Bourbon County Landfill to host spring clean up event

With the arrival of spring, the Bourbon County Commission decided Tuesday to hold a spring cleaning event for the county, encouraging residents of Bourbon County to take their trash to the landfill at no cost on April 22-23.

3-31 Earth Day

County commissioners discussed with public works director Jim Harris the issue of trash and large items such as tires and even mattresses being abandoned along the sides of the road throughout the county. To try to counteract that problem, and in honor of Earth Day on April 22, Bourbon County residents will be able to drop items off for free at the dump.

Harris said the county used to work with the local schools on Earth Day when students would clean up areas of town, transporting the trash to the dump. But the county has not participated in recent years. Harris said emphasizing such an event might discourage residents from throwing items away on the side of the road instead.

Each day, Harris said employees of the road department have to spend time picking up trash when they should be working on the roads, costing the county and taxpayers money that could be put to better use.

All normal rules apply to the special event concerning dumping, such as not permitting paint, oil or batteries to be disposed of there. Other items such as tires, appliances and other objects, which normally are charged according to weight, will be accepted from residences, but not commercial businesses.

The landfill will be open Friday, April 22, all day and Saturday, April 23, until 2 p.m. The commissioners said they hope to hold such events more than once a year.

Committee discusses transportation options for Fort Scott

With the approaching end to public transportation provided by the Southeast Kansas Community Action Program, a group of Fort Scott residents formed a committee to look into other options that could accommodate the needs of the city.

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In a meeting held Monday evening, this Community Transportation Committee—made up of representatives from the city, area churches, Mercy Hospital and Fort Scott Community College—discussed options such as continuing to reach out to local churches who could volunteer their church vehicles as a short-term solution to the issue. A local pastor in attendance at the meeting said insurance is a key concern for churches since using them would not be considered church-related.

Kevin Marvin and Lora Strong of Pitt-Taxi transportation services in Pittsburg also attended the meeting and explained how they began their company in 2012 with just one vehicle, since growing to include a number of vans and other vehicles.

Pitt-Taxi provides rides to those within Pittsburg city limits at a set price for one-way and round-trip journeys. Marvin said they are interested in providing such a service in Fort Scott as well since they see a need similar to what they had previously seen in Pittsburg.

“We’d be more than glad to get in here and shoot for the sky,” Marvin said, saying their company is flexible enough that they could make adjustments along the way to make it the right fit for the community.

Marvin said their goal would be to bring one of their vans to Fort Scott two weeks before the SEK-CAP end-date of June 30, and use local drivers to provide rides from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Unlike SEK-CAP, which required a 24-hour notice for rides, Pitt-Taxi could pick up customers within about 15 minutes of being called and said drivers are willing to provide some assistance to riders such as with groceries.

Currently their vehicles are not wheel-chair accessible unless the chair folds and the rider is able to get into the vehicle with minimum assistance, due to insurance coverage.

The prices would likely be the same as in Pittsburg, at $7 for a one-way trip and $10 for a round-trip, which requires no more than a 15-minute wait. At those prices, Marvin said they would need to provide an average of 20 rides per 12-hour day in order to break even.

Because of their need to spread the word of their arrival as well as additional costs in payroll, a vehicle and added insurance, Marvin asked if the cost of rent for their Fort Scott office at the Bourbon County Senior Citizens’ facility could be waived for the first few months. City Manager Dave Martin said the city of Fort Scott would provide $5,000 to the BCSC to be used for rent and utilities of that office until those funds run out.

While bringing in Pitt-Taxi would solve the issue of losing public transportation in Fort Scott—which Deb Needleman emphasized is not a result of lack of funding, but because the current transportation has not fit the needs of the city—the committee said they will continue to look for other means of providing transportation for those who could not afford the fees or need rides at night. Vouchers and volunteer drivers are options.

New projects coming to Fort Scott

Due to the hard work of city leaders, Fort Scott could soon be seeing more projects and improvements being accomplished around town to better roads and sidewalks for travelers’ convenience.

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Already, work continues steadily on National Avenue between 6th and 13th streets, with the project expected to be done by August to improve the drainage and pipelines running along that roadway.

