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 marks the 10 year anniversary of Black Monday in worldwide stock markets. On Jan. 21, the FTSE 100 had its biggest ever one-day points fall, European stocks closed with their worst result since 9/11, and Asian stocks took a 15 percent dip.
Reading through the business briefs in the Sunday Tribune, its easy to picture what may have been going through the minds of many individuals invested in the market. The news wasn’t exactly alarming, but enough to convince most people it might be a good time to lock in gains and wait and see.
The Associated Press report from Kansas City that General Motors Cop. planned to add 300 jobs that spring to the Fairfax assembly plant was the only real bright spot that day. Other reports included: “Fed announcement causes oil futures to fall,” in which Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s statement that slower growth in 2008 was expected, but no recession; “NYSE to buy American Stock Exchange,” “Washington Mutual sees loss,” in which it was noted the country’s biggest savings and loan saw an almost $2 billion loss due to its sinking mortgage portfolio; “GM to reduce labor costs more,” (by another $5 billion); “Lehman Bros. to stop wholesale lending,” due to the ongoing U.S. housing slump, cutting another 1.300 jobs (it had already cut 2,500 jobs from its mortgage business); “Bank of New York Mellon Corp.’s fourth-quarter profit tumbles,” (68 percent due to exposure to mortgage-backed assets); and finally “On-line broker helped by surge,” in which it was questioned whether TD Ameritrade could replicate its results as the ongoing credit crisis was hurting stock prices overall.
Certainly, as readers took in the big picture over the morning coffee, plans about morning phone calls to brokerages likely began to take shape. But -- banks in the U.S. would be closed Monday due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That didn’t stop the rest of the world from taking action.
The next day, stocks took a dive. The Jan. 23, 2008 Tribune carried the AP report, “Stocks dive on worries of U.S. recession.”
“U.S. stocks began the day following the lead of markets abroad that had plummeted for two straight days, and also extended their own steep losses from last week. Fears of a U.S. recession -- one that would spread to other economies -- had investors fleeing stocks worldwide.” The Fed cut the interest rate by .75 percentage point, but it didn’t immediately help. The report noted, “One of the market’s greatest concerns is that consumers, who normally account for two-thirds of the economy, aren’t in a position to spend the country back into solid growth. Even if rates continue to fall, Americans have been sowing increasing signs of cutting back rather than borrowing or spending, even during the holiday season.”
Well, enough of that bad memory. This week is also the 10th anniversary of the premiere of a drama series that entered the cultural lexicon. “Breaking Bad,” created by Vince Gilligan and starring Bryan Cranston, premiered on Great Bend’s AMC Channel 50 that Sunday night, introducing the character Walter White (Cranston), a high school Chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with cancer, and in order to come up with the money needed for his treatment, begins producing a high-grade methamphetamine with the help of a former student.
It turns out, the timing of the show couldn’t have been better. Chris Ziegler, guest columnist for the Trenton Times summed it up well in his wrap-up commentary as the final episode was set to air in 2013.
“In Episode 1, we meet a man not unlike ourselves, a man whom luck forgot. Walter is underappreciated at work and at home, and his intelligence is neither duly recognized nor compensated. Like many of us, he assesses his condition and compares it to a world where evil goes unpunished and the wicked prosper.
It’s a world where the rich are too big to fail and the poor are too honest to succeed; a world where Wall Street executives get fat bonuses for failing at their jobs; a world where manual labor gets taxed while politicians in Washington, D.C., accomplish absolutely nothing.”
Breaking into retirement
RSVP Director Mary Lou Warren’s retirement reception was announced on the front page of the Friday, Jan. 25, 2008 Tribune.
“As Kay Boyd takes the reins as director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, Warren herself will join the ranks of some 360 volunteers who donated about 45,000 hours of their time to the community in 2006,” Susan Thacker reported.
Warren was part of RSVP in Great Bend from the beginning 31 years earlier, first as assistant director, and a few years later as director. That week, she spent helping Kay Boyd transition into her new job, and planned to spend time exercising and swimming at the Racquet Club and devoting more time to her eight grandchildren.
Warren went on to serve as the president of the Great Bend Chapter of the League of Women Voters, in 2010 decrying secret money paying for political ad campaigns. She also chaired the Board of Directors for the local Meals on Wheels organization.
Jean Cavanaugh, Great Bend, wrote a letter to the editor which appeared in the May 15, 2012 Tribune, remembering her years of service to the community and wishing Warren well as she moved to Minneola. She continues to be active on facebook.
Breaking away from peer pressure
Winners of the 2008 DARE Essay Contest were recognized this week at the Great Bend City Council meeting., Kacee Kasselman, Kaitlyn Zecha, Leah Terrill, Taylor Hoefling and Dykota Knorr stood at the front of the council chambers that week as Mayor Mike Allison read a proclamation recognizing their efforts.
The program impressed upon the young ladies that drugs are bad, and they needed to be strong against the peer pressure to indulge in them.
We’re happy to report that all five of these winners have gone on to higher education and continue to be good examples to their community and their peers.
On Jan. 24, 2008, The Tribune reported that a “person of interest” in a five-year-old double homicide case had been identified, and authorities were in contact. The breakthrough, unfortunately, didn’t shed any light on the question of who killed Mary Drake and Mandi Alexander inside the Dolly Madison store at 1004 Harrison Street on Sept. 4, 2002. The case continues to be unsolved.
The surveillance image was blurred. “Thanks to improved technology, enhanced photos from a videotape were released to the Great Bend Tribune and other media on Nov. 27, 2007. The photos were still of poor quality, but they led to local law enforcement agencies’ receiving numerous phone calls,” Susan Thacker reported. Calls came in to Crime Stoppers and the Kansas Crime hotline. Relatives of the man recognized him and contacted him, and he reached out to the police here.
In 2012, Thacker reported that after nearly 10 years, the case continued to be unsolved, but the mother of Mandi Alexander, Karen Sunderland, had broken her silence about the way the two women died, and was reaching out to troubled teens in need of help.
There is no statute of limitations on murder, and law enforcement still hopes for someone who has information about the murder to come forward. If you have information ,contact Crime Stoppers, the KBI, or the Great Bend Police Department.