EudoraFest, Subdivisions, and School Construction: 1990-1999

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One of Eudora’s oldest businesses and most prominent landmarks went up in smoke on September 1, 1990 when vandals lit a fire noticed at 3 a.m. that destroyed most of the Eudora Lumber Company’s buildings, equipment, and inventory. Units were called in from the city of Eudora, Eudora Township, Lawrence, Baldwin, Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant, Palmyra Township, Wakarusa Township, and Willow Springs Township to combat the fire. When the Eudora Fire Department arrived, the north end of the lumber company was ablaze. A tank containing 250 gallons exploded, causing a fireball seen for miles. Fire fighters had to be replaced every five minutes because of the heat. Flames destroyed the wood frame office that dated to 1868; a wood storage shed; two other buildings; five, two-ton delivery trucks; flatbed truck; two forklifts; and large amount of lumber. Lost, too, was the train depot built in 1871 and used by the lumber yard. John Harris, a part owner of the lumber yard, resumed business but closed the lumberyard soon after.

Also in 1990, Tony Supanic and Tom Supanic with Stan Byrne opened a 17-unit storage complex called Eudora Self-Storage. On a larger scale, the Medical Device Manufacture and Distribution with its 40,000 square-foot building in Intech Park opened that year as did the exotic animal farm of Victor and LaDonna Lickteig began on 10 acres complete with a camel, miniature donkeys, pheasants, swans, and other creatures.

VermillionsOn Main Street, Pyle's Meat Market shut down its slaughter house operation, and C. J.'s Bar-B-Que owned by Chris Deay opened in 1991. When it later closed in 1996, Bob and Dody Ortega ran the Mexican restaurant, The Border, there. Betty and Gary Vermillion, Chumbleysowners of the Market Basket at 736 Main Street and shown here to the left, sold the grocery to Julia (Simpson) and Bryan Chumbley, shown here to the right, and John and Jeff Simpson of Troy in January 1992 who renamed it C & S. The “C” stood for “Chumbley” and the “S” for “Simpson.” They moved C&S to 1402 Church Street. It was twice the size of the former store and included a delicatessen, bakery, pizza shop, salad bar, and Douglas County Bank satellite office. Clasen Inc., with stores in Dodge City, Ft. Scott, Smith Center, Wamego, Ellsworth, Minneapolis and Anthony, bought C&S Market in 2012 and changed its name to Gene's Heartland Foods.

Strip storesIn the attached strip shopping center to the south opened Carol’s Gifts, The Banana Boat restaurant, Caldwell Banker-Gill Real Estate, and Sunflower Fitness (owned by David and Lorinda Hartzler of Lawrence). Nearby Kwik Shop convenience store with gasoline pumps at 1436 Church Street opened September 25, 1992.

Once again, rains brought the Kansas River and smaller streams out of their banks in July of 1993. The heavy rains and water releases from Tuttle Creek, Milford Lake, and Perry Lake reservoirs forced evacuation of Weaver Bottoms and the closing of Leavenworth County Road No.1. The Kansas River crested at 26 feet and the Wakarusa River rose eight feet during six hours. The flood brought out spectators in droves.

In a move that halted the continuing transition of farm land to housing, landowner Tom Akin signed a conservation easement with Kansas Land Trust ensuring the 16-acre of native prairie on his land would be safeguarded in perpetuity. Each year in May, the Kansas Land Trust hosts its annual Wildflower Walk at the Akin Prairie, which, from K-10 Highway, is two miles south on Douglas County 1057, then 4/10 miles west on 1150 Road. A gate to the prairie is on the south side of 1150 Road.

In 1993, too, Todd Crenshaw partnered with Jack Murphy, who had been a lawyer in Eudora for several years. Crenshaw would later partner with Jack McCabria before closing his solo office in 2004. Threatened with lawsuits by a disgruntled parent, a group of baseball enthusiasts formed the Eudora Amateur Baseball Association Inc. for young boys in 1993 to separate from the local recreation department. Another change in local sports happened in 1994, when Tom Pyle brought his 32 years of announcing local high school football games to a close.

West ElementaryThe continued growth of Eudora and new housing subdivisions necessitated enlarging the public school facilities. In 1994, Eudora West Elementary servicing fourth through sixth grades opened, and EMSone year later, voters approved construction of a new Eudora high school south of the city at 2635 Church Street with a capacity for 350 students.

