Category Archives: Fort Scott

Train whistles to cease soon at Quiet Zone

The first stage of a project begun months ago now nears its completion as the quiet zone construction project in Fort Scott wraps up at the intersection of Wall Street with the railroad tracks.

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Fort Scott City Manager Dave Martin said Wednesday that the city had submitted a letter stating the project was complete to Burlington Northern Railway and was nearing the end of the waiting period for approval. If that approval is granted, trains could stop blowing their whistles within a quarter mile to the north and south of that intersection at almost any time.

Martin said businesses located on that side of town have looked forward to this quiet zone for some time. In the future, such zones could also be installed at other major intersections.

“A long time coming,” Martin described the project, saying it had been in the city’s plans for years.

The project included putting in curbing and sidewalks at the intersection and adding a median. The road located at the northwest corner of the intersection was also paved while another road was relocated.

Trains may still blow their whistle if they stop to take on or let off workers.

Martin also said with the warmer weather, work on the National Avenue project has picked up as more equipment is regularly seen in the area where the road is closed for construction.

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“That project, everybody forgot, was scheduled to be a year-long project because they are replacing everything,” Martin said, installing large pipes and also improving curbing and drainage.

Martin said the crews have run into a lot of rock but they still plan to be completely done by August.

Memory Care facility opens for residents with ribbon-cutting

The Chamber of Commerce and city of Fort Scott welcomed the Country Place Memory Care facility at an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday evening as construction and inspections completed during the prior week, making it ready for residents.

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Visitors to the new building on Horton Street could tour the facility, which includes 12 suites, three key-padded entrances, a kitchen where they prepare their own meals, living and activity areas as well as a fenced-in area where residents can enjoy being outside.

“I love what Country Place is,” director Darcy Sinn said, saying it provides a high and customized level of care to residents with dementia or other memory problems.

The home currently has four staff along with the director, though that number could grow as more residents move in. The facility can also provide day services for families that need a relative to be taken care of for just a day.

“We’re incredibly excited to be here and see this project come to fruition,” Director of Economic Development Heather Smith said, saying this was one of the first projects she began working on when she took her position three years ago.

Chamber Director Lindsay Madison pointed out that many people were involved in the project, as it moved from considering Fort Scott to finding a location and beginning construction.

“Things like this don’t happen overnight,” City Manager Dave Martin said, adding he is proud to work with the city and the chamber in partnering with local and new businesses such as Country Place.

The location in Fort Scott is the 12th Country Place location in Kansas. With its completion, work will begin on the Country Place Senior Living facility to be located next-door, which will have 26 units.

Fort Scott prepares for Arts and Ideas Festival

In just over a month, Fort Scott will provide a new opportunity to members of and visitors to the community as they host the inaugural 2nd Story Festival of Arts and Ideas event, April 8 and 9.

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Local pastor Jared Witt helped initiate the planning for the event after being inspired by similar opportunities his family saw available to the public when they went on vacation to New York last year.

“I’ve been thinking about community development for a long time,” Witt said during the March Young Professionals League meeting held Friday at Papa Don’s, promoting the event and encouraging young professionals to be involved.

Witt said he believes many Fort Scott residents either wish their city were a little bigger or that the community was a little more interesting. While that first thought is a negative one and not beneficial, Witt said he thinks people can help better the community by focusing on the latter idea.

With that goal in mind, Witt began working with Fort Scott Director of Economic Development Heather Smith to bring a festival combining both the arts and entrepreneurship to the community.

“It’s much bigger than what I thought it would be,” Witt said, saying a federal grant of $7,000 and matching grants from local groups such as the arts council, city of Fort Scott and the local community foundation has allowed it to include more than they originally had hoped.

Witt said they combined the arts and innovative entrepreneurship because both require a level of creativity and can inspire each other. Smith added the combination encourages people to think differently in both category to better their hobby or business.

“I think there’s a lot they have in common,” Witt said.

The Friday night of the event will focus on the innovative side of the weekend, including an entrepreneur panel of successful business people as well as artists available to answer questions, to be followed by a roundtable discussion focusing on business planning, sources of capital, marketing strategies and the legal structures of having a business. The first evening will end with a reception and opportunity for networking.

