Lee’s Paws and Claws in search of volunteers

As with any volunteer-run organization, dedicated volunteers are needed to support the day-to-day operations of the organization. Lee’s Paws and Claws Animal Shelter is no exception.

According to Volunteer Coordinator Barbara Ritter, the shelter has only 3 regular volunteers working during the week. “We desperately need volunteers.  We currently have one volunteer on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 10-2, one on Tuesday, and two on the weekends.  It would be nice to have a few more volunteers working with our current ones,” Ritter said.

IMG_3431

Ritter explained that the duties volunteers perform range from cleaning to cuddling with the dogs and cats that call the shelter “home.” “The duties are varied in nature and time,” Ritter said. Duties include “cleaning the dog runs, cleaning the cat rooms, sweeping/mopping, laundry, washing feeding bowls, walking dogs or just spending time with the animals.”

The age of volunteers varies, but Ritter said that the “greatest need though is for adults who can volunteer during the week.” Ritter said that volunteers should be above 12 years of age, but that the shelter has two 12-year-old girls who stop by a few times a week to play with the cats.

Ritter reminded those who would like to support the shelter to attend Shelter Night at La Hacienda. The restaurant, which is located at 22 S. Main Street in downtown Fort Scott, hosts a fundraiser for the shelter every Tuesday evening. Ritter also mentioned the adoption days held at Shepherd Team Auto Plaza from 10AM-2PM the last Saturday of every month.

Those interested in volunteering at the shelter should contact Barbara Ritter at 620-223-2888 and/or visit the shelter at 721 240th Street between 10AM-2PM.

 

KDWPT to improve Gunn Park 2nd lake

Though Gunn Park has been a staple for entertainment and activities for Fort Scott for many years, it continues to evolve in response to the needs of the community through the work of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Many citizens who frequent the park may have noticed the nearly empty 2nd lake.

101_1117

According to city officials, the lake is slated to undergo improvements in the future. The improvements to be made to the lake include putting three piers out into the lake 40 feet long 20 feet wide, as well as excavating to make the lake less shallow. The lake is currently drained in preparation for the improvements that are to be done, but recent rains have made the lake bed too wet to get machinery in or out without getting mired down and possibly stuck in the mud.

101_1122

According to Don George, Fisheries Biologist for the Kansas Department of Parks and Wildlife, the “grant is through Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism’s Community Fisheries Assistance Program (CFAP). Since our division ( Fisheries) is funded by licenses and funds from the sale of fishing tackle, these grant funds are really money from anglers to improve angling opportunities,” George said.

George mentioned that the lake had to be dewatered for spillway and dam repairs the city put into effect, and that the priorities for improving the lake were to “[deepen] the lake basin, construct several earthen piers, a boatramp, a parking lot [and] improve shallow and mid depth habitat.”  “The old fishery was not productive and the lake will be restocked with desirable species,” George said.

When asked when the lake will reopen, George said that before that can happen, the lake will have to be rewatered and restocked, and that it would not be open to fishermen for another 2 years. “I hope to get started soon,” George said.

101_1128

In addition, George answered the question many citizens may have about the disappearance of the city’s fishing permit requirement. “The CFAP project pays the City each year a dollar amount equal to what the city used to generate in fishing permit sales.  Now when people want to fish in any of the water in Ft Scott all they need is a state fishing license.  No more running around to find a city permit vendor, and the city does not have to enforce this action or keep track of the funds.  In turn the City uses this money to buy fish food, mow grass and collect trash around the lakes, etc.”

New County Road and Bridge Coordinator hired

Bourbon County Commissioners announced the candidate selected for the Bourbon County Road and Bridge Coordinator position at Monday’s meeting. Commission Chairman Allen Warren moved to hire Jim Harris at a yearly salary of $44,000. Commissioner Harold Coleman seconded the motion. Harris’ past work history includes employment at Berry Tractor, Bourbon County Public Works, and the City of Fort Scott.

