Category Archives: Fort Scott

Mentor Program looks for more participants

For a third year, Fort Scott High School has partnered with leaders and other members of the community in a mentor program that allows upper-classmen to meet with adult mentors throughout their school year.

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This school year, 12 students have been paired with adults, including some who work at Mercy Hospital, the Medicalodges, area banks and restaurants and other places of business. But Jessica Cook, marketing, relations and events coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce, said they still have students who would like to participate, but the program is short on mentors.

“We’re always looking for more people to be mentors,” Cook said, saying their requirements are that the mentors have time to meet with the students at least twice a month though they are encouraged to interact further if possible, such as by bringing the student to their place of business.

On Thursday, mentors and high school students gathered during a lunch break at the high school to hear Colleen Quick, human resources manager at Carlisle Belts, share advice about how to apply for a job and write a resume.

Students, some of whom said they had never held a job previously, were given tips such as to dress appropriately for an interview, be courteous, turn off cell phones, research the company, come prepared to ask and answer questions and send a thank you note or email after an interview. She also said resumes should be written carefully and include experiences such as school, church and community activities, even if the students had never had a job.

“That’s your opportunity to sell yourself,” Quick said of the resume.

Cook said they plan to hold such meetings in the future, as more group gatherings was one of the requests from past students involved in the program.

G & W Foods provides variety of services to community

During the weekly Chamber Coffee, G & W Foods informed visitors of the numerous services they provide to their customers.

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“We do just about everything,” said Shawn O’Brien of G & W Foods, listing options such as fresh meat daily, organic foods, catering, cake decorating and a full-service deli.

Each day of the week, the grocery store provides specials such as senior discounts or sales on specific food items such as bananas and chicken. For those who follow their Facebook page, further deals are offered weekly. Those with fuel cards can also save 2 cents per gallon at the gas station or 12 cents off per gallon for those who spend $100 in the store.

O’Brien said customer service is especially important to the 40 employees of the store, which was Gene’s Heartlands before being purchased by G & W Foods in August.

“We’re here to help you guys as our customers,” O’Brien said, saying they would not be open without the support of their customers.

G & W Foods also participates in Partners in Education, which allows customers to save receipts and give them to their schools, which will then receive a percentage of the total purchase cost.

Other announcements include:

  • Mercy Hospital will be partnering with Country Place Living to provide a Virtual Dementia Tour Monday and Tuesday to help those who may be caring for loved ones with dementia.
  • To celebrate Kansas Day on Jan. 29, certain Chamber of Commerce businesses will donate five percent of their sales to the Dolly the Trolley fundraiser.
  • The Dancing with our Stars Rotary Club fundraiser will be held Feb. 20, featuring 10 couples. The Lyons couple is currently holding a fundraiser in advance, selling homemade enchiladas through Jan. 29.
  • Skitch’s Hauling and Excavation continues to provide services for those in need of ice-melting or snow-plowing.

Community honors Martin Luther King Day with panel discussion on racism

During a panel discussion held at the Fort Scott Community College Monday, members of the community were able to hear comments from and ask questions of panelists who had each suffered from racism in different areas of life over the years.

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“One way to honor Martin Luther King is to have good, honest conversations,” moderator Jared Witt said, saying it is an especially crucial time to hold such discussions because of recent events inspired by racism.

Dr. Larry Seals of Mercy Hospital, FSCC basketball coach Michael Cook and Fort Scott High School graduate and military member Carol Bakke shared of times when they were called racial slurs or treated poorly because of their skin color or country they were raised in.

“A lot of times, when you talk about racism, people don’t want to be honest,” Seals said, saying that fact almost discouraged him from being a part of the panel. “Racism as a whole, it’s still in existence.”

Cook recalled a time when he was the only African-American coach in his conference and had to deal with other coaches mistreating or ignoring him. Bakke said her first year of school in the United States after returning from Mexico as a teenager was difficult as others called her names or assumed she was an illegal immigrant. While deployed overseas, however, Bakke said she was looked down on instead for being a woman and an American by those from other countries.

When asked how he thought people could move beyond racism, Seals said that is difficult for many people since they were raised with that mindset and judge people based solely on the color of their skin.

“If you can treat people with respect and dignity, you’ll find out they’re so much more,” Seals said, saying it is important for people to treat others the way they want to be treated.

Cook said he encourages his players to get to know each other and their different cultures so they can accept them, even if it is uncomfortable at times. Panelists also agreed it is important to begin teaching children in the home that racism is unacceptable.

USD 234 Superintendent Bob Beckham asked the panelists what they thought Martin Luther King would think if he saw the current state of the United States, and they readily agreed that they believed he would be pleased with what he saw.

“I think he would be happy with the progress we’ve made,” Seals said—pointing out achievements such as the acceptance of biracial marriages, the election of an African-American as president and a general decrease in violence—but adding there is still a long way to go.

