COVID-19 Outbreak Cancels FS City Meeting Tonight

The City Commission meeting scheduled for tonight at 6;00 p.m. will not be held in public. This is due to an outbreak in coronavirus at City Hall. You can call into the 1-620-724-9910, participant code 515698# to listen to the meeting.

City Hall will be closed to the public until further notice.

BoCo Commission Minutes of July 24

July 24, 2020

The Bourbon County Commission met in open session for a Spark grant meeting with Commissioners Oharah and Fischer present, the County Clerk was also present.

Also present for the Spark meeting were Economic Development DirectorJody Hoener, FSCC President Alicia Johnston, Hazel Swarts, Emergency Manger William Wallis and Greenbush representatives Monica Murnon, Mike, and Dawn Floris.

Bourbon County is receiving $2.9 million for disbursement for COVID-19 related expenses and direct aid.

Treasurer Patty Love met with the Commissioners regarding the bank account for the Spark grant funds, she said that Terry Sercer told her to deposit the money in a separate non-interest baring bank account. Lynne made a motion to deposit the money in a non-interest baring account, Jeff seconded and the motion passed and the Commissioners and Kendell signed the banking paper work.

Jody Hoener said the Spark steering committee will be comprised of the following… Craig Campbell (Mercy Hospital), Jesse Ervin (City of Uniontown), Jerry Witt & Bill Michaud (business owner in Fort Scott, Susan Bancroft (City of Fort Scott) and Ted Hessong (USD234).

Monica said that currently Bourbon County is in the reporting and compliance portion of the grant. She said the County could use the County prioritization roadmap as a framework to plan and prioritize their investments and it is as follows… making public institutions whole, protecting the health of Kansas, revitalizing local businesses and building resilient communities. Normally you specify what the funds will be used for when applying for a grant, but this grant was given to the Counties in Kansas and the County then has to specify where the money will be used. There are two different pillars for the use for the use of the funds: reimbursement and direct aid.

Alicia Johnston said that FSCC needed money for the following areas: distance learning, improvements for telework capabilities, payroll specific to mitigating the COVID-19 response, reopening measurers, technology costs and transportation costs. She said that Mercy hospital is allowing FSCC to use 30 patient rooms to house students in.

Jeff made a motion to accept the 1st round of reimbursement of expenses, (administration fees, FSCC=$308,717.00, the City of Uniontown=$225.33, the City of Fort Scott=$20,000.00 and the City of Bronson=$100.00), Lynne seconded and the motion passed.

Jeff made a motion to accept the steering committees recommendations for spending the remaining money (Economic Development=$490,049.64, Small Business/Non Profit Grant Program=$122,512.41, Health=$735,074.47, Education=$490,049.64 and Collaborative Projects=$612,562.06), Lynne seconded and the motion passed.

Monica discussed the different draft survey application processes for the reimbursement portion and the direct aid portion. She said the application will be live on 07/28/2020. She said business that were mandated to close due to COVID-19 or chose to close (if approved for the grant) could use the funds for operational costs. Jeff made a motion to accept the survey processes, (this is currently in draft form and changes could be made to the process), Lynne seconded and all approved.

Hazel Swarts questioned what Greenbush’s role was in the grant; Lynne said they had been hired to administer the grant, he said the Commissioners wanted to keep the administration process local and that the Commissioners had voted to sign the contracts with Greenbush. The contract amount is $69,900, (unless they do anything beyond the scope of services).

Any questions regarding the Spark grant funds or the application process should contact Greenbush at (620)249-7149.

Lynne made a motion to have a budget worksession and a Spark grant meeting on August 7th at 1:00 pm, Jeff seconded and the motion passed.

At 3:17, Lynne made a motion to adjourn, Jeff seconded, meeting adjourned.

(ss) Lynne Oharah, Chairman
(ss) Jeff Fischer, Commissioner
(ss) Nick Ruhl, Commissioner
Kendell Mason, Bourbon County Clerk
July 28, 2020, Approved Date

Ad: Jeff Fischer For Bourbon County Commission

I am thankful for your support over the past four years in our service to the community. I consider it a tremendous privilege to have your trust and hope that this trust is still valued. I humbly request the favor of your continued support for me in my quest for a second term as your County Commissioner.

