All posts by Loretta George

USD235 Music Teacher Inducted into KS Music Educator Hall of Fame

Rhonda Allen was announced as a Kansas Music Educator Association Hall of Fame Inductee last week at West Bourbon Elementary School, Uniontown. Taken from the school’s Facebook page. Allen, left, is being introduced by former colleague Andrea Dinkel, middle,  who nominated her for the award. At right is fellow USD235 Music Teacher Neva Rowland.
Uniontown Music Teacher Rhonda Allen was informed during a school assembly last week that she is being inducted into the Kansas Music Educator Association Hall of Fame.
Allen was told of her induction in a school assembly last week at West Bourbon Elementary School. Photo taken from the school’s Facebook page.

“Andrea Dinkel nominated me for the award last fall,” Rhonda Allen said. Dinkel is a former colleague of Allen’s in the USD235 School District.

“Though I was nominated, I didn’t expect to be inducted and feel very humbled by the whole thing,” Allen said. “I did not know what the assembly was about going in.”

Allen is in her 40th year teaching music, with 31 of those at Uniontown. She taught in Arma for nine years.

Rhonda Allen. Taken from the school district’s staff directory.

Currently, she teaches Pre-K through 6th-grade general music at West Bourbon Elementary School, Uniontown Junior High Choir, and accompanies on the piano for the high school.

“I am deeply honored by this award and am grateful for the wonderful colleagues and students I’ve worked with over the years,” Allen said. “I’ve learned so much from them and have enjoyed sharing the language of music with them.”

“The Uniontown administration and staff support music opportunities for our students and work to keep those options available for our students,” she said.

“I owe a lot to the Kansas Music Educator’s Association,” she added. “Our annual in-service conferences and other workshops have been a source of knowledge and inspiration.”

The official induction ceremony will take place at KMEA In-Service Workshop on Saturday, February 26.

From the KMEA website:

Induction to the KMEA Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed by the Kansas Music Educators Association. KMEA established the Hall of Fame to honor those career members of the Kansas music education community who have made a significant contribution to the growth of music in the state. Any music educator exceptionally affecting music education may be considered. Formal induction and recognition takes place at the In-Service Workshop each February.

In addition to having their name, photo, and teaching bio placed on permanent display, inductees receive a plaque inscribed as follows:

The Kansas Music Educators Association is proud to recognize the outstanding achievements of the above-mentioned educator for exceptional contributions to the children and youth of Kansas. This annual award honors musicianship of the highest order and recognizes exemplary musical and teaching accomplishments.”

Bourbon County Tax Sale Nets $129K

There were 64 properties auctioned by Bourbon County Counselor and Assistant County AttorneyJustin Meeks on Jan. 13 at the courthouse, County Treasurer Patty Love said.

Patty Love. Submitted photo.

“50 properties sold for a total of $129,408.40,” she said. “The 14 properties that didn’t sell were properties inside the city of Fort Scott that had a minimum bid which was a total of the Special Assessment levied against the property by the city for mowing and demolition. Those properties that didn’t sell have now been transferred to the Land Bank.”

There was a total of 78 bidders present at the tax sale, she said.


Justin Meeks, Bourbon County Counselor. Submitted photo.

There were originally 78 properties scheduled to be sold on the tax sale, but some were taken from the list by Meeks, she said.

“Justin pulled seven of them for legal reasons and seven were redeemed by the owners paying all taxes and the court filing fee,” Love said.

Rhonda Dunn. Submitted photo.


“The money received will be applied to taxes owed on individual properties and will be distributed to the taxing entities,” Rhonda Dunn,  Bourbon County Treasurer’s Clerk. said.

The tax entities are the City of Fort Scott, the  Bourbon County government, and the county’s two school districts- USD 234 and USD 235.

“They are distributed based on mill levy of each entity and the year the previous owner owed it for,” Dunn said.


The next tax sale is scheduled for May 19, according to Dunn.

It’s been five years since the last tax auction, Dunn said.

Proofreading/Copy Editing Business Starts in Fort Scott

Kim Carpenter. Submitted photo.

Fort Scott native Kim Carpenter, 56, is the owner of a new business called Writer’s Edge, LLC. 

Carpenter’s business provides proofreading and copyediting services for a variety of written materials including ads, reports, books, articles, blog posts, and more. 

Her Background

She has 14 years of experience as an elementary school teacher.

Carpenter earned her Associate of Science degree from Fort Scott Community College, a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Pittsburg State University, and a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from William Woods University.

Her hometown is Fort Scott.

