New walking trail at Grinter Place is the result of many volunteers’ efforts and grants

Commissioner Melissa Bynum, center, cut the ribbon for the new Grinter Place walking trail. From left to right were Jerry Grey , president of Grinter Place Friends; Alec Tillery, Grinter Place Friends Board member; Melissa Bynum, UG commissioner; and Tom Burroughs, UG commissioner. (Photo from Grinter Place Friends)
An aerial view of the Grinter Place walking trail. (Photo illustration from Grinter Place Friends)

Since 2016, the Grinter Place Friends Inc. had a vision to install an asphalt walking trail on the grounds of the state museum at K-32 and South 78th Street in Kansas City, Kansas.

The initial Walking Trail Committee consisted of Jerry Grey, Don Jolley, Adam Tillery and Alec Tillery. Support was also provided by Bill Nicks, the site director of the Historic Grinter Place house.

Once the project gained ground, the entire Grinter Place Friends Board contributed ideas towards the trail project.

The entire cost of the walking trail project totaled over $40,000. To help raise these funds, applications for grants were completed. The primary grantwriters in this process were Alec Tillery, Adam Tillery and Leona Sigwing.

Grants and donations towards the walking trail project came in from the J.B. Reynolds Foundation (applied for by Don Jolley), Praxair, Inc. (applied for by Angelia Slaughter), the Council of Clubs of Kansas City, Kansas (applied for by Louise Crable) and the majority of funding came from the “Unified Government – Hollywood Casino Grant Fund” (applied for by Alec Tillery, Adam Tillery and Leona Sigwing).

Before laying the asphalt trail, there was a significant amount of overgrowth to be dealt with. The Safety Tree Service removed the abundance of overgrowth and converted it into a wide open pasture. The asphalt trail work was completed by Dave’s Plus Construction in Basehor, Kansas.

The finished asphalt trail includes recycled materials. It is approximately 1,500 feet in total length. The path is not completely flat. There are slopes to help increase the level of exercise. Since it is asphalt, it is much safer for those users that may have mobility challenges.

The trail has the option for laps. One lap around the trail can be completed in less than 10 minutes by the average walker. The average walker can also achieve 600 steps in this one lap if counting footsteps (or using a Garmin or Fitbit tracker). In one lap, the average walker can burn about 30 calories. If an average walker spends 30 minutes walking the trail, he or she could achieve 5 laps, 7,500 feet traveled, 3000 steps, and 150 calories burned in this short time.

Future enhancements soon to come will be a picnic area and signage along the trail. This signage will be dual purpose – distance marking and educational.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the trail was held Saturday, Nov. 10. While the Grinter Place Museum is closed for the winter, the walking trail will remain open for public use.

The purpose of this trail is for exercise and learning about nature and history. The trail area provides an ideal platform for local Scout troops. One scout, Ethan Wolf, achieved his Eagle Scout status by building two wooden benches that are now featured as “rest stops” along the trail.

Also, the Grinter Place Friends have partnered with a local Google Earth Trainer named Scott Lemmon. Lemmon is using top-of-the-line photography equipment to implement Digital Mapping tools through Google Earth. Examples of a few of these Digital Mapping tools include 360 Degree imagery, Virtual Reality and links to published history regarding the Historic Grinter Place site built in 1857. This way, an interested party can view imagery of the trail area through their online connection. The new website of will host much of these Digital Mapping tools.

The signage and Digital Mapping tools should be ready in spring 2019. Adam Tillery and Alec Tillery of the Grinter Place Friends have designed promotional pieces for this project.

  • Information from Alec Tillery, Grinter Place Friends
The new Grinter Place walking trail is on the property of Grinter Place, a state museum at K-32 and South 78th Street in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo from Grinter Place Friends)

KCK student participates in Concordia University concerts

Olivia Johnson of Kansas City, Kansas, was one of the students at Concordia University, Seward, Nebraska, who participated in four Christmas at Concordia concerts.

Featured in the concerts were students in the Women’s Cantamus Choir, Male Chorus, Concordia Handbell Choir, University Brass Ensemble, University A Cappella Choir and University Symphonic Band.

