Club History

The idea to form a woodturning club in Manhattan, Kansas, appeared when Bob Holcombe was working his booth at the Pumpkin Patch Craft Show at CiCo Park in October 2014.  Tom and Judi Boley were at the show and Judi, having been there the day before, had told Tom there was a woodturner there.  It didn’t take long to connect.  It was a very short discussion which resulted in agreement to work together to start a woodturning club affiliated with the American Association of Woodturners.  Bob brought Tom Shields to a meeting at Tom’s house some time after that to talk about how to proceed.  First thing to do, they thought, was to invite local woodturners to a meeting to see if there was sufficient interest to form a club.  Tom offered his shop and Bob said he would create a flyer which could be distributed to the local woodturners he knew who were mostly members of the Kansas Quality Woodworking Association (KQWA) inviting them to that meeting to be held on 21 March 2015.  Twenty-one woodturners showed up and the mood was overwhelmingly positive for starting a formal club.  This initial group decided to hold meetings the first Saturday of each month and agreed that Tom’s shop, Red Oak Hollow Lathe Works, would work just fine as a location for our meetings.
Two weeks later, those twenty-one woodturners met again for the first meeting of this new club which, by the end of the meeting, became the Flint Hills Woodturners.  Our first officers were Tom Boley, President, Randy Zelenka, VP, David Delker, Secretary, Tom Shields, Treasurer, and Bob Holcombe, Newsletter Editor.  Don Eisele had opened a web site for us while sitting in that first meeting.  We still needed a Programs person and an Operations Officer and at our second meeting, Bob Holcombe agreed to take on Programs along with the Newsletter.  Don Eisele offered to be Operations Officer and Webmaster.  We were well on our way.   This photo is in Tom’s shop at one of our very early meetings.  There was plenty of room then.
Those early days were pretty exciting, as we worked together to solidify this new club.  There is so much to tell, but rather than repeat it here, go back to our early newsletters and read about our activities, particularly in the president’s letter and the secretary’s minutes of the meetings.  You can find those newsletters listed by year and month by clicking on the Newsletters link on the menu bar, above.
We continued to meet at Tom’s shop, Red Oak Hollow Lathe Works, for about two and a half years but were steadily gaining new members and it was getting a bit snug.  In about Sep 2017, Tom Boley had an interaction with Ted Maciejewski, manager of Golden Prairie Honey Farms, their bee keeping supply store, and the shop to the rear of the store.  One of our woodturners, Joe Beck, who is now our librarian, had been volunteering at the wood shop and had told Ted of our need for a bigger location so Ted invited us to move our meetings there.  We did so and our first meeting there was in Nov 2017.  We continued to meet there until the Covid pandemic hit in 2020.  We didn’t meet in person until the fall of 2020, but we continued meeting via Zoom.
Meanwhile, in the midst of the pandemic, the Golden Prairie Honey Farms went through some changes and the facility was no longer a viable place to meet.  In the late summer or early fall of 2021 we were able to make arrangements to start using the Manhattan Army National Guard Armory for our club meetings. We began in-person meetings in that facility in May 2022.
We continued to meet in the Armory until April 2023, but chose to move our meeting location to another location due to challenges we had in accessing the space. We moved to the Faith Evangelical Church in April 2023. While we do not have storage space for equipment in that location, the acoustics are much better, and we have ready access to the space to set up equipment the day before each meeting. Club members have graciously volunteered to store our equipment in their respective shops and transport it to the club meetings.
Our search for a more permanent “home,” complete with secure storage for our equipment, continues.
The club has been fortunate to have a group of dedicated members willing to assume leadership roles as club officers. Those individuals are listed by office and the month and year in which they took office:
Tom Boley, Apr 2015 to Dec 2018;  Ray Case, Jan 2019 to Aug 2020;  Peter Dorhout, Sep 2020 to Dec 2020; David Delker Jan 2021 to present.
Vice President:
Randy Zelenka, Apr 2015 to Apr 2016;  Ray Case, Jul 2016 to Dec 2018;  Randy Zelenka, Jan 2019 to Dec 2019;  Robert Kloppenborg, Jan 2020 to Dec 2020; Vaughn Graber Feb 2021 to Dec 2021; Joe Beck Jan 2022 to present.
David Delker, Apr 2015 to Jan 2016;   Dan Zeller, May 2016 to Apr 2017;  Ned Gatewood, May 2017 to Dec 2019;  Barbara Drolet, Jan 2020 to present
Tom Shields, Apr 2015 to Dec 2019;  Ross Hirst, Jan 2020 to present.
Program Director:
Bob Holcombe, Apr 2015 to Dec 2015;  David Delker, Jan 2016 to Jan 2018;  Dennis Biggs, Feb 2018 to Dec 2020; Steve Bietau, Jan 2021 to present.
Operations Director:
Don Eisele, Apr 2015 to Apr 2016;  Randy Zelenka, May 2016 to Apr 2017;  Steve Bietau, Jun 2017 to Dec 2020; Tom Shields Jan 2021 to present.
Newsletter Editor:
Bob Holcombe, Apr 2015 to Apr 2018;  Tom Boley, May 2018;  Ray Case, Jun 2018 to Jan 2022; Heather Marusiak, Jan 2022 to present.
At Large Member of the Board:
Bob Holcombe, May 2018 to Dec 2020; Tom Boley, Jan 2021 to Dec 2021; Heather Marusiak, Jan 2022 to present.
Website Manager:
Don Eisele, Apr 2015 to Jan 2019;  Tom Boley, Jan 2019 to Jan 2021; Ray Case, Jan 2021 to Jan 2023; David Delker, November 2023 to present.