By Jeff Jefcoat, F118344
Our initial contact with any potential FMCA convention site usually starts with the facility’s staff. Such was the case with the Kansas State Fair Association in Hutchinson when we first contacted them in 1999 about the possibility of the fairgrounds hosting an FMCA convention. The site played host to the South Central Area Six-State Rally that year.
From this initial contact right up to the time the last coach had left the fairgrounds after FMCA’s Motor “Home On The Range” convention in October 2002, I have had nothing but thanks and praise for general manager Bill Ogg and his staff. I am grateful to them for the warm, personal feelings displayed to all of us in our planning visits and in the execution of the plans for this convention.
The main contact and coordinator for FMCA throughout this process was a gentleman named Weldon Cook. Weldon is a native of the area, and he showed us the site of the farm where he grew up just outside of town. He is completing his second career, in that he was manager of the local Pepsi plant for 28 years and has spent the past few years working for the Kansas State Fair Association. He has contemplated retirement for some time, but he delayed the date until October, 31 2002, so that he could be part of the FMCA convention. His dedication and enthusiasm toward helping us develop plans and execute a successful convention were unbelievable. He was available day or night, weekday or weekend. He was always as close as the radio or telephone. His attitude proved to be typical of the people of Hutchinson and central Kansas in general. We wish Weldon well with his health, and a long and happy retirement.
It seemed that everything that could be done to welcome FMCA members to Hutchinson was done. One thing residents weren’t able to do — but would have, I’m sure, if they could have — was deliver us some picture-perfect fall weather for the convention. Instead, the rains came while we were in Hutchinson, a welcome relief to the local farmers after a very dry summer, but an inconvenience to the town’s motorhoming visitors. The approximately four inches of rain that fell in just a couple of days turned those beautiful prairie fields into slippery, boggy ponds of mud. It became obvious that we would need much towing equipment to assist coach owners who needed to move. The people of Hutchinson came through for us in that regard as well.
Pankratz Implement, a local John Deere dealership owned by Darrell Pankratz, had been providing small tractors to tow the trams that transported members throughout the fairgrounds during the convention. When Mr. Pankratz heard about the need for motorhome towing equipment, he came to our rescue by providing very large four-wheel-drive tractors with dual front and rear tires, and the necessary drivers. Pankratz would not accept payment for those services. He noted that he wanted to give something back to the community, because the community had been so generous when his son was extremely ill one year ago, and he requested that donations be made to a local charity. As of Saturday, October 5, FMCA members had contributed more than $2,000 on the Pankratz family’s behalf. I have requested that FMCA make a generous donation as well. Others can send donations to the Cancer Council of Reno County, 1303 E. 27th Ave., Hutchinson, KS 67502; or to the Hospice of Reno County, 3 Compound Drive, Hutchinson, KS 67502. Our sincere thanks and gratitude go to Mr. Pankratz, his family, and his employees for all of their assistance. Mr. Pankratz’s son is doing well now, by the way. We pray for his continued good health and for the Pankratz family.
Prior to the convention, the FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity® participated in building a home for a young couple and their preschool-age sons in Great Bend, Kansas, about an hour from Hutchinson. Both of the children have disabilities and have been assisted by the local Lions Club and the Shriners. The money to build this house, under the auspices of Habitat for Humanity, was donated by Don and Wanda Fischer, L110294. Thanks to the Fischers for this generous gift.
The stories of various individuals could go on and on, but I’ll tell you just one more for now. This one involves Mary Alice Lair, the president of the Kansas State Fair Board of Directors. Her enthusiasm and boundless energy in support of our efforts were truly remarkable. She even requested to be scheduled for a shift as a driver on one of the golf cart courtesy trams. She made sure to finish the Fair Board of Directors meeting in time to work her shift. One day my wife, Jean, was looking for the post office, and Mary Alice came along. Jean asked her for directions. Instead, Mary Alice said, “Hop in and we will see if we can find it.” Mary Alice was driving a Jaguar. Obviously, Jean was impressed. She had not ridden in such an automobile before. That evening as we were riding in our Jeep Wrangler, Jean informed me that she had ridden in a much nicer vehicle that day. Jean also had experienced a dose of the Hutchinson hospitality that greeted us at every turn.
I believe that most of us left Hutchinson smiling about the “mud bath” experience and happy that the long drought had ended for the friendly people of central Kansas, but we will probably smile bigger when we get our coaches cleaned again.
Additional information about the convention proceedings and a selection of photos taken during the event appear in the report that begins on page 66 of this issue. The weather certainly played a role at this convention, and that memory will stick with us. However, we also will long remember the generosity of our friends in central Kansas, as well as the stories of FMCA members who devoted their time and resources to helping others.
People helping people, whether it is for fun or for humane purposes — isn’t that part of what FMCA, and really life itself, is all about?
Jean and I wish each of you a blessed holiday season.
Proposed FMCA Constitution
A typographical error has been identified in the Proposed FMCA Constitution that was printed on pages 266-269 of the November 2002 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine.
On page 268 of the magazine, in Article II (FMCA Membership) Paragraph 6 (Special Assessment), Article XIII was identified as the cross-reference for dealing with amendments to the Constitution. The reference should have been to Article X (Amending The Constitution).
Since it is considered an error that can be corrected administratively, this typographical error will not affect ballots that have been or are being submitted. In accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised (10th Edition), the secretary can make mechanical or clerical corrections. Corrections of articles or section numbers or cross-references can be made, provided that the correction does not result in a change of meaning.