Most regular readers know that Becky and I made a trip to Greensburg, Kansas this week. Now a pair of bright orange and yellow fishing bobbers sits on my desk as a reminder of Charlie. So I have to tell you about him.
Charles R “Charlie” Jones is a fisherman. Not just any fisherman, he is also what I’d term a naturalist, although he’d just say he likes birds and critters. He is also an entrepreneur; you know, one of those people who get an idea in their head and can’t give it up. Charlie wanted to make a fishing bobber that would keep fishing line form being tangled and lost in the pond. It all happened when he rescued a bird, but you can read that story on his web site at www.bowtieandcorker.com.
Charlie now has a patent on his invention and before May 4, he had a business in Greensburg and was making and packaging his product for sale. Then the tornado devastated Greensburg. In the aftermath he walked the ground where his building once stood and picked up what little of his bobbers he could find from the ground. I’m honored that he gave me two of them.
When I first started talking to Charlie I noticed his right index finger looked swollen and he told me that was his injury from the tornado and he’d had a pin in his finger. Charlie’s wife, Pat, thought she got off easy until her leg began to swell and surgery was necessary to remove a kernel of seed corn embedded in her leg.
As with any entrepreneur and all inventors, Charlie is a talker. As he explained how he’d come to this product, the passion for his work was evident. I left there feeling like I had to do something to help Charlie. After a few emails, a contact put me in touch with Wally Kearns, the State Director for the Small Business Development Centers in Kansas. Wally has had counselors available for Greensburg residents since the tornado hit and promised to pass Charlie’s contact information to a counselor there.
Rebuilding a whole town takes a long time. I hope Charlie and others like him can find a way to hang in there and be a part of the new Greensburg!