Joe Biron: the nuts ‘n bolts guy of the LQ Fire Department

ByJim& JoanDavies

What do you think when you see a car with those special “Fire Fighter” license plates? One may get teary eyed or may experience a big lump in his throat knowing that firefighter is willing to drop everything at a moment’s notice, at any time of the day or night, to rush out and if necessary put his or her life and health at risk to help save someone else’s life or property. This firefighter is willing to selflessly help any individual or many individuals if that is what the emergency situation requires. Continue reading Joe Biron: the nuts ‘n bolts guy of the LQ Fire Department

Quivira couple tied the knot on Christmas Day in 1958

1209 wedding website

By Jim and Joan Davies

We know a few people who are thankful for their Christmas birthdays, but we just heard of a very unusual gift for Christmas for one Lake Quivira couple…the gift of marriage. Since we can’t imagine having Christmas Day as an anniversary day, we felt compelled to hear all of details from our neighbors who opted to marry on Christmas Day. Continue reading Quivira couple tied the knot on Christmas Day in 1958

McChesney’s Painted M Ranch

On Septmember 15, 2006, Quivira member Sam McChesney awoke at his new home at the Painted M Ranch in Olathe to the sound of dogs barking frantically. He got up to investigate, and he’ll never forget what he saw: “Wallpaper was burning like it was a mohair sweater. The flames just danced.”

Sam screamed for his son Jed to get out of bed—there was a fire in the house! “He thought I was overreacting to something,” says Sam, able now to smile. “I thought he was right behind me.

“I could hear his voice. I realized he had gone out of the house through the back door into the garage. Luckily the power hadn’t gone off. He was able to get the garage door open and escape.”

The house, which had taken 26 months to build, took 1 hour and 15 minutes to burn to charred beams and cinders. Sam’s wife, Vicki, had been in Utah. “We lost everything, including what our [grown] children were storing at the house,” says Sam.

Luckily, the fire did not spread to the other two houses on the ranch or to the barn, with its 25 stables. The horses were safe.

For those of you who last recall Sam, former Quivira resident, as president of Q Inc. or as a figure in HUD, owning and managing low-income housing, you maybe asking, “When did the McChesneys become horse people?”

You may remember Vicki liked horses and kept one at the Quivira stables. But Sam was indifferent, at best.

“I had a paint horse, ‘Scout,’ at the Lake,” says Vicki, who often rode with Elsie Davis. “I could have held a gun to Sam’s head and he wouldn’t have been able to identify which horse was mine.”

In 2001 Vicki went on a trail ride at Quivira with Randy and Jeanie Edwards. Randy commented, “You should get Sam to ride.” Vicki was unconvinced.

Randy went on, “I know Sam. He needs to take lessons.”

Sam acquiesced, riding for the first time in decades on Valentine’s Day 2002. Five lessons later he was hooked.

In Sam’s bio on the Painted M website, he writes, “My first lesson was on Mis, a 15 year old Morgan mare. We walked, trotted and cantered. I could not believe how much I enjoyed the rhythm of the canter.

Concurrent with Sam getting hooked on horses, the McChesneys had been pondering their next home—a “dream home” for their retirement.

The first dream home location they considered was Sedona, AZ. “We found the lots we’d been considering were actually closer than they’d appeared in the ads,” says Sam. “We didn’t want to get cozy enough with our neighbors to open and window and ask them to pass the sugar.”

The second possibility was a lot on Lakeshore at Lake Quivira. The lot was going to require major stone landscaping. At that time, Sam says, people weren’t building multi-million dollar homes, and he and Vicki weren’t sure the money the lot would require would ever pay off, so it was back to the drawing board.

Both Sam and Vicki agreed it would be nice to have horses on the property where they eventually settled. “With our kids out of the house, we wanted to build on an interest we could share,” says Sam.

“But I didn’t want to be married to caring for horses,” says Vicki. “We wanted to be able to get away.”

Then they hit on the idea of building an 8- or 10-horse barn and hiring someone for horse care.

