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.
30 years of nuclear power
Wolf Creek Generating Station, a nuclear power plant located near Burlington, Kansas, came on line 30 years ago this week on June 4, 1985, and continues to produce inexpensive power. Originally granted a 40-year operating license, the Wolf Creek station received an extension in 2008 to 60-years from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. According to the company website, “The plant generates about 1,200 megawatts of electricity, which is enough energy to power more than 800,000 homes.”
It was one of the last nuclear reactors activated in the United States. Concerns over safely storing nuclear waste and the high cost of building reactors are among the reasons more are not built. Concerns over the safety of operating the plants has decreased since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, as technology has improved.
Locally, Great Bend Seniors were gearing up for graduation, and remembering and honoring three classmates who died during the year.
“Red carnations marked the seats where three seniors should have been sitting during graduation at Great Bend High School Tuesday night. They were in memory of Rob Buettgenback Brad Chism and Chris Green, members of the class of 1985, who died during the school year. Green’s funeral was earlier in the day.”
Saturday, June 1, Green and his sister, Cynthia Jacobs, 23, died tragically when the single-engine Cessna they were flying in nose-dived into a wheat field at Albert. Chris had been the pilot, having had his license for six months. The cause was undetermined.
Students also wore black ribbons on their graduation gowns as a memorial, Jennifer Schartz, reported.
Students of the Class of 1985 will this year are just shy of 50 years old, and many may have already seen their own children graduate or are nearing that point soon.
Computers were just beginning to appear in Great Bend schools at that time. Eisenhower sixth grader Shelley Dixon was featured in a front-page photo, working at a TRS 80 disk-drive Color computer at the school. The local Eagles organization had presented the school with $1,000 to purchase three of the machines. A related story included a photo of students gathered around 11-year-old Rob Beahm, a student at Park, in Joyce Carter’s gifted class as he demonstrated a program he had created over a two-months-long period on one of the new computers. It appears this early introduction to technology had a lasting effect on Beahm. According to LinkedIn, after graduating in 1992, he attended the University of Kansas. His early career was diverse, and included an information systems internship with Lucasfilm. Computers continued to be a focus, and today, he is listed as a Partner Enablement Manager at Gigya in Kansas City, Mo. The Tribune was unable to unearth any information about Dixon. Joyce Carter eventually became principal at Great Bend High School, continued her work with special needs students, and continues to serve on the USD 428 Board of Education.
Wild fun courtesy of cops
For a few years, the Great Bend Police sponsored Summer Play Day at the zoo, where kids met McGruff the Crime Dog and had McDonalds Happy Meals courtesy of Great Bend’s finest. The outreach was wildly popular, pun intended, with nearly 600 youngsters in attendance that first Saturday in June, 1985. While the Summer Play Day is no more, the police continue to reach out to the youth of Great Bend through many other philanthropic events, including the youth bike safety rodeo which took place last week at Brit Spaugh Park.
Great Bend golfer goes pro
Great Bend, like many cities of similar size in Kansas, has many who enjoy golf. Not many, however, qualify to play top-ranking golfers, but in 1985, Steve Gotsche of Great Bend did when he qualified for the U.S. Open.
“Gotsche qualified for the U.S. Open by taking medalist honors in the sectional held Monday and Tuesday at the Kansas City County Club in Kansas City....(he) shot a two-under-par 138, with identical 69s on the two trips around the 18-hole golf course.”
The top five golfers from each of 12 sectionals held around the country would qualify for the U.S. Open which would be held at Oakland Hills Golf Course in Detroit, Mich.”
This would be the year the amateur golfer would become a professional. Since then, according to Wikipedia, Gotsche’s professional career would span the next 30 years, with two nationwide tour wins, the 1999 NIKE Monterrey Open and the NIKE Upstate Classic. In addition, he had three other tour wins: 1990 PGA Assistant Professional Championship, Kansas Open, the 1998 Nebraska Open, and the 2008 Midwest PGA Championship.
But the story doesn’t end there. In 2013, the Great Bend Tribune reported on his first Senior PGA tour. In 2014, the golf pro at what is now Stoneridge Country Club accepted a position as the PGA golf pro at Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan.