McConnell Air Force Base ranks near bottom of magazine’s list of top bases for airmen

WICHITA — AirForceTimes on Tuesday released a report of the top bases for airmen.

“No matter the service, no matter the era, one of the favorite pastimes of troops has always been comparing duty stations — griping about the lousy ones and singing the praises of the good ones,” the magazine said.

McConnell Air Force Base might have cause to gripe – about the list.

McConnell makes the list, but of 68 bases on it, McConnell was tied for 66th.

“McConnell is a great place to work, live and raise a family,” 22nd Air Refueling Wing Commander Col. Joel Jackson said in a statement. “I am proud of our base, proud to be a part of the Wichita community. The people and Airmen of Wichita and McConnell AFB make it where I want to live.”

Affordable housing and recreational opportunities helped Scott Air Force Base in Illinois and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio tie for tops on the list.

Jackson has his own list of things to brag about for McConnell.

“Team McConnell benefits from an unparalleled level of community support and partnership, enhancing the quality of life for our Airmen and their families,” he said in the statement. “As a result, McConnell AFB was selected as the runner-up for the 2013 Commander-in-Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence, which recognizes DoD’s (Department of Defense) exemplary base. Today, the support of the numerous communities surrounding McConnell AFB enables the total force to continue to build on that success, and accomplish our mission of global reach each and every day.”

You don’t say: Our favorites from 2013

Some were newsy, some were shocking, but most were simply fun or funny. Here are some of our favorite “You don’t say” quotes from 2013.

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“I said, ‘You must know a lot of angry people.’ (They) said, ‘I work at Spirit.’”

Best of Times owner Nancy Robinson on a person who bought 10 Dammit Dolls, the soft dolls angry people can safely slam on any surface to blow off steam on bad days

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“My first place that I am not going to get married at is the Grand Chapel.”

– Sedgwick County Chairman Jim Skelton, whose upcoming marriage to Stacy Luke won’t take place at the facility he sued over his daughter’s wedding

“That’s correct, he’s not.”

– Grand Chapel owner Dennis Wilkie, who says Skelton is “a troublemaker, and I just don’t want to deal with troublemakers.”

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“Women pilots don’t land at the wrong airport. We ask for directions!”

– A tweet from Seattle-based pilot Karlene Petitt (‏@KarlenePetitt) about the Dreamlifter incident at Colonel James Jabara Airport

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“Be aware, Boeing, ‘this route has tolls.’ Bring some change.”

– An NPR story that acknowledged a stranded Dreamlifter likely couldn’t be towed from Colonel James Jabara Airport to McConnell Air Force Base but offered a Google map and driving directions anyway

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“I thought I’d get in line right behind him.”

– Outgoing Chamber chairwoman Debbie Gann, who “about choked” at the group’s annual dinner Tuesday when possible mayoral candidate Jeff Turner suggested she would make a great mayor

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“I’m going to drop off a baked bean can and a string tomorrow … so we can chat later in the day.”

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers co-owner Scott Redler teasing City Council member Pete Meitzner about his antiquated BlackBerry

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“With all the crying and whining in Washington, I’m feeling ready to be a new father come November.”

– Expectant father U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder speaking Friday at the 2013 Congressional Summit at the Hotel at Old Town

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“We know you’re a Democrat.”

– Park City administrator Jack Whitson, teasing the city’s chamber president, registered Republican Dean Frankenbery, about a misprint that said Rep. Mike Pompom, not Pompeo, would be the group’s next speaker

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“I know you are all wondering if that beautiful new red car parked over there is a door prize. It’s not. It’s the speaker’s gift.”

Delta Dental of Kansas vice president of human resources Kara Hunt, speaking at the Chamber’s Sunrise Scrambler about a car that Davis-Moore had at the event

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“I thought that Davis-Moore . . . has been hurting so bad that they needed a sale, so I thought I’d help them out.”

– Car dealer Brandon Steven, joking about why he bought a Viper at his competitor’s dealership

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“I think it’s awesome that he bought himself a nice car.”

– Davis-Moore’s Dawson Grimsley, retorting with a teasing implication that Steven couldn’t find a nice car at his own lot

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“The @WichitaOrpheum could use a little Jesus after @RealTracyMorgan’s performance there. #itwaspurefilth”

— A tweet from comedian Ron Shively, aka @FunnyMrBiggs, after hearing City Life Church is going to rent the Orpheum Theatre every Sunday morning for services

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“Puppies and people all over town are sad today.”

—Accountant David Jabara on the death of Doggy Day Care owner Marilyn Walk

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You don’t say

“Be aware, Boeing, ‘this route has tolls.’ Bring some change.”

– An NPR story that acknowledged a stranded Dreamlifter likely couldn’t be towed from Colonel James Jabara Airport to McConnell Air Force Base but offered a Google map and driving directions anyway

You don’t say

“Is this the first effect of the sequestration? ;)”

Public Relations Society of America Kansas Chapter treasurer Tom Gdisis’ e-mailed response to McConnell Air Force Base’s Fe Vorderlandwehr when she e-mailed that she’s dropping her PRSA membership for economic reasons

AMP CrossFit Box to move to South Rock Road area next week

WICHITA — AMP CrossFit Box has been in the former YMCA near Douglas and Rock Road where a church is now locating, but AMP co-owner Noah Morford doesn’t mind having to move.

