By RANDY GONZALES
He knows it's a mouthful, so when Don Westfall talks about the upcoming sesquicentennial for the city of Hays, he adds it's also OK to just say 2017 will mark the town's 150th anniversary. Sesquicentennial is just the fancy way of saying it.
"If you use that in Scrabble, you're going to win," Westfall said.
Westfall, executive director for the Ellis County Historical Society, already has started planning for the big anniversary, still three years away.
"I first brought it up to the board last fall, that we need to start working on this right away because we're the pre-eminent historical organization that deals with the history of the whole county," Westfall said. "So we should spearhead the operation in some respect, because nobody else will do it unless we do it. They may do some of it, but not as comprehensively as we would."
Hays City was founded Nov. 23, 1867, but there were other significant historical milestones that year which also need to be recognized, Westfall said. Ellis County was founded in October; the city of Rome was established in the spring; the Union Pacific railroad made it to Hays in October; and Fort Hays was moved to its current location that summer.
"It was a year to remember," Westfall said.
The historical society has a planning committee focusing on each of the next three years.
"We have certain things we're going to do each of those years, related to this," Westfall said. "A lot of it, for our purpose, will deal with our facilities here, restoring them in some way."
The sesquicentennial for the establishment of Fort Fletcher is in 2015.
"We want to be involved in that, as well," Westfall said. "In advance to the big blowout for Hays, Ellis County, in 2017, there are some other sesquicentennials that need to be recognized."
The next three years will be a special time for Westfall, executive director at the local historical society since 2011.
"I'm excited about it," he said. "When you're in this field, you sort of live for these situations."