Category Archives: Business

The Bunker brings weapons training and retail to Fort Scott

During their grand opening held Saturday July 2, The Bunker drew a large number of visitors to their downtown store to purchase weapons and other gear or learn about the training courses the store will offer.

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Chad Wise, a member of the United States Army and assistant professor currently stationed at Fort Leavenworth, said he is scheduled to retire this year and, about three years ago, he and his wife Melissa began considering a business such as The Bunker where he could continue putting his skills gained through the army to good use.

“Why not find a way to utilize it?” Wise said of that knowledge of firearms and training from his time spent in the army and teaching graduate level courses to officers. “I wanted something else to do.”

Recognizing the growing demand for firearms and concealed carry licenses as gun laws continue to change, Wise said they began working towards opening The Bunker, with great support from the city and the community, to bring not just weapons retail but training courses to Fort Scott.

“I think there’s always a need for weapons safety and being comfortable with a firearm,” Wise said.

Currently, The Bunker will open its doors 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Saturday until Wise retires, with more hours potentially being added to that based on the community’s interest. A wide variety of new and used weapons and other equipment will be available at the store located on Scott Avenue.

Starting next week, The Bunker will also regularly offer training courses at an off-site, outdoor range located about six miles west of Fort Scott, where participants can receive basic instruction including self-defense, safety, shooting techniques, loading and unloading a weapon and other aspects of using pistols and rifles. Different technical courses will offer a range of training for participants with different levels of experience.

Events include couples’ and ladies’ nights as well as classes on conceal carry. Group team-building events can also be scheduled for any organizations or businesses interested in a group outing.

Wise said some classes have already sold out, but more will continue to be scheduled. Depending on the demand, he added they hope to possibly add an indoor range at their downtown location as well.

Already, Wise said they have received a good response concerning the classes, which will be informative as well as fun, as different competitions and even meals are provided during select courses.

“A family-friendly environment is really important to us,” Wise said, saying they will not teach offensive tactics, but defensive and self-protection strategies.

The classes will be taught by Wise as well as Mike Trim, of the local police department, and his brother Nick. Weapons and ammunition will be available for rent for the courses and ear and eye protection can be provided if needed.

Those interested in learning more about The Bunker and what it offers can visit it at 108 Scott Avenue and at their website,

Upcoming events in Fort Scott

A number of announcements concerning upcoming community events were shared during the weekly Chamber Coffee Thursday morning. Stay up to date on these events and more by visiting the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism website.

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This week’s Chamber Coffee event was hosted at the Public Safety Building and and also took time to recognize the local police and fire departments and dispatch for their service to the city for more than a century.

  • The Young Professionals League will hold their July luncheon Friday at noon at Papa Don’s, delayed a week because of the holiday weekend. Published author Michael Smith will be the guest speaker. The YPL will then hold a social gathering at the Vinedo Del Alamo Winery for a wine-tasting event Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
  • The annual Marmaton Massacre will again be held at Gunn Park as a two-day event, Saturday and Sunday, and will include activities such as live music, camping, a kids’ race as well as the marathon and bike trials on Saturday and the main event and category races on Sunday. Cyclists and even others not interested in the races are invited to come to the park and enjoy the family-friendly festivities.
  • On Tuesday, July 12, the Beaux Arts Centre will host the quarterly, downtown meet and greet at 8:30 a.m. Representatives from downtown businesses as well as members of the community interested in gathering information are encouraged to attend.
  • My Father’s House will hold a fundraising pancake breakfast Saturday July 16, beginning at 9 a.m., with the meal costing $5 per adult and $3 for children.
  • A Texas Hold ‘Em event will be held Saturday July 16, at 3 p.m. as a fundraiser to raise about $5,500 for new uniforms for the Fort Scott High School girls’ basketball team.
  • CrossFit Fort Scott will celebrate its first year in the city with a birthday celebration and kickball tournament Saturday July 23, at 10 a.m. at Gunn Park. Teams and other members of the community are encouraged to come participate.
  • The candidate forum for the August 2, election is tentatively scheduled for Monday July 25, to be hosted by the Chamber of Commerce at the Ellis Fine Arts Center at Fort Scott Community College.
  • With the Bark in the Park dog park nearing completion at Gunn Park, a ribbon-cutting and grand opening event is scheduled to be held Saturday August 6, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and will include free pet toys, snacks and even a dog costume and best trick contest for those who attend.
  • Fort Scott Community College will host their annual Black and White Gala on August 13. Fewer than 100 tickets remain and should be purchased as soon as possible.