Cook said he believed King would say that the holiday named after him is for all people, not just African-Americans, just as racism is not just a one-sided issue, but one that needs to be dealt with by all people.

“My heart’s heavy,” Witt said at the close of the panel discussion, saying he was saddened by some of the experiences the panelists shared and other tragedies that have happened around the country. “But I’m also inspired.”

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Cold weather affects local business

Weekend temperatures dipped well below the freezing point, even bringing some snow flurries to Fort Scott Sunday morning, having an impact on a local business that cannot provide their services with such cold weather.

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The Typhoon Bay car wash on National Avenue has had cones blocking their bays in recent days because the weather has been too cold, someone at the place of business explained Monday, adding some of the equipment only works when temperatures are at least about 27 or 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Temperatures are forecast to reach above freezing once again this week, but Tuesday and Thursday also hold chances for snow and ice, which could potentially lead to adverse conditions on the roads.

Fort Scott High School Debate Team finds success in state tournament

Submitted by Amber Toth, Jan. 18

We won! This weekend Fort Scott High School competed in the 4A State Debate Tournament in two divisions.

Photo Credit: Amber Toth
Photo Credit: Amber Toth

Our first place regional team consisting of Seth Cross (2nd year debater/Junior), Zach Humble (3rd year debater/Jr) , Isabella Provence (2nd year debater/Soph), Joe Adams (2nd year debater/Soph), and Breana Mooney (3rd year debater/Jr.) took 1st place, beating out Bishop Meige and Sumner Academy.

It was a hard-fought battle, but our young team beat the state champions from last year.

We also competed in the 2-speaker division. The team of Charlotte Hutchison (4-year Sr.) and Sebastian Loyd (4-year Sr.) only dropped one round in preliminaries and went into double-octo-finals in 4th place. They were able to win the double octo-final round and proceed to the octo-final round. Unfortunately, they dropped to Tonganoxie in a 2-1 decision, placing them in the top 16 out of 72 teams in the state.

Tayton Majors (2nd year/Soph.) and Sara Al-Shawish (2nd year/ Soph.) were a couple of speaker points from breaking into elimination rounds. The teams of Darby Toth (2nd yr Soph.)/ Rebekah Sweyko (Freshman) and Suzi Owen (2nd year Jr.)/Hunter Parker (2nd year/Jr), had to make major adjustments the week of state by obtaining new partners. Considering the circumstances, they did an amazing job. They were both able to pick up at least two rounds. Rebekah and Darby had better speaker points than many of the teams that did break into elimination rounds. I am so proud of these four. They took on almost insurmountable odds the week of state and did their very best for not only themselves, but also for their team.

Also qualifying for state were sophomore Jake Province, who was ill, freshman Ethan Tatro, and senior Garrett Tatro.


FSHS Thespians Attend State Conference, Earn Awards

Submitted by Angela Bin, Jan. 13

Members of the Fort Scott High School Thespians Chapter #7365 attended the annual Kansas State Thespian Conference, Jan. 7-9, in Wichita.  The conference was attended by over 1,400 theatre students from across the state.

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Photo credit: Angela Bin

Eighteen members of the troupe attended award-winning theatrical performances and participated in a variety of performance and technical theatre workshops.  Students, along with Thespian Sponsor Angie Bin, participated in such varied classes as Prosthetic Makeup for the Stage and Screen, West African Dancing, and Auditioning for Commercial and Film, among many others.

Troupe president, Suzi Owen, presented the troupe scrapbook and interviewed for “Honor Chapter” status.  The FSHS troupe received a trophy for achieving the Bronze Level of Achievement.

The troupe competed in several group events and received a 3rd Place trophy for Speed Charades.  Students also competed in Improvised Acting and Creative Costuming.

Senior Nate Mead and junior Suzi Owen competed in the musical duet category with the song “Back of the Bus” from Band Geeks the musical.  Junior Cire’ Miller performed a musical solo of “Bless the Lord” from Godspell the musical. Freshmen Brooklyn Lyons and Alyx Brooks performed a duet acting scene from The Bad Seed and freshman Hunter Adamson and junior Hunter Parker performed a duet from Wait Until Dark.  Sophomore Kiel Hall, junior Briant Martin, and freshman Daniela Belcuore performed a group acting scene fromThomas.  Sophomore Jake Provence also submitted his short film for competition.

FSHS Thespians also had the unique opportunity to view the United States premiere of James and the Giant Peach the musical with a cast of leading student actors from across the state.

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Highlands Apartments provides affordable housing for low-income families

During the most recent Chamber Coffee, Andrea Ramm of the Highlands Apartments provided information about the housing available to Fort Scott residents who meet the income requirements, while also displaying one of the apartments for tours.

