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Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 11:32 pm

11:00 P.M. July 31, 2002. A fine, hot Wednesday. It’s time to fold it in. I was posting material here at 6:00 am. There have been 267 hits to my website today up till now. That’s good. People are coming here to gather information about bats and blogs and other assorted things. You’ll notice the sudden absence of written opinions. Of course, I have them. I don’t intend to quit bringing information to my blog. People are capable of reading, thinking and forming their own opinions so I hope you’ll do that. Communication is a good thing. I believe in freedom of speech as does about everyone. It’s one of our basic freedoms and important to defend. I spent 18 years on the school board and served in many other capacities as a public figure and I think most of us understand the implications of being a public figure. If you google for blogs, you’ll find the internet world is full of them on every subject imaginable. They are the information source for the future. I have some favorites I’ll try to get around to mentioning soon. Blogs are a means of bringing out the truth. Thanks for visiting my website.


Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, print news — Peg Britton @ 7:12 pm

County Court Land Transaction Records for Lot 26, Canren Addition. August 31, 2001 Louise Gerbitz deeded to Ellsworth County Economic Development Lots 23 and 26 in Canren addition. ************** Uniform Residential Appraisal Report. October 29, 2001, Frank Princ 101 Cedar Crest, Ellsworth, Kansas Total Estimated Cost New, $71,822. Indicated Value by Cost Approach, $63,112. (Lot 26 Canren Addition) Sale Price, $37,000; Price/Gross Liv. Area $30.28; Location, Average; Fee Simple; Site 7,650 sq.ft; View Typical; Design and Appeal, Ranch/Average; Quality of Construction, Average/Frame; Age, 12 Eff 10; Condition, Average to Good; Gross Living Area, 1222 sq.ft.; Room Count, 5 total, 2 bdms, 2 baths; Basement; Slab; Functional Utility; Average; H/C, Central; Energy Eff., Average; 1 car Attached; Stoop. The square foot adjustment was $7.50 per sq.ft. The comparable sales chosen were considered to be the best ones available at the present time, other could have been used but would have required more extensive adjustments. Indicated Value by Sales Comparison Approach was $45,000. Comparable No. 1, 501 Webb; Comparable No.2, 216 E. 6th; Comparable #3, 313 Kingsley. The function of the appraisal is to establish the current market value for internal decision making and mortgage lending purposes. The Income Approach wasn’t considered due to insufficient data. The Cost Approach lends support, but is considered to be the lease (sic) accurate due to difficulty in measuring depreciation in the Market. The Sales Comparison Approach was considered to be the most accurate as it shows the buyer/seller relationship in the market. No copy of the real estate sales contract was furnished to our firm. We estimate the market value, as defined, of the real property that is the subject of this report, as of October 20, 2001 Signed by Appraiser Shelly D. Whitmer; Supervisory Appraiser, Frank L. Princ November 5, 2001. ************************************************************************ On October 30, 2001, Ellsworth County Economic Development conveyed and warranted to Jerry L. Aday Lot 26 in Canren Addition of Ellsworth at 101 Cedar Crest Drive, for $1.00 and other good and valuable considerations. Jerry Aday requested an initial hearing with County Appraiser, Don Zvolanek, to lower the appraisal on the house and that meeting was held 19 December 2001. At that time the house was appraised at $62,500, and had received that appraisal for at least a year. A comparable house located behind the Aday house at 100 Honeysuckle Drive was appraised at $85,000. After removing $30,520 worth of market adjustments, not actual costs, to this neighboring house, the comparable price came to $54,480. Based on all the above information, Don Zvolanek reduced the appraisal value of the Aday house to $58,000. Jerry Aday submitted a letter on February 5, 2002 to the State Board of Tax Appeals, 915 SW Harrison, Topeka KS 66612-1505 which follows in its entirety. TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: I am submitting this letter to your office as appeal to the enclosed ruling pertaining to my residence located in Ellsworth County at 101 Cedar Crest, Ellsworth, Kansas. I strongly believe the house tax appraisal is valued far in excess of its market value. This believe (sic) is not that it is slightly over market value but that it is at least 45% over market value. First off, I will say without question had I known the appraised value of the property by county records I would NOT of purchased the property. There are other properties of which I would of paid more for, but the total payment would have been less than with this property due to the over taxation. The other houses would have been larger and in better locations. Having never appealed before I am not sure as to what to say. I do believe a little history might be in line to clarify some situations. I am the Executive Director of Ellsworth County Economic Development and one of our projects is in the development of housing. Either the President of the Board or the Board in full makes most of the decisions made in this area. As the Executive Director, I made no decision on sales price, the purchase of any property, or any contract dealing with real estate. The President of the Board without my knowledge or approval took the rental property at 101 Cedar Crest as trade-in on a newly constructed condo Ellsworth County Economic Development, Inc. was building. I was neither a part of setting the sells (sic) price of either property nor negotiating the sales contract. I discover after the fact that the President had taken a rental property as trade-in on the condo. The trade-in alliance (sic) was $40,000 based on the owner’s market knowledge of real estate. She had had the property listed at $42,000 for some time and received no offers. Once Ellsworth County Economic Development had control of the property, I was directed by the Board of Directors to notify the current renters that they could purchase the property from ECED for $40,000 or the organization was going to list the property with a real estate agent. The renter wanted to purchase the property but could not obtain the necessary loan. The renter made me award (sic) of this fact late Wednesday afternoon of ECED’s October Board meeting. At the meeting I made the Board aware of this information. The Board desired to sell the property as soon as possible to handle cash flow situation. I told the Board, I was interested in a large home and might be interested in purchasing the home, but not for $40.000 since we had discovered an additional $3,000 in work that needed to be done. In turn they offered to sell me the property at $37,000. I agreed to this offer and had the work done on the property, which place (sic) my move-in cost at slightly over $40,000. I strongly believe that $40,000 is a fair market value of the property and that if it was on the market I could not sell it for more than $40,000. There are 4 other homes in the development. All four are larger than my home including the single car attached garage. Plus in addition they have full basements and double car-attached garages. I have enclosed a copy of the bank appraisal for my loan that was done by Frank Princ and Shelly Whitmer, certified real estate appraisers. This appraisal was conducted after I had completed over $3,000 of corrective work. The appraisal came in at $45,000 market value. In summary Ellsworth County Economic Development purchased the property at 101 Cedar Crest for $40,000 trade in on a new property. It should be noted that NO reduction of the asking price of the condo was allow (sic). The $40,000 was a reduction of the full asking price. Ellsworth County Economic Development in turn after offering the property to others offered to sell me the property for $37,000. The result is that the property sold twice during the last quarter of 2001 for $40,000 and $37,000, which is far less that (sic) the present tax appraisal. After over $3,000 of structural corrections was completed, a certified appraisal was done on the property and market value was established at no more than $45,000. For all of the above reason (sic), I believe that a more appropriate value of the property would be $40,000 versus the present $58,000. For your information as you establish my hearing date, please take in mind that I am a State Representative and have to be in Topeka during the session and would not be available in Ellsworth. As I am sure you are aware we are in a very difficult session and I do not feel I would be able to miss any sessions. If arrangements could be made to hold the hearing in Topeka it would be greatly appreciate (sic). If this would not be possible may be (sic) a date could be selected when the legislation (sic) is on spring break. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future concerning the tax appraised value of the property. Sincerely, Jerry L. Aday The reply from the Board of Tax Appeal of the State of Kansas, Small Claims Division: In the matter of the protest of Jerry L. Aday for taxes paid for the year 2002 in Ellsworth County, Kansas. Small Claims Docket Number: 2002-933-PR Property Owner(s): Jerry L. Aday Parcel ID#: 027-089-29-0-03-026.00-0 A small claims hearing was held on May 22, 2002 in reference to the above property. Following is the decision of the Hearing Officer assigned: Decision of the Hearing Officer: Upon reviewing both the County and Taxpayer data, it was noted that on or before the appraisal date no home in the exact area had sold. After the appraisal date, one sale occurred indicating a value of $54.000. Also reviewed was the comparison sheet of the appraisal preformed by Frank Price (sic), Certified Appraiser. This appraisal indicated a value of $45,000 on October 20, 2001. With consideration of both the appraisals, the County’s data and more recent comparables, a middle value of $50,000 appears to be the best indication of fair market value. Both the Taxpayer and the County have valid points of interest and due to the lack of sales in the area, the market value is difficult to establish. Additional comparable sales were considered to arrive at the final decision of fair market value. A recent independent appraisal of the subject property was considered in the final decision of value. FINAL VALUE: $50,000 Small Claims Hearing Officer: Barbara Konrade If you are not satisfied with the final decision of the Hearing Officer, you may appeal this decision to the regular division of the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals. Your appeal must be within 30 days of the mail date using the enclosed form.


