Valley Center explosions rock The Sunflower

On Tuesday, part of Valley Center, Kan., burned like ancient Rome.

Valley Center is not incredibly close to Wichita State, home of The Sunflower newspaper, of which I am editor in chief; however, the effects of the Barton Solvents plant erupting into explosive flames still touched our publication.

See, Tuesdays are production days for our paper during the summer. We only come out once a week for the months of June and July, and the paper hits the stand every Wednesday morning.

Upon hearing of the explosions and the ensuing evacuations, I instantly feared for this week’s edition of The Sunflower because our press is in Valley Center at Valley Offset Printing, which is next-door to the Barton plant.

I began to wrack my brain for alternative press locations. One of the first coming up was The McPherson Sentinel, or even some of the other area papers.

It soon became evident, though, that we would need to find a closer solution to our problem.

So as the events continued to unfold near our paper’s birthing location, we at The Sunflower quickly reached a decision.

The Sunflower’s adviser, Ronda Voorhis, immediately called The Wichita Eagle and explained our plight.

They managed to find a way to work us into their schedules of press runs so we too could have a paper for our readers Wednesday.

We at The Sunflower empathize with the hard times Valley Offset is currently facing, and we understand such extenuating circumstances to cause a break in our services were out of their hands.

We simply consider our selves lucky to have another press so willing to provide support when needed.

The staff of The Sunflower is composed of students, primarily those wishing to study journalism, and as such, we tend to look up to the larger papers in the area.

This kind act proves why The Eagle is a role model for up-and-coming journalists.

The people at The Eagle understand we all have a common goal — to do our jobs as journalists and provide our readers with an informative product.

To The Wichita Eagle: Thank you very much for helping us in this unique time of need.

And it truly was a unique time of need.

My photo editor and I traveled to Valley Center to try and get a little coverage for our paper since students on our campus could be from or have family from the evacuated community.

We of course got no closer than the rest of the media vying for coverage of this news event. Some media outlets did get better photos than we did, but they have access to helicopters.

No matter what I say, I don’t think The Sunflower will ever be given the funding to afford its own helicopter. It’s a nice dream, though.

All of this happened on the same day I cam to the realization that I leave for Athens, Ga., on Sunday and won’t return until the following Saturday.

I knew the trip was coming up, but in my head it continued to be “a few weeks away.”

Needless to say, it has been an interesting week, especially considering there was a double-murder and suicide that took place early Wednesday morning at an apartment complex just down the street from my current home.

I’m really starting to feel as though I live a fast-paced, exciting life. I love it.

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About toddvogts 782 Articles
My name is Todd Vogts. I am an assistant professor of media. I like the color green, riding my motorcycle, and being with my family and friends. A good book is a perfect companion for me any time, and I'm a published author and journalist. Visit my website at and follow me on Twitter at