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The June 2011 Meeting of the Wichita Chapter of the AMS/NWA
The June meeting was held on Tuesday, June 28th at the Sedgwick County Emergency Operations Center in downtown Wichita. There were 8 guests and 22 members in attendance.
After a lunch of pizza, pop and desserts, President Jerilyn Billings called the meeting to order at 11:45 a.m.She gave an update on the “15th Annual High Plains Conference; The Past, Present and Future of Weather” to be held at the Wichita Marriott from August 4th through the 6th of 2011. It was announced that the career fair portion of the conference was canceled due to lack of interest, but all else was going ahead as planned including the banquet, the sale of “polos” and t-shirts and the “Storm Chaser Meet-and-Greet” to be held on Saturday from Noon until 3 immediately following the conference.
The minutes of the last meeting were read by Secretary Mark Bogner and were entered into official chapter records.
President Billings gave an update on the Dual-Pol update for the ICT 88D radar to begin July 6th, leaving the radar down from 10 days to 2 weeks.
The presentation portion of the meeting featured Bob Dixon, Mayor of Greensburg with an update on how his town had fared since the May 4th, 2007 tornado. Mayor Dixon shared before and after pictures of his own home. He thanked everyone in attendance for what we had done to help that day and while 11 lives were lost, it could have easily been in the 100s if we had not all done our jobs that evening. He pointed out that the “Green” in Greensburg came from a pioneer named Don Green long before the “Green Movement” had that name and that when it came to rebuilding in a green way, they had to first get over some of the “hippie” stereotypes that went along with being green and that it was all about sustainability.
He actually called the tornado a “blessing” of sorts as it affected everyone in the community. There was not a division of “haves” and “have-nots” getting in the way of the community completely relying on each other. In the early days, 600-700 people showed up for meetings in a “big tent” on the east side of town and it involved everyone from the community, including business, planning and the council. They were able to come up with a list of values listed in order here: Community, Family, Prosperity, Environment, Affordability, Growth, Renewal, Water, Health, Energy, Wind and Built Environment. He noted that in society in general while resource availability was going down, resource consumption was going up and this was unsustainable. The people of Greensburg came from a background with the philosophies of, “Take care of the land and it will take care of you” and “Leave it better than you found it.” This sustainability, or capacity to endure, is based on a “3-legged stool” approach of business, environment and people, all of which are needed to make it work. Vision with action can change the world.
Mayor Dixon showed a series of pictures of where Greensburg is today, based on these philosophies: a new water tower, an important beacon to the community; an arts center, town-homes and a municipal building which are all the first in Kansas to be certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum; a business incubator to start new businesses in town; a city hall made from reclaimed wood and brick; schools for the entire county in one building built with wood from Hurricane Katrina, reclaimed barn wood, natural lighting, wind power and the latest technology; a medical clinic/hospital/fire/emergency building all-in-one with wind power; new trees; new Main Street businesses; new brick on main reclaimed from the Menninger Clinic in Topeka; a new Dillon’s grocery store from Kroger called the “Greensburg Prototype”; a new John Deere combined with BTI Wind to sell windmills through agriculture dealers; a county courthouse which was gutted and brought up to state of the art, including geothermal wells; landscaping that was “living within the environment” with native plants; a community wind farm that allows Greensburg to run on totally wind generated electricity; churches and new homes, many of which saw a 70% utility bill cut due to green building.
Mayor Dixon said it was important to point out that new businesses will fail and not to be discouraged, and finally pointed out that the new buildings in town were not built to withstand another tornado like the one that took the town in the first place. He said this would be impractical and unrealistic and that every single building couldn’t be an underground bunker in a town that hopes to succeed.
A question and answer period followed and Mayor Dixon ended with the idea that one is never done with rebuilding.
The next meeting was set for September with the exact date, time and location to be determined and would most likely be a pot-luck, community get-together.
The meeting adjourned at 1:05 p.m.