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City to examine airport master plan updates

The Manhattan City Commission on Tuesday will look at updates to the Manhattan Regional Airport runway and master plan.

The work session begins at 5:30 p.m. Commissioners will provide feedback on the topic, and no formal votes will occur.

Commissioners will discuss construction of a new runway at the airport because there is only one certified for commercial use at this time, officials said.

City officials do not have a set timeline for the project, but estimate the planning stage will last until 2020 with design beginning in 2021 and construction lasting from 2022 to 2024.

The Federal Aviation Association stated that the city must set a plan before moving into the design phase of the project. The FAA informed the city that it could receive a grant for the project in fiscal year 2021, likely in May 2021.

The FAA informed the airport that it is eligible to build its new runway at a width of 100 feet.

Officials said this is a problem because that runway would be too narrow for military aircrafts as well as charter planes that K-State uses for the football team and other athletic purposes.

Additionally, commissioners will look at a report presented by the Konza Prairie Community Health Center.

According to the report, the center saw 12,805 patients and had 33,806 visits in 2018. Forty percent of those people were uninsured while 30% were on KanCare, according to charts on the report.

There are two centers, one in Manhattan at 2030 Tecumseh Road, and another in Junction City at 361 Grant Ave.

Nickolas Oatley / Staff photo by Nickolas Oatley 

Kelly Carmody picks up another pepper Saturday while competing in the Pepper Eating Contest. Carmody, last year’s champion, won again after eating 20 peppers in one minute.

Tin can campers: Airstream owners bond over appreciation for trailers, Spam at Tuttle Creek

Officially, this weekend’s Airstream trailer meetup at Tuttle Creek Park’s River Pond campgrounds wasn’t a club-sponsored or sanctioned rally, but since when do friends need a specific reason to get together and enjoy Spam concoctions and creations?

The “silver bullet” trailers stood out this weekend underneath the park’s autumn canopy as Airstream owners came together for the second Spam and Eggs meetup. Nine owners from four different states — Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa — represented decades of history in the American-manufactured trailers.

The owners became friends through their membership in the Wally Byam Caravan Club International, a worldwide club for owners of the conspicuous coaches, and its official Airstream rallies and meetups. Kansas no longer has a local unit of the club, but people like Lee and Joyce Cantrell of Olsburg belong to the now-joint Missouri-Kansas Airstream Club. The couple brought their 1984 Airstream trailer to the Tuttle Creek campout.

“We started in 2017 with just four people, when we went camping one last weekend in November for my birthday before we winterized our trailers,” Joyce said. “(Our friend) Jim (Wright) said he was going to make Spam and eggs for breakfast in the morning, and we decided to humor him, since we’d all grown up eating it.”

After the couple and a few other area trailer owners went to the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota, last summer, they decided to hold a second Spam and Eggs weekend, but with even more Spam-related dishes. The Cantrells brought barbecued Spam sliders, while others made Spam monkey bread and tiki masala Spam.

As the group, made up of mostly older retirees, waited for the Spam potluck in the evening, some chatted in lawn chairs next to one of their trailers, while others lapped around the park with their dogs (there were more dogs than trailers).

The campout had started Thursday night, and after two howling, chilly nights, the trailer owners enjoyed the gorgeous November weather Saturday with the high temperature in the mid-70s.

Lee explained that for many owners, the Airstream trailers and their bright aluminum designs reflect a time when people were drawn to the sleek looks of the post-World War II era airliners. Buyers of used trailers typically restore, modify or fine-tune the trailers to their liking. The Cantrells adopted an Asian-style motif in redesigning their 1984 trailer, which is classified as a vintage trailer by the WBCCI since it is more than 25 years old, and it includes original woodwork by Lee and a shoji-style paper sliding door.

“It’s not really different than owning any other different type of trailer,” Lee said. “You still get leaks at different times. It also depends on how old your trailer is. Some people tear the whole interiors out and start again. They, overall, are well-built, considering how old they are.”

Charlie Griffin, a retired Manhattan native, brought his 1977 Argosy Motorhome to the meetup. Argosy trailers, also made by Airstream, resemble the style of the company’s regular trailers but were typically painted on the outside, and Griffin’s was beige. He bought it only last year when he retied but hasn’t got to use it much yet, he said.

“I never really thought that I’d find myself using a trailer, since I’d always been a big tent camper,” Griffin said. “Once I started going places, it turns out it’s nice to have a shower and a bathroom right there with you in the middle of the wilderness. It just makes sense for us at our age. It’s easy living.”

