to Oswego to marry his pen pal Lorene Davolt.
He worked as a local carpenter, as an EMT for Care Ambulance, as a sheriff’s deputy, as Police Chief of Oswego (May of 1983 to May of 1986) and later in security at the Parsons Ammunition Plant. Ron was a volunteer at the Oswego Fire Department, enjoyed restoring automobiles, and breeding dogs.
Ron later married Jean Roberts.
Those surviving are four daughters, Patricia Jean Fry and husband Harvey of Cherokee; Linda Diane Knight and husband Ricky of Cherokee; Rebecca Sue Hellwig and husband Rex of Oswego; and Rhonda Clifton of Parsons; one son, William R. Blair and wife Sandra of Galva, Kan.; 15 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by a brother, Glen, and a sister, Shirley Mae Confer.
Garry R. Starmer
FREDONIA—Garry R. Starmer, 70, of Fredonia, Kan., passed away Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008, at Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center in Chanute, Kan.
Funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m., Monday, Nov. 24, at Countryside Funeral Home, Fredonia, with Rev. Gene Benefiel officiating. The family will receive friends Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the funeral home. Interment will be at Fredonia Cemetery.
The family suggests contributions to the Fredonia Golf Club and may be left with the funeral home. Online condolences may be left at www.countrysidefh.com. Arrangements are under the direction of Countryside Funeral Home, Fredonia.
Garry was born on Oct. 14, 1938, in Angola, Kan., the son of Wilber Ray and Bonita June (Gard) Starmer.
He was a graduate of Altamont High School. He attended barber school in Wichita. Garry went on to work as a barber in Kansas City, Chanute, Parsons and Altamont, where he owned his own shop. On Feb. 26, 1964, Garry went to work for the railroad as a brakeman conductor and retired from the UP Railroad in October 2000.
In 1957, Garry married Helen Colwell and they later divorced. To this union two children were born; a son, Rocky, and a daughter, Sharon. On Oct. 9, 1971, Garry married Marie Roat in Fredonia. She survives at their home.
Garry was a member of the Angola United Methodist Church in Angola. He became a member of the Fredonia Golf Club where he was a diehard golfer. He really enjoyed playing golf with the CSBs.
Survivors include his wife, Marie; two sons, Rocky Ray Starmer, Altamont; and Carl (Buck) Bonner, Wichita; three daughters, Sharon Kuehn, South Coffeyville, Okla.; Tammy Weitz, Independence, Mo.; and Suzy Smith, Fredonia; 10 grandsons, four granddaughters and 13 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; one brother, Paul Starmer; and one granddaughter, Shanna Mae.
Zelda M. Johnson
DUNWOODY, Ga.—Former Dennis, Kan., resident Zelda M. Johnson, 80, of Dunwoody, Ga., died Nov. 20, 2008.
A graveside service was held Monday, Nov. 24, at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Ga., and a memorial service was held Tuesday, Nov. 25, at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Ga.
In lieu of flowers, those desiring may send contributions to Camp Westminster, 1438 Sheridan Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30324, (770) 483-2225. Online condolences may be expressed at www.crowellbrothers.com.
Arrangements were handled by Crowell Brothers Peachtree Chapel Funeral Home, 5051 Peachtree Ind. Blvd., Norcross, GA 30092, (770) 448-5757.
A native of Dennis, Kan., Zelda taught piano lessons for many years. She was a former president of the North Dekalb Music Teachers Association and a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church.
She is survived by her husband, Ralph W. Johnson of Dunwoody, Ga.; sons and daughters-in-law, Ryan and Becky Johnson of Lorena, Texas, and Sydney and Nola Johnsen of Waxhaw, N.C.; son-in-law, Gene Freck of Decatur, Ga.; five grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by a daughter, Janet Freck; her parents, John S. and Mildred Wiggins Howell; and a brother, Dale Howell.
OSWEGO—Carolyn Martin, 69, of Oswego, Kan., passed away Monday, Nov. 24, 2008, at Pittsburg, Kan., following a period of illness.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, at the Mother of God Catholic Church in Oswego with Rev. Larry Parker officiating. Interment will be in the St Bridgett’s Cemetery in Scammon. A Rosary will be Friday evening at 7 p.m. at the Murdock Funeral Home in Oswego.
