Commissioners approve plans to Father Kapaun’s upcoming vigil

Commissioners approve plans for Father Kapaun’s upcoming vigil

The Marion County Board of Commissioners met for their weekly meeting on Monday, July 12. Much of the meeting was spent discussing the upcoming event of Father Kapaun’s remains being brought from Wichita to Pilsen.

According to the Catholic Diocese of Wichita website, “The Kapaun family in conjunction with the Diocese of Wichita are planning to transport Fr. Kapaun’s remains on a flight from Honolulu, Hawaii, that will land at Eisenhower airport in Wichita on Saturday, September 25. A procession will depart from the airport to take Fr. Kapaun home to Pilsen, where he will remain until Monday morning, September 27. From Pilsen, Father Kapaun’s remains will be transported back to Wichita, to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where they will be kept until the vigil on Tuesday, September 28, and the funeral on Wednesday, September 29. Both the vigil and funeral Mass will be held at Hartman Arena.”

Along with the remains of Father Kapaun being brought to Pilsen (where he was born in 1916), thousands of people will be traveling along to pay their respects and they will be coming through Marion County.

Sharon Omstead, Director of Planning and Zoning, told the board that she attended a meeting in June regarding the Father Kapaun event. She said that the meeting covered the need for someone to coordinate it all because there are so many different organizations and moving parts involved. The desire to hire a company to be the point person was brought up and supported by many.

The consultant that they would like to use is Russ Ewy with Baughman Company out of Wichita. They have done work with the diocese and are familiar with all of it.

“This really needs to be lead by someone outside of the department heads,” said Emergency Management Director Randy Frank, who is also a part of the team involved in planning the event.

There have already been large numbers of people who have traveled through from Wichita to Pilsen on a yearly pilgrimage every June and there will continue to be more. There has been a push for sainthood for Father Kapaun which means many more will continue to travel to Pilsen to see the place where he grew up and visit the museum there.

“There have been buses pulling up there to see the museum regularly since the process for sainthood has begun,” said Frank. “And in addition to the possibility of sainthood, he is a decorated war hero. He served in both World War II and in the Korean War.”

The vigil and funeral mass alone has been very publicized on social media and on television which could increase the number of people coming through Marion County. This could potentially mean revenue for Marion County.

There was some concern in the meeting about why the county would need to spend any money since this event was being planned by the Catholic Diocese of Wichita.

“Is this considered a public event or a private event?” asked Commissioner Kent Becker. “Where would the money come from?”

Several spoke up that it investing in having one person/agency to be the point in all of it would pay off in the long run.

“We have so many entities involved. We’ve got the local sheriff, we’ve got the Wichita Diocese, we’ve got military, we’ve got roads, we’ve got military, we’ve got economic development—there are ten pieces of this huge puzzle and it’s going to have such an impact on Marion County. And it’s really become overwhelming for Brice [Goebel] to handle. Or Randy to handle or Sharon to handle,” said Commissioner Dave Mueller. “We have got to make a good presentation in September. We are talking about three different events. One of them [funeral] short term and the other two [sainthood and pilgrimages] long term. We want to do it right.”

The board approved using the consultant firm to be the point in all of the Father Kapaun business. They will continue to check-in and review the process.

In other business, the board:

n heard from County Engineer Brice Goebel said that he had been approached by a woman who lives on Upland at the Marion County Lake. “The concern that she has is that people are speeding up too early as they leave the lake. They start at the County Lake and they just rev up as fast as they can. She wants to see the 55-speed limit moved up further north,” he said. Attorney Brad Janz said the board could get a camera and record those who aren’t following the posted limits. No decisions were made.

n heard from Emergency Management Director Randy Frank that he has been working on flood reports in Peabody for the downtown since all of it falls under historical buildings. Frank has been sending these reports to FEMA and other agencies to help facilitate funding. Frank also said that there are eight homes that had bad flooding that are getting help.

n learned that Frank has provided hand sanitizers for the Marion County Fair board to have on hand to hand out during the fair.

n heard from Frank that he has been attending two meetings a week and working with other agencies with the planning for the Father Kapaun visit that is happening in September.

n heard an update on the heated dock project from Park and Lake Superintendent Isaac Hett. One change would be to take out the storage room in order to save some money. Hett pointed out they could always go back and add one later on if they needed to. Once the down payment is paid, the project is estimated to be completed in six weeks.

n Hett reported that the 3rd of July Park and Lake event went well and there were no reported problems.

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