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The Hesston Record
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Hesston, KS 67062
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Missionary Roots Start Pilot's International Journey

Posted 6/11/2015

By Jackie Nelson

John Kliewer’s dream of flying was fostered in the heat of the Congo during his boyhood, the child of missionary parents.

“I started flying in 1969 in a Cessna 150.  It was a boyhood fantasy.  I was raised in the Congo.  We were served by the Missionary Aviation Fellowship. By 15, I decided I’d work with that organization.  I spent eight years in the Congo as a bush pilot,” he said.

Now, Kliewer not only flies his Cessna 120 for fun, but also flies a Gulfstream – the farthest flying private jet in the state – professionally.

“It runs in the blood. Once you get addicted, you can’t stop,” he said.

Kliewer said flying professionally has its own set of challenges – regulations, communication, logistics, scheduling and accommodating clients and passengers. 

However, he still finds small pleasures in his daily commutes, globe-hopping from the U.S. to Auckland, Helsinki, Moscow or Beijing. 

“It’s the discipline. Even if you have to drive to the airport in the snow and ice at 3 a.m., check the flight plan, check the runway, take off in the snow and ice and you climb above the snow and clouds to watch the sun rise, sip your first cup of coffee and watch the sun rise from 45,000 feet,” he said.

Kliewer said he flies professionally to finance his hobby flight.

“Professionally, you’re always mindful of the FFA over your shoulder.  In my personal plane, I have one radio, no weather instrumentation.  In June of ’07 I flew to California and back in radio silence.  There was no flight plan. I just wanted to go. If I hit weather, I would stop. If something happened with the plane, I would stop.  

“I wanted that 1930s, 1940s experience. I don’t get that at work, in my office at 45,000 feet,” he said.

Kliewer said his tail-dragger Cessna 120 is a challenge in the air.

“I like that plane because it demands skill and judgment at the most basic level,” he said.

He added, his tail dragger plane was far preferable to a front-wheeled machine.

“A nose-wheeled plane, for pleasure, is like kissing your sister.  The classic planes are closer to what the Wright brothers experienced,” he said.

In his travels, Kliewer said his curiosity motivates him to explore the unknown.

“One day I was driving from here to California along I-40 in New Mexico.  I started to wonder, what was on top of those mesas.  I decided I was going to find out,” he said.

Kliewer’s discovery was one of his greatest in-flight surprises.

“There were dwellings, with foot paths and small stick corrals. There were people living on the tops at just a subsistence level,” he said.

Kliewer’s most memorable flight, however, was in 1976 as a bush pilot. 

In the midst of a Malaria attack and heavily medicated, Kliewer was approached by the mother of a dying woman who had given birth to a premature infant. The new mother was bleeding severely.  The little family had traveled 12 hours, through the night, by bicycle to reach Kliewer. 

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Cultivating A Green Thumb At StoneCreek

Posted 6/11/2015

By Jackie Nelson

Allison Zielke, a 2015 Hesston High grad, has taken on 40-hour-a-week work at Stone Creek Nursery. 

Zielke has been with Stone Creek for nearly two years, working through the ebb and flow of a nursery.  However, horticulture was far from Zielke’s ideal job before beginning at the nursery.

“Erin Buller was working there and they needed help. She texted me and knew I was looking for a job.  They hired me on the spot. They really needed the help,” she said.

After months of getting her hands dirty, Zielke has come to love her job.

“I love planting in the spring.  Kerby [Martin, owner of Stone Creek] would just day, ‘Go plant in a greenhouse.’  That’s one of the best parts.  Getting to be with plants and getting to start them and see them grow, planting a whole greenhouse in a day, it is just really cool,” she said.

Zielke added for each plant taken home by shoppers, hundreds of hours of work and care are required.

“Someone had to put all the trays together,  fill the dirt machine, fill trays with dirt, load trays onto a cart, take it to the greenhouse, plant all those plants – which is a lot – then someone has to take care of them.   They’re fragile. They have to get enough heat and sun, but not too much.  If they cool down and heat up they’ll stretch in weird ways.  There’s so much that goes into them,” she said.

With plants requiring constant care, Zielke said the job, and her coworkers, grew on her.

“We have so many inside jokes.  Everyone knows when we can be a little goofy and when we need to get to work.  I feel really lucky to work with the people I do.  I love them.   And, I didn’t think I’d like plants, but there’s something about helping things grow that has kept me there,” she said.

Over the last two years, Zielke said she has picked several plants as her personal favorites.

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Hesston Fire Rating,Fire Risk, Insurance Premiums Drop

Posted 6/11/2015

Record Staff

The big news at the Hesston City Council meeting was the town's fire protection classification was lowered from 4 to 3. This rating is used by insurance and protection agencies to set policy premiums; the lower the number, the lower the risk and the better the town's fire response capabilities. The previous evaluation was in 2008.

Hesston EMS Director Russ Buller said the city's rating was reevaluated late last summer. He attributed the praise to the work of Don Gruver at the county 911 Communications department, Scott Robertson at Utilities and the Fire Department.

Buller didn't think the lower rating would make much difference for home owners, but thought larger businesses could have lower premiums.

Mayor Dave Kauffman noted that Wichita also has a rating of 3, and to “meet the same standard is amazing.”

It was noted that Dodge City was ecstatic to be at a 4.

Buller explained the full rating is 3/6/10, the first number being in the city limits within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant. The second is within a five-mile radius of the station, which he called a “very good rural rating.” The third number is outside that radius and is not unusual as those places are more difficult to access.

The water system scored very high in the evaluation, said Buller. Where the city struggled, was in staffing and training. Though they train every month aggressively, their numbers and the volunteer-basis is not the same as a full-time department.

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