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Happy Birthday, Basehor: City marks 50 years

June 1, 2015

Probably we should be breaking into a chorus of “Happy Birthday to Basehor.” Basehor is now 50 years old as a city. It completed incorporation and held its first election in June of 1965. Basehor officially became a city of the third class!

There are a couple of things to remember. First being that cities in Kansas are of the third, second or first class largely based on population. It has nothing to do with quality of life or facilities. Second, it was Basehor’s first step into the future in 1965.

Basehor has been around a lot longer than 50 years. It traces its roots back to Rueben and Ephraim Basehor who started the community in 1889. In the early half of the 20th centuries there were many small rural communities that were not incorporated. The “Chieftain” had a Basehor column from its earliest days and while the correspondent mostly dealt with social happenings there were glimpses of a busy community. Basehor was fortunate that it had railroad service and good roads which were two important factors in the future of unincorporated communities although agriculture was by far the biggest source of employment. The weekly Basehor report included news of business transactions and, of course, school events and sports scores.

However by the mid-1960s, times were changing. People were leaving the cities and moving to the suburbs. This resulted in a number of unorganized small communities to become incorporated as cities of the third class. This was a good move because many communities that did not incorporate were quickly swallowed up. In addition, larger cities were engaged in annexation battles and some unincorporated areas became “neighborhoods.”

The first step was to circulate petitions urging incorporation. Ferris Roberts was chairman of the committee that consisted of Frank Eyerly, Alfred Musset, Leroy Swope and Alfred Meyer. They hoped to have at least 100 signers favoring incorporation. The population of the area included was about 600. According to “The Chieftain” one of the biggest reasons for the plan would be to install a sewer system.

The signature drive was successful with 192 of the 261 property owners signing the petition. In addition 80 tenants signed the petition. This amounted to about 76 percent of the residents, which was well over the 50 percent required. The proposed city would have an area of 453 acres with a property valuation of $401,070.

The next step was to hold a public hearing and submit the petition to the Leavenworth County Commission for approval. “The Chieftain” reported the hearing was set on June 9. Unfortunately the newspaper didn’t have a follow up story that week probably because the big story was about former President Harry Truman coming to Bonner Springs to open the Agriculture Hall of Fame.

Obviously the petition was accepted and the state also approved the incorporation of the city. The initial city election was set for the first Tuesday in July and that’s when the first problem appeared. Ferris Roberts filed for mayor, however an opposition group was formed with Ralph Bryan as its candidate for mayor. The opposition group was opposed to the sewer plan citing costs and would hamper development. Roberts’ faction strongly supported the sewer proposal. When the dust settled there were 14 candidates for seven city positions.

The election was close with Ralph E. Bryan defeating Ferris Roberts 129-123 to become the first mayor. The key issue, according to the Chieftain, was opposition to the sewer plan. Those elected to city council positions were: Lester Worley, Edwin Askew, Robert Meints, Bernard Eberth and J. A. Meints. Dale Brester was elected police judge.

I’m sure those who were involved in the incorporation process would be proud of the city they started.

Originally published at: http://www.bonnersprings.com/news/2015/jun/01/happy-birthday-basehor-city-marks-50-years/