Condoleezza Rice is Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual speaker

UPDATED — Following in her former boss’ footsteps, Condoleezza Rice will be the speaker for this year’s Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce annual meeting in December.

riceRice was the second secretary of state under President George W. Bush, who spoke at the Chamber’s annual meeting in 2011.

“The reaction we’re getting is rivaling the reaction we got back then,” said Gary Plummer, Chamber president and CEO.

“We think that the way she has broken down barriers, particularly for … African Americans and women, we think we’re going to have a very diverse audience as a result,” Plummer said.

A Birmingham, Ala., native, Rice is a pianist who once planned to become a concert pianist. Instead, she went on to earn her doctorate in international studies from the University of Denver.

Rice was the first black woman to be secretary of state and was known for extensive travel and work to expand democracies globally. She also restructured foreign policy in the United States with something she called transformational diplomacy to further her goal of creating more democratic governments.

More recently, Rice has been a political science professor at Stanford University, where she has been on the faculty since 1981.

“One of her programs that she’s well known for is an after-school academic-enrichment program,” Plummer said. He said Rice is an “exemplary” national leader who cares about the plight of those less fortunate.

“A well-educated workforce drives economic development and Dr. Rice is well-known for her expertise and passion for education,” said Wayne Chambers, 2014 Chamber chairman, in a statement. “We’re very focused on helping area businesses increase their expertise in exporting and we believe we can also benefit from her global perspective.”

On Tuesday, the Chamber teased Rice’s Dec. 4 appearance by saying this year’s speaker has ties to football. Rice is an avid Cleveland Browns fan, is on the College Football Playoff selection committee and has said her dream job would be National Football League commissioner.

The Chamber often selects political speakers for its annual meeting. George H.W. Bush spoke at the chamber’s annual meeting in 2005, and political strategists and husband and wife James Carville and Mary Matalin spoke together in 2006. Last year, Gallup chairman and CEO Jim Clifton was the speaker.

“The line-up over the last 10 to 12 years is really remarkable,” Plummer said.

He said Rice has been on the Chamber’s short list of potential speakers for at least three years.

This year’s event will be from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at Century II. Tickets are $115 for the dinner and reserved seating for the program. For those attending the program only, tickets range from $35 to $55. Tickets can be purchased at

Within two hours of announcing Rice as its speaker, the Chamber reported that it sold seven tables for the event and added another top sponsor. A YouTube video to announce the speaker had more than 200 views within the same time.

Plummer said, “That’s a pretty dramatic response based on our experience around here.”





Google pin drop attracts attention at Corner 365, but Google has nothing to do with it

This sign in front of the new Corner 365 apartments is attracting attention -- just as Mike Garvey hoped it would.

This sign in front of the new Corner 365 apartments is attracting attention — just as Mike Garvey hoped it would.

WICHITA — The popular Google pin drop, which pinpoints sites on Google maps, has been popping up in a number of strange places worldwide.

For instance, the British tabloid Metro did a story last week about the red Google A, which looks like an upside down teardrop, showing up in a Berkshire roundabout. The paper quoted someone who questioned if it could be linked to a mysterious ghost child who supposedly haunts a nearby bridge.

Artist Aram Bartholl has a project in which he erected a giant red letter A in some cities on the spots that Google says are the centers of the cities.

Now, Wichita’s Builders Inc. has a red A in front of its apartments, Corner 365, under construction at the southeast corner of First and Waco.

No one has questioned if a ghost child is involved, but some have wondered if the A might denote what Google thinks is the center of Wichita. That’s not the case, though.

Builders Inc. president Mike Garvey says he was online one day when he saw a man in Germany standing in front of a building with what looked like the Google pin in front of it.

Garvey says he realized it was an imposter pin, but he says, “I was like, that’s a great idea.”

Hoping to bring attention to the apartments, Garvey had a sign company make him a similar pin.

“Some people have noticed it,” he says. “Maybe people drive by it and think it’s a Google pin.”

Read More »

The almost 100-year-old Brick’s to close at Bradley Fair

UPDATED — A Wichita shopping tradition is coming to an end.

Brick’s, once a downtown staple and more recently a shop at Bradley Fair, is going out of business.

“It is a store that’s been around Wichita for a long, long time,” says Cathy Erickson, vice president of Laham Development.

Herman Brick started the store in 1916. His son, Adolph, took over the business upon his father’s death in 1940. Two years later, Adolph Brick married Ellen Gordon. She asked her brother, Russ Gordon, to help with the business in 1944. Gordon took it over in 1960, and his namesake son owns it today.

“They’ve been a great addition at Bradley Fair for almost 10 years, adding to the local flavor,” Erickson says.

Now, she says, “They want to focus on family and some other things.”

