Velocity Tactics set to open doors by spring

The building that once housed Key Industries, Inc., near the railroad tracks on Wall Street, is now used by a new business to manufacture ammunition and sell other tactical clothing and gear, currently through online sales.

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“It’s going to be a cool place for people who are outdoor people,” Greg Fess said of Velocity Tactics, which could open in the next few months.

Fess, who oversees the work site, said the idea for Velocity Tactics began about three years ago as a side project started by Ryan Kraft, son of Roger Kraft of Ward Kraft in Fort Scott. Kraft wanted to find a way to make improvements to bullets, which Fess said have seen little change since World War I.

With those three years of research and development, which continues even today, Kraft and others have been able to create a lead-free bullet, using solid copper instead of a copper jacket and lead, making it lighter and more precise as well as able to cause more damage to a soft target.

“It needs to perform better than what’s out there,” Fess said of the viability of their business, saying it has been a team effort to find a way to achieve that.

But so far they have found success with their products, continuing to develop their manufacturing methods, making sure they test a high percentage of the bullets to make sure they are of the best quality. While they originally wanted to start selling earlier, the team instead focused on becoming experts on their product as well as the business first.

Fess said their products – which currently includes ammunition as well as firearms, gear, knives, targets and tactical gear and accessories – have been available for purchase online for about a year and are being used around the nation.

But on a more local level, Fess said local law enforcement officers have tried out the different bullets in comparison to those they currently use. Velocity Tactics will also sell other gear the local sheriff’s office and police department use, allowing them to buy locally instead of from out of town.

“That will be cool to keep all that in the community,” Fess said.

With their brand name spreading, Fess and others involved in the rising company have already been on hunts with others who purchased or use their bullets. The store in Fort Scott will include a trophy room displaying some of those animals, which currently will include a hog, buffalo, elk as well as an alligator that broke state records in Florida for its size of more than 13 feet in length and weighing almost 1,000 pounds.

Velocity Tactics continues to focus on letting others know of their product through online marketing, improving their website and manufacturing the product while also getting the store in Fort Scott ready to open its doors.

Fess said they have had to do a lot of work on the building to make it fit with their plans for it, adding they could continue projects and expansions on it for the next five years. But already, the first floor of the Velocity Tactics location is nearly complete, with a third of that space to be used for the store while the remaining two thirds are reserved for manufacturing.

Work continues on the second floor, where Fess said they hope to eventually have 100 machines in operations to make the bullets.

The store location is set to open within the next few months or by spring of 2016 at the latest. Those interested in purchasing online can do so today through their website.

Deb Madison to retire after 20 years with Medicalodges

After working at Medicalodges in Fort Scott for 20 years in a variety of positions, current marketing manager Deb Madison will officially retire from the facility after Sept. 30.

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Born and raised in Fort Scott, Madison first worked at Medicalodges as a high school student not long after it opened in 1966. She returned in April of 1995 when the administrator, a former classmate of hers, asked her to consider taking a position there.

“I took it hesitantly,” Madison says of that decision. “I just didn’t know whether I would actually like this kind of work. But after you work here a few days, you realize it’s something you love.”

First working as a housekeeping supervisor, Madison eventually served in several departments including social services, human resources and eventually community relations and marketing. Madison said that latter position has been one of her favorites, saying she gets to be a part of both worlds as she works with Medicalodges but also interacts with the community.

But Madison says her favorite part of the job has been her fellow staff members and the residents she sees each day.

“Residents become your family,” Madison says. “A lot of them you’re around them as much as you are your own family…It will be hard not to see them every day.”

Madison says it has been an honor working for Medicalodges over the last two decades, as she saw changes come to the facility such as seven different administrators and also different regulations enforced at the state and federal level. Overall, Madison says they have changed the atmosphere from that of an institution to that of a home for their residents.

“It’s all about teamwork here,” Madison says, adding the staff helps each other out when needed, even if it is outside of their own area of expertise. “We’ve got a good staff.”

But Madison says she looks forward to retirement and spending more time with her seven children and nine grandchildren, ranging from two to 14 years old. All of her children live in or near Fort Scott.