Commissioners, Jail officials examine jail conundrum

At today’s county commissioners’ meeting, Bobby Reed of the SEKRCC brought forward numbers he had crunched on jail expenses at Commissioner Albright’s request in an attempt to solving the problem of rising jail expenses. Unfortunately, a permanent solution to the problem seems elusive.

Reed, Undersheriff Bill Martin, and SEKRCC Security Director Julie Miller all presented data that pointed to probation violators as the source of much of the expense, including out-of-county housing. Reed presented reports gathered from the past 19 months. “We may fluctuate a day here or a day there, but until the 26th, we had 45 in and 29 out,” Reed said of the past month. Reed said the number of inmates housed out in the past had been as high as 34. As of today, 32 inmates are housed out of county, according to Reed.

“We have bed space for 52 inmates, but we have to leave a 15% of the 52 open for influx and so forth,” Reed said. Reed explained that jail administration had made a choice last year to house inmates out of county when the number of inmates housed in the county rose to 56, 4 above the maximum.

When asked about the possibility of reducing the jail population, jail officials explained the difficulty of carrying out that request. “The majority [of inmates] are probation violations, and they have to sit there and serve their time,” Miller said. Miller estimated that approximately 75% of inmates are probation violators, and explained further that many of the violators are repeat visitors to the jail. “For a county of 15,000, the population of our jail is outrageous,” Commissioner Harold Coleman said.

“They’re all the same people—it’s a revolving door,” Miller said. Miller explained the process for probation violation, which becomes a cycle for some inmates. “We can only do so much,” Reed said. Miller said that probation violators often “sit for a month” before they go to court because of backlog. “That inmate can sit down there until the judge is ready to see them,” said Martin.

According to Undersheriff Martin, Bourbon County GIS Director Shane Walker is working with the company that created the office’s computer program to help generate more data. The department hopes to generate exact figures on the amount of inmates returning on probation violations.

Commissioner Albright brought up the fact that the national average stay for 75% of inmates is approximately 72 hours. “What’s it going to take to get it down to the national average?” Commission Chairman Warren said. To these queries, Reed responded that many of the arrest warrants that he deals with are “no-bond,” which contributes to the high jail population. Reed estimated that this type of warrant comprises 80% of the warrants he sees.

“We’re not the only county with these issues,” Martin said. “They’re facing the same problems,” Martin explained, and pointed out that eventually housing out of county may not be an option.“If we sift it all out, length of stay is the issue,” Albright said. “What are we doing for effective intervention?” Gray said that there were free programs available and probation counselors whose efforts were directed at preventing probation violations. “It’s the responsibility of the individual,” Martin said of inmates attending counseling and free programs to help inmates fight addiction. “They have to take it upon themselves to stay out of the system.”

With regard to working out a solution, County Attorney Terri Johnson told commissioners that Chief Judge Richard Smith would meet with the commissioners Friday, August 2nd.

Other expenses that commissioners and jail officials considered today were overtime, inmate meal and medical expenses, and supplies.

Commissioner Harold Coleman called the overtime being paid in the Sheriff’s office “staggering.” Coleman said that he had calculated 423.2 hours in the past two weeks. Reed explained that many officers were coming in on their days off in order to transport inmates.

When asked the cost for inmate meals, Reed reported the current cost per inmate per day is only a few cents above $3.00. Gray added that this was reduced from the former cost of $12.00 per inmate per day.

With regard to medical costs, Miller said that the bill for prenatal care for inmates is footed by the SEKRCC budget, as well as any other bills, such as ER visits, that inmates incur while incarcerated. “All these doctor’s bills—they should be repaid by the offender,” Miller said.

In a final query concerning expenses, Warren asked about the recent $1,000 spent on supplies for the jail. “One of the things I think we really need to look at is what are we buying in the way of supplies,” Warren said. Warren said that there had been $1,000 spent on training videos, to which Gray replied that inadequate training leaves the department open to a federal lawsuit.

