A #HesstonStrong sign hangs on a fence between Hesston Middle School and Excel Industries on Saturday. Daniel Salazar The Wichita Eagle
A #HesstonStrong sign hangs on a fence between Hesston Middle School and Excel Industries on Saturday. Daniel Salazar The Wichita Eagle

Local

Hesston leaders discuss healing, moving forward

By Daniel Salazar

dsalazar@wichitaeagle.com

February 27, 2016 07:25 PM

UPDATED February 27, 2016 10:39 PM

In the midst of a gusty, sun-splashed Saturday afternoon in Harvey County, Hesston leaders called for honoring and remembering those affected by last week’s shootings and moving forward together as a community.

“As a city, we will get through this together,” said Mayor David Kauffman during a news conference. “Many people are turning to their faith and to each other to get through this situation.”

There will be a town hall meeting and a community church service on Sunday.

“We want to make sure that families of the victims feel like a part of our community and know that we’re embracing them and want to be there for all of them,” Kauffman said.

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Unlike the past two days, there were no updates on Saturday regarding the investigation into Thursday’s shootings from Newton to Hesston that left three people dead and 14 injured.

We’re not going to let this define us. But we’re going to find strength in this to move us forward.

Hesston City Administrator Gary Emry

Instead, City Administrator Gary Emry said Hesston should focus on beginning the recovery process.

“We begin transition from the investigative piece … to another dimension of this, and that’s ‘how do we heal?’ ” Emry said. “We’re not going to let this define us. But we’re going to find strength in this to move us forward.”

USD 460 Superintendent Ben Proctor said district schools worked to keep a sense of normalcy for students who attended classes Friday. School will resume again Monday morning.

“I was just so proud of our kids,” Proctor said. “It’s a testament to the strength of our families in our community.”

How to contribute

The Hesston Community Foundation has established a fund to support those affected by the shootings. You can find the Harvey County Community Support Fund online at hesstonfoundation.org/community-support-fund/.

A Go Fund Me fundraiser has also been set up for Josh Higbee, one of the victims of Thursday’s shootings. It’s at www.gofundme.com/44rc9u4k.

Hospital patient updates

Three area hospitals received people who were shot Thursday afternoon. As of early Saturday evening:

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▪ Wesley Medical Center: One patient had been treated and released, two patients had been upgraded to fair condition, and one patient was still listed in serious condition.

▪ Via Christi St. Francis: One patient has been discharged from the hospital. Five patients remained in fair condition and one in critical condition.

▪ Newton Medical Center: All patients have been released.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar

Sunday events in Hesston

▪ Town hall meeting: 1:30 p.m. at the Hesston High School commons, 200 N. Ridge Road, Hesston

▪ Community service: 6 p.m at the Hesston High School gymnasium

▪ Both events are open to all.