Help for the long haul

Local citizens send hay, money for fencing supplies to southwest Kansas

By Cynthia Scheer Telescope News

The people of Republic County are showing their support for ranchers who lost cattle, hay, fences, and grass in the southwest Kansas fires earlier this month. Local farmers are donating hay, fuel costs and the use of semi tractors and trailers while others in the community are donating money for fence rebuilding.

The efforts materialized late last week after Washington County Kansas Livestock Association chairman Ed Durst began running radio ads on Belleville’s KR-92 radio about fencing donations. The project, which he calls “Go the Extra Mile,” is a cooperative effort between the counties of Clay, Republic and Washington to raise $30,000 for fence rebuilding. It costs about $10,000 to build a mile of fence when the costs of labor and equipment are figured, he said.

Durst said shortly after the ads began to run late last week, he was asked to speak at the FFA ag breakfast at Cuba’s Rock-a-Thon Saturday morning.

“I guess my little speech really got some people fired up,” Durst said, adding that a freewill offering collected at the breakfast brought in $2,300.

As of Monday morning, Durst said “Go the Extra Mile” had raised just over $20,000.

Durst, who has helped coordinate 24 loads of local hay to southwest Kansas in the past few weeks, said some local farmers from the community asked him at the breakfast how to donate hay.

One of those people was Jeff Krohn, who wanted to donate a load of alfalfa hay but didn’t know how to go about it.

“I wanted to [donate hay] last year after that same area had fires,” Krohn said. “But I didn’t have a chance to.”

Krohn said the donation of 34 Krohn Family Farms bales, which he left his rural Agenda farm with Tuesday morning enroute to Ashland, located just south of Dodge City, was repayment for kind gestures his family received decades ago in their time of need.

“When I was a kid in the 1970s, my dad [Stanley] had a tumor,” he said. “All the neighbors got together and had a plowing bee. This is payback.”

Krohn said he also donated the use of his semitractor and trailer to haul the bales.

“Before I left Rock-aThon I already had people paying for fuel,” he said of the $200 donation.

e $200 donation. Krohn said he was taking hay to Ashland because Durst had worked with hay donations there. Krohn said on Tuesday afternoon that he delivered the hay directly to a ranch northeast of Ashland, a 4.5 hour drive from Agenda.

“He couldn’t thank me enough for the hay,” Krohn said of the Clark County rancher.

Krohn said it began to rain as the hay was unloaded, and bits of green were beginning to emerge from the black.

“There is nothing but burnt pasture for as far as you can see,” Krohn said.

Others donate

Melvin Jeardoe, who lives in southern Republic County, is also donating a semi-trailer load of alfalfa.

“I had done some surveying work on the rural electric lines after the ice storm in that area,” he said, adding that he had been in the area about two weeks before the fires. “I saw what the area looked like right before the fires, and I’ve been back there to see what it looks like now.”

Jeardoe said seeing the devastation inspired him to donate.

“I had extra hay, so I thought I should help,” he said.

Wayne Pachta, of Cuba, said his son, Westin, will haul the hay this week.

Durst said anyone wanting more information on how to donate can contact him at 785541-0248. He said they can also contact KLA members Jim Cerny, of Narka, or Sheila Jensen, of Courtland. Checks for the fencing project can be made to “KLA Foundation” and mailed to Ed Durst at 1118 18th Rd, Morrowville, KS 66958.