She is married to Jon Carpenter and has four children, two that live in Fort Scott: Jana Johnson, and Jon T. Carpenter.

She is a member of the Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce and is an active member of Faith Church.

“In my free time, you might find me hiking the Gunn Park trails, kayaking the local waterways, or shopping at area flea markets,” she said.

A New Adventure

“Writer’s Edge was born out of a passion to read, write, and a desire to pursue a new career,” she said. 

I have been an elementary educator for 14 years,” Carpenter said. “I loved the opportunity to be a constructive influence in children’s lives. Yet, I felt the pull to pursue a different path in which I can also have a positive impact. As I am a strong advocate of reading and writing, this adventure felt like a perfect fit for me”.

After extensive research, Carpenter learned what was needed to transition from full-time teacher to full-time proofreader, copyeditor.

First, she graduated from an educational course with certification in professional proofreading and editing and confirmed her grasp of advanced grammar as well as strong oral and written communication skills, she said.

Next, Carpenter converted a spare room into an office space, and with the help of her friend and fellow entrepreneur, Lori Sherrell Cable, built her LinkedIn profile, resume, and her website. 

In addition, she attended meetings with the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team (HBCAT) and the Kansas Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to make the dream a reality. The team of Jody Hoener, Dacia Clark, and Rachel Carpenter worked with her to formalize her business and develop a business plan. 

The whole process was very easy, and the team was so great to work with. They explained everything and answered all of my questions. They truly have a heart to see people succeed and are very knowledgeable in the process,” Carpenter said.

She also looks forward to working with students, researchers, and business owners to improve written communications from social marketing to printed materials and no project is too big or too small, she said.

Carpenter’s website will be up soon, but for now, she can be reached at 

Kim Carpenter has an office in her home. Submitted photo.



Support For Moms with Infants Available For Free

Diapers are given to mothers who participate in each meeting of the Mommy and Me program. Submitted photo.

Mommy and Me is a support and education program for mothers with children or who are pregnant.

The support group meets monthly at the Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department in Fort Scott at 6th and Horton.

The next one is scheduled for Wednesday, January 19 at 4 p.m.

The group meets once a month, with a topic of discussion.

As an encouragement to attend the meetings, diapers are given to participants each meeting, Holly Fritter, Healthy Start Home Visitor, said.

Holly Fritter. Submitted photo.

“We give away a packet of diapers every time they attend because we want people to be supported, and educated,” she said.

The program was created to help support moms in taking care of their babies and themselves.

“Discussions in the past have been breastfeeding, formula feeding, prenatal care, postpartum care, postpartum depression and other maternal warning signs, stages of labor and what to expect, nutrition, baby basics, parenting, things like that,” she said.

“We want people to know that they are not alone, they have someone to talk to and someone to listen.

The Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department is located between 6th and Lowman Streets and 6th and Horton Streets.


Jail Heating System on the Blink

Sheriff Bill Martin demonstrates how all the cells can be viewed from the control room in a direct line of sight at the jail in this photo from April 2018, before the jail was completed.

The Bourbon County Law Enforcement Center has been having issues with its heating and air conditioning system since late summer, according to Sheriff Bill Martin.

“The systems weren’t changing over from cool to heat and heat to cool,” he said. The jail was built in 2017-2018.

There are currently 58 inmates, he said.

Martin said the failure of the system to work properly was because of the design of the units.

The Bourbon County Commission opened and reviewedthe bids for the repair of the system at its January 4, 2022 meeting, Martin said.

“The commissioners approved  French’s Plumbling/A.C, to move forward with correcting the issues with the HVAC system,” he said.

Repeated calls to French’s Plumbing for an update on the work were not answered.

Inmates have been given an extra blanket to help until the problem can be repaired.

“When a person is processed or booked into the correctional facility, they are issued one sheet and one blanket,” Martin said. “Since the issues with the HVAC system, they are now offered a second blanket.”


