Understaffed Sheriff’s Department Asks for Commission’s Support

Members of the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Department approached the county commission Tuesday morning to discuss their need for more deputies as well as higher wages, as the department continues to lose deputies because of the non-competitive pay.

Sheriff Bill Martin said their staff is down to just four deputies after two gave their two week’s notice within 24 hours of each other, one of them a K9 handler, and a third is on medical leave after an accident while off work. Those deputies will be forced to work even further overtime as they cover the 12-hour shifts left open.

To compensate for the decreased manpower, Martin said they had to pull the courthouse security temporarily and said they may have to consider allowing deputies to respond to dispatch calls from home in order to prevent them from working such long hours that they become exhausted or burnt out.

It’s impossible to do with four deputies,” county attorney Justin Meeks said of the amount of overtime that will need to be covered.

Not only would the employees be forced to work extensively, the county’s budget would also be hurt as they pay a time and a half for overtime, possibly adding up to more than $7,000 a month extra with the understaffed department. The correctional center is also using overtime as they are trying to replace three of their normal 16 employees.

I want to take care of the employees,” Martin said, saying most exit interviews reveal that the pay is the chief reason the deputies leave to take other jobs, some leaving the county and even the state.

Currently working on preparing their budget for the 2018 fiscal year, Martin said they will ask for a wage increase in order to be more competitive while also asking for as many as five further staff, including deputies, detectives and an individual to help with clerical work such as handling evidence.

The commissioners agreed with Meeks and Martin that the need is becoming more serious as it has become harder to retain the staff needed to patrol the county. Commissioner Lynne Oharah said they will look closely at what funding is available during the upcoming month as they continue to accept budget requests from other departments.

Click here for an article with more details on a January report on the Sheriff’s Department wages.

Fort Scott Remembers: Memorial Day 2017

The Fort Scott National Cemetery #1 hosted a large turnout as members of the community and out-of-town visitors came to the ceremony honoring servicemen and women who died while defending the United States and its values.

It is a great privilege to join with you on these hallowed grounds,” said Thomas Maynard, master of ceremony of the event and assistant director of the Leavenworth National Cemetery. “Americans have paid for our way of life be giving theirs…We can never repay.”

James Collins, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Fort Scott and retired Master Sergeant and Chaplain after more than 27 years of service in the U.S. Army, gave the keynote address and emphasized the importance of Memorial Day as a day to remember those soldiers who were killed in the battles the country took part in.

There’s something special about remembering,” Collins said, saying that action brings the fallen back into the hearts and minds of those remembering, allowing their legacy to continue despite the years since they lived.

Collins said he oversaw a number of military funerals because of his responsibilities as a chaplain, and recalled when a knock on his door during the midnight hours seven years ago brought news that his own best friend had been killed. Collins said the one question the friends and family members of fallen soldiers ask is “why?”

We have all asked why, and I wish that I had an answer,” Collins said.

But Collins advised his listeners should also ask two other questions in such times of grief: who can I turn to and what is left for us moving forward. Collins said those who experience loss should turn to God and each other for support and that they should never forget those loved ones as they move forward.

Reverend Jimmy Tucker of Diamond Community Church, Ralph Carlson, Floyd Feezell, Arnold Schofield, boy scout Cody Dean and two gold star mothers also participated in the ceremony. An honor volley was provided by VFW Post 1165 members and Jerry Witt played taps.

Public Library to Host Kick-Off Party

With the end of the school year and the recent reopening of the Fort Scott Public Library, the annual summer reading program and other events hosted by the library are kicking-off with a party Tuesday, May 30, 10 a.m. to noon, at the Ellis Fine Arts Center.

Valetta Cannon, the youth librarian and assistant director, said 122 people came to the party in 2016 and 230 children participated in the summer reading program.

This year’s program has the theme “Build a Better World” and is for children up to 18 years old. Early registration is open, with early registrants receiving a prize. Forms are available at the library.

On a weekly basis, other events and programs will be available, such as for children through fifth grade on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m., June 13-Aug. 2, at the public library. Events for teens will be held at the Common Ground Coffee Co. on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. A teen advisory group meets Wednesdays at 4:15 p.m.

Those willing to volunteer material, snacks or their time can contact Cannon at vcyouthlib@gmail.com or 620-223-2882.

2017 Summer Schedule:

Blocks Kick-Off Party – May 30 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Danny & Willa Ellis Fine Arts Center (FSCC)

Musician Alan Cunningham – June 6 at 10 a.m. at the Danny & Willa Ellis Fine Arts Center (FSCC)

Professional Storyteller Jo Ho Presents “This is Not a Box!” – June 23 at 10 a.m. at the Beaux Arts Centre

Faerie Garden-Making Party with Martha Scott – June 26, 3-4 p.m. at Fort Scott Public Library

Robot Party – July 10, 3-4 p.m. at Fort Scott Public Library

Wings of Love Inc.’s Rare Jewels of the Rainforest Bird Show – July 18 at 10 a.m. at the Danny & Willa Ellis Fine Arts Center (FSCC)

Wrap-Up Party TBD – Tentative Date, August 8

Patty LaRoche: Given the Choice

On my recent girlfriend reunion at Hilton Head, Diana, our handicapped friend, was accompanied by her two adult daughters, their friend Jenny and her two daughters: Alice, five, and Hazel, six weeks. We six “grandmothers” doted on the two little girls, marveling at Jenny’s mothering skills, especially since she had been on her own since she was 15. Parenting had not been modeled to this young woman.

