Ground Breaking Ceremony
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Preparing the site
The Crowd Gathers
Joe delivering speech
Franklin Community Council, Inc.
Board of Directors
Franklin Community Council, Inc.
Community Hall Board
Given by Joe Cukjati, Chairman of Building Committee
Just after the turn of the previous century, this little village of
once a frontier outpost on the old military highway came to life with
the advent of coalmines starting in the area. The town of Franklin
began to grow. It eventually grew with the help of immigrants coming
from all over Europe mainly from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy,
France, Belgium, England and Scotland. Mostly from these areas as
there were coalmines in these places and experienced coal miners were
needed in the coalfields for deep shaft mining.
Our little village grew into a roaring town of
over 2,000 residents. Franklin then had a post office, a town doctor,
three dance halls, two butcher shops, five saloons, a streetcar line to
Pittsburg and Girard, several grocery stores, a mining company store
that served the general mining population in the multidistrict mining
area, one high school and three grade schools and numerous other little
businesses including farms.
The largely immigrant European residents brought their
culture, religious beliefs and ethics with them. Walking down the
world’s longest sidewalk in the 1920’s and 1930’s one could hear
languages from all over the world- Slovenian, German, Italian, French,
Polish, Croatian, Yiddish, Spanish, Russian and very proper English as
some but not all languages. As a boy, I had Slovenian, Italian,
German, Belgium, Russian, English, Polish, Dutch and French
neighbors. Their culturally infused lifestyle made a large
impression on me as a boy. I have always treasured their friendship. In
all of my world travels, I have always treasured the great stock of
people right here in Franklin and was always thankful to have known
At this moment, I would like to thank Joanie Hume Vignatelli for
attending our groundbreaking. It was her husband’s family that
owned this location. I always treasured their contribution as a
great family to Franklin. Gene, Joanie’s husband was three years
older than I was. He was my hero. Gene was one magnificent
human being that went on to the University of Kansas as an All American
football player. I was so personally happy to learn that the new civic
center would be built on Vignatelli property. But, that was the past
Our Franklin Community Council and the
Citizens of Franklin owe a deep debt to many people making this event
possible. This is a letter we received from Governor Kathleen Sebelius.
We owe a deep debt of gratitude to our government servants in
Lloyd Arnold of FEMA and Donald Madison of the Rural Development
Section of the United States Department of Agriculture. We owe very
deep and reverent thanks to these gentlemen that have helped us so
diligently and made this event possible. Our community will
always be indebted to these people and their organizations.
Many thanks to Senator Sam Brownback. He has been especially
supportive. Many thanks to Representative Jim Ryun. Many
thanks to State of Kansas Senator James Barone. Jim gave us
leadership just after the tornado and has hellped us severael times
since. Thanks Jim. Thanks are owed also to the Crawford County
Commissioners and staffs.
We owe a deep debt to Ledbetter and Corners Architects of Webb City
Missouri- thanks to Doug and Cheri Corners and Dan of that office for
all your help
We owe a deep debt to our attorney Kevin Mitchelson of Wheeler and
Mitchelson Chartered- thanks for all your help to date Kevin.
Franklin Citizens owe a debt to all the hard working Franklin Community
Council members who have done so many things to
bring this event on line.
Thanks to Danny Arck and Tri-State Building Company for taking on this
I personally want to thank Craig Stokes and my fellow building
committee members, Henry Aschbacher and Norine Laird for all your help
in getting us this far. And finally, we all must thank John Houck for
getting the original design going and getting us to think and
plan. John did a ton of work before I took over a
chairperson. Thanks John for all your help to the community and
to me personally.
I feel with the tornado removing one third of
our residents and disrupting our town so devastatingly that in the
circle of life that Franklin has hit its lowest ebb and now is on the
upside side of the circle. This civic community center will be
the focal point of a resurgence of core rebuilding of our physical,
emotional and culture being as a town. With the advent of sewers,
a city park and an improved water system that our limit as a town will
be determined by present citizens and future citizens rebuilding a
vital, energetic and satisfying community like old.
Our town slowly decayed and faltered after its main source of income
left in the demise of the coal industry but now, there is a new economy
in the area that will uplift and renew.
Our new structures and services will bring new life to
Franklin. Our organizations remembering from the past will
rebuild and renew and bring new citizens enveloped in a new
culture. God Speed and leave us, the children and grandchildren
of all those magnificent older generation people begin the renewal
process in Franklin by breaking ground for our new civic