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The complex has been in the community since 2003 and has 48 units of two- and 3-bedroom apartments with washer and dryer hookups and other amenities. The complex also holds regular community events such as monthly potlucks for the residents.

The complex is income-restricted, with residents required to make no more than 60 percent of the median household income, which for a one-person family is currently under $26,000, increasing for additional family members.

Currently, the apartments are offering move-in specials of $200 off the first month’s rent and no application fee for those wanting to move into the complex.

“It’s a wonderful place and we need to have it filled,” said Lindsay Madison, director of the chamber of commerce.

Heather Smith was also recognized for serving as the president of the Young Professionals League for the past two years. She is now the treasurer of the group that meets monthly.

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Other announcements included:

  • Fort Scott and the Fort Scott High School booster club will host the annual youth basketball tournament this weekend, with about 29 teams participating in games at different school gyms as well as the Buck Run Community Center.
  • On Sunday, the Common Ground Coffee Co. will host a going-away event, 12-2 p.m., for the previous manager Dav Mohler. Visitors are encouraged to bring finger foods to the event.
  • Country Place Senior Living, the assisted living facilities being constructed near Horton and 9th streets, is partnering with Mercy Hospital to host a virtual dementia tour to help those who may have friends or family members with dementia. The hospital will host the event Monday and Tuesday, January 25 and 26.
  • After completing recent renovations, Bids & Dibs will hold after hours Thursday, Jan. 28, in order to display recent changes as well as additions to their stock.
  • Common Ground Coffee Co. will host a concert by a Fort Scott Middle School teacher Friday evening, Jan. 29.
  • Care to Share will hold a pool tournament fundraiser at the Holmtown Pub with a silent auction on January 30. Registration is $20 in advance and $30 at the door.
  • Preparations are being made for the Arts Festival to be held in Fort Scott, April 7-9. Businesses and organizations are encouraged to share details with the community to increase the interest and involvement in the event.

Work on Quiet Zone continues

In the past month, work began on preparing the intersection at Main Street and the railroad tracks for a Quiet Zone that will prevent trains from blowing their horns within a quarter of a mile of the intersection.

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Public Works Manager Chad Brown said Wednesday that contractors have completed a new portion of roadway running north towards the animal control facility, the curb work along the north and south sides of Wall Street are finished and only some of the sidewalk remains.

Thursday morning, equipment began tearing up some of the street in preparation for the center median. Lanes remained open despite the road work.

After that remaining construction is completed, Brown said the traffic lines will be painted and required signage put in place. Leading up to the project, City Manager Dave Martin said the quiet zone is expected to be complete by the summer.

School Board receives audit report, update on bond project

USD 234 received a positive report from certified public accountant Terry Sercer during their meeting Tuesday evening, saying they found no issues with the school district’s financial statements.

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“You have pretty healthy cash balances,” Sercer said, saying part of that is because of the recently approved bond projects.

The audit verified the school’s financial statements by checking accounts, receipts and checks, while also making sure the results were in compliance with state statutes and federal law. Sercer told the board they received an unqualified opinion, as well as no federal or state violations, resulting in “three stars out of three” for the audit report.

Sercer said such a positive report is never a guarantee for any organization and that the cooperation and courtesy provided by the school administration helped make the process easier for him.

Superintendent Bob Beckham also gave the board an update on the bond projects, saying bids were approved from different local and out-of-town contractors while those same contractors have received approval to move forward with the projects.

“Finally the fuse is lit,” Bekham said, saying fences have been going up at some of the different schools in preparation for the equipment that could be brought in as early as this week.

Already, drawings are complete for the some of the different projects while concepts have been approved according to fire codes and for traffic flow, which might face changes in the upcoming months. In upcoming weeks, a plan for the remodeling of the school auditorium could be available as well.

“It’s finally time,” Beckham said, saying he has been excited to hear the sound of jackhammers working at the school. “We’re finally ready to build things now.”

Other school board members expressed their pleasure at seeing the fences being raised and said they look forward to seeing work done within them. But throughout the entire project, those members asked that the community be patient and understanding as changes are made and the schools have to make adjustments accordingly.

Homecoming royalty accept crowns while Tigers protect the court

Between the first varsity basketball games of 2016, Fort Scott High School named their homecoming king and queen Friday evening while the boys’ team clinched a win against the Labette County High School Grizzlies.

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Abigail Denton was crowned homecoming queen while Vince Tome accepted the crown as homecoming king of the spring semester coronation. Other candidates included Bailie Brown, Maggie Findley, Karlea Harris, Madeline McCoy, Aaron Baugher, Austin Cook, Garret Tatro and Carter Young. Nathan Mintz and Aubrie McGhee participated in the event as the little people, carrying the crown and tiara.