Filed under: prairie musings, political musings — Peg Britton @ 7:32 am

It isn’t often that I get called upon to fill the role of the intrepid reporter. Newspaper reporting is not my forte and I don’t aspire for it to be. My volunteer job includes proof-reading, answering the phone, collecting trash, running errands… and yesterday, I got to take pictures at the 4-H fair. That was a real advancement for me. No one else was available to do it. It was my lucky day and they are running the pictures next week. Such was last night when I got a call that Chuck McAtee was in town and no one was available to interview him. I dashed to Paden’s where he and his wife were just waiting for dinner and was introduced by the alert passerby who saw his car which carried an ample supply of bumper stickers announcing his political intentions. It isn’t polite to sit there and watch someone eat, I learned that as a child, but I was invited to do so, and did. I explained off the top that he’d have to eat slowly and talk even slower as I was slowest most inept note taker in town. He complied and was delightful throughout, as was his wife Norma. When he said, “I’m a moderate Republican, an environmentalist, and historic preservationist”, he captured my attention right away. He is also a farmer in a sense as he still owns the farm he grew up on that his grandfather homesteaded in Washington County. He’s very much like most of the local Republicans in our area with a lot of common sense, a steward of the land and very much aware and knowledgeable of the job at hand. Chuck filed late after the two other Republican candidates, Phill (with two l’s) Kline and David Adkins started back-stabbing campaigns as if they still needed adult supervision. He’s a product of the dust bowl days and the depression. He’s a month younger than I, but he, unlike me, has a mind like a steel trap. This man is eminently well qualified for the job of Attorney General for Kansas. Far more so than the other two candidates who have NEVER had any court room experience at all. Chuck is a combat marine veteran, Washburn law school graduate, former special agent for the FBI, First Assistant U.S. District Attorney, Director of Penal Institutions for Kansas and an experienced prosecutor and trail attorney. He has eight reasons for running, and the one that caught my eye is, “Implement prevention programs to identify problem children in the first three grades. Early intervention with counseling and treatment can prevent future acts which result in incarceration and its attendant costs.” So true! Everything we do relates to how we take care of and rear our children. Early in our conversation I realized the primary is next Tuesday and the I/R comes out on Wednesday. I didn’t have to take notes at all. We engaged in the most wonderful conversation that lasted through all the clean up chores at Paden’s (he said the steak was terrific) and out onto the street late at night. As it turns out, we have two very close mutual friends and we called one for a chat. I really do like Chuck McAtee, the kind of man he is and what he stands for. I wish there were more people running who could reach his standard of what we expect from our office holders. I wish him well. He’ll be walking the streets of Ellsworth this morning. Take the time to introduce yourselves and make him feel welcome to our town.