“Everything we buy is an absolute necessity,” Miller said. Miller explained that she had been sewing to keep materials together and avoid purchasing new materials. “We just need to be looking, always, for ways we can reduce our expenses,” Warren said. “I’d like for the suggestions to come from you.”

In other business:

  • Tina Rockhold, Mercy Regional Marketing/Communications Manager, came to the meeting to ask the commissioners for their help in blocking off several roads for the Mercy Day half marathon run. “It’s growing in popularity,” Rockhold said of the run.“We’re adding the 1 mile this year.” Of participation in the event, Rockhold said that around 40 runners participated each of the past two years the event has been held.
    Rockhold asked permission to block off parts of Grand Road and Indian Road to “alleviate any traffic problems and keep our runners safe.” She explained that event officials would want to block off the roads by 6AM, and that most runners would be out of the area by 9AM. “It would be just those early morning hours,” Rockhold said. The commissioners gave permission, but asked Rockhold to send a reminder email the week of the event.
  • Dwayne Neil, whose bid was accepted for the haying of land at Elm Creek, came to the meeting to request more time to complete the job. “Praise the Lord for the rain, but . . . I’m not going to have it done by the first of August. Your rocks cause problems,” Neil joked, and explained that recent rains had prevented him from haying the land. Neil said that he had gotten about 130 bales out of the land last year, but that last year had been unusually dry. “It is much better this year,” Neil said. Commissioners agreed to extend the deadline to August 10th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mercy adds new occupational services expansion

A drive down National Avenue in the past month may have had residents wondering what was going on behind the Mercy Convenient Care location at 1624 S. National. To accommodate a recent expansion in Occupational Medicine services, Mercy needed additional building space to match.

101_1160

According to Mercy Regional Marketing/Communications Manager Tina Rockhold, construction on the expansion was completed Friday, July 19th, and staff moved in over that weekend. “Since Tuesday, July 23, Mercy Occupational Medicine has already provided six job assessments on potential co-workers for a local business,” Rockhold said of use of the facility and services. According to a recent Mercy press release, the new addition, which spans 1,2oo square feet, “is dedicated for job ‘fit’ assessments to test workers on their functional skills.”

Of the services that the new expansion makes possible, Eric Baldonado, Mercy Director of Rehabilitation Services said in a recent press release that “Occupational medicine is focused on prevention,” and that Mercy “works side by side with employers to test a potential co-worker on their ability to meet the physical expectations of the job, and that’s just the beginning.” Baldonado also mentioned in the press release that Mercy’s occupational medicine services do contract work with “business and industries to tailor fit occupational medicine needs that will reduce injuries in their specific work environment.”

Mercy Hospital Fort Scott President Reta Baker stated in the press release that Mercy determined the need for the occupational services after holding “conversations with several business leaders in the community.”

According to the press release, services offered at the new location include “medical evaluations such as pre-employment physicals and Fit for Duty’ testing (urine analysis, drug screens and pulmonary function tests)’ therapy services and nationally recognized Work Well TM services. Additional services include on-site vaccinations such as flu shots, job site analysis, education programs and development of functional job descriptions.” Baker said that Mercy had “taken time to assemble a skilled and hughly trained staff to oversee the occupational medicine program,” and that the “team will coordinate care with Mercy Clinic physicians and specialists, registration, lab, imaging and therapy services to provide the full spectrum of occupational medicine services.”

According to Rockhold, the providers and co-workers who comprise the Mercy Occupational Medicine Team are James L. Jordan, MD, Team Consultant, P.K. Gugnani, MD. Medical Director, Jan Boge, APRN, Pamela Moyers, APRN, Leigh Scharff, APRN, Jamie Johnson, PT, Eric Baldonado, PT, Whendi Martin, Admitting Representative, Michelle Bruner, Mercy Clinic Director, Monica Dikeman, PTA and  Meghan Woodrum, Radiology Tech, Phlebotomist, Medical Assistant.