Downtown Business Expands: The Beauty Lounge Girls

Aubrey Zillner, left, and Tuker Ross. Submitted photo.
Tuker Ross, 22, started her business, The Skin Lounge, in April 2021 at 4 S. Main Street in downtown Fort Scott.
The Beauty Lounge Girls will be opening in February and the windows are covered during the remodel/expansion of the business. Submitted photo.
Ross began her business after graduating from Entourage Institute of Beauty in Lenexa and has expanded her knowledge by gaining extra certifications in brows, lash extensions, full body waxing, and spray tanning, she said.
Her business is next door to the Sunshine Boutique which is owned by her grandparents, Georgia and Donnie Brown.
Ross decided to remodel and expand The Skin Lounge in December of 2021.
Ross has always had a passion for wanting to help others, she said. “Everything we do and everything we create is based on what we believe,” she said. “That helping others look beautiful is nice, but helping them believe they’re beautiful is life-changing!”
The Skin Lounge has expanded the business and changed its name with the addition of a full-time hairstylist.
The new venture is called The Beauty Lounge Girls.
Ross and her business partner, Aubrey Zillner, 24, have been friends since middle school and later rekindled their friendship.
Both are Fort Scott High School graduates, Zillner in 2016 and Ross in 2017.
Zillner will be working at The Beauty Lounge Girls as the full-time hairstylist. She graduated from cosmetology school at Fort Scott Community College in 2018 and has been working behind the chair since, Ross said.
Both women are very excited for their new adventure and look forward to serving the community, Ross said.
The Beauty Lounge will now be offering facials, lashes, brows, waxing, spray tans, hair cuts (for women, men, and kids), highlights, perms, deep conditioning treatments, and more.
They will also have a full retail bar where they customize for each of their client’s skincare, haircare, and/or body care products and services.
The hours of operation will be Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The spa side is by appointment only.
Zillner will be by appointment or accept walk-ins for any hair service, if available.
“The Beauty Lounge will be having their grand re-opening on February 3, 2022, from 4-8 p.m.,” Ross said.  Be sure to mark your calendars! There will be goodie bags, door prizes, snacks, and exclusive deals! We want everyone to have a place they can go to and feel safe and let loose and have a good time and be your true authentic self. This is a judgment-free space. We are a trendy and inviting spa studio, dedicated to helping people love who they are!” Ross said.
Contact info:  (620) 322-0561 or
The Beauty Lounge Girls on Facebook
@thebeautyloungegirls on Instagram
The Hair Lounge on Facebook (Aubrey’s!)
@yourhairgirl.aubs on Instagram

USD 234 Will Close Schools January 13-14 Due to COVID-19 Virus

USD 234 Board of Education Building, 424 S. Main

The 1,860 Fort Scott school students will get five days off from school starting tomorrow, thanks to the pandemic.

USD 234 Superintendent Ted Hessong said because of the high student absenteeism and a high level of transmission of the virus, Fort Scott schools will be closed tomorrow Thursday, Jan. 13 and Friday, Jan. 14.

Ted Hessong. Submitted photo.

“These two days will count as snow days for tracking of hours on the academic calendar,” he said. “Remote Learning will not be utilized on these two days.”

The two days of school cancellation are followed by the weekend, then a  pre-scheduled staff professional development day on January 17.

“This closure is needed to assist in slowing down the spread of the virus and to give students and staff who are not feeling well time to recover.  We hope these five days away will help people,” he said.

“School activities will be canceled for January 13, 14 and 15,” he said.

“We will continue with the scheduled professional development day on Monday, January 17, and activities will resume on Monday,” Hessong said.

Masks will be required in all buildings on Tuesday when students return on the18th, he said.

“We will monitor numbers regarding the mask requirement next week,” Hessong said.

The Test to Stay and Learn virus testing program provided by the district and Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas will be available for students on Tuesday, he said.

Hessong provided the following graphic:

Student Absentee %  Tuesday, January 11 Wednesday, January 12
Fort Scott High School
143(absent)/573 = 25% 154(absent)/573 = 26.9%
Fort Scott Middle School
161(absent)/455 = 35.4% 150(absent)/455 = 33%
Eugene Ware Elementary 103(absent)/357 = 28.9% 106(absent/357 = 29.6%
Winfield Scott Elementary
82(absent)/385 = 21.3% 80(absent)/387 = 20.7%
Fort Scott Pre-School 10(absent)/90 = 11.1% 13(absent)/85 = 15.3%


Help with Energy Costs Available

Bourbon County Senior Citizens Center, 26 N. Main, is the site of the LIEAP assistance in filling out the required forms.
People who are having difficulty paying their utility bills and meet the income guidelines, can get hands-on help this Wednesday to fill out the needed paperwork.
The Salvation Army and Bourbon County Senior Center, 26 N. Main,  will partner with Evergy, the local electric company,  to assist in filling out Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) applications this Wednesday, January 12, from noon to 3 p.m.
Allen Schellack with Fort Scott Compassionate Ministries is the Bourbon County Coordinator for the Salvation Army.
“Normally, you have to go through DCF (the Department of Children and Families) to get the funds,” Schellack said.

