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Celebrating El Dorado’s History

The city of El Dorado is marking the 150th anniversary of Eldorado’s incorporation as a city of the third class on September 12, 1871.

In celebration of this historic occasion, many events are being planned throughout the 150th year which officially begins on September 12, 2020 and extends through September 12, 2021.

The original El Dorado City Hall, built in 1887, was located on the Northwest corner of Central and Vine.

As part of this year-long event, Everyday El Dorado will be turning back the clock of time on a hunt for history through a podcast series with host Deanna Bonn and co-host Suzanne Walenta. Walenta is the Curator of the Butler County Historical Society Home of the Kansas Oil Museum.

The series “Celebrating 150 Years in El Dorado” will air on KBTL 88.1 The Grizz each Wednesday at 12 p.m. beginning on September 9, 2020, and is produced through a partnership with Everyday El Dorado, the Butler County Historical Society Home of the Kansas Oil Museum, KBTL 88.1 and series sponsor Linda Baines, Realtor with SunGroup Real Estate and Appraisals.

While September 12th is the day officially recognized as El Dorado’s founding, and will be observed by businesses, organizations and events throughout the year-long celebration, it was not the first time the town was incorporated.

El Dorado was first incorporated as Eldorado Town Company on February 6, 1858 under an act by the Governor and Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Kansas.

Eldorado was incorporated, again, on February 25, 1868 under an act of the State of Kansas then revised and amended to be a city third class on March 2, 1871.  However, due to the failure of election for officers, the election was officially held on September 12, 1871 and this has become the date now recognized. 

The City of El Dorado was eventually incorporated as a city of the second class on July 15, 1885. 

Settled and founded through the struggle to establish Kansas as a Free State, El Dorado has a rich history that has been buried and lost to the passage of time.

The ongoing series will unearth those forgotten stories and revive the ghosts of El Dorado and Eldorado’s past.

Search for New El Dorado Police Chief

On Thursday, January 13th, the public was invited to meet and greet the final four candidates for the job of El Dorado Police Chief. 

The current Police Chief, Curt Zieman, retires on March 23, 2022. 

Craig Holloway, Kevin Kichler, Mike Holton and Dirk Budd are the final candidates for the position.

El Dorado City Manager David Dillner introduced each of the candidates during the Meet & Greet. From left to right: Dillner, Dirk Budd, Kevin Kichler, Craig Holloway and Mike Holton.

Throughout the day Thursday, each of them interviewed with city staff, met community members and youth, and participated in activities which enabled them to display the skills and talents they would bring as the next police chief.

“We appreciate everyone’s participation in the day’s activities and the feedback that will help the City Manager to make the best decision on the next police chief,” said Julie Clements Municipal Information Officer. 

David Dillner, El Dorado City Manager, will review all the  information from the day’s events before making a final decision. 

“We hope to make a decision in the next couple of weeks,” said Clements.

Barefoot Racer Raises Awareness for Footprints ICT

Thomas Plush races barefoot in OCR

Thomas “The Barefoot Wonder” Plush is how MudGear Battle of the Lions (BOTL) Pro-Team identifies their newest team athlete. But Plush is so much more than that.

Thomas Plush races barefoot to raise awareness for Footprints ICT.

He identifies himself as a husband and father, first, a nurse, fireman, barefoot runner with the team and most recently he added the title of 2021 OCR Relay World Champion.

Obstacle course racing (OCR) is a sport where competitors, traveling on foot, must overcome various physical challenges in the form of obstacles. Races can vary from Ninja Warrior-type races, to track races or urban and cross country races. In cross country races, mud and trail runs are often combined and designed to result in mental and physical collapse.

These obstacles can include climbing over walls, carrying heavy objects, crossing bodies of water, crawling under barbed wire, and jumping through fire. Many of the obstacles are similar to those used in military training, but some are unique to obstacle racing and are used to test endurance, strength, speed, and dexterity.

But what sets Plush apart from other competitors is that he races barefoot. In addition to winning 1st place in the 2021 Team Relay World Championship in the Open division, Plush is the first athlete to complete an OCR World Championship barefoot.

“I race barefoot when I can,” said Plush. “I have always loved being part of a team to work with others and improve myself,” he said.

“OCR is usually an individual sport so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to join a Pro Team that has made their name known all across the world.”

“[I] can’t wait to see how my performance improves as an athlete, and as a person, by joining the BOTL Pro team,” he said.

The reason behind his running barefoot is what makes his accomplishments even more meaningful. Plush runs barefoot to raise awareness for Footprints ICT, a non-profit organization with a mission of protecting feet, one pair of socks at a time.

Why Socks? According to Director, Marsha Potvin, socks are the most requested item of clothing by shelters serving the homeless population and they are the least donated item.

“Foot ailments caused by a lack of good socks send more homeless people to the ER than any other reason,” said Potvin.

Footprints ICT also provides socks for “sock drawers” to schools in the Wichita area. “Students have a hard time focusing on school when their feet are cold or wet,” she said. When Plush is not running barefoot, he wears MudGear socks for recovery. Pro Team

sponsor, MudGear, provides performance apparel for outdoor competitors and is billed as rugged, tactical gear for top athletes competing in OCR, trail running and outdoor endurance events.

“I truly believe that MudGear will help an athlete succeed and their socks and compressions do just that.”

His next race, the Yeti- 5k with 20+ Obstacles, is scheduled for January 29th in Kansas City.

This is a 5k with 20+ obstacles intended to get you up and out of the house preparing for an amazing 2022 events season.

To learn more about Footprints ICT, visit their website; www.footprintsict.org

Travel Writer to Speak at Museum 

On Sunday, January 30th at 2 p.m. the Butler County Historical Society Home of the Kansas Oil Museum will host Kansas author and travel writer Roxie Yonkey. 