Four years ago, my promises to you were:

  1. To complete the Bourbon County Law Enforcement Center construction contract on time and within budget, leveraging my skills as a professional engineer. This construction contract was valued at 6.8 million and was executed without any significant change orders.
  2. To benchmark our county’s financial performance with like-sized Kansas counties. These comparisons helped in budgeting, compensation and forecasting.
  3. To improve accountability and transparency, specifically with the Garland Fire Department. That Department is once again performing to the satisfaction of its constituents.

The biggest challenges over this term were the restructuring of healthcare, the wind turbines, and the pandemic. Healthcare is 17.5% of our economy and our community was facing the realization that our hospital was closing. Fortunately, our county commission worked with Mercy and two key providers were recruited to ensure continuity of care. The anticipated decline of property values did not occur.

Mercy donated an ambulance service to Bourbon County to provide this service. After comparing several nearby county models’ organizational structure for ambulance service, we ultimately patterned ours like the Allen County model. Bourbon county contracts with Fort Scott for $1,020,000 annually for operating this service and the county collects the fees. We were able to keep this service local for about half the cost to taxpayers in comparison to our northern neighbor, Linn County.

Civic leader Bill Brittan approached the county commission with the concept of a Healthcare Mall. He believed that with three anchor tenants, this property would be a viable, self-sustaining community resource that could attract medical professionals, students, and patients into our community. Two of the anchors appeared to be already in place, those being Community Health Centers of South East Kansas and Ascension Via Christi. The county commission felt that another anchor tenant was needed to make this sustainable.

Last September, Nathan Fawson of the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center requested a tour of the Mercy Hospital building. Since that time, the concept of a regional behavioral crisis center has been explored and pitched in Topeka. Preliminary discussions with State and Federal behavioral health providers were initiated, linking these services with FSCC’s Nursing Program. Unfortunately, the pandemic has hampered the development of these proposals into letters of intent.

I have learned a great deal as we engaged the prospect of wind turbines in our county. I regret that this issue was so divisive, pitting neighbor against neighbor. I also carry remorse for some of my own off-the-cuff conduct during our commission meetings. I’ve learned that Truth is a precious commodity and that Trust must be earned.

Looking ahead, there are serious challenges that we face as a county. Our tax rate on urban commercial property is 5%. A comparison of the rate with local counties in our area, we find that Labette County (Parsons) is the only county in southeast Kansas that is higher at 5.3%. Crawford County is 3.8%. At 5%, a commercial property owner pays in property taxes the value of his property every 20 years and at 4%, 25 years. We must work to improve our stewardship or lucrative commercial ventures may bypass our community.

During KDOT’s regional meetings, I have provided them testimony in the shaping of their vision. In my opinion, completing 69 as a four-lane through Pittsburg and connecting to the Oklahoma Turnpike is vital to our long term growth strategy. In a way, we are competing against 169 in connecting Kansas City to Dallas with a future interstate.

On a personal note, I am 59 years old and have been married to Gloria Fischer for 30

years. She serves our veterans as a physician. Together, we have four children—Joseph, Mary, Noah, and Benjamin. Joseph graduated from K-State as a mechanical engineer and works for an ag tech company, 360 Yield. The other three are learning at KU and Washburn. They cherish our community and hope to return to serve here.

I am a licensed Professional Engineer with Bachelor and Master Degrees in civil engineering. My academic research experience revolves around bridge rehabilitation and I’ve presented this topic at the national American Society of Civil Engineers conference. I have a great deal of heavy construction experience as well as skills for solving complex problems. Along with my wife, I have some experience in the medical service sector also.

Our family delights in serving the public sector. We’re builders and we love this county and its people. If I have your trust and confidence, I would humbly ask for your vote for County Commissioner.


BoCo Commission Minutes of July 21

July 21, 2020 Tuesday 1:50 pm

The Bourbon County Commissioners met in open session with Commissioner Fischer and Oharah present as well as the County Clerk and Emergency Manager William Wallis.

Lynne made a motion to adopt Resolution 24-20 and to change the effective date of 7 days to 60 days (a resolution proclaiming a state of local disaster due to COVID, Will said this resolution will help the County continue to get financial aid due to COVID expenses), Jeff seconded and the motion passed.

At 1:54, Jeff made a motion to adjourn, Lynne seconded, meeting adjourned.