Earlier this month, City Manager Dave Martin said residents and travelers through the city will see even more work being done as the city uses grants and Kansas Department of Transportation funds to improve the streets and sidewalks.

In upcoming weeks, a sidewalk project will begin on the south side of Wall Street between Margrave and Steen streets. Earlier this month, bids came in on the project which will be accomplished with about $175,000 in grant money.

“A lot of people walk on that street,” Martin said, adding there are other areas of town that are in need of sidewalk improvements as well.

The city received a grant in 2014 to improve walking routes to Fort Scott schools by improving and connecting sidewalks, a project of almost $270,000. This Safe Routes to School grant will be used in the areas around the two elementary schools and should be put to bid in November as the city waits for approval from KDOT concerning easements and sidewalk locations.

But improvements will be made for drivers as well as pedestrians in Fort Scott as the widening project of Highway 69 begins in the next month, with contractors already working to determine how to route traffic safely through the area while work is done.

That project will be located between the National Avenue and 23rd Street intersections with Highway 69, with a traffic signal being added at National Avenue, the light at 23rd Street upgraded, a turning lane added and business entrances cleaned up. Because of the extent of the project, Martin said it will likely take a year to complete.

“That’s a big project,” Martin said of the $3.5 million KDOT and Fort Scott project.

Similarly, north and south turning lanes and a new entrance will also be added at the Industrial Park on the south side of Fort Scott to improve traffic flow in that area, an issue KDOT became aware of after the addition of the LaRoche Baseball Complex. Martin said bidding will occur in 2016 for that $1.5 million project.

“It makes it very stressful at times, but that’s a good thing,” Martin said of the work.

Although several projects may be occurring simultaneously, Martin said in just a couple years’ time a significant difference would be made, and with the assistance of grants instead of just taxpayers’ money.

“With the financial situation as it is, it’s a good thing we went ahead and moved forward on these as they did,” Martin said. “Because you just never know what’s going to happen.”

In the meantime, drivers and residents in Fort Scott may have to be patient and remain aware of construction zones.

Fort Scott celebrates Easter weekend

Despite the cold and wet start Saturday morning, Fort Scott businesses and organizations still provided festivities for families in honor of the Easter holiday.

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The Buck Run Community Center again provided their annual Easter Eggstravaganza, giving children an opportunity to color eggs, make crafts, try Easter snacks and participate in other activities.

In just the first hour Saturday morning, about 30 children participated. Director Tom Robertson said each annual event, which includes similar festivities for other holidays such as Christmas, Halloween and Valentine’s Day, brings about 40 children.

This year, the community center partnered with Walgreens, who provided free photo shoots with the Easter bunny at their location once the events at Buck Run were complete. Walgreens employees said usually between 50 and 75 people participate in such photo opportunities.

Though the weather was a concern, families still turned out in their Easter outfits to have their photographs taken with the Easter bunny.

Presbyterian Church hosts Holy Week Chamber Coffee

During this Easter week, the First Presbyterian Church hosted the weekly Chamber Coffee, informing attendees of their special services in honor of the Holy Week as well as other community events they participate in.

3-24 Chamber Coffee

Pastor Jared Witt, who has been at the church for about four years, said the church added two services in honor of Easter, including one held Thursday in honor of Maundy Thursday, or the last Lord’s Supper, as well as a Good Friday service. A spirituality center is also available for anyone who would like to stop by at any point over the weekend.

Throughout the year, Witt also explained that they take three weekends away from the normal church services and instead enter the community to do different service projects such as cleaning or construction work for the city, local organizations or elderly residents, with skilled workers of the church helping organize and lead the projects.

“It’s one thing to sing a hymn near someone,” Witt said. “But a totally different thing to paint together for four or five hours.”

The next project day will be held May 22. While Witt said they likely have enough projects for that day, they will accept ideas for service projects for future work days.

Witt said their elder-run church has seven staff members as well as a number of deacons, who lead the church’s compassion ministry, and elders, who help lead the church body. Currently, they are looking for someone who might be interested in taking on the position of youth minister.

