An Expanding Horizon………#184 (80’s)

Bank of Kiowa

It was brought to the community’s attention by Rex Zimmerman the editor of the Kiowa News,  publishing an article about an ongoing  county investigation of the rumored misappropriation of funds by Kiowa’s Barber County Ambulance Service, mentioning the names of Bev and Lonnie Williams, the Williams directing the ambulance operation from their residence.  It was common knowledge the ambulance service was more or less a family endeavor, the two Williams, their son Monty, Bev’s sister Doris, her husband Ed Hermon, along with good family friend Billy Duval and the assistance of  the Kiowa Hospital nursing staff.  The article projecting a possibility that  the ambulance service might be removed from it’s Kiowa location and all emergency service dispatched from  Medicine Lodge.   The Kiowa news publishing a notice about a public meeting at the Kiowa hospital to discuss a resolution. The event finding  Hospital Administrator Buck McKinney, a barber county representative, Lonnie, Bev, the ambulance personnel and several other concerned citizens in attendance including Gary’s wife Jan.   The corollary was to cement the ambulances Kiowa location and if it would make a difference Lonnie and Bev’s offered to step down as ambulance  management.  Buck McKinney stating he was  willing to accept responsibility as Ambulance Director and have the total ambulance operation managed and dispatched from the Hospital.  It was acknowledged that there would be a transition period and the Barber County representative dictating the need for additional ambulance personnel.  The following week  a notice was published in the Kiowa News soliciting persons interested in a EMS position as an ambulance driver and for enrollment in an accelerated EMT class,  a very concerned Jan Willson enrolling in the EMT program.

Rex Zimmerman's Kiowa News

Rex Zimmerman’s Kiowa News

Gary having thoughts but considering his 12 hours days for the school having no desire to inoculate himself into the world of emergency response,  then unexpectedly  answering a request to assist the evening EMT class as a responsive victim for instructional purpose.   Notwithstanding Gary was exposed to the modus operandi of  the ambulance service noting that it normally operated with a three person crew on emergency runs,  a combination of two EMT’s or R.N’s and a driver,  the on-call responders scheduled for a 12 hour shift with a five-minute response time.  Gary’s attendances assisting the class began to dwell  on his conscience,  discovering his school bus Defensive Driving, First Aid and Class B driver’s license fulfilled the prerequisites as a ambulance driver. The inevitable happened, he soon found his name on the monthly ambulance schedule as a driver, while Jan continued her  EMT training.  The new  driver  keeping abreast of  his wife’s accelerated EMT class,  the 150 hour course normally spanning upwards of 90 days depending on the instructor, the Kiowa class completing it in less than six weeks.  Upon its conclusion the group journeyed to the Kansas Emergency Medical Service Center in Wichita for their written and the five station practical tests.  Gary’s interest peaked knowing the intensity and dedication his wife exhibited to obtain her goal and shared Jans anxiety waiting for the notification letter from the KEMS.  The letter with the results having arrived  Jan and just one other of the seven applicants passing which they were told was not unusual.   Gary was aware that the scheduling  and hours with the ambulance service were in conflict with his school hours and bus driving duty, but with some unexpected assistance resolved both.  Glen Piper granting Gary permission to take call during his school hours on the condition he notify Judy Rocket if he had to leave. The other conflict concerning his bus route was resolved by hospital Director of Nursing Sharon Ragan who graciously offered to cover Gary’s ambulance calls when he was on his school bus route.  Gary wasn’t alone with his EMS schedule conflicting with his work day hours,  Jan employed at the bank sometimes finding her name on ambulance call for a day shift, but Marvin Ott the bank president making allowances for her also to take call.

