We have truly had a great run at the newspaper the last three years, and that was highlighted at this past weekend’s Kansas Press Association (KPA) Convention in Overland Park.
It was a long week for me. I sit on the KPA Board of Directors, so a Thursday night meeting that was nearly three hours long started my convention, but I am not complaining, as we made progress on several goals.
Just to throw a wrench in things (literally), I had a flat tire that I noticed on Friday afternoon when Adam Strunk and I were going to head to lunch. So we found a Tires-Plus in Overland Park to see if they could repair my tire during our break.
As we waited the 1.5 hours, we found lunch at a slick barbeque place called “Burnt Ends BBQ” and walked back when the shop was done. The tire looked fine, so I drove off after paying the man and was fairly happy it wasn’t much of an ordeal. Or so I thought.
As we pulled into the convention center, I wasn’t happy, as I could tell something was up. I got out of my car, and there was the same tire flat. I called the shop, and they said I must have hit something in the half-mile between there and our hotel.
I was less than happy with that explanation, as Overland Park isn’t exactly full of pot holes or anything. A few curse words later, I hung up and decided that if you want something done…do it yourself.
I pulled out my full-size spare (a must if you drive as much as I) and loosened the lug nuts.
Strangely, my supposedly just-fixed tire wouldn’t pull off so I could replace it. Damn wheel was stuck, almost like it was never taken off to be repaired at all. My anger was full-blown at this point, and I got on my butt and kicked the sides of the wheel with my heels to loosen the wheel. Finally, after a few good kicks, I got the wheel to loosen and drop to the ground.
I am sure I looked quite amusing to Ron Sylvester, managing editor of The Hutchinson News, who happened to pull into the stall next to me as I was struggling. I don’t know him well, but he was nice and offered to help. I declined, but my curse words, red face, and general greasiness while in dress clothing would have kept me from saying much, so good on him.
The tire was replaced, and I only missed a short part of the convention, so I guess it wasn’t so bad, but I still wasn’t thrilled with the experience.
Once inside and cleaned up, the next two days were filled with experts on photo reproduction, editorial and ethical issues, layout and design, and writing and sales classes. It was a lot of information over a short period of time for sure. My notebook is full, and I have several neat ideas to bring back to our papers to try out.
The highlight for me was two-fold. Saturday during lunch we have our annual awards ceremony, and I am always a little nervous for these things. Curious as to how we stack up with other papers our size and how a different state’s journalists judged our work, I sat anxiously. This year, Missouri journalists judged our contest.
If you haven’t seen our announcement, we had no reason to be nervous at all, as The Clarion brought home 20 awards and an overall sweepstakes trophy which makes us the winner three straight years in our category (small circulation weeklies).
Strunk and I popped a little champagne with our cohorts to celebrate the victory.
I had very little time to celebrate, though, as I was scheduled to speak at the conference about alternative revenue ideas and how to maximize your opportunities. Travis Mounts, an Andale High School graduate and current managing editor of the Times-Sentinel in Cheney, presented with me.
Mounts and I both have similar coverage areas on the west side of Sedgwick County and Reno County. Our communities are all far enough from Wichita to have an identity and feel different than the city, but not far enough away to really have their own economies in many ways, at least compared to many communities in our state.
We have had to be creative to make our papers work, and I hope some of that creativity will be used at other papers across the state.
The opportunity to speak to such a distinguished group of folks was pretty humbling, and I just hope we didn’t waste their time.
We were a part of the final group to speak, so exhausted and ready to test out that spare tire, Strunk and I hit the road. We stopped at Ad Astra Bar and Grill in Strong City on the way back for a tasty dinner in celebration of another great convention and to a strong start to 2016.