A 1992 story in The Wichita Eagle said the men’s and women’s clothing store was the last major retailer to leave downtown. It once stood where Century II is now. The store was at Piccadilly Square at Central and Rock Road before moving to Bradley Fair.

Erickson says she’s not sure of a closing date yet.

She says the store will leave 4,200 square feet when it departs.

“We always have a list of people that want to be (at Bradley Fair), and we have already started conversations with those people,” she says.

Today, though, is about saying goodbye, Erickson says.

“We wish them well, and they’ll be missed. It’s a sad day.”

You don’t say

“The Century II performing arts center was problematic and badly designed; it was a 1960s building.”

Moody Blues tour manager Mark Hogue, quoted in a Facilities & Event Management story on how great he thinks  it is to have Hartman Arena as a venue option now


“I don’t want it to be misconstrued that I am ready to chain myself to the front of the building to keep away the wrecking ball … but I have loved working here for 27 years.”

Music Theatre of Wichita producing artistic director Wayne Bryan, who says Century II isn’t perfect (he says “it deserves improvement or replacement”) but has flexibly accommodated many activities in its more than 45 years

i9 Sports franchise opening in Wichita

WICHITA — It’s not uncommon for kids to grow up wanting to be sports stars, but sports enthusiast David Allen had a more unusual dream. He wanted to have a Christian-based youth sports league.

“I like God, and I like sports,” he says. “Why not mix the two?”

That’s his ultimate dream, but for now Allen is starting with i9 Sports, a Tampa-based franchise that’s a youth sports league geared to girls and boys ages 3 to 14.

“Our main objective is to help kids succeed in life through sports,” Allen says.

The name, according to the i9 Sports website, symbolizes its nine approaches to sports: “imaginative, innovative, interactive, integrity-driven, impassioned, inspirational, instructional, insightful and inclusive. i9 Sports literally means ‘i to the 9th power’!”

Allen says the program is about building confidence and leadership skills.

Initially, i9 Sports will offer coed flag football, soccer and T-ball in Wichita.

“We’re looking at fields on the east side just for this season,” Allen says.

The season starts April 26 and goes through June 21.

The next season, which starts in late July, most likely will include west-side fields as well. Allen hopes to add Derby fields by the fall season.

“We’re looking to expand season by season just so we can be closer to everybody.”

He’ll add basketball, possibly this summer, and may add baseball as well.

Allen says it’s all about skilled development “rather than the winning-at-all-costs mindset that is so prevalent right now in youth sports.”

That means all players will have equal playing time, regardless of their skill levels.

Players will be divided into teams by age, weight and height.

“We pride ourselves in fun,” Allen says.

He says that’s often missing in youth sports today.

“An alarming amount of kids are dropping out of youth sports because of that.”

Parents play an important role, Allen says.

“We have a parent pledge,” he says. “We’re there for the kids … so act accordingly.”

Allen says it’s to help avoid “crazy parents on the sidelines.”

“It’s just a guide for parents to follow so they go into the season not acting crazy,” he says. “In youth sports we really don’t need that. You want to build children up … and that’s really what the pledge says.”

Allen was in karate when he was little. Then he played basketball, football and baseball. He was a sports management major at Barton Community College.

“I really felt like sports helped me succeed,” Allen says.“I just love sports.”

He’s originally from New York state. Then Allen moved to North Carolina followed by Kansas where his physician parents – his mother is a plastic surgeon, and his father is an ophthalmologist – came to practice.

Kevin Allen and Susan Lovelle-Allen are co-franchisees with their son.

Allen says he’s in the marketing phase of the business now. Parents can sign up their children at There’s also an in-person signing Feb. 1 at Craftapalooza & Fabulous Vintage Market at Century II.

Though much of his dream is coming true, Allen says since the franchise isn’t Christian based, “I’m not going to do the God part.”

He hopes to in the future, though, through a different business than i9 Sports.

“That’s going to give me the background to maybe jump into doing something on my own.”

Winter Bazaar set for Dec. 8 at Century II

WICHITA — Former OnionTree owner Bridgit Yinger is planning another Winter Bazaar for December, and she thinks it’ll be so big, she’s moving it to Century II.

Yinger held her first bazaar to promote handmade goods in 2011 at Abode Venue to make it convenient for shoppers and “eliminate the barriers that buying locally intrinsically has.”

“It was pretty much a line out the door from the moment we opened,” she says.

There was an issue with enough room for shoppers to move, so Yinger says Century II makes sense.

The event will be from 3 to 7 p.m. – one hour longer than last time – on Dec. 8.

This year, Yinger is inviting local boutiques to participate in addition to people who make their own items to sell.

“I’m just looking for boutiques that have a local flair,” Yinger says.

