City Commission approves UTV ordinance

After much discussion and research by the Fort Scott City Commission and police chief Travis Shelton, the commission voted unanimously Monday evening to allow Utility Task Vehicle’s on city streets.

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During past meetings, local UTV owners spoke in support of allowing those vehicles on city streets, pointing out that golf carts had been allowed on streets with no issue. UTVs are usually larger, heavier and more capable of higher speeds than golf carts.

The commission had asked Shelton to create an ordinance that would specify what UTVs would need in order to be considered street legal. Shelton presented that ordinance during their meeting Monday evening, which will now come into effect January 1.

Though capable of high speeds, the ordinance demands that UTVs not drive on certain streets or at speeds higher than 35 mph. They will also be required to have at least two side or rear-view mirrors, turning signals, reflectors, a muffler and seat belts. Some of those features do not come with a purchased UTV, but can be bought separately as a kit.

UTV owners will be required to register their vehicle with the police department and have their title registered at the county courthouse. Those without a title will not be allowed to register or legally drive on the roads.

Another issue previously raised involved the UTV tires, which often use softer materials than most cars use. But after consulting with owners and researching the issue, Shelton said they decided not to require UTV drivers to purchase separate tires since there is not enough data to show the tires would do any harm to the roadways or affect the drivers’ safety.

The commissioners gave their approval while asking Shelton to bring a report back after six months to see if there are many violations, accidents or road problems as a result.

Other topics discussed or approved included:

  • The commission approved working with the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team to create a strategy on how to improve health in Fort Scott and the county.
  • A $43,000 bid for the repainting and resurfacing of the aquatic center was accepted.
  • Funds from the Buck Run Community Center reserve will be used to replace their current surveillance system, which is about 15 years old.
  • Fines for not keeping property up to code for will now be a minimum of $300 instead of the previous $50, which will include the city mowing the yard and clearing branches if needed, and also covers administrative fees.
  • Homeowners in violation of the property maintenance ordinance will now be given six months to complete the needed improvements before their structure is condemned.

 

USD 234 Receives a Clean Audit Report

During their meeting Monday evening, the Unified School District 234 Board of Education received a positive audit report to help wind up the end of the year.

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Terry Sercer, certified public accountant for Diehl Banwart Bolton, said his job was to look at the school’s report of all their cash, balances and receipts for the entire year and make any adjustments that might be needed in order to hold to state and federal statutes.

Sercer said very few adjustments had to be made to the district’s report and said the unencumbered cash remained almost the same from the beginning of the year until the end, aside from the bond money which continues to decrease as the project progresses.

“You have good cash balances in your funds,” Sercer said.

Sercer pointed out that there were no violations of Kansas or federal statutes and that their school activity funds were also in order.

“Really a good audit report for you this year,” Sercer said, adding he always enjoys helping Fort Scott’s school district because of his own family ties to the schools.

Public Library to host family Christmas party

Submitted by Fort Scott Public Library

Fort Scott Public Library will host its Second Annual Holiday Party on December 19, in the temporary library location in the Memorial Hall basement.

Valetta Cannon reads a Christmas book to children during the 2015 Christmas party
Valetta Cannon reads a Christmas book to children during the 2015 Christmas party

Holiday stories and songs will start off the party, which opens its registration table at 3:45 p.m. and runs from 4-5 pm. Activities, prizes, snacks and crafts will also be offered for various age levels, and families will stay together as they move through the various activities.

Children and teens of all ages are encouraged to attend, and all children 2nd grade and under will need to be accompanied by an adult at all times.

The library is looking for volunteers and donors from the community to help make the event a success. Pre-registration is available by joining the Facebook event, emailing vcyouthlib@gmail.com, calling the library at 223-2882, or filling out the registration sheet at the library.

In 2015, the party brought in around 50 attendees, who enjoyed the variety of activities and commented favorably on the overall event. Librarian Valetta Cannon hopes this year will be just as successful, and will also bring new patrons in to see what the library has to offer, both in materials available for borrowing and youth programming.

FSCC Ready signs with University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley

Submitted by Fort Scott Community College

Fort Scott Community College sophomore Natalia Ready has signed a national letter of intent to further her education and basketball career at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley.

