Powls, others, get special recognition

Posted August 22, 2022

David Powls, longtime editor and publisher of the Holton Recorder, has been named the 2022 Clyde M. Reed Jr. Master Editor.

He will be honored along with several others, including the newest inductees into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame, at the President’s Gala on Oct. 1 at the Meridian Center in Newton.

Others to be recognized will be:

• The late Ben Wearing, former executive editor of the Salina Journal, who has been named this year’s Gaston Outstanding Mentor.

• The Iola Register, the winner of the Boyd Community Service Award.

• Wichita Eagle reporters Chance Swaim and Michael Stavola, winners of the Victor Murdock Award for outstanding reporting for their three-part series detailing a crisis at Sedgwick County’s Emergency Medical Services.

• The late William Lewis Eagleson, a historical addition to the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame. (See Emily Bradbury’s column on Page 8).

Clyde M. Reed Jr. Master Editor

Powls, 63, raised in Garnett, has a BS degree in journalism and a BA degree in creative writing from the University of Kansas.

He began his career as editor of the Baxter Springs Citizen before serving as sports editor of the Iola Register.

He and his wife, Connie, owned the Yates Center News from 1984-1995, then co-owned the Osawatomie Graphic and Louisburg Herald from 1995-1996.

He was a reporter/photographer for the Ottawa Herald for a year before buying the Holton Recorder and the Sabetha Herald in 1997. He sold the Herald in 2004.

He is a past president of the KPA board of directors, a past Boyd Community Service Award winner with his wife Connie, a past Kansas Gas Service Editorial Writer of the Year and past president of the Yates Center and Holton/Jackson County chambers of commerce.

He and Connie have two grown children: Justine is an elementary school teacher and Michael is a sports writer/photographer for the Recorder.

Powls said all good newspapers should include local editorials about local issues.

Boyd Community Service

The Iola Register’s winning entry was for Southeast Kansas History Online, a project for Woodson and Allen counties that included a searchable map with dozens of historic points of interest.

The primary content creators and site designers were Register reporter Trevor Hoag and managing editor Tim Stauffer, along with web support from their partners at BCI Media. Funding for the project came from Humanities Kansas. Other sponsors included the Iola Register, Woodson County Historical Society, Iola USD 257 and the Bowlus Fine Arts Center. The website was designed:

• To generate interest in the historical tales of southeast Kansas, whether among natives or folks visiting from elsewhere.

• To educate young and old about the place they are from, and to help them forge a deeper connection to that place.

• To draw in tourists who will spend money at local businesses and restaurants.

• To produce civic pride in our local stories, and to preserve them for generations.


Gaston Outstanding Mentor

Ben Wearing, who died from complications of prostate cancer in June at age 69, was nominated by two of his former staff members, Tim Unruh and Roshana Ariel.

Wearing was a graduate of Salina Central, Hutchinson Community College and Kansas State University.

Ben’s career of more than three decades included weekly papers in Arkansas and Oklahoma before returning home to become the police beat reporter at the Salina Journal, where he worked for nearly 30 years, retiring in 2015 as the executive editor.

Unruh wrote: “(Ben) pushed for compelling, accurate news and celebrated stories that made you laugh, and-or cry, provided answers and solved problems.”

Ariel added: “If you want to be the boss of someone, you need to earn their trust. You need to be an example of what you’d like your staff to be. Ben was definitely that.”

Newspaper Hall of Fame

William Lewis Eagleson edited the Colored Citizen, reportedly the first newspaper in the state published as an entirely African American enterprise.

It was established in the 1870s in Fort Scott and was printed by the publisher of a white-owned newspaper, the Fort Scott Pioneer, which often reprinted articles from the Citizen.

This helped preserve a portion of the material covered by the Colored Citizen because copies of its early editions didn’t survive.

The Colored Citizen had articles calling for a Black citizen to be hired as the local school janitor, expressing anger about the dismissal of his brother James, a Black police officer, and decrying the condition of the local school for Black children.

The newspaper ceased publication in 1877, but Eagleson and his brother, James, bought a newspaper in Chetopa and resurrected the newspaper. It moved to Topeka in July of 1878 to be in a community with a larger African American population.

In 1880, the newspaper’s name was changed to the Kansas Herald, then altered to Herald of Kansas.

Eagleson retired later that year. He will be inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame on Oct. 1.

Victor Murdock Award

The articles about the shortcomings of Sedgwick County EMS focused on what appeared to be a lack of responsiveness for those seeking emergency care and a crisis in leadership of the department.

The reporters found that EMS staffers labeled the system that previously was regarded as one of the best in the nation as a laughingstock since a new director, Dr. John Gallagher, took over in 2019. More than 120 staff members sought his dismissal in a meeting in April 2021.

They found that local county leaders had ignored warnings about the problems.

About a week after the series ran, Gallagher resigned.