The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) is a Federally-funded program that helps eligible households pay a portion of their home energy costs by providing a one-time per year benefit, according to the DCF website Energy Assistance – Economic & Employment Services (

No appointment is necessary for help with filling out the application.
Applicants do not have to be Evergy customers.
Applicants are required to have at least $80 in payments in the past 90 days.
Applicants will need to bring copies of all proof of income for all permanent residents who are at least 18 years or older.
Copies of utility bills which include gas, electric, propane, wood are needed to apply.

LIEAP Frequently Asked Questions​

Other community resources that​ may be of assistance can be found here: EES Helping Organizations.

The 2022 LIEAP application period is from Monday, January 3, 2022, through Thursday, March 31, 2022. Applications must be received before 5:00 PM, March 31, 2022.

For those who do not feel they need assistance in filling out the paperwork:

Additional information may be obtained by calling 1-800-432-0043.

Who is Eligible?

To qualify, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  1. An adult living at the address must be personally responsible for paying the heating costs incurred at the current residence, payable either to the landlord or the fuel vendor.
  2. Applicants must demonstrate a recent history of payments toward the purchase of the primary heating energy.


The combined gross income (before deductions) of all persons living ​at the address may not exceed 150% of the federal poverty level according to the guidelines listed below:


2022 Income Eligibility Guidelines

Persons Living at the Address Maximum Gross
Monthly Income
1 $1,610
2 $2,178
3 $2,745
4​ $3,313
​5 $3,880
6​ $4,448
7​ $5,015
8​ $5,583
9​ $6,150
10​ $6,718
11​ $7,285
12​​ $7,853
​13 $8,420​
14​ $8,​988​​
+1    $568 for each additional person




Benefit levels vary according to the following factors:

  • Household income
  • Number of persons living at the address
  • Type of dwelling
  • Type of heating fuel
Fort Scott Compassionate Ministries, located above the Senior Citizens Center on North Main Street.
Allen Schellack, director of Fort Scott Compassionate Ministries.

Diann Tucker Featured in Top Agent Magazine

Diann Tucker. Submitted photo.

Diann Tucker was Featured in the January, 2022, edition of Top Agent Magazine

Fort Scott, KS: Diann Tucker of Stewart Realty Co. was featured in the January 2022 edition of Top Agent Magazine. Top Agent Magazine is the premier real estate magazine featuring the foremost real estate agents, mortgage professionals, and affiliates in the USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Top Agent Magazine features the top producing and most accomplished professionals in the real estate industry, offering an in-depth look at their careers and providing a blueprint for their success.

To be considered for a feature in Top Agent Magazine all professionals must go through a nomination and interview process. ALL Candidates are then evaluated based upon production, professionalism, as well as industry and community involvement. It is considered a privilege to be nominated as it speaks to a certain success level all real estate agents strive for. Top Agent has set itself apart as a trusted source of real estate information and inspiration. Diann Tucker is a stellar example of the kind of prominent leaders of real estate we are proud to feature in Top Agent Magazine.


The online magazine can be viewed at


It is an honor to have been nominated and featured as a “Top Agent” in the real estate industry. I am humbled that my clients have reached out in such a way to have me recognized. I hope to continue to make real estate dreams come true.” For more information about Diann Tucker, please call 620-223-6700 or 620-224-7054, email, or visit


Stewart Realty Co., 1707 S. National Avenue. From its Facebook page.

Fort Scott’s Middle School: Masks Required

USD 234 Board of Education Building, 424 S. Main
USD234 Superintendent Ted Hessong said in an email that as of Friday, January 7, the school district had 29 student active cases and nine staff cases.

 He gave the statistics of the number of COVID positive students and staff/total number of students and staff in a building as of Friday:

Fort Scott High School= 1.52%
Fort Scott Middle School= 2.26%
Eugene Ware Elementary School = 1.88%
Winfield Scott Elementary School= 1.30%
USD 234 Preschool = 2.00%
“According to the district’s gaiting criteria, any building that has a positivity rate over two percent and the community spread is over 30 new cases, that building will need to wear masks until the positivity rate falls below 2%,” Hesson said.  “Therefore, the middle school is required to wear masks at this time until the building positivity rate falls below 2%.  The preschool is not required to wear masks at this time because they have a lower student/staff population, but we are monitoring that building’s numbers.”
The school district has provided a way to follow  USD 234’s COVID Attendance Dashboard, he said, and this information is updated daily in the afternoon.
To view the state’s COVID-19 data:
Kansas has had 566,000 cases of the virus and 7,124 deaths. Bourbon County has had 3,192 cases and 44 deaths reported, according to
from the New York Times.

