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

October 6, 2016
Hesston RecordOctober 6, 2016 Hesston Record

Pack-N-Go Girls Author Shares Writing Journey With HesstonStudents

Posted 10/10/2016

By Jacki Nelson

National renowned author Janelle Diller, a Hesston native, returned to her hometown to speak with students at USD 460 about her experiences as an author, writing the series The Pack And Go Girls, as well as adult novels. 

As a dual-alumna from Hesston High and Hesston College, Diller said she “has a soft spot for Hesston.” 

Despite living away from the community for four decades, Diller makes a point to come to Hesston during book tours and speaking with local students.

“I like their enthusiasm and the freshness of what they say,” she said.

As an author who spends half her year on a boat, living in the waters surrounding Mexico, Diller tries to give children a sense of place and a sense of adventure.

“It’s so easy to be in a small town in Kansas - and Kansas isn’t the most well-known state - and you can feel like, even as a first grader, that you are a nobody in a nowhere place.

“But, no matter where you are, you can become what you want to be by knowing your dreams and following them,” she said.

Her books, the Pack and Go Girls, focus on mysteries with primarily female characters.

“Historically, little boys don’t read books that have little girls. Little girls will read girls and boys. There aren’t very many books with girls as many characters, though there are plenty of boys.  It’s important for little girls to see themselves,” she said.

Diller added she is purposeful about creating books with characters of different ethnicities as well.

“A friend of mine who is Asian-American, said, ‘Janelle, I wish I could have had a book like this. I would have seen myself and I cannot imagine how exciting that would be.’  For local girls in Hesston, Kansas, there’s a lot more diversity.  It’s not enough to see only themselves, but what does it tell them about the world,” she said.

Diller said she had a moment that crystalized the size of the world in her mind as a small child traveling Latin America with her family.

“It was 1962, and I remember sitting in front of the Pink House in Buenos Aires in the big Plaza Park. My sister, who was a year older than me, said, ‘Janelle,, we need to bed down and fed the pigeons like this.  Because, next year you’re going to see a picture of this in your geography book.’  And, sure enough, in that book there was a picture of two children bending over and feeding pigeons.  I realized there are people that live other places, but then I realized they are real people. That’s what I hope to bring to kids,” she said.

At that time, Diller said she was also realizing she was a budding author.

“I’ve felt like I need to be in a 12-step program. Hello, my name is Janelle, and I need to write. I have always had stories I wanted to tell,” she said.

However, as an author, Diller said she has had to mature over her career.  She said while she wrote her first book in her 30s, she was not published until she was in her 40s.

“It’s about knowing that just because you think it’s good, that doesn’t make it good. I used to teach writing at the college level and I had students turn in papers and I had no idea what they meant or what they were trying to communicate,” she said.

Most recently, Diller said she has been working on another Pack and Go Girls book set in Australia.

“The biggest challenge is making sure the book is accurate. I am sending a pre-release to readers in Australia so if there is something that they think ‘We would never say that’ or ‘That’s not quite right’ we can change it,” she said.

Her latest adult book, Never Enough Flamingos, is set in rural Kansas during the Great Depression.  The story centers around a Mennonite family struggling for survival and a seemingly helpful benefactor who is found to have ulterior motives.

All of Diller’s work can be found on Amazon, as well as ordered through Barns and Nobel.  Diller added she dropped off copies of Never Enough Flamingos as well as some Pack and Go Girls books at Faith and Life Book Store and they are available while supplies last. 

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Hazmat Incident Temporarily Shuts Down GVL Poly

Posted 10/6/2016

The failure of a seal on a piece equipment caused the evacuation of GVL Poly late this morning.  Six employees had reactions to the chemical spill.  According to Hesston EMS Director Russ Buller, three were transported by ambulance to Newton Medical Center in serious condition. Three others were transported by private vehicles to local clinics. 

“This was a liquid hazmat spill. Six people are in the process of receiving attention. The employees were overcome by the fumes.” 

