Crossroads: Change in Rural America

The Butler County Historical Society and Kansas Oil Museum wants Butler County residents to become part of the traveling Smithsonian/Humanities Kansas exhibit “Rural Crossroads: The Changing Faces and Places of Butler County”. 

By contributing to this exhibit  citizens can help tell the story of Butler County.  Two areas of specific interest are Butler County towns and Farms & Ranches that are no longer in existence. 

Crossroads: Change in Rural America

In 1900, about 40% of Americans lived in rural areas, By 2010, less than 18% of the U.S. population lived in rural areas. In just over a century, massive economic and social changes moved millions of Americans into urban areas. Yet, only 10% of the U.S. landmass is considered urban.

Many Americans consider rural communities to be endangered and hanging on by a thread—suffering from brain drain, inadequate schools, and a barren, overused landscape. Why should revitalizing the rural places left behind matter to those who remain, those who left, and those who will come in the future? Because there is much more to the story of rural America.

“Crossroads: Change in Rural America” is a traveling Smithsonian exhibition and is part of the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils nationwide. 

The exhibit offers small towns a chance to look at their own paths to highlight the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century. The exhibition will prompt discussions about what happened when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population and the ripple effects that occurred.

Here is how you can be a part of this exhibit:

Search through your photos for any images of Butler County’s past (1850’s – present). Topics include, but are not limited to: specific & identifiable buildings; streets; roads; places; events; activities; etc. 

Replicate that scene or take a current photo of the same topic.

Haberlein’s at Central and Main in 1955
Specs in 2020, formerly Haberlein’s.

Scan the photos & download the photo release form that can be found on the Kansas Oil Museum’s website.  

Email the photo(s) and the completed photo release form to Please include any pertinent information you have regarding the photo, such as location, when it was taken, individuals in the photo and who took the photo. 

Photos must be submitted by July 31, 2020

All photos, old and new, must be of Butler County people, places, activities, or events.

While no monetary compensation will be given for the scans of these photos, the museum will acknowledge the proper parties based on information provided in signed permission forms.

Release forms, as well as additional information, can be found by visiting and clicking on the “Rural Crossroads” tab.

Flyover Salute by “Doc”

Team McConnell performed a series of community flyovers for Operation America Strong on May 6, 2020.

The flight of two KC-135 Stratotankers and a KC-46 Pegasus from McConnell, followed closely by Wichita’s own B-29 Superfortress “Doc,” flew over local communities and hospitals to salute first responders, military members and essential personnel who are working on the frontlines to combat the coronavirus.

The flightpath brought the aircraft over Wichita, Derby, Newton, Andover, Garden Plain, Haysville and El Dorado, including 11 local hospitals.

First responders, healthcare workers and community members gathered on the lawn of Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital, USD490 Performing Arts Center parking lot and a variety of locations along Central Avenue to watch the flyover and join Team McConnell in saluting our local heroes.

“We actually picked up on this information on social media,” said Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director, Frank Williams.

“We noticed that McConnell Air Force Base had decided to do a flyover, so we rallied our troops,” said Williams.

“Our Public Information Officer Stewart Funk made contact and reached out to the other first responders and the hospital,” Williams said. “We came up here to congratulate everybody on a job well done and the hard work they’ve been doing and watch the flyover from the front lawn at the hospital.”

Williams also expressed his appreciation for everyone in Butler County, “We are really blessed because we have so much teamwork and collaboration between the hospital, law enforcement, fire department and EMS we are one big team battling one big event.”

“Team McConnell takes great pride in being part of this community,” said Col. Richard Tanner, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to show our appreciation and solidarity to the thousands of heroes who are working tirelessly to battle COVID-19.”

The flyover salute is a total force effort between the 22nd ARW, the Air Force Reserve 931st Air Refueling Wing and the Kansas Air National Guard 184th Wing, all located on McConnell Air Force Base.

The flight also symbolizes over 70 years of aviation in the air capital of the world, featuring the Air Force’s newest tanker and the World War II heavy bomber.

“We are humbled and honored to join our nation’s warfighters at McConnell Air Force Base and be a part of Operation American Strong to salute those who have been battling the virus on the front lines, as well as to recognize those essential workers who have been keeping the grocery store shelves stocked, making deliveries and keeping our communities going during the pandemic,” said Josh Wells, Doc’s Friends, Inc., executive director and general manager.

The Air Force has extensively planned and implemented measures to ensure the force and individual units remain ready to carry out their respective missions. Air Force flyovers are conducted at no additional cost to the taxpayer and serve as training for pilots.

Easter Online

Maundy Thursday is the day celebrated by Christians to commemorate the Washing of the Feet and the Last Supper of Jesus Christ.  

