By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

ZURICH -- I'm just not sure how I missed it, this notion of the Rooks County community of Zurich as an urban area.

But there it was, on both sides of town, officially pronounced as such by the Kansas Department of Transportation: Zurich, a community of 115 as of the latest census estimate, has gone urban.

So much for the small, city life that many Zurich folks -- and others of their ilk -- had desired so much.

Yes, there in green and white was a KDOT sign announcing "Zurich, urban boundary."

I mean absolutely no disrespect to the fine folks in Zurich, but I'm somewhat certain that the community isn't urban. I'm sure there are several hip folks in town, but certainly not urban.

Instead, I'd suggest that the sign should simply read: "Zurich, city limits."

In other words, we've taken the issue of political correctness to the absolute edge of the earth, and jumped into the abyss below.

It sure seems foolhardy to come out with signs announcing the "urban" boundaries of a small community when there's been plenty of talk about how rural the area is, how much population has been lost, how many counties in Kansas are fast approaching "frontier" status.

The urban areas at well to the west and east of Zurich. And I don't mean to suggest either Plainville or Palco.

Personally, I've even got a bit of a problem with suggesting that Hays is urban territory. It is a relatively good-sized city in an otherwise rural setting.

But that's the beauty of it.

Obviously, those of us who remain in the northwest quadrant are drawn to it for one reason or another. I would guess that it's perhaps because we like a bit slower pace in life.

I struggled Tuesday morning to fight the "rush hour" traffic to make my way for a blood-letting appointment. I made it, but I'm just not used to sparring with 10 or 20 other vehicles to get down the road.

I had my fill of that growing up in Wichita where a 20-minute commute could be just a few blocks.

But alas, no one asked me if Zurich is urban. Neither did they make a reality check before the looked up the technical definition: "of, relating to, characteristic of, or constituting a city"

Sure, it is a city. But it's not urban.

* * *

Zurich wasn't my original destination; that instead was Webster Reservoir, and its fame as the center of the universe for hunting morel mushrooms.

Granted, the hunters were not yet out, but it's obvious a number of people have been in the area.

Driving down a short path to the water's edge was disheartening.

There, no fewer than 50 beer and soft drink cans were scattered about a makeshift fire pit, the remains of a scorched tree truck remaining.

But that's not all. There was a single hot dog bun, in the plastic wrapper' a Hershey's Milk Chocolate candy bar; a bottle of ketchup and a half a roll of toilet paper.

All the necessities of home living, I suppose.

It was a shame to see the blackened remains of what I think was a lawn chair.

Speaking of shame: Shame on the folks who made the mess. May they never be allowed to visit Webster again, other than to clean up the mess they made.