Filed under: prairie musings, friends — Peg Britton @ 11:19 pm

Today I had two letters from my friend ShenQuanXi, more familiarly known as KwonSuk, Shin. Shin is from Korea and we’ve corresponded very irregularly for about 6 years. When I first met Shin in chat rooms I once monitored (a Norwegian one and one of my own), he was just entering Sung Kyun Kwan University as a computer and electrical engineering major. Most of my young friends I visited with at that time were experts on the computer. That’s how I learned. They patiently guided me along explaining the intricacies of my computer. We talked, I helped them with their English grammar and told them about life in central Kansas. They all wanted to know about cowboys and Indians and our frontier days. That was one of the reasons I built my first website. Shin is a good photographer and I always enjoyed seeing his pictures of his family, pals and the Korean landscape. His university is really ancient and far older than our dirt. It’s pretty amazing and very beautiful. There were six in his family at that time years ago and they were very close. His letters about his family were always filled with warmth and the love they felt for one another. He kept me posted on his sister’s boyfriends, how he was doing at the university and he always had something nice to say about his latest girl friend and his many friends. Now his sisters are married and have gone to live with their husband’s families. His father, who died of cancer a year ago, is buried in Chungchungnamdo Anmyun where he was born. He was a handsome man and was Shin’s good friend and advisor. He encouraged him to set his standards high and he praised his good grades and many accomplishments. When Shin had to leave to go to the Army for his two year stint, during which time he wouldn’t have access to a computer, he felt it wasn’t likely we would be in contact again. I think he wondered a lot about my age. I didn’t forget him and kept his email address just in case our paths might cross again. And sure enough, after his hitch was up, about a year or so ago, I remembered and sent an email to his old address and he received it. We made contact again and he told me all about his life as a truck driver in the Army and sent me several pictures of himself and his pals. He’s an interesting young man. Shin has been back at the University for some time now. He is a senior and will graduate next year. Then will enter graduate school and work toward a degree in computer vision which deals with “machine vision”. It’s all not that different from what my granddaughter is studying. My contact with him, and my Norwegian friends, keep me ever mindful that the planet we share is very small and we all have a place on it, with no one creature being more important than any other.


Filed under: prairie musings, friends — Peg Britton @ 9:06 am

A friend wrote regarding my blog and added: “As comfortable as it often is, there is a high price to be paid for apathy.”


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:07 am

Yesterday there were 356 hits to my website. Most were there to read my blog. I did have someone who thought I actually went over Niagara Falls in a barrel and was seeking information about that. If you can find that part on my website by googling, I presume all my Meta tags are working quite well. I started my blog June 9th at the time I launched my website and since then have made periodic entries relating to events and matters that I find of interest or concern. They are opinions, facts and just things that interest me. Even though I was told there would be daily readers, I didn’t take it too seriously. About the middle of June, I became aware that a few people were reading my blogs on a daily basis, many of them sons and daughters who have moved away from their families here and want to stay in touch. Yesterday most of the hits were directed to my blog and the controversy that surrounds the Ellsworth County Economic Board and its activities. The archives on the left of the blog contain different dates where I have made entries about various subjects. Most people understand that courst records are facts, and my opinions are just that. I’m not trying to change opinions of others, I’m only stating mine. I don’t write them to seek agreement. This is a big world after all. June 14th is an entry about the old stone house by the side of the road on the highway to Salina. I have passed that house for 74 years. We had another battle with bats and finally had to relocate them. That was about the 22nd of June. July 23rd is about one of my standard tours for guests to Lincoln, Denmark, Lucas and Wilson. Sometimes I just wander off there by myself as I enjoy it so much. If you want to browse through my July 24th entry, you will find information about my English visitor, her adored father “Charlie” and the coal mines of County Durham England. Occasionally, there is something that sweeps the nation and, it seems to me that people tend to have a knee jerk reaction to it without really thinking. I’ve long believed in the separation between church and state and for 18 years on the school board espoused that belief. If you care to read what I said about “under God” being removed from the Pledge of Allegiance (yes, you can already guess), you can find that on July 9th. It’s just my opinion. More recently I have posted the court records found in the Ellsworth County Court House, available as open records to anyone who asks and pays the fee for copying them. They relate to the Ellsworth County Economic Development board and our community leaders activities associated with it. The picture is neither bright nor clear, but facts are emerging. Court records are facts of a kind, certainly legally accepted. What is missing from the record is oftentimes more telling than what is revealed. We look toward our community leaders for guidance and to set examples for us to follow. We give them the opportunity, by election or appointment, to work for the betterment of our community through example. We assume they’ve earned the right by being active within the community, aware of the direction the community is going and knowledgeable and capable of making sound decisions in our behalf. They are willing to give of their time and energy. We place our confidence in them to make our lives a little better through the work we have entrusted to them. When we have good reason to doubt their intentions, or hide from us what they are doing, then we have a right to be disappointed in their activities and their personal conduct. We become deeply disappointed and demand accountability. When we lose confidence in those we once trusted, and that feeling is one of community, then people come together in a united effort to affect change. My postings are primarily court documents that are available to anyone. By making them easily available to anyone with a computer, I believe I can heighten community interest in the problems we are facing. We have to take an interest now in what has been happening to us. Yesterday was a very good example of how this can work as it brought the community together. I felt and saw it happening. I was told it was happening. For all to be informed of the same set of facts, people can be unified in their direction to make things “right” again. We need positive change. We need accountability from the board and ex-executive director for past actions. When we have people talking and asking questions that is a good thing. Getting people to talk, even in disagreement, increases the chances of improvement. Bill Walton said, “If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.” We need to plan the direction we want to go in the future. If we don’t, the past will dictate our path for us. Please stay informed and talk with one another. Those are my goals and I don’t intend to back down from it. I’ll bring court records to you as I can. You can read them and draw your own conclusions. Your support has come in huge waves, particularly yesterday, and is most reassuring. I thank you enormously.



