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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Girard's Maurice Harley retires from Bone Cree board

  • George Washington was known as the father of his country. On Thursday Maurice Harley was hailed as the father of Bone Creek Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 11, which supplies drinking water to about 13 communities in Crawford and Cherokee Counties, and is also one of the most popular fishing lakes in the state.

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  • George Washington was known as the father of his country. On Thursday Maurice Harley was hailed as the father of Bone Creek Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 11, which supplies drinking water to about 13 communities in Crawford and Cherokee Counties, and is also one of the most popular fishing lakes in the state.
    But Harley, who stepped down Thursday after serving as board chairman since  the organization started, prefers to spread the credit around.
    “This was the right group of people at the right time,” he said. “They tried to build Bone Creek in the 1930s, the 1950s and the 1970s, and we finally got it done in the 1990s. I don’t know if we could build it today.”
    Harley said that he became involved with the Bone Creek project because of his wife, Terri.
    “The question came up about the quality of drinking water in southeast Kansas, and my wife suggested this was something good that I ought to pursue,” he said. “So she’s the one who deserves the credit.”
    At that time, a group called Southeast Kansas Alternate Water Supply was trying to start the project.
    “Six or so communities were working on this,” Harley said. “Jerry Staton, who was Girard mayor at the time, appointed me as the Girard representative. We worked with Jim Triplett at Pittsburg State University, Rural Conservation District and John Spurling and Jim Gaskell. Rick Hines, our attorney, helped set up the water district and we got communities to join us.”
    The project was not cheap, and the money had to come from somewhere.
    “An investment banker in Wichita rolled the dice with us and risked $1 million on us,” Harley said. “We also got various state grants.”
    A very nice amount came from Washington, D.C.
    “There’s a pool of money left over each year from RC&D projects, and we went to Sen. Robert Dole to champion us,” Harley said. “He did. There was $5 million left in the pool that particular year, and we got $4 million of it. We were able to push forward in getting the easements we needed and work with the landowners in the area.”
    He has fond memories of the construction of the reservoir, located north and west of Arma.
    “When we were building the lake, we’d go out there with our children, Seth, Cordell and Melisa,” Harley said. “Melisa was the bravest. She wanted to go through the drainage tubes.”
    Bone Creek Valley was flooded in 1996 to create the lake, which was stocked with largemouth bass, catfish, walleye and crappie. Bass tournaments are held there regularly and the area is a popular fishing and recreation destination.
    Throughout the sometimes challenging process of creating Bone Creek, Harley said he was guided by words of wisdom from his father-in-law, Huston Sims.
    Page 2 of 2 - “He said that in anything you try to do, you will face obstacles,” Harley said. “He told me there are three ways you can deal with obstacles — go around them, through them or over them. Jim Gaskell also said something valuable, that it’s easier to get forgiveness than to ask for permission.”
    Taking over as chairman during the board meeting Thursday was Rock Anderson.
    “Hopefully I can do half the job Maurice has done,” he said.
    He does share some of the same leadership qualifications. Anderson is a former mayor of Arma, while Harley is current mayor of Girard.
    Anderson’s first order of business was to present Harley with a plaque. A little later on, the board voted, despite protests by Harley, to name the north overlook at the reservoir the Maurice Harley Overlook.
    Again he emphasized that Bone Creek was not a one-person project.
    “Anyone associated with it over the years can take a lot of pride,” Harley said.

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