Briggs Auto Group welcomed to Fort Scott with ribbon-cutting event

Although already present in the community for a few months, the new Briggs Auto Group was officially welcomed to the area by Fort Scott residents and the area Chamber of Commerce with a ribbon-cutting event during the Thursday morning Chamber Coffee.

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In March, what had previously been Shepherds Auto Plaza for many decades became Briggs Auto Group with the sale of the family business to Russell Briggs, who has been in the business for more than 30 years and had about nine dealerships in Kansas at the time of the sale.

“We’ve really enjoyed being in Fort Scott so far,” general manager Mike Terry said, saying they appreciate the welcoming and friendly reception from the community.

With the change of ownership, the employee staff has approximately doubled, with most of the Shepherds employees remaining at the dealership.

“They do an amazing job,” Terry said of the staff, including the office staff as well as the salesman and other leadership in place.

A larger inventory of vehicles has also been made available, making the local dealership one of the fastest growing in the area for certain manufacturers like Chevy and Ford. Other improvements such as computer upgrades have also been made at the dealership.

Those considering purchasing a vehicle or in need of repairs are encouraged to visit the new Briggs Auto Group located on Highway 69 in Fort Scott.


Captured Images displays new renovations at open house

In recent weeks, changes have come to the downtown Captured Images photo studio as Gary and Kylene Palmer renovated their place of business in order to improve its appearance as well as the services they provide.

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“I’ve been in the studio business for 20 years this October,” photographer Gary Palmer said, adding there had not been significant changes made to their Fort Scott office during that time. “We were due for a refresher.”

To celebrate the renovations, Captured Images held an Open House Friday, welcoming visitors to come and see the changes.

In past months, the front space of the studio had been shared with other area businesses. But when those leases expired, Palmer said they decided to make changes to the front that would let customers and those walking by know they are there and what quality of services they offer.

Those changes came in the form of replacing old carpet with wood floors, adding new coats of paints and other features to the studio, including new shooting bays to provide more portrait options more quickly. Old photography equipment on display gives the building a vintage feel that Palmer said they wanted in their studio.

“Everything’s been redesigned or rebuilt,” Palmer said of the studio.

They also added a consultation room where customers can sit comfortably and view their photos on a screen as well as see options for sizes and styles of their portrait prints.

Photographic artwork will also be rotated through the front of the studio for visitors to view while items such as jewelry, frames, art prints and other retro items and gifts will be available for purchase as well, a new addition for Captured Images.

With the Open House, Palmer said they are also offering special deals, such as up to 50 percent off sessions booked between now and July 15, with the session paid for in advance. More information on portrait options and prices can be found at their website:

“I love it,” Palmer said of his job for almost the past 20 years. “This is where my passion is.”

City thanks Norris Heating and AC for donation

It will now be more comfortable for residents and visitors to use shelter house #5 at Gunn Park throughout the year after Norris Heating and Air Conditioning donated and installed an air unit in the building.

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The city of Fort Scott recognized and thanked the local business Thursday with a plaque on the wall of the shelter house during the businesses customer appreciation lunch.

“We appreciate your business here in Fort Scott and we appreciate your community support,” Fort Scott Mayor JoLynne Mitchell said.

City Manager Dave Martin said it is businesses like Norris Heating and Air Conditioning that help smaller cities like Fort Scott thrive by being active in the community and supporting it in whatever ways they can.

“It’s very nice and I know it’s being used by a lot of people,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lindsay Madison said of the addition to the shelter, pointing out it has already been used for events this summer.

Andy Norris said his family and their business has been a part of the city of Fort Scott for many years and they were happy to have the opportunity to provide heating and air for the shelter house, a goal of the city for the past five or six years.

“The park means a lot to us,” Norris said. “The community means a lot to us.”

The business also used the event as a chance to express their appreciation to the “best customers,” according to Norris, who said those customers have made it possible for the Norris family to continue the business, earn a living and serve the community.

Norris’ father Phillip also expressed his gratitude to the city for making the park so attractive to visitors through their maintenance and other improvements.


Velocity Tactics holds Grand Opening of Wall Street storefront

Since 2015, Velocity Tactics and Fort Scott Munitions, business endeavors started by Ryan Kraft, have sold lead-free ammunition through online sales. But with their Grand Opening held Saturday, their storefront at 523 E. Wall Street is officially open for customers as well.

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Office Manager Steven Kalm said the store has been open to the general public for about four months, but they did not want to widely publicize that fact until after their computer systems and new website were completely ready. With the Grand Opening during the Good Ol’ Days weekend and advertising through their website and Facebook page, Kalm said word has spread quickly, surprising many people who did not realize they sold more than ammunition.

