Category Archives: Bourbon County

County Commission Accepts 2018 Budget

The Bourbon County Commission accepted the budget for the fiscal year of 2018 Tuesday, giving raises to employees without raising the mill levy.

“I think it’s a good budget,” said Terry Sercer, certified public accountant for Diehl Banwart Bolton. “You guys worked hard on it this year.”

The commissioners spent the past couple months accepting budget requests from county departments, trying to see where money could be saved while also trying to provide competitive wages for their employees.

The commissioners settled on giving all hourly employees a 75 cents per hour raise, while officers of the Sheriff’s Office received a $1.75 per hour raise. These raises will go into effect in January.

“We’ve raised it to where it’s competitive,” commissioner Lynne Ohara said, specifically of the sheriff’s department wages, which he said are now caught up to the average wages of surrounding counties as recorded as recently as 2015.

With the higher wages, the commissioners said they hope to save money in the long run through the retention of employees, preventing the need to train new officers or pay for overtime if they become shorthanded.

Overall, the county has fewer employees than in past years, which has also allowed the commissioners to save funds. The county also did not include potential revenue from the new law enforcement center such as if cells are leased for inmates from other counties.

The commissioners said the county continues to have a need for new industry and jobs, though the current focus on economic development and the positive housing market has had a positive impact.

“A lot of good things are happening,” commissioner Jeff Fischer said.

KState Extension: Agriculture Education is in demand

Submitted by: Carla Nemecek, Southwind Extension District

Can you count the ways Agriculture touches your life? When you wake up in the morning, you are lying on cotton sheets. You swing your feet onto the floor either made of wood, a rug made of wool or flooring made from linseed or soybean soil. The soap in the shower contains tallow (a by-product of the beef industry) and toothpaste has glycerin in it. The towel you dry off with and the jeans and t-shirt you put on are made from cotton. You have already used dozens of agricultural products, and you haven’t even started eating!

For these everyday reasons and more, agriculture education is too important a topic to be taught only to the small percentage of students considering careers in agriculture and pursuing vocational agricultural studies. Throughout my Extension career, I have spent time in elementary classrooms teaching about agriculture in a variety of ways. When I ask the students “Does chocolate milk come from a brown cow or a white cow?” the answer is most always the same – “A brown cow!” Although this might give most of us a chuckle, the answer really tells us that agriculture education should be a high priority and it should start with our children. Locally, 4-H and FFA members are educating our youth through various initiatives like Day at the Farm and Earth Day. They cooperate with other organizations such as Farm Bureau, Extension, Conservation District and Wildlife & Parks to demonstrate how agriculture and livestock are important to our everyday lives. We are all fortunate to live in communities where folks still care about agriculture and a rural lifestyle.

With a growing population and a demand to feed nine billion by the year 2050, the agriculture industry needs talented, driven and passionate youth willing to make a commitment to agriculture. Many of these individuals will not have the production background I was privileged to experience while growing up. The next generation will have to gain knowledge and try to understand the depth of the industry through programs in 4-H, FFA and collegiate agriculture courses where hands-on learning is critical to developing the skills necessary to feed the world. Make no mistake, there is tremendous opportunity for careers in agriculture, including banking, energy, food science, education, research and engineering, and I hope you will continue to support those organizations who promote and support agricultural endeavors in our communities.

Southwind Extension District is proud to help educate our youth on the values and importance involved in the agriculture lifestyle. Through participation in 4-H activities like livestock judging, learning how to weld, or even how to grow plants in the garden – the youth in Allen, Bourbon and Neosho Counties are preparing themselves for how to feed the next generation. For more information on how you can become involved in the Southwind District, find us on the web at

KState Extension: Irises, Daylilies and Peonies – Now is the Time to Divide

Submitted by Krista Harding

School is starting this week for many area students and I feel like summer is winding down. I have enjoyed the cooler August temperatures and abundant rainfall! We have certainly not worried about drought stress in our area this year, which is always a plus in my books. As we head to the middle of August with our landscapes, it is time to divide plants and get them ready for the winter months ahead. Irises, daylilies and peonies are all very popular perennials and can be divided now.