Saturday’s creative events will include sessions on book publishing and literature, culinary arts, watercolor, poetry, photography and fashion, pottery and a luncheon featuring Marc Willson discussing Art as a Business. The festival finale will include treats and an art sale and time to mingle with artists.

Friday’s event will cost goers $10 while access to Saturday’s events cost $10 per person but with added fees for those participating in hands-on events such as pottery, watercolor and the cooking demonstration.

“We hope that this becomes an annual event,” Smith said.

Greyhounds winning streak ends as team falls to Cowley

After a 10-0 start to the 2016 baseball season, the Fort Scott Community College Greyhounds were handed their first losses of the season in a double header Thursday in their first conference games of the year.

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In their first game of the day, the Greyhounds were shut out, 2-0, by the Cowley County Community College Tigers in what became a pitchers’ duel as the starting pitchers combined for a total of 21 strikeouts.

Carson LaRue, now 4-0 for the season, pitched the entire game for the Tigers, allowing just one walk and four hits while striking out 12.

Ryan McCollough struck out nine for the Greyhounds, but could not escape the sixth inning, giving up two runs, one earned, on seven hits. The ‘Hounds greatest offensive threat came in the fourth inning with singles from Jacob Biller and Andrew Tanous, but a double play ended that threat. Two players were also left on base in the final inning.

The ‘Hounds’ offense revived for the second game of the day, but three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning was still not enough as they lost 10-9.

Greyhounds’ starting pitcher Justin O’Laughlin was chased from the game in the fifth inning after giving up nine runs, seven earned, on nine hits, including two home runs.

Down 9-0, the Greyhounds tried to overcome the deficit, scoring three runs in each of the fifth, sixth and ninth innings, with home runs from Jacob Biller, Jedd Andrade, Nick Banman and Malik Sams. But despite the solid, nearly five innings of relief pitching from Conner Leach and Boby Johnson and the sudden offense, the effort ended up falling short.

The ‘Hounds will have another chance to defeat Cowley in a doubleheader Saturday afternoon.

City Commissioner to resign from position as family moves

During the Fort Scott City Commission meeting Tuesday evening, commissioner Lucas Cosens announced that he will resign from his position by the end of the month as his family prepares to move to Cleveland, where he will continue his education in medical school.

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“It’s been an honor to serve all of you,” Cosens said when announcing that his final day would be March 22nd, with his last meeting being later this month.

For about three and a half years, Cosens has served the city of Fort Scott as a city commissioner, and fulfilled a dream of government involvement that began while he was in college and developed when he served as an intern in the State House in Topeka.

“I’m interested in helping people,” Cosens said in an interview with FortScott.biz after the meeting, saying that desire inspired his medical career and his position on the city commission of his hometown. “To fulfill a lifelong dream at a young age has been an honor.”

Cosens, a local chiropractor, said he has always had a desire to pursue traditional medicine and will pursue that goal by attending medical school at Kent State University, but said he hopes to one day again have the opportunity to serve a community as a commissioner or another role.

“We’re sorry to see you go but we’re excited for your future,” Mayor Cindy Bartelsmeyer said.

The commission approved the appointment of retired Dr. Randy Nichols to the commission upon Cosens departure. City Manager Dave Martin said Nichols had been approached and expressed his interest in the position as well as his understanding of it.

Other business of the meeting included naming the second lake of Gunn Park after the Gunn family, naming it Gunn Lake. The commission also approved giving $2,000 to help fund trees to be planted in the city.

Police Chief Travis Shelton also gave a report on the city’s municipal pound, reminding city residents to register their dogs so they can be returned easily if lost. Shelton also put to rest rumors that the pound has a high kill rate, saying the rate is low and the option is used only as a last resort. The pound—different from a shelter because it will not accept cats—will also go through some renovations to improve its appearance and efficiency.

FSHS Forensics team again places first

Submitted by Amber Toth, Feb. 22

Another successful first place in Coffeyville this week.

