January 7,2005
Franklin Making Progress on Reconstruction

Morning Sun Lifestyle Editor

The community of Franklinis making steady progress in its reconstruction after the May 2003 tornado, according to reports made Thursday at the annual Franklin Community Council meeting.

"There's a lot of opportunity here if we take advantage of it," said Craig Stokes, council president.

Reports were made on various community projects, including construction of a new community center to replace the one destroyed by the tornado, and a brand new city park.

Newspaper advertising for bids on construction of the center ran Tuesday, and will run for two more weeks, according to Joe Cukjati, building committee chairman.

"Seven or eight local contractors have expressed interest in the building," Stokes said.

Bids will be opened the first week in February. "We hope to start construction by mid-March, and by summer we may have our building," Cukjati said.

Plans for the building were on display. Totaling 4,004 square feet, it will feature a conference room and a multi-purpose room with an area devoted to the community's heritage and history.

Cukjati said that the building will be constructed as economically as possible "but it's going to be a nice building, and it will have design and flair to it."

Projected layouts of the new park were also distributed. Ray Hamblin, park committee chairman, said that Fox Construction has started on the park site, but has been delayed by inclement weather.

"We're waiting for the ground to dry out to do more dirt work," he said.

He also reported that 10 telephone poles have been donated to serve as supports for the park shelter. "Tim Foxwell will be bringing them in from line work they're doing," Hamblin said.

Plumbing and electrical work also needs to be done at the site.

"We want to get the park restroom ready to go in, so that when the sewer comes we can hook it right up," he said.

Dianna Morrison discussed plans for a possible May community picnic and a ceremony in conjunction with the anniversary of the tornado.

"Last year we had a ceremony of remembrance, and this year we might focus on the rebuilding of the community," Morrison said. "It will be uplifting to people in the community to see that things are moving."

Her committee will also be working with the heritage committee for a Franklin centennial celebration, targeted for 2007.

Phyllis Bitner, chairman of that committee, said that she is pursuing grants for the centennial and for projects related to preserving the heritage and history of the area. So far, a $3,500 grant has been received from the Kansas Humanities Council for historical research.

"We want to make our centennial a big event," Bitner said. "That will benefit not only Franklin, but all of Crawford County."

She will begin a project to collect oral histories from older community members. "I've taken some beautiful stories so far," Bitner said.

She is also working on getting Franklin's sidewalk, a WPA project, put on the Kansas State Historical Register. "The State Historical Society has asked me to send more photographs of the sidewalk," she reported.

Election was also held for the council board. All the current members were retained. They are Craig Stokes, Henry Ashbacher, Norine Laird, Tammy Wayman, Margaret Kennedy, Joe Cukjati, Veda Maxwell and Frances OBlak. Elected to the board was Ray Hamblin.

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