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Friday, 20 September 2013 12:16

From the archives of Liberal’s hometown newspaper since 1886.

Researched and compiled by Amira Coleman, L&T Reporter


World’s largest helium plant opens near Liberal

Football season at Liberal High School is up and running smoothly in 2013, but LHS’s football program back in 1963 hit a few bumps in the road as their two-year letterman at guard, Lynn Thomas, was out for the count from a knee injury inflicted on him during an intersquad scrimmage.
Things were looking grim for the team, as he probably would not be able to start in the season opener that Friday night.
On a more positive note, the team’s own Larry Card had shown massive improvement and was moved into the No. 1 right halfback, bumping former right halfback Denny Cox into the left halfback position.
The LHS cheerleaders were featured in the paper a few days later, with a photo of them sporting ‘attractive new red suits’ and cheerfully displaying their pompoms. The cheerleaders, Pam Armstead, Jan Russell, Sally Matkin, Marlene Pottroff, Martha Dryer and Gwen McCord were all seniors that year.
Two local churches, Friends Church, and St. Andrews Episcopal Church, were broken into on Sept.18, 1963. Both churches reported theft and vandalism.
The thieves and vandals got into the Friends Church through a forced window, and “all desk drawers were ransacked and 100 pennies taken from a … Sunday school room,” the Times reported.
Ten dollars had been stolen from the St. Andrews Episcopal Church, and someone had emptied a bottle of wine from the church basement. Local police recovered the empty wine bottle and a silver chalice both found in the church’s kitchen.
Construction on the Southwest Medical Center had been stopped for a day, due to picketing by the Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 29 out of Wichita. The reason for picketing the construction site was that Weidman Metal Masters, a subcontractor handling all duct work, did not want to hire union labor. The Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 29 union protested this unfair treatment.
“Our primary purpose is to do everything in our power to tell the public that we consider Weidman Metal Masters unfair,” said Robert L. Westman, the union’s business representative. The disagreement was apparently worked out that day, since all employees on the job went back to work on that Wednesday, with no picketers in sight.
The Southwest Daily Times ran a special edition of the paper, Sept. 18, 1963, to honor the opening of the National Helium Plant, right outside of  town. There were two open houses scheduled for the general public alphabetically.
“All families whose last names fall within the A to K section of the alphabet inclusive are invited to come out on Saturday,” the paper read. The people whose names began with the rest of the alphabet were welcome from 1-3 p.m. the following day.
The paper highlighted the many plus sides of having the world’s largest helium plant, some of which were an increase in job opportunities, and just the plain old excitement of getting something new in town.
The executives of the new plant included Ross W. Wilson, Robert C. Davis, Howard S. Kraybill, Ray Newson, Warren E. Harber, and Mark E. Lauterbach. With a new helium plant opened in Quatar last July, the National Helium Plant is not the world’s largest helium plant anymore, but it’s still something the citizens of Liberal can celebrate and be proud of.

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About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

For more, contact us.


Get the Daily Leader delivered to your home for $101.45 per year in Liberal, or $140 outside Liberal. Call 620-626-0840 for a subscription today. You can receive the print edition or an electronic edition! To subscribe today, email circulation@hpleader.com.

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