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Florence turns out for film's premiere

Staff writer

About 200 attended a free screening Saturday of “When the Well Runs Dry,” a documentary about water in rural Kansas.

Lawrence filmmaker Steve Lerner and Los Angeles documentarian Reuben Aaronson introduced the film, which features several Marion County residents, at Florence’s Masonic Lodge.

“Reuben and I have been here a bunch of times, and we said, ‘This is the most cars we’ve seen on Main St.,’” Lerner said.

The film was framed as a radio show with host Kyle Bauer of KFRM. Bauer pretended to present the topic “call in and talk about water” to listeners. Interviews lay by the filmmakers were then showcased.

“It’s very relevant,” Florence city council member Trayce Warner said. “And they did a very good job of blending how it affects communities, how it affects farmers, how it affects ranchers. They brought it all together for us.”

Florence rancher John Siebert was one of the film’s central characters. His was the first call on the radio show. He told how precious a resource water was and pointed out a creek running through his land has been dry for years.

Jason Backhus of Lincolnville also was featured, as he explained his role as a well driller. Peggy Blackman of Marion talked about her experiences with Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy.

Warner talked in the film about the private spring from which Florence draws its water. She said the city’s lease will run out in five years. Florence needs to renew it or find another, dependable source.

Steve Hett, Ed Robinson, Bob Harris, and Randy Mills also were featured.

The film drew a round of applause when the credits began to roll.

A half-hour panel discussion afterward gave attendees a chance to ask experts, including a rural geologist, a Kansas State University history professor, and Cottonwood Falls rancher Gina Miller.

Warner said she was pleased with the community’s interest, although not everybody she hoped would attend did so.

“There were more people here than I expected to see here,” Warner said. “Personally I would’ve liked to see more of the city council and the people who are movers and shakers here for this.”

Florence Historical Society served tea and cookies. Edna Robinson, a member of the society, who lives just outside of Florence, said the film had changed her perspective.

“It really makes you think about the future for water, because we’re on well water where we live,” she said. “Fortunately, we’ve never run out. But there’s always a first time.”

Last modified July 23, 2015

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