Photo Credit: Fort Scott Community College
Photo Credit: Fort Scott Community College

Ready, from Little Rock, Ark., averages 11 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game.

“Natalia is a very special player. She has the ability to score points in many different ways and also has a great impact on the defense,” said Jeff Tadtman, FSCC Head Women’s Basketball Coach. “She has been a joy to coach, and she always represents FSCC in a positive manner. I wish her all the success next year at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley.”

FSCC Women’s Basketball Team had its best season start in the history of the program, with 11 straight wins before being handed their first loss Saturday, their final game prior to the Christmas break.

Shirt Shack celebrates 40 years in business

For 40 years, Billy Webster and his Shirt Shack have provided shirts, jeans and other clothing options to the city of Fort Scott, with some of those options being the closest ones available apart from a drive to Kansas City.

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“I’m just lucky, I guess,” Webster said of being able to stay open such a length of time.

Webster, a Fort Scott native, first began screen-printing t-shirts in a 10×12 square foot building when he was just 18 years old when the trade was still new and rare. Since that beginning in 1976, Webster has added on to the building a number of times while also adding to the business.

While the Shirt Shack still provides screen-printing for shirts, Webster said he no longer travels with them such as for concert tours like he once did, saying he prefers to spend more time in Fort Scott. The business also does embroidery and cleaning and sells other clothes items such as a variety of jeans styles.

Lindsay Madison, executive director of the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce, pointed out that Webster and his business also invests in the city of Fort Scott by providing shirts for events and organizations such as Care to Share.

“He does contribute a lot to the community,” Madison said.

The Shirt Shack can be found near the intersection of 18th Street and Highway 69.

Western Senior Living prepares for residents

The new Western Senior Living center located in the old Western Insurance building held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and gave tours Tuesday afternoon, but continues to complete finishing touches before welcoming residents after their true Grand Opening on December 30.

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“Today is about the salvation of the Western Building,” said Tony Krsnich, president and CEO of the Flint Hills Holding Group.

Built in 1929, the old downtown building was in danger of being torn down after flooding damage and health hazards made it inhabitable. But when the Flint Hills Holding Group stepped in, their cooperation with the city of Fort Scott prevented the demolition of the Western building, which itself would have cost millions of dollars.

“It was really clear the potential this building had to impact the downtown,” said Fred Bentley, the director of rental housing allocation in Kansas, who said he was impressed with Fort Scott as a location as well as a partner in the endeavor.

Purchased in 2014 with demolition and construction occurring in the past year, the building is nearing the completion of its 35, one- and two-bedroom apartments available for lease by residents 55 years and older. With a focus on the community of the residents, Krsnich said they included amenities such as a large community room, indoor putting green, paintings and other options.

Patrick Michaelis, business development officer for the central region of the Midwest Housing Equity Group, said the goal of his company has always been to make lives better by providing affordable housing. Already, seven of the 35 units have been reserved for new residents, something Krsnich said he has never seen on a project before its completion.

“The community stepped up to the plate on this and it shows,” Krsnich said. “This is an iconic building that has now been restored.”

While touch-ups such as painting and caulking remain, two units that are completed were available for those interested in tours.

Fort Scott welcomes Christmas season with parade

Despite temperatures near freezing, a crowd of residents and visitors lined Main Street in downtown Fort Scott to watch the annual Christmas parade, this year with the theme of Holidays on the Big Screen.

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Groups including churches, fire departments, school organizations and businesses such as Velocity Tactics, Family Dental, Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, 4-State Sanitation and others participated with floats representing Christmas movies such as Christmas Vacation, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas and Frosty the Snowman.

Prizes were awarded to Fresenius Kidney Care, Fort Scott Community College and Parkway Church for the creativity of their floats. Gifts donated by Walmart, Walgreens and the Electronic Store were also awarded to children.

Santa Claus made an appearance to help light the mayor’s Christmas tree and to take photos with children present. High school student Mayson Lane was the grand marshal of the parade in honor of his upcoming trip to New York in February to play violin at Carnegie Hall.

“What a wonderful time of year,” Mayor JoLynne Mitchell said, adding Christmas is a time of hope and remembrance of Jesus’ birth as well as reflecting on blessings and accomplishments throughout the year. “What a great year we’ve had in the city of Fort Scott.”