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

Farewell, Gerald Leinbach

Posted 1/10/2017

By Jackie Nelson

Gerald Leinbach stepped out Excel’s doors for the last time after over half-a-century of employment.  However, his legacy continues with all three of his children, Karen Hiebert, Kelly Leinbach and Terry Leinbach, along with his granddaughter, Crystal Weaver, working at Excel Industries.

Even his wife, Lois, worked for Excel Industries before their children were born.

On December 22, Gerald was given a surprise sendoff, complete with his whole family in attendance and a super-sized limo to ferry him away to a family meal.

“To see his face when he walked out, that was pretty cool,” said Kelly.

“It was a total surprise. It swept me away. I didn’t know it was coming” said Gerald.

Rick Weaver presented Gerald, not with the traditional gold watch, to honor his retirement but with a SmartWatch in recognition of his years of dedication to advancing technology at Excel.

“It was the perfect sendoff. There’s a mutual respect between me and everyone that works there,” said Gerald.

As for why Gerald stayed with Excel for 52 years, he said simply, “When your skills meet your passions, you are happy, and that’s what happened.” 

The family’s history at Excel Industries began not with Gerald, but his wife. 

“I was working at Excel to put him through college,” said Lois.  Lois worked in the accounting department and would share work stories with her husband.

“She would describe the accounting stuff going on and that was my field. I thought, ‘I can do better than that.’ It was one of those things, you saw an opportunity,” he said.

As soon as a job came open, Lois informed her husband. 

Gerald, who was hired by Excel founder Roy Mullet and head of accounting Lloyd Zook, began in the accounting department.  But, within a year, was tasked with establishing the first computer system for the company. For 28 years, he headed the first IT department for Excel.

“Back then it wasn’t called IT. It was data processing,” he said.

Gerald was chosen to head the new department due to his experience with the new technology though Mennonite Central Committee’s in-service.

“I had used the equipment and no on else had ever seen it,” he said.

When he began, Gerald learned programming using punchcards and six of his prized computers took up an entire room.

“We hauled it down stairs with a wrecker. Henry eased it down the stairs with his wrecker,” he said.

Kelly said, as technology was beginning to make its debut at Excel, it was replacing hand-written lists.

“They used to do their inventory by hand on a blackboard,” he said.

Over the years, Gerald saw many dramatic changes and expansions of the company.

“The first one I’d note is at t he turn of the century we changed from making the main part of our business cab business and making product for John Deere - that went away and we went to strictly mowers,” he said.

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Eagles Flock To East Park

Posted 1/5/2017

By Pilar Martin

HARVEY COUNTY—The eagles have returned to Harvey County East Park. Last year there were two, maybe three seen wintering at the lake. This year, as many as five have been seen.

“One is clearly a juvenile, with no white feathers on his head,” Harvey County Parks Director Kass Miller said.

January is usually the best time to see eagles around this part of Kansas.  Cold temperatures in the north or that nasty polar vortex drive the eagles south. Here in Kansas, eagles can continue to feed in open water. They can be seen along rivers, lakes and even ponds.

Just look for that white head and big body. When flying, eagles soar; they do not flap their wings.

Miller thinks that possibly two of the eagles are a nesting pair. “We think they may have a nest, but it is not on lake property,” Miller said.

You can see the eagles at East Lake anytime of day. They may be anywhere around the lake, perched in trees, soaring overhead, or even out sitting on the lake if it is iced over.

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What IS Your Emergency? Call Volume up for Hesston Fire/EMS

Posted 1/5/2017

By Jackie Nelson

In 2017, Hesston emergency responders will have a new look and a new name. Fire and EMS Chief Russ Buller said the department has undergone internal changes in rank and organization that will be rolled out with the new year, including a new patch for personnel.

“While this might seem like a subtle adjustment, it has a very specific intent. Our goal was to help bring the two Divisions (Fire & EMS) together under the same mission statement and to facilitate team building within our organization,” said Buller.

What was the Emergency Services Department will now be Hesston Fire/EMS. 

“With the rebranding we updated our logo, our uniform and our mission statement. This is a large task to rebrand so it will take us a while to work through all of the components and update them, such as the uniforms,” said Buller.

Buller also released Hesston Fire/EMS’s new mission statement, “Hesston Fire/EMS is dedicated to protecting and serving our community by providing professional fire, medical, and rescue services to those in need.” 

To read more see this weeks print edition

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Drugs, Guns, Money Seized By Hesston PD

Posted 1/5/2017

By Jackie Nelson

Last month, Hesston Police Department arrested two individuals and confiscated both drugs and guns. Michael Crumby of Silver Plum, Colorado was arrested Dec. 22 and Sarah Knieff of Rogers, Arkansas, was arrested Dec. 4. Both arrests were made by officer Chris Purvis. 

“Both are kind of similar. Both arrestees are habitual users of drugs and therefore cannot be in possession of a firearm. They were arrested and charged with that statute,” said Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder.

Schroeder said officers in Kansas are particulary wary with the change in recent gun laws.

“It would be stupid of us not to assume everyone has a gun. We assume people have guns and take the appropriate precautions,” he said.

Both Crumby and Knieff were pulled over during routine traffic stops.

“Any traffic stop is an unknown - whether it’s someone with an innocent violation or someone that is addicted to drugs and may have a gun,” said Schroeder.

In Crumby’s case, Schroeder said Purvis had probable cause to search the vehicle because of a strong odor of marijuana. 

“There was a firearm within view of the officer on the traffic stop,” said Schroeder.

The weapon, a Hi-Point handgun, along with 9 rounds of .45 ammunition in a magazine, was confiscated by police.

In Knieff’s stop, the weapon, a Ruger SR-22, was found in the trunk of the vehicle.

“With Knieff, only a small amount, four grams, were recovered. But we intercepted $1,180 in cash.  That money was determined to be destine to purchase marijuana in Colorado,” said Schroeder. 

To read more see this weeks print edition

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One Community Many Voices Convening Jan. 11

Posted 1/5/2017

By Jackie Nelson

To start 2017, the Hesston Community Foundation is looking to residents to find ways to make this year the best yet for Hesston.

Susan Lamb, Director of the Hesston Community Foundation, in cooperation with local sponsors, is coordinating a community-wide discussion on Jan. 11 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains. Lamb requested RSVPs by Friday, Jan. 6, so all attendees can enjoy breakfast, hosted by Mid Kansas Eye Care, and lunch, hosted by The Waters Edge. 

“The Community Foundation feels like it is a really great time of year, at the beginning of  a new year, to engage a variety of voices from the community to talk about the community,” said Lamb. 

The event, One Community, Many Voices, is a grass-roots event aimed at an honest assessment of the community. 

To read more see this weeks print edition

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When The Lights Go Down In The City

Posted 1/5/2017

By Jackie Nelson

The lights are out on Rosewood and the Harvey County Food Bank will be getting its annual check from the Bollinger family.  This year, local Griswold Austin Bollinger, with the help of his brothers, Zach and Nathan, raised just over $300. 

Last year, after being featured by a Wichita television station, Bollinger raised $1,000 for the food bank.

“This year we didn’t have as much traffic,” said Austin.

“We need more lights.  When I take over, we are going to buy more lights,” Nathan interjected.

Austin said this year was the largest show yet, with more lights and houses being added to the subdivision-wide light show. 

To read more see this weeks print edition

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