The History of Eudora, Kansas
The History of Eudora, Kansas
Census figures for 2000 showed an unusual demographic: 45% of the Eudora population was between the ages of 18 to 34 with an over-abundance of young couples with children, far above the national average of 10%. In fact, the average Eudora resident was 31 years old. The figures also showed Eudora’s population over age 25 ranked below the national education level average; 14.1% did not graduate from high school. However, this number was less than the 23.2% in Eudora who failed to graduate in 1990. Holders of college and advanced degrees also came in fewer than the national average.
Of the town’s 1,666 households, 634 rented. The average income per household was $41,713, and average house was $97,000. It took each person on average 22.8 minutes to get to work. Almost 94 percent of Eudora was white; 2.4% were Hispanic, and 2.4 percent were American Indian. Ancestries of those 15 years and over in Eudora, showed the following: German (27.1%), United States (14.7%), Irish (12.5%), English (10.9%), French (5.7%), and Dutch (3.5%).
With continued growth, it was no surprise when a new water tower, the city’s third, was erected south of K-10 Highway in 2000. Tests on Eudora’s drinking water showed it was above state standards even though the contaminants of barium, copper, chromium, and lead showed in trace amounts. Photograph on right shows former water tower on Locust Street.
The Eudora police force, too, offered 24-hour police protection for the first time at the new century’s starting year. Bill Long who joined the Eudora police force in 1968, said when he started in the department, it had one full-time employee — the police chief. That force grew to eight full-time officers, two part-time officers, and the police chief. The main crimes Eudora has, Long said, were burglaries, thefts, and domestic disturbances. Greg Dahlem, a member of the Eudora police force for 15 years, was chosen from 74 applicants to fill the position Long retired from in 2003.
Business development concentrated in the downtown area, on Tenth Street, along Church Street south of Fourteenth Street to K-10 Highway; and Twentieth Street west of County Road 1061. Downtown suffered a severe loss when the owners decided to shut down their Arrowhead Hardware, the former Coast to Coast Hardware, in 2001. Communicolor also shut its doors, leaving 135 employees in 2000 without employment. HP Pelzer, a manufacturer of insulation and trim for the auto industry, took over the site that same year in the 93-acre Intech Business Park, well-marked by its distinctive neon sign on a tall concrete silo, and the home of M-Pact, a manufacturer of orthopedic products.
The closure of Main Street Flea Market owned by Leland Massey and Jane Massey in 2001 signaled another business trend — the conversion of downtown into a getaway destination but without the steady market to sustain business. Quilting Bits and Pieces owned by Christina DeArmond, Amy Deay, Eula Lang, Faith Gorden, and Kaye Spitzli, opened in 2000 and claimed 90% of its market came from outside Eudora.
CandyLand, a candy store, and Madame Hatter’s Tea Room, 702 Main Street, a tea shop started by Lauren and Thomas Smith with dress-up clothing accessories in the former bank vault and umbrellas hanging upside down from the ceiling, both opened in 2003 downtown, hoping to generate that needed market. (In October 2004, Bonnie Freeland and Susan Orchelin bought Madame Hatter’s.)
One type of business that attracted local residents and exemplified food preferences was the pizza industry. Both convenience stores offered take-out pizza choices, and in 2000, Simple Simon’s Pizza at 10 W. Ninth Street took over the Gambinos’ site left in 1999 for a new location at 1402 Church Street and joined it as another pizza and pasta dining choice. (Owned by Robin Folks and Bill Folks, Simple Simon’s moved to 310 E. 15th Streetin 2007, and its downtown location was taken by Daniels Barbecue.)
Eudora got its first full-time city administrator— Mike Yanez—in 2001, a move that ushered in a chain of command with department heads— not elected officials — directing the assignments of city workers. Council member Rex Burkhardt said the accepted system in Kansas cities was that city councils and commissions set policies, and city staff, including an administrator, enforced the policies and took care of the city's day-to-day operations.
The year 2003 brought Eudora’s first full-time fire chief: Spencer McCabe, previously a volunteer, part-time chief with the department. It also was a banner year for housing as more developments went up on fields that brought more from developers than crops. A new wave of houses went up in the southeast section of Prairie Estates in addition to those in beginning Whispering Meadows development, Shadow Ridge began selling houses, and directly west of West Elementary, Wakarusa Ridge Estates cropped up at the same time the gravel Winchester Road got blacktopped. And, in January 2004, the Eudora City Council gave the go-ahead to annex 18 acres near Whispering Meadows, which would add 18 acres with its existing 35 single-family houses and 16 duplexes.