As members of WBCCI, the owners regularly travel across the country each summer to Airstream rallies and meetups, and the Cantrells and others have even gone over 2,000 miles away to Prince Edward Island in Canada. They plan on making that same trip in 2020, and they also plan to attend the WBCCI’s 2020 International Rally, although that trip to Loveland, Colorado, will be a lot shorter.

In any case, it’s the kind of trip that requires the romance with highway and road camping culture that Airstream founder Walt Byam developed in America in the early 20th century. His company came at a time when the country began to develop an appetite for adventure, and his trailers later became rolling embassies of American culture as they spread to countries in Europe and Africa.

For Brian Peterson, a taxidermist from Cedarcreek, Missouri, the weekend meetup was a sort of homecoming, or at least for his 1977 Avion trailer, which is very similar to the more famous Airstreams. He bought the trailer, which had been sitting on a road next to Tuttle Creek Lake, from a local family back in 2011. Since then, he’s done his own work to restore the trailer, although he estimates that about 85% of the trailer is still original.

Peterson and his wife JoAnn look forward to the meetups, as they find new and old friends at each one.

“We come for the people,” Peterson said. “They just happen to have the same kinds of trailers. We’re friends with about half of the people at every rally we go to, and by the time we leave, we’re friends with everyone.”

He said he’s enjoyed meeting people who have the same appreciation for the iconic trailers throughout his travels around the country.

“There’s a romance to it,” Peterson said. “The luster of the aluminum, the feel, the history. We don’t try to hide them. We’re proud of them, and we’re not trying to rub it in people’s noses, but they do stick out.”

Commissioners discuss incoming members, goals for 2020

With two new Manhattan city commissioners elected Tuesday, the holdovers on the commission have to deal new personalities.

However, commissioner Wynn Butler said the political make-up of the incoming city commission is not much different than the current one.

“My initial thought was not much has changed as far as the overall mixture of the commission,” Butler said. “And, of course, my thought is always about how the budget is going to be figured out because the only reason I ever ran was to try to control spending.”

Mark Hatesohl and Aaron Estabrook will replace Mayor Mike Dodson and Jerred McKee on the commission on Jan. 7.

Butler said his beliefs are similar to Hatesohl’s, placing them on the right side of the political spectrum. On the other hand, he said commissioners Usha Reddi and Linda Morse, who was re-elected, are on the left.

He said Estabrook is more in the middle when it comes to political ideology. Estabrook has been registered as an independent in the past.

Estabrook agreed with this assessment based on the voting records and ideologies of the candidates.

“I think the way that this election has shaped out, it puts me in a good position to try to identify the strengths from each of our commissioners and allow for us to get to good compromises through some of the give-and-take that needs to happen,” Estabrook said.

He said he could be a swing vote when it comes to voting on issues and compromises.

Hatesohl echoed these sentiments.

“I think it’s a decent representation of the community,” he said. “The two ladies are obviously more liberal, and Wynn and I tend to be more toward the conservative side. And really, the wildcard will be commissioner Estabrook.”

However, Hatesohl said he hopes the commission can work together to make the community a better place, dropping political affiliations aside.

“So much of this stuff ... it shouldn’t be political in nature,” he said. “If we stick to the important issues that we have to address, then there should be a lot of agreement on what needs to happen moving forward.”

Reddi said the commission is made up of a diverse group of people. She said she is looking forward to getting to work with all of them.

Morse had similar thoughts.

“I think that there is a good balance,” Morse said.

Dodson said the new commission will work together.

“I really have a lot of confidence that they’ll all do well,” he said.

The big focus for the commission is grappling with the voters’ rejection of the 0.3% sales tax measure.

“It’ll be a little different without the passage of the sales tax,” Morse said.

The commission has to find other ways to fund six city projects: the Manhattan levee, Aggieville, North Campus Corridor, Douglass Recreation Center, the Manhattan Regional Airport runway and the city’s maintenance facility.

Morse said she also wants to focus on workforce development and economic development. In addition, Estabrook wants to explore housing and bike pedestrian plans, he said.

“We got to get creative in how we’re going to do this,” Estabrook said.

“I think it’s important to note that we have the ingredients in our community to really be an economic powerhouse,” he continued. “... We need to be optimistic about our future.”

Nickolas Oatley / Staff photos by Nickolas Oatley  

James Johnson tries a cup of chili from the Flint Hills Foster Teen Camps booth Saturday at the 3rd annual MHK Chili Cook Off. The Greater Manhattan Community Foundation Young Trustees held the event in Blue Earth Plaza. Each year, the Young Trustees give proceeds from the event to local non-profit organizations.