Photo Credit: Amber Toth
Photo Credit: Amber Toth

In Public Forum Debate, Hunter Parker and Breana Mooney took second. In Lincoln Douglas, Zach Humble took second and Tristan Watkins took third. In Student Congress House One, Charlotte Hutchison was Presiding Officer and took second. Joe Adams took first. Isabella Provence took 6th. In House 2, Suzi Owen was the Presiding Officer and took 5th. Darby Toth took second and Sebastian Loyd took third. Autumn Warren-Rice took 4th. In novice house, Logan Hall was elected Presiding Officer and took third. Chloe Studyvin took second.

In informative, Rebekah Sweyko took first. In Humorous Interpretation, Seth Cross took first. Isabella Provence took second and Mary Schick took 5th. In Domestic Extemporaneous, Rebekah Sweyko took third and Sebastian Loyd took 5th. In International Extemporaneous, Joe Adams took second. In Original Oration, Darby Toth took first. In Impromptu speaking, Sebastian Loyd took first, Seth Cross took second and Joe Adams took 4th. In Dramatic Interpretation, Charlotte Hutchison took first and Suzi Owen took third. In Prose, Charlotte Hutchison took 7th. In Duo Interpretation, Charlotte Hutchison and Sebastian Loyd took 4th and Dalton Womeldorff and Logan Hall took 5th. And in poetry, Seth Cross took first and Darby Toth took third.

I am so proud of the team. We have brought home first every weekend but one. They have worked so hard all season and I couldn’t be more proud to be their coach.

Photo Credit: Amber Toth
Photo Credit: Amber Toth

Knights of Columbus continue tradition of Lenten Fish Fry

During the six Fridays of Lent, the Knights of Columbus Council 796 will host the annual fish fry at the Kennedy Gym for anyone in the community interested in participating.

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Joe Barr, financial secretary for the Knights organization of Catholic men interested in serving others, said the fish fry event began about 15 years ago, with about 100 people participating. But now the annual event brings in an average of more than 400 people each week, reaching a total of about 3,000 people over the six weeks in 2015 while serving more than 1,000 pounds of fish.

“Now it’s just a community event that everybody talks about,” Barr said, saying even those who are not Catholic and do not participate in Lent look forward to the event each year. “It’s for everybody.”

It is tradition for those of the Catholic faith to abstain from meat on Fridays during the Lenten period, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends before Easter Sunday, with the one exception being fish.

In honor of that, the fish fry provides deep-fried Cajun catfish as well as baked cod for the cost of a free-will donation or $5 for a take-out box. Other sides such as rolls, green beans, corn, coleslaw and baked potatoes are also provided as well as grilled cheese sandwiches and spaghetti for children. Desserts are also made by the ladies of the parish.

Barr emphasized that the event is for anyone in the community, not just Catholics, with the funding money raised during the six weeks being used to pay for use of the venue as well as to support local families, such as one who lost their home to a fire, and other organizations including Mothers to Mothers.

Dancing with Our Stars event a success

The 6th Annual Dancing with Our Stars event drew a large audience to the Fort Scott Community College Ellis Family Fine Arts Center Saturday evening as 10 couples danced in an effort to raise funding for charities and organizations they selected to represent and support.

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The Marriage Boot Camp Edition, and the largest fundraiser for the Rotary each year, featured couples of a range of ages who showed off the results of months of practicing, including waltzing, two-stepping, jiving, twisting, ballet, flipping, cart-wheeling and even jump-roping during their two-minute routines.

After each dance, judges Dave and Jara Martin and Bob and Jamie Beckham commented on what they enjoyed about that dance while emcees Tim and Deb Mckenney then introduced the next dancers and their chosen causes.

During the intermission, members of the audience voted for their favorite dancers by putting dollars into bowls located at booths set up by the dancers in order to share information on their respective causes.

Causes this year included Relay for Life, Circles of Hope NICU Foundation, Court Appointed Special Advocate, the Alzheimer’s Association, Lee’s Paws and Claws Animal Shelter, the Sharing Bucket, 4-H, Friends of the Fort and the Tom W. Davis Memorial Fund.

