The St. John AV Productions class submitted two films for consideration in the prestigious international All American High School Film Festival.  At the end of July students Fabian Garcia, Connor Gilespie, and Mackenzie Hacker found out that their films were made official selections!  They were selected from 2,500 submissions, sent from all 50 states and 40 different countries.

Films “No Home: The Housing Crisis in Rural Kansas” a documentary by Fabian and Connor and “I’m Not,” a PSA by Mackenzie will be showing on the big screen! The film festival is being held at the AMC Empire Theater in Times Square, right in the heart of New York City on October 21st.  The students’ films being selected make them eligible to earn scholarships towards university.  Last year, $600,000 in scholarships and prizes were given to winners.

This is a 3-day event from October 20th – 22nd in New York City. Fabian Garcia needs your help in representing St. John and Kansas on the International Stage!  Please contact Fabian for more information in how to help him get to New York.  Contact Fabian at [email protected] or 620-352-0324.

Pictured is Fabian (left) and Connor (right)

By Beccy Tanner

Mark your calendars for Oct. 21st for our Homecoming Festival.
The all-day event includes a chili cook off, concert, a pickleball tournament, horseshoe tournament, face-painting, a petting zoo, carnival games, free barbecue and so much more.
Most of the events will be in and around the square. 

“Well, I think it’s a great community event where it will bring people of all ages out to enjoy the beautiful square and hopefully, we will have beautiful weather that day,” said Cami Raines, the festival’s committee chair.

“It’s a great event for families with small children because we have lots of activities planned for them – that will not cost a single penny, thanks to our very generous sponsors.”
Nationally-acclaimed photographer Bo Rader will present demonstrations of wet-plate photography — the kind of photography W.R. Gray worked with —and what the St. John Homecoming Hall and Museum is using to document the diverse cultures who have lived in Stafford County. Those demonstrations will be in the W.R. Gray Studio from noon to 4 pm.

At 2:30 pm in the square on the 21st, plan on learning more about the St. John Homecoming Hall and Museum’s recent Humanities Kansas Grant that allows Rader and museum staff to photograph, video and write stories about Native American tribes who once lived in Stafford County.

This year, we have invited some Native Americans to attend our festival to tell us more about their culture.

The festival focuses on the different cultures that have lived in Stafford County.

“It’s just good to focus on the cultures that helped start the county and the state and to encourage people to think about the past, our ancestors and support their local museums,” Raines said.

One of the highlights of our festival will be a concert featuring Jim and Salli Ratts with Ernie Martinez.

Their concert starts at 3:30 pm. In the square.

Jim grew up in Stafford County. The Ratts farm was a few miles northwest of St. John. The love of music has been passed down from generation to generation in the Ratts family. Many will remember Jim’s father, Loyd Ratts who lived to be 103 years old. He died in 2018.

Loyd Ratts’ legacy was not only as a farmer and inventor, but also as a musician. During the 1930s, Loyd Ratts, along with his two sisters, Vida and Thelma, would travel through central and southwest Kansas to local radio stations and perform live for their radio listeners.

Jim Ratts is considered a musical storyteller and is a solid fixture of the Denver music scene, having fronted his country-folk-rock band Runaway Express with his wife, Salli for more than 30 years.

Some of Jim Ratts’ songs have been recorded by artists such as Sam Bush (the bluegrass chart hit “Howlin’ at the Moon” and the Dillards. In the 1990s, he was one third of the Wild Jimbos with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Jimmy Ibbotson.

Besides the concert, there will be an Old Coots table in the square beginning at 1 p.m., where local personalities have been invited to share their wisdom on random questions. They may not offer the right advice but really, who cares if it tickles the funny bones!
There will be raffle tickets and prizes, cotton candy and who knows what else!

“Free food,” Raines said.

What? There is no such thing.

“Oh, it’s free,” she said. “If you happen to be one of the first 200, it’s free. And, it’s a yes for old-fashioned popcorn, peanuts and cotton candy.”