Madison and her husband will also continue working at their ranch, Madison Cattle, located about six miles north of Fort Scott and says she plans to remain active in the community.

“I’m sure I’ll be plenty busy,” Madison says of her retirement. “It will be a different chapter in my life.”

Construction begins on new assisted living residence in Fort Scott

With construction beginning off Horton Street near the water treatment plant, Country Place Living residences will be available to the Fort Scott community possibly in approximately the next year with weather permitting.

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A sketch of the Country Place Memory Care center coming to Fort Scott.

“Truly, what we have to offer is a home-like residence,” marketing director Marie Jensen said of the residences.

The first one to be built is the Country Place Memory Care residence, which will provide 12 suites with the entire facility built with the goal of taking care of residents with dementia. The suites, activities, food and even flooring will all be structured around the residents to provide them a safe and comfortable place to stay.

A second building, the Country Place Senior Living center, will offer 26 suites for those who can not care for themselves on their own. But at the same time, Jensen said they encourage their members to remain active and consider the center their home.

“Everyone knows that a big part of aging and aging well is still being active,” Jensen said.

The suites in that center are each connected to a central social activity area for the residents. Jensen said some of their residents in other areas still drive their own vehicles and are able to get out and run errands.

With work beginning at the site just last week, Jensen said the memory care center should take five months to complete if the winter months are not too harsh. Work on the senior living center will begin shortly after that.

“We’re excited to be a part of Fort Scott,” Jensen said, saying they have worked closely with the Chamber of Commerce and the city of Fort Scott in preparing to bring Country Place Living to the area.

There are 10 other such residences around the state of Kansas. Jensen said they consider the population demographics and the already available assisted living centers when considering locations for their residences.

The local residence will also provide jobs to about 10 staff members, including a director, head nurse, lead dietician, activities director and other caregivers.

Those interested in learning more about the residences can visit their office at 118 S. Main Street, next to the Common Grounds coffee shop.

Fort Scott site hosts naturalization ceremony

Fort Scott National Historic Site and the city of Fort Scott welcomed 91 new United States citizens Friday morning with the naturalization ceremony for the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.

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“Participating in ceremonies such as this is one of the best parts of my job as magistrate judge,” said the Honorable Teresa James, U.S. Magistrate Judge.

Forty different countries were represented by the new citizens, including Mexico, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, China, Thailand, South Africa, Kenya, India and others. Their careers included homemakers, students, software engineers, painters, concrete workers, professors, pastors, bakers and even a member of the United States military among others.

“I know you have worked very hard to accomplish this goal,” James said, saying they earned their citizenship with all the work they went through to reach this point. “It is a lengthy and rigorous process.”

The Honorable Mark Ward, District Judge of the 6th Judicial District, said those new citizens had to go through several steps including studying English and taking a 100-question, U.S. history and government test, which Ward pointed out many natural-born citizens would struggle to pass.

“I congratulate each and every one of you,” Mark Ward said. “You should be proud of your accomplishments.”

Ward, whose father-in-law emigrated from Italy at the age of 11 years, said that accomplishment has earned them the right to vote, practice their own religion and many other freedoms which they should hold on to.

“Many of us don’t realize how lucky we are,” Ward said. “It’s easy to take our rights and freedoms for granted.”

Betty Boyko of the historic site encouraged the new citizens to visit their site again. Boyko said the site has hosted the event four times and the fort and the entire community enjoy providing a venue for the ceremony.

“This is a great day, a great memory, and we thank you for allowing Fort Scott to be the place where this memory takes place,” Fort Scott City Manager Dave Martin said.

The Fort Scott High School band and orchestra provided music throughout the ceremony while the Pittsburg State University Army ROTC presented the colors.

SmartAsset study names Fort Scott Community College top in the nation

Fort Scott Community College was named the top-ranked community college in the nation in a second annual study done by SmartAsset, a personal-financial advice platform which used data from 565 public, two-year colleges for the study.

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“Community colleges are getting a lot of attention lately,” managing editor A.J. Smith said, saying she and others did the study to provide information to those considering college and student loans. “So we’re happy to look at what some of our great community colleges are providing.”