That idea somehow morphed into the Painted M Ranch—70 acres housing a 25-horse barn with outdoor runs on exterior facing stalls; two heated wash bays with warm water; three tack up stalls and private tack lockers; an indoor, heated riding arena measuring 180’ x 80’; pasture land for grazing an additional 14 horses; two outdoor arenas – a western/roping arena and a show arena; three round pens for cutting, team sorting, roping practice and beginning lessons; and a few head of cattle they lease from their ranch manager, including longhorns, for roping practice. Also on-site is the McChesneys’ home (they rebuilt after the fire and moved in last Christmas) and two other houses—one for the ranch manager and one currently occupied by the McChesney’s son Jed.

The property the McChesneys bought is located off Kill Creek Road, to the south of K-10—just a mile down the road from the entrance to Kill Creek Park, which offers challenging riding trails on its 950 acres.

The land had been a sod farm, complete with three small ponds for irrigation. Sam hired Leon Rieke of Quivira to build a 26-foot dam, which created a 20 foot deep pond, near to which they built their sprawling ranch-type house, complete with salt-water pool. With its high ceiling and pine-log beams, it seems all the horses in the barn could actually bed down in the living room, but Sam insists they scaled the original house down by a third when re-building, paying special attention to fire-safe construction.

Early on, Sam enlisted the help of his current ranch manager, Bill Walton, who grew up on a family farm nearby and who had been simpatico with horses from an early age, first riding them to move the cattle his father ran and later progressing to halter breaking fillies and competing in cattle roping events in the United Rodeo Association.

Bill explains on his bio that he started his training career working with people’s problem horses. After he established a reputation for fixing problem horses, owners started sending their regular horses. Bill began giving lessons to help the owners of the problem horses he had fixed.

His personal interest is in roping and other Western activities (reining, cutting, team sorting, and western pleasure), but he has also instructed dressage and hunter jumpers.

Sam counts on Bill’s aptitude with machinery, crops, cattle and sod to take care of the property and physical plant. “I’m totally un-mechanical,” admits Sam.

In addition to Bill, they employ a riding instructor, Stacy Maher, who has owned a number of show horses and competed with all of them, showing in Halter, Showmanship, Western Pleasure, Western Horsemanship, Trail, Hunter Under Saddle and Equitation.

Stacy writes that her coaching program begins with the fundamentals of proper handling of the horse, grooming and tacking up.  As she and her charge progress to riding, she stresses proper horsemanship/equitation skills, light hands and using rider aids properly, including seat, hands, legs and body position.

Her horse training program includes teaching the horse the basics she believes virtually every horse must know.  Her riding program focuses on teaching the horse to carry itself in a balanced, collected way, focusing on proper movement and proper head carriage.

But Sam ably handles nearly everything else: financial, marketing, administrative, advertising, customer relations, boarding agreements, capital expenditures, budget, hiring.

Vicki continues to be enthusiastic about their original plan and how it’s playing out. Relaxed and comfortable in jeans, hoodie, and well-worn cowboy boots, she seems in her element as she tells amusing anecdotes about their own horses and the ones who merely live there.

“I love living near the animals,” she confesses. “I ride every day I can.”

Sam, too, seems relaxed, yet definitely on top of his game, bringing in the administrative expertise he garnered in years of housing development.

He still enjoys the rhythm of the cantor he experienced at his first riding lesson just seven years ago. “Since that time,” he says, “I have been a lesson-taking fool. I have found this sport enormously challenging. I thought golf was tough. With the energy I have expended riding in the last three years, I could be playing golf professionally.”

For more information about the Painted M Ranch, go to

To view more pictures taken at the Painted M Ranch, go to

McChesneys and horse in stable

2009 In The News

“Off to See the Wizard” is the theme of the 2009 Pocahontas Classic Golf Tournament.
A plaque is dedicated to Roger Blessing (shown here with wife Jeanne) at the newly-renamed Roger Blessing East Side Park.
John Miller, LQ General Manager, accepts a plaque for 20 years of service, as his wife Joan looks on.
LQ Catfish are 2009 Champs in the Lake & Country Club League.
LQ Yacht Club hosts Sweet Sixteen Nationals in September.