Entities interested in contacting Mercy Occupational Medicine should call Whendi Martin at 620-223-8428.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old patrol cars to be hauled off

According to Bourbon County Undersheriff Bill Martin, old patrol cars that have been totaled out by insurance will be removed by KCAMP, the county’s insurance provider. According to Sheriff Ron Gray and Martin, the remaining older patrol vehicles have been paid off and will be sold at auction, and bids for 2 new pickup trucks for the department have been offered by Shepherd Team Auto Plaza.

According to Sheriff Gray, the bid from Shepherd’s is $26,382 for the two vehicles. Gray said, “I am very pleased,” regarding the bid for the vehicles from the local dealer. “They actually came in almost a thousand less [than competitors], so they are the low bid.”

Regarding the sale of the four remaining aged vehicles, Gray said, “What you have to sell at auction would be my pickup, the Tahoe, the emergency preparedness truck and Tom Davis’s truck.” Commission Chairman Warren asked for a “ballpark” figure on the price these vehicles might bring, to which Gray replied that they might bring $500 each if sold at local auction, and at a larger auction, the amount would depend on the market the day of the sale. “I think your best option is probably to send them across the auction block,” Gray said.

The commissioners then went into a 15-minute executive session with Gray and Martin present to protect the privacy of non-elected personnel.

In other business:

  • Bourbon County Emergency Manager Terri Coop shared an update on the first Bourbon County Long Term Relief Committee. “I am super impressed,” Coop said of the volunteers’ work on the first committee project. “The church kind of adopted this family,” Coop said of the Presbyterian Church’s work with the first project. Coop said that the Bourbon County Long Term Relief Committee portion of the project, the roofing of the house, is now finished. Commissioner Albright said that she had been questioned about the committee working on a home that the individual considered “unoccupied,” to which Coop replied that the house had been used, but that the home was rendered “uncomfortable” for use after the April hailstorm. Coop also brought an Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) application forward for the commissioners to sign.
    Coop also announced that Bourbon County is scheduled to host Kansas Division of Emergency Management (KDEM) training in September and October. “It’s taken me about 3 months to get it organized,” Coop said. According to Coop, the training will be held on the campus of Mercy Hospital in Fort Scott. “I’m hoping to be able to bring more of the state-sponsored training to Bourbon County,” Coop said.
  • Phil Gonzalez of Source One Restoration, a local contracting company, attended the meeting in order to request permission to turn in a late bid on the courthouse roof. “If we could get you something by Monday, would you at least entertain it?” Gonzalez said. Commissioners Coleman and Warren explained that the county had made a “verbal commitment” to another company chosen by the insurance company. “Since no one bid, we went back to the insurance company for help,” Warren said. Warren said that the commissioners would contact the insurance company to see if KCAMP would allow a late bid.
  • David Stewart of Heartland Propane presented a proposal to the commissioners involving the conversion of county vehicles to dual propane/gasoline capabilities. Stewart said that if the propane conversion were implemented, it would “reduce operation costs.” Stewart cited several reasons that make propane a wise choice for fuel, including the fact that it burns cleaner, is cheaper per gallon than gasoline ($1.80 for propane vs. $3.65 for gasoline), that there are tax rebates (50 cents per gallon) in place, and that using propane for vehicle fuel reduces dependence on foreign oil.
    Stewart outlined the cost of implementing the system, which would include a dispenser and cost for conversion of vehicles. Stewart said that a top of the line dispenser with digital readout would cost the county around $15,000, but a lower-end dispenser would cost closer to $8,000. A representative from Fuel Conversion Solutions put the price of conversion at $7-9,000 per vehicle.
  • Carolyn Flynn of EnBridge Pipeline came to the meeting to finalize permits involving culverts and right of way for the new crude oil pipeline.Commissioners added up the cost, which totaled $2,163.76 for two entrances, including 24 inch culverts for each site.