(ss) Lynne Oharah, Chairman
(ss) Jeff Fischer, Commissioner
(ss) Nick Ruhl, Commissioner
Kendell Mason, Bourbon County Clerk
July 24, 2020, Approved Date

BoCo Commission Minutes of July 20

July 20, 2020 Monday 1:30 pm

The Bourbon County Commission met in open session with all three Commissioners, the County Counselor and the County Clerk present.

Also present were the following… Jason Silvers with the Fort Scott Tribune, Angel Wilson and Lora Holdridge.

Lynne made a motion to go into a 10 minute executive session for personnel matters of individual non-elected personnel, Jeff seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners and Appraiser Clint Anderson). After the session, Jeff made a motion to approve hiring a field appraiser due to future vacancy that will occur over the next few weeks, Nick seconded and all approved.

Jeff Fischer questioned a service charge that the Consolidated Rural Water District is charging; the Commissioners told him they had a board that should be contacted regarding their charges.

Lynne discussed a resolution for possible approval requiring that any grant applied for or accepted must be approved by the Commissioners; he thought it would be a good resolution for the County. Lynne made a motion to approve Resolution 24-20, there was not a second for his motion. Jeff asked if they were trying to solve a problem with the current granting process, Lynne said yes, Justin said it was a procedural issue which caused problems that the resolution could resolve for future grants. Jeff said that the wellness grants didn’t have the Commissioners approval for the application and said that last year they considered (but didn’t follow through with) a cost share grant from the Department of Transportation for an iron bridge in Garland. Jeff questioned if the resolution would be another barrier for obtaining grants. Justin said it would be putting a layer of protection in the grant process. Jeff questioned if the resolution would be reacting to a situation and said he didn’t think that was the right thing to do. Jeff made a motion to go into a 5 minute executive session for consultation with an attorney for the body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship, Nick seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners and Justin Meeks). After the session Lynne made a motion to table the resolution until a later date and Nick seconded.

Jeff made a motion to go into a 3 minute executive session for personnel matters of individual non-elected personnel, Nick seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners, Bobby Reed and Kendell Mason). Lynne made a motion to go into a 3 minute executive session for personnel matters of individual non-elected personnel, Jeff seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners, Bobby Reed and Kendell Mason). After the session Jeff made a motion authorizing an employee in the Correctional Center to use donated vacation time in the community pool for sick leave (an employee can donate vacation time to an employee to use for sick leave), Nick seconded and all approved.

Jeff said the deadline is in August for submitting an application for KDOT funding for off system bridges, he asked it was the intent of the Commissioners to explore funding for the Jefferson bridge, Lynne said they still need to determine if they want to repair or replace the bridge. Jeff questioned if he should get the authority to write a proposal to fix the bridge, Lynne said they could direct public works to get a proposal. Jeff questioned if the bridge north of Fort Scott could have an at-grade crossing installed to eliminate the need for a bridge. Jeff made a motion to direct public works to complete an application for the two fracture critical bridges (Jefferson bridge and the bridge north of Fort Scott on old 69 Highway), Nick seconded and all approved.

Lynne said they should be more involved in the application process so they weren’t blindsided.

The Commissioners reviewed the 1st draft of the 2021 budget. Jeff said the draft didn’t include a budget for the medical mall or the PILOT money. The current mill levy for Bourbon County is 66.613, the estimated mill levy on the 1st draft of the budget is 67.131. Lynne said in 2019 Road & Bridge had spent more than they thought they had due to deposits not being correct. Lora Holdridge questioned if the draft of the budget included raises for non-elected employees, Lynne said Terry was instructed to enter the amount the department head requested, Jeff questioned if it was possible to encourage all of the departments to save money for a carryover to help fund a raise.

The Commissioners will have a budget work session on July 28th at 9:00 am. Lynne said the Commissioners will work with the department heads regarding the budgets.

Jeff made a motion to adjourn at 3:12, Nick seconded and all approved.

(ss) Lynne Oharah, Chairman
(ss) Jeff Fischer, Commissioner
(ss) Nick Ruhl, Commissioner
Kendell Mason, Bourbon County Clerk
July 24, 2020, Approved Date

Tax Collections More Than 2019

Kansas Total Tax Collections $484.6 Million Ahead of July of Last Fiscal Year


TOPEKA—The State of Kansas starts Fiscal Year 2021 by surpassing its total tax-only collections by $484.6 million compared to July of last fiscal year. Total tax collections for the first month of the fiscal year were $980.8 million. That is $4.6 million, or 0.5%, less than the estimate.


