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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Waconda Springs Replica to be Renovated

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids, and graduated from Valley Heights High School in May of 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications.After stops at KFRM and KCLY radio in Clay Center, he joined KNDY in 2002 as a board operator and play by play announcer. Derek is now responsible for the digital content of Dierking Communications, Inc. six radio stations.In 2005 Derek joined the staff of KCFX radio in Kansas City as a production coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, which airs on over 94 radio stations across 12 Midwest states and growing. In 2018 he became the Studio Coordinator at the Cumulus Kansas City broadcast center for Kansas City Chiefs Football.

The Waconda Cultural Association received confirmation recently from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation that their grant application had been approved to renovate the Waconda Springs Replica in Glen Elder State Park. The half-sized replica was dedicated in 2005 by the Waconda Heritage Association as part of a project to share the history of the Waconda Springs, which had been covered by the new Waconda Lake. By 2015, the replica pool would no longer hold water and funds were not available for its repair.

A new 501c3, the Waconda Cultural Association established in 2018 made repairing the replica of the Springs one of its first priorities. In planning the renovations, repair was not the only goal. New educational signage along the 500+ feet of sidewalk leading up to the replica will be added. New parking and directional signs will be added next to the path starting beside the historical Hopewell Church. With an additional grant from the Solomon Valley Community Foundation, a viewfinder at the replica site and a buoy marking the location of the mineral springs in the lake will complete the project.

Educational signs will tell the story of the early mineral springs as a holy place for Native Americans and later its medicinal use as a sanitarium and spa. The Waconda Springs was in use until flooding along the Solomon River and downstream in cities such as Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City pressed the issue of building conservation dams throughout the state of Kansas.

Renovating the springs replica is phase II of projects planned by the Waconda Cultural Association and Glen Elder State Park. Phase I was repurposing the previous park visitor center as the Waconda Visitor and Education Center in June, 2018. The Waconda Visitor and Education Center will resume summer hours later in May. The renovations to the replica will progress as weather permits, with a rededication ceremony planned for the summer. For more information about either project e-mail Lucille at wacondaca@gmail.com or call Tyler at the Park Office, 785-545-3345. For future events, check the Waconda Cultural Association Facebook page.

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