United Wireless Arena, Boot Hill Casino Resort and Conference Center, the Dodge City Raceway Park, Legends Park, Saint Mary’s Complex, Cavalier Field and the Long Branch Lagoon.
These facilities that have come to Dodge City within the last few years was through the work of one man and the staff he had around him.
Ken Strobel passed the bar exam in August 1965 from Washburn Law School and began working with Williams Law Firm in Dodge City not too long after.
Strobel was with the firm for 42 years before announcing his retirement on Dec. 16, 2015.
On Jan. 13 this year, Strobel died at the age of 78, leaving behind a lasting legacy that will be felt in Dodge City for decades to come.
For 24 years, Strobel helped guiding the city through legal channels as city attorney, he worked alongside four city managers and numerous city commissioners.
When the city commission asked Strobel to step out of his legal comfort zone to take over the leadership as city manager in September of 2007, he did not hesitate and dedicated himself to that position for nearly 7 years.
When he retired from both as the city manager and the city counsel, the baton was passed to Cherise Tieben.
"Ken was an excellent city attorney and city manager," Tieben said. "His leadership can easily be recognized by the development and progress that we have seen in our community and even in the region.
"He seldom said no to an idea, just worked to help you find a way to implement it, just as long as it was good for the community overall.
"He was an amazing mentor, always teaching and guiding – often times without you even realizing it.
"He was always there to offer encouragement and listen to frustrations.
"His work has made an indelible impact on this community that will be seen by many generations to come.
"I can only hope that we can continue to carry that legacy forward each and every day."
When Strobel decided to focus on being the city attorney full-time, a position he had held since 1991 when the Williams Law Firm took on the role for the city, he knew whom he wanted to take his place.
"Cherise is very talented and knowledgeable and I knew she was the perfect person to keep the wheels going," Strobel said when he announced his retirement. "The same can be said for Brad Ralph when he takes over the city attorney position at the end of the month."
According to Strobel at the time, Ralph had been a co-city attorney along with himself as the transition for his retirement had been on going.
"Ken was not only a professional mentor, but also a father figure to so many of us," Tieben said. "He truly cared about our lives outside of work and always followed up on the kids or your parents.
"It was obvious that family meant everything to him.
"He was truly just a very good person."
One of the most evident impacts Strobel had was through the Why Not Dodge sales tax projects.
The program was met with a lot of resistance both before and after the election, however, Strobel was tenacious in securing its success and working with leaders to insure that the Why not Dodge had something that would meet the needs of everyone in the community.
One of Strobel’s most notable accomplishments was his work with the establishment, preservation and expansion of the Essential Air Service to Western Kansas.
He was the author of the majority of the combined responses for the Western Kansas EAS communities. He also served as southwest Kansas spokesperson to the Federal Aviation Administration staff.
Strobel served as the historian for not only EAS but he had superb knowledge of the history and inner workings of Dodge City.
He truly was a walking archive of everything that happened in our community.
Strobel was a great promoter of regional collaboration and was instrumental in establishing the Southwest Kansas Coalition, (the lobbying group for the cities of Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal) recognizing that our communities had a more powerful voice when we stood as a region rather than individual cities.
He was also on the founding board the Dodge City A’s baseball team in the late 1960’s and 1970’s and then supported the team when it started up yet again in Dodge City in 2007.
He also was active in refereeing and umpiring for baseball, basketball and football in Dodge City and in many of the smaller towns throughout the area.
Ken served for many years as the attorney for USD 443 during some of the most critical times for expansion of the school district including high school bond issues.
In addition, he was an active member of the Southwest Kansas Bar Association and was previously recognized with their award for outstanding service.
Strobel was also instrumental in the Save our Depot Committee, a key leadership role in the chamber of commerce serving as the Chairman of the Board as well as the Chair of the Legislative Committee for many years.
In 2016, he was named the recipient of the prestigious Bronco Buster Award for his many contributions to the success of the Dodge City Days celebration.
Strobel was also involved in the development of the Master Tourism plan and set up the Tourism Task Force and also made sure that organizational funding was included in the Why Not Dodge sales tax budget to help provide grant funding for local tourist attractions.
In recent years, Strobel was also part of the Biogas project which will clean then sell methane gas from the South Wastewater Treatment plant that will soon be a reality.
Strobel continued to serve on boards and commissions including the Planning Commission, Master Tourism Board and Airport Advisory Board.
The stories about Strobel from those who knew him best, shed a light on the impact he had on both a professional but more importantly, a personal level.