Other announcements during the Chamber Coffee included:

  • This week, a New York archivist is in town to help the Gordon Parks Museum get new prints of the Parks photos on display, which should soon be ready for exhibition once again.
  • The Chamber of Commerce will hold their annual banquet March 31. The event is still accepting items to be sold in the live auction during the event.
  • Musical artist Branford Marsalis will provide a concert at the Fort Scott Community College Thursday, April 7. Tickets at $30 apiece or $20 for students remain available.
  • My Father’s House is in the process of considering expansions for their services such as by adding an emergency shelter and a thrift store as well as a vehicle. Members of the community who might have buildings they could donate or sell at a reasonable price are requested to contact My Father’s House.
  • Work continues to be done on the Riverfront Project as local and out of town groups have participated in the project by picking up debris such as rocks and sticks. Groups are welcome to volunteer their services. The project is also currently waiting to hear if their applications for a lookout tower and shelter are accepted.

Sleep Inn wins 2016 Platinum Hospitality Award

Submitted by Bill Michaud, March 23

The Sleep Inn & Suites hotel of Fort Scott was recently announced as a recipient of a prestigious 2016 Platinum Hospitality Award from one of the world’s largest hotel companies, Choice Hotels International, Inc., franchisor of the Sleep Inn brand.

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“The Sleep Inn – Fort Scott’s commitment to excellence and outstanding guest service has earned it this well-deserved recognition as one of the best hotels among the Sleep Inn brand,” said Steve Joyce, president and chief executive officer for Choice Hotels International. “We here at Choice Hotels are very proud to award this distinguished honor to the Sleep Inn – Fort Scott.”

Platinum Award status represents a tremendous accomplishment for a hotel and its entire staff. Each year, only the top three percent of the hotels in the Sleep Inn brand are eligible to receive this elite distinction.  As a top performing property among the company’s more than 5,200 United States franchised hotels, the Sleep Inn – Fort Scott is among the top performers within their brand.

As one of the company’s top franchised hotels operating under the Sleep Inn flag, the hotel has demonstrated an exceptional focus on guest satisfaction and dedication to providing superior service.  Additional award criteria are evaluated by Choice Hotels through its official property ranking reports.  Sleep Inn – Fort Scott is a national leader within the brand as it has held a Top 5 ranking since it gained eligibility in October of 2015 and is currently ranked as the #1 Sleep Inn property in the US.

For more information or to make your reservation today, visit www.choicehotels.com.

Fort Scott Community College to Host 40th Annual Aggie Day

Submitted by Heather Cutshall, March 22

Fort Scott Community College will host its 40th annual Aggie Day on Friday, April 1. Approximately 1,400 students representing more than 80 schools will compete in the contest, which is facilitated by FSCC’s Agriculture Department. The department offers a variety of programs for students, including agriculture, farm and ranch management and John Deere Tech, as well as activities such as livestock judging, meat judging, collegiate farm bureau and rodeo.

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“Our agriculture instructors and students always look forward to Aggie Day, and we’re especially thrilled because this year marks the 40th anniversary of the event,” said FSCC Agriculture Instructor Ryan Edgecomb. “We are excited to showcase students involved in FFA and 4-H programs across the Four States.”

Students will compete in a variety of areas, including agronomy, entomology, farm management, floriculture, food science, livestock, meat evaluation, milk quality and products, nursery/landscape, poultry and speech. Trophies will be awarded to the top three teams in each contest. Plaques will be awarded to the top three individuals in each contest, and medals will be presented to those earning fourth and fifth place.

Sponsored by Purina Animal Nutrition, Honor Show Chow and Winfield, this event is the longest running interscholastic competition in the region.

“It is an honor to have Purina, a company with such great values and reputation, as our sponsor,” said Edgecomb. “We thank them for their support of agriculture and the youths of southeast Kansas.”

Teams should pre-register online at fortscott.edu/aggieday before Friday, March 25. Registration for the event will begin at 7:00 a.m. on Friday, April 1, at the Arnold Arena on the FSCC campus in Fort Scott, Kan.

For more information, please call Ryan Edgecomb, FSCC Agriculture Instructor, at (620) 223-2700 ext. 3280.