The mushrooming of subdivisions was an argument used by the Eudora School district to convince voters of the necessity of a new high school. Voters approved the proposition, and the school building was completed in 2003 at 2203 Church Street with a capacity for 550 students. The former high school, directly south of the new building, became a school for students in sixth through eighth grade. The building at Tenth Street and Main Street stood empty with some parts used for vocational education classes. But voters opposed the building of a new swimming pool for the second time in August of 2002 citing disagreement with its location, price, features, maintenance, and other features.
And, while Shari Turnbaugh opened Cardinal Cleaners, a 12-washer, 10-dryer operation and the send-away dry cleaning service, where customers can drop off baskets of laundry and have them washed, dried and folded for 99 cents a pound in late 2003; and the Warren McElwain Mortuary was built on 442 Country Road at 1103 John Williams Drive; Jim Carpenter decided to sell Eudora elevator grain and fertilizer business he owned for more than five years because of his health. Business had been profitable, he said, even with three consecutive years of poor harvest with 2003 corn yields averaging 70 to 100 bushels per acre, 30 to 50 bushels below average. In a Eudora News article, he was quoted as saying: "Farming used to be done with 100 farmers owning 90 acres," he said. "Now it’s 10 farmers with 1,000 acres. The little guy used to need these elevators because they had a small truck and needed a place to store and ship their grain. Now these guys have semis. They think they can make more money by trucking it to a terminal elevator."
Business openings in 2004 included Family Memories, a scrapbook supply store, 706 Main Street, opened by Barb Burkart and her mother, Sandi Roberts; Dimensions Hair Studio by Kay Dean and Cel Wisner at 1402-C Street; and Genny Rose’s Hometown Dollar Store, 702 Main Street. Terri and Roger Rose bought the Gilded Cage, 2229 N. 1400 Road, in September 2004 and renamed it Cecil Monday's Bar and Grill. Barbara and John Durkin built the 6,000-square foot Durkin’s Hardware store at 218 20th St.that opened November 1, 2004.
Several Eudora citizens serving in the military in 2003 and 2004 found themselves serving overseas in the U. S. military intervention in Iraq. On a bulletin board listing at the Eudora Middle School in 2004 these names appeared of Eudorans in military service: Jacob Welsh, James Springer, Jeremy Roubison, Charles Groninger, Blane Christensen, Frank Dillon, Pat Eukel, Mike Robertson, Justin Sorenson, Kurt Hopson, Stephen Lee, Robert Moffitt, Josh Bowser, John Clawson, Melanie Claggett, Melissa Claggett, Robert Willis, Dustin Haus, Daniel Bonebrake, Kurtis Carlyle, Scott Baethke, and Jesse Bonebrake. Doug Hartwell, Patrick Dardis, Rene Hernandez, Jason Garrett, Jason Koehn, Mary Moffitt, Andy Ross, John Thoennes, John Powers, Rod Moyer, and others also were in the military service during the Iraq conflict. Kurt Hopson, received a Purple Heart in 2006 for an injury he received in a 2004 deployment to Iraq. In 2007, he received the Bronze Star for more than 100 surveillance and clearance operations that led to the destruction of 36 improvised explosive devices.
The July summer in 2005 got heated when town citizens questioned the appointment system of certain city officials. Tom Pyle, newly elected mayor, informed Bobby Arnold, Eudora parks and recreation director, and Jim Boyer, city superintendent, that their one-year appointments would not be renewed. Citizen protest and lack of reasons offered for the dismissal resulted in crowded city council meetings leading up to the appointments. Dan Gregg, city council member, said in a July 7 news article that the current appointment system gave city appointees too little job security. He was quoted as saying: "Right now the work is at the will and the whim of the council, and having appointed department heads shows a lack of growth for our city. I don't know why anyone would like to be a department head in Eudora." Arnoldretained his position; Boyer was replaced.
The extension of firework sales in July also made for smoke-filled streets and continual explosions. In addition to the Bonebrake firework stand east on Tenth Street, the Eudora Amateur Baseball Association held a stand at C & Market and sold more than $45,000 worth of fireworks. The scout firework stand, a first-timer, operated in the Dairy Queen parking lot. Upon graduating from Kansas University, Ryan Schurle, opened a sign sales and repair office, an extension of the Shurle Sign, Inc., south of K-10 in December. The family business is located in Riley, Kansas, where it typically produces large lighted signs. Another first for the year and sign of the times was the opening of a computer installation, service, and repair store. LaDonna Russell opened Stable Systems Solution at 729 Main, which moved to 714 Main March 1, 2007. About her full-time computer services, Russell said: “There have been others who have done computer repair, etc. but not with a store front and full end-to-end services.”