By the time William Carl Post died in 1995, few in town had a clue to the terror he evoked. When Post robbed the Western National Bank in Lenexa on November 9, 1995, a delivery truck blocked his rented getaway car. Post then carjacked a Ford Escort and kidnapped its female driver at gunpoint. Post drove to Lawrence and when he stopped to use the phone at a service station on East 23rd Street, his hostage escaped. He drove the car a short distance away and abandoned it.

The next day, Post stole another vehicle, which he ran into a ditch at Douglas County roads 1500N and 1625E. He forced his way into the vehicle of Shaun Hickock, 16, a Eudora resident, who used a wheelchair and fired two shots into the hood of a car driven by Karen Pendleton, Lawrence. Post ordered Hickock to let him out at a residence at 1850E Road in rural Eudora. He took Hickock's car keys and sweater and walked north to the Kansas River. In a gunfire exchange, a Lawrence detective was shot in the right shoulder. The police later found Post dead by an apparent self-inflected gun shot wound to the head and a .357 caliber revolver by Post's body.

Another hunt occurred for Patricia Hagen who lived in the Grandview Trailer Court. For five weeks, the police department searched for Hagen, 33, who was reported missing after leaving three men at Weaver Bottoms. The group said they had gone there to steal watermelons from a field and Hagen had walked off, heading north toward the Kansas River. Hagen, who could not swim, apparently drowned and was found five weeks later on the west bank of the Missouri River in Kansas City, Kansas.

One business that tried to operate in Eudora was Squeezers, a short-lived “juice bar” at 728 Main Street. Owner Jeff Wilson was quoted in a March 31, 1994 Lawrence Journal World article as saying, “Nude dancing is coming to Eudora whether they want it or not.” Wilson was wrong: The Eudora city council unanimously passed an ordinance banning sexually oriented entertainment businesses, and Wilson, who had hoped to draw customers from Kansas City, closed his club. A&B Service Station, the last full service gas station in Eudora and open since 1976, closed in 1994, owner Arlen Wisdom said, because of the Environmental Protection Agency's increased restrictions such as a gas tank replacement that would have cost $100,000.

The town also watched in interest as the Pilla building went through another metamorphosis. Beginning in 1996, Sam Platt gutted and remodeled the 3-story structure for his Redhouse Recording studios. He raised the ceiling, installed a wood parquet floor, took off two layers of wall to reach the original bricks, and shot the soft bricks with baking soda for a gentler cleaning. Upstairs, Platt installed two studios and isolation booths. Then, in December 2001, chief engineer Ed Rose and the five members of the band The Get Up Kids took over ownership of RedHouse, changing the name to Blacklodge. Co-owner Rob Pope said 90 percent of the bands using the studies came from outside of Kansas. The average recording stay, Rose said, was anywhere from 10 days to two weeks. Often, band members used an upstairs apartment with its exposed brick and stone walls, large planked wood floors, white woodwork appointments, modern furniture and brightly-colored walls. [In July 2005, the band disbanded. In 2013, Kawehi bought it for use as a personal music studio.]

The addition of Dairy Queen, a fast-food and ice cream operation that opened April 15, 1996, next to Kwik Shop further demonstrated the attraction of Eudora to outside interests clamoring to take advantage of K-10 Highway traffic. The nationally-franchised eatery sat 83 people and was opened by Ike Walter and his son, Steve, of Lawrence. On the other side of Eudora at 1202 Cardinal Drive, SACS Distributors sold its retail division to concentrate on its wholesale division based in the 43,000 square foot warehouse it built in 1995. Stored inside were the salvage and close-out items that drew customers ready to bid on the company’s regular silent auctions.

Two first-time events also brought out the town: Eudorafest, founded in 1996, and the community fireworks display. A group of community members organized by Stan Bryne planned Eudorafest, which took place along Main Street south of Tenth Street and featured entertainment, talent shows, sales booths, and craft displays in a fall month. Besides contests, games, art show, and antique car display at the first Eudorafest, 40 vendors lined Main Street and special performances were presented by the Old Castle Dancers, a bluegrass band, the Duane Richardson Band, singer Annie Dunavin, Betty and Buster Jenkins, gospel music, karaoke, accordion player Archie Jameson and the Don Lipovac Button Accordion Band.