Memorials may be made to the Mother of God Catholic Church with the church or the Murdock Funeral Home serving as custodian. A register book to leave online condolences to the family and complete obituary can be found at www.murdockfuneralhomes.com.
Carolyn was born June 23, 1939 in Columbus, Kan., the daughter of Carl C. and Lula Mae Carroll York. She graduated from Columbus High School and married Fred E. Martin July 7, 1956. He preceded her in death on July 30, 1973. She married Harold A. Martin on Jan. 20, 1975, and he preceded her in death on April 20, 1997. She worked as a teachers aide in the Weir grade school.
Carolyn was a member of the Mother of God Catholic Church in Oswego, St Mary’s Altar Society and the Rosary Prayer Group. She enjoyed time with family and friends and keeping a flower garden.
Those surviving are two daughters, Kathy Hartzfeld and husband Mike of Pittsburg; and Melissa McTaggart and husband Kent of Oswego; a son, Fred W. Martin of Kansas City, Kan.; two step-sons, Steve A. Martin and wife Tonya of Broken Arrow, Okla.; and Mark A. Martin of Parsons, Kan.; two brothers, Carl W. York of Oswego; and John York of Oswego; 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Kathryn K. “Kay” Allison
OSWEGO—Kathryn K. “Kay” Allison, 69, of Oswego, Kan., died at her home Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 18, 2008.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, Nov. 21, 2008, at the Mound Valley United Methodist Church with Rev. Tom Reazin officiating. Burial will be in Oswego Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 7 to 8 p.m., Thursday, at Bath-Forbes-Hoffman Funeral Home in Chetopa.
Memorials are suggested to the Mound Valley United Methodist Church. These may be left at or mailed to Bath-Forbes-Hoffman Funeral Home, P.O. Box 346, Chetopa, KS 67336.
Clarence R. ‘Joe’ Farran
PARSONS—Clarence R. “Joe” Farran, 80, of Parsons, Kan., died Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008, at Labette Health.
The graveside service will be at 12:30 p.m., Wednesday at Fort Scott National Cemetery in Fort Scott. Brown-Bishop Post No. 704 Veterans of Foreign Wars will be in charge of military honors.
Memorial contributions are suggested to Assistance in Health Care of Tulsa and may be left at or sent to Forbes-Hoffman Funeral Home, P.O. Box 374, Parsons, 67357.
Fred Vernon Dillon
COLUMBUS—Fred Vernon Dillon, 94, Columbus, Kan., passed away at Columbus Medicalodge Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008.
Simpson Funeral Home, 323 S. Kansas, Columbus, is in charge of funeral arrangements.
Wilmer L. Turner
COLUMBUS—Wilmer L. Turner, age 84, of Columbus, Kan., passed away Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008, at St. John’s Regional Medical Center, Joplin, Mo., after suffering a stroke earlier that day.
Visitation in Joplin, will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Parker Mortuary. Graveside services will be Saturday at Moss Ridge Cemetery in Carthage, Ill.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to help with final expenses in care of the mortuary. Online condolences may be made at parkermortuary.com.
BOLIVAR, Mo.—Walter Donald, 90, of Bolivar, Mo., formerly of Oswego, Kan., died Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008, at Citizens Memorial Healthcare Facility in Bolivar.
Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church in Altamont, Kan. Interment will be in the National Cemetery at Fort Scott under the direction of Murray Funeral Home of Bolivar. Memorials are suggested to First Baptist Church, 400 Wabash, Altamont, KS 67330.
Jaslyn Angel Markham-Dodd
PARSONS—Jaslyn Angel Markham-Dodd, the daughter of Jason Dodd and Sonja “Sonie” Markham, both of Parsons, Kan., was stillborn Monday, Nov. 17, 2008, at Labette Health.
Graveside funeral services will be at 2 p.m., Friday, at Oakwood Cemetery in Parsons.
Funeral services are under the direction of Forbes-Hoffman Funeral Home.