Indeed, Equity Bank is providing a free barbecue for the first 200 participants at the festival, beginning at noon.
In addition, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 21, David Dalke, author of “Knees Lifted High and Toes Pointed” will be making a presentation on the second floor of the St. John museum about how the St. John Marching Band back in the 1930s became national champions.

 The St. John Homecoming Hall and Museum has produced a video that highlights those champion years and what Dalke’s father, Jake, experienced in creating that band.

So come to the festival.

There will be prizes.

And lots of fun.

By Beccy Tanner

The 34th Annual Oktoberfest is about to take place and already there is excitement brewing in the community.

Oktoberfest is Oct. 7, following tradition of always having it on the first Saturday in October.

Here’s what you need to know:

Don’t forget your buttons!

Oktoberfest buttons are available for purchase – cost is $5 — at Ampride, Main Street Market, the Stafford City Office, Joan’s Café, Prairie Bank and at the Stafford County Register of Deeds in St. John.

Buttons and your presence are needed to claim major prizes that range anywhere from a Drone with a 4K EIS Camera, an Ingloo 70 QT Premium Trailmate Wheeled Rolling Cooler to a pizza oven, air fryer and Deluxe Stadium Seat with lumbar support.

Also don’t forget to bring your money because you will want to buy handcrafted arts and crafts as well as some of the great food items for sale.

And … don’t forget Friday night (Oct. 6) Music Bingo where six food venders will be present, and the Norwich/Stafford game will be streamed.

Plus, there is a beer garden … because, what’s the point of having an Oktoberfest with no beer?

But beyond that, why go?

“It’s a great community event,” says Jami Downing, Stafford’s city clerk/city administrator. “I mean, it’s really the highlight of the year around here. We love adding things to it and cleaning things up in preparation.

“It’s about all the community it brings together. We have people who aren’t from here who frequent it because they just like coming.”

Fun fact: One couple actually moved to Stafford because they loved Oktoberfest!

“They thought it was the neatest thing and they had so much fun – and then, years later they ended up moving here,” Downing said.

Over the years, events have changed, some have evolved and still others are solid tradition.

Alas, the Wiener Dog races are no more.

It ran for 10 years and then, just kind of tapered off.

“Some people came just for that,” Downing said. “Over the years, we have had pumpkin races where people had to decorate pumpkins, put wheels on them and make them mobile. We have also done inflatable costume obstacle races, bed races, lip sync battles and trivia games sometimes.”

This year, though, there are some new events. But plans are to gear up big for next year, the festival’s 35 anniversary.

This year, there will be mullet and Mahomes lookalike contest; and Redneck Olympics and Stein holding contests.

Wait … Redneck Olympics?

“We will have something where the contestants will have to toss something through a toilet seat ring and dig in the hay,” Downing said.

Events for Music Bingo on Friday night start at 5 p.m.

Oktoberfest on Saturday run from 9 a.m. until about 4 p.m.

The parade in downtown Stafford begins at 11 a.m.

“There is always a lot of good food,” Downing said. “We will have about six vendor food trucks.”

Her personal favorites are the Wizard of Oz truck that has pulled pork and curly fries with pork, cheese and all sorts of wonder foods on it.

There is also the Wheatland Food Truck “which obviously always has good food.”

So, three things to remember:

  1. Don’t forget your button.
  2. Bring money.
  3. Plan on having oodles of fun!

By Beccy Tanner

The Stafford County Zoning Commission has unanimously given their approval for a special use permit that help sets the stage for constructing the Port Authority of Stafford County.

Final approval, though, lies in the hands of the Stafford County Commission, which are set to hear the zoning case in October.  

The Port Authority of Stafford County will be located near the junction of US-50 and US 281 highways, near a BNSF railroad mainline. 

It is a site where hundreds of cars and trucks pass daily.

And while those vehicles will continue to pass daily by the site, there is hope that a 256-acre site will soon be constructed and handle full-size grain trains of more than 100 railcars and semi-trucks that can carry more than just grain but merchandise and consumer goods that may eventually pump as much as $7-to-9 million into the local economy.

