Archive for Wednesday, January 26, 2000

From trees to traffic to shadow

January 26, 2000

Finally, after months of wondering what the downtown renovation will actually look like when completed, we're beginning to see a glimpse.

The sidewalk on our block is finished, and on Saturday, workers installed streetlamps. These definitely add a nice touch and give the town a nostalgic feel that even I could not have imagined. Now, the only empty spaces left, at least on our block, are those where trees will be planted in the spring.

Chris Eppley, city administrator, tells us that the trees to be planted were selected with the assistance of the state forestry department, downtown business owners, the city planner, Eppley himself and others.

Unlike some cities that have uniform trees lining their business district, Tonganoxie will be different.

"The state forester suggested that we probably would not want to plant all of the same type of tree," Eppley said.

To compliment existing buildings, trees have been selected for their height and limb span, Eppley said.

Further, Eppley said that because Tonganoxie doesn't have an architecturally formal downtown, it would look odd to have a formal streetscape.

"We've selected some trees for their flowers and coloring in the spring, some for their fall colors, and some that provide a general all-around nice foliage throughout the growing season," Eppley said.

As we sit back and wait for the redbuds to bloom and the and Japanese lanterns to sprout their little lights, even though the trees are yet to be planted, our imagination runs a little wild. After all, spring is in the air and many of us, by heart if not by birth, are just good old country folk who still take delight in the simple things of life.

As I was turning into the north driveway of the high school Saturday night on my way to the basketball tournament, a teenage boy darted across the highway, dodging traffic as he carried a fast-food dinner and drink. After having made his way through the darkness and the maze of 50-miles-per-hour traffic, he raised an arm in victory to wave at his friend who was still across the highway.

Now I hate to see our one-stoplight town change to anything but. But ... perhaps it's time now, before someone is killed, not after to make highway safety between Sonic and the high school a priority.

One can't help but think, when a teacher is so successful, that a larger district might pluck him or her away with a tempting salary or other benefits. I would imagine that many high school parents are happy to hear that Steve Harrell, high school debate teacher and coach of the debate team that swept state finals Saturday with first, second, third and fourth places, is building a house in Tonganoxie and that he and his family, obviously, must intend to stay.

The students in Harrell's debate classes are lucky that through debating, they are learning organizational skills and honing a public speaking ability that can benefit them for the rest of their lives.

And now ... my question is ... will the groundhog see his shadow next week? All I can say is: Brrrrrrrr ... I hope not.

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