Our neighbors in Burns lost an historic structure Friday when the former Barker house at the south end of Washington Street burned to the ground before daylight. The house had long been a landmark property in the community, a majestic and commanding piece of architecture. As someone who is fascinated by old buildings and all their parts, I am sorry for the community’s loss. It was a grand old house.
By the same token, everyone is relieved that Les and Rhonda Loucks had a working smoke alarm that alerted them in time to get themselves and their six children to safety. (Note to self: check batteries in smoke alarm.) The family lost everything but the clothes in which they slept, but they are safe. Houses can be rebuilt, even grand old historic ones. To some extent, possessions can be replaced. The Loucks family is still together and safe and that is very good news indeed. We all are glad the family was spared what could have been a tragedy.
There is much talk of help and fundraising, and the kind of assistance for which small towns are famous. Currently a fund has been established at Community National Bank in Burns for donations to help them bridge the gap between Friday morning’s devastation and any help they might receive from the American Red Cross or their insurance company.
Because of the Presidents’ Day holiday, it has been difficult to pin down what else might be on the horizon to help them get through this crisis in their lives. At press time, very little had been confirmed. But we will stay on top of this and keep you posted.
The Loucks family have made significant contributions, not only to community service in Burns and Peabody, but to Marion County through involvement with the Kansas Food Bank. And Les and Rhonda have seven bright, talented, and pleasant children who contribute to USD 398 in many ways. This is a family we don’t want to lose.
I remember two years ago when their oldest son, Andrew, was signing a letter of intent to play football at Friends University. I went to the high school to take his picture. This is not an unusual thing — we have several students every year who sign with an area college for some athletic pursuit. But what was unusual about Andrew’s signing was that his parents had taken all of his siblings out of class to watch him put his name on the agreement and shake hands with his new coaching staff. There they were — all six of them, lined up to see him accept his scholarship.
I told his parents I wasn’t sure I could get all them into the photo for the paper and his mother said, “Oh, that’s okay. They don’t need to be in the picture. We just wanted them to be here because Andrew worked hard and made good choices and we wanted them to see what can come of that.”
Now that is a family that knows the meaning of family. Good for them. I hope we can keep them here.
— Susan Marshall