“We actually found a bigger and better facility,” he says.

On Monday, AMP will open at 8021 E. Marion, which is a couple of miles south of Kellogg off Rock Road in a warehouse area.

“It’s a easier access off Rock,” Morford says.

He also likes that it’s not far from McConnell Air Force Base and is convenient to Derby, Rose Hill, Mulvane and Wichita.

Carl Hebert with InSite Real Estate Group handled the deal for the more than 5,000 square feet.

AMP offers an array of personal training, boot camp-type classes and CrossFit exercises for all ages along with sports-specific training.

Morford describes CrossFit as a well-rounded exercise that helps with endurance, strength and flexibility.

“Basically it’s not trying to make somebody good at one single thing,” he says. “The biggest thing is we scale (exercises) to fit the needs of the client.”

Robert Gates to speak at chamber’s annual meeting on Nov. 12

UPDATED — Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is going to be this year’s speaker at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting.

The meeting is at Century II on Nov. 12, which is when Veteran’s Day is observed. The chamber plans to honor members of the military from the area, including McConnell Air Force Base, at the event.

Gates, a Wichita native who has served under eight presidents, is likely to get a far friendlier reception in his hometown than another former defense secretary did.

The chamber invited Donald Rumsfeld to be its speaker in 2007 and then cancelled his appearance. That followed some criticism of his selection. The chamber never commented on why it cancelled or if ticket sales were slow.

This years tickets, which can be ordered here, range from $10 for general admission to $115 for dinner and reserved seating.



Corporate Caterers of Wichita to do catering at Courtyard by Marriott in Old Town

WICHITA — Ben Arnold and his Corporate Caterers of Wichita have taken over catering at the Courtyard by Marriott in Old Town.

Larkspur previously handled it.

This makes Arnold’s sixth either exclusive or preferred catering deal at area hotels and McConnell Air Force Base.

“It’s very similar to what we’re doing at the Drury,” Arnold says.

There isn’t a restaurant, though, like the struggling AVI Seabar & Chophouse at the Drury.

“Oh, no, no,” Arnold says. The Marriott deal is strictly for catering. Or, as Arnold puts it, “The money side of it.”

My Mechanic’s to open shop at McConnell Air Force Base

WICHITA — Almost exactly a year after opening their first My Mechanic’s shop, owners Dennis Allison and Scott Berry plan to open their second.

The first one opened in early April 2011 at 2095 W. 21st St., near 21st and Amidon.

The second officially will open April 1, though there will be a soft opening shortly before, at McConnell Air Force Base.

“They called and asked me if I wanted to submit a bid, and I said, ‘Well sure, absolutely,’” Allison says.

My Mechanic’s will have two bays at Building 314 on base.

Initially, the shop will serve people who work on base, but it could expand to do work on military vehicles as well.

“We’re working on that contract, too,” Allison says.

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Port of Wichita attracts attention from Maxim thanks to McConnell Air Force Base

WICHITA — Port of Wichita owner Scott Jones has always appreciated his military clientele, and now he has one more reason to thank them.

Maxim magazine has named his bar, which is at 1548 S. Webb not far from McConnell Air Force Base, one of the top military bars in the country.

Under the headline “Hard Corps Partying,” the magazine names a couple dozen bars popular with military personnel.

The “Pour of Duty” includes the Port because McConnell personnel “have been heading to this watering hole for 25 years to rock out to live music and kick back with cold beer.” Its pool tables, TVs and “awesome two-for-one burger special” get a mention, too.

The magazine called Jones, who has owned the bar for four years, about three times one day trying to reach him. When a bartender told him it was the magazine calling, Jones thought it was a joke.

“I was like, what the heck could that be for?” he says.

Jones, who served in the Navy from 1986 to 1991, doesn’t charge members of the military a cover for music.

“We just try to pass along some good will with military since we’re right in the neighborhood,” he says.

“The military gets a bad rap for being rowdy at the clubs,” Jones says. “I have absolutely no problems with my military clientele here. Matter of fact, they probably got us through the recession.”

They’re also who told Maxim about the Port.

“It was real neat that they got us recognized.”

Shop24 eyes Wichita market for its 24-hour automated convenience stores

UPDATED — Candy bars, cigarettes and DVDs soon may not be the only things Wichitans can buy in a vending machine.

Columbus, Ohio-based Shop24 wants to bring its 24-hour automated convenience stores here.

“We are currently the world’s only totally automated and robotic convenience store,” says Mike Weigel, chief sales and marketing officer.

“The units can be configured to hold anything and everything.”

The units, which require 140 square feet, can hold up to 200 items ranging from one ounce to eight pounds.

“We have stores that actually dispense gallons of oil and antifreeze,” Weigel says.

Typical items include such things as sandwiches, milk, bandages and cookie dough.

Weigel says stocking depends on needs of an area.

Customers, who have to exit their vehicles to shop, can pay with cash, credit or debit cards.

The units — there are more than 200 internationally — are enclosed in bullet-proof glass. Weigel says there’s never been a successful break-in.

“We’re very proud of the safety record.”

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