"We have been good friends for many years and it was like getting hit in the head with a spade," long-time friend and former DCCC professor Larry Burke said of Strobel. "We were on the chamber board for some years and just remained terrifically good friends."
During the city commission meeting on Tuesday, the commissioners in attendance shared their grief with the audience.
"I want to give my condolences to the entire Strobel family," Commissioner Brian Delzeit said. "I can't begin to tell you in words what he meant to us.
"Ken was definitely a leader in many ways, a gentleman in many ways.
"When I came on as the mayor I found him to always work in a way to give me updates on his children and he was constantly acknowledging his wife and her support of him.
"He will be missed."
Commissioner Joyce Warshaw added, "Any time we lose someone that is so dear to the community I always have to reflect on what they have done and some of the things I remember back about Ken was just his sense of humor.
"When I first came on the commission he was so supportive.
"When I first went to Washington, everybody knew Ken, I mean everybody knew Ken."
"I will try to get through this without crying too much," Commissioner Rick Sowers said. "Ken has been a family friend of mine since I was a little child.
"When I looked back today under the emails, and this is typical of him, the email simply said good job everybody, way to go, you guys did a great job.
"And that's my memory of him.
"When I came in I was very inexperienced in the political world and didn't really know heads from tails.
"When we replaced the city manager at the time with Ken, it just made a world of difference to the city and the city staff.
"To me that was the turning point for Dodge City getting a lot of things done.
"It was pretty tumultuous, we're in a pretty calm work flow the last few years and it's because of Ken and the hard work that he did to put us in position.
"Look at the controversy with the Why Not Dodge project and all that we've accomplished and all that we were able to accomplish in the future, ties back to Ken.
"There's no way to not say that it doesn't.
"He always said we got to win the big battle, let's not worry about the little things that we're doing and if it's good for Dodge City then it will be good for us.
"He had the mentality of first one in, last one out.
"I tremendously miss him. He was a mentor of mine, he was a friend of mine."
Commissioner Jan Scoggins added, "All of my associations with Ken Strobel were always postive. He always made everyone feel comfortable and happy.
"He will be missed."
Colleagues of Strobel spoke of their fallen friend after the news of his passing came to light.
"It's quite a loss," attorney Dave Rebein said. "It's hard to think on anything of importance moving forward in Dodge City he wasn't involved in.
"I knew Ken for 20-30 years and if you bring something up, he was there.
"He was like the Forrest Gump of Dodge City.
"He over came so many obstacles.
"If there was a title of Mr. Dodge City, it would go to Ken."
Attorney Terry Malone worked along side Strobel for a number of years at Williams Malone Law Firm.
"We worked together for 30 years," Malone said. "He is a terrific, generous kind man and was the hardest working guy who loved the law.
"I know he loved the work in the community but he loved the law and had a very close relationship with his family and children.
"I first met him when I was county attorney at the courthouse and was really impressed with him right away.
"I always said I wanted to be like him some day and in a way I still am trying to be.
"He was a pleasure to work with."
Glen Kerbs, attorney, recalls his friend and colleague as a calm and patient person.
Strobel worked at Kerbs Law Firm for the past 4 years after his retirement from the city.
Kerbs stated that Strobel loved being a lawyer but that he wasn’t the standard lawyer by any means.
He was always looking at the long term picture and trying to find a resolution where he could accommodate everyone.
Jeff Thorpe, president of the Mariah Fund, also recalled that Strobel was a valued team-member during the long sessions in Topeka to enact the Expanded Gaming Act and assisted in Boot Hill Casino being the first gaming license awarded to Dodge City.
"One time we were in Washington and people kept mistaking him for Newt Gingrich," Warshaw said. "Which is always a great compliment but yes Ken is going to be missed and I am so blessed he was able to be part of my life in so many different ways.
"He was so proud of his family and just a great guy."
"In the 1970s we went to a Montgomery Ward and bout a sailboat," Burke said. "It was this styrofoam thing and we always said it was the best $40 we ever spent.
"We would take our families and the kids to Clark County Lake and just have the fondest memories, it was a wonderful experience.
"I never had a better friend who was a big deal to Dodge City.
"He was dedicated, honest and straight up guy.
"I miss him already."
Funeral services for Strobel will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Dodge City on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Visitation will be at Swaim Funeral Chapel in Dodge City on Friday from noon to 8 p.m.
Additional reporting was done with the assistance of city staff and the Strobel family.
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