Gary and Kylene Palmer, dancing for Lee’s Paws and Claws Animal Shelter, raised the most money at $4,349 and received the Charity of Giving Award. Nate and Bailey Lyons raised $2,753 for the NICU Foundation for second place, Wayne and Dee Young and Friends of the Fort received third place with $2,298, and Justin and Hannah Simpson raised $2,294 for Relay for Life for fourth place.

The total amount raised reached $16,937.

Gary and Kylene Palmer also received an award for the most technical performance, Heather Davis and Grant Hartman the most spirited award and Amanda and Lane Gray the judge’s choice award.

Other dancers included Steve and Susan Cole, David and Tina Lipe, Chad and Jayci Cosens and Abby and Trenton Stepps.

FSHS Thespians Stage the Dramatic Play “Missing”

Submitted by Angela Bin, Feb. 15

“Modern poverty in the age of entitlement” is the design concept and message behind the Fort Scott High School Thespian spring production.

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The play is a drama called “Missing” by Charles Way and will be performed at7:30 p.m., on Feb. 25 and 27 in the Fort Scott High School Auditorium.  The doors open at 7 p.m. and the $5 tickets are available at the door.  Funds raised will support the FSHS Thespian Troupe #7365.

The publisher says, “’Missing’ is a gripping story of a brother desperately searching for his missing sister in a sinister world of deceit and unknown peril. It is a modern day fairytale about two poor children surviving desperate circumstances through a rich mix of imaginative power, loyalty, love and sheer cunning.”

Due to the nature of story, parental guidance is suggested.

“The play is student-designed from the ground up,” said FSHS drama teacher and Thespian sponsor Angie Bin.  “Teams of students chose the costuming, sound, make-up and hairstyles, set design and lighting options for the show. They were also presented with an innovative script in which the lines of dialogue were not assigned to any particular character.  The cast, along with student directors senior Blaine Thompson and junior Mikayla Norris, chose which character would say each line in the show.”

Sophomore Kiel Hall makes his stage debut as the character of Hansel, freshman Brooklyn Lyons plays Grethel, junior Suzi Owen takes on the role of the Stepmother and senior Nate Mead plays the Father.  In supplemental roles, junior Hunter Parker is the role of the Cousin and freshman Daniela Belcuore stands in as Grethel’s imaginary friend.  Freshmen Hunter Adamson and Mary Gladbach, sophomore Xavier Watkins, and junior Clayton White serve as Narrators.

The play was originally co-commissioned by Theatr Iolo and Germany’s Theater Consol in 2009 to address the issue of ‘poverty.’

Playwright Charles Way said, “I began to address not the ‘issue’ of poverty, but the ’question’ of poverty. What is it in a country where almost everyone has their basic needs met? I then began to merge the story of Hansel and Grethel with several real life stories from across Europe where emotional poverty had led to dramatic incidents and ‘Missing’ came into being.”

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Contact:  Angie Bin, abin@usd234.org620-719-9622

*Photo opportunities are available at the 7:30 p.m. dress rehearsals on Feb. 22 and 24

FSCC Livestock Judging Team Earns First Place

Submitted by Heather Cutshall, Feb. 18

Fort Scott, Kan.—Fort Scott Community College Livestock Judging Team was designated the champion team at Dixie National Livestock Show in Jackson, Mississippi. The FSCC team also earned first place in the following divisions:

  • Brahman cattle
  • Continental cattle
  • British cattle
  • Steers
  • Reasons

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The students judged twelve classes of market steers, breeding heifers and performance bulls. They provided eight sets of oral reasons.

The team has competed in 11 competitions this year, receiving first place in eight contests and second place in one contest.

“Everyone has done an exceptional job, and the team continues to build on an incredible year,” said Ryan Page, FSCC Livestock Judging Team Sponsor.