The new Port Authority will in fact be a transportation and shipping hub.

Carolyn Dunn, president of the Port Authority and who currently is the Stafford County Economic Development’s Strategic Projects Manager presented the case to the zoning board, Sept. 12.

Dunn is also the county’s former economic development director and has been involved in the county’s development for the past 12 years.

“I was made aware that we were missing some critical business opportunities in the very first few months of economic development being in existence in 2011,” Dunn told the board. “We had a company at the time that was interested in putting a unit car loading facility here and had some purchase options on land but then decided to locate somewhere in Nebraska, instead. We subsequently had two other companies that considered Stafford County closely but invested somewhere else.”

Stafford County, because of its rural population, does not have a large labor force to attract manufacturers. But it does have agricultural products that can bring investment opportunities into the county.

And that is what local business and agriculture leaders are hoping to draw on.

“We are at the crossroads of two U.S. highways that intersect with the mainline railroad,” Dunn said. “It’s not an accident. Some of these companies that were considering Stafford County as a location is because we do have that strategic location when it comes to transportation.”

Additionally, there are few other public points of entry to a major railroad in the western 2/3 of Kansas. Those that do have rail service are owned by private companies, who control who uses the tracks.

“So, that is something we can put out there as an advantage that we could offer for developing,” Dunn said.  “Our purpose here is to create more and better-quality jobs that diversify the economy. One of the biggest goals for me is to increase the tax base with the goal of preserving essential services and quality of life.”

Because construction of the Port Authority will be costly, Dunn said, she wanted to do it in such a way that local taxpayers would not have to pay for it.

“We’ve made an application to the Federal Railroad administration … There is no way we would have even had an application worth sending in if we hadn’t already had over $5 million secured and other components already in place. It’s a very long process,” Dunn has said previously. “There have been a lot of different entities along the way that have been willing to be open and helpful to us. I feel we have the kind of support that the FRA looks for from the Kansas Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture and the Department of Transportation. We have the support of both our U.S. Senators, US Representatives, and State Rep. Brett Fairchild, and local representatives who have endorsed us.”

The $5 million that has already secured for the Port came from a $2.5 million BASE grant through the Kansas Department of Commerce and a $2.5 million appropriation in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill (HB 2510).  Another $800,000 was awarded to Stafford County Economic Development to loan to the Port Authority with flexible repayment terms. 

Yet, more money is needed – at least another $5 million—which Dunn has applied for and is hopeful the county will receive.

That’s why the special use permit is needed – as part of the process.

“What we have is agriculture and we are missing the opportunities to capture some investment in the benefits that that brings because we maybe didn’t have the right tools to really make it an appealing investment for potential businesses,” Dunn said.

By Beccy Tanner

Jean Drach is apologetic as she answers the phone.

No apples this year for sale.

 And the peaches that she and her husband, Larry, sold, they were brought in from Colorado.

But the heirloom tomatoes were awesome. It was a good year for tomatoes.

She credits two late freezes and blistery hot summer temperatures for this year’s lack of produce.

But this is just one year.

The couple have had lots of good years and have plans that next year will once again be bountiful.

Beginning in 2006, it was the couple’s dream to farm. They started an orchard with five acres.

Drach’s Farm & Orchard is located three miles east of the US-281 and K-19 intersection.

“We didn’t really know anything about crop farming or cattle, so my husband said let’s put an orchard in,” Jean Drach said.

That first year, the apple and peach trees were nothing more than sticks.

“We didn’t have much knowledge about fruit trees,” she said. “We thought we put them in the ground, and we’d have apples and peaches. But no.”

It took time and investigation and testing to see what varieties grew best in Stafford County.

“We did our research, especially on the peaches of what ones would grow in this area.”

The first year they planted 100 trees.

And then, planted another hundred.

