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Grainfield, KS : Community News

by Gayle Weber
May 29, 2012 - Hays Daily News

GRAINFIELD -- They didn't need a carnival here to entertain the kids during Cruise, Shoes & BBQs last weekend. All it took to intrigue the many kids running around the city park was setting up a tall, authentic Crow Indian tipi.

Mike Bainter, Rhonda Habiger, and Mike and Tanya Allemang erected the tipi, owned by Edwin Johnson in Lenora, and made it the centerpiece of their first attempt at barbecuing meat in competition.

The Hard Wood BBQ team made its debut Saturday, using the tipi as a prep station and cypress wood boxes to cook chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. Bainter bought the wooden boxes -- commonly found in Oklahoma and Louisiana -- more than a year ago and has been "practicing" his barbecuing skills with Habiger ever since.

"We had the brisket and pork good, and the ribs are either good or they're tough," Bainter said. "And my chicken was horrible, but Mike, he can cook a chicken."

So Bainter and Habiger teamed with the Allemangs.

"We're rookies and I think we're gonna win it," Bainter said Saturday, just before turning in his team's chicken to be judged.

The cypress wood boxes allowed the meat to be cooked in the boxes, with the fire on top, preventing flare-ups and burnt meat.

"We were attentive all night," Bainter said Saturday morning. "I hope we beat all these guys that slept all night."

However, the team came up empty handed in the awards ceremony.

Double Trouble +1 out of Quinter made it three in a row, winning the grand champion award again from Cruise, Shoes & BBQs.

"It's so much fun when it's a nice day," said Tiffany Gillespie, part of the Double Trouble +1 team, along with her husband, Greg, and their three daughters. "The kids can go play and it's just a good time."

But barbecue wasn't the only thing on the menu in Grainfield. A horseshoe tournament was ongoing Saturday, as was a car show.

Organizers suggested some car owners stayed home Saturday because of the wind, but there still was a good showing. Shawn Shepard, Quinter, just got his great-grandfather's 1960 Chevrolet Biscayne running a few weeks ago. He spent Saturday polishing up other parts of the car, which was on display for the first time in Grainfield.

"I've got two pieces of chrome so I've got to shine them," Shepard said.

The event is good family time, according to John Perry, who drove in from Tescott with his wife, Annie, and three of their kids. Perry's cousins live in Grainfield.

"The cows are to grass. The combines are ready. Beats anything else," Perry said of attending the event. "Can't beat small town U.S.A."

by Gayle Weber
May 20, 2012 - Hays Daily News

There are so many small communities in our 20-county coverage area that we don't get to experience very often. But there is one thing nearly all of them have in common -- they celebrate something during the summer.

I plan to travel to many of those celebrations this summer, doing something I like to call "Cruising NWKS." I'll be out and about from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, visiting the dozens of communities in northwest Kansas that boast county fairs, rodeos, after-harvest festivals, homecoming weekends and more. My goal is to visit every county in our coverage area this summer. I want to meet you and experience what makes your community great.

My summer begins this coming weekend with a stop in Grainfield, one of my favorite communities in the area to visit. The Grainfield Community Development Committee hosts Cruise, Shoes and BBQs on Friday and Saturday.

"This is our version of bringing people to Grainfield," said Nicole Godek, president of the committee. "It helps our businesses, and it's just a really fun time."

This will be my first trip to Cruise, Shoes and BBQs, but in my four years here at the paper, I've been to plenty of other fairs and festivals. My favorites include Ness City's Old Settler's weekend, which happens only every five years; the Ellis Junior Free Fair, a scaled-down version of a county fair; Nicodemus' homecoming weekend, which is full of history and heritage; and of course, no list would be complete without Kansas' Biggest Rodeo in Phillipsburg.

This year, I hope to top those experiences. This is where I start:

* Phillipsburg's PBR event -- the first to come to the Phillips County arena. It will complement the Riverless Festival on June 2.

* Plainville's milk jug boat races -- your guess is as good as mine as to what this will be. The races will help wrap up the Paradise Creek Festival on June 8 to 10.

* Lenora's Tracy Lawrence concert -- "If the World Had a Front Porch" is my favorite Tracy Lawrence tune. He kicks off two nights of music in Lenora on June 15 and 16.

* The 140th anniversary celebration of Higley Cabin -- The cabin where "Home on the Range" was written reportedly was built July 4, 1872. This is the first of a two-year celebration at the cabin.

Your event could be on that list, too. Email me at, and tell me how your community celebrates summer. Then join me as I "cruise" the area. I'll be blogging from the road, taking pictures and talking to the most important commodity in Kansas -- the people.

Follow me on Facebook at, on Twitter @HDNGayleWeber and on my blog at Plus, check out the Tuesday editions of The Hays Daily News throughout the summer to see all the people I've met and places I've been.

