(Dr. Dan Thomson) Hi folks. Dr. Dan From DocTalk Here. The wildfires that occurred in southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle and west Texas, they affected a lot of people in a lot of different ways. My guests will be Mark Gardiner, Mark Spare, Dr. Randall Spare and Kendall Kay all from the Ashland and Clark County areas to discuss what happened first hand, what is happening now and how you can provide help in the relief efforts of the regrowth and the rebuilding of Clark county and the surrounding regions. Thanks for joining us today for the show.
Closed Captioning brought to you by AgriLabs, the Perfect Pairing of Performance and Value.
(Dr. Dan Thomson) Hey there, folks and welcome to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson here in person with Mark Spare, and on the phone and live and in-person we have Dr. Randall Spare from Ashland Veterinary Center, Kendal Kay from the Stockgrowers State Bank in Ashland, Kansas, and Mark Gardiner who is with Gardiner Angus. Today is a day of we want to bring what we heard a lot, what we’ve seen a lot on social media; there’s been a lack of coverage on national media about the natural disaster that occurred in Clark County, Kansas, and the surrounding area. We wanted to take time and basically shoot two episodes back to back to bring you up to speed on what happened, what’s going on in that region now and what you can do to help. It’s something that has affected many people within the region of southwest Kansas, the Panhandle of Oklahoma, west Texas. The heritage and the belongings and the acres and the cows and the homes and the different things that, we as a family in agriculture, this is a moment to bring the people that have been affected by this to your homes. An opportunity for us to have a frank and truthful discussion without any filtering from the media and let you all get the real story about what’s going on. Mark, you obviously had an impact on the wildfire, the Starbuck fire, had an impact on you, your family along with many other families. But just describe to me what type of a situation was it that you witnessed or what you saw in that area. (Mark Spare) Yes, sir. That Monday, March 6th, I believe, we realized that back home it was the right conditions for a fire. We’ve seen it in the past. We have winds that are very sustained, very high winds in the spring. We all ran into them and tracked and oftentimes a little fire can get out of control really quickly, and that’s what happened. That’s when we began to understand, my father began to send us some updates throughout the day that this fire that had started in the Oklahoma Panhandle and came across into the major of territory there in the southwestern part of Clark County and southeastern part of Meade County. And then began to change, turn a little bit when we watched and saw on the weather, as I watched the weather, that the winds had shifted. I got a text that the fire was ripping, jumped across Highway 283 there by Englewood and was heading toward the Gardiner Angus Ranch. It just began to take on a different feel when we received a text that our neighbors’ houses, several hours later, our neighbor’s house was burning to the ground and it was a very impactful time for us trying to be patient and hear what was going on. At that time, I began in my mind to understand that my place was to go down and to help my community survive, to serve them. I was able to speak with my dad later and could hear it in his voice, some of the shock from what he had seen, as our hometown had been evacuated. Obviously, our neighbor’s house was gone. One of our farmer neighbors had saved our house by sacrificially putting his tractor right in front of the flames. And so, we loaded up out of Manhattan here, 9:30 that night, and got down there through some road blocks it took to finally pull into our drive, which we’re very thankful that our drive was still there. But about 2:30 to 3:30 that night set about helping dad process some of that and come up with a plan for the next morning. (Dan) Jeez. More DocTalk after these messages.
(Dr. Dan) Randall, can you describe some of the things that went through your mind at Ashland Veterinary Center? What were some of the things that immediately that you were seeing as far as animals’ homes, what you were doing as Ashland Veterinary Center there for the region? (Dr. Randall Spare) Dan, the next morning, Dr. Kellenberger, my veterinary partner , and I, we gathered at the clinic pretty early about seven and we looked at each other and we knew that from our experience with the Anderson Creek Fire, which was in our neighboring county and in Barber County last year nearly at the same time, we understood that from an animal care, an animal welfare and also the client, that we needed to take a role and come alongside of our producers. We knew that there was cattle that had perished and they were lost. We also knew that there were cattle that were in harm’s way, that they were harmed beyond repair. That’s so challenging for our people and at the same time they saw that as stewards of the ground, stewards of the grass, that the grass that they’d preserved for calving season was gone. We looked at each other and said, “We need to take a leadership role in this.” Dr. Kellenberger went to various ranches and we started calling people that we knew might have been in harm’s way and gathering a plan and come alongside of them. We actually probably bit off more than what we understood we were getting, but we felt like that was our responsibility. (Dan) Well, as we can all attest, your veterinary clinic then became kind of a command center for animal care and for the regional care whether they were your clients or not. People really relied on you and the veterinarians of Ashland Veterinary Center to provide guidance, emotional support, animal health support. Thanks for watching DocTalk more after theses messages.
