All posts by Loretta George

U. S.69 Highway Projects Update

Construction is winding down on the highway improvement project through Fort Scott.

A construction crew of up to 10 men a day has been working on a section of U.S. Hwy. 69 that snakes through Fort Scott since April 2016.

“Hopefully, (the project) will be completed in the next two weeks,”  Bob Vipt, superintendent for Laforge and Budd Construction, Parsons, said Tuesday.

The highway improvement project extends from the driveway of Extrusions Inc. north to Briggs Fort Scott on South Main Street, he said.

The crew has added a turning lane at the intersection of National and U.S. Hwy. 69 and also at 23rd Street and U.S.Hwy.69

The intersection of U.S. Hwy. 69 and South National Avenue, Fort Scott, where new traffic lights were installed and a turning lane added  as part of a highway improvement project.

“I think these were congested intersections at times,” Vipt said.

Newly installed traffic lights and a turning lane at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 69 and 23rd Street in Fort Scott.

Also included in the construction project paid for with federal, state and city funds are:

  • two new stop lights
  • new storm drains on the east and replaced storm drains on the west side
  • new curb and guttering
  • New curb, guttering and storm drains recently installed on U.S. Hwy. 69, also known as South Main Street in Fort Scott.
  • new sidewalks
  • A new sidewalk lines the west side of U.S. Hwy. 69/South Main Street in Fort Scott.
  • new asphalt surface
  • new striping down the middle
  • new landscape sod

To be completed are the new  surface with roadway striping and also placing sod along both sides of U.S.Hwy. 69 adjacent to the project.

Laforge and Budd Construction is the general contractor, RFB Construction, Pittsburg, is a subcontractor on the project.

Highway expansion south of Fort Scott

Construction crews are also busy expanding a six-mile section of U.S. Hwy. 69 south of Fort Scott and north of Arma.

The section is being upgraded to an expressway, which is a four-lane highway but with access points.

This project was started in March 2017 and is scheduled for completion in November 2018, according to Priscilla Peterson, a Kansas Department of Transportation Public Affairs Manager.

RFB Construction workers were on site Tuesday in Fort Scott, working on the turn lanes..


Riverfront Park Pavillion Coming Spring 2018

Members of Fort Scott Bourbon County Riverfront Authority discuss updates on construction projects at Riverfront Park Tuesday evening at the Carriage House. Clockwise from left: Danny Magee, Bob Love, Allen Warren, Jerry Witt and Jeff Sweetser.

As part of the ongoing Riverfront Park project on North National Avenue in Fort Scott, a 30-foot by 50-foot pavilion will be available for public use next spring.

Schenkel Contracting, Fort Scott, will construct the building which will arrive in late October from Lester Building Systems of Minnesota.

“It will be a wooden frame, with commercial scissor trusses, with a steel roof and gable ends,” Schenkel said. “It’s an open concept. It will have electricity and lights.”

The pavilion will be located east of the parking area just inside Riverfront Park in the Belltown Trail area, north of the Marmaton River.

The Riverfront Park parking lot. The new pavilion will be east of this site.

Members of the Fort Scott Bourbon County  Riverfront Authority met Tuesday evening at their regular monthly meeting to discuss this and other items upcoming in the park.

The board envisions this pavilion use for family gatherings or public concerts/meetings, according to Jerry Witt, chairman of the authority board.

The new pavilion will sit amidst the trees east of the parking lot.

The authority board has overseen the $2.2 million project, paid for with no taxpayer money, according to Jeff Sweetser, secretary/treasurer of the group, since 2007.

Reimbursements from Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism were received in the amount of $20,114.02 for expenses on the pavilion and the overlook walkway. The City of Fort Scott provided in-kind labor for the park, which is an 80/20 cost split grant from KWPT.

The overlook will be a  wooden, pentagon-shaped walkway which will be at the intersection of the Marmaton River and Mill Creek in the park. Westar Energy is supplying recycled electric power poles for the overlook construction.

The authority board approved the overlook design from Brian Leaders Design, and discussed adding seating to the overlook walkway.

In other business, the authority board:

  • Discussed where information kiosks will be located.
  • Was updated on the Mercy Hospice Memorial area, to be located in a wooded section of the park near the river.  It will be circular with benches.
  • Learned that the Long Shoals Bridge bid-letting will start in December. The historic Parker Truss Bridge located in northeast Bourbon County will be relocated and restored over the Marmaton River in Riverfront Park.