On our third day, Diana rode her motorized scooter to the girls’ suite. She returned to tell us that Alice was in “time out,” but Jenny let Diana visit with the youngster after sharing that Alice had not obeyed. Apparently Alice almost had been hit by a golf cart that ferried customers along the boardwalk on which they were walking. Alice had ignored her mother’s instructions to stay to the right.

Diana asked Alice to explain why she was in trouble. Repeatedly jabbing her index finger at her head, she said, “I sometimes don’t listen.” After a short pause she added, “It’s just really hard, you know.”

We six could relate. With months since our last get together, most of the time there were two or three conversations at the same time. Alice was right. Listening is hard.

Another incident occurred the next evening when youngsters were given glow-in-the-dark necklaces. The following day at the pool, Alice loaned hers to her playmate who did not return it. The next day, Alice’s new friend was wearing the necklace. When Alice said that she wanted it back, the young girl replied that Alice had given it to her. A girl squabble ensued with the other mother insisting she give Alice back her necklace.

Once Alice placed it around her neck, Jenny took her aside. “Don’t you think it would be nice for you to give it back? We can get you another necklace.”

“No, I don’t think so,” Alice answered firmly.

Jenny continued. “Well, I want you to sit here and think about what you just said. I will be back to talk to you when you have time to reconsider what you should do.”

To no avail. Alice insisted it was her necklace, so she should not give it back.

Before walking away, Jenny gently responded, “I want you to know that was not the answer I had hoped you would give.”

We grandmothers were in awe and admitted the outcome for our children would have been far less loving. Jenny was teaching Godly principles. Without getting upset or raising her voice, she gave her daughter choices, with clear direction that what Alice had decided was not the best option.

God does the same for us. He gives us choices. We either obey or not. There is no middle ground to His instructions. Love Him above all else. Love our neighbor as ourselves. Don’t lie, covet, dishonor parents, or steal. Make Jesus the Lord of our lives.

It is up to us to decide if we will listen to His instructions, but should our choice be not to obey, God’s advice probably would be no different than Jenny’s: “That is not the answer I had hoped you would give.”

If that doesn’t help us change our minds, I don’t know what will.

Lowell Milken Center Plans 10th Year Events

One year ago, the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes opened the doors of its new facility, housing a number of exhibits. But for 10 years, the center has been helping students and teachers bring recognition to individuals that had an impact on their community or era.

“It doesn’t seem possible that time has passed so quickly,” Director Norm Conard said of the time since the completion of the building. “We have so many good things coming up.”

In honor of the 10th anniversary, the center employees and directors are preparing for events in September that include a visit from Lowell Milken and the revealing of children’s books written by local retired teacher Cathy Werling about some of the unsung heroes’ stories, but at an elementary level. The world premiere of a film called “Teach us All” will also be held during the event.

But before that celebration, the center continues to host a number of events throughout the summer, as groups visit the center to see the exhibits or for training. Twelve nationally recognized teachers will visit in June as fellows of the center. The fellows and other teachers are also helping create a module concerning the unsung heroes for Kansas curriculum.

The local Rotary District Governor inauguration will be hosted at the center in July. Also in July, a group of about 30 people will travel to Poland to view the location of the story of the first unsung hero, Irena Sendler.

Members of the center also helped local high school Zoe Self, whose project qualified her for the national history day in Maryland this year. Four new exhibits are being added to the center this year as well.

The Lowell Milken Center is open to visitors and those wanting to look through the exhibits on their own or with a tour guide. Information on the exhibits, upcoming events or the center’s hours can be found at their website: lowellmilkencenter.org.



Small Business Exemption and Taxes: Senator Hilderbrand

Why does removing the small business exemption mean increasing taxes on the poorest of the poor?

Submitted by Richard Hilderbrand, Kansas District 13 Senator

There is a lot of frustration among the citizens of Kansas over the current legislature’s inability to balance the budget. This frustration is well-founded and must be addressed with a fiscally responsible solution. There is a large percentage of citizens that believe the small business exemption is the cause and want to see the exemption removed. If a tax proposal to remove the LLC exemption was ever to come before both chambers, it would likely pass by a veto-proof margin. If this is the case, then why hasn’t this happened yet? It is obvious this is the one part of the tax plan that most legislators and citizens both believe should be changed. One only needs to look at The Hays Daily News article dated May 5, 2017. In this article, it has this very revealing quote “If we take that part out of the overall tax plan, we take all of our leverage out,” said Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka. Kelly said closing what is often referred to as the LLC loophole is the “politically palatable” part of the tax hikes, but it isn’t the bulk of the money the state needs to raise. “The real money in the tax cuts was not in that provision, it was in the reduction of the brackets,” she said, referring to income tax rates.