(Dr. Dan) Mark Gardiner, you’ve seen that firsthand with what these folks, Kendal Kay at the Stockgrowers State Bank and Randall Spare. (Mark Gardiner) Absolutely, Dan, and appreciate the opportunity to visit about what happened. You know, everybody in the community is so thankful for everybody that came running when this fire hit, and first and foremost, that would be our volunteer firemen, many of which are ranchers and work on ranches here in this community. They literally jumped on their trucks and left their ranches to try to save ours and I think that exhibits the selflessness that everybody has put forth. It becomes a triage situation where you try to save the things that you can and the reality is with this fire, I had a fireman tell me that it was traveling 80 to 100 miles an hour and you think about other fires that we’ve been a part of, they really just don’t move that same speed. When we had the good fortune last spring and summer and even fall to have such great rainfall, there was a huge, huge fuel supply. The wind made it – just exasperated it all, acerbated it. But the reality of it is, it’s just the wind made it so much worse that there was nothing that could have been done. There’s firemen that are very devastated, “We’ve never lost a home in this community.” And I said, “You didn’t lose. It was a tough ball game and we won.” When you think about the fact that, yes, there were some homes lost but actually in Kansas and the majority of the rural homes were saved and that’s amazing. Then when you think about the fact that no human lives of anybody that was a resident – there was a truck driver that perished and that’s horrible for him and his family – but there was an opportunity for a lot of loss of life of humans besides all the animals that were lost. When you look at what has been done, even during the night and all throughout that, the Ashland Veterinary Clinic provided a command post for organization and for help for people that needed help, they did a tremendous job. Kendal Kay and the Stockgrowers State Bank, all of their team, many of their team were firemen. They are out there fighting the fire but at the same time, they’re coordinating the relief efforts. You just don’t think about the organization that it takes. Kendal Kay will talk too here in a second. But to some extent, Randall Spare, Kendal Kay and even myself, we’re used to dealing with chaos on a daily basis just because we’ve got a lot of things happening, but we all react to this differently, Dan. So the devastation hits people different ways and that doesn’t make it good or bad. It makes it we have to be able to help people that haven’t dealt with this to move on. We focus on the living, the rest of is history and we go forward. You look when the sun came up the next morning; there were hundreds, if not thousands of volunteers here helping us. There was hay on the way. There was fencing supplies on the way. There was veterinary help from Kansas State University on the way that came and helped everybody. It’s not the most pleasant task, I know. My brother did most of it, but euthanizing cows for over two days, and we still have some that we have to euthanize. Not everybody can do that and they shouldn’t have to do. Well, the veterinarians from Kansas State and Ashland Vet Center and others, I’m sure, came and helped people do that that just couldn’t. I look at this as really it’s an opportunity for our community to come together and they’ve done that as never before. It’s really amazing watching God send his people as fast as possible to come and help us. I like to stress to our family that this is an opportunity and we go forward. (Dan) You’re right. The volunteers, there are people who can’t volunteer their time or can’t get there, just the miles. That’s one of the luxuries of being able to host a national show like DocTalk is that we can take you all and take this issue to not only, take this issue to them, but we can bring them to you from afar and to support. folks. April 1st is Gardiner’s Production Sale in Ashland Kansas. Be sure to come support the Gardiner Family and the Ashland community and come see first hand.
