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The Hesston Record
347 B Old Hwy 81
Hesston, KS 67062
(620) 327-4831

Digitizing Hesston History: Library Continues To Build Archive From 1990 Tornado

Posted 7/9/2015

By Robb  Reeves

This spring, anyone with internet access could view documents, photos, and video related to the Hesston tornado of 1990 as archives went digital.

“We actually crashed the site. We had 1,400 hits that first morning,” said Hesston Public Library Director Libby Albers. That was back on March 13 when the 25th anniversary of the tornado was being noted.

What few people may know is that the digital archive of the tornado has been added to since then as library staff and volunteers continue to post information.

Photos, videos and other mementos are gradually being pulled from archives and digitized in what has been a slow but rewarding process.

“One of our jobs is to make information more accessible. Having this information in a plastic tub today isn’t the best job of making it available,” Albers said.

Albers said videos take the most time to get on the internet. Each one must first be converted to an internet-friendly format and then uploaded. The library has a machine that converts the old VHS tapes to digital files but it is a slow process. Some of the video shot by Dean Alison await in box to be processed.

Albers said the digitization of local information has been taking place at larger libraries but is a new frontier for smaller libraries with less paid staff like Hesston. Three grants helped fund the move in Hesston, providing training and equipment. Grants came from the South Central Kansas Library System, Kansas Humanities Council and the Hesston Community Foundation.

The grant from the Hesston Community Foundation helped provide for an archival room where patrons can view physical and digital artifacts from the tornado.

Albers said Sarah Roth-Mullet was very instrumental early on in the process. She learned proper techniques for digitizing the archive and then worked to get it done. Albers said volunteer Samantha Gamble has also put in hours of work as has staffer Emily Miller.

While the site has not crashed lately, internet records show people view the digital archive frequently. Views mainly come from Kansas but the archive has been accessed in California and Ohio.

Dugout Duo

Posted 7/9/2015

 Jackie Nelson

Hesston Record sports writer Rusty Whitcher and his long-time friend Chris Koehn have taken on a new kind of calling.  The pair are coaching a machine-pitch boys' baseball team this summer, and for many more.

Koehn has been coaching most of his adult life.

"I love the game.  I've been coaching since I was 18 – when I was done playing," he said.

Whitcher is carrying on a tradition of family and friends coaching boys through their years of recreation baseball.

"When we were 11 or 12, our dads coached us. When Chris's kid was 11, it was natural for us to start coaching.  I was sold on the idea of following these boys up. And, it helps that [Chris] and I have been friends for, like, 100 years," he said.

Whitcher and Koehn said they are not out to rack up wins, but experience for their players.

"We want the kids to rotate positions. It isn't beneficial to not rotate.  They need to get experience at every position at this age," said Koehn.

However, with 14 players and nine field-positions, a few players will be riding the pine each inning.  In the evenings before game-day, Koehn creates a spreadsheet of players and positions, rotating team members around the field to ensure equal playing time and experience for all.

"As coaches, the biggest challenge right now is keeping track of who has been in, who has been out and who has played where," said Koehn.


This Old Plane Ain’t What SheUsed to Be

Posted 7/9/2015

By Blake Spurney

Hesston Record Staff

Though he might be a man of the world, Don Horst finds nothing more relaxing than taking his Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser on a short jaunt to southeast Butler County.

“It’s a good stress reliever just to come out and dust it off and clean it,” he said. “It’s a fun machine.”

Horst is a member of a group of area pilots who meet for breakfast on clear Saturday mornings at the historic Beaumont Hotel.

“If the weather’s bad, leave it in the barn,” he said about his plane, which incidentally spent 50 years grounded in a barn north of Yoder. “It’s just that simple.”

Horst spent most of 2012 restoring the plane, which originally was manufactured in 1947. He rebuilt it on his farm midway between Hesston and Newton.

“We tore it down into every piece you can,” he said.

His wife, Rachel, compiled a scrapbook titled “The Project,” which depicts the plane in every stage. Horst, who began rebuilding antique planes in the early 1970s in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was, of course, meticulous in making the wood stringers for the frame. He still has the iron in his T hanger at Newton City/County Airport that he used to stretch the fabric over the frame.

“I’m going to fly it, so it’s going to be right,” he said.

Besides the standing breakfast date, he frequently takes it for a spin to Carl Weaver’s landing strip south of Hesston; or to Halstead or Moundridge, towns where he previously worked during his more than 40 years in the aviation industry.