She had 60 local vendors last time and hopes for 75 to 100 this time.

Yinger plans to transform the space.

“It’s not going to feel at all like a convention hall.”

As before, Yinger plans a cash bar, live music and local art. There also will be food trucks in Kennedy Plaza.

“So it’ll be a party,” she says. “It’ll be fun.”

Barney Byard returns to Orpheum Theatre

WICHITA — Barney Byard has taken what he calls “the proverbial offer that couldn’t be refused.”

When Byard got a call about interviewing to be the new theater director at the Orpheum Theatre, he figured he’d go as a professional courtesy. He wasn’t interested in the job because he already had a similar job at Century II.

“I was really happy at C II,” he says.

Byard says, though, that he immediately realized what the Orpheum’s new partnership with SMG could mean.

“I’m really excited about the prospects here, and particularly the role that SMG can play,” he says.

Byard previously was the Orpheum’s promotions and theater manager from 2000 to 2003.

“I was kind of just a lone wolf trying to figure it out as I went along,” he says.

The SMG connection is “invaluable,” he says.

Read More »

City to waive Century II parking fees for the weekend due to pay system issues

WICHITA — The city of Wichita is testing a new parking payment system at Century II, and so far, it’s not getting a stellar grade.

“This may not be the solution,” says John D’Angelo, the city’s director of arts and cultural services. “That’s why we call it a test.”

Particularly long lines for Music Theatre of Wichita this week had some people resorting to not paying instead of standing in long lines at one of four pay stations on the north end of the lot.

“We’re going to waive the enforcement of those for the rest of the weekend,” D’Angelo says. “We don’t want to keep people out in the heat. The lines for whatever reason have gotten really long.”

Part of the problem is one of the machines is malfunctioning, he says. The problem isn’t limited to this week, though.

“To be honest with you, no,” D’Angelo says. “With Music Theatre, we’re seeing a larger scale of that happening.”

Previously, Century II visitors had to pay at one of 325 parking meters at each parking spot. Those are still there, but they’re not in use while the new system is tested.

Testing began in May and will be done in the middle of July.

“We’re looking at ways to improve the situation,” D’Angelo says. “And you know, we’ve learned a lot from it. Not all good, but some bad.”

Read More »

Bob Martin to open Law Office of Robert G. Martin at the R.H. Garvey Building

WICHITA — Bob Martin has left McDonald, Tinker, Skaer, Quinn & Herrington to start his own law firm, but he hasn’t gone far.

His Law Office of Robert G. Martin officially opens Wednesday in almost 2,000 square feet on the fourth floor of the R.H. Garvey Building at 300 W. Douglas.

That’s one floor below McDonald, Tinker.

“It’s a chance for me to do more of my niche,” Martin says.

He’s been at McDonald, Tinker, where he’s been a director and shareholder, since 1987.

“I’m top of the letterhead, actually.”

He says the firm primarily focuses on litigation, and that’s not his specialty.

“I’ll never do criminal law in my life again,” Martin says. “The practice of law has become specialized.”

Martin will focus on estate planning and workers compensation defense work.

“Those are the only two areas I will be emphasizing going forward.”


“Because I enjoy ’em. I’m good at it.”

He says estate planning can be more pleasant than other types of legal work.

“We call this area of the law ‘happy law,’” Martin says. “You’re making people have a better outcome for their lives and their families and their possessions. You’re proactively preventing problems.”

In the workers comp arena, he says, “I’m trying to make the best of a difficult situation.”

Martin says by starting his own firm, he’ll have more resources.

Read More »

Art Market at Bluebird Arthouse to open Oct. 20 in Delano

WICHITA — Since opening her Bluebird Arthouse in Delano a year ago, Emily Brookover hasn’t used the extra 6,000 square feet on the shop’s second floor.

“We just didn’t know what to do with it,” she says.

A visit to the Art and Book Fair at Century II earlier this year gave her an idea, though.

“I was like, I could do this on a miniature scale.”

Starting Oct. 20, Brookover plans to devote the second floor of 924 W. Douglas to the Art Market at Bluebird Arthouse every third Saturday of the month.

Brookover already has about a dozen booths rented to sell art, handbags, pottery and skincare products.

“We have all sorts of people,” she says. “I’m looking to do really a wide variety of artists and artisans.”

If the concept is successful, Brookover says she’ll expand it to other days.

“That’s sort of the idea if it goes well.”

She notes that the upstairs is not handicap accessible.

Interested vendors can contact Brookover at Bluebird Arthouse. Spaces will rent for $30 or $45 for a larger area.

Brookover thinks the idea will work, especially for artists who may not have venues to show their work.

As she says in a press release about it, “It’s like a Farmer’s Market, only better.”