Roving with Clay Wirestone

Council Grove downtown streetscape

Searching for the future of Kansas’ Council Grove in three trees, three places and three people

BY: - October 20, 2022

Downtown Council Grove practically floats off the pavement. The 19th century buildings levitate, careful gingerbread constructions of brick and mortar and stone, bringing the past to life while nudging the community into the future. I visited the city, about an hour south of Manhattan, last month. Council Grove isn’t a former industrial town tucked in […]

Christy Davis answers questions for podcast

‘It means community’: Kansas rural development director evangelizes small-town life

BY: - October 10, 2022

When I began driving around the state for the Kansas Reflector last year, I didn’t know what to expect. I was raised and educated in Kansas, yes, but I had spent nearly 15 years away. When I returned, I worked in Topeka and Lawrence. The rural areas of my youth weren’t just distant in memory […]


Kansas doesn’t have a brand while New York does? Fuhgeddaboudit!

BY: - October 3, 2022

Here’s a three-word response to New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ claim last week that Kansas doesn’t have a brand. Sunflowers, tornadoes and abolitionists. Here are a few more, for the sake of completeness. Bison, chili with cinnamon rolls, and the “Wizard of Oz.” With that out of the way, it’s worth asking why the […]

Kansas Reflector editor Clay Wirestone eats his Burnt Ends Fries at the Kansas State Fair on Sept. 10, 2022, in Hutchinson. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

These five Kansas State Fair foods sustained and entertained Reflector staff this weekend

BY: - September 12, 2022

When I arrived at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson on Saturday morning with the Kansas Reflector crew, I moved backward and forward in time. Backward because every summer my mother would drag my unenthusiastic preteen and teenage self to county fairs. I remembered the pungent smell of sheds overflowing with goats and sheep, cows […]

The well called Norman No. 1 was drilled on Nov. 28, 1892, in Neodesha and opened an new era of oil exploration. The site was reconstructed in 1961 and later moved closer to Main Street. (Clay Wirestone/Kansas Reflector)

Once a Kansas petroleum powerhouse, Neodesha now drills down on education and investments

BY: - August 22, 2022

When I was a child, Neodesha was the big city. My family and I lived in nearby, even smaller Altoona. The city of Neodesha — population 2,275 — boasted a grocery store, library and a red caboose behind that library. This month, I drove back to Neodesha with my 11-year-old, on a mission to look […]

Whimsical carvings decorate trees in Orr Park in Montevallo, Alabama. Opinion editor Clay Wirestone walked the park on his recent visit to the state. (Clay Wirestone/Kansas Reflector)

From spine-tingling tales to faces in the trees, Alabama trip puts Kansas in perspective

BY: - August 10, 2022

I was driving along an Alabama backroad with my mother-in-law, hearing about various Southern Gothic deaths that had befallen residents of her neighborhood, when I realized something simple yet important: This country is vast. The contiguous United States stretches more than 2,500 miles from coast to coast. Our 50 states go from sapphire blue to […]

Just after a marker commemorating the lynching of Dana Adams was unveiled at Caldwell Plaza in Salina, those in the crowd drew near to read its historical account. (Clay Wirestone/Kansas Reflector)

A Kansas community confronts generations of trauma by marking 129-year-old lynching

BY: - June 20, 2022

Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Some wounds fester and spread, inflaming and weakening surrounding tissues. Over time, some of these wounds prove fatal. On Saturday afternoon in Salina, under a sweltering sun, more than 100 community members gathered to bind and disinfect a very old wound. On April 20, 1893, a Black man named Dana […]

Teri Finneman, associate professor at the University of Kansas journalism school, created the Eudora Times with students to serve a community without a news outlet. (Lily O'Shea Becker)

At Kansas Press Association event, visions of journalism past and future

BY: - June 15, 2022

University of Kansas associate professor Teri Finneman doesn’t just research community journalism. She went ahead three years ago and started a community news website, the Eudora Times, to serve the community east of Lawrence. Finneman was the featured speaker at the Kansas Press Association’s meeting on Friday in Newton. The gathering was the first in-person […]

A shelf cloud looms over Symphony in the Flint Hills' concert site in rural Chase County on Saturday evening, ahead of a severe storm packing high winds and hail. The annual Kansas City Symphony performance ended early, and about 7,000 people sheltered in their vehicles during the storm. (A.J. Dome)

Symphony in the Flint Hills faces off against massive Kansas storm system, and the spirit persists

BY: - June 14, 2022

Symphony in the Flint Hills encountered that dependable adversary of Kansas events on Saturday evening: severe weather. Audience and performers had gathered for the 17th annual celebration — eloquently written about by longtime emcee Dave Kendall last week in the Kansas Reflector — when the bad news came. Organizers were informed at 6:43 p.m. that […]