COMMUNITY PICNIC, 2007
September 23, 2007 Sunday
Time: noon - 4 pm
Community Park, 502 S. Broadway
The annual FCCI Community Picnic was
Sunday, September 23 with food, displays, games, door prizes and
fellowship. Lunch was served at noon followed by a
short program which included our annual awards ceremony.
This years award recipients were:
Certification of Appreciation:
- Lee & Agnes Goodman
Franklin: Johnnie Zibert
Heritage Preservation Award:
The following article appeared
in the SNPJ Prosveta (a national newspaper):
Johnnie Zibert, President of SNPJ Lodge 225, Vice President
#7 and Member of the National Board was
awarded the annual “Friend of Franklin” award at the Franklin, Kansas community picnic Sunday, September 23, 2007. Awards
were given to people who have played
an important part in the rebuilding of the community and those who have
the community in a special way. Many
Slovenians settled in this small mining community which grew to a
over 2,000 during the 1920s.
Craig Stokes, President of
Franklin Community Council, Inc. welcomed the residents, friends and
guests. In his opening remarks he told
of the tragedy that fell upon this community over 4 years ago. He spoke of the volunteer group that has
continued to persevere and is proud that the community is being
resurrected. Goals that were set
the past 4 years have been accomplished.
The community center and the park are two of their most visible
achievements. What was once a
and sad reminder of the tragic events of 2003 has become a sign of hope
for everyone. He said the
community realizes they can
never forget that day in 2003 but perhaps it is what has made the
were given throughout the program. Two
shared the “Appreciation Award”
– Lee and Agnes Goodman and Ron & Janet Pommier and family.
received the Heritage Preservation Award for 2007.
the play “Army of Amazons-An Oral History of Southeast Kansas”. This dramatic, rich, story was performed for
the Franklin Centennial Celebration on the historic site in which it
in front of so many whose story it was.
The Friend of
Franklin award is given annually to a non-resident who proves
themselves to be
a true friend of the community. The
definition of a friend is “A
person whom one knows, likes, and trusts”.
By that definition alone Franklin has many, many friends.
While the community tries to move beyond their
recovery process from the tornado of 2003 they cannot help but remember
who came forward to help. Some came with
hammers, saws and shovels.
one man came with his
accordion. This talented man is well
known around the country for his skillful talent of producing some of
beautiful music you have ever heard.
Recovery can take
forms. While the rebuilding of
structures is a very important part of the recovery process it is also
important to rebuild the spirit of the citizens and put joy in their
hearts. When Johnnie is
involved you can be certain
there will be smiles, goodwill and happy memories.
Franklin is very proud to be the community where
his music career. Johnnie began taking
accordion lessons at age 9 from Professor John Catanzaro. His parents
his first 12 bass accordion for $25 at the Hess Music Store in Pittsburg. He began
playing dances while a senior in high school and played his first dance
Vignatelli’s Hall which was located at the exact spot of the new
center in Franklin. Johnnie
he was honored to play at the first polka dance at the new community
which was rebuilt after the tornado of 2003.
He was joined by Jarboe Watson, George Barberich and Johnnie Joe
During his career he has
traveled and played for the A J Cripe Show at the area rodeos. He also played on A J Cripe’s radio program
at the KOAM Station.
A band called the Melody
(Johnnie Zibert, Joe Tuminello and his wife Little Nell and Luella
brother Jarbo Watson) had a regular radio program on KSEK Radio on
afternoons which was sponsored by Fred Bosinio Appliance Store in Arma, Kansas.
As Johnnie brings his joyous
music to the new community center a new generation follows in the
their ancestors. His granddaughter,
Jessi Fields, once wrote a beautiful story about her grandpa in which
about the pride she has in her heritage.
She talks of being “swept away by the hypnotic waves of
fingers over the ivory keys and my uncle’s captivating voice as he,
his hands vertically along a set of accordion keys.
Jarbo’s (Watson) thick fingers plucking the
bass strings gently made my legs move that much faster and smoother.” She continues on that “I’ve never been hit so
strongly with any feeling before. I felt
so envious of them up there on that stage, the way they can make people
and forget all their worries, the way that a 75 year old woman with bad
and arthritis who can barely make it to the grocery store once a week
always come to one of my grandpa’s dances to remember old times and
polka a little. I think that after
night of dancing and listening to the reminiscences of Steve Lomshek
my grandpa’s early years with the accompaniment of Joe O’Blak, I
Slovenian heritage and the fact that my grandpa is the best accordion
I’ve ever heard. I feel very proud and consider myself to be of the
privilege to the able to introduce myself as Jessie Fields,
Johnnie E. Zibert, famous Slovenian accordion player.”
Johnnie and his wife Luella
have 3 children, Debbie Davis, Jim Zibert and Johnnie Joe Zibert. They continue to carry on the tradition
providing happy memories and joyous music.
The community of Franklin is forever indebted to Johnnie for sharing
talents and donating untold hours of unforgettable music.
More photos of this event can
be seen on the Franklin website. You can also read about the true
the community and visit their “history” section which has many photos,
and stories about early Slovenians that settled in this small mining
Looking at old photos
Lunch is ready
Game of Football
Certificate of Appreciation Award
Ron & Janet Pommier Family
Friend of Franklin Award
Heritage Preservation Award