Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

Baldwin City attractive place for Baker Alums

August 17, 2006

Cheryl McCrary has been hooked on Baldwin City since she was a teenager.

"I came here to a cheerleading camp before my ninth grade year," recalled McCrary, who grew up in Roeland Park, Kan., and graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School. "When I came back home, I told mom and dad, 'I'm going to go to Baker.'"

After spending most of the 1990s living in St. Louis, McCrary and her husband, George, a Baldwin City native, returned home in 1999.

"George's job took him to St. Louis, but we always knew we wanted to move back to Baldwin to raise our kids, Kaylin, (14) and Madeline (10)," McCrary said.

When the McCrarys returned to northeast Kansas, they noticed many changes to Baldwin City, especially along U.S. Highway 56.

"Baldwin is so much bigger now than when I was a student," she said. "There is so much more to do here than when I was in school."

McCrary is not alone in coming back to the home of her alma mater. In fact, there are 300 alumni living in Baldwin City.

Jeff Dingman, the city administrator of Baldwin since 2003, says he has enjoyed living in Baldwin City. He graduated in 1994 from Baker and served four years as assistant county administrator for Sebastian County (Ark.) and worked two years as an aide in the city manager's office in University Park, Texas, before coming back.

"At the time I left, I knew that my career aspirations could take me anywhere in the country, but I didn't necessarily think I'd be coming back here," Dingman said. "I enjoy the small town atmosphere accompanied by the challenges that new growth and development are bringing. It is an active community in terms of many citizen groups and organizations. It's fun to see all of that vitality in action."

As owners of Baldwin Athletic Club, McCrary said she is happy their service gives something back to the community.

"It means a lot to us to be able to offer a health facility," she said.

Another alumnus who came home was Larry Parkin, class of 1956. After retiring as executive vice president of Kmart in Detroit, Parkin returned to Baldwin City in 1991 to a home overlooking Douglas County State Fishing Lake. He and his wife, Kay, a 1955 Baker graduate, wanted to be closer to their daughters, Peggy Keller and Karin Bettis. Keller is a 1984 graduate who lives near her parents. Bettis is a 1979 graduate and lives in Overland Park.

"It was a good move," Parkin said. "We knew we needed to find a place within a hour of the Kansas City area that we could have as a family gathering spot."

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