“While state revenue collections are more than the beginning of last fiscal year, we must continue to make fiscally sound decisions to minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic moving forward,” Governor Laura Kelly said.


The State collected $619.6 million in individual income taxes for the month; an increase of $395.3 million, or 176.3%, compared to the July of Fiscal Year 2020. However, these collections were $30.4 million, or 4.7%, less than the estimate for the month. Corporate income tax collections were $69.8 million; $5.2 million, or 6.9%, less than estimated but an increase of $54.6 million compared to July of FY 2020.


Retail sales tax and compensating use tax collections performed better than both the monthly estimate and in their comparison to July of last fiscal year. Retail sales tax collections were $218.6 million; $16.6 million, or 8.2%, more than the estimate. That is a $14.0 million, or 6.9%, growth compared to July of FY 2020. Compensating use tax collections were 39.8%, or $14.3 million, more than estimated, with $50.3 million collected. That is an increase of $11.3 million, or 29.1%, compared to the same month of FY 2020.


“The state has seen consistent growth in compensating use tax collections as approximately 4,000 out-of-state online retailers have registered with the state under Kansas Department of Revenue Notice 19-04,” Secretary Mark Burghart said. “In addition, changing consumer purchasing patterns, which focus on online purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic, account for some of the increased use tax receipts.”


Kansas Department of Revenue Notice 19-04 was published Aug. 1, 2019, which notified retailers of sales tax requirements for doing business in Kansas.


Presbyterian Village Employee Tests COVID-19 Positive


FORT SCOTT, Ks. – A Fort Scott Presbyterian Village non-direct resident care employee tested positive for COVID-19 Saturday, August 1. The employee is in isolation and quarantined at home.

The employee, who does not work directly with residents, passed employee screening for their shift on July 30 and wore personal protective equipment as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The employee began to feel ill, left the building and sought COVID-19 testing. The employee has not been back in the building since. The campus was notified that the employee was positive for COVID-19 Saturday evening.

Our top priority is the safety of our residents and staff members,” said Jeanne Gerstenkorn, PMMA’s infection preventionist and vice president for health and wellness.

The Bourbon County Health Department and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Epidemiology Hotline have been notified. Health department guidelines will be followed for quarantining and testing of employees and residents. Through contact tracing seven campus employees and two residents have been identified as having close contact with the positive employee. The health department recommends placing all 9 people in isolation until testing can be completed later this week, and monitoring them for fever and signs and symptoms for 14 days.

At this time, no residents or employees are showing signs or symptoms of respiratory illness or COVID-19.

Families have been called to alert them to the potential exposure, and all state and county mandatory required reporting agencies have been notified.

All employees are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines and best practices as these are continually updated. The community regularly reinforces with all staff that an employee should not report to work if he or she is experiencing symptoms of a respiratory illness or are not feeling well.

The employee is recuperating at home and must be COVID-19-free before returning to work. We follow CDC and KDHE guidelines in determining when an employee may return to work. Under the current guidelines, the employee may return to work when at least 72 hours have passed since resolution of the employee’s fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and the employee’s symptoms have improved and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared. Upon the employee’s return to work, we will follow CDC recommendations related to work practices and restrictions.

For more information about Fort Scott Presbyterian Village’s response, go to PMMA’s (Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America’s) website, room.

Bourbon County Has Nine Current COVID-19 Cases

SEK Multi-County Health Departments

Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, and Woodson Counties

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

August 3, 2020

Allen County

Current Positive Cases 2
Total Hospitalizations 2
Current Recovered Cases 13
Total Positives Since Testing 15-1 removed-out of state and to remain there
Deaths 0

Anderson County

Current Positive Cases 3
Total Hospitalizations 0
Current Recovered Cases 26
Total Positives Since Testing 29
Deaths 0

Bourbon County

Current Positive Cases 9
Presumptive Cases 4-1 listed on KDHE website, tested negative
Positive Out of State/County-staying in Bourbon 11
Total Hospitalizations 7-1 remaining in hospital
Current Recovered Cases 65-includes presumptive cases
Total Positives Since Testing 73
Deaths 1

Woodson County

Current Positive Cases 0
Total Hospitalizations 1-0 remaining in hospital
Current Recovered Cases 11
Total Positives Since Testing 11
Deaths 0

Recovered cases are based on dates of onset of symptoms, not on day testing results are received.

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