Congressional Forum marks 50th anniversary

Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

A group of Kansas City, Kansas, businessmen in 1968 wanted to establish a nonpartisan organization that would help keep its members informed about governmental issues.

The group included Ferris Kimball and Harlan Potter, industrial suppliers with businesses in the Fairfax industrial area; Orrin Shepherd, who owned clothing stores in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, and in Wyandotte Plaza; and Dick Bond, who was the administrative assistant to U.S. Rep. Larry Winn Jr. Bond later became president of the Kansas Senate.

The forum first considered being an independent entity; however, after researching such matters as IRS regulations, it decided to be part of the Chamber of Commerce.

The forum was able to attract such speakers as U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, who later ran for vice president and president; George H.W. Bush, who later was elected president; Shirley Temple Black, the child movie star who later became a U.S. representative from California; Jesse Owens, the runner who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin; and Alan Shepard, the first American astronaut to venture into space.

Although the forum was founded by mostly Republicans, its rules maintain that it is a nonpartisan organization. Winn served in Congress from 1967 until 1985. Jan Meyers succeeded Winn; she served until 1997.

Vince Snowbarger was congressman for only one term, from 1997 until 1999. He wasn’t particularly active with the forum because liquor was served at the organization’s monthly meetings.

The organization continued to meet during the tenure of U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, a Democrat, from 1999 to 2011. U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Republican, was elected in 2011 and now is seeking re-election in a close race. His opponent, Sharice Davids, a Democrat, was invited to attend the forum, but declined.

The voluntary chairmen of the forum included Wells Haren, a construction company owner; Sherrill Minter, an auto dealer; Dr. Fred Bosilevac, a medical doctor; and Bill Epperheimer, a retired newspaper publisher.

Rep. Yoder said the forum is unique and there is no other such organization to his knowledge.

About 100 persons attended a celebration marking the forum’s anniversary Friday, Oct. 19, at Children’s Mercy Park. Bob Kimball, a member of the forum’s board of directors, gave a brief history of the organization.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.

Letter to the editor: Power turned off

Editor’s note: The Wyandotte Daily recently received a letter to the editor that addressed Don Gray, general manager of the Board of Public Utiltiies, about the power being turned off at a home. The writer of the letter, Patrick Carr, is asking those with similar experiences to write to him at

Mr. Gray,
When I arrived home this evening (Oct. 11), my power was turned off. I called in a lights out report and received a call within a few minutes and was told my power was off for lack of payment. The individual was not able to restore power and gave me a number to call. He also explained there was a lot of people cut off today and I may be on hold for a while. I am set up on autopay and have been for years.

While on hold, I went on line to check the status of the account. I had not accessed the site online and it was necessary to establish a user name and password, etc. Once logged in the account was shown as delinquent with payment due Sept 20. It seems the utility did not process the autopay and is at fault. I have the receipt where the account was drafted August 20th. I received no notification by phone or mail that the account was delinquent. Regardless, it seems your policy would be to notify a customer for disconnecting.

I went through the process and made payment online, with a credit card and got the power restored the same evening so it turned out to be only an irritant and an inconvenience. I travel frequently for business and if I was out of town I would have returned to a mess due to the lack of refrigeration. For many having power is essential for health and comfort.

After the experience, I thought BPU must have a policy. It’s inconceivable that power would be disconnected after 20 days for non-payment from a customer with a long payment history without a late or missed payment EVER, and it’s more than a bit insulting. I looked on your site and with a search found some potential Q&As. Attached are the responses and the pages I was directed to. The links are dead.

I find it completely unacceptable for a business to act in this manner, particularly a monopolistic public utility. Had I been gone, the entire refrigerated product would have been lost. Many rely on power for medical support and all rely on power for comfort. It’s not like we can go to another supplier or make our own power.

As general manager of the utility I want to know what will be done so this doesn’t happen in the future. Please respond with your intentions and a copy of BPU’s disconnect for non-payment policy. How many homes were disconnected this month and, of those, how many had a good to excellent payment history? Also, please restore my autopay and credit all late fees.

Patrick Carr

Column: Bringing back memories of the 1951 flood

Window on the West
Opinion column

by Mary Rupert

The possibility of flooding this week in Wyandotte County brings back memories of the 1951 flood for some.

That is the flood by which all others are measured in the Kansas City area. In 1951, Argentine and Armourdale were flooded and the lives of about 15,000 persons who were evacuated would never be the same.

The flood was before my time, but I recently spoke with Donna Ready about her memories of the 1951 flood.

Donna Ready

While Ready wasn’t in the flood itself, she was in Providence Hospital for childbirth on July 7, 1951. That was when the hospital was on 18th Street at what is now Donnelly College. She was in the hospital about seven days when the flood affected travel throughout the city.

“They said, if anybody feels like you can walk and be on your own, you need to go home because there isn’t going to be any doctors and nurses showing up,” she recalled. “So I had to go home.”

Her husband worked for the railroad, she said, and he had to go to the stockyards, which were in low-lying areas, and work there.

“He was saving people and animals,” she remembered.

Her home wasn’t in the flooded areas, she said, but she got to see some of the aftermath of the flooded areas. The flood affected her in different ways.

“The neighbors knew I was coming home with a new baby, so they all saved water so we would have water for the baby because the water wasn’t any good,” she recalled.

Images remain in her memory of the pictures of the Inter-City Viaduct with water above it, and animals floating down it, she said. A big area of K-32 highway was also under water, she recalled. And she remembered the Colgate-Palmolive plant being under water.

“We had friends that lived down in the bottoms who lost their homes. It took a long time to get back in, and they had to practically redo the whole thing, build houses back up again,” Ready said.

The flood of 1951 changed the look of the Kansas City area. It also was a factor in the migration of some residents west to higher ground in Turner and western Wyandotte County. Since then, more flood protection has been built around the rivers.

To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email