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McPherson Festival

Hundreds Attend Salina Unity Event

Karen Shade - July 17, 2016 8:48 am

photo by Gerrett Mottis

photo by Gerrett Mottis

Several hundred people gathered in Salina Saturday evening for a community unity event.

At the 4:00 PM start, at least 200 Salinans had gathered in  Oakdale Park to unify, to recognize the importance of local law enforcement, and all lives. The event was intended to show “Unity in Kansas”, following recent unrest that includes the shooting deaths of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, and have culminated with ambushes on police officers.

Captain Mike Sweeney, of the Salina Police Department, said he watched the Oakdale event become organized over the internet in the last couple of days.

Saline County Sheriff Deputy Chad Flesher passed out “sheriff stickers” to the many youngsters.  He also distributed materials on bike safety and anti-bullying; he also serves as a school resource officer at Ell-Saline and Southeast Saline School Districts, Sacred Heart and Saint John’s.  Flesher said his fellow deputies wanted to attend, but from the noise on the radio Flesher carried, it was clear his co-workers were out on a call.  He said they hoped to be able to stop by and enjoy a hamburger and hot dog.

Accompanying Sweeney was Keith Anderson, who joined the SPD about a year ago and is new to Salina.  He recently served six years in the Air Force, in a security capacity.  Little ones seemed fascinated by his uniform and all the equipment Anderson wears around his waist.

Those who attended appreciated the slightly overcast skies, the brisk fans blowing in the shelter, and the food:  grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, chips, desserts, drinks, and cotton candy.  Youngsters played in a bouncing castle and inflatable climbing wall/slide.

Two bikes and large stuffed animals served as prizes.

An 8’ red, white and blue balloon arch as well as flag banners added to the festive feel.  Individuals quickly struck up conversations with others, creating a neighborly sense of community.


sweeney mingles

Salina Police Captain Mike Sweeney mingles at the event on Saturday. (photo by Gerrett Morris)


Yvette Loud-Wheat

July 18, 2016 at 9:25 am

Ksal you got his article only partially right. This event was initially formed to bring the community together. Salina needed that. It was formed by Shaunice Talbot, I do not see where you mentioned that. She did a great job organizing this even lets give credit where credit is due. Lets recognize everyone from Shaunice to Rose to everyone else who were greatly involved in making this a success.

Alexis Wilson

July 18, 2016 at 9:45 am

Shaunice Talbot You did a great job putting this event together for the community! WAY TO GO!!!

Melinda Monet

July 18, 2016 at 9:57 am

it would have been lovely for you to mention the organizers of this successful event: the brother and sister team of Bobby Lee and Shaunice Wilson. they worked so hard on this project, from conception to execution. these are young people who are making a difference in the community. so often we hear about troublemakers who fall in their age range, so it is important to show that there are people like Bobby Lee and Shaunice. they love Salina and want to make it a better place. KUDOS to them.

Yvette Loud-Wheat

July 18, 2016 at 10:17 am

The event I worked tirelessly to see a success served as an eye opener.
I watched how KSAL portrayed the situation.
Anyone who did proper research or payed any attention to the progress of “UNITY IN KANSAS” could clearly see that I created a “community BBQ” event page June 19th 2016. The sole purpose was to enjoy free food, fun & to show that COMMUNITY SPIRIT EXIST.
“UNITY IN KANSAS” was not a tribute to any specific group of people. Rather a tribute to everyone.
I was deeply pained to see KSAL portrayal of the event. I was not acknowledged! “A hand up Salina” was not acknowledged! My speakers were not acknowledged, except for Captain Sweeney. MAHASKA was not acknowledged! All of the businesses in Town whom pitched in were not acknowledged! The several volunteers from the community were not acknowledged!
I feel that the community citizens coming together with sweat & time when they didn’t have to SHOULD HAVE CARRIED THE STORY. KSAL told the story how they wanted rather than what happened.
I like how SPD came out to support it was an awesome gesture & the kids loved it.
KSAL depiction of the event shined light on SPD who did deserve a shout out but it was the CITIZENS OF THE COMMUNITY who put this together. “Without a since of caring, there can be no since of community” is what the flyer said. This was about not law enforcement.
I URGE KSAL to revise the story, to urge members in the community to come together more often for the sake of our community. To show that people from all walks of life can come together& work together IN PEACE. To press the REAL ISSUES TODAY! ALL LIVES MATTER !!!

P.S I was given permission to post this here by shaunice.

Treondus Wilson

July 18, 2016 at 10:23 am


Brndi Nllsn Belser

July 18, 2016 at 10:30 am

This article is a total misrepresentation of this event. Karen Shade, I urge you to fact check and do your due diligence before printing such fiction. I Aldo urge you to now seek out the community organizers of this event, and find out the truth of the matter, then print it.

Brndi Nllsn Belser

July 18, 2016 at 10:32 am

And…yes the shooting and killing of law enforcement is tragic, but about the innocent people..black people that are being killed and ignored?

Diane Chlebowski

July 18, 2016 at 11:15 am

What journalist wrote this? How unprofessional to NOT interview the people who organized this event. This wasn’t put together in just a few days. Shaunice Talbot and Bobby Lee Wilson took time out of their lives to do something for OUR community!! To bring folks together!! I’m happy the officers saw the positivity here, too bad the “journalist” didn’t. I really want to know why Shaunice & Bobby’s hard work wasn’t acknowledged!!! THANK YOU SHAUNICE & BOBBY!!! I’m proud to know you are a part of our community!!!

Morgan Christopher

July 18, 2016 at 11:43 am


Todd Pittenger

July 18, 2016 at 12:13 pm

I am the News Director, and would be happy to meet and interview the organizers. Please call Todd Pittenger at 785-823-1111. If I am not in, leave a message and I will contact you to set up a time for us to meet.

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City of Salina