Author Archives: Beccy Tanner

Lawmakers, relatives remember legislative pioneer Ruby Gilbert

Ruby Gilbert will be remembered as a leader who worked hard to help others, those who knew her say.

Gilbert, the first African American woman elected to the Kansas legislature, represented the 89th district in Wichita from 1991 to 2004.

Mrs. Gilbert died Feb. 28 after a four-year battle with cancer. She was 80.

The service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Tabernacle Bible Church, 1817 N. Volutsia.

“She was a lady of integrity and she did her job without a lot of fanfare,” said her husband, Booker T. Gilbert. “She didn’t go around broadcasting what she did. She worked with the grassroots people. She worked with kids and she helped people that needed help.”

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Commissioners discuss when to take breath during Pledge of Allegiance

First they paused.

Then, they discussed the pause.

The Sedgwick County Commission’s first order of business Wednesday was a request to take the pause out of the Pledge of Allegiance. Chairman Kelly Parks said he hoped it would eliminate the “echo” effect:

“It’s come to my attention that when we say the Allegiance there is kind of an echo, so let’s just say ‘one nation under God’ without a pause,” Parks said.

They did. Business went on.

The meeting had just been called to order shortly after 9 a.m.

The commissioners, staff and visitors in the gallery had stood for the invocation, led by Pastor Brent Warkentin from the First Mennonite Brethren Church.

Then, Parks said with Flag Day approaching he wanted the commission to say the pledge without the pause.

There was no other discussion on the matter.

Commissioner Karl Peterjohn said after the meeting Wednesday since he had taken his seat last year, it had become a pet peeve when other commissioners paused as they’d come to the “one nation under God” portion of the allegiance.

“I made the comment that there is no comma after ‘one nation under God,’” Peterjohn said. “I kidded Commissioner Parks. What he did today, he did that on his own. It’s just one of those things. I grew up saying it that way. It is supposed to be that way.”

Commissioner Tim Norton said the request puzzled him.

“You know, I honor the flag. If that is the protocol to say it in a certain meter, I am okay with that. I was very comfortable with the pause, regardless of how some other people learned it. To me, it is a nonissue. Of all the things that are a problem for our community, with the economy and the world, it seemed like a pretty minor detail. I moved on real quick.”

‘We were all pretty frightened,’ Unruh says

Sedgwick County Commissioner Dave Unruh and his family were on vacation in a place he thought was safe and considered “a place of reverence” this afternoon — the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in downtown Washington, D.C. It was 12:52 p.m. He, his wife, Karen, and two teenage grandsons were standing in line. They were  on the museum’s main floor, less than 30 feet from the entrance and gift shop, when an elderly gunman opened fire on the security guards and they returned fire. Unruh said neither he or any of his family members saw the shootings — but they heard them. “We heard one gunshot. We weren’t sure what it was. But it was followed by four or five other shots,” Unruh said. “Right away, somebody said, ‘Hit the floor. Hit the floor.’ We did. We kind of instinctively knew what was going on. We were all pretty frightened.” Unruh said he and his family stayed on the floor for a few minutes, but “it seemed longer than that.” Then, Unruh said, he heard people running down the hall yelling, “Get up and run.” And so, the Unruh family did and fled, along with others, through the museum’s back door.2 “They started evacuating the whole building, which is four stories tall,” Unruh said. “You know, you go through security, metal detectors and have bags checked. This is the Holocaust museum. It’s a place of history and respect, and you do not expect something like that. You think, why do they need the security? And then, somebody does something like this. It is so out of context.”

A House Divided

As Kansas Senator Sam Brownback runs for President, we can’t help but note the Senator’s conversion to Catholicism from his Methodist farm roots. His wife, Mary Stauffer Brownback, and their children remain members of the Topeka Bible Church. Brownback was brought into the Catholic Church by an Opus Dei priest. Interfaith families are often posed with many challenges. Given his high profile, The Hall Monitor wonders if this may be an issue that could create further challenges.

The Stauffer family helped create the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas, and the family has owned major newspapers in Kansas, including the Topeka Daily Capitol.

Bel Aire’s mayor race could be bitter

Two former mayors — Harold Smith, mayor from 1991 to 1998; and Gary O’Neal, mayor from 1999 to 2005 — have both filed against each other in Bel Aire’s April 3 general election. At issue for the 6,500-resident community is how to market the city’s vacant land and work on reducing the local debt load.. Within the past five years the community has rapidly grown.