“And now, with some of the storms, we are down to 168,” Jean said. “It’s just the two of us.

“It took us 10 years for the apple trees to start producing.”

The orchard has 20 varieties of apples; four different types of pears; as many varieties of peaches and – she emphasizes – in good years, also pumpkins.

There are also blackberry bushes.

The secret to much of their success all these years, she says, belongs to the sandy soil of Stafford County.

“It makes good, good planting for the trees because the water just absorbs down into the roots,” she said.

They have also grown potatoes, watermelon and cantaloupe.

“Now, that we’ve grown a little older we are not doing those as much,” Jean said. 

Like most farmers, the Drachs have discovered the Kansas weather – like the weather experienced this summer – can mean the difference between a good year and a poor one.

“It was unpredictable,” Jean says of the summer’s storms and heat. “We also feel that climate change is here because we are seeing a difference. In good years, each apple tree can produce up to 1,000 apples.”

Last year, the Drachs made 300 half gallons of cider.

This year, the apples split on the tree before they were ripe.

In years past, droves of people come out and pick apples and school groups come to explore and taste.

Their orchard is a feel-good, neighborly oasis in a sea of wheat fields and prairie grass plots.

They’ve had pumpkin festivals and pumpkin hunts, in fact it’s called the Great Pumpkin Hunt  (similar to Easter Egg hunts) in the orchard.

She encourages children to try the different varieties of apples to see which ones entice their taste buds the most.

“They get to walk the five acres and they are pretty pooped when they get back on the bus,” she says chuckling. “It’s (the orchard) turned out to be more than we ever thought it would be.”

And, that’s a good thing.

It’s a good thing area families and social events in Stafford County.

Typically, during the summer months, customers operate on the honor system. Refrigerators in a shed on the orchard grounds are filled with produce, customers are welcome to select produce from the refrigerators and pay for them by dropping their money in a mailbox behind the refrigerators.

“I have never heard anything negative about our orchard,” Jean said. “It’s been so nice.”

Some locals even consider it a stopping point as they do their regular chores.

“One more thing about the refrigerators, we keep pop, candy and Little Debbies for all the guys that are farming near by, or who check the tank batteries. One neighbor — there is a dirt road that goes between us and their house, she takes her grandkids down every Friday night and the boys get their own pop and candy and that makes their day because there’s nothing like that around here.”

It’s also true for the bikers who participate in the annual Bike Across Kansas and other bikers who use the route.

“We have a sign up for them and put a picnic table up for them,” Jean said.

The sign says “Bikers Welcome,” but really anybody is welcome.

“They stop, eat peaches, and take pictures. It’s great.”

One evening when a terrible storm came up, a biker called the Drachs and asked if he could spend the night in their orchard.

Of course, he could.

Some travelers have even left gifts for the Drachs – more soda pop and even Danish rolls.

It’s become a refuge for travelers near the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.

In the meantime, the vision each year for the Drach Orchard continues.

“Hopefully, next year we will have a better crop,” she said.

You cannot go to the Kansas State Fair without entering the Pride of Kansas building and seeing the crowds line up in front of the Wheatland Café booth.

Sure, you can check out the butter sculpture and the giant pumpkins, but really the main star in that building is Shannon and Darrell Bauer’s food creations.

“We do about 5,000 apple dumplings and 3,000 bierocks,” Shannon Bauer said.

The Bauers do things the hard way – from scratch. Which means, it is really good food.

They, of course, run the Wheatland Café in Hudson, which is open the first and third Sundays of each month – as well as a sizeable catering business.

At the café in Hudson, it’s not unusual for the Wheatland to draw in customers from miles around on the Sundays they are open. Folks line behind the buffet bar and the line snakes out the building and sometimes down the sidewalk.

The Wheatland lines at the State Fair are no exception.

The Bauers draw lots of hungry people to their booth for the 10 days the fair is in operation.

“We do this to make a living, that’s a big part of it,” Shannon said. “Plus, Darrell likes having that break from the everyday things. He likes going to the state fair and seeing all the people and reconnecting with people he’s known for years. Plus, we meet new people.”