Film tells story of election that changed American politics

“The Front Runner,” a film about a race for U.S. President. Starring Hugh Jackman, Vera Farminga and J.K. Simmons. Directed by Jason Reitman. Based on the book by Matt Bai, “All the Truth is Out: The week Politics went Tabloid.” A Columbia Pictures production, 113 minutes. As seen at the Town Center AMC, Leawood, Kan.

by Murrel Bland

It was the fall of 1953. I was a seventh grader at Ottawa (Kan.) Junior High School. It was a new experience—coming from a one-room country school of about 20 students in the north-central area of Franklin County to a junior and senior high school with more than 700 pupils.

Little did I know that one of my schoolmates was destined to run for the president of the United States. His 1987 campaign changed the way mainstream media would cover politics.

Gary Warren Hartpence was born on Nov. 28, 1936, in Ottawa. His parents were Carl Riley Hartpence and Nina Pritchard Hartpence. His family changed its last name to Hart in 1961 because it was easier to remember.

Ottawa was a town of about 10,000 people in the 1950s. It had a prosperous downtown with numerous Main Street merchants. Nearby farms in Franklin County created a successful agricultural industry. The town was known for its strong support of churches including Methodist and Baptist congregations and conservative Republican politics. It was also famous for defeating school bond issues.

Hart was the “All American boy.” He was a member of the football, basketball and track teams. He also was vice president of his junior class and a delegate to Boys State—a mock government workshop sponsored by the Kansas American Legion.

Florence M. Robinson, a career journalism teacher at Ottawa High School, chose Hart as managing editor of the school newspaper, The Ottawa Record. It was that same teacher that would influence my career in journalism.

Hart attended what then was Bethany (Okla.) Nazarene College (now Southern Nazarene University); he graduated in 1958 with plans to become a clergyman. He met his wife, Oletha (Lee) Ludwig at Bethany. He then received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale University at New Haven, Conn., in 1961. He then received a law degree from Yale in 1964. He practiced law in Washington, D.C., and Denver.

Lee Ludwig is the sister to Martha Ludwig Keys who served in Congress from what was the Second District in Kansas in the 1970s. That district included part of Wyandotte County.

In 1972, I was visiting with a high school and college classmate at a reception for a former journalism professor.

“Do you remember Gary Hartpence?” the friend asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Well, he is the national director for the McGovern for President campaign,” my friend said. “But his name now is Gary Hart.” Hart had volunteered for the campaigns of John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. McGovern won the Democratic party’s nomination, but lost in the General Election to Richard Nixon in one of the most lopsided elections in U.S. history.

Hart was elected U.S. Senator from Colorado in 1974 and again in 1980. He first ran for president in 1984. Despite a slow start, he became the main challenger to Walter Mondale. Hart ran again for president, becoming the Democratic front runner in 1987. This is where the film concentrates its coverage; much of the film is in a semi-documentary style.

In April 1987, reporters and a photographer from The Miami Herald followed Donna Rice from Miami to a Washington, D.C., town house where she met with Hart. The scandal spread through the national media along with another damaging story that Hart had incurred a $1.3 million campaign debt.

In May that year, Hart called a news conference and announced the end of his campaign.

“I refuse to submit my family and my friends and innocent people and myself to further rumors and gossip,” Hart said. Hart then paraphrased President Thomas Jefferson who said he trembled for his country when he thought we may get the kind of leaders we deserve. Hart said his situation will provoke a needed debate on whether the system has gone out of control. Gossipy articles about who is sleeping with whom, previously restricted to The National Enquirer and its ilk, was now in the mainstream media.

The film does an excellent job of portraying the inside, gut-wrenching details of American politics. Hart is portrayed by Hugh Jackman, an Australian actor known for his role as Wolfman in the X-Men film series. Other excellent performances are turned in by Vera Farminga who portrays the long-suffering Lee Hart and J.K. Simmons who is the cynical yet savvy veteran campaign manager, Bill Dixon. Farminga stared in Sundance award-winning films including “Down to the Bone” and “Love in the Time of Man.” Simmons is probably best known as the professor in Farmers’ Insurance television commercials.

There certainly is a strong message in this film—that the media is more concerned with sexual misdeeds than more important issues such as world trade and the environment. But there is also a matter of character; the film speaks to that matter in the way Hart treated women.

Hart wrote an article for The New York Times in 2004. He admitted to being a sinner. He said he was asking for the same degree of forgiveness from his many critics that they were willing to grant George W. Bush for his transgressions.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is a 1959 graduate of Ottawa High School.