It was in 1968 that Richard Nixon was elected president, Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed and the first manned moon voyage was launched with Apollo 8.

The Harvey County of 50 years ago had many similarities — and some differences — from the Harvey County of today.

At Safeway, wheat bread sold for 29 cents a loaf, a box of Tide detergent cost 99 cents and three cans of soup or an 18-ounce jar of Peter Pan peanut butter could be purchased for 59 cents.

Voters cast ballots that had been printed on presses at The Newton Kansan, lending their support to the initiative to build a city building for North Newton.

Hesston completed construction of its municipal building in 1968.

"Hesston's brand new municipal building will be dedicated during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sunday at 3 p.m., and then it will be open for inspection by the public, Mayor Vernon Nikkel announced today," The Newton Kansan reported. "...Special guests at the ceremony will be Sen. Joe Harder of Moundridge, Reps. Raymond King of Hesston and Ernie Unruh of Newton, and mayors of surrounding cities."

In the same year, Alvin King opened his antique car museum on Highway 81 in Hesston.

New buildings went up all over Newton — including the 11-acre Alco Plaza near Old Highway 81 and 24th Street and the Shopeze food market in the 300 block of West Broadway.

It was in 1968 that Bethel Deaconess Hospital was dedicated, with Sen. Frank Carlson speaking at a ceremony held at First Mennonite Church.

A new Foursquare Church building was built at 12th and Elm in 1968.

"The Rev. D. J. Ballinger, the pastor, said that the new masonry structure will cost around $45,000 and will seat about 275 worshipers with overflow rooms available. It is hoped that the new church will be ready by fall," The Newton Kansan reported.

Another new structure was a fire station built on the southwest of Broadway and Boyd streets.

"Plans approved by commissioners call for a low maintenance building," an article in The Newton Kansan read. "Double king size bricks are specified in the exterior construction along with a mansard style roof with fire retardant wood shakes."

Johnny Meares, who had immigrated from Greece at 18 in 1910, marked 50 years of owning Johnny's Confectionary at 519 N. Main St. in 1968.

What goes up must also — sometimes — come down. Such was the fate of Midland Mutual, which was located next to The Newton Kansan building in the 100 block of W. Sixth Street. A parking lot now occupies the space once held by the building.

A tornado caused damage at Chisholm Junior High on June 10, 1968.

"All of the buildings at the junior high school were damaged with windows being blown out on the south side of most of the buildings. There was some roof damage to the buildings, and both marquees at the west end of the gymnasium were damaged," The Newton Kansan reported.

Another building hit by the storm was Bible Baptist Church (now Shalom Mennonite Church) on West First Street.

"At the Bible Baptist Church just to the west a large portion of the roof at the south end of the structure was blown off. A portion of the plywood sheeting was taken off and a large area of shingles were blown away," The Newton Kansan stated. "The Newton fire department took its ladder truck to the church and firemen helped church members put a tarpaulin and plastic sheets over the hole in the roof."

Another disaster occurred when fire from an electrical short burned a barn and 2,600 bales of hay on the Nieto farm.

"Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Don Dody of Newton said he was driving along Highway 50 and saw the fire inside the barn. Suddenly, he said there was what appeared to be an electrical arc, and the blaze burst through outside the building," The Newton Kansan recorded.

Several murders took place around the area in 1968.

Archie Hayes, a cafe owner in Whitewater, was found shot dead after midnight on Feb. 13. Joseph Schweigert and Joy Dean Carpenter, along with another Newton man, were arrested for the murder.

Newton resident Lester Griffin, 19, killed his wife, Maxine, and 9-month-old son, Michael.

"Griffin appeared at the police station at 8 p.m. Friday and requested to talk to an officer.

He appeared to be in a state of shock and confusion and said there had been a shooting at 221 SE 14th.

Officers were dispatched to the home and found Mrs. Griffin sitting in an overstuffed chair in the living room, holding a baby. Both of the victims were dead," The Newton Kansan reported on March 9, 1968. "...She had been shot twice, investigation revealed. One bullet entered the head on the left cheek and the other bullet entered the head back of the left ear. The baby also had been shot in the head."

Harvey County citizens were shaken by news of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and about 200 persons attended memorial services for the slain civil rights leader at First United Presbyterian Church.

Speakers at the memorial service included A.W. Roberson, Trina Camargo, C.V. Bell, Mayor Lile Mason, the Rev. Louis Dale, the Rev. Ralph Milligan, the Rev. W.F. Unruh and the Rev. E.B. Billops.

Former Newton High School principal and basketball coach Frank Lindley died in 1968. Lindley started teaching in Newton schools in 1913 and became a principal in 1923. He retired in 1951 after working 38 years with Newton High School, racking up 10 state titles in basketball as coach of the boys team. Lindley moved to Guymon, Oklahoma, after his retirement.

Many eyes were on a former Halstead High School athlete — runner Conrad Nightingale — who competed in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Nightingale qualified by running 3,000 meters in 9:04.4 minutes. Nightingale would run home after track practice in high school, a distance of eight miles.

"It was during this senior year that a pretty fair city runner from Wichita by the name of Jim Ryun was entering college competition. Ryun and Nightingale had been friends for a long time working out together, racing in various meets and helping each other become great runners."

Some young men chose to serve in the military — including Army Sgt. Alvin Molzen, who returned to Newton after being awarded a Bronze Star for his actions in Vietnam.

"Sergeant Molzen distinguished himself by valorous action on the morning of 28 March 1968, while serving as a squad leader with Company C, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division," the citation read. "When his squad came under hostile fire from an enemy bunker, Sergeant Molzen destroyed the fortification with an anti-tank weapon."

Not every soldier came home. The Newton Kansan reported on May 24, 1968, that Charles Scates Jr., 18, was killed in action in Vietnam. Scates was in the 3rd Marine Division, having enlisted in the Marine Corps on June 28, 1967, shortly after his graduation from Newton High School.

"While in high school here he worked at Moore's IGA, Nemer's and at North Dillon," the newspaper said. "As far as is known, he is the first Newtonian killed in action in the Vietnam war."