32 years of good living in Bonner Springs
It doesn’t seem possible, but 32 years ago I arrived in Bonner Springs. Jean and I purchased Chieftain Publishers, Inc., from Elton and John Carter, effective Dec. 1, 1979, and I was here a month ahead of time to get to know the community. I believe the first action we took was to change the name of the newspapers to Chieftain-Sentinel Publications. For the record, we had the Chieftain, Basehor Sentinel and the Tri-County Shopper.
I must tell you that I was nervous when I arrived. The Kansas City Kansan had an office on Oak Street. In addition, there were numerous other wolves (actually other publications) ready to pounce. I really wondered if I had made a mistake, but I soon learned that I was where I belonged. I have said this many times before, but Bonner Springs became my home. I fell in love with the community and I proudly say that I’m a Bonner Springs resident by choice, not birth. Next to getting married, coming here has been the best thing that happened to me.
At first, I lived in an apartment in the basement of Dr. Bill Miller’s office. Probably the highlight, or maybe lowlight, was on Thanksgiving Day when I locked myself out of the apartment while waiting for Jean and the girls to arrive for dinner. I was able to get back in, but dinner was late since Jean had missed the exit on the turnpike and ended up in Lawrence.
But all turned out fine since we bought a house on Allcutt and moved in during January. I think one of the first friendly voices I heard was Mary Kimbrough, who was secretary at the high school. I called to get school information and she was nice and informative.
It didn’t take long for me to get involved in the community. The late Kirk Hammer, who owned the Dairy Queen, got me to play Santa Claus for the Chamber of Commerce. I had known Kirk before when I lived in Kansas City, Kan. He told the chamber that I would play Santa Claus for them and he would give a Dairy Queen cone to every kid who attended the event. Mel Burnley, who also has passed away, got me into the Kiwanis Club. Jerry Bredwell, who was president of the Commercial State Bank, helped me get acquainted in the community. Jerry Goble and Turner Cochran gave me a lot of background information. Bob Evans, city manager, took me on a tour of the city and outlined the operation of city government. The late Edwardsville Mayor Lindy Trent took me around and introduced me to Edwardsville residents. In fact, so many people welcomed us to Bonner Springs.
Bob Osborn was president of the chamber of commerce and I followed him as chamber president a year later. Vicky Wheeler was chamber secretary. Al Ramirez was mayor of Bonner Springs and Sue Stinnett was city clerk. School board offices were in a tin building adjacent to the 1918 Building. In case you’ve forgotten, Ken Tewell was superintendent of schools and C. M. Glendenning was assistant superintendent.
Certainly the town has changed over the years. When we moved here, Kansas Highway 7 was a two-lane road and the only business was the Rose Room and further north, there was The Greenhouse, operated by Wes Stucky. There is no doubt that K-7 is now the business hub of Bonner Springs. Sometimes all the development in that area still surprises me.
Edwardsville and Basehor both have grown tremendously, too. Two examples are the Industrial Park in Edwardsville and the retail development along U.S. Highway 24-40 in Basehor.
Yes, there has been change, but without progress towns wither and die. Fortunately that is definitely not the case in the tri-county area.