Always responsive

  It was a Saturday morning when the hand-held ambulance radio broke the silence, “Kiowa ambulance we have a call”…..the adrenaline kicked in it was Gary’s first run as a driver.  He was on call with Doris and Ed Hermon but what added to his concern beside being his first run was the weather, Kiowa was in the midst of an ice storm.  Gary pulling the ambulance out of the shed located behind the hospital with  Doris and Ed aboard,  being informed the run was for an unresponsive person in Hardtner.  The ice storm was still in progress, the roads covered with patches of slick black ice the road conditions dictating a slow response,  the driver feeling handcuffed, red lights and siren at 35 mph.  With their arrival in Hardtner, entering the callers home being a dimly lit, small two bedroom house, cluttered and reeking with the smell of a badly vented gas heater, directed to bedroom, Doris and Ed checking on the unresponsive elderly man immediately determining he had expired.  Gary not at ease in very warm confines of the house, listening to the explanation from what appeared to be a very upset wife, explaining that she went into his room and found him unresponsive and she wanted him out of here right now.   Doris calmly explaining that they would have to place a call and in all probability wait until the coroner arrived before notifying the funeral home for transport.  Gary finding the wifes non grievous deportment somewhat puzzling but it wasn’t for him to judge.  Doris taking the situation in stride telling the lady she would see what she could do, calling the hospital on the phone finding out that Dr. Chris had arrived.  Explaining the situation to Chris who said the subject was his patient and because of the road conditions rather than calling the Coroner and Funeral Home the ambulance could transport the deceased to the hospital where he would sign off stating the patient expired during transport and they could continue on the funeral home. The trip back to the hospital was uneventful, Dr. Chris meeting them at the rear E.R. door,  the hospital placing a  call to the Fisher Funeral Home notifying Birdie Fisher about the deceased and that the ambulance would transport.

Galen & Bertie and the Fisher Funeral Home

The Bank of Kiowa was under siege,  the Compliant Examiners with the FDIC having explored the regions of documents for two weeks, then  an unexpected pronouncement, Roger Noble the loan officer bewildering bank management and the Kiowa  community with his resignation.  The sudden departure of Roger was more of a concerned than just his position as loan officer, the Noble family also being responsible for the custodial care of the bank, Roger, his wife Pat and son Stuart helping in the undertaking.  Marvin Ott the Bank’s president was acquainted with Gary and Jan’s custodial responsibility at the Apostolic Christian Church,  inquiring if they would be interested in replacing the Noble’s family application as the banks custodians.   The couple accepting the offer and were pleasantly surprised at the wages for the service,  Gary noting that Roger Noble had paid his family well, $500 per month for their service.   The couple immediately organized a duty schedule,  with Jan’s employment as a teller, after closing hours she would empty the ashtrays,  fill the transaction customer container,  wipe down all the horizontal counter appliances and empty all the lobby trash container and clean the employee restrooms and break area.   Gary would return at night,  upon entering after disabling the alarm system,  vacuum the carpets,  mop the restroom,  emptying the large bags of shredded papers into the outside dumpsters,  check for additional trash in the offices left by late afternoon workers and ensuring the glass doors and drive thru window were spotless.   A weekend would find the mowing  and edging of grass,  the cleaning of windows and the servicing of the water softener and HVAC filter, Gary appreciative noting the work endeavor although time consuming paid exceedingly well.

Roger Noble under bank examiners scrutiny

After several months the inevitable happened,  the Bank Examiners returning once again in search of documented amiss,  Gary was aware of  the office used by the examiner and their leaving of non-shredded notes with a mentioning of irregularities and Roger Noble’s name but no written accusations of his direct involvement.   On July 17th 1986 the Bank of Kiowa was permanently closed,  the published explanation being  it no longer meant FDIC requirements,  Marvin Ott accepting full responsibility for its demise.   Roger Noble applying for and accepting a position as Vocal Music Director at USD 255 Kiowa’s Middle and High School,  his name no longer a banking presence but still a pillar in the community.   The banks closing was a loss for the Kiowa community and the employees but also a double  loss for the Willson’s if you include Jan’s employment as a teller and the families custodial care income.   Jan’s EMT status having initiating a never before expressed compassion within her with a new-found interest in healthcare and community service.   With the loss of her bank employment she approached Sharon Ragan at the hospital being hired as a nurse aid but continuing to expressed her desire to further her education and pursue a nursing degree.   Gary was in total agreement with his wife’s healthcare ambition but realized the difficulties they would have to overcome with in the family, recalling what Jan’s mother and father had said in the past when told of her aspirations of college and getting a nursing degree  “Why would you want to do that, you have a good job at the bank.”

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