In a recent Docking Institute poll, it asked how the citizens of Kansas wanted their legislators to fix the current budget crisis. This is what this poll showed: 41 percent want their legislators to cut spending, 34 percent want their legislators to cut spending and increase taxes, and 25 percent want their legislators to increase taxes to fix this budget crisis. You will notice that 75 percent think all or part of the solution is to cut spending, while none think the solution is to raise state spending.


Then why do the only bills that we are voting on so far have large increase in spending along with over $1 billion in new taxes to pay for it? This not only defies the wishes of our constituents, but more importantly it is reckless and is fiscally irresponsible. I have heard from those that want to pass this massive tax and spend policy that this is the hardest thing to do. I strongly disagree with this view. The hardest thing to do is continue to vote on your principles and to not be swayed by the emotions of the day. We must get our finances in order and established for a long-term solution, so that our state can get back on the road to recovery.

We do have a budget crisis and our constituents are counting on us to fix this problem. This is something that we must do, we must quit playing politics over this issue. The constituents in Kansas expect the legislators to fund education to meet the requirements of the ruling handed down by the Kansas Supreme Court. They also expect the legislators to fully fund KPERS and to quit deferring the payments that have become the norm. They also want the money that is ear marked for our highways to stay in KDOT.

Just last night the House took up SB 30. It failed on a vote of 53-yeas to 68-nays. If this bill would have passed, and subsequently passed the senate, it would have looked like this:

*It would have raised taxes on every single tax payer by $1.217 billion over the next two years.

*Lowered the minimum earned income from $5,000 to $2,500 for single filers, and from $12,500 to $5,000 for families.

*Retroactively raised the lowest tax bracket for families making $0-$30,000 from 2.7 percent to 2.9 percent for the 2017 tax year.

*Raised the lowest tax bracket for families in year 2018 from 2.9 percent to 3.1 percent.

*Retroactively raised the middle tax bracket for families making $30,001 – $60,000 from 4.6 percent to 4.9 percent for the 2017 tax year.

*Raised the middle tax bracket for families in year 2018 from 4.9 percent to 5.25 percent.

*Retroactively created a new top tax bracket for families making $60,001 and above from 4.6 percent to 5.2 percent for the 2017 tax year.

*Raised the new top tax bracket for families in year 2018 from 5.2 percent to 5.7 percent.

*Retroactively raised the lowest tax bracket for individuals making $0 -$15,000 from 2.7 percent to 2.9 percent for the 2017 tax year.

*Raised the lowest tax bracket in year 2018 from 2.9 percent to 3.1 percent.

*Retroactively raised the middle tax bracket for individuals making $15,001 – $30,000 from 4.6 percent to 4.9 percent for the 2017 tax year.

*Raised the middle tax bracket in year 2018 from 4.9 percent to 5.25 percent.

*Retroactively created a new top tax bracket for individuals making $30,001 and above from 4.6 percent to 5.2 percent for the 2017 tax year.

*Raised the new top tax bracket in year 2018 from 5.2 percent to 5.7 percent.

*Retroactively repealed the small business exemption.


This tax bill would have put an even bigger burden on our constituents that are struggling to make ends meet. How can we as a state ask an individual that is making only $2,500 and a family making $5,000 a year to retroactively pay for our out of control spending? It would have classified, per this new tax structure, an individual making $30,001 and a family making $60,001 as rich and taxed them the same rate as someone making $1 million. This is not a fiscally responsible tax plan.

The state has increased its spending in the general fund from $5,268,100,000 in 2010 to an estimated $6,306,030,075 for 2017. This is an almost 20 percent increase in spending over seven years. That is an average increase of 2.46 percent per year. The average rate of inflation during that same period is only 1.7 percent per year. If the state’s spending would have been the same as the rate of inflation, our spending in 2017 would only be $5,807,414,859. The estimated revenue for 2017 is $6,073,100,000. That would have left the state with $265,685,140.54 to go towards meeting some of our other needs that I highlighted earlier.



So, I ask this question: Why must the poorest of the poor pay for the states irresponsible fiscal policies?


Bailey Resigns from County Position

Eric Bailey, Bourbon County’s Environmental Services Coordinator, offered his resignation to the Bourbon County Commission during their meeting Tuesday morning.

“We’re sad to see him go,” County Attorney Justin Meeks said.

Bailey served the county in his position for almost four years, remaining in contact with contractors and overseeing inspections of septic, holding tanks and lagoons. The county will need to find a replacement quickly to keep up with inspections and permits for area building projects. Bailey made a recommendation Tuesday.

“We’re going to miss you,” commissioner Lynne Oharah said.

The commissioners voted to accept his resignation, also agreeing to name June 2, as his final day as an employee.

“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Bailey said, taking time to thank the commissioners for the opportunity to work for the county. “I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Bailey said he is moving out of state in order to start his own business as a subcontractor.