Monday, July 16, 2018

Sternberg Museum

One of the most famous fossils at the Sternberg Museum in Hays.
Many of the displays at the museum are very realistic as seen in the photos above and below.
Make no bones about it, the Sternberg Museum in Hays ranks among the best natural history museums in the country in terms of scientific holdings.
The museum is home to one of the top collections of Cretaceous marine and Neogene terrestrial vertebrate fossils. It also features an excellent assembly of Pteranodon material, the largest collection of fossil grass seeds and an assortment of modern biological material, mammals, reptiles and plants.
Perhaps its most famous display is an exceptionally well-preserved Gillicus within a Xiphactinus, or better known as the Fish-within-a-Fish. The unique find was discovered by the museum’s namesake George F. Sternberg and shows a large 14-foot fish with its last meal, a six-foot fish, fully intact inside of it.
Other attractions include a realistic Cretaceous diorama (watch out for the T-rex!) and a fossil dig pit. Many areas of the museum encourage hands-on interaction including its Discovery Room, where visitors can explore drawers full of touchable specimens from the Great Plains, climb on Charlotte the Spider and view a variety of live animal exhibits, including native snakes, turtles, lizards and fish.
In addition to its permanent displays, the Sternberg also hosts temporary exhibits and various events throughout the year. Visit the museum website at for more exhibition and event information.
What will you discover under the dome at the Sternberg Museum?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

KDOT crews assisted with Eureka tornado clean up

KDOT crews assist with picking up debris left behind from a tornado that moved through Eureka. 
An EF-3 tornado hit the town of Eureka on June 26 causing damage to the high school, houses, trees, power lines and the Kansas Department of Transportation Eureka Subarea office.

KDOT Area offices in El Dorado, Iola and Independence sent numerous employees, several dump trucks, message boards, loaders, barricades, a track hoe and a skid steer to assist in the clean-up efforts.

KDOT storage buildings sustained heavy damage from the tornado. A complete renovation to these buildings is scheduled for later this year. 

After helping the citizens of Eureka with clean-up efforts KDOT employees began cleaning and clearing their subarea maintenance office at Eureka. On a hot and muggy day in early July, several crew members could be seen sweeping away debris and relocating various objects that the twister’s high winds had flung far and wide on the grounds.

Equipment Operator Senior Roy Junkersfeld (right) and Equipment Operator Billy Jones (left) pick up debris left behind at the Eureka Subarea.
This year’s tornado was the second to strike Eureka in a two-year period. Eight people were injured. Seventy-eight residences either sustained significant damage or were completely destroyed. The tornado inflicted considerable damage on the subarea’s chemical storage and equipment storage buildings, wash bay, salt dome and office. Sultry daytime temperatures in the aftermath of the tornado, combined with long hours of community clean-up and little sleep, left the crew members “just exhausted,” said Subarea Supervisor Jeff Marks. Adding more hardship to conditions was a two-day power outage in the city.

State Transportation Engineer Catherine Patrick and Operations Director Larry Thompson visit Eureka to survey the tornado damage of the cold storage building. 
Yet thanks to dedicated KDOT staff, the bruised and battered subarea continues to carry out its work. On a brighter note, a complete renovation of the subarea is scheduled for later this year. Director of Operations Larry Thompson said that he was impressed with the clean up efforts.  

"Immediately after the tornado passed, the Eureka Subarea Supervisor Jeff Marks, walked into the shop area – because he could not drive due to downed power lines and trees – and started securing the site," Thompson said.  "This included shutting off the gas supply which was leaking due to a broken pipe and dealing with an oil spill to keep it out of the local waterway. Then as the crew trickled in, the Citywide clean up efforts began. When we were there on Friday, the Eureka crew and equipment from District 4 shops and District 5 were actively clearing the streets and hauling debris. Just like that was normal business and it certainly was not normal."

KDOT crew members clean up after a tornado damaged the Eureka Subarea. 
After the tornado struck, KDOT closed a 21-mile section of U.S. 54 for several hours. With power lines down, KDOT employees couldn’t access the Eureka shop until June 28, Iola Superintendent Derrick Shannon said. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

That's so hot! Surface recycling extends life of highways

Surface recycling is one of the ways KDOT can extend the life of a road.
By Deb Gruver,
South Central Kansas Public Affairs Manager

Have you ever seen a surface recycling operation in action? You may have but just didn’t know it. 

Surface recycling produces a layer of rejuvenated asphalt on the road surface.

Surface recycling produces a layer of rejuvenated, uncracked asphalt on the road surface. This technique is a process that is 100 percent recycled. It removes the existing crack pattern in the layer and evens out any bumps or depressions on the surface.

The road surface is heated up and melted.

With several moving pieces, it's an impressive sight. Resembling a train, an assembly of machinery heats up the existing asphalt on the road, scoops it up, mixes it with oil, spreads it back out on the roadway and then rolls it flat. Propane is used to heat the asphalt indirectly, though flames can be seen on the underbelly of that portion of the “train.”

The melted road surface is scooped up. 

Imagine working on asphalt in July in Kansas
— hot no matter what the project. Then imagine working aboard machinery that literally melts the roadway. 