New Face At Mercy: Amanda Stice

Mercy Clinic staff in Fort Scott welcomed Amanda Stice on August 5, 2017 as a new nurse practitioner.

As a registered nurse, Stice decided to take on a bigger role in patient care and went on to become a family nurse practitioner.

Specializing in family medicine, she is board certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and earned  her master’s degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, according to a press release from Mercy.

She offers routine health care, management of chronic diseases, wellness exams, well woman exams, sports and school physicals, vaccinations and immunizations, treatment of minor illness and injuries and more.

Experiences in her practice have created many rewarding moments, Stice said.

“These experiences are what keep  me passionate about my career and role in my patient’s health,” she said.

Previously, she worked for nearly six years at University of Kansas Hospital as a registered nurse in acute care units.

After earning her master’s degree, she worked in urgent care in Independence, transitioning into primary care at the same location.

She and her husband live in Fort Scott with their two children.

Stice will see patients at Mercy Clinic Suite A, located in the hospital.

To make an appointment, call (620) 223-8040.



Student Zoe Self Wins Big

Zoe Self reacts to the surprise announcement that she is a winner of the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes 2017 Discovery Award.

Local Fort Scott High School student Zoe Self was the recipient of an award that gifted her with $7,500 in unrestricted funds Friday.

Prior to the announcement, students and staff gathered in the school’s media room, where Lowell Milken told the audience that the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes “considers ourselves incubators of history.”

The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes Discovery Award is an international competition that awards creative projects highlighting role models whose positive impact on history remains largely unnoticed.

Self created a performance which depicted the story of Lilla Day Monroe.

Monroe was a Topeka-based suffragette who advocated for women’s rights. She established and edited The Club Woman and The Kansas Woman’s Journal. In addition, she served as the president of the Kansas State Suffragette Association.

“Lilla Day Monroe was the first female lawyer in Kansas,” Self told the audience. “She helped pass the Nineteenth Amendment…she was determined to  effect change by working through the court system. She was an incredible woman.”

“This unsung hero project changed my life,” she said.

Fort Scott High School staff along with Lowell Milken Center staff pose with Discovery Award recipient Zoe Self. From left are FSHS Principal Shawn Thomas, Lowell Milken, Self, LMC Program Director Megan Felt, USD 234 Superintendent Bob Beckham, FSHS Gifted Instructor Angie Kemmerer and LMC Director Norm Conard.


Fort Scott High School students and staff listen to Lowell Milken preceding the surprise announcement of Zoe Self’s winning the Discovery Award.

In the Discovery Award process, students in fourth through twelfth grades are invited to use their creative talents to develop projects that feature people from history who demonstrate that one person can make a positive change in the world. Projects can take the form of documentary/multimedia, performance or website. Projects must show potential for the ability to inspire people to take sustainable actions that carry out the legacies of their subjects, according to an LMC press release.

Domino’s adds to eatery choices in Fort Scott

Domino’s Pizza opens in Fort Scott Monday, September 18 at 1709 S. National.

The franchise is owned by Emily and Dan Elwell, Jasper, Mo.

Owner Emily Elwell, right, works the front during the soft opening Friday. Employee Nathan Carey is at left.
Matt Ebert, assistant manager; Emily Elwell, owner; and Kevin Knippelberger, manager pose in front of the store Friday. The ribbon cutting for the business is 10:15 a.m. Monday September 18.

The Elwell’s looked at different markets when deciding where to expand their business and through happenstance discovered the abandoned building on National Avenue.

They just happened to pull off Hwy. 69 at the strip mall site, she said, saw the for sale sign and a drive-through window and went directly to the real estate agent next door to the property to inquire.

“It’s been eerie how it worked out,” Emily Elwell said. “We are supposed to be in Fort Scott.”

They currently have 17 employees, all local.

Hours for the pizza eatery are 10:30 a.m. to midnight, Sunday through Thursday; 10:30 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Manager Kevin Knippelberger visits with a drive-through customer Friday.

Lowell Milken Center Celebrates 10 Years: Art, Dinner And A Movie

Lowell Milken speaks during the 10th Anniversary of the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes.