They’ve met Kansas governors who have lined up at the booth.

Happy customers tell them they’ve made buying food at the Wheatland part of their fair tradition each year.

“We start making lists and gathering foods the first of August and then, we start cooking our meat, like for our roast beef sandwiches,” Shannon said. “We cook it ahead of time and then, as soon as it’s cool, we bag it off into gallon baggies and freeze it. We do that the second week of August. We cook on and off and freeze. Those are the things we do ahead of time.”

Then, they live at the state fairgrounds the entire time of the fair – in two RV campers, one for the men, one for the women.

“Our help stays with us, as well,” she said.

“My schedule is that I go to work at 5 a.m. and work until 7 at night,” Shannon said. “Darrell comes in at 7 a.m. and works until 10 at night. The building closes at 9 pm and it takes about an hour to clean up after that.”

How many people do they serve each day?

“I couldn’t even tell you,” she said. “Sometimes, they are lined up clear down the middle aisle to the other end of the building. It is mind boggling. It never amazes us every year to see people waiting in lines that long.”

The Bauers often have the same people helping run their booth, year after year.

They have 15 employees.

“We haven’t had to hire anybody new for quite a while now,” she said. “I mean it’s wonderful to get the same people back each year. For years, we had a family drive out from El Paso, Texas and help.”

It’s a team working like clockwork to make to make a little bit of Stafford County heaven possible at the fair.

The most popular items are, of course, the hot roast beef sandwiches and apple dumplings, a la mode.

But then, they also do a hefty business in cinnamon rolls, coffee, cherry and peach cobbler and bierocks.

“Bierocks are big sellers but hot roast beef, I don’t know why because that is the easiest thing to make – that’s our biggest seller,” she said.

As a longtime fair-goers know, you can’t go wrong with a hot roast beef sandwich. Sure, there are the Methodist Church chicken and noodles, the Lady of Guadalupe enchiladas and Pronto Pups at every turn, but the hot roast beef sandwiches are always a winner.

Think of it, after one of those long afternoons of walking around, seeing exhibits, people watching, buying gizmos and coming into the Pride of Kansas building. You finally get a chance to sit down and have something warm and nurturing to eat.

It goes down mighty fine with a hot apple dumpling and a dollop of ice cream.

“The state fair always helps our business as far as catering goes,” Shannon said. “We have booked so many weddings and funerals from our state fair business because people from all over the state come there.

“It’s good for us as we make our living. I mean, it’s really exciting and a lot of fun.”

It was in 1980 when Leanne and Wade Russell began their Jaffle Sandwich pilgrimages to the Kansas State Fair.

The couple from Hudson have always been great cooks. But that year, before the fair started, they were looking for something a bit different to try.

The Russells had a café in Sterling. And, in 1980, were searching for a way to take their food on the road.

When they are not at the state fair, Wade is the minister at Trinity Community Church in Hudson.  Leanne is a diagnostic therapist at the Center for Consultation and Counseling in Great Bend.

And they are parents to Ryan Russell, Stafford County’s Economic Development director.

But 43 years ago, they were looking for another way to share their love for cooking.

“Well, we just sold our restaurant in Sterling and were looking for something else to do,” said Leanne Russell. “And Wade found out that a space was open at the State Fair. So, he sent off for some information about some products for Turo. The guy sent back 30 pages about the Turo and one page about the Jaffle Sandwich.

“We looked at that one page and I said ‘the Jaffle Sandwich sounds good.’ So, we went with that.”

Jaffle is Australian meaning … well, sandwich.

But the Jaffle Sandwich is so much more than a sandwich.

“The cowboys would bake them with cast iron grills that had both top and bottoms,” Leanne said. “They would put the bread in and the filling and toast them over a fire.”

For those who are long-time fairgoers, the Russell’s Jaffle Sandwich booth is located across from Ye Old Mill.