 

Mercy Auxiliary looking for volunteers

While Mercy Auxiliary workers quietly work in the background much of the time, their efforts provide a valuable service to the community. Carolyn Crystal of the Mercy Auxiliary stepped forward at today’s Chamber Coffee to make a request of the community. Crystal highlighted the fact that the Auxiliary needs more volunteers to step forward. The pool of volunteers is running a bit low, and the service the Auxiliary provides much-needed services to patients, such as mail delivery, running the gift shop, assisting William James Schafer with pastorial duties, and assisting incoming patients and families. Volunteers also sew stuffed bears to give away to children that come in for shots and emergency visits, in addition to caps for cancer patients and pillows for outpatient surgery patients. “We have workers in here 5 days per week,” Crystal said.  Crystal said that the Auxiliary is looking for volunteers of all ages. “I don’t want to put anyone out [of consideration] that wants to volunteer,” said Crystal.

101_1158
Carolyn Crystal holds a pillow, cap and stuffed bear sewn by volunteers for patients.

Crystal explained that volunteers work in two shifts, 5 days per week. The morning shift lasts from 8:30AM-1:00PM, and the afternoon shift, from 1:ooPM-5:30PM. For each shift, the worker earns 5 hours of credit. The Auxiliary does request a $5 donation from each worker every year, but that during the first year, it can be waived.

Crystal also pointed out that the volunteer work does have some unique benefits. For each hour that volunteers work, they have 1 hour of credit (1 hour=$1.00) to apply to hospital visits, medications, Health for Life or doctors’ appointments. Additional benefits include a free beverage at the cafeteria during the worker’s shift, a discount at the hospital gift shop and cafeteria, and an annual flu shot and TB test. Crystal also mentioned that the hospital puts on a special banquet every year for volunteers and presents each one with a small gift. “The appreciation dinner is very nice,” Crystal said.

Other activities Auxiliary workers are involved in include the annual gift shop Christmas Show, which is usually held the 1st of November in the MacAuley Room.

In other news:

  • The Chamber Golf Classic will be held Friday, July 26th from 11:15AM-12:15AM at the Woodland Hills Golf Course. Bryan Holt of Union State Bank mentioned that the weather was predicted to be unusually nice for the event. “The high is supposed to be about 88 degrees,” Holt said. Other chamber announcements included new Rural Opportunity Zone legislation and the Chamber’s interest in the tax break opportunities contained in that legislation.
  • Tina Rockhold, Regional Marketing & Communication Manager and Philanthropy Director for Mercy Hospital announced the upcoming Mercy Day Run to be held September 28th. According to Rockhold, the proceeds from the event, which will feature a half-marathon, 5K and 1 mile run/walk, will be put toward the purchase of equipment for pediatric therapy.
  • Lindsey Madison, Executive Director of the Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce, announced the “Tax Holiday” to be held August 2-4. Participating businesses will be able to offer a reduction in the price of their products thanks to a temporary exemption in local sales tax. In order to participate, businesses should contact the Chamber of Commerce.
  • Katherine Richards of the Small Business Development Center at Pittsburg State University announced that the organization’s Leadership Academy is now accepting applications. “Several from Bourbon County have been through that,” Richards said. According to Richards, the Academy allows local business owners to network with other like-minded individuals in the area.
  • Gina Findley announced the upcoming United Way fundraiser Zombie Run 5K to be held September 13th. “It’s going to be really fun–it’s at nighttime,” Findley said. According to Findley, the runners will be chased by costumed “zombies.”
  • Allen Warren of the Bourbon County Fair Board announced the tractor pull rescheduled for August 23rd. “We tried with the grader to move the mud off the track–there was too much mud,” Warren said of the track’s condition the week of the fair.
  • Mercy Hospice Case Manager Kim Toff announced several Mercy Hospice-related items. “We have grown considerably over the last year,” Toff said. According to Toff, Hospice has assisted over 70 patients and their families. Toff explained that after the passing of a loved one, Mercy Hospice stays in contact with the family for 13 months afterwards to help them deal with the grieving process. In addition, the Hospice has helped several terminally ill patients experience their hobbies once again. Workers made it possible for one patient, a former racing driver, to get back on the track at a Kansas City Speedway for a day.