Sharon A. Smith
PARSONS—Sharon A. Smith, 64, of Parsons, Kan., died Friday, Nov. 21, 2008, at Freeman West Hospital in Joplin, Mo.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m., Tuesday, at Forbes-Hoffman Funeral Home in Parsons. The casket will remain closed. Burial will be in Springhill Cemetery. Friends may call after 1 p.m. Monday at the funeral home.
Memorials are suggested to the American Heart Association and may be left at or mailed to the funeral home, P.O. Box 374, Parsons, 67357.
Donald G. Ferrell
WELCH, Okla.—Donald G. Ferrell, 81, of Welch, Okla., passed away Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008.
Graveside services will be at 10 a.m., Monday, at Welch City Cemetery, Welch. Visitation will be from 5 to 6 p.m. Sunday at Thomas Funeral Home, Welch.
Robert Leo “Bob” Benning
Coffeyville—Robert Leo “Bob” Benning, 71, of rural Coffeyville, Kan., died Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008, at Chetopa Manor in Chetopa, Kan.
A Rosary Vigil Service will be at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23, at Holy Name Catholic Church in Coffeyville.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 24,at Holy Name Catholic Church with Father Ben Nguyen officiating. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery in Coffeyville.
Friends may call on Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at the David W. Barnes Funeral Home in Coffeyville
The family suggests memorials to the Alzheimer’s Association; contributions may be left with the funeral home or mailed c/o David W. Barnes Funeral Home, 306 North Cline Road, Coffeyville, KS 67337.
Local reaction to last week’s announcement that the Labette Women’s Correctional Conservation Camp in Oswego would close after Dec. 31 has been swift.
Phil Blair, chairman of the Oswego Economic Development Committee, called his members together on Friday to discuss how they would respond to the announcement.
Letters are being written to Roger Werholtz, Kansas Department of Corrections, and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, asking them to reconsider closing the LWCCC.
Blair said both Sen. Dwayne Umbarger and State Rep. Richard Proehl have been in contact with Werholtz and they will continue to argue for state officials to reconsider their action.
Both Umbarger and Proehl have emphasized that the boot camp concept is unique in the punishment of those convicted of crimes in Kansas and it has been quite successful. The recidivism rate has been lower for repeat offenders among those inmates who completed the programs at Oswego.
The women’s camp currently employs 14 workers and houses 27 inmates.
Werholtz said closing the women’s camp is expected to save approximately $483,000 in the current fiscal year and $1 million in 2010.
“We recognize eliminating this sentencing option will have an impact on community corrections agencies across the state and on the economy in Labette County,” Werholtz said.
Camp administrator Tom Bringle and Labette County Sheriff William Blundell met Monday with Labette County Commissioners to discuss the women’s camp closing.
Bringle said the idea of using the camp for a prison would not work for most prisoner situations.
He said ordinary county jails must adhere to maximum security standards and the women’s camp was not designed to meet those guidelines.
Still, Bringle agreed to meet with Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department officials who will tour the camp next Tuesday, Dec. 2.
According to a story in Sunday’s Wichita Eagle, the Sedgwick County Commission has discussed the possibility of sending inmates to the Oswego women’s prison if the KDOC would approve the plan.
Commissioner Lonie Addis said he already had met with Sedgwick County officials to discuss the possibilities.
Another tour was scheduled on Wednesday, Dec. 3, when KDOC officials who will come to take inventory of personal property at the site.
Deputy Secretary for Facilities Management Charles E. Simmons will lead the Wednesday delegation.
Commissioners said there was not much they could do until they talked with both Sedgwick and KDOC officials.
“We also will keep looking at other options,” Bringle said. Asked about the future of the men’s camp which houses 192 inmates and employs 62 workers, Bringle commented, “Right now we can only reduce expenses as much as we can then see what happens.”
According to the Wichita newspaper story, Sec. Werholtz acknowledged that the Oswego men’s camp may also be closed in the near future.
Commission chairman Lonie Addis vowed to continue fighting to keep both the camps in full operation, pointing to their success and service to the community.
“We definitely will look at alternatives,” Addis said, “but we will fight to keep the camp open until we can’t fight anymore.”