Velocity Tactics provides tactical clothing, pellet grills, firearms, suppressors, knives and beef as well as lead-free ammunition in a wide range of caliber, designed and developed for more than three years and now manufactured by Fort Scott Munitions. The store also features a 13-foot alligator and other stuffed animals given to the store by hunters who used the ammunition, which is designed for greater accuracy, impact and damage.

“We’ve had real positive feedback,” Kalm said of their opening, which drew a long line of people Saturday interested in ammunition giveaways and the approximate 650 free hamburgers that were handed out to customers.

Kalm said the business has made great strides on the property, which was once the Key Industries building, improving the parking area as well as preparing the store and manufacturing areas of the building for Velocity Tactics and Fort Scott Munitions. As business continues to grow, Kalm said they look forward to tailoring their services to their customers and Fort Scott.

“Slowly we’ll add little by little,” Kalm said of Velocity Tactics, adding he believes their business will continue to grow as customers return and word spreads.

The store is currently open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will be open this Saturday for the first time from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those Saturday hours could be adjusted based on how much business the weekend hours draw in.

Papa Don’s celebrates 20 years in Fort Scott

This week, Papa Don’s restaurant in downtown Fort Scott celebrated its 20th anniversary in the city, where it continues to provide pizza and other menu items and services to the community on a daily basis.

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“I’d like to sincerely congratulate you guys from the chamber and the community on your 20 years of service to Fort Scott,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lindsay Madison said.

Named after current general manager Brita Rygmyr’s grandfather, who helped finance the family’s endeavor, Papa Don’s has changed locations and owners but has been in its current location for the past five years. Rygmyr said they enjoy being in what she called a quaint downtown and such a short distance from the Fort Scott National Historic Site.

“We’re happy to be back here,” Rygmyr said of their arrival in Fort Scott, which first came in 1991 before the family’s decision to sell the business in 2005, only to buy it again in 2011. “We love it.”

After her family was part of the A&W restaurant business for the 20 years, Rygmyr said her family opened the pizza restaurant with her mother’s secret dough recipe and came to Fort Scott at the invitation of the city manager at the time.

“A lot of things that we do is in-house, which is very time-consuming,” Rygmyr said of their services, which include making dough and pizza sauce from scratch each day and grinding their own cheese.

New additions have also come to the menu as Papa Don’s tries to provide for all customers by adding gluten-free items and other menu options for vegans as well as take-and-bake pizzas that can be picked up and then baked at home. Papa Don’s also provides catering and has a back room that can be rented for parties or other events either by the hour or for the price of the food and drinks provided for the visitors.

Fort Scott City Manager Dave Martin congratulated Rygmyr and Papa Don’s for their years of existence and expressed his appreciation for their involvement in the community such as through hosting downtown meetings.

“You have a lot of vision and energy and you love Fort Scott,” Martin complimented Rygmyr and her team at Papa Don’s. “Thank you for being here because it’s helping everybody.”

Other announcements made Thursday during the weekly Chamber Coffee event included:

  • Friday at 5:30 p.m., a groundbreaking ceremony will be held at Gunn Park shelter #7, rain or shine, for the new dog park.
  • Saturday through Monday, the Fort Scott National Historic Site will host live history events in honor of Memorial Day.
  • The summer feeding program begins Tuesday at three locations in Fort Scott; My Father’s House, the senior citizens’ center and the Keyhole. The program will provide free meals to children through July 29, while My Father’s House will also be allowed to feed the parents and have an area on hand for games or reading for the children. At each location, children can submit their name into a drawing for a free bicycle.
  • Friday and Saturday, June 3-4, Fort Scott will host the annual Good Ol’ Days event with a parade, vendors, booths, live music and carnival rides.
  • On Friday June 10, Elks Lodge and the Chamber of Commerce will hold a steak dinner fundraiser together to raise money for the community fireworks.
  • On July 16, My Father’s House will hold a pancake feed fundraiser to raise funds for the fall, school supply program for students, grade 6-12.

Fort Scott celebrates opening of Lowell Milken Center

Despite storms rolling through Fort Scott Tuesday morning, a large number of Fort Scott residents as well as visitors attended the opening ceremony for the new location of the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes located on Main Street.

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“This is a joyous day and event for the Lowell Milken Center,” Executive Director Norm Conard said, expressing appreciation to a number of people who participated in the completion of the project, including city leaders, LMC employees, construction team members as well as the students and teachers who completed the projects on exhibit.

Speakers during the ceremony included Fort Scott Director of Economic Development Heather Smith, Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson, LMC Fellow Dyane Smokorowski, Unsung Hero Ken Reinhardt and founder Lowell Milken.

