Gold Star Memorial By-Way Marker 

Dedication Ceremony

Botanica Wichita was host to the Suburban Garden Club and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Susannah French Putney Chapter as they dedicated a Gold Star Memorial Byway Marker on Thursday, September 9, 2021.

The marker is the first to be placed in Kansas and honors those families who have experienced any military loss through active duty service in the United States Armed Forces.

The marker is the first to be placed in Kansas and honors those families who have experienced any military loss through active duty service in the United States Armed Forces.

Dignitaries including Dr. Brandon Whipple, Mayor of the City of WIchita, and Col. Nate Vogel, Commander of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, McConnell Air Force Base, joined Gold Star families for the dedication and remembrance ceremony. 

Nancy Gordon, Regent Susannah French Putney Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution shared the history behind the Gold Star Families Memorial Marker which was purchased as a joint effort between the Suburban Garden Club and Susannah French Putney Chapter in the Fall of 2019.

Presentation of Colors was made by Boy Scouts of America Troop #420 with the National Anthem performed by Jen Gardner.  The dedication of the marker was made by Maxine Wells, President of the Kansas Associated Garden Clubs.

“As we remember today, we dedicate this Gold Star Families Memorial Marker to honor all our Armed Forces of America families whose loved one made the ultimate sacrifice defending the United States of America,” said Wells. 

A wreath was made by Floanna Crowley of the Suburban Garden Club and placed alongside the marker. 

“These families are committed to educating others on how to respond properly when meeting someone who has lost a loved one in service to our country,” said Gaines.

Gold Star Mother, Karen Funcheon, was in attendance to honor her son Army Sergeant Alex Funcheon.  Sergeant Funcheon was killed April 29, 2007. 

Gold Star Mother Karen Funcheon wears a button with a photo of her son Alex.

“I think it’s great that they remember our sons and the sacrifices they [made] for our country,” said Funcheon. “We miss them everyday.”  

“To have him remembered and honored is a blessing for us,” said Funcheon.  

“It’s a beautiful place to put the marker and hopefully there will be questions like ‘What’s a Gold Star Family’ and they will find out,” said Funcheon. 

Terri Norgren’s son Christopher died in May 2015. 

“He’s the reason I am here,” said Norgren. “Being able to remember him with the By-Way Marker has a special meaning for me.” 

“I want people to talk to me about Chris and ask me questions about him,” said Norgren. 

Jeffrey Gaines, Casualty Assistance Representative at McConnell Air Force Base, paid tribute to the Gold Star families.  

“Their loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in the Armed Forces,” said Gaines.  “And their mission is to offer hope, healing and honor through remembering their fallen heroes.”

“It’s an honor to have [the marker] here in Wichita, at Botanica Garden which is a beautiful location,” said Whipple.   “I understand it has been years in the making and to have it here, at a time when we are reflecting on 9/11, is great timing for this event.”

The ceremony concluded with the playing of Taps by John Noonan and Bruce Haseltine.

Rotarians Learn About Brewing Beer

The Rotary Club of El Dorado welcomed guest speaker, Travis Rohrberg from Walnut River Brewing Company on Wednesday, July 21st. 

Travis Rohrberg from Walnut River Brewing Company spoke to the Rotary Club of El Dorado about the brewing process.

Walnut River Brewing Company opened in El Dorado in July 2013 and Rohrberg joined co-owners B.J. Hunt and Rick Gehring about 8 months after its opening.  He works in the role of Quality Control/Packaging and Logistics.

After a couple of years in operation, they expanded with all new brewing equipment, added a canning line, opened the taproom and began statewide distribution.  Another expansion a few years later added more equipment, distribution to Missouri and Wyoming and the opening of the PourHouse restaurant in Wichita. 

Travis Rohrberg shared the science behind brewing beer and the steps taken in the process. 

Rohrberg was a chemistry and biology major in college and it was then that he was introduced to microbrewing.  During the Rotary club’s lunchtime meeting, he shared the science behind brewing and the steps taken in the process. 

“The whole process averages about 16 days from brew day to packaging,” said Rohrberg. 

An important aspect to brewing beer is the quality of the water used and was the primary reason for locating in El Dorado. 

“El Dorado has fantastic water for brewing,” said Rohrberg.  “The reason is because water from El Dorado Lake is lower in dissolved solids and minerals. It is the minerals that affect the flavor.” 

Walnut River Brewing Company is located at 111 W. Locust Ave in El Dorado.

The Rotary Club of El Dorado hosts a new speaker each week.  Meetings are Wednesday at 12 p.m. 

Rock Fest 2021

Butler County Historical Society Home of the Kansas Oil Museum held its annual Rock Fest on Saturday, May 22, 2021.  Rock Fest is a free event hosted by the museum for visitors to learn about the geology of Kansas.  


The rain held off and the cool weather provided the perfect atmosphere for the event.  With more than 20 vendors and activities and 10 acres of outdoor fun, there was something for everyone to enjoy including a fun family Yoga activity.  Participants were entered to win a Fitbit sponsored by Humanities Kansas.  And a scavenger hunt gave visitors the chance to find objects and win prizes.  