On Maundy Thursday this year, I visited with Jordan Friesen, the Senior Pastor at El Dorado First Baptist Church to learn how they are adjusting Easter Week services in light of the mandated stay home order.

While Easter celebration will look different for everyone, there is an exceptionally poignant reality to Friesen‘s Easter celebration this year. 

In addition to celebrating his first Easter at El Dorado First Baptist Church, Friesen is celebrating his first Easter as a Pastor. 

Friesen’s wife, Mary, has family in Wichita but due to the stay home order, and increased spread of COVID-19 in Sedgwick County, they will not be gathering in person. 

“We are not able to see one another face-to-face,” Friesen began, “thankfully, with God’s good, sovereign timing and His good, sovereign plan, I have a background in video.” 

With a degree in communications media, Friesen and made small films prior to attending seminary.

“It’s been neat to be able to utilize those skills to help communicate with our congregation even though we’re not seeing each other face-to-face, at least we are able to see each other face-to-face at a computer screen.” Friesen said. 

Friesen, along with Associate Pastor Matt Click, has been putting those skills to good use by creating daily encouragement videos that are shared via the church’s Facebook page. 

In addition to the lighthearted, yet intentional daily videos designed to give a reprieve from the bombardment of news media, they are creating daily 5-10 minute videos during Holy Week to help the congregation prepare their hearts for the celebration of Easter.

The Holy Week vidéos will culminate in Live Stream services and will be performed on both Good Friday and Easter. Those services can be accessed by visiting the church website:

Butler Community College Cancels May Commencement Exercises

Butler Community College has decided to cancel its in-person commencement ceremonies which were scheduled for May 13 – 15, 2020. This includes Nurses’ Pinning, Order of the Purple and Graduation exercises.  

Regretfully, we make this announcement as the faculty and staff at Butler share in the disappointment of the current day circumstances.

Celebrating the personal growth of our students is always a highlight for us as well. Butler is reviewing alternative ways we can celebrate the academic accomplishments of our students and we will release those details at a later date.

Butler Community College Closed to the Public

Admissions, Advisors, Faculty still prepared to assist students 

EL DORADO, Kan. – As of March 18, at 5 pm, all Butler Community College locations officially closed to the public, but staff are ready to assist remotely. Butler extended its spring break another week and is set to resume classes on Monday, March 30 in a fully online format. 

Students have been sent home for the remainder of the semester or are finding alternative housing with the assistance of residence hall staff. 

“We have worked with the Grizzly Villas across the street, as well as many other area apartment complexes, who are extending special offers to our students to ensure they have a place to go that is safe and affordable, said Kelsey Reed, director of Residence Life. “Fortunately, most of our students have been able to return home.”  

With all of this, Butler Community College remains open for business as college employees have shifted to working remotely. The college is also utilizing its experience with online platforms to grow its connectivity for virtual student support services. The latest is a Facebook page called Butler Student Support Through COVID-19.  

“We are also still providing assistance to anyone who has questions about attending Butler,” said Dr. Jessica Ohman, associate vice president of Student Services. “Our assistance is just provided differently. Admissions and Advising staff are fully accessible through phone calls and emails.” 

In addition, Butler’s Critical Incident Management Team continues to meet daily to assess the latest information. Visit the latest announcements.

Q&A with your Friendly Nurse April

Often referred to as the Spanish Flu, the Influenza of 1918 took a significant toll on Kansas, with 2,639 recorded deaths as a result of influenza out of a total 26,508 deaths across Kansas. That is 10% of the state’s total deaths that year.  However, the death toll across the globe was much worse, with estimated deaths varying anywhere from 50 million to 100 million people.

So, what did we learn that can be applied to today’s pandemic with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) that is rapidly spreading across the globe? 

I posed some questions, that are on the minds of many, to April Boyce, a Registered Nurse who works at the Kansas Medical Center in Andover. 

Boyce is known for sharing her thoughts on staying healthy with frequent updates to her Facebook page, those posts are known as “PSA with your Friendly Nurse April.” 

This is the greatest public health threat in our lifetime. We hear that the older, and immune compromised, populations are at greatest risk, but looking at the 1918 Influenza pandemic, with obvious parallels, the total number of deaths attributed to the influenza in Kansas during 1918, was 2,639 with the largest number of deaths in the 25-29 year old range.  

Deanna: How do you think we can impress upon young people that they could be carrying and spreading the virus without knowing it? 

April: My daughter is 20 years old and living in Lawrence, she’s heading home now, I asked her what it would take to get her generation to self quarantine and she said food. It is really sad though, this generation is not taking it seriously, but maybe sending them a care pack and letting them know having a one-week supply of food and staying home could save 3 people’s grandparents.