Filed under: prairie musings, political musings — Peg Britton @ 4:54 pm

KSA 75-4318: “receiving or expending and supported in whole or in part by public funds shall be open to the public…” KSA 75-4319 - RE: Executive sessions … b) “No subjects shall be discussed at any closed or executive meeting, except the following:: 6) “Preliminary discussions relating to the acquisition of real property.” c) “No binding action shall be taken during closed or executive recesses, and such recesses shall not be used as a subterfuge to defeat the purposes of this act.” KSA 75-4319 b) 6): “Preliminary discussions relating to the acquisition of real property.” (This appears to spell it out clearly that final acquisition must be done in open session and as matter of public record. This is the way other public bodies operate when the acquisition of real property is at issue.) It is possible the the economic development board does not have to operate under the open meetings laws subscribed to by all other public bodies. ECED, Inc. may carry a special message according to the law. I don’t know. It seems the public interest should be protected in this way by any body expending public funds. The fact remains that anyone who has ever served on the school board, the city council, county commission or any other group responsible for public funds is well aware of the importance and intent of open meeting laws and of holding all board actions to the highest level possible for public scrutiny. That’s basic wisdom. See related entrIes below.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 4:52 pm

When you closely scrutinize the list of people in the mechanics lien, it is evident that the foreclosure action has crippled many contractors in our area, at least for the time being. Kohls Construction, Doubrava Woodworking, Al Wedel, Ft. Harker Construction, B & B, City Plumbing, Kyler & Son, just to mention a few, are all area contractors who have for many years established good reputations and have conducted business at Ellsworth Lumber. Now it appears that they have to go to Salina to buy lumber and supplies. This will add mileage and time, and will further increase the price of construction, remodeling, etc. in Ellsworth and the surrounding area.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 12:53 pm

You have not been singled out on the board. I just don’t happen to have the email addresses of other board members. I just wanted you to know that the following letter which brings into question current and past operations of Ellsworth County Economic Development was sent to a number of people in town. The letter expresses my opinions, but apparently they are shared by others in numbers great enough to warrant attention. It appears to be an appropriate time for change, to re-evaluate the direction we are taking with both economic development and chamber issues. Certainly I am not in command of all the facts, or in any leadership position to effect change, but that is exactly the same issue that concerns so many other people. Explanations for action taken have not been available to the public. Public money has been spent with very little accounting to the taxpayers. I’m not at all suggesting anything has been done unlawfully, only that too few decisions and explanations have been conducted in open meetings or detailed in minutes for others to examine. I don’t mean this as a personal reflection on the integrity of any one person (other than the ex-executive director who must assume responsibility for his past actions). The prior work and future direction of the board both need explanation and the support of the public. Both are presently lacking. With your help and community support, this can all be redirected to create a positive atmosphere for change. Peg


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 12:45 pm

I have sent the following letter to individuals in town for whom I had email addresses: In an effort to focus on a time that might be right for change and to air a few ideas, I’m contacting the people in Ellsworth for whom I have e-mail addresses. It’s a fairly short list so if you feel inclined, you might forward my letter to others. What you read won’t please everyone, certainly not Jerry Aday or those on the economic development board. I can’t really change public records or the implication some of them leave on the reader. What I have posted indicates what public records do show so that you can determine for yourselves what changes might be available to us to improve procedures and make better use of our money. We don’t have an economic development director or a Chamber of Commerce secretary at the present time. Before either organization goes out on a limb to look for replacements for either position, perhaps it is a good time to take a close look at the direction we want to take in both these areas. I’m not in any position to do much about either one except to bring some events into focus that I think need examining. It is my understanding that there are some meetings to be held toward the end of next month to discuss these issues. That is a positive move in the right direction. I’ve long felt that tourism IS economic development. We have spent $560,000, one way or the other, on “economic development” during the past seven years and have almost nothing to show for it other than a surplus of housing which is in direct competition with present owner’s trying to sell their houses. We’ve done nothing collectively about tourism. We’re not going to attract and land big plants that hire hundreds of people as has happened once or twice in the past, but what we can get are tourists who in turn create a need for restaurants, services, a variety of shops and expansion in other areas. That is the kind of economic development that makes a town strong. It is the kind that is available to us if we make the effort. Copies of public records regarding some concerns that have been voiced to me on this matter are contained in my web log on my website. Just click on “Peg’s Blog”, a link that is below the menu on the left. I’ve taken this means to express concerns as the feedback I have had while writing it indicates people do have questions, do want answers, and do want change. If we really want to, we can bring about change that will reflect positively on our community. I’m sure you’ll let me know what you think. There is a link for that as well. Peg



Filed under: prairie musings, political musings — Peg Britton @ 7:51 pm

…updated. I just wonder if the people here realize we’ve spent $80,000 per year for 7 years on economic development. That’s the length of time Jerry Aday was here and served as executive director of our county economic development board. That totals appoximately $560,000. Half of that money went to Jerry Aday for his salary, the other half can be attributed to the board’s operating expenses. I understand they had to dip into their revolving loan funds to pay bills and payroll a couple of months ago. There are many reasons to question how ecodev money was spent. Can’t you just imagine what $560,000 would have done to help restore the Bartisan/Oriel Building? Or the old jail. That would have been a step in the right direction for us to get our identity back as an early frontier town. Many people don’t like being associated with the past and our cowtown heritage, but that is where tourism is today. That is our identifier. (Of course I am aware not all this money would be spent in Ellsworth or in this way. We have such a glut of housing now in Ellsworth, and throughout the county, one wonders at the wisdom of continuing to build more “low income houses”. ) Tourism IS economic development. A specific identity is what will attract people to Ellsworth. Lincoln identifies with Post Rock with their buildings, restorations and celebrations. Wilson identifies strongly with their Czech heritage. We need to expand and capitalize on our drover history to make us something special. We have Jim Gray, but we need a total commitment from the community for that. The kind of “economic development” that has been displayed during the past 7 years will not meet our needs of today. Back in the good old days of economic development, the city had about $10,000 in its coffers to help out, pennies were wisely spent. Look at all the businesses we landed. Chickasha Mobile Homes, Parkton Corp, Garrett Manufacturing, ECF, Craft World, Cashco, Essex Wire/ El-Kan, etc. They aren’t all here now, but they have kept the town going in their time and have been replaced by other businesses. This year we’ve lost Darr’s, the Antique Store, the lumber yard and the carpet shop on Douglas Ave. owned by the lumber yard. There didn’t seem to be any economic development effort to retain them and replacing those business will be harder than ever. By comparison, look at Lincoln Kansas and what they have done in the past 7 years without an economic development director. If you haven’t been there lately, you should go spend some time and look around. They lost their major employer, Century Manufacturing, yet they are doing a fine job restoring their old limestone buildings and attracting new businesses to town. Their theater is a work of art and was restored with volunteer help, many of them young students who take such pride in their work. The people of Lincoln are running circles around us. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe we lack volunteers and the people needed to show a passion for our heritage because we stand back and expect the money we are pouring into “economic development” to do it all for us. Things need to change fast, it seems to me.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 5:34 pm

