KU News Release

May 13, 2010
Contact: Mike Krings, University Relations, (785) 864-8860

Wind power, agriculture, rural education focus of Wheat State Tour's second day

More Information

LAWRENCE — The Smoky Hills Wind Project, Kansas art, rural education, economic development and a historic African-American settlement will be among the highlights of the second day of the 2010 University of Kansas Wheat State Whirlwind Tour.

Now in its 12th year, the tour will take nearly 40 KU faculty and staff, many new to Kansas, on a five-day bus tour to provide a first hand look at the state’s history, economy, landscape and culture. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, sponsor of the tour, will join the group for the second day of travel.

The day will kick off with a visit to the Smoky Hills Wind Project, west of Salina. The farm, located just off Interstate 70, is among the leaders in Kansas’ effort to be at the forefront of wind energy production. Located in Lincoln and Ellsworth counties, the project opened in 2008, covers more than 14,000 acres of land belonging to 80 owners and produces nearly 250 megawatts of electricity.

The bus will then travel to Lake Wilson, located primarily in Russell County. The lake, five miles north of Interstate 70, features scenic canyons and ridges. It serves as an example of both the natural beauty of the state available to those willing to get off the beaten path and the diverse topography of the state.

Tour participants will then travel to Lucas, home of some of Kansas’ finest folk art. The Garden of Eden, an elaborate menagerie of concrete sculptures created by Civil War veteran J.P. Dinsmoor, the Grassroots Arts Center and Deeble House are also highlights of the visit. The Grassroots Arts Center is home to art projects from artists around the state. The often quirky, always unique art spills over into the nearby Deeble House and rock garden.

From Lucas, the tour will travel west to Palco. Hometown of Don Steeples, KU’s vice provost for scholarly support, McGee Distinguished Professor of Geophysics and tour director, the Rooks County community has had success in innovative education, economic development and agriculture. Tour participants will tour the public school first, which uses distance education and other methods to overcome challenges to rural schools.

The group will then have lunch with local residents and community leaders. Ruthanne Bigge of Stockton will cater the meal. Participants will also visit the Palco grain elevator and wheat farm operated by Don and Dave Steeples, for a firsthand look at Kansas agriculture.

From Palco, the bus will travel to Damar for a visit to the French Village Neighborhood Community Center. Residents completed a restoration project in 2007 to return community buildings to an old-world style. The community was settled by French Canadian immigrants.

The next stop will be in Nicodemus, the historic African-American settlement in Graham County. Designated a national historic site by the National Park Service, the community was settled in the late 19th century and thrived for many years. The community lives on as a tribute to the role of African-Americans in settling the American West.

The day’s final stop will be in WaKeeney, in Trego County. The group will have dinner at the Western Cooperative Electric Association.

This year, tour participants will share highlights of the trip on Twitter. Visit twitter.com/kuwheatstate from May 17 to 21 for daily updates, impressions from participants and more. To view daily itineraries, maps of this year’s route and photos of previous tours, visit www.wheatstate.ku.edu.

Itinerary for Tuesday, May 18

7:15 a.m. – Load bus
7:25 a.m. – Depart hotel
8 a.m. – Arrive at Smoky Hill Wind Project
8:30 a.m. – Depart Smoky Hill, tour around Lake Wilson
9:30 a.m. Arrive Lucas. Drive by Garden of Eden, tour Grassroots Arts Center, Deeble House and Rock Garden
10:30 a.m. – Depart Lucas for Palco
11:30 a.m. – Arrive Palco High School
12:15 p.m. – Lunch at Town Hall
1:15 p.m. – Palco Grain Elevator
2 p.m. – Depart Palco
2:10 p.m. – Arrive Steeples Wheat Farm
3 p.m. – Depart Steeples Wheat Farm, visit Damar French Village
3:30 p.m. – Arrive Nicodemus
4:15 p.m. – Depart Nicodemus
5 p.m. – Arrive and check in, Best Western WaKeeney Inn and Suites
6 p.m. Dinner at Western Cooperative Electric Association
8 p.m. – Return to hotel

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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