Milken said he has traveled around the nation and even internationally to speak about the center, its exhibits and the project-based learning it encourages, which has influenced about one million participating students and reached about 80 countries. While meeting with so many people, Milken said the question most frequently asked concerns the decision to have the center located in Fort Scott, Kan.

“I believe that this center could only have been born out of a community that values education, diversity and history,” Milken said, saying the city has welcomed the center and its vision gladly.

Watson said the rich values of Southeast Kansas also provide a perfect backdrop for the center that encourages the development of students’ character, civic engagement, their own conscientiousness and importance of giving back to the community.

Kansas teacher Smokorowski said the center is an ideal place for teachers, superintendents and students to visit in order to learn and be inspired by the lives of Unsung Heroes, adding she cannot wait to see how it impacts students.

Smith said after the downtown fire in 2005, she could not think of a better organization to rise from those ashes than the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes. Smith said Fort Scott can be proud to be the home of the center, which she said is much more than bricks and mortar.

“Who are the real unsung heroes?” Reinhardt asked during the ceremony, saying he believes the students bringing him and other heroes out from anonymity deserve the title as well.

Milken said he believes history is never a done deal, as is evident by the LMC exhibits that portray the lives of people whose positive and widespread impacts were overlooked by history books.

“It’s sad to say that in an age of instant gratification and self-absorption, the concept of hero is often turned on its head,” Milken said, saying fame has become the definition of heroism. “This is the wrong message for our young people, in fact, for all citizens. Instead, the message we want to convey is that real heroes tower and guide. They are the North Star that today’s youth can look up to. But their stories need to be discovered and told.”

Visitors to the new center and its Hall of Unsung Heroes can now witness some of those examples of heroism through the interactive exhibits.


Lowell Milken Center Grand Opening festivities kick off

After months of planning, construction and preparing, the new location for the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes is finally ready for its grand opening, which began Monday with discussions with and presentations by visiting educators, students and even some of the Unsung Heroes featured in the new center’s exhibits.

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Monday’s activities included presentations by students and their teachers, referred to as LMC fellows, opportunities to meet surviving unsung heroes of projects as well as a panel discussion with educators from around the nation on the topic of why such projects are useful to them and their students.

Dyane Smokoroski, a middle school language arts teacher in Kansas, said teachers often have two goals, to help students be better students than they thought they could be and help build them into good citizens for the community. Smokoroski said the Unsung Heroes projects help accomplish those goals by giving students the opportunity to learn about role models other than the more common athletes or celebrities students might admire.

“These projects are so impactful,” said Rich Meserve, a teacher to at-risk youths in Maine, saying the impact reaches around the world by bringing attention to the unsung heroes but also is relevant and meaningful to individual students who may not otherwise be excited about their education.

Maddy Hanington, a Maryland teacher who works with students with learning disabilities or who are part of minority groups in their area, said her students gain confidence and a louder voice through their projects.

Teacher Nate Mcalister said the students take ownership of the project as they do the extensive research necessary, becoming experts on the individuals they select. Teacher Brad LaDuc, who with student Alexis Balaun shared a documentary project, said helping students with their projects has been one of his best experiences as a teacher as he sees the teens go from students, to collaborators in the project and eventually teachers through their presentations.

LMC Executive Director Norm Conard expressed his appreciation and admiration for the large number of educators helping their students through the projects, which are fun but also take a lot of work.

Attendees at Monday’s events got a taste of the projects that will be on display in the new center, which will be open to visitors after the ribbon-cutting event Tuesday morning. Many in the audience were driven to tears as they watched documentaries or witnessed presentations on individuals who stood up against injustice and did good in their lives.

Unsung Heroes present for the events Tuesday included Therese Frare, Ken Reinhardt, Ann Williams Wedaman and Harry Hue.

Festivities continue on Tuesday with the grand opening ceremony at 10 a.m. on Main Street in downtown Fort Scott. Guests include the Kansas governor, Kansas Commissioner of Education, the founder of the center and other participants in its development.

Career Exploration Mentor Program Completes Third Year

Submitted by Lindsay Madison, May 6

Spring of 2014, the City of Fort Scott, Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce and Fort Scott High School formed a Career Exploration Mentor Program with the objective for mentors to serve as a source of knowledge and support in an effort to enhance the student’s opportunity for personal development and workforce exploration and prepare them to be career-ready upon graduation.

