Repairs delayed for Letterman performance

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

MOUNT SUNFLOWER -- Ed Harold took a quick break from school work, farming and making repairs to vandalized items marking the highest point in Kansas.

He and his wife, Cindy, instead took a trip to New York City to watch as son Nathan -- Nate to his bandmates in the group Fun. -- performed Monday on the David Letterman Show. The band has the No. 2 song "We are Young" on the Hot 100 Billboard chart. It's No. 3 on the iTunes music chart.

Nate Harold is the bass guitarist for the group, which is riding a swelling wave of popularity.

"We left Sunday," Harold said of making the whirlwind trip to New York.

They both had to return to work Wednesday morning in Weskan's schools.

Nate Harold has his roots in the music industry starting "in seventh grade here in Weskan," Ed Harold said, although he now calls Lawrence home.

The elder Harold was loathe to gush over his son's success but said he and his wife were able to see Central Park and Times Square.

And they had fun.

"Oh yes, we did," he said. "We crammed as much in as we could. We thought we accomplished a great deal in two and a half days."

As the warmer weather advances, Harold said he'll be back to work repairing the damage caused in early November when someone, likely in a flatbed pickup, damaged items marking the state's highest point.

The damage included a Mount Sunflower sign made of railroad spikes welded together by Harold. A smattering of spikes still hangs from the barbed wire fence next to the cattle guard allowing public access to the pasture containing the state's highest peak. The sign was destroyed by vandals, and a limestone marker commemorating his grandparents' homestead of the land was broken.

That's the one that caused the greatest grief for Harold, who since has repaired the stone.

A limestone fence post and mailbox containing a visitor's registration book also were damaged but now are back up -- bullet holes in the mailbox hammered out relatively smoothly.

Inside the logbook are signatures of thousands of visitors and a Western Kansas World story proclaiming "Mt. Sunflower vandalized."

At an elevation of 4,039 feet above sea level, Mount Sunflower is the highest point in the state and is situated about a half-mile from the Colorado border.

Mount Sunflower attracts anywhere from 700 to 1,200 people a year, most of whom sign the visitor's book.

"I'm contemplating a new entrance sign," Harold said, but it's unlikely he'll rebuild the railroad spike sign.

Likely, he said, it will be a sign cut from a sheet of metal. He's had offers of help, including one from Carl Mai, who said he'd make a stronger registration box.

"I want to keep it as rustic as we can," Harold said.

And he hopes everything will be back in place in about a month, right in time for the summer traveling season.

"I'm hard-headed enough, bull-headed enough to say, 'You don't do that to my pride and joy,' " he said. "I'm going to put it up myself."