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Greensburg, Kansas #4

Ice Storm

End of November 2007, Steve Hewitt is worried over rebuilding downtown with no money. A contractor meeting for the business incubator is held. The project will be a 9,300 square foot facility that will contain retail shops and professional services. And to initiate this going green project as quick as possible. Steve is hoping to get it out to bid, designed, and start construction in the spring, for completion in the summer. Before the storm Richard and Rhonda Engelken owned three commercial buildings, one rental house, four cars, and their own home. After the storm, all gone. Rhonda’s
downtown beauty shop, E clips (clever – hope I spelled it right-), was destroyed, so they ended up selling the property to the city for the incubator project. Thinking they could relocate the shop inside the incubator, their hearts were broke when told they could not because of the smell. They feel a little taken advantage of.

Mary Merhoff and her mother Pamela are putting up their Christmas tree in their unfinished manufactured home not decorating the FEMA trailer in the hopes they can be in by Christmas. Her three kids always cry when they leave to go back to the FEMA trailer.

December, 2007 – Steve asks Levi Smith (one of the four high school kids), and his parents to get the community Christmas tree, which Levi thinks is way cool. So off they go to Delp’s Christmas Tree Farm. They return towing one very large tree and one much smaller family tree tied to the top of the car. Levi thinks it’s “pretty neat that we get to come back with this huge pretty tree cause people are gonna see that as a sign of hope. It’s just more proof to them that we’re coming back.” I really like this kid.

Steering committee meeting. Understanding codes, sticker shock, financial gaps, etc. Taylor Schmidt (one of the four), suggest inviting the Greensburg people in to hear what’s going on and voice some opinions, because most of them are feeling left out and not important. So a town meeting is set for the 20th of December. That happens to be the birthday of Taylor’s granddad who was lost in the tornado.

Janice and John Haney are farmers who feel alienated and dictated to. As taxpayers they don’t like being left out.

On Saturday a Christmas Fair was given to Greensburg. Since most residents lost even their Christmas decorations, a drive was held to give trees, decorations, and gifts to them. Fairview, Kansas gave $4,000 and 160 Christmas trees.

Pamela meets the furniture truck and gets weepy has the new furniture is moved in, remembering 40 years of treasures lost. Her emotions surprise her.

Ice Storm – If it’s not one thing…. ! Slowing or stopping everything, but very beautiful.

Still in their FEMA trailer, Steve and Kim decorate their Christmas tree, while their cutie-pie Gunner mostly breaks the ornaments.

‘The Four’ pass out flyers for the Town Hall Meeting. Taylor has supper with his grandmother. She’s got a joyful spirit even as it will be her first Christmas without her husband. Taylor tells her about Chicago and what’s going on with the committee. Have I said how much I like this kid?

The elementary school held their Christmas recital.

They have the town hall meeting, quite a large turn-out. Updates are given. Taylor, Conner, and Levi (3 of the Four), talks about their Chicago trip and how much their town going green really means to them. I’m gonna adopt these kids.

The town hall meeting seems to really help everybody. Except Janice and John.

Pamela, Mary and the kids moved into their new home four days before Christmas.

Greensburg has their Christmas parade at night. Levi gets to turn on the community’s Christmas tree lights. Tractors pulling trailors all lit with lights, the H.S. marching band, Santa and Mrs Claus.

Christmas brings lifted spirits and that irrepressible hope.

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9 Responses to “Greensburg, Kansas #4”

  1. Heath Says:

    Thanks for the right up here. You’ve done a great job of giving an update. I’ll have to remember to catch your write up next week as I may be in Greensburg when it airs. I grew up in Greensburg and now live about 2 hours from there. My parents still live there and may even be on later shows… well actually dad was shown in hi cowboy hat standing around late in the episode tonight.

    Although I don’t know the high school kids real well (I graduated 16 years ago) I do know all of their families real well, and there is a reason they are great kids. It’s because they come from great families. When Levi was talking about his wild shirt it sounded just like his dad.

  2. Anita Says:

    Great job, as always!
    I’m really bummed that the Haney’s feel so bad about things. I don’t always feel a part of things, either, but I feel very positive toward the direction things are going.
    Our town was dying before the tornado. If we rebuilt everything the way it was, and left things as they were, wouldn’t we just be back in that same rut in the road going nowhere?
    Change isn’t always easy. Especially when you’re very set in your ways.
    I hope the Haneys are plesantly surprised at the results.

    Anitas last blog post..Attempt #2 at explaining my version of "simple"

  3. Linda Says:

    Hi Heath… Glad you like it and I hope that your family was not hit too bad in the storm. I try to give blow by blow details for those who do not get the Planet Green Channel. It is very nice to get an insiders view that we do not get in the program. The kids have to come from great families to have their act together at that age!

    Hi Anita …. Yea! you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. Let me throw another one at ya… Sometimes you just cannot teach an old dog new tricks!

    Lindas last blog post..Greensburg, Kansas #4

  4. Taylor Says:

    Hi Linda! I’m Taylor Schmidt, from Greensburg KS. I happened to have just stumbled on your blog…

    Thank you for your kindness. I really appreciate it. I’m glad you get to follow the story! Its interesting… We don’t get to see the show before anyone else, so every Sunday we are watching it with no clue what will be aired. Its a strange feeling to see yourself on TV! Nothing changes, I’m still working for here in Greensburg, and in August school will begin like normal, with the exception of a new school being built behind us! Its like normal life here, however you may define that! Greensburg is a very special place. And the Planet Green crew are the only sign of hollywood having a slight presence! They are very nice, and try to stay true to our story. They have become a part of our family! Its sad, they will be leaving in a week. The show here has almost wrapped.

    I hope you can visit Greensburg someday. It is so amazing. You can just feel the presence of God wherever you are.
    I don’t want to bother you, just thought I would thank you. Hope all is going well!

  5. Taylor Says:

    P.S. – I’ll tell Levi about this. I’m actually using his computer at his house… We haven’t replaced our computer yet! Haha

  6. Linda Says:

    Hi Taylor … Welcome to Forced Green. It is an honor to have you join us, young man. First, let me say you and your friends are a breath of fresh air. You alleviate our fears for the future when we see the concern and responsible actions shown by you and your peers. Thanks for giving inside information that we do not get from the program due to Planet Green’s editing and time.

    Greensburg is a special place to alot of folks due mainly to how you are rebuilding your town GREEN! Many of us are very proud of the town, it’s folks and your city manager who has really done a stand up job.

    Tell your Grandma “howdy” along with your family and Levi.

    May GOD bless you all and come back again!

  7. Diane Says:

    Wow Linda! This is so powerful and I’ve got tears in my eyes with the comments!

  8. Linda Says:

    Yeah, they have made me weepy a few times as well but they are a strong people with a great sense of community pride.

    Lindas last blog post..Greensburg, Kansas #4

  9. Says:

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