This weekend marks the opening of a grand, five-year experiment. The first-ever June Jaunt opens Friday and runs through Sunday.
What is the June Jaunt you ask? In case you’ve been living under a rock, it is an opportunity for a bunch of western Kansas towns along Kansas Highway 96 to showcase what they have to offer. The theme is “Get your fix on K-96.”
The towns included in the 176-mile jaunt are Tribune, Leoti, Scott City, Dighton, Ness City, Rush Center, Great Bend and Ellinwood. It’s about a three hours and 40 minute trip, but organizers hope folks will take longer, and see what they have to offer.
The cities had to come up with the money and make a five-year commitment to the project.
Why do I bring this up? It gives me another opportunity to go on a rant over a reoccurring theme.
I grow so tired and frustrated with the negative types in the community who say “there’s nothing to do” and “this town is dying”, “it’s all the fault of you-know-who – the powers that be” and “why are we wasting our tax money on this or that.”
Folks, there is no man behind the curtain.
These people would just as soon sit on the couches in front of Fox News, CNN or the Weather Channel, or have coffee with the same like-minded, narrow-minded naysayers every morning than open up to new possibilities. They don’t want to step outside their box and take in, say June Jaunt or Cinco de Mayo because they might actually be proven wrong.
Instead, they stand back and blast every attempt to make the community a better place. I pity them and their warped, frustrated view of their hometown.
First came the new Sports Complex, second the Great Bend High School Panther Activity Center, third the Jack Kilby statue (which, by the way, didn’t cost the taxpayers a penny) and lastly, the now city-owned Convention Center. These are all steps being taken to make Great Bend a more attractive place to visit and live and they were also targets of those resisting progress.
Great Bend has a new cheerleader in Community Coordinator Christina Hayes. She is doing what she can to revitalize downtown and draw people back to the heart of the city.
But, she needs help from the rest of us. I see two main stumbling blocks for her in her efforts and both involve our most valuable resource – our people.
The first comes from those mentioned above. The second from business owners who still live in the 1960s and don’t want to change their business model to accommodate different schedules for downtown activities.
I challenge everyone to come downtown Saturday for the June Jaunt festivities. Who knows, you might learn that this isn’t such a bad place after all, and you might even have a good time.
And to businesses, times have changed. In an era of big-box stores and Amazon, merchants must adjust hours to meet the needs of shoppers. This includes working with Hayes and company during special events.
• Here’s another entry for the “reoccurring theme” department – bicycle road rage. What is up with motorists? I commute by bike to work two or three days a week and was headed home recently. As I toodled westward on Broadway, I neared the Morton Street intersection and noticed a woman driving a minivan at the stop sign.
She was obviously getting frustrated with waiting for traffic so she could cross Broadway. I could tell because, with each passing car, she inched her way forward a bit and stopped.
Now, as I entered the intersection, I make eye contact with this driver who must have seen an opening in the vehicular traffic and started creeping into the crossroads. When I am smack in the middle, she guns it and speeds her way northward.
She clears the back tire of my bike by only a few feet. I glare back at her over my shoulder and there may have been profanity involved. Her window was open and I hoped she heard me.
This is only one of many such incidents. There are drivers who pass you on the highway so close they could pedal your bike for you.
We cyclists pay taxes too, and have every right to use the roadways and streets. It’s easy for someone in a two-ton vehicle to dismiss someone riding a 20-pound bike as being a fly-like nuisance. We’re not.
In the interest of full disclosure, the roads are also filled with courteous motorists. This is not meant as a blanket condemnation.
Granted, there are some cyclists who scoff at the rules of the road and flaunt their ability to zip through traffic and down sidewalks. We who utilize human-powered transportation must realize we are subject to the same laws that apply to other modes of transportation.
Here’s a deal. Let’s share. We learned it in kindergarten, you know, back when bicycles were cool for everyone.
• And another “reoccurring” entry – our backyard. The sprinklers are installed and the resodding is complete. I’ve even had to mow it. Looks great.
Dale Hogg is the managing editor of the Great Bend Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.