Haysville leaders and residents are weary of being 'portrayed as illiterate bumpkins'

06/25/2014 5:53 PM

06/25/2014 5:53 PM

The Gridiron cast usually makes Haysville jokes as an aside, not a full skit. Still, the city is not amused by them. WICHITA — The joke's on them, and Haysville leaders and residents are not amused.

"We request that you remove all jokes about Haysville and other area communities from Gridiron," said Haysville Mayor Bruce Armstrong in a Thursday e-mail to several people involved with the show.

Gridiron is an annual satirical production put on by the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to spoof the news and raise scholarship money for journalism students.

Armstrong said "compromising the well being of the citizens and businesses of Haysville with snide, hurtful and untrue remarks is not an acceptable means to securing the funds for those scholarships."

Armstrong's wife, Susan Armstrong of Armstrong Chamberlin Strategic Marketing, also wrote to "respectfully request that you reconsider any skits that portray an entire city–any city–as ignorant or toothless, or cheap. It’s the equivalent of bullying, and it shouldn’t be done."

She said that "Haysville is growing weary of having our whole community portrayed as illiterate bumpkins. We are working hard to improve the awareness of all the wonderful qualities our city has to offer. Every time you mention Haysville at Gridiron, you hurt our efforts."

John Burke, superintendent of schools for Haysville USD 261, wrote, "I find this counterproductive to our image campaign and am respectively requesting that you stop making fun of Haysville as part of your production."

One resident wrote to invite those involved with Gridiron to visit Haysville for a tour – along with coming up with new material and giving Haysville a break.

Sedgwick County Commissoner Tim Norton, who regularly attends Gridiron and spars with the cast, says enough probably is enough.

"Well, I've always been a very, very good sport with the sarcasm, the innuendo, the poking and everything," he says. Norton says, though, the joke is wearing thin.

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About Carrie Rengers

Carrie Rengers joined The Eagle's Business team in 2002 despite her inability to even balance a checkbook. Fortunately for her, and readers, her Have You Heard? blog is about business scoops and contains lots of news but almost no math.

A Michigan native, Carrie’s father was quite tragically transferred to Little Rock, Ark., in the middle of her sophomore year of high school. To make matters worse, her parents put her in a girls school. She recovered, though, and went on to enjoy being an English major at Hendrix College (the Harvard of the Ozarks, don’t you know). She worked for the weekly Arkansas Business and the statewide daily Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before moving to Wichita to be with her favorite writer and cook, husband Joe Stumpe.

Carrie encourages readers to contact her with tips, questions, behind-the-scenes business news and even funny quotes from business people. Reach her at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com

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