Curtis G. Glaser and Joni L. Glaser, 1205 Aylward, Ellsworth NAME OF CONTRACTOR: Al Wedel and Associates, 1302 Aylward, Ellsworth AMOUNT OF LIEN CLAIMED: $70,425.21, plus interest at the highest rate according to the terms or the invoices DESCRIPTION OF REAL ESTATE: West Half of the Northwest Quarter of Section Thirty, Township Fifteen South, Range Eight West, Ellsworth County, Kansas Mechanic’s Lien filed by Allen R. Wedel against the property of Curtis G. and Joni L. Glaser The following is an itemized statement of labor, material, or supplies used or consumed for the improvement of the above. Ellsworth Lumber Co. Building materials $10.955.82 B & B Plumbing Plumbing & HVAC 19,416.00 Steve Rugg Sheetrock 16,500.00 Bennett Insulation Insulation 4,000.00 Rolling Hills Electric Electrical 8,477.95 Kyler & Sons Concrete 845.00 Al Wedel and Assoc. Materials and Labor 10,230.44 Total $70,425.21



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:00 pm

How about some guidance from my friends in Ellsworth County who read my blogs? We have some events going on about town that are creating a stir. One that concerns me a great deal is the role of our county economic development committee (most are very good, thinking people) and their goals, loans, housing construction record, and sales. Jerry Aday isn’t the director any more and that is a very good thing, in my opinion. It would be best if he’d just mosey on down the road, the same way he mosied up here from Wichita. I’d like to take all the statements of what he said he’d done, all his projections of companies he had lined up to come here and other misstatements and point out what actually happened. It wouldn’t be anything that most observing people don’t already know, but seeing it on paper to make comparisons would be interesting. If anyone has a suggestion, click on “E-Mail Peg”, which is right below the archives in the menu on the left, and let me know what you think . I’ve been very tempted since I launched my web log to turn the other side of the coin for observation and to express my opinions.



Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 6:28 pm


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 6:23 pm

We have a family member, one of my daughters-in-law, who is famous for her pies. I mentioned to my houseguest from England that we’d done, seen and eaten about everything in central Kansas except enjoy the family pies. We’d have to save that for next time as the pie baker has been on vacation, I said. Then she reminded me I had not fullfilled on my promise to take her to have a tomato beer at the local bar. Oops. Just after those words were spoken we were in Paden’s Place enjoying frosty mugs of tomato beer. There couldn’t have been a better afternoon for it. She liked cowboy beer better than anything else she’s had since she’s been here, she said. Geez…I really hope she wasn’t all that serious, but I know she really liked it. It was her first time in an “American pub” and there wasn’t much to see. No cowboys wearing their chaps and spurs, no rowdy guys or saloon girls, no six-shooters hanging low on hips. There were domino players as you’d find anywhere, especially in England. So, back to the pie. We stopped in to see our famous family pie-baker-person who was still at work. Out of the blue, she asked my guest what her favorite pie might be as she wanted to bake one for her tonight. Without hesitation she said, “corned beef, onion and tatie pie”. Well, that brought the house down! That just isn’t going to happen. I’d love it, but I won’t get it either. Her second favorite happens to be apple pie with English custard. Hey, I know how to make English custard, so the taste will be just as she anticipates. I bet the apple pie is the best she’s ever had. We want to keep our houseguests happy. Tomorrow my guest heads back to White-le-Head which is a part of Stanley, which is a part of Tantobie, which is in northwest Durham County England. If you look on the map for Newcastle you’ll be close to where she lives. Newcastle is famous for the coal that was once mined near there and shipped down the Tyne to the North Sea. What is the saying about “taking the coal to Newcastle”? It’s also famous for its Newcastle brown ale that if drunk in sufficient quantities (in the old days when they put deadly alcohol in it) would make you go crazy and blind. It’s top of the line, imo, and you can buy it here. She brought me some from Stanley and I think that makes it taste better. I’ve been there so I know exactly where her home lies in the world. The bridges over the Tyne are a study in engineering. There are 7, as I recall, all within a short walking distance of each other. The miners, called Pitmen, were Geordies, as is my friend. Her father was a miner and all her friends fathers and brothers and sons were miners. They were famous for growing leeks and raising racing pigeons in the small garden plots they were provided. They lived “back to back”, rent free, in mining cottages owned by the coal board. Some were “two up two down”, which was two bedrooms up with a living room and scullery downstairs. No bathrooms. Cold running water. They heated the water in kettles on the stove and filled a small tin tub where the miners bathed with their knees up to their chins. They bathed the children first, with the miners bathing last. Breakfast for the miners was a pot of tea. What nearly every miner took down the pit was jam and bread and a bottle of water. That was the “beit”….or lunch carried in “billie can” down into the mines. If dinner wasn’t ready and on the table when they got home from the pit, it often led to huge arguments as they were so hungry. The villages were small and numerous located throughout northwest Durham. The miners received a ton of hard coal every month for their own use which was unloaded at the front of the house and had to be wheeled by hand to the coal houses usually found at the back of the house. Bed linens were a regular sight on the miner’s wives washing line. No matter how hard miners scrubbed themselves in the tin tub, they would go to bed and sweat coal dust out of their pores. Ann had an uncle who was 6′4″ tall and worked in a coal seam that was 8″ high and usually the seam was filled with water. When they were working “wet”, they removed their shirts but left their vests on. They wore knees pads, rubber boots and a hard hat with a battery driven lamp, the battery being carried on the hip. As tools they had a pick axe and a shovel and generally they worked flat on their backs for an 8 hour shift. The pitmen also carried canaries down into the shaft with them to alert them to gas that might be in the seam. If the canary died, the pitmen made a quick exit from the mine. To get the coal out of the pit to the shaft, pit ponies were used to pull the tubs of coal topside. In the 1960s the miners lives improved slightly with the addition of “pithead baths”. The men came up from the shaft covered with black coal dust and would go to the pithead baths located nearby in the coal yard. They had hot water showers there. Wages were very poor in the early years. Ann can remember her dad bringing home 9 pounds and a few shillings and pence for two weeks holiday pay every summer when the mines were closed. That was for the parents and four children. Every coal mine had a banner, like a flag, with the name of the mine and a crest. Every year they would take the banners out of the offices where they were kept and paraded through the streets of Durham city behind the pit band and carried to a place in Durham called the racecourse. This was and is still known as the “Durham miners gala”. At this gala the miners were normally addressed by the prime minister of the day. If a banner paraded at this gala were draped in black, everyone knew miners had been killed that year in that particular mine. We’ll miss having Ann here, but her ticket said she has to be on her way home. She told the reporter who interviewed her today that if she were 20 years younger she would move here. She loves it, and has since the moment she arrived. There are landscape similarities about the places where we each live. Our prairies are “shaped” like the Moors and very sparcely populated. The Moors have bentgrass, heather, gorse and sheep. I love the Moors. The Moors are similar to our national parks in that certain rules apply to this vast area. You can drive forever without seeing a farmhouse as usually they are tucked down a long dirt road where you might find two or three clustered together. My friend John, with whom I stayed while I was in Northumbria, lives on the Moors and the beauty of his surroundings is a memory I’ll always keep. You can’t do much to the house and land you own except keep the repairs up. If it is a derelict house, as many are, you don’t have to pay taxes on it. That in itself is reason enough not to make improvements, which can only be minimal. Ann wouldn’t leave the Moors but she joked about putting a small “caravan” down by our creek in our back yard, one that has only one bedroom so she won’t have any company. She’d like to eat all of her meals with us, of course. Maybe the food is better here than she’d like to admit. There are a few things she has liked, but mostly she has endured and tried everything. She particularly liked sitting on our back deck and smoking her tabs. She’s been a good houseguest and become part of our family. She is going to eat fish and chips the minute she arrives home and will eat them steadily for a week. She probably will have a chip buttie as well which is two slices of white bread filled with their style of French fries. She’ll be back one day but I’m sure she will avoid coming in July.



Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Kanopolis Musings — Peg Britton @ 3:31 pm

Today in lovely downtown Ellsworth I encountered a friend who inquired after my blog. My blog, I asked quizzically? I wasn’t aware that anyone really read it but my young friend says he reads it every day and wondered at where I have been. I suppose he might have read about my position on “under God” more times than he wanted and was looking for new thoughts to ponder. Where I have been is in every nook and cranny in north central Kansas, my bailiwick.

A friend of mine from County Durham England has been here the past two weeks and I can’t let her return home without seeing most of this part of the world. As a result of being gone all day every day, there has been little time to devote to my blog. On the other hand, it has provided me with material to write about in that each time I embark on a day tour; I find new delightful things to experience as well as some that are disappointing. Without establishing any priority or order of events, I’ll just mention a few that others might find interesting.

Two weekends ago Judy Akers and Terri Stevenson at Castle Rock BnB started serving meals by reservation on Friday and Saturday nights. You can choose between steak and chicken then they fill in the rest which includes a nice salad, Terri’s homemade Mennonite rolls, baked potato, creamed corn, chocolate cake, tea and coffee for $15.00. The setting, if you haven’t been there, is “real prairie” and located in the old Tom Mullen ranch house by Kanopolis Lake. Of course they have added on to it in several directions and made it a great place to stay and enjoy the wonders of prairie life. I’d recommend it for any occasion, but it is especially nice for those who aren’t familiar with farm and ranch life. I love that place!

Another little treasure that I enjoy, but my husband doesn’t, is the Lorraine Cafe, particularly on Thursday night when they serve breakfast. There isn’t much in Lorraine anymore, but the cafe is up and down in popularity with diners. You can get an old-fashioned country breakfast there which includes three egg omelets, meat of some kind, great hash browns with extra onions if you ask for them, some of Rachel’s homemade bread toasted that she saves back for those who ask, great big wonderful pancakes and all for not much money. It’s a huge amount of food yet Styx and Twigs will also add a plate of biscuits and sausage gravy to their orders. It’s amazing to see them eat all of it.

As for other good eateries where I took my friend, include Extra Innings Texas Barbecue in Lincoln. That place has really caught on and every time I have been there it is increasingly busy. The owner-lawyer turned barbecue expert turns out some great smoked brisket and ribs, my two favorites. He seasons his meat before he smokes it so it has a great flavor even without the sauce. He had large carafes of his homemade bbq sauce on the tables, you can buy it by the quart and it is exceptionally good. It’s the kind that grows on you as it has a little bite and lots of flavor. It’s not the thick tomato kind that overpowers the meat. You can get a big sandwich with lots of lean meat and a couple of sides for $5.00 something. I’ve also brought ribs home for dinner which makes me very popular.

A good thing to do is to have dinner either at Extra Innings or Biggie Biggs, which is also very good and famous for pizza, then take in a movie at the Fitch Theater. They restored the theater and it is just a beautiful place now, one that everyone there takes a great deal of pride in since it was a community effort.