In a letter to Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Addis compared the boot camp style of incarceration to his years as a U.S. Marine during the Vietnam War.
Addis said it was common in those days for the courts to allow an offender to join the armed forces instead of sitting in jail.
He said the military experience was good for the offenders and many of them became his friends — and buddies.
“A source of discipline and pride allowed them to function in a world that would not have been possible otherwise,” Addis said. “I owe my very life to them.”
Addis recalled that in 1991 the State of Kansas looked for alternatives to placing young offenders in prisons. A boot camp facility was an answer and Oswego became home to the first such experiment in the state.
He gave one example of a young woman who served her time in the women’s camp and today serves on the LCCC Board of Trustees, also serving in a productive job at the Labette Center for Mental Health Services in Parsons.
Copies of his letter were sent to Senators Dwayne Umbarger and Carolyn McGinn, and State Representatives Doug Gatewood, Bob Grant, Gary Hayzlett, Julie Menghini, Rich Proehl and Jerry Williams.
By Tammy Guinn
Communication is something we often take for granted. Most people in the United States have instant access to information via television, radio and Internet. Cell phones can be found in almost every pocket or purse, allowing us to reach someone next door or all the way around the world in a matter of seconds.
In some third world countries, however, even the most basic communication is practically non-existent. That’s where Chetopa businessman Rick Lauchner goes to work, constructing towers for short and medium wave, TV, cell, radio and two-way communications.
Lauchner is in his 36th year of business and has put up towers in the countries of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nigeria, Morocco, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, as well as all over Africa, and the United States, just to name a few. He recently returned from a month long job in Madagascar, where he built four towers in an array for World Christian Broadcasting Network, based in Franklin, Tenn. He will go back next August to put up antenna on the towers.
Each tower takes about a week to complete. A 300 foot tower will take three days to erect and then another three to four days to outfit with whatever electronic equipment is needed. Lauchner generally makes the trips alone, using third world nationals as labor, although, on occasion, he does take one or two of his own crew along. When he works in the United States, he has a crew of three to five men who travel with him.
Materials to complete each job have to be shipped months ahead of time if they are to be ready when Lauchner arrives. The supplies for the Madagascar job sat in customs for eight months waiting for paperwork to go through because the company involved was unwilling to pay bribes to speed the process along. There are sometimes material shortages, whether the original order was wrong or some materials were stolen along the way, so Lauchner has become an expert at improvising.
While a general contractor can handle most of the ground work for a communications project, it takes a specialized team to put up the towers and antenna. Lauchner bids on the job and is paid a per day rate with all expenses paid as well. He generally completes the job ahead of schedule, finishing the six week Madagascar job in four weeks. He works for both private companies and governments.
There are several problems Lauchner must deal with when working in other countries, with language the first barrier to overcome. While working on a job in Vietnam in 1997, he was without an interpreter for the first 30 days. “That was tough,” he said. “ I worked with North Vietnamese and they didn’t know a lick of English. We did a lot of pointing and shaking our heads.”
In Saudi Arabia, Lauchner worked with five crews from different countries doing communications for the entire country of Saudi Arabia. Crews from the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Singapore put up hundreds of towers. “You couldn’t mix and match the crews,” he said. “Each crew would have a couple of guys that were good, but the rest didn’t really know much.” To give some idea of the scope of the project, Lauchner said, “Saudi is about half the size of the United States. It would be like trying to do everything west of the Mississippi with five crews. It’s impossible.”
The food in most of the countries he works in is not very good. Of the food in Madagascar, he said, “There was a lot of sand in the rice. You can’t hardly eat the rice. They have potatoes, but they serve them cold–cold baked potatoes.”
Transportation is another difficulty. There are very few cars. Most of the people walk, ride bicycles, or take the bus, which is actually a van. In Madagascar, Lauchner saw a lot of what were called push pushes (similar to rickshaws,) which he said were loaded with anything you can imagine.
Another problem is local equipment, mostly made in China. “When China ships tools to the U.S., they are their first class tools. The ones the third world countries get are more like the rejects,” Lauchner said. As an example, he said if you have to have a tire repaired on a bicycle, you have to watch the repair work the whole time or they will change out the spokes on the tires. “The spokes they get are more like baling wire and bend easily,” Lauchner added.
