Dodge City man honored by KHRC
Onofre "Opie" Astorga one of ten recipients of James E. Butler Civil Rights Award
by Julia Kazar
Dodge City Daily Globe
The Kansas Human Rights Commission (KHRC) recently named 10 Kansans recipients of the James E. Butler Civil Rights Award, one of the recipients is Onofre "Opie" Astorga from Dodge City.
According to Ruth Glover, assistant director for KHRC, the James E. Butler Civil Rights Award was created five years ago in honor of the KHRC's longest serving commissioner.
"It's an award to recognize individuals whose outstanding support and service to the commission has contributed to the cause of civil rights and enforcement of Kansas laws prohibiting discrimination," Glover said.
The award has been presented only two times, first in 2008, for the KHRC's 55th anniversary, and again this year for its 60th anniversary.
"We wanted it to be a very special award for our commissioners," Glover said. "Something that isn't handed out each and every year."
According to a press release issued by KHRC, the mission of the KHRC is to prevent and eliminate discrimination and assure equal opportunities in all employment relations, to eliminate and prevent discrimination, segregation or separation and assure equal opportunities in all places of public accommodations and housing.
Astorga was asked to serve as a commissioner for KHRC for the first time in 1996.
"I decided to accept because at that time, I felt like there was a major disconnect between Hispanics living in Dodge City and the rest of the population," he said. "I have worked, as well as many others in KHRC, to try and bridge that gap and bring the two sides together."
Astorga served as a commissioner from March 1996 to January 2001, but is still very involved with the organization.
His major mission while commissioner was to open a satellite location in Dodge City.
"If people had complaints, or other issues they would have to go to Topeka," Astorga said, "I wanted them to have a closer location."
Although Astorga is no longer a commissioner, he still works closely with the organization, managing the Dodge City office.
"They call me whenever someone from Dodge has a complaint, and I help them get in touch with the right people and begin filling out paperwork."
When he found out he had received the James E. Butler Civil Rights Award, Astorga was pleased and excited.
"This was never something I was expecting to win," he said.
"I was fortunate enough to work personally with Butler, so to receive an award that was created in honor of him is very special for me."
Astorga is the Human Resources Manager at National Beef, where he has worked for more than 30 years. In addition to serving on the KHRC he has been a part of the Western Plains Regional Hospital, Project Teen Safe and the Chamber of Commerce.
Page 2 of 2 - Astorga and the other recipients will be presented with their awards on April 19 at a reception hosted by the commission in the Landon State Office Building.
"I'm really happy to be given this honor," Astorga said, "because it's just that, an honor, to be recognized in this way."