According to Hesston EMS’s Linda Hastings, employees were examined by paramedics upon each individual employee’s request. 

According to GVL Poly CEO Allan Cronen the chemical spill was less than five gallons of material. 

“Today, all the procedures and protocol were followed to make sure everything was safe and contained,” he said. 

Cronen said he anticipates GVL Poly will be back in production by 3 p.m. 

Buller said the building will be released back to GVL Poly “when it has been determined the hazard has been minimized and the company has the capability to clean up.” 

Production Manager Tome Riedel said he was the one to call 911 after an employee brought the incident to his attention.  

Riedel said there were approximately 40 people on shift at the plant at the time of the incident.  

Riedel said the incident will be “under investigation” by himself, Hesston Emergency Services and professionals from Newton Medical. 

GVL Poly currently employs about 130 people on three shifts. 

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Milton Miller, Two-Time Hesston Mayor, Dies

Posted 10/6/2016

Record Staff 

Former mayor Milton Miller passed on Saturday, Oct. 2.  Miller served two stints as Mayor from 1959 to 1967 and 1971 to 1981.  In addition to serving as Mayor, Miller was part of the Sunday School class which founded Mennonite Disaster Relief Services. 

In August of 2011, The Hesston Record interviewed Miller on his time as Mayor and the influence he had on the Hesston community.

Miller said while he had no political aspirations of his own, he was encouraged by early Hesston leaders Lyle Yost and Alvin King to run for office. 

“During my time, there was great growth of Hesston. Hesston Corp caused a lot of growth and there were things we needed to do to help keep ahead of the growth of the corporation,” said Miller in the 2011 interview.

Miller said one of the major improvements to the community was the installation of 16-inch waterlines and increasing capacity to over 1 million gallons per day.

During Miller’s tenure, water was not the only concern for the expanding community.

“We were having problems securing enough gas in the water to keep the corp running. So we bought a propane system that converted propane into natural gas and provided enough fuel to keep Hesston Corp going,” he said.

Miller was also Mayor of Hesston during the construction of I-135, making Highway 81 obsolete for most travelers.

“We knew where the alignment was going to be - so we planned the city to develop out that way and arranged to get one access from I-135 to Ridge Road,” he said.

Miller was also at the helm when the City began construction of the Hesston Golf Park.

“We wanted it to be the front door to the City of Hesston,” he said.

Miller said throughout his time in city leadership, careful city planning was always a major priority.

“We spent a lot of hours working with the planner, city administrator and council to develop plans and working with industries to ensure we had enough utilities, streets and all the things it takes to keep industry moving ahead,” he said.

At the conclusion of the 2011 interview, Miller said he wanted to leave a legacy of careful planning and accommodation for growth of the community.  He also wanted resident to appreciate the time and care put into designing Hesston for continued growth and success.

“It took a while to recognize and appreciate the planning that went into the development of this city,” he said. 

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Explore Cultures, Cuisine, From Six Continents Without Leaving Town

Posted 10/6/2016


This Monday, it will be possible to sample the cultures of six continents without ever leaving Hesston. What’s more, the cost for this world-wide tour is very affordable. It’s free.

The event will be held 7-9 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 10, in the Community Center of Hesston Mennonite Church.

The greater Hesston Community is invited to join Hesston College students for Cultures Fair, an annual event that highlights the cultural diversity of our campus community.

In addition to the United States, Hesston students are citizens of: Albania, Canada, China, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Tanzania and Venezuela.

This is the 24th year for the Cultures Fair. International students often express missing food from their homeland.

Campus faculty and staff with experience living overseas helped students purchase and prepare their native cuisine.

“In the very beginning, it was just the meal, prepared and eaten by international students in the community center at Hesston Mennonite Church,” says Dave Osborne, Director of International Student Admissions. “There was no program and the event wasn’t open to the public, or even the broader campus community.”