Irises are usually divided in July and August. When dividing irises, it is best to look for a “double fan” – a large root with two leaf fans growing off of it. A plant with a double fan will bloom much quicker – possibly the year after planting.

Start by digging out all the iris and set them in a bucket of water to wash the soil from the roots and the rhizomes. Rhizomes are the thick, horizontal stems from which the roots grow and where buds are present. Healthy rhizomes should be blemish-free and no less than one-inch in diameter. Discard any sections that show signs of disease.

Use a sharp knife and cut off any sections of rhizomes without leaves or buds. The goal is to wind up with five- to seven-inch sections of healthy rhizomes with at least one good fan of leaves and two or more buds. Dip the knife in a bleach solution between cuts to prevent the spread of disease.

Plant the iris in soil ridges, 12 inches apart and in rows. Spread the roots on both sides of the soil ridge and then pat the soil around the roots. The soil should never cover the rhizome, but should hug the sides of it. Pat the roots in to keep the fans upright. Water immediately and continue to water until the plants are well established.

Daylilies need to be divided every three to four years to maintain vigor. Though they may be divided in early spring before growth starts, it is more common to divide them this time of year. Many gardeners will cut back the tops to about half their original height to make plants easier to handle.

A spading fork can be used to peel fans from the existing clump. If the plants have been in place for a long time, it may better to divide them by digging up the whole clump. Divide each clump to about the size of a head of cauliflower. Space divisions 24 to 30 inches apart and set each back to its original depth.

Peonies, on the other hand, may never need to be divided and may live 50 years or more without being disturbed. Peonies do not require regular division for successful blooming the way some other perennials do. Division can be done though, to increase the planting area or if the plants are growing poorly.

Division of peonies should be done after September 1, but early enough to give them plenty of time to get situated before the ground freezes. Here again, cutting the foliage back at ground level will help aid in easier handling. Each root division should have at least three to five “eyes.” The “eyes” actually look more like pink noses and are the shoots for the next season.

Peonies need to be set in a hole that is 18 inches deep and across. The hole should be refilled half way with a mix that is one part organic material and two parts soil. The eyes should be planted about one to two inches deep. If planted too deeply, the plant will produce foliage and no flowers.

Krista Harding is a K-State Research and Extension Agricultural agent assigned to Southwind District. She may be reached at or 620-244-3826.

KState Extension: Reflections of County Fair

Submitted by: Carla Nemecek, Southwind District Director & Agent

My 20th county fair is officially in the books. I spent the first seven years in Haskell County, Kan., and have been in Allen County since 2005. When the Southwind District formed in 2010, I was given the privilege of working with two more counties, Neosho and Bourbon. As one of your District Extension Agents, I can tell you that it is truly a relief to be on the backside of the county fair and it gives me an opportunity to reflect and think about those folks who help make our 4-H program successful.

I don’t want to bore you with the details of planning and getting ready for the county fair, but rather take an opportunity to thank those key individuals who take the time to volunteer and make our county fairs successful. Each of the counties in the Southwind District have specific key people who make sure our kids are getting an education in their projects and having fun at the same time. In Neosho County, the livestock leaders conducted project meetings that drew in youth to the fairgrounds, teaching them about livestock husbandry and showmanship to prepare them for the upcoming contests. I admire the time and dedication these leaders give to the kids and I know it takes away from an evening or a weekend at home with family, yet they give to our 4-H program time and again. In Bourbon County, members of the fair board built a new covered pavilion and dedicated it to a long-time Friend of 4-H. The pavilion was used for folks to gather during the fair and the 4-H dance was held there, too. This is an addition to the fairgrounds that will be a valuable resource for many years. In Allen County, not only did we try a completely new fair schedule, but we were also given financial support from County Commissioners to repair and rebuild structures on the fairgrounds that will be used for generations to come. Phase one of this five-year project saw a much needed new roof on the sheep and goat barn. I also have to say thank you to the Livestock Boosters who make sure that all of our 4-H youth who are members in good standing receive additional premiums for their livestock projects.

