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Out of the Morgue
Free the train and Stiles ties personal best in 1996
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The Great Bend Tribune published this cartoon map of the city and downtown in 1996. - photo by Tribune file photo

Each week we’ll take a step back into the history of Great Bend through the eyes of reporters past. We’ll reacquaint you with what went into creating the Great Bend of today, and do our best to update you on what “the rest of the story” turned out to be.

This week in 1996, another businessman took the top spot at a presidential primary. That man was Steve Forbes and the primary was Delaware. He beat out Kansas’ own Bob Dole, who came in number two that day. Neither one won the presidency though. The country gave Bill Clinton a second term instead.
The Great Bend Tribune’s Feb. 25, 1996 edition included a fanciful cartoon look at the city. The map featured a regular street map inside also. While many businesses from 20 years ago remain, like Dillon’s, Brown’s Shoe Fit and The Buckle, there are many that have faded into memory, like The Country Kitchen Cafe, Tumble In Coin Laundry, and Black Angus Steak Ranch.
The Sunday paper included a kids page called “The Bubble Gum Rapper.” Fun facts about newspapers appeared in this week’s edition.
“About a third of all newspapers are published in North America, another third in Europe (including Russia), and the remaining third in the rest of the world.”
“Eighty-six percent of American adults read a newspaper once or more each week.”
“In the 1830s, newspapers cost about 6 cents a copy which was more than most working-class people could afford.”
That was just before the internet really began to make an impact on the way people received their news. It would only be a few years later that the popular refrain heralded the end of newspapers. Well, that was only partly right. Newspapers, as an institution, have changed a lot, and many of the big ones have died, but community newspapers are doing great, and in fact, according to a recent article in The Inlander, a publishing industry newspaper, 2015 was a big year for newspaper deals. The number of deals accelerated through 2015, and valuations rose towards the end of the year. Newspaper sales prices are calculated by using a multiplier times the EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.) Between 2008 to mid-2014, that multiplier was 3.5 to 4.5.
“Since then, however, small to mid-size newspapers have sold at much higher multiples.” The average sale price has been 6 times EBITDA, it is reported.

Free the train
Great Bend Publisher Cleon Rickel urged the city to consider the removal of the iron fence around the Santa Fe locomotive engine at Brit Spaugh Park in his Sunday editorial. He predicted it would not come to be, however, due to liability. He was right, of course. The fence still stands. Still, he painted a lovely picture of what could be.
“There’s not many people who can resist the romance of the steel wheels rumbling down the magic carpet of rail and the chance to touch, stand in, and yes, stand on, such a gleaming, powerful symbol of that romance can be irresistable. Children - and their parents - can stand in the cab and remember and dream.”

Stiles making a name
This was Claflin’s Jackie Stiles’ junior year of high school, and the sports page carried the story of the battle between Claflin and Little River’s girls that weekend.
“The battle of the unbeatens - Little River and Claflin - was a sight to see. But the battle to get in the Little River gym to watch the game was a real adventure. The hype machine was already in high gear before the tip-off.”
Claflin lost, sadly, 79 to 62. But there was the consolation of a great performance by Stiles’, who tied her own Claflin High record by scoring 53 points.
Later, she participated in the WBCA High School All-America Game where she scored eighteen points and earned MVP honors, according to Wikipedia. She played for Missouri State University,
“While there, She became the first NCAA Division I women’s player to score more than 1,000 points in a season, scoring 1,062 in her senior year. That year, she won the Wade Trophy, which honors the best women’s basketball player in the college ranks, as well as the Broderick Cup, which honors the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. She competed with USA Basketball as a member of the 2000 Jones Cup Team that won the gold in Taipei.”
Her career has been full and long. Visitors to the Barton County Historical Museum will find more of her story on the honor wall.