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

Woman Escapes Bizarre Car Fire

Posted 7/5/2017

By BLAKE SPURNEYHesston’s Laurie Duerksen recalls her car catching on fire. The fire occurred Monday and she was able to escape unharmed.  On Wednesday it remained in the Whitestone Mennonite Church parking lot.Hesston’s Laurie Duerksen recalls her car catching on fire. The fire occurred Monday and she was able to escape unharmed. On Wednesday it remained in the Whitestone Mennonite Church parking lot.

Hesston Record Staff

Laurie Duerksen was running a couple of basic errands Monday afternoon when she smelled smoke inside her 2002 Chevrolet Impala.

“After I got out of the car and called 911, it went poof and was engulfed,” she said. “There was nothing could I do.”

Duerksen pulled into Whitestone Mennonite Church, 629 Crescent Drive, and watched as her car and all of its contents went up in smoke just after 4 p.m. The cause of the fire was ruled electrical in nature, said Fire Marshal Misti Ulhman.

“Something as bizarre as a little motor under your seat,” Duerksen said. “How often does that happen?”

She had just enough time to pull the keys out. She was calling 911 when she saw a blaze where she had just been sitting. A Hesston police officer gave her a ride home after Hesston firefighters extinguished the fire.

Duerksen knows she was lucky because she was only a couple of blocks from home, and she found a convenient place to pull over. She wondered aloud what might have happened had she been driving on the interstate when the fire started under her seat.

Now Duerksen is trying to figure out how to recoup her loss. She said her insurance wouldn’t cover the damage. She’s curious if the cause of the fire might be a design flaw that should be recalled. She’s also trying to figure out what miscellaneous items, such as a raincoat, blankets and menus, that are now a burned mess.

“It’s all charcoal and plastic melted,” she said.

She returned Tuesday to the church parking lot to survey the damage. She also cried a little.

“The universe has a bizarre sense of humor,” she said.

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Excel Lays Off 270, Keeps Two Shifts

Posted 6/29/2017

By Jacquelyn Nelson

Hesston Record Staff

As first reported on The Hesston Record webpage, Excel Industries announced on June 21, it would be laying off employees.

In a release issued by the company on June 23, Excel indicated it would assist newly unemployed workers in finding jobs.

“Excel Industries made this very difficult decision after great deliberation. The company will sponsor a job fair and provide outplacement services, assistance with COBRA benefits, and transition payments to those affected by the reorganization.”

According to employees, all personnel received a letter via FedEx on Thursday, June 22, revealing their fate.

On Friday, June 23, Excel released a statement that 270 employees had been laid off effective immediately.

As Excel employees left work June 21 in the afternoon, upon exiting the building, many reported they did not know the extent of the layoffs. 

The release issued by Excel on June 21 read, “Excel Industries, Inc. today informed employees about a reorganization that includes a workforce reduction at its Hesston manufacturing facility. The company will issue a formal statement regarding the restructuring on June 22 after impacted employees have been officially notified.   

“In the interest of protecting employee privacy, no further details are available at this time.”

The employees said t three letters were being sent to workers.

“I can’t really tell you anything; we won’t know until [June 22]. Everyone will get a packet and a letter. There are three different letters. They’re restructuring and reorganizing,” said an employee named Joe.

An employee, Ali, said the three letters, “you either get laid off. The second letter you get if they want to put you in a different position or a different shift.

“The third letter would basically be everything is fine come back to work on [June 26],” said Ali.

Severance packages and payment terms vary according to seniority, according to Ali.

“If you’ve been here more than a year, you get your bonus plus 80 hours. If you’ve been here less than a year six months plus that a 40 hour paycheck,” he said.

An employee named Karen chimed in, “The last one they offered us a work program. So if there is, like, you can go offer other jobs and they’ll help you find other jobs.”

Ali said there were no names read regarding who would be employed during the employee meeting on June 21.

“They didn’t say anything. They didn’t read, ‘Hey your name is this, get the [expletive] out. Your name is this, you stay.’”

Friday morning Excel released an updated statement on the June 21 layoffs.

“Excel Industries, Inc. [June 23] announced a reorganization that includes a workforce reduction at its manufacturing facility in Hesston....The company will continue operating both a first and second shift,” the release read.

With three years of growth, nearly doubling the size of its workforce, as well as launching the MDV earlier this year, beginning in 2014 Excel saw years of extreme growth.

“The streamlining in Excel’s production facility follows three years of unprecedented growth as the company more than doubled in size. While marketplace demand for the company’s turf care products continues to increase, the pace has normalized in 2017.

“Excel continues to grow at a modest pace, though the overall market for turf care products is flat or down in part due to adverse weather and economic conditions in many parts of the country,” read the release.

In 2014, Excel Industries was awarded Business of the Year by the Hesston Chamber of Commerce. In 2015, the business produced its 500,000th mower. As of December, 2016, according to Bill Unruh in a city council meeting, the business employed between 880 and 850 employees. Excel also drew down the remaining amount of it’s $1.08 million three-year Industrial Revenue Bond with the city in 2016.

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Lohrentz Cemetery Born After Death Of Infant

Posted 6/28/2017

By Blake Spurney

Hesston Record Staff

To have a "t" or not have a "t," that is the question for descendants of Peter Lohrentz II.

Somewhere along the way after the three generations emigrated from Elisabethtal, South Russia, in 1874 to Harvey County, some descendants went by Lohrenz.

"Grandpa's cousin had a 't', and we didn't," Dwight Lohrenz said about John H. Lohrenz. "I don't know exactly the story. I think I've heard it, but I forgot it. I think the family Bible doesn't have the "t," and that's the one that came over on the boat, I believe."

"That's kind of a mystery," said Howard Lohrentz of Hesston. "I think it's kind of because of the land deed of that section, Section 17, it was spelled with a 't.'"

Those who owned the land apparently thought it was difficult to amend the deed.

To read more, see this weeks print edtion

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Rec Project Running On Time

Posted 6/28/2017

By Jacquelyn Nelson

Hesston Record Staff

Construction along Ridge Road has been a constant sight for residents throughout the summer as new diamonds and a new pool are being put into place.

With tons of dirt being displaced, The Record wanted to give residents an update on the construction process happening in the middle of the community.

According to Recreation Director Ryan Magill there are three primary construction sites with several amenities being installed.

Hesston Elementary School is undergoing some of the most significant renovations with plans for a new parking lot, softball field, soccer field, playground, concession stands and restrooms.

To read more, see this weeks print edition

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