The Southwind District also had the good fortune to hire summer interns in each county. Dacey worked in Fort Scott and hosted a barn quilt workshop which resulted in many barn quilts being displayed in each county. Kendle worked in Erie and organized a much needed photography clinic to teach youth how to take better photos for personal and 4-H use. In Iola, we worked with Zoey who prepared a tie blanket workshop and then donated those blankets to Hope Unlimited.

On a personal note, I also want to thank my family and close friends who help me get through the fair season. Without their support through all hours of the day, there is no way to mark off every item on the daily “to do” list. I have an amazing job, but it is really a community of people who make it fun. Thank you all!!

Community Foundation to Accept Grand Applications in August

The Fort Scott Area Community Foundation is thrilled to announce that the amount of grants available for the upcoming 2017/2018 cycle totals $30,000, exceeding last year’s total by $9,000.

2016 Grant Recipients

Thanks to the generosity of all who contributed to the FSACF general fund, the interest accrued will allow the grant committee more opportunities to benefit the 501(c)3 applicants who meet the qualifications.

Monies granted to the 12 beneficiaries from last year’s cycle were used for a variety of causes, including helping to purchase a 3D mammography machine for Mercy Hospital, providing benefits to cancer patients, assisting families in purchasing swimming pool passes, and funding classes for CASA volunteers.

The FSACF 2017 Grant Applications will be released on Tuesday, August 1, at which time they will appear on the FSACF website or may be picked up in person at the Chamber of Commerce, 231 E. Wall. Nonprofits such as churches, governmental entities, or organizations with a 501(c)3 status are encouraged to apply.

Applications are due by Tuesday, August 29. Acceptance and declination letters will be mailed on Tuesday, October 24. Grants will be awarded at the Foundation’s Chamber Coffee held in the Landmark Bank lobby at Third and Main at 8 A.M. on Thursday, November 2.

County Prioritizes Road Repairs

With the county’s asphalt program nearing completion, the Bourbon County Commission and Public Works Director Jim Harris discussed Tuesday morning which roads would be worked on next in the county.

The commissioners created a list of about 18 miles of road in need of a chip and seal, and then moved 11 miles of those roads to the top of the to-do list, based on the traffic and condition of the road. Harris said he believes they have enough funds budgeted to complete those roads and then reconvene to decide if they have finances remaining to do the others.

Some of the roads to be worked on first include three miles of road near the lake, Maple Road near Uniontown, Jayhawk Road east of Highway 69, 125th Street between Osage and Range roads and Highway 10 towards 55th Street.

“We’ll get it done,” Harris said of the projects assigned to his crew.

Some of the lower priority roads not completed this year could be done in 2018, though commissioners said Industrial Park roads will be a big project to be done next year.

Youth County Fair: 2017

After months of preparation and the hard work of a number of leaders, volunteers, parents and youth, the Bourbon County Fair came to a close Saturday after a week of festivities at the fairgrounds in Fort Scott.

“It was the smoothest running fair of my extension career,” Extension Agent Christopher Petty said. “This wouldn’t be possible without the tremendous volunteer support from the community. I want to thank each and every person who helped out in any way.”

About 150 youth and children of Bourbon County participated in events that displayed their skill in more than 1,100 exhibits showing animals, cooking, gardening, sewing, photography and a number of other activities displaying their creativity and hard work over the past year.

The fair provided not just an opportunity for participants to display those talents, but also to receive criticism and compete while learning how to demonstrate good-sportsmanship whether they won or lost, receiving good reviews or poor.

Check the Facebook page here to see more photos taken of those students who participated throughout the week.