Kansas Strong brought their mobile energy education truck.  The truck provides hands-on STEM education on wheels.  

Making pet rocks

Visitors were able to make their own pet rock, learn about geology with fossils found in Kansas, explore Geodes with a Geologist were they were able to break open a geode and find crystals.  

Having fun with fossils.

Wes Hansen with the Kansas Geological Society taught about mineral formation.

“Geodes have a more resistant layer on the outside,” said Hansen.  “But fluid can still pass through the rock and when it does, it crystallizes.  Most often the mineral inside is quartz.” 

Geode smashing

Sierra Marie Bonn, Miss Southwest 2020 and founder of ‘Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!’ was glad to be invited to teach an engineering activity using rocks and Play-doh.  

“I love to volunteer in my community for events like Rock Fest,” said Bonn. “Free events like today provide an opportunity for hands-on learning about STEAM and help kids have fun while learning about science, technology, engineering, arts and math.”  

Sierra Marie Bonn teaches how to create like an engineer with rocks and Play-Doh.

Tours of the vintage oil equipment and living history presentations were part of the educational fun. 

Volunteer Dale Wilson demonstrates early oil industry equipment.

Jodi Hoffman, Valley Center resident, came to hear living history presenter John Schuster.   Schuster shared about the use of nitroglycerin in the oil industry. 

John Schuster tells about the use of nitroglycerin in the early days of oil exploration.

“I didn’t realize all this was here,” said Hoffman when referring to the museum.  “What a gem it is!” 

MisFit Kitchen was on hand to serve lunch.

Tosh Named to Wichita Business Journal List

Superintendent Teresa Tosh was named one of Wichita Business Journal’s Women Who Lead in Education.

Teresa Tosh is the Superintendent for
El Dorado Public Schools USD490

The honor recognizes local educators for their career accomplishments and contributions to the success of other women. Community members can nominate an outstanding female educator who also meets the following criteria: leadership status in their organization, longevity in their career field, and living and working in the Wichita area.

Tosh describes her leadership style as eclectic. She tries to demonstrate servant leadership and transformative skills, but says that building relationships is a key component of her leadership strategy.

“It isn’t as much about the leadership style as it is about valuing the people you serve,” Tosh said. “It’s about letting them know that you believe in them and trust them to do great things for your students and your school.”

During her twenty-five years in education, Tosh has taught English Language Arts at the secondary level, taught special education classes, served as a special education teaching specialist and as an elementary curriculum director, and was an assistant superintendent of learning services before becoming the USD 490 Superintendent. She says her former teachers were her greatest inspiration for pursuing a career in education.

“They say the greatest form of flattery is imitation,” Tosh said. “And I wanted to be just like them.”

Tosh says what she enjoys most about her current role as superintendent is the people she works with. She enjoys seeing the students learn and grow and watching the staff support and engage students in the learning process.

“Sometimes, I just pause and look around, feeling truly blessed and grateful to be working alongside some of the very best in this business,” Tosh said.

There were only 21 educators from K-12 and post-secondary education facilities chosen for the 2020 Women Who Lead in Education. Tosh’s full article can be found on the Wichita Business Journal’s website, but cannot be viewed without a paid subscription.

BLM Peaceful Protests Continue

“I want people to treat my black friends the way they treat my white friends,” said Melodee Rutliff.  Rutliff is an El Dorado resident and organizer of the peaceful protest. 

For the second week in a row, protesters have gathered to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. On Saturday June 13th, Rutliff was joined by Dr. Willie Scott, Jr. from Wichita United and approximately 20 fellow protesters.

They stood at the corner of W. Central and Hillside, in front of the QuikTrip, holding signs that said “we are in this together” and “spread love not violence.”

“We’re not trying to shove it down anybody’s throat or anything,” said Rutliff.  “But we’ll keep coming out until stuff changes. We’re not just going to be out here at week and then be quiet.  That’s what they need, they need us to stay behind them,” Rutliff said.

Rutliff, along with other protesters, held signs, waved at cars passing by and shared messages of unity.

Protesters observed safety measures and wore masks while sharing messages of peace, love and unity, with passersby. 

Their message is simple.

“We’re all about bridging the gap,” said Dr. Scott. “We’re all preaching the same message and together we become stronger.”  

Dr. Scott’s organization, Wichita United, is based in Wichita, Kansas. 

Dr. Willie Scott, Jr. with Wichita United joined peaceful protesters in El Dorado to help spread his message of unity.

“We’ve brought together every ethnicity, color, creed and background to fight for the same, common goal of unifying our city for the peace of our children,” Dr. Scott said.  “We’re spreading  the love with our peaceful protests; we’re doing voter registration; we’re going to City Council meetings, fighting policies and legislation to get things changed for our children to have a better future.”

Dr. Scott brought his own children along to be a part of that change. His son, Zy’hon and daughter, Au’marie joined him in the peaceful protest.

Zy’hon Scott marches with a sign while his sister Au’Marie stands with their father along W. Central in El Dorado.