(Dr. Dan) Kendal Kay here is on the phone. Kendal Kay is with Stockgrowers State Bank in Ashland, Kansas. He has been heading up the, as Mark Gardiner mentioned, he’s been heading up the relief efforts and helping people sort out indemnity programs and different things. Kendal, can you start out? First of all, I know that there’s some indemnity programs out there. Can you briefly just describe what they cover and then maybe what are some of the issues we need to get resolved, not only for this fire, but maybe if there is, well not if, when the next fire occurs? (Kendal Kay) Yes. Thank you, Doc. I appreciate the opportunity to present that. Not only am I’m President of Stockgrowers State Bank, but I had the luxury of serving as the Mayor of Ashland as well. Just so proud of, just as Mark and Randall have touched on, of how people have stepped up in the call of action. But one thing on these programs, and it’s even with the insurance, you’re never going to be made whole, and as ag producers, there’s not one of them out there expects to be made whole from any certain program. We don’t like to put our hand out and be on the receiving end. It’s always much more fun to be on the giving side of things. But given the scope and the nature of this disaster and what we’re faced with, and you’ve seen it first hand, we’re going to have to figure out how to receive and that’s the angles we’ve been working on through the USDA. They’ve got a couple of programs out there, one being the Livestock Indemnity Program, quite frankly, it’s not a bad program, but it does have a cap on, of $125,000 eligibility. Its just peanuts for the devastation that you see here in Clark County and in the area. That’s one thing we’ve been fighting and pushing for, to potentially change that cap and understand that that literally takes an act of Congress, but you don’t know until you ask. The second component, there is an emergency conservation program for fencing repair. Two parts to that, it also has a cap of $200,000 and I saw a number yesterday that they had estimated forty-one million, three hundred thousand dollars of fence lost in Clark County alone as a result of this fire. That comes out of the Emergency Operation Center and when you divide $200,000, to some of these large areas, it’s just a drop in the bucket. Probably even take a step further than that, is the restrictions that’s involved and some of the red tape to even get some of that funding. It’s my understanding that some in Barber County, from the Anderson Creek Fire haven’t even been paid for their fence that they had built. We’re not looking at that for ourselves, but unfortunately, this is not going to be the last fire out there, whether it be in Clark County or in the state of Oklahoma or in the state of Texas. If we can help in a disaster setting to release some of that red tape for others, that’s one of the pushes that we’re trying to make. Everybody that’s watching this show could contact their congressman to assist with that. I mean the specs are 15 pages long and I know they’re trying to relieve that, but we need to continue to push towards that direction to just allow these ranchers to go build the fence. They’re going to build it, that’s going to last for 30 to 50 years. I mean they don’t want to do it again in five years. (Dan) Right. (Kendal) So go ahead. (Dan) Well, I think one of the things because I can’t believe there’s a cap, maybe they ought to put a cap on the amount of income tax you have to pay too or maybe let us wait a year before we have to send our check in to the IRS. You bring up some great points and we do need to speak to our representatives that there should not be a cap. These operations today are not the same size nor the economics is the same as when these were put in place and we need to move forward. But that aside, Kendal, talk to me a little bit about the two foundations that obviously there are foundations – if you go to ncba.org, you can find foundations for people in west Texas to support the Panhandle of Oklahoma. Today, our show is focusing on Ashland, Kansas. Our show is on Clark County, Kansas, because that was really the epicenter. That’s where the majority of the devastation, animal losses, home losses, fence losses occurred during this fire. Kendal, talk to me a little bit about the two foundations that we were talking about during the break. (Kendal) Yes. The Ashland Community Foundation has been in place for many years and they’re a great organization run by a local board. They know what’s going on and they are accepting donations for the relief effort. It’ll be an application process for those that have had losses and it will be based on your scope of loss as far as the distribution of the funds. But the Ashland Community Foundation, they’re a 501(c)(3) organization, so if you’re interested in receiving a tax deduction for your donation, that’d interest some; some, it’s not so important for, but you are able to get a tax deduction if you donate to the Ashland Community Foundation. I’m assuming that you itemize on your personal tax return. Those funds, I mean they’ve got a website ashlandcf.com and again ashlandcf.com or you can just mail to P.O Box 276 in Ashland, Kansas 67831. It’s again a great organization. The KLA has also been very supportive, Kansas Livestock Association. You can donate there as well and a large percentage of those funds will come back to this area given the scope and the nature of this disaster here. Being from Ashland, I’m fully behind those organizations and I would recommend either one of those as a way to send donations. Millions of acres, hundreds of homes, thousands of cattle…our heritage.
Closed Captioning brought to you by AgriLabs, the Perfect Pairing of Performance and Value.