Senator Moran reacts to death of county commissioner
The death of Barton County Commissioner Don Cates in a plane crash Tuesday struck a cord in the nation’s capitol.
“My heart goes out to the entire Cates family during this difficult time,” said Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran. “Don was a devoted husband, father and grandfather.”
Moran said both Cates and his wife Ginger are well known in the Barton County for their dedication to keeping the community a great place to live and work. “Don was a true role model and his generous spirit will be greatly missed. I ask all Kansans to join me and Robba in keeping Don’s family and friends in their thoughts and prayers in the days ahead.”
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the First Southern Baptist Church in Great Bend. Burial will be at the Claflin Cemetery with military rites by the Fort Riley Honor Guard.
The death of Barton County Commissioner Don Cates in a spray plane crash Tuesday afternoon left some questions as to how to fill his seat on the governing body, questions that occupied much of the day Wednesday for Barton County Clerk Donna Zimmerman.
According to Zimmerman, the first step has already been taken. Since Cates was a Republican, she contacted Barton County Republican Committee Chairman Richard Friedeman.
“He is on notice,” she said of Friedeman. “The clock started ticking.”
He now has 21 days to call a convention of the eligible delegates from the electoral precincts included in the Commission’s Fourth District. Cates, who was from Claflin, represented the Fourth.
The district encompasses the Precinct 1 of the Fourth Ward in Great Bend, Ellinwood (Lakin Township), Claflin (Independent Township), and the South Bend, Comanche, Logan and townships.
The delegates must be given seven days notice about the convention. The gathering must have a one-third quorum to be official.
There are 11 eligible delegates in the Fourth District. They include: Richard Friedeman and Janis Friedeman from the Great Bend precinct; Aaron Sauer and Catherine Strecker from Ellinwood; Mark and Kim Connell from Claflin; Kirby Krier from Logan Township; James Stevens and Pam Wornkey from Comanche Township; and David H. and Heather Smith from South Bend Township.
At the meeting, the delegates will offer up names of candidates which will be voted on via secret ballot. A simple majority wins, and balloting will continue until a winner is chosen.
Such conventions usually take place at the Barton County Courthouse in Great Bend, Zimmerman said. They are also open to the general public.
But, Zimmerman said, the conventioneers do not have the final say. Within 24 hours, their decision must be delivered to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback either my registered mail or in person, with a copy going to the secretary of state.
The governor then has seven days to act. If he does nothing, the decision of the convention stands.
Zimmerman said Cates had filed on April 7 for reelection this fall. However, since this was done long enough prior to the June 1 filing deadline, his name is just being taken off the ballot.
Cates was first elected as a Barton County commissioner in 2010.
The Commission is next scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Monday at the Barton County Courthouse, 1400 Main in Great Bend.
Cates was flying a spraying plane near G Road and 210th Ave. 1.5 miles northwest of Garfield in Pawnee County when it crashed at 1:12 p.m. Tuesday after hitting some power lines, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol. Cates flew for Pratt’s Farmers Spraying Service.
The patrol reports Cates was flying a 1999 fixed-wing, single-engine Air Tractor southeast when it struck a power line on the north side of the road. The plane continued past a row of trees and nose-dived into a ditch, striking a row of hay bales and came to rest in the middle of 210th Road.
Cates was owner and operator of the 94 Store there. He was a pilot for Pratt Farmers Spraying Service and was a retired commercial airline pilot and decorated veteran of the Vietnam Conflict.