Obituary of John Rodabaugh

John L. Rodabaugh, age 74, a former resident of Pittsburg, Kansas and more recently of Ft. Scott, Kansas, passed away Thursday, January 6, 2022, at the Freeman West Hospital in Joplin, Missouri.

He was born February 17, 1947, in Pittsburg, the son of Roy Rodabaugh and Anna Mae Westerlin Rodabaugh.  John graduated from the Pittsburg High School and then served with the United States Army during the Vietnam War.  He had worked for the Union Pacific Railroad as a track foreman for thirty years.

John married Hope Hall Gage on July 6, 1996, at Ft. Scott.  He was a member of the Marvin Armstrong Masonic Lodge #187 of Pittsburg, the Scottish Rite and the Mirza Shrine.

John enjoyed coon hunting, fishing and raising fighting roosters.  He attended the Open Door Church in Pittsburg.

Survivors include his wife, Hope, of the home; a daughter, Johanna Strum (Joshua) of Walnut, Kansas; two step-sons, Troy Gage (Barbara) of Columbus, Kansas and Jason Gage (Melissa) of Louisburg, Kansas and ten grandchildren, Tommy, Pixie, Brayden, Danielle, Johnathan, Bryce, Devin, Brock, Danny and Deacon.

John was preceded in death by his parents, a sister, Roberta Hurlbert and a step-son, Tom Gage II.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 A.M. Wednesday, January 12th at the Cheney Witt Chapel.

Burial with military honors will follow in the Centerville Cemetery.

The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 P.M. Tuesday at the Cheney Witt Chapel.

Memorials are suggested to the Shrine Transportation Fund and may be left in care of the Cheney Witt Chapel, 201 S. Main, P.O. Box 347, Ft. Scott, KS 66701.  Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at

Dawson Mitchell To Appear on January 20 For Preliminary Hearing For Double Murder

The double murder case in Bourbon County is moving forward with the defendant, Dawson Mitchell, scheduled to appear on January 20 in a preliminary hearing at 2 p.m. at the Bourbon County District Court, according to information provided by John P. Milburn, Public Information Officer for the Office of Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

Mitchell is charged with killing his mother and step-father with a gun stolen from his father, and is currently an inmate in the Bourbon County Law Enforcement Center, Fort Scott.

The Bourbon County Courthouse.

The case is being prosecuted by attorneys with the Kansas Criminal Litigation Division of the Office of the Attorney General at the request of the Bourbon County Attorney. The case number is 2021-CR-588.

Charges are merely accusations; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, according to the document provided.

The following are the charges against Mitchell.

The State of Kansas versus Dawson James Mitchell case alleges that

Count 1
On or about the 21st day of December 2021, in Bourbon County, Kansas, Dawson James Mitchell did unlawfully, feloniously, intentionally, and with premeditation, kill Melissa Hays Mitchell, which is murder in the first degree.

Count 2
On or about December 21,  2021, in Bourbon County, Dawson  Mitchell did unlawfully, feloniously, intentionally, and with premeditation, kill Leonard Zimmerman, which is murder in the first degree.

Count 3
On or between December 19 and December 21, 2021, in Bourbon County,   Mitchell, did unlawfully and knowingly possess a firearm, a Walther 9 mm handgun, and within five years preceding such possession was convicted of the distribution of a controlled substance. He was not found to have owned a firearm at the time of the prior crime, and has not had the prior conviction expunged or been pardoned for such crime. The charge is criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Count 4
On or between  December  19, 2021, and December 21, 2021 in Bourbon County,  Mitchell, exerted unauthorized control over property: a Walther 9 mm handgun, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner Jerald Mitchell, of the possession, use, or benefit of the property of a value of less than $25,000. The charge is theft of a firearm.

Count 5
On or about  December 19-21 2021 in Bourbon County,   Mitchell did unlawfully and knowingly possess a weapon; which was a Puma pocketknife, and within five years preceding such possession was convicted of the distribution of a controlled substance. He has not had the prior conviction expunged or been pardoned for such crime. The charge is an aggravated weapon violation by a convicted felon.

Count 6
On or between the December 19-21, 2021, in Bourbon County,  Mitchell, exerted unauthorized control over property: which was Puma pocketknife and $200 cash, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner Jerald Mitchell, of the possession, use, or benefit of the property of a value of less than $25,000.

All of the above acts then and there committed being contrary to the statutes in such cases made and provided and being against the peace and dignity of the State of Kansas, according to the document.

The case was filed by:
CJ. Rieg, W21 0
Assistant Attorney General
120 SW 10th Avenue, 2nd Floor
Topeka, Kansas 66612—1597
Phone: 785276-9707
Fax: 785.291.3875