Art, dinner, and a movie is the way The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes celebrated their tenth anniversary Thursday evening.

“We are at the top of the second inning of what we want to accomplish,” Founder Lowell Milken told the audience about the future of the center.

At the exhibition gallery, at Wall and Main Streets, the founder and staff showcased six ArtEffect Project winners and four new Unsung Hero Exhibits.

From left: teacher Nathan McAlister and students Luke Boyden, Colin Caviness and Colin Everts from Royal Valley Middle School, Mayetta, stand in front of the Unsung Hero project the students are exhibiting in the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes. The title of their project “A Light In The Darkness: The Emma Darling Cushman Project.”

Later, dinner in the courtyard of the Liberty Theater happened to be on a perfect Kansas weather evening, with temperatures in the 70s.

Local author and retired Fort Scott teacher, Cathy Werling, was showcased  with her  new children’s book “Why Did Grandpa Cry?”

Children’s book author Cathy Werling sells her first book at the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes dinner party. Purchasing the book and giving a hug is Kelly Nelson. At right, LMC Administrative Assistant Mary Kerr assists at the sales table.

Since her retirement a few years back, Werling has been employed by the center.

One thing led to another and Werling was asked to write a children’s book about some of the unsung heroes.

“I saw this as an opportunity to move this (story) down to their level of understanding,” Werling said.

“Why Did Grandpa Cry?” is about Unsung Heroes Ken Reinhardt and Ann Williams,  who were a part of the American story of desegregation in the late 1950s.

It is first in a series of 12 children’s books that Werling has been asked to write about unsung heroes.

Books can be purchased through the center and other online sources.

“If purchased through the center, it’s matched by the Lowell Milken Family,” she said. Those funds help the local center.

A documentary film “Teach Us All”  by Sonia Lowman followed the dinner.

Film director Sonia Lowman speaks with members of the audience following the showing of the documentary “Teach Us All.”

Lowman is director of Communications for the Lowell Milken Family Foundation in Santa Monica, Calif.

She came to Milken with an idea about racial inequality, Milken said.

The film was created to “inspire and activate young people to understand the legacy of The Little Rock Nine and why they need to act on that legacy,” Lowman said.

The film also focuses on the need to support teachers and schools, she said.

The film will debut on Netflix on September 25, which marks the 60th anniversary of The Little Rock Nine desegregation battle.


John Deere Tech Program Gets New Digs

If all goes as anticipated, the recently moved John Deere Tech Program at Fort Scott Community College should have all parts of the facility completed in December.

The facility is located at 2223 S. Horton, formerly the Kansas National Guard Armory.

“They are building a bigger shop for big machinery,” Kent Aikin,  one of the program’s two instructors, said Wednesday.  A second instructor is Dale Griffiths,  hired around one month ago.

The building being constructed is just to the east of the current tech program facility. The general contractor for the project is Tri-State Building, Pittsburg.

The current building is used for instruction on smaller machines and classrooms, Aikin said. The instructor’s offices are housed in this building as well.

The  auditorium of the current facility is used for instruction on smaller engines.

“John Deere sends us three to six machines every year, for training purposes,” Aikin said.

Renovation of the current building started a month ago with the addition of new air lines and electrical lines.

Even though all is not completed in the facility, classes began in August with 13 first-year students and 10 second-year students.

Three first-year John Deere Tech Program students work on lessons in a classroom Wednesday.

Students who fulfill all requirements for the program have options of electrical, hydraulic or service advisor certification.

The program’s students must be sponsored by a John Deere dealership, and go through an interview process, Aikin said.

Aikin and Griffiths help the students through the whole process.

“We help locate a dealership to sponsor them,” Aikin said.

“There is a high demand for these jobs,” Aikin said. “The job prospects are good. I’d say over 90 percent have a job waiting for them.”

The move from Frontenac to the repurposed facility on the FSCC campus was precipitated by the selling of the building they were leasing, FSCC Director of Public Relations Heather Browne said.

Students have more accessibility for living in the dorms now,  Browne said.

They also have easier accessibility for completing their general education classes, Griffiths said.

An open house for any interested students will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, November 2 and 8 a.m. to noon, Friday, November 3.

Following completion of the new part of the facility in December, a grand opening for the public will be in February, Aikin said.

A whole power-train for a John Deere 8300 tractor is used in instruction during the tech program.