Zane Ward earned first place in the overall individual division, second place in the Brahman division, first place in the continental division, second place in the steer division and fourth place in the reasons division. Ben Weis earned eighth place in the overall individual division, ninth place in the Brahman division, third place in the continental division and sixth place in the reasons division. Chase Gleason earned seventh place in the overall individual division and fourth place in the steer division. Kyle Vehige earned eighth place in the Brahman division and second place in the reasons division. Callahan Grund earned seventh place in the English division and tenth place in the reasons division. Tyler Jenkins earned sixth place in the Brahman division. Baxter Herrod earned fifth place in the steer division. Cara Comstock earned eighth place in the steer division.
For more information, please contact Ryan Page, FSCC Livestock Judging Team Sponsor, at (620) 223-2700 ext. 3290.

Dancing with Our Stars event to support Rotary, charities

During the weekly Chamber Coffee Thursday, members of the local Rotary promoted the 6th Annual Dancing With Our Stars event to be held at the Ellis Family Fine Arts Center Saturday evening.

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As of Thursday, fewer than 100 tickets remained for the event, which this year has only one showing at 7 p.m. Ten couples will participate in the event with the theme of Marriage Boot Camp Edition.

“It takes an enormous amount of time and effort,” organizer Jill Warford said, expressing gratitude to the couples participating.

Each of the couples is dancing on behalf of a local charity or other organization that impacts Bourbon County, such as the Alzheimer’s Association, Friends of the Fort, the Circles of Hope NICU Foundation, Relay for Life, 4-H and Lee’s Paws and Claws Animal Shelter.

Already, some of the couples have held advance fundraisers  to help support their organizations. After Saturday’s events, attendees can vote for their favorite dancers by donating dollars to their charities.

Awards will also be handed out for the most technical dance, most entertaining and judge’s choice as well as the Charity of Giving award for the couple who raises the most money for their organization.

The event is also the largest fundraiser for Rotary, with the cost of tickets going towards the group. Rotary President Melissa Wise explained the Rotary sponsors local projects as well as provides trash cans and benches for different parks and other areas of town.

City Commission approves, supports festivals in Fort Scott

During their meeting Tuesday evening, the Fort Scott City Commission approved the dates for the Marmaton Massacre Festival at Gunn Park in July and agreed to provide funding to the Second Story Festival of Arts and Ideas to be held in April.

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“There’s a lot of work that goes into putting on these events,” said Frank Halsey, who has been overseeing the creation of the bike trails in Gunn Park.

The 2016 Marmaton Massacre Festival will be held July 9-10, and will again include not just its race as part of the United Federation of Dirt series, but also a race for children, refreshments and live music from the Vogt Sisters. Halsey said their goal is to create an event for the entire community and not just for cyclists.

“We really want the community to come out and enjoy the festival atmosphere,” Halsey said.

Halsey also gave an update on the bike trails, saying they are now up to about seven miles and are now landlocked until they find more land to work with. In 2015, three events were held on the trails, bringing in numerous out-of-town visitors and spreading the word about the trails at Gunn Park.

“I want to thank you all for allowing us to do this venture, because I think it’s been very profitable for everybody,” Halsey said.

Recently, the trails were also awarded a grant that would provide signage that would have maps of and information about the trails as well as the park itself. It will also soon launch their own website.

“It’s a real asset to the community,” commissioner Jim Adams said, adding that he has visited the trails and enjoyed them.

Director of Economic Development Heather Smith also gave an update on the Second Story Festival of Arts and Ideas, to be held in downtown Fort Scott April 8-9, promoting not just the arts but entrepreneurship as well.

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“I think it will be a really great weekend,” Smith said. “There are a lot of people working really hard on this.”

On Friday, the festival will include a time of question and answer as well as table talks on start-up businesses and the steps that need to be taken to make them successful. There will also be a networking reception and possibly a guest speaker.

The festival will then shift from the innovative said of the event to the arts on Saturday, with a water-color session, cooking demonstration, lesson on poetry, pottery workshop and other visiting artists and authors, including one who will share information on children’s literature.

Smith informed the commissioners that they applied for an innovative partnership grant because of the arts and ideas emphasis of the festival and was awarded with a $7,000 matching grant. The area community foundation provided $5,000 while the local arts council gave $2,000 to help match the grant.

The commissioners unanimously agreed to provide the remaining $2,000 from the economic development budget.