As for fireworks, in previous years, Kerr Field had been the site of spontaneous fireworks. The city began its community event at the present Eudora High School with grandiose displays that could be viewed from miles away. For parties and other events, Kim’s Barn, a converted barn with stage, kitchen, gazebo, front porch, and a treasure trove of local memorabilia, was opened on 2100 E. Road by Kim Neis and Greg Neis.

In 1997, the playground project by Winchester Estates in Bluejacket Park was completed after being five years in construction. Geraldine Abel retired from her position at Kaw Valley Bank after 28 years of employment as the bank's only bookkeeper, a teller, and assistant vice president. Emmet Wetta sold Gambino's Pizza to John Wright and Randy James. The bridge over the Wakarusa River on west Tenth Street was replaced in 1998, Donald Bagby retired from Kaw Valley Bank after 43 years of employment, and Mike Westerhouse, owner of Eudora Air Conditioning, sold his company in June 1998 to Larry Flowers of Thermal Craft Maintenance.

Other businesses this decade, in addition to service providers such as Jim O'Berg (accounting), Allan Ott (welding), Paxton Auction Service, Tim Bonebrake (construction), Don Ballock (carpet cleaning), included: Admiral Leasing (1003 Main St.), Air Filter Plus (1205 Cardinal Drive), Annabelle's Restaurant (930 Locust St.), Auto Tech Inc. (1006 Ash St.), Big Game Taxidermy Studio (1001 Elm St.), Bill's Tax Service (727 Main St.), Blacktop Paving & Construction (12 E 7 St.), Bloom & Associates Therapy (924 Locust St.), Broers Flower Shop (714 Main St.), Broers Automotive (208 E. 20th St. that opened in May 1995), Bryne's Pharmacy (101 W Tenth St.), C-Hawkk (527 Main St.), C & S Market (1402 Church St.), Caring Hearts Health Services (924 Locust St.), Casey's (303 E 10 St.), Century 21 Miller & Midyett (730 Main St.), Cutter's Smokehouse & Pub (726 Main St.), Cyr's Auto Repair (1006 Ash St.), Davenport Orchards (1394 E 1900 Rd), Diana's Beauty Shop (826 Main St.), (1402 Church St.), East 23rd Street Autos (1003 Main St.), Eudora Air Conditioning & Refrigeration (1904 Elm St.), Eudora Auto Parts (1006 Ash St.), Eudora Carpet Connection (310 E Fifteenth St.), Eudora Feed & Grain (530 Main St.), (1402-B Church St.), Eudora Nursing Center (1415 Maple St.), Eudora Relics (710 Main St.), Eudora Riverview Golf (2102 N 1500 Rd.), Eudora Self Storage (101 W Tenth St.), Eudora Wash Tub (723 Main St.), Full Bright Sign & Lighting, (1402D Church St.), Gilded Cage (Hwy 10), Green Things Nursery and Landscaping (1211 E 2200 Rd.), H P Pelzer Corp (1201 Cardinal Dr.), Heartland Automotive Equipment (1962 N 1000 Rd.), Hi-Tech Antifreeze Recycling (1707 Oak St.), Auto Repair (215 E 10 St.), Jasmin Restaurant (719 Main St.), J K Construction (2292 N 1100 Rd.), K-10 LC Car Wash (1428 Church St.), Kansas Self Storage (505 E 15 St.), Kaw Valley State Bank (739 Main St.), (1040 OCL Pkwy.), Main Event (713 Main St.), Miller Agency Insurance (711 Main St.), Miller & Midyett Realtors (730 Main St.), Mutual Savings Association (8th & Main St.), New Health Alternatives (924 Locust St.), Noggins Salon (707 Main St.), Ortecrete Corp (621 Main St.), (924 Locust St.), Pyle Meat Co Inc (800 Main St.), (736 Main St.), SAC's Distribution Center (1202 Cardinal Dr.), Shepard Plumbing Construction (717 Main St.), Simple Simon's Pizza (10 W Ninth St.), Sonic Drive In (1420 Church St.), Stencilco Lazer & Blasting Co (1904 Elm St.), Suzanne Ashley Alterations and Other Wonders (707 Main St.), Twin Oaks Golf Complex (K-10 & City Rd 1057), Warren-McElwain Mortuary-Eudora Chapel, and Westminster Tea Room (702 Main St).

Copyright 2014. Higgins, Cindy. Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw: The History of Eudora, Kansas. Eudora, KS: Author.