In 2014, FSCC was ranked at ninth in the nation, but their 12:1, student-teacher ratio, reasonable tuition rates and 87 percent graduation or transfer rate led to their earning that top position for 2015. A fourth area the study looked at was the ratio of the median starting salary for graduates to the cost of attendance.

Smith said FSCC’s increase in graduate or transfer rate and the only slight in-state tuition increase compared to more drastic rises for other colleges led to their move into first place in the study.

SmartAsset pointed out that FSCC is also one of the oldest of its kind, founded in 1919 as the first community college in Kansas.

Other top 10 community colleges were located in Missouri, Illinois, Arizona, Mississippi, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas. Labette Community College in Parsons was ranked fifth.

Gordon Parks Photography Competition still accepting photos

For a 27th year, the Gordon Parks Center in Fort Scott is facilitating the Gordon Parks Photography Competition, encouraging both local and international amateur photographers to submit photographs before the Oct. 1, deadline.

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The 2014 winner, Water Crisis in Dhaka. Photographer: GMB Akash, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

“The goal is to honor Gordon Parks through the medium he is most well-known for – photography,” said Jill Warford, executive director of the Gordon Parks Museum. “Another goal is to encourage and recognize photographers in Gordon’s name.”

Conducted by the Fort Scott Community College since 1990, the competition has had more than 4,000 people participate.

Individuals can submit up to five photographs, without any digital alteration, taken within the last two years. Each entry costs $10 and must follow the 2015 theme of “The Learning Tree” Years – taken from Parks’ novel of the same name which followed characters through different life transitions and influences.

Participants can use that theme for a photograph from any perspective, their own or someone else’s, as they capture scenes from life.

The competition will provide $500 in winnings, giving $200 to the first place winner, $100 to the second place, $75 to the third place photo and $25 apiece to five honorable mention photographs.

The first round of judging will be complete by Oct. 30, with 15-18 photos being selected for the finalists’ round, with finalist photographers notified by email. Winners will be named on the 103rd anniversary of Parks’ birthday, Nov. 30.

This year, only amateur photographers will be allowed to participate, excluding those who have a full-time job or make a living in photography.

Photo Credit: Gordon Parks Museum/Center for Culture and Diversity

Chamber Coffee promotes Fiesta, welcomes new members

The weekly Chamber Coffee, hosted by the Pioneer Harvest Fiesta on the Fairgrounds in honor of the weekend event, gave business members of the community an opportunity to make announcements as well as meet new members Thursday morning.

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Pioneer Harvest Fiesta organizers David McCord, Peggy Niles and Allen and Jackie Warren described weekend festivities which will include a downtown parade Thursday, machinery auction Friday, and quilt and arts and craft shows available throughout the weekend.

Admission for the entire weekend is $5 per person and free for children under the age of 12 years.

Those in attendance were also introduced to representatives from the new G & W Foods company located on 6th Street east of Highway 69. Grand opening festivities will begin next Wednesday and continue for about three weeks.

Other announcements made by local businesses included:

  • The Fort Scott National Historic Site will host a naturalization ceremony Friday at 10:30 a.m.
  • Mercy Hospital with the police department and sheriff’s office are sponsoring a drug take-back program Saturday at Convenient Care on S. National, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Those with expired or unused medication are encouraged to bring them so the departments can properly dispose of them.
  • Rita Baker of Mercy Hospital said after 17 months of investigations and planning, their recommendations for moving forward and improving finances was approved in St. Louis Wednesday afternoon, allowing hospital services to continue in Fort Scott.
  • Fort Scott Community College and area businesses will participate in Manufacturing Day on Oct. 2, including booths set up at the college as well manufacturers providing tours of their businesses to visitors.
  • Deb Madison of Medicalodges will be honored for her more than 20 years of service on Tuesday, Sept. 29, with a retirement reception at Medicalodges, 8-9 a.m.
  • Tri-Valley Developmental Services will hold a fundraiser for United Way during the Pioneer Harvest Fiesta event over the weekend.
  • The Highland Apartments in Fort Scott have 2- and 3-bedroom apartments available.
  • G & W Foods is looking for community members with historical photographs of Fort Scott that the business could make copies of to decorate their interior with.