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Oct. 9, 2009
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Electrifying Baldwin City documentary to premiere

Baldwin City, Kan. — The documentary “Bauer, Baker and Baldwin City: Electrifying a Small Town’s Identity” will premiere at 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23, at The Lodge, 502 Ames St.

A grant from the Kansas Humanities Council supported the project as part of its Kansans Tell Their Stories Program. The Lodge and the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce will serve as host of the screening.

The eight-minute documentary captures the story of Professor W.C. Bauer, Baker and Baldwin City being forever linked in 1906 when the young academic electrified the university and then the entire town.

“The documentary focuses on the impact an innovative chemistry and physics professor had on the Baldwin City community at the turn of the century,” said Joanne Tolkoff, project director and the director of marketing and communications at Baker. “Professor Bauer provided a service, encouraging the community to be independent and not to cave in to the corporate power utilities at work at that time.”

A research paper by a Baker University student last year inspired the documentary. Tracy Light, a senior history and secondary education major, conducted all of the primary-source research associated with the story.

“Her paper allowed us to realize there was a good story, something that had some depth and a story worth telling,” Tolkoff said. “We were one of the first communities in the area to install an electric grid system to bring electricity into the city limits. It was so unusual that we became a model for other towns.”

A panel discussion, led by John Richards, assistant professor at Baker, will follow the documentary. He will be joined by Light; Loren Litteer, former Baldwin City mayor; Julie Mulvihill, executive director of the Kansas Humanities Council; Brad Roszell, of Hometown Collaborations; and Susan Emel, professor of communication at Baker.

“The collaborative effort with Baldwin City residents in the production of the project has resulted in an informative and enlightening documentary,” Tolkoff said.