“The first year we did this, we had to buy bread in Canada,” Leanne said. “The man we bought the Jaffle bakers from sold us the bakers but said we would have to buy the bread from him. His bread was quite expensive for back then.

“It was 80 cents for 1,000 loaves.”

Eight hundred dollars, a hefty price no matter what year it was sold.

Wade had to pick the loaves of bread up in Ontario, Canada.

Leanne had helpers but that first year and the sandwiches sold out, despite the fact that some Kansans can be picky eaters when it comes to trying something new.

The Russells invested in another 1,000 loaves to take their Jaffle Sandwiches on the road – to other events – next in line was the Neewollah Festival in Independence.

And then on to the Tulsa fair.

“So, through all that, we got to selling Jaffle sandwiches,” Leanne said. “People would try them and absolutely love them.”

But, at first, it was hard to get people to try the sandwiches.

“We never had any trouble getting people to try the Jaffles at Neewollah, but at the Kansas State Fair, it was hard, at first.”

But once they did, the Jaffles became a fair favorite!

“Each year, it is a lot of work, but we do enjoy seeing the people,” Leanne said. “People come by and say hi to us.”

Leanne said they even have a few truck driver customers who park outside the fair grounds and walk in – just to buy the Jaffle sandwiches.

“They tell the guys at the gate, ‘We’re just getting Jaffles!”

So, how many Jaffle sandwich varieties are there?


There is the Meat Jaffle.

“We called it that because 43 years ago, they wouldn’t let us call it the Pizza Jaffle,” Leanne said. “It has sausage, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese and a sauce,” she said. “That’s the most popular and then, we have chicken, ham and cheese, veggie and then the Dessert Jaffle – with an apple pie filling.”

And then, they also have Lemonade.

Pure lemonade made from scratch, none of that powdery stuff.

“We make it with fresh squeezed lemons and our own sugar water. It’s just pure juice,” Leanne said. “It’s pretty yummy.”

Leanne says that she and Wade plan on manning their Jaffle Sandwiches booth at the Kansas State Fair for many more years, until they can no longer do it.

Then, they hope, their grown children will take over their long-standing tradition.

“I just have felt all along that the kids were going to take over,” she said.

And, in his spare time, Leanne said, that Ryan will be helping out his parents this year at the fair.

And that’s always a good fair tradition when families get together.

By Jennifer Stultz


[email protected]

And just like that we ripped the band-aid off something new that has been in the works for some time but not considered public information until today. Hopefully by the time readers make it to the back page of this weekly newspaper they will realize the Pratt Tribune, the Kiowa County Signal, and The St. John News have merged into one beautiful and efficient collaboration now called the Tri-County Tribune.

Three papers have become one in order to capitalize on printing cost savings and to re-energize a local readership and advertising base. This is an exciting time and as a lifelong journalist in close relationship with south central Kansas news, views and people, I kind of like this new idea.

The fresh look of the Tri-County Tribune front page pops with color, the local stories and inside articles reflect a long-standing commitment to bringing hometown news to the heartland, which is where we all live, whether home is in Pratt, Kiowa or Stafford County. And that sunflower on the front exemplifies the benefits of digging in, hanging on, and blooming where planted.

The old Pratt Tribune, the former St. John News, and the tornado-tested Kiowa County Signal haven’t been lost. They just join a number of other past newspapers for this area that served well and long with a spirit that continues on in the pages of the now Tri-County Tribune.

Newspaper name changes really aren’t something new. At one time the Pratt Tribune was called the Union Dispatch, several decades were recorded as the Pratt County News, there was the Pratt Daily Dispatch, and the Pratt County Union.

The first newspaper of Pratt County was called the Pratt County Press, printed in 1878 in Iuka, the county seat at that time. Change happens over time, all the time. It is inevitable. That doesn’t mean, however, that it is easy to adjust to something new and better, but once the band-aid is ripped off, so to speak, one can see that most changes are for the better. Pointing fingers, calling names and pouting past bedtime rarely serve any positive purpose.