There are lots of good things going on in Lincoln. I like to visit the large cottonwood tree in the park and wonder at its enormity and strength to endure so many Kansas summers and winters. It’s a good photo-op place for visitors. The courthouse is a good place to visit to see what they have done in the way of restoration. Stop and visit with Marilyn at Village Lines and see all of her wonderful Kansas products. And Biggie Biggs restoration is a real labor of love for Jim and his family. His microbrewery beer is excellent and his wife’s pies are to die for. The people in Lincoln are really doing a first-class job with town improvements and it’s obvious to even the casual visitor.

Going on west on highway 18 out of Lincoln you can veer off to the north and drive through Denmark. Coming down over the hill and seeing Denmark ahead in the valley must be a wonderful homecoming sight to those who are fortunate to live there. They are a community of friends and take care of each other. If you are there on Sunday afternoon stop at the little shop on the main drag west of the Mercantile. It’s called Elsie’s Herbs and Flowers. Elsie is the one responsible for organizing their Annual Herb Fair and has programs scheduled at 1:30 with a different subject being covered each Sunday. She’ll feature such things as herbal sweet treats, tussie mussie, potpourri, herbs in a wedding and toad house. You can also contact her for information at

Moving on west to Lucas I encountered my first real disappointment of the summer, so far as our local attractions are concerned. The Garden of Eden has fallen into the hands of commercialism and has lost most of its rural Kansas charm. Rarely do I have a house guest who doesn’t also get a tour of the Garden of Eden. I’ve lost count of people I’ve taken there, but I’d guess I’ve made more than 50 trips to Lucas over the years, primarily to visit the Garden. You can see my website about it. I had a friend from England with me and she eagerly awaited the tour that I had described to her. Alas! What we had was a disinterested, bored young woman (my friend considered her “rude”) who provided a short introduction as fast she could, then turned on the TV for a video show of other parts of the house and gardens. Following a look around the house on our own, she took us to the mausoleum where she quickly shined her flashlight on the remains of Samuel, and then she departed. The Garden of Eden has long been on my tour agenda for my house guests and now it will no longer be. At least we won’t pay the fee for the tour. Instead I will walk my guests around the outside myself and keep one of Dinsmoor’s books handy. I will also tell them all about Jean Mettelin and the wonderful tours he provided since he was a storehouse of information about the Garden and Lucas. He was what the Garden and rural Kansas is all about …service, kindness, personal contact and imparting first-hand information about our place here.

The Garden has lost so much in this transition. Gone are the charm and intrigue of hearing someone who really cares about the Garden explain how it came into being. By resorting to handling visitors in this manner it has now fallen by the wayside like the Dalton Gang Hideout in Meade. The Garden supporters worked hard to get where they were, then they turned the wrong corner and now are little more than a tourist trap.

Brant’s Market is a great meat shop especially for his specialties. His pepper sausage is one of my favorites. And he makes great jerky. Doug is an interesting man and is one of the charges who make Lucas turn. They have restored their theater too, but I haven’t had a chance to see a movie there since it has been finished. Stop also at the Grassroots Museum as they have some very interesting collections.

Another pocket of delight is the Stone Cottage Farm BnB which is, if you’re heading south out of Lucas toward Wilson, “just this side of Wilson Lake” a couple of miles. It is owned and being restored by Roland Spencer and Becky Thaemert. It isn’t well marked but there is a sign that makes it appear it’s for sale. You can spot it on the right if you are looking. Take a look on my website to learn about it as I’ll be adding more after I return to spend more time with them. They are a remarkable young couple. This is way too long, but maybe it will provide my friend for some information for a day trip with his family. There is so much to explore, so many new things to see every time you drive through central Kansas. All you need is sharp eyes. Soon I’ll have something to say about Covert, the only preserved ghost town in Kansas….maybe.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:28 pm