To read more see this weeks print edition

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HPD's Eilert Tapped For Undersheriff

Posted 10/6/2016

By Jackie Nelson

Hesston Police Department’s Officer and former Detective Chris Eilert has been selected by Sheriff’s candidate Bryan Hall as his Undersheriff. 

Eilert and Hall said they have known each other for over 15 years.

“He was a member of the Harvey County ERT when I started and we went to FBI sniper school together,” said Hall.

Eilert said he and Hall have, “become close friends but also have a very trusting professional relationship. I think that’s why he came to me.”

Hall said Eilert’s education and experience - 20 years in law enforcement and a  degree in criminal justice administration - made him a good fit.

“Chris brings a perspective to the administrative team from one of the small towns which works closely with the Sheriff’s Office. Blending the insight from the members of the Sheriff’s Office, Newton Police Department and Hesston Police Department should serve to improve the service provided to the members of Harvey County,” said Hall. 

Eilert, a self-avowed Republican, acknowledged some voters may be surprised at the pair being on the ballot together.

“I know some people are concerned - or just dumbfounded - a Democrat would pick a Republican as Undersheriff, but are philosophies and ideas are the same. The whole process of electing Sheriffs and Judges through a two-party system creates a stigma,” he said.

Hall added he was looking for the right person for the job, not at an individual’s party affiliation.

“When evaluating potential candidates, I considered qualifications, looked at the quality of their character and focused on the content of their heart.  I don’t care one iota about political affiliation; and voters shouldn’t either,” he said.

Hall added he and Eilert’s relationship is built on honesty, even if it can be challenging.

“He doesn’t hesitate to tell men when I’m wrong, but also encourages me to speak up when I’m right.

“He said he had always admired my willingness to stand for what is right, no matter the personal cost.  He told me that is how leaders act and he had always regarded me as a leader,” said Hall.

Eilert said he and Hall “have philosophies that are akin to one another.”

“Chris and I both believe in the guardian philosophy of law enforcement.  We understand the people we engage with are members of our community and, while they may be acting in a moment of crisis, we do not hold that against them for perpetuity,” said Hall.

Hall and Eilert agreed continuing education for officers would be a cornerstone of their administration.

“You have to be equal parts warrior, parent, social worker, criminologist and friend - and know which one to be at any given time,” said Hall.

Hall said his confidence in Eilert rose after the Feb. 25 shooting at Excel Industries.

“When faced with some security challenges, Chris picked up on my concerns and immediately took control of security planning for the memorial event. It was planned and executed flawlessly.   Chris and I didn’t need to discuss his plan as I had full faith in his abilities,” said Hall.

Hall stressed his and Eilert’s combined experience dealing with critical situations put them one step ahead when dealing with crisis.

“During a critical event is not the time for second-guessing or drawn out discussions. This is not the time for on-the-job-training. It takes years, and a few times through the fire, to develop this type of partnership,” he said.

Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder said Eilert’s involvement in the campaign would not hinder him continuing to work for the Hesston Police Department.  

However, Eilert said, should he and Hall be elected, he would step down as a part-time officer with the Hesston department.

Schroeder said if Eilert chooses to leave the department, “we most likely will not fill na additional part-time officer.” 

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Community Invited To Hear Duane Goossen

Posted 10/5/2016

Record Staff

Duane Goossen, former Kansas Budget Director, will be speaking at Bethel College Mennonite Church on Thursday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. His presentation is titled, “The Big Issues for Kansas in the 2016 Election.”

Goossen served as state budget director for 12 years in the administrations of three governors and received the National Association of State Budget Officers’ Gloria Timmer Award for his career achievements.

He graduated from Bethel College and holds a master’s degree in the public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Currently, he writes and speaks about the Kansas budget and state finances.

This event is free to the public and hosted by Bluestem Communities Public Policy Committee. Bethel College Mennonite Church is located at 2600 College Ave., North Newton, KS 67117.


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