The Fort Scott Tigers boys’ team then protected the court against the Grizzlies, holding onto the lead for a 54-46 win despite a persistent Grizzlies team that fought until the final minutes, trailing by just five minutes in the fourth quarter. The win brought the Tigers to a 2-4 overall record.

Senior Kaleb DeLaTorre led the team with 19 points while seniors Marcus Stepps and Josh Hudiburg added 10 and eight points, respectively. The Tigers led by as much as 11 points in the fourth quarter, their defense preventing the Grizzlies from scoring in the first almost four minutes of the quarter.

The lady Tigers team was unable to come away with a win, however, as they faced the undefeated Grizzlies, whose defense stifled the Tigers and forced numerous turnovers in the Tigers’ 67-36 loss, giving them a 2-4 record

The Tigers could not stop sophomore Tristan Gegg, who scored 29 points with four three-pointers, while Erica Gartner added 12 points on four three-pointers. The Tigers’ sophomore Madison Cook led the team with 12 points while senior Ashley Cook had nine.

Chamber of Commerce hosts first Chamber Coffee of 2016

During the first Chamber Coffee of the new year, the Chamber of Commerce introduced staff and new and returning board members to local business leaders of the community, also summarizing accomplishments from 2015 and announcing upcoming 2016 events.

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“We do have an exciting year coming up,” chamber coffee hostess Rita Baker of Mercy Hospital said, saying the chamber will hold a strategic planning meeting soon to continue planning out the new year.

Baker said the chamber currently has 385 members, whose fees allow the chamber to hold events throughout the year. In 2015, the chamber organized events such as Fort Scott’s first Manufacturing Day, the third year of the high school mentoring program, the first three-species hunt, the opening of the LaRoche Baseball Complex and fundraisers such as the annual Golf Classic and Forks and Corks events.

Baker encouraged members to stay involved in such local events and invite others to join.

Fort Scott City Manager Dave Martin said he has spoken with members of other communities who ask why new businesses come to Fort Scott, and said he believes it is because of the cooperation between the businesses and other entities such as the college and school districts with the leadership of the Chamber of Commerce.

“I just want everybody to realize how important the chamber is,” Martin said.

Upcoming events or needs in the community include:

  • The LEAD Bourbon County course begins Thursday with the Chamber Coffee and will meet monthly over the next 10 months. Those still interested in joining can sign up and the Young Professionals League has a scholarship available.
  • The Fitness Center at Mercy Hospital in Fort Scott is currently waiving new membership fees for those interested in joining.
  • The Fort Scott National Historic Site will be in need of employees by the summer, accepting applications from high school students and adults.
  • First United Methodist Church will be hosting medical screenings next Thursday against the possibility of a stroke.
  • The Fort Scott Community College will host a Martin Luther King Day luncheon in honor of the holiday.
  • On February 9, at 1 p.m., the Fort Scott National Historic Site will host a class on how to properly burn pastures.
  • The Rotary Club will host their Dancing with our Stars fundraiser event on February 26, but are still looking for couples who may be interested in participating.
  • Country singer and Kansan Lucas Maddy will perform at the Liberty Theatre, March 6.

City Commission approves airport five-year plan, change in election schedule

During their first meeting of 2016, the Fort Scott City Commission approved the area airport’s five-year plan, including a variety of projects to be completed from 2017 to 2021.

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Airport Manager Kenny Howard presented the capital improvement plan to the commission, which will then be submitted in order to receive federal grants to help cover the costs. Projects included replacing runway and taxiway edge lighting systems, land acquisition and runway extension.

Howard said the Federal Aviation Administration scores projects and  distributes funding based on those scores. If they do not receive as much funding as they would like, they will focus on projects they consider a priority and postpone others.

The total cost of the projects will likely reach more than $2 million, with about 10 percent of the fees being paid for locally.

The commission also agreed to a change in local election schedules after a recent decision by the state requires elections to be held during the November elections instead of the more common spring election, beginning during the November 2017 election.

While having a spring election meant the city had to pay extra for the separate ballots, city attorney Bob Farmer said most local government entities chose that schedule because it kept the local elections from being overlooked during November elections.

“Most of the counties felt that it was worthwhile because of the importance of the election,” Farmer said of discussions he participated in on the topic. “What we had worked fine, but a lot of things are being driven by pure economics now.”

Mayor Cindy Bartelsmeyer said she heard similar discussions during meetings she attended during the previous summer, and she heard many municipalities speak against the change, which will be applied to school boards as well.

Farmer said the state considered making the elections partisan, but decided against that change.

The current elected officials will continue in office through the November 2017 election, with new terms beginning in January of 2018. Lengths of terms and how many are elected at a time will remain the same after that point.

The commission approved the change with a 4-1 vote, with member Lucas Cosens voting against it.