Photo Submitted by Lindsay Madison
Photo Submitted by Lindsay Madison

Fort Scott businesses have a variety of career opportunities available, and over the past few years have had a limited pool of qualified applicants to fill those positions. After the City and Chamber met with a group of students in the Fall of 2013, it was identified that many students would like to stay in Fort Scott after graduating, but are not fully aware of the employers in Fort Scott, what services and products the businesses produce and how they can make a good living working for those companies.

The Career Exploration Mentor Program was created to benefit students in exploring careers matched to their skills and interests, providing support to create resumes, filling out applications, preparing for interviews and reviewing appropriate questions to ask, learning how to be a successful employee, identifying college programs and scholarships available, or at times simply being a person the student can have for advice on school and life issues.

Mentors are community members that volunteer to be a part of the program and, after passing a background check, are matched with juniors and seniors that are interested in the program and approved through Fort Scott High School teachers Lisa Ward and Jane Campbell.

During the 2015-2016 school year, there were 12 matches of mentors and students who were encouraged to meet twice a month individually, with several group activities also held including a presentation by Colleen Quick, Human Resources Manager for Carlisle Belts by Timken, on interviewing and completing applications, a tour of window manufacturer Peerless Products, and an end-of- year cookout at Gunn Park and presentation of certificates of participation.

Community members and students interested in participating in the program for the 2016-2017 school year may contact Lisa Ward at or Jane Campbell at, or call the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce at 620-223- 3566.

Participants in the program for 2015/2016 school year included:


Jessica Allison

Holly Baker

Craig Campbell

Jessica Collier

Jessica Cook

Lynette Emmerson

Robert Goltra

Jody Hoener

Jared Leek

Gregg Motley

Lauren Stanley

Kenny Wunderly


Lorenza Burris

Trevor Davis

Korbyn Gourd

Lexi Kruger

Alexis Loden

Stormy Lowry

Ryan Miller

Kyle Primeaux

Jessica Stedman

Seth Weber

Skylar Winningham

Lindzee Woodall

Golf Course holds ribbon-cutting ceremony for new clubhouse

After years of changes at the Woodland Hills Golf Course, from ownership to appearance, members of the Chamber of Commerce and the community celebrated another accomplishment with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the recently completed clubhouse.

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“This is what a community can do when they set their sights to work together to make something nice and better in Fort Scott,” City Manager Dave Martin said of the clubhouse as well as the entire golf course project.

Martin said he first heard suggestions when he entered his position in 2010 that the city should purchase the golf course to keep it from going to waste or getting in worse shape. Others advised the city not get involved, but when no one else stepped up, Martin said the community should raise money if they agreed the city should become the owners. Members of the community responded by raising about $350,000.

Martin and Fort Scott Director of Finance Jon Garrison expressed appreciation to a number of people who played key roles in raising that funding and making the golf course improvements and changes a reality.

With the funding available, the city made the purchase and then a variety of improvements were made as the city worked to improve the appearance of the course as well as its marketing, adding PGA Tour professional Shannon O’Neill as the clubhouse manager in the last month.

“I’m very happy to be here,” O’Neill said, saying he looks forward to adding even more services to the golf course such as through a driving range and giving lessons.

Already, O’Neill said they have started taking steps to create a new scramble league that could meet Tuesday nights starting in May. A scramble event will also be held over the Memorial Day weekend. Over the next couple months, other businesses and organizations in Fort Scott will also hold fundraising tournaments at the course.

“The product is good,” O’Neill said of Woodland Hills. “It’s a good golf course…There’s something worthwhile here to sell.”

The new clubhouse is another accomplishment that adds to that product, as it offers a place even for non-golfers to spend time and purchase drinks. The old clubhouse was demolished in the past month with just rubble remaining.

“Congratulations to the city and the entire community for the wonderful facility,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lindsay Madison said. “Get out and enjoy it.”


CJ’s Closet now open in Fort Scott

What was once Vette’s at 605 S. National Ave., has seen changes in recent weeks as Chuck and Connie Harper purchased the business, made changes and have now reopened it for customers as CJ’s Closet.

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Connie said her friend and former school mate had owned Vette’s and let her know when they decided to sell the business. Even though Connie had not even considered running her own business, she decided she could not turn down the offer.

“It really wasn’t something I was looking for,” said Connie, who is from Fort Scott and has spent years in nursing as well as with foster care. “We thought it’d be an interesting adventure.”

Unlike Vette’s, CJ’s Closet is a consignment shop as well as a thrift store that will sell men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories and may expand to include some furniture in the future.

“I thought it was a good idea,” Connie said. “Not everybody likes to garage sale.”

CJ’s Closet opened to customers Saturday and Connie said business has already been pretty good since then.

Store hours are Monday – Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The store will remain closed on Sundays. Donations of clothing are welcomed.

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