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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Ray Essington, Music Teacher

Is there an electronic piano keyboard gathering dust at your house? I‘m afraid there is at mine. We don’t seem to find much time to use it. Today, we’ll learn about a high school music teacher who is helping students with their keyboard skills. In doing so, he’s building on the tradition of one of the world’s most famous musical instructors. She came from this very same hometown.

Ray Essington

Last week we learned about Dorothy DeLay, one of the world’s most famous violin teachers. Miss DeLay graduated from Neodesha High School in 1933.

Ray Essington is the music teacher at Neodesha today. He grew up at Council Grove.  Ray got a bachelor’s degree in music at KU, taught in Arkansas and then earned his master’s in music education at Kansas State.

Ray’s first Kansas school music teaching job was at Thayer, a rural community of 497 people. Now, that’s rural.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Dorothy DeLay, historic violin instructor

She taught the masters. She became one of the most famous, sought-after teachers of professional violinists in the world. Her name was Dorothy DeLay, and she came from rural Kansas. Thanks to K-State violin professor Cora Cooper for her help with this article.

Dorothy DeLay

Dorothy DeLay was born in 1917 in Medicine Lodge. Her parents were musicians and educators. She later described her upbringing as strict and religious. The family moved to Neodesha where her father became school superintendent, and Miss DeLay grew up there.

Her musical talents surfaced early. She began studying the violin at age 4 and did a recital at her church at age 5. She was so advanced that she graduated from Neodesha High School at age 16 and enrolled at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. Miss DeLay later transferred to Michigan State.

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Story Headline: Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Zack Schaffer

The Facebook post came from Mike Rowe, the nationally-known television host and advocate for American workers. His post featured a beautiful rocking chair and the craftsman who made it in the heartland of rural Kansas.

Zack Schaffer is the owner of Schaffer Furniture in Jetmore, Kansas.

Zack Schaffer is the owner, founder and sole employee of Schaffer Furniture which was recently featured on Mike Rowe’s Facebook page. Zack grew up on a farm and ranch near Jetmore. “I took wood shop in high school to avoid calculus and trigonometry,” Zack said. He majored in industrial technology at Fort Hays State.

Zack specialized in making hand-crafted wooden furniture. Due to the fact that there were no fine furniture makers nearby, his required internship for degree completion was the implementation of a self-directed project in fine furniture making. He designed and built a cherry Queen Anne style highboy.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Marci Penner, Big Kansas Road Trip

It is great to bring a bunch of community representatives together to publicize their communities’ assets and attractions. It would be even better to go see and actually experience those attractions first-hand. That’s the type of thinking which has led to a brand new initiative in 2018. It’s the first-ever Big Kansas Road Trip.

The 2018 Big Kansas Road Trip encourages tourism in Barber, Comanche and Kiowa counties.

Marci Penner is director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation and founder of the Kansas Explorers club. WenDee Rowe is assistant director. For 28 years, their foundation organized the Kansas Sampler Festival. The purpose of the festival was to provide the public a sample of what there is to see, do, hear, taste, buy, and learn in the state.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Deidre Knight, Council Grove Life Center

Fun and fitness. Those two elements go together at the Council Grove Life Center, where the goal is to make rural life fun, entertaining, and long-lasting.

The Council Grove Life Center in Council Grove, Kansas has an indoor swimming pool, fitness studio, workout equipment, racquetball courts and more.

Deidre Knight is executive director of the Council Grove Life Center, a community fitness center in Council Grove. Deidre grew up in Salina and studied Family Studies and Human Services at K-State. She also met her husband, who grew up on a farm near the rural community of Alta Vista, population 444 people. Now, that’s rural.

Deidre and her husband moved to Kansas City after graduation. They eventually  moved back to Council Grove where she became the director of the Council Grove Life Center.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Carly Whorton, Cecil K’s Hometown Market

Step inside the door. As you enter this store, you’re surrounded by quality products, and the tasty aroma of baking cinnamon rolls and frying chicken wafts over you. That’s the vision of the owners of a new locally-owned grocery store in northeast Kansas. They’re seeking to create an experience with smells and tastes that might remind you of Grandma’s house.