In the case of the Pratt Tribune turned Tri-County Tribune, I think we can all agree that those who take the time to read these pages each week are far better off than those who don’t.

It always makes me cringe when someone glibly states that they don’t read anymore, or that there hasn’t been a Pratt Tribune for years. That is just so wrong.

When the Pratt Tribune went from three issues per week to one during GateHouse or Gannett ownership years ago (there really wasn’t much difference between the two), subscription numbers dropped as people insisted they could get their news elsewhere. And in some ways that was true. The age of social media was upon us and phone scrolling suddenly became so much cooler than turning printed pages and savoring words along with that morning coffee.

But through it all, as social media platforms came and went, as Facebook algorithms spoon-fed pre-determined news choices, local newspapers like this one continued quietly and consistently serving their loyal customers. News about real people, with real stories backed by real facts continues to be the backbone of what drives communities forward.

Inevitably, when it comes down to what really matters, the statement of “I read it in the newspaper,” almost always precedes the story of the anonymous donor or the miracle check in support of a community need.

There is much to remember and like about the Pratt Tribune, Kiowa County Signal and St. John News. There is much to appreciate about the continuity and opportunities opening up with the new Tri-County Tribune. We will have a digital presence. Coming soon will be a story contest for local authors, Remember When features, the usual Veteran’s Day honors and fall event coverage. Advertisers take note: you get so much more bang for the buck in a paper with expanded coverage.

It’s going to be good. I hope you smile when you see the redesigned front page of the Tri-County Tribune. I hope you like how the name rolls off the tongue and keep that subscription current. I hope those who let their subscription lapse for one reason or another, come back to see the benefit of getting local news, in the mailbox, consistently every week. We’ll be here, serving each community as best we can and connecting the dots between us all so we can live and thrive together like the state sunflower.

Please be sure to call Deb Jacobsen for any circulation and subscription needs at 316-283-1500, and enjoy the new Tri-County Tribune! We are here for you and thank you in advance for your continued readership and support. There are several places around town to pick up a copy of the Tri-County Tribune and keep up with the local news, including Dillons, Walmart, several gas-station/convenience stores and in hotel lobbies. We are working on website upgrades and will soon be able to refer digital readers to the new and improved online location.

A letter signed by 32 city and county officials from 5 counties was created in response the Quivira’s Call for Water. The letter which outlines the catastrophic effect the diversion of water would cause to these counties was sent to Martha Williams Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. It was also sent to Gov. Laura Kelly’s office.

Carolyn Dunn wrote the letter and a number of Economic Development Directors from several counties collected the signatures.

It was only a few years after Keno Maxom opened Sunflower Trailer at the corner of the old St. John Motel off US-281, that Bruce Heller, first began hauling trailers.

It’s been a trailer dealership since 1991, according to their website, sunflowertrailersales. Com.

Their inventory is endless – equipment trailers, car haulers, tilt trailers, utility trailers, dump trailers, livestock trailers and more.

The address is 2-A, N.E. 20th Street.

“Then I was working in Chapman, Ks. and Junction City and hauling trailers for him and different things,” Heller said. “It got to be every night I was going somewhere half the night and delivering stuff. In 1993, he came to me and said, ‘Why don’t you come down here and we will just start growing this thing.”

And before he knew it, Heller had moved to St. John. “The more I was down here, the more I liked it.”

Now, he is the owner and president of Sunflower Trailer.

His customers technically come from across the nation.

“Yesterday, we had a guy come from Waco, Texas and last week, there was a guy from Colorado.”

More specifically, the business has customers in an eight-state region around Kansas.

“We’ve had some really good ones over the years and a lot are repeat business,” Heller said. “We go to the state fairs and set up for 10 days and man, you end up seeing people you saw 20 years before. I mean, it’s crazy how you hear from people. One guy bought a trailer from me in ’97 and a friend he knew decided he wanted to come try them. Pretty cool when it’s word-of-mouth.”