Travel writer Roxie Yonkey will speak at the Butler County Historical Society Home of the Kansas Oil Museum as part of the Sunday Speaker Series.

As a part of the Sunday Speaker Series hosted at the museum, Yonkey will talk about her book 100 Things to do in Kansas Before You Die, and hold a book signing.  Her book is available for purchase in the Gusher Gift Shoppe inside the museum.

In 2018, Yonkey was a Public Relations Manager for a destination marketing organization (DMO) and Administrator for a regional marketing organization.  It was while in this role that the bug to blog bit her. Yonkey eventually began her online blog “Roxie on the Road” where she documents her road trips across Kansas. 

“Blogging combines my passions for travel, history, photography, writing, and design,” said Yonkey.

Tickets can be purchased in advance, for a $10 donation, by calling (316)321-9333 or tickets can be purchased in person at the Kansas Oil Museum, 383 E Central Ave, El Dorado.

COVID-19 Cases Rising

According to Butler County Health Department Director, Jamie Downs, COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise and local resources are beyond capacity.  Officials are requesting citizens to follow guidelines to help combat further increases.

Individuals, ages five years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination. Those who have received notification of a positive COVID-19 test, please isolate for 5-10 days. 

Persons who have tested positive are asked to inform those they have been in recent contact with and instruct them to quarantine for 5-10 days. 

Those living in a home with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, should quarantine for another 5-10 days once the positive person is released from isolation.

Individuals who have been notified they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, should quarantine for 5-10 days. Please follow the updated Isolation and Quarantine guidance issued by the CDC and KDHE. 

Individuals experiencing symptoms are requested to consult with their health care provider for evaluation and to determine if testing is recommended.

“For general COVID-19 questions, please contact 211,” said Downs.

She advises citizens to be aware that services at the Butler County Health Department may be limited during this time.

“Remember to stay at home when you are sick, wash hands, wear masks, social distance and get vaccinated and boosted,” said Downs.

“The steps we take as a community are for our community,” said Downs. “The only ones to benefit are ourselves.” 

Grant Funds New Cooler for Rommey Farms

Rommey Farms recipient of KHFI Grant

Imagene Harris, Vice President of Impact Investment Services with Network Kansas visited Rommey Farms on Monday, December 27th, to help dedicate and celebrate the new walk-in cooler at Rommey Farms. 

Imagine Harris, left, with her daughter Ellie, Susan and Don Rommelfanger.

Rommey Farms, located in Cassoday, is owned by Don and Susan Rommelfanger.  They produce locally-grown, whole foods for the surrounding community using sustainable agriculture practices. 

The cooler was made possible through a grant from the Kansas Healthy Food Initiative.  

The Kansas Healthy Food Initiative (KHFI) is a public-private partnership that aims to increase access to affordable, healthy food to improve the health and economic development of Kansans and their communities.

“Network Kansas is one of five partners of the Kansas Healthy Food Initiative,” said Harris.  

“The program provides different funding mechanisms to provide support for anything from rural grocery stores to producers and growers, specifically ones serving underserved and food deserts in Kansas,” said Harris.

“Rommey Farms is one of our latest grantees,” she said. “They needed a cooler and we were able to help provide a grant to help them.  With it they can increase their produce and what they are able to provide to their community with what they grow throughout the year.”

“This cooler will help us increase our offerings to our community,” said Susan Rommelfanger.

“Right now we have little limited space on where we can store our produce,” said Don Rommelfanger.  “This will allow us to extend our season.”

“We grow everything from radishes to sweet corn and everything in between,” said Susan. “We have greens, zucchini, squash, okra, peppers, cabbage herbs, oregano, thyme, basil, chives and parsley.” 

Produce includes a variety of greens they are able to grow year-round in their high tunnels.

“Currently, in our high tunnel we are growing spinach, a ‘Wonder Wok Mix’ which is a bok choy, kale and mustard green mix,” said Susan.  “We also have breen lettuce, herbs that we winter over, turnips, radishes and sweet peas.”

Additionally, they sell fresh cut flowers eggs from chickens and ducks and recently added an apiary to produce their own honey.

In addition to produce, Rommey Farms provides pasture raised chicken and duck eggs.

“We have a community supported agriculture program which will begin again, in February,” said Susan.  “It’s a program that provides four to eight different fruits and vegetables or herbs every week, to our members.  They sign up weekly and have an option to do a 12 week or 24 week subscription and either a whole share or a half share. 

Susan said they will deliver the products to members in El Dorado, Augusta and Andover.

Rommey Farms can be found online at rommeyfarms.com 

In addition to their subscription plan, Rommey Farms often hosts a Pop-Up Market and the next one is scheduled to be at District 142 on Thursday, January 6th during El Dorado’s Thankful Thursday.

KHFI provides technical assistance for those seeking to strengthen access to healthy foods, as well as financing through a mix of loans and grants to develop new or renovate healthy food retail in underserved communities throughout Kansas. The program works to bridge informational and financing gaps faced by healthy food stakeholders and food retailers operating in low- to moderate-income areas. 

Seeded by the Kansas Health Foundation, the initiative is a partnership among K-State Research and Extension, NetWork Kansas, and IFF (a community development financial institution), with strategic guidance provided by The Food Trust.

“Applications are accepted on a rolling basis,” said Harris.  

While eligibility does not guarantee funding, some criteria for projects include being committed to healthy food; is carried out in low-resource areas; is carried out in underserved areas; is led by experienced operators; is integrated with community needs.

To find out if a project is a good candidate for the Kansas Healthy Food Initiative, interested individuals are asked to visit kansashealthyfood.org and click on the Program Details tab.