Carly Whorton is manager and co-owner of Cecil K’s Hometown Market which opened on Feb. 28, 2018 in Holton. Carly and her cousin Chad Bontrager grew up at Holton.  She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics at K-State. After graduation, she went to work for a software company in Texas, but she knew that she wanted her own business.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Dan Hohman, Sugar Creek Country Store

“This Reuben sandwich,” said the New Yorker, “is better than we get back in New York.”  That is high praise, for this sandwich comes from a store in the middle of the country. Not only does this place provide great sandwiches, it provides the experience of entering an old-time general store with lots of classic products.

Dan Hohman, Jen Hohman and Philomena Hohman

Dan Hohman is founder and owner of Sugar Creek Country Store in St. Marys, Kansas.  In 1992, Dan and his wife Jen relocated their family from Pennsylvania to St. Marys because of the school system. They were seeking the traditional Catholic education that is offered at the St. Marys Academy.

Dan’s background was in the industrial hydraulics business. After coming to Kansas, he eventually launched his own company which specializes in recruiting engineers and technical sales people for the fluid power industry. For more information, see www.fluidpowerjobs.com.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: John Jackson, international agricultural consultant

The plane is arriving. Here are the passengers. There are no hugs or handshakes for these passengers, because these air passengers are beef cattle being transported from the U.S. halfway around the globe to Abadan, Iran. The man who helped arrange this project is John M. Jackson, an international agricultural consultant based in Great Bend, Kansas.

John Jackson

John Jackson is the founder of Agricultural Management Group, Inc. (AMG) which specializes in agriculture and agribusiness, private enterprise development and resource management.

John grew up in Illinois and studied agriculture at Western Illinois University. There he met and married Sharon, his future business partner and wife.

One day on campus, John saw a booth for the Peace Corps. Recognizing the opportunity to experience another culture and to put their skills to good use, John and Sharon both decided to join. Six months later, they were on a plane to Iran to help a village that had been destroyed by an earthquake and had no water or electricity. John and Sharon helped the local people to rebuild. He also learned to speak Farsi, the language of Iran.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Casey Cagle, Prairie Earth Tours

The young man was feeling homesick. He was browsing through a used bookstore in Georgia when he came across a book about his home area in the Flint Hills of Kansas.  The book gave him a lift. Years later, he would create his own tour company to share the beauty of the Flint Hills with others.

Casey Cagle is the founder and owner of Prairie Earth Tours in Emporia. He grew up on a farm near the rural community of Oswego, population 1,829 people. Now, that’s rural.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Chris White Walker, Emporia Gazette

Sallie magazine, La Voz Latina and the Emporia Gazette. Those publications are produced by the Emporia newspaper, in order to respond to changing needs and markets within its community. Today we’ll meet a long-time Kansas newspaper family which is expanding its commitment to journalism in Kansas.

Chris White Walker, the great grandson of William Allen White is the publisher of the Emporia Gazette.

Chris White Walker is publisher of the Emporia Gazette. He is also the great-grandson of the legendary William Allen White, about whom we have learned during the past two weeks.

Chris grew up in Emporia. His first experience in the journalism business was as a paperboy, delivering the Gazette. He later worked in the production department. Chris went to the journalism school at the University of Kansas and then worked for alternative publications in Lawrence and Kansas City after college.

In 1995, he and his wife Ashley came back to Emporia to help his parents run the paper and eventually assume ownership. Chris became editor in 2000. Today, Chris is publisher and Ashley is editor of the Emporia Gazette. The newspaper has changed and evolved, but it continues the legacy of William Allen White.

“His writing transcends time,” Chris said of his great-grandfather’s observations on politics and community which seem particularly prescient. “Many of the things he wrote about are applicable to the present day.”

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