Deanna: How does COVID-19 compare to the regular flu?  

April: Covid-19 does not compare to the common flu. While most will run a temperature and have body aches, that is about the only thing in common. There is unfortunately no vaccination for the Coronavirus like we do for the flu and our body does not have immunity for it and has no way to fight off the virus. 

Deanna: What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

April: Signs and symptoms for some, are going to be a fever of 102 or higher, dry cough, difficulty breathing and body aches. Now for those that are healthy, they might have slight symptoms or no symptoms at all. 

Deanna: If someone has received the flu immunization this year, are they protected from getting coronavirus? 

April: Receiving the flu shot does not protect you against the COVID virus. It only protects you against certain, current strains of the flu the CDC thinks will be most prevalent in the current year. 

Deanna: Is there a vaccine for COVID-19? 

April: The CDC is currently working on an immunization for COVID-19 and a few brave individuals have received the vaccine but at this time we do not know whether that vaccine works. It will probably be a year before that vaccine is available. 

Deanna: Some people have tested positive without showing any symptoms, do we know how long it takes for the onset symptoms once exposed?  

April: Onset of signs and symptoms typically come on within 5 days. This can be different for everyone, some start out with the dry cough while others start out with the temperature.  That’s why during this time we really pay attention to our bodies. 

Deanna: How can we flatten the curve to meet the capacity of the health care system? 

April: Helping to flatten the curve is key to keeping our loved ones healthy. Listen to the doctors and nurses. That’s the very first thing I would say. We are not here to put fear into your society. We are doing our research. Italy’s hospitals are overran with patients and we can not have that happen in the United States. Please social distance as much as possible, only go out when you absolutely have too; grocery store, work. 

Deanna: Store shelves were left bare in the first few hours following the announcement of the first COVID-19 case in Butler County.  Do hospitals have enough supplies? Masks, hand sanitizers, etc. 

April: Unfortunately hospitals were not prepared for this epidemic. We have supplies and I know that the State of Kansas has supplies locked up and if needed they will allocate supplies to hospitals. Kansas Medical Center and other hospitals have begun reaching out to local companies to donate N95 masks and they have been amazing in donating them to us.

Deanna: What do you recommend someone do if they think they have symptoms of coronavirus? 

April: I urge all people showing any symptoms of COVID-19 or have been around anyone showing any symptoms (or have traveled internationally, or on cruise ships or to California, Florida, New York or Washington) to self quarantine for 2 weeks and keep yourself healthy. Use Tylenol for your fever, new study’s show anti-inflammatories can make symptoms worse. Also drink plenty of fluids, electrolyte drinks are helpful. Call your doctor when you need medical advice. Most people will not be tested unless they are seriously ill, so staying home if you are fairly healthy is your best option. Also, it is really important to stay away from anyone over the age of 65 or have any other health issues like asthma, heart conditions or diabetes. 

Deanna: What are the best steps to take in order to prevent exposure to coronavirus? 

April: Your best steps to keep yourself healthy is to social distance yourself. Wash your hands, use hands sanitizer as much as possible if you are going out in public. This is a tough one for me because I am such a social person, don’t hug people or shake hands. When you are in a public place, like the grocery store try to stay 6 feet away from people. Also do not touch your face with your hands while you are in public. Remember, this is allergy season in Kansas, so not everyone that has a cough has COVID-19, but if you do have a cough, cough into your elbow. 

Thank you, April, for taking the time to answer these questions and for helping to keep the public informed with accurate information through your Facebook posts “PSA with your Friendly Nurse April.”

Second COVID-19 Case Confirmed in Butler County

The Butler County Health Department has received confirmation from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) confirming a second case of COVID-19 in Butler County. The case was identified with testing sent to KDHE’s Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories (KHEL).

The case is in a Butler County woman in her 60s who had traveled within the United States. The local health department has identified all contacts she contacted while she was infectious and will monitor them for fever and respiratory symptoms. The patient is in isolation. No other information will be provided about the patient.

The local health department stresses the message from Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE Secretary of Health and Environment “Kansans should remain vigilant. It’s important to live your lives, but it’s also important to take basic precautions like exercising good hygiene practices. It is up to each of us to do our part.”

People should exercise vigilance when attending any public gatherings, particularly those people over age 60 and those with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions.

If you have symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath and believe you may have had contact or have had contact with someone with a laboratory confirmed case of COVID- 19, stay home, self-quarantine for 14 days and call your healthcare provider if you need to seek medical care.

You may also call the KDHE phone bank at 1-866-534-3463 (1-866-KDHEINF). For more information about COVID-19, visit KDHE’s website at, and