Eudora went from “dry” to “wet” February 16, 2006, when the city council voted to permit liquor sales. The Kansas Legislature amended liquor laws in spring of 2005, which previously stated that a dry Kansas municipality had to have a successful referendum before licensing liquor stores. After July 2005, city ordinances would have to ban retail liquor sales to keep liquor stores from operating. Two liquor stores promptly opened: Eudora Wines and Spirits, 218 W. 20th St. owned by Mike Fadden (bought by Hardeep Gosal in 2022) and Emma Jean Ellis’ Main Street Wine and Spirits, 728 Main.
Downtown received the promise of a cosmetic facelift when the Kansas Department of Transportation awarded Eudora a downtown enhancement grant for Main Street from 7thto 9th Street. Voters did more than that later in 2006 when they approved a $3.8 million dollar Eudora Community and Aquatic Center with a zero depth entry, waterslide, and lazy river on the site of the former pool.
On the Chamber of Commerce 2006 Holiday Home Tour, viewers could see the following homes: Tim and (with more than 250 Santa Claus figurines), Rob and Sue Howig, Hank and Pat Turnbaugh (a Eudora Chamber of Commerce Lighting Contest winner and hailed by Sun Newspapers as a must-see at Christmas), Larry and Lorretta Gantenbein (with its many collections), and Sue Fulcher.
Intech Business Park saw new changes when ATA Storage opened its 181 storage units in January 2007; EuroTec Vertical Flight Solutions, a provider of certified airframe and turbine engine parts and service for helicopters, set up its headquarters; and Kingston Printing moved 40 employees into the former M-Pact plant, 1310 Kistler Drive. On the south side of K-10 Hiway, another pizza shop opened; however, this one made chocolate pizza. Annette Cook and Chris Cook, Baldwin, said they opened Amore Chocolate Pizza, 1114 E. 20th, when they outgrew their home business operation. Downtown, the flower store and computer service businesses traded locations; Coffee Talk, a coffee shop offering food and local art for sale opened and hosted entertainment on weekends; and Kaw Valley Bank announced it would be opening a branch location on Church Street and Fourteenth Street.
The new pool opened later than expected, and in September, residents were required to pay for blue 95-gallon mobile trash can pickup through Weldon Enterprises in a move said to cut down work injuries and loose debris. In November, the community center opened with Tammy Hodges overseeing the operations with Jim Kegin, project supervisor, two part-time maintenance workers and three part-time front desk staff.
One of the biggest events of the year began kicked off in July when Eudora began to celebrate its 150th birthday. The Eudora 150th Anniversary Committee began making plans for Eudora’s sesquicentennial celebration January 21, 2007. City employees had planned two years earlier for the celebration and set aside funds in the June 2006 budget finalized in August of that same year. The city administrator presented the celebration plans to the city council, who endorsed them and decided the event should be an addition to the 2007 EudoraFest celebration and Fish statue dedication.
Those present at the first committee meeting generated ideas and prioritized them. Over time, the core committee consisted of Donna Oleson, Bob Slapar, Rex Burkhardt, LaDonna Russell, Marlene Evinger, Brent Lathrom, Doug Mateo, Tom Tucker, Cindy Higgins, Marilyn Laws Porter, and Martha Harris.
Brent Lathrom at first researched commemorative plates, but, with Donna Oleson, decided to create a woven throw of Eudora landmarks. Oleson said she chose the throw’s illustrations because “I have always been fascinated with the Pilla House and have memories of the old train depot. Sid Simons, the father of my brother-in-law, Jeff Simons was the train depot master. I guess the old City Hall interest just comes from being the city clerk, and, of course I love the statue. “
Beatty designed a cloisonne pin in red, white, and blue colors that became a logotype for the 150th anniversary and was placed in area businesses for sale. Although abroad during the planned 150th festivities, Marilyn Laws Porter organized cakes (made by area church societies, including United Methodist, Elva Kindred, coordinator; Holy Family, LaDonna Ballock, coordinator; and Southern Baptist, Bettie Vermillion, coordinator) and ice cream (donated by Blue Bunny through the efforts of Teresa Fulks, C&S Market) with the assistance and on-site management of Ruth Schneider, Eudora’s “cake lady.”
The statue of Eudora Fish and Paschal Fish, a Lions Club project backed by the city of Eudora and funded in part by inscribed brick sales, was a planned festivity highlight. Tom Tucker organized an explanatory permanent display for the statue (designed by Jim Brothers) and nearby time capsule.