And don't think for a minute my interest in northwest Kansas stops after Labor Day. Continue to keep The Hays Daily News in mind as you prepare to celebrate your community, your people and your schools. We want to know about it, and so do our readers.

by Dawne Leiker
December 29, 2011 - Hays Daily News

QUINTER -- Gove County added an economic development tool to its toolbox this month when it joined the 43 Kansas counties participating in the state's Rural Opportunity Zones student loan reimbursement partnership.

"In a very competitive market, it keeps us neck-and-neck with our neighboring counties," said Ericka Gillespie, chairwoman of Citizens for the Economic Development of Gove County and Quinter city administrator.

Gove County commissioners approved participation in the ROZ program at their Dec. 12 meeting after extensive "homework" and researching the ROZ program with the Department of Commerce, Gillespie said.

Although many counties had signed on early in the process, which took effect July 1, Gove County commissioners wanted to be comfortable with the decision they made, Gillespie said.

"It was a lengthy process, but it was because they wanted to better understand," she said. "I'm proud to say my commissioners probably know more about ROZ than any other county, because we really had to do our homework."

In December, Chatauqua and Pawnee counties also joined the ROZ partnership, which provides up to $3,000 per year for five years for individuals who graduate from an accredited post-secondary college or technical school.

In addition, people moving from out-of-state could be eligible for 100 percent income tax reimbursement if they have lived outside Kansas for at least the past five years and have had Kansas source income of less than $10,000 per year d the past five years.

Other efforts to develop economic development strategies in Gove County were advanced when a community foundation was created in early December.

Under the umbrella of the Greater Northwest Kansas Community Foundation, the Gove County Foundation's development brings to fruition a long-term goal of the Citizens for the Economic Development of Gove County.

"I think people don't want to sit back and wait until the next census comes out," Gillespie said. "They're realizing that the time to take action is now."

Other northwest Kansas counties participating in the ROZ program, according to the Department of Commerce website, are Decatur, Graham, Logan, Ness, Norton, Osborne, Phillips, Rawlins, Rooks, Rush, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith and Trego.

November 10, 2011 - Hays Daily News
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A Hays woman gave her mom an early Christmas gift this year, one the whole family will be talking about for a long time.

Loretta Zordel took her 90-year-old mother, Emma Zerr from Grainfield, to a University of Kansas basketball game Tuesday night in Lawrence.

Zerr had watched many a KU game on television and knew about the hoopla surrounding games in the storied program.

On Tuesday, she wasn't as overcome by the atmosphere of the sold-out crowd in Allen Fieldhouse but by all the people she had coming up, wanting to take their picture with her.

That's because word spread fast in the fieldhouse a 90-year-old Jayhawk fan was attending her first KU game.

Seated in a wheelchair on one end of the court, Zerr barely got to watch any pregame warmups and activities because she was kept busy chatting with folks who came by to say hi.

"She couldn't believe how much attention she was getting," Zordel said.

Bob Davis, voice of the Jayhawks and former sports director of KAYS Radio in Hays, stopped by. So, too, did KU Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger, another former Hays resident. Both had their photos taken with Zerr.

"Now, every time I watch (the Jayhawks) on TV, I'll think, 'I was there,' " said Zerr, who will celebrate her 91st birthday in January.

Zerr has been a KU fan dating to the early 1970s when she started watching the Jayhawks play on television.

That's when she and her husband, Rudolph, moved their family to town off the farm and could get more than two channels on TV.

The Zerrs already were sports fans, and Rudolph helped coach his four sons in American Legion baseball.

That love of the crimson and blue spread to their children, and Zordel said she always wanted to take her mom to a game in Allen Fieldhouse.

That opportunity came when the Zordels' neighbor, Larry Jantz, offered them some tickets from his brother, Rich, who lives in Lawrence and has several season tickets.

Zerr uses a cane, and Zordel was concerned her mother wouldn't be able to navigate the steps.

"The elevator only goes so high," Zordel said, "so someone told us to call the (KU) athletic department. They said they had a spot for people in wheelchairs. Mom didn't care if she had to sit in a wheelchair."

That call ended up getting Zerr a seat on the ground floor and a bird's-eye view of the action on the court.

"Big," was Zerr's response to what she thought of the size of the players.

The outcome of the game was lopsided. The NCAA Division I Jayhawks beat Division II Fort Hays State University 101-52 in an exhibition contest.

But Zerr didn't care. She now can say she saw the Jayhawks play in person. And she can look at the photo her son-in-law, Dan Zordel, took of her in front of the Jayhawks' 2008 national championship trophy.

"That was fun," Jantz said. "She was queen of the court."