Couple’s windbreak spared from tornado’s 2003 strike
Ron and Mindy Turney lucked out during the tornado of 2003.
The Turneys live on 166th Street just south of Kansas Avenue -- about a half-mile north of where homes were severely damaged or destroyed in a May 4, 2003, twister. Had the Turney's home been hit, they could have lost their house, as well as a windbreak they planted in 1990.
At the annual soil conservation banquet Saturday in Lansing, the Turneys received the 2004 Windbreak Award.
Gary Rader, district conservationist with Natural Resources Conservation Service, said when the committee looks for the annual windbreak award recipient, they consider the effect the windbreak has on the homestead.
Statistics show that an established windbreak can cut winter heating costs as much as 20 to 40 percent. Windbreaks help reduce the force of the wind on the exterior surfaces of buildings, reducing in turn the amount of cold air coming inside. And, of course, windbreaks can also benefit a farmstead, or a rural home, by screening out sights, sounds and dust.
"When we drive through the county we look for windbreaks that we feel are deserving of the award," Rader said. "They're kept in good maintenance and of course we want them to be somewhat mature."
Ron said their windbreak, which they planted from seedlings, is 15 years old.
It includes a row of 50 western red cedars, and another row of 35 Austrian pines. The windbreak, located north of their house, is 400-feet-long.
Currently, the trees, well on their way to maturity, are 12- to 15-feet tall.
Ron, a retired engineer for Southwestern Bell, and Mindy, a teacher's aide in Piper, already are seeing results. Their yard is warmer in the winter near the windbreak, and the trees have helped filter out some of the dust raised when vehicles travel along the gravel road in front of their house.
Wind is nothing new to the Turneys, whose 10 acres are near the turnpike. Two years since they've moved there, in 1993 and again in 1996, strong winds blew the roof off of their two-story house.
Leon Stites, Leavenworth County Extension Agent, said bareroot seedling trees, such as those the Turneys planted, are available from the extension office.