Regarding the furor over the decision regarding the Pledge of Allegiance The pledge, written by a socialist clergyman in 1892, has often served as a rallying cry in times of national crisis. During World War II, Congress officially recognized the pledge and changed its accompanying salute from an outstretched arm that resembled Hitler’s favored salute to the current right hand over the heart. In 1954, in the midst of the cold war against godless communism, President Eisenhower urged Congress to add the words under God to the oath to reaffirm “the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future.” Now faced with a war of uncertain definition and length, the country has once again embraced the pledge as a talisman against harm. It is clear that the “God” that was added to the pledge by Congress in 1954 during the cold war is the Judeo-Christian God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Is it also the Judeo-Christian Muslim God of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael? Judge Alfred T. Goodwin held last week that the words “under God” were unconstitutional because they violated the separation of church and state required by the First Amendment “A profession that we are a nation ‘under God’ is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation ‘under Jesus,’ a nation ‘under Vishnu,’ a nation ‘under Zeus,’ or a nation ‘under no god,’ because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion,” Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote for the three-judge panel. Judge Alfred T. Goodwin is a Republican and a Nixon appointee. Nixon, as you’ll recall, was a Republican. In his majority decision, Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote that the pledge as it is now sends a message to unbelievers “that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.” The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the phrase amounts to a government endorsement of religion in violation of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which requires a separation of church and state. The government had argued that the religious content of “one nation under God” is minimal. But the appeals court said that an atheist or a holder of certain non-Judeo-Christian beliefs could see it as an attempt to “enforce a ‘religious orthodoxy’ of monotheism.” But the reasoning isn’t crazy. It’s technically correct.” Vincent Blasi, a law professor at Columbia University and the University of Virginia, agreed. “If you’re being true to the idea that government must not take positions on religious questions, then the Ninth Circuit opinion is quite persuasive,” he says. “There is a powerful desire by majorities to assert a religious identity for the country.” That desire was strengthened by the terrorist attacks, as schools across the nation turned more openly to prayer for solace. The men who wrote the Constitution “to form a more perfect union” were not perfect. As you know, they put slavery into the federal government’s founding document, but they left out women and minorities. They also left God out of it after long and careful consideration. There is good reason the framers of the Constitution left “God” out of it, despite the efforts of some to write a more religiously correct document. Before ratification, one delegate tried to add to the preamble, “We the people of the United States in a firm belief of the being and perfection of the one living and true God…etc”. Another tried to rewrite Article 6, which says, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification” for public office. One delegate from Virginia wanted to say, “No other religious test shall ever be required than the belief in the only one true God.” Who would you rather have define “God” for you? Thurgood Marshall or Clarence Thomas? The Rehnquist Court? The Warren Court? One of our distinguished Jewish Senators said after the decision, “We approach the altar by different paths, but we all worship the same God.” I don’t think so. Many Christians think Jews and Muslims are doomed because they don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus. Many Muslims think Christians are polytheists who worship three gods…the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Many Christians think Hindus are doomed because they worship many gods. But many Hindus say that, like Christians, they believe in one God in many forms. But the worst of all are people who send hate messages around the internet espousing the beliefs of Senator Robert Byrd who said as the Senate got up on its high horse to condemn the revised pledge….”I’ll not stand for this country to be ruled by a bunch of atheists. It they don’t like it leave.” Senator Byrd has a short memory about his ancestors who also were told to like it or leave by the first established church in England, then by the established churches in the American colonies. And that’s one reason the framers left God out of the Constitution. So the decision last week about “under God” was made by three men, two decided it was unconstitutional and the third thought it was silly. “When all is said and done, the danger that ‘under God’ in our Pledge of Allegiance will tend to bring about a theocracy or suppress somebody’s beliefs is so minuscule as to be de minimus, Judge Ferdinand Fernandez wrote in his dissent. “De minimis” is a legal term and basically means “The law does not concern itself with trifles. Unfortunately, politicians do. The words “under God” themselves undermine education in America. Without discussion or debate, they encourage students to take for granted the union of church and state, a union that threatens the intent of our Founding Fathers. With this decision, justices are teaching students that there are many in our vast democracy whose views differ from the majority, and that must be recognized. Perhaps it would be better to spend more time in school teaching our students what “liberty and justice for all’ truly means. Those who have jumped to conclusions with cartoons and threats like Senator Byrd might well benefit by first researching the subject to learn why this decision was rendered. Fortunately, the Constitution is not something to be trifled with. (With some help from Nadja Labi)


Filed under: prairie musings, Wilson Musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 8:40 pm

These are busy times. Maybe it’s the heat that takes its toll on us. As I stood outside the Independent office today with Mark for a chat the bank time and temperature sign across the street read 109 degrees.. No sooner had we commented on the heat when his fire alarm went off on his hip and off he went. He’s a volunteer fireman, always at the ready. I never saw him after that and when I left my volunteer proofing job at the Indy for the day, he still wasn’t back. I think there was a call from Wilson FD needing additional help. This is a very bad time for fires. We haven’t had a drop of moisture and the grasses are brittle. The least spark ignites a fire so farmers are very wary when they bale…always looking behind them. One of our area farmers who is traditionally very late planting his wheat and late with his harvest was cutting as we came home from Salina last night. Everyone else has been finished for over a week. I continue to have some very welcomed letters about my website from old friends, children of friends, friends of my children, and complete strangers. The hits continue to come and that means we are spreading the word about Ellsworth. My hope is that some of the people who read it might just decide to stop here and see what we have to offer. A little money spent here and there circulates around town several times and helps our economy. One group of readers who really pull at my heart strings are the people who grew up here, or lived here long enough to have it really make a difference in their lives. For some reason, this site and the ones before it have managed to give them a connection they seem to need. I can understand that completely. There is something about Ellsworth that keeps people close to family and friends. If you haven’t already done so, you can read about Ellsworth County at Thank you, in advance, for reading every word of it.



Filed under: prairie musings, Wilson Musings — Peg Britton @ 4:34 pm

Linda and I went to Wilson for lunch today and ate at Al’s Bar and Grill. It was bbq’d pork sandwich day. Their potato salad is also good and that’s what I had. The daily special. Linda always goes for the broasted chicken and fries. Usually we check out what Joyce is serving at the Wilson Rec Center. Wednesday is bierock and home made chicken and noodle day. Her salad bar is always the same but very good…so are her pies. Nice people. We frequently stop in there for lunch. The “Made from Scratch” place is always interesting. I bought homemade bread, cinnamon rolls and an order of enchiladas with beans and rice for dinner. The owner is a lifesaver and so willing to fix anything you might want, with a little advance notice. One of my favorites is her over-sized breakfast sweet roll filled with cream cheese and cherry filling. She has added a couple of tables now where you can sit and eat. She serves huge portions and everything is very good. We didn’t eat there, but I think we should next time. Shaw’s was packed to the rafters with shoppers today…more than I’ve ever seen before. Mostly, I think they were people who stopped there to stock up on groceries before going on to Wilson Lake. Malcolm was sacking groceries for a line of shoppers that extended to the milk cooler at the far end of the store. I needed him to thin slice a slab of bacon. Thin slicing takes time. We were in a hurry so I struck a deal with him. I said I would sack groceries if he’d go slice bacon. He grabbed at that opportunity and I started sacking. I missed my calling as I was great at it. From years of unpacking groceries, I know how it should be done. Right! I even carried out a bunch of sacks and ice for some little old ladies who were only slightly older than I am, I suppose. They thanked me several times and said I could come back and sack anytime. What a kick! I love small towns and the people who live in them. Malcolm loved the entry I did about his store and said he really liked my website…adding, that he still had a lot of reading to do.



Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 11:27 am

Let us remember why we celebrate the 4th of July: Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence: Five were tortured by the British as traitors before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. By signing that Declaration they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants.Nine were farmers and large plantation owners–men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags. Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward. Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt. Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates. Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told us a lot about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn’t just fight the British. We were the subjects of an autocratic king and an arrogant parliament, and we fought our own government! Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn’t. So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July Holiday and silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid. Remember: Freedom is never free! (Author Unknown)

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