Ground Breaking Ceremony
February 26,2005

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Preparing the site

The Crowd Gathers

Joe delivering speech

Ground Breaking

Ground Breaking
Franklin Community Council, Inc.
Board of Directors

Ground Breaking
Franklin Community Council, Inc.
Community Hall Board

Speech Given by Joe Cukjati, Chairman of Building Committee

Just after the turn of the previous century, this little village of once a frontier outpost on the old military highway came to life with the advent of coalmines starting in the area. The town of Franklin began to grow. It eventually grew with the help of immigrants coming from all over Europe mainly from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy, France, Belgium, England and Scotland.  Mostly from these areas as there were coalmines in these places and experienced coal miners were needed in the coalfields for deep shaft mining.
     Our little village grew into a roaring town of over 2,000 residents. Franklin then had a post office, a town doctor, three dance halls, two butcher shops, five saloons, a streetcar line to Pittsburg and Girard, several grocery stores, a mining company store that served the general mining population in the multidistrict mining area, one high school and three grade schools and numerous other little businesses including farms.
   The largely immigrant European residents brought their culture, religious beliefs and ethics with them.  Walking down the world’s longest sidewalk in the 1920’s and 1930’s one could hear languages from all over the world- Slovenian, German, Italian, French, Polish, Croatian, Yiddish, Spanish, Russian and very proper English as some but not all languages.  As a boy, I had Slovenian, Italian, German, Belgium, Russian, English, Polish, Dutch and French neighbors.  Their culturally infused lifestyle made a large impression on me as a boy. I have always treasured their friendship. In all of my world travels, I have always treasured the great stock of people right here in Franklin and was always thankful to have known them.

At this moment, I would like to thank Joanie Hume Vignatelli for attending our groundbreaking.  It was her husband’s family that owned this location.  I always treasured their contribution as a great family to Franklin.  Gene, Joanie’s husband was three years older than I was.  He was my hero.  Gene was one magnificent human being that went on to the University of Kansas as an All American football player. I was so personally happy to learn that the new civic center would be built on Vignatelli property. But, that was the past
      Our Franklin Community Council and the Citizens of Franklin owe a deep debt to many people making this event possible. This is a letter we received from Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

 We owe a deep debt of gratitude to our government servants in Lloyd Arnold of FEMA and Donald Madison of the Rural Development Section of the United States Department of Agriculture. We owe very deep and reverent thanks to these gentlemen that have helped us so diligently and made this event possible.  Our community will always be indebted to these people and their organizations.

Many thanks to Senator Sam Brownback.  He has been especially supportive.  Many thanks to Representative Jim Ryun.  Many thanks to State of Kansas Senator James Barone.  Jim gave us leadership just after the tornado and has hellped us severael times since. Thanks Jim.  Thanks are owed also to the Crawford County Commissioners and staffs.

We owe a deep debt to Ledbetter and Corners Architects of Webb City Missouri- thanks to Doug and Cheri Corners and Dan of that office for all your help

We owe a deep debt to our attorney Kevin Mitchelson of Wheeler and Mitchelson Chartered- thanks for all your help to date Kevin.

Franklin Citizens owe a debt to all the hard working Franklin Community Council members who have done so many things to
bring this event on line.

Thanks to Danny Arck and Tri-State Building Company for taking on this project.

 I personally want to thank Craig Stokes and my fellow building committee members, Henry Aschbacher and Norine Laird for all your help in getting us this far. And finally, we all must thank John Houck for getting the original design going and getting us to think and plan.  John did a ton of work before I took over a chairperson.  Thanks John for all your help to the community and to me personally. 


     I feel with the tornado removing one third of our residents and disrupting our town so devastatingly that in the circle of life that Franklin has hit its lowest ebb and now is on the upside side of the circle.  This civic community center will be the focal point of a resurgence of core rebuilding of our physical, emotional and culture being as a town.  With the advent of sewers, a city park and an improved water system that our limit as a town will be determined by present citizens and future citizens rebuilding a vital, energetic and satisfying community like old.

Our town slowly decayed and faltered after its main source of income left in the demise of the coal industry but now, there is a new economy in the area that will uplift and renew.

 Our new structures and services will bring new life to Franklin.  Our organizations remembering from the past will rebuild and renew and bring new citizens enveloped in a new culture.  God Speed and leave us, the children and grandchildren of all those magnificent older generation people begin the renewal process in Franklin by breaking ground for our new civic center-      

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