The road surface is rolled out and spread flat. It is now a rejuvenated and crack-free surface. 
In these photos, subcontractor Bettis Asphalt works on the recycling phase of a $3,493,290 project on K-4 stretching from the Ness/Rush county line to the Rush/Barton county line. Nearly 37 miles will get this treatment, and then Venture Corporation of Great Bend, the primary contractor, will place an overlay on top of what's been recycled.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Artful walk: Wichita State University's sculpture collection provides healthy activity

By Tom Hein,
Wichita Metro Public Affairs Manager

Tres Mujeres Caminando (Three Women Walking)  by Francisco Zuniga 
Combining outdoor walking and art appreciation is a healthy way to enrich the body and the mind. On the campus of Wichita State University, 76 sculptures are spread across the 330-acre campus, inviting walkers to discover a diverse collection – and improve their health.

Millipede by Tom Otterness.

There are works by famous artists – Auguste Rodin, Joan Miro, Henry Moore and others – but who created them is less important than how you experience the pieces as you walk around them.

Bust of Renoir by Aristide Maillol

Summer, albeit rather warm, is a great time to visit the campus and tour the Martin H. Bush Outdoor Sculpture Collection. With only summer school in session, there are plenty of free parking spots. Stop by the university’s Ulrich Museum of Art for a map of the collection or check it out online at

Man with Cane by Fernando Botero

Visiting all 76 pieces of art will be good for your heart – in more ways than one!

Monday, July 9, 2018

City of Atchison

The Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge shines at night in aesthetic lighting. 
The Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum.
Just about an hour north of Topeka, sitting on the banks of the Missouri River, Atchison is home to an international legend and a continuing inspiration to young women considering going into the sciences, technology, engineering and mechanical career fields.
To get to Atchison, birthplace of Amelia Earhart, K-4 out of Topeka offers wide open views of the horizon as drivers pass the farmland Kansas is so famous for. Or the Glacial Hills Scenic Byway, that runs along 63 miles of K-7 north and south of Atchison, has landscaped scenery to admire. Entering Atchison, the highway becomes the Skyway Highway.  Stay on the Skyway Highway and you end up at the Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge, a beautiful 2,500-foot tied-arch structure with wide lanes, bike paths and aesthetic lighting, which is a recently-completed joint project of the Kansas and Missouri DOTs.
Above, a tall Amelia Earhart impersonator
 walks along downtown during the annual
Amelia Earhart festival. Below, the riverfront
is packed with people enjoying the festival.
But the main attraction in Atchison is its distinction as the birthplace of Amelia Earhart, which is celebrated annually during Visit Atchison’s Amelia Earhart Festival.  The festival, which this year is July 20 and 21, celebrates spirit of legendary aviatrix Amelia Earhart with a downtown music, food and crafts fair, star-filled outdoor concert, children’s activities, carnival, awards and honors, Earhart research and literature, music on the beautiful Riverfront, aerobatic performances and the “Concert in the Sky” fireworks show.
This year’s festival celebrates the 90th anniversary of Earhart becoming the first woman to make a solo round trip flight across the United States.  That year, she was also the first woman to make the trip across the Atlantic Ocean as a passenger. 
In addition to food, music, sights and speakers, the festival also features a fly-in and air show and tours of the historic Santa Fe Depot and of course, an open house at Earhart’s birthplace overlooking the Missouri River.
Motor on up to Atchison anytime, but plan to visit during the celebration of a Kansas hero, innovator and trail blazer who truly embodied ‘to the stars and beyond.’



Thursday, July 5, 2018

Three bridges in Kiowa County on U.S. 400 set to be repaired, more projects let

PCI Roads of Saint Michael, Minn., will make repairs to three bridges on U.S. 400 in Kiowa County as part of a $706,224 project approved in the Kansas Department of Transportation’s  June 20, 2018, monthly bid letting.
Crews will perform compaction grouting at a box bridge just east of the Ford County line. Compaction grouting is a technique that reinforces soil and stabilizes the ground. This work is to help correct some settlement issues at the bridge.
PCI Roads also will patch the deck and replace expansion joints on a bridge crossing the Union Pacific Railroad and patch the deck of a third bridge that crosses U.S. 54.
A total of 31 projects totaling approximately $9.5 million were approved as part of the June 20 letting. To see all of the approved projects, click here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Celebrate the Fourth of July with these safety tips in mind

Kansans will hit the road and celebrate the Fourth of July with their loved ones. It is also close to the halfway point in the 100 Deadliest Days, the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day where more teens are involved in crashes. 

The Kansas Department of Transportation, The Kansas Highway Patrol and the Kansas Turnpike Authority  want to encourage travelers to plan ahead to and be prepared for their trips and celebrations.

From June 30 to July 4 last year, there were 549 crashes with seven people killed and 159 people who were injured.

Before travelers pack their cars, they can check their route for delays or construction with the help of KanDrive at, which can also be accessed from mobile devices. KanDrive includes camera images and interactive maps, as well as links to rest areas and travel and tourism sites.

Here are some additional safety tips to help travelers get the most of their Fourth of July celebrations and summertime fun:
  • Begin a trip with a full tank of gas and a fully charged phone.
  • As you travel, remember to move over for first responders and highway maintenance crews. If you are unable to move over, then slow down.
  • Keep emergency supplies in your car, including bottles of water, a phone charger and non-perishable food items.
  • Confirm that everyone in your vehicle is using their seat belt and/or an appropriately-fitted child safety seat.
  • Before you consume alcohol designate a sober driver ahead of time.
  • If you’re hosting a party provide non-alcoholic drink alternatives for guests who don’t plan on drinking or who are designated drivers. 

If you are involved in a crash or need assistance on a Kansas highway, call *47 (*HP) from a cell phone for a highway patrol dispatcher, or if on the Kansas Turnpike, dial *582 (*KTA). 

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!