Other problems include the water, which you can’t drink, as well as lots of different diseases. In Madagascar, most of the houses were without electricity or running water.
What Lauchner described as one of the wildest things he ever saw on his travels was the process of car inspecting he observed in Madagascar. He said there are three ways to pass inspection, which is done every six months. First of all, you can fix your car so it will pass. Second, you can pay a bribe to get it passed. The third way is to rent the parts to make it pass. “You go to a place and they put all the parts on (tires, brakes, etc.) and when you’re done with inspection, they take them back off. It’s quite a racket,” he said.
Lauchner said while he doesn’t enjoy the traveling as much as he used to, he would like to go to Europe, Australia and some of the other places he hasn’t been. He said, “I usually go to Africa and Asia–the places nobody else is willing to go.” Lauchner also lamented the fact that he is unable to find the quality of help he used to, which makes it more difficult.
He said Africa was the worst place to work. “I was robbed by the police in Nigeria,” he said. They wanted his money and his boots. He added with a laugh, “I let them have the money, but not the boots.”
Laucher said the worst places to fly were Africa and Russia, “If you saw their cars, you wouldn’t want to get on their planes,” he said. “They have virtually no maintenance.”
Lauchner will attend a convention in Moscow in March where he will bid on more jobs, mostly short and medium wave towers. “There’s no shortage of work. Not many people can put up short and medium wave towers. Most of those who can are either dead or retired,” he said. “There were a lot of short and medium wave towers put up in the ‘40s and ‘50s that need a lot of work in countries like Venezuela, Zambia and Russia,” he added.
And so, for now, Rick Lauchner will continue to travel the globe, taking the progress of communication around the world.
Bill Farris, Oswego, is retiring as fire chief from the Oswego Fire Department on Dec. 31. He has been in the department for 36 years and has been chief since 1995.
He was assistant chief from about 1989. Bill became a regular fireman when he turned 16 in 1974. He first started on the fire department on Jan. 1, 1972, his freshman year, as a junior fireman. He had been going to fire meetings with his dad since he was 12. His interest was partially due to the fact that his dad, Dick Farris, was fire chief as well. Dick served on the fire department for 21 years and probably spent two years as fire chief. This makes Bill a second generation fireman.
In his 36 years, he served from gopher to chief. He put on the Fire Prevention Week talks for the schools and participated in Discovery Day. He loved giving kids rides on the old fire truck.
Bill served for 10 years on the Army Ammunition Plant fire department. He has been in charge of the Oswego fireworks display for the last 12 years. Bill has served under the following fire chiefs: Tom Bringle, Dick Farris, Harvey Fry, Bill Trotnic and Red Intelman.
Bill had obtained the Fire Fighter 1 and 2 certification, was awarded a grant for a new fire truck, lease-purchased a new truck, obtained grants for bunker gear and equipment for the department, obtained a new city pumper in 2003, received infra-red camera technology in conjunction with the Rotary Club, who raised money to purchase the equipment. Oswego’s was the first volunteer department to have the infra-red equipment west of the Mississippi River.
Bill also had two brothers, John and Mark, who joined the fire department as junior firemen in high school.
Bill is married to Theresa and they have three daughters: Elizabeth (Joe) Fuller, Nicole (Steven) McClure and Kelsey who is still at home and in Oswego High School. They have one grandchild, Wyatt Warren McClure, son of Nicole and Steve.
A retirement reception will be held on Thursday, Nov. 20, from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Oswego Community Center in the “John Matthews” Room (northeast side of the building).
John Johnson was recently honored for completing 25 years of service with the Oswego Post Office.
He was hired to work in the Spring of 1987, following the retirement of Eldon Harshaw. He was hired off the street, with no substitution time as the route two motor carrier. He has three and half years in the Air Force and 21 years in the Postal Service.
Johnson has had no accidents in his 25 years of service. Route two is 90 miles a day. He has traveled 27,180 miles a year for 22 1/2 years.
He is married to Vicky and they live near West Mineral. They have three sons and numerous grandchildren.
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