Others from the community contributed, such as Janet Campbell, Teresa Abel, Cat Rooney, Rachel Kaslaitis, and Caren Rowland, as well as city clerks; area businesses (e.g., Full Bright Signs, Durkin’s Hardware, Cutter’s Barbecue, C&S); the local school; and organizations. For example, Kaye Spitzli and the Eudora Quilting Bees planned a quilt for the event; the Eudora News hosted a website for the birthday coverage; and the Eudora Public Library incorporated the theme into its summer reading program as did the CPA Picnic committee into its 2007 parade. EudoraFest organizers also good-naturedly accommodated their events and resources with the combined anniversary celebration.
Besides the statue dedication and cake with ice cream party, at the time of this publication, planned events in addition to EudoraFest favorites such as the Kansas River Gang re-enactment, car display, cakewalk, and talent show, included contests for pie baking; longest beard; punt, pass, kick; nail driving; photography, and historical landmark treasure hunt. Also scheduled was a Then/Now photo exhibit; Sunday speaker series; Miss Kansas visit; theme-decorated cake show organized by Jason Gray and the local culinary arts students; Chamber of Commerce beer garden; fireworks; Joy Unlimited Clown Ministry from the Pleasant Valley Baptist Church of Liberty, Missouri; live music (e.g., Cordelia Brown harp performance, Witness, Michael Beers band); and karaoke.
Honoring volunteers was a running theme in the celebration. Heading some of Eudora’s volunteer groups were: CPA Picnic: Jerry Trober; EudoraFest: Barbara Tuttle; Boy Scouts: Glenn Jackson; Cub Scouts: Bryan Chumbley; Girl Scouts: Ann Wimmer, Misty Shrum, Jeanine Lathrom; Brownies: Vicki Case; 4-H: Robyn and Mike Kelso; Eudora Area Baseball Association: Erin Wellman; Soccer Association: Kim Bruner; Masonic Lodge: Steve Bruner; I.O.O.F.: Archie Jameson; Minerva Rebekah: Alvena Tuggle; Lions Club: Bob Slapar; Golden Agers: Mary Ellen May; 1900 and Now Club: Maxine McCabria; Eudora Area Historical Society: Jim Harris; Eudora Beautification Committee: Helen Everley; Meals on Wheels: Carol Mason; St. Theresa Society: LaDonna Ballock; Eudora Chamber of Commerce: John Fiore; and EHS Booster Club: Susan Lounsbury.
On the Main Street grant planning committee were Donna Oleson, Jimmy Hoover,
Willene Blackburn, Helen Everley, Lori Fritzell, Cindy Higgins, Pam (Trefz) Staab, and Doug Staab. On the Recreation complex committee were: Arlene Whitten, Belinda Rehmer, Roberta Lehmann, Susie Brown, Jim Jackson, Gary Klotz, Leo Lauber, and Yvette Gadberry.
For the city planning commission, members for 2007 were: Kurt von Achen, Richard Campbell, David Montgomery, Rose House, Ken Adkinson, Patrick Jankowski, and Glen Bartlett. City Council was: Bill Whitten, Lori Fritzell, Tom Pyle, Maria Nelson, Jeff Peterson, and Fred Stewart.
The public library board was Tom Jerome, Merilee Dymacek, Barbara Kruger, Karen Rush, and Brent Lathrom. Eudora election judges were Arlene Lawson, Dorothy Westerhouse, Emily Dahlem, and Betty Thoennes. The Eudora Township board was trustee Eugene Westerhouse, clerk Jim Gabriel; and treasurer Glen Grosdidier.
The city volunteer fire department was Kevin Blake, Damon Bradley, Darus Dixon, Tim Donovan, Solomon Evans, Peter Feyerabend, James Gregg, Brendan Helm, Tyler Jackson, Scott Keltner, James Kerby, Gary Klotz, Greg LeRow, Ron Long, Tim Reazin, and Keith Spence. For Eudora Township, 2007 opened with the volunteer fire department headed by Barry Larson, Richard Clark (assistant chief); and lieutenants Dustin McAfee and Duke Verhelst.
Throughout 2008, the Eudora city council sought to tear down the retaining wall at 706 and 714 Main owned by an individual and a separate family. At a public hearing, the city approved a resolution requiring the owners to repair the wall within 30 days. When the owners did not, the city condemned the wall, made repairs, and charged the owners $16,775. The Eudora News also closed its Eudora office in 2008 and moved its office to Lawrence.
Downtown took a hit in 2009 when Curves, Cutter’s Smokehouse, Coffee Talk and Madame Hatter’s Tea Room vacated. Another business loss was Durkin’s Hardware, which cited housing slumps as one factor in closing. Offsetting the loss, Anthony Ferrara and David Jenkins opened Anthony’s Diner, 10 W. Ninth St., serving Italian fare; Amy Durkin moved her attorney practice to 702 Main; and Sissy Weber outfitted Nancy Jane’s, 724 Main, for a special occasion boutique.