Category Archives: Fort Scott

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.

Construction to begin in January at Western Insurance building

After more than a year of preparation and work at the old Western Insurance building, including demolition in recent months, construction will soon begin to prepare the remaining building for independent- living, senior apartments.

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In a news conference hosted by the city of Fort Scott Monday morning, leaders of the city and the project gave an update on its process and answered questions.

Flint Hills Holdings Group, under president and CEO Tony Krsnich, purchased the buildings at the block of First Street between Main and National in June of 2014, with the goal of putting in 35 one- and two-bedroom units, a project which could add up to about $6 million of investments.

The group has completed similar projects in cities such as Lawrence, Parsons and Kansas City and found success in that area service. Krsnich said they like to look for projects that would include working on historical buildings in order to help preserve them and their legacy, which attracted them to Fort Scott.

With the sale of the buildings, the city of Fort Scott invested almost $1 million in an environmental cleanup of the building as well as the demolition of the building alongside National Avenue. That area will be used as a parking lot.

“The project wouldn’t have been possible without the city,” Krsnich said of the city’s investment in the building, saying he hopes the new apartments will bring more residents downtown as well as more businesses and employees.

City Manager Dave Martin said not only the city leaders but the residents of the community showed support for that investment that would improve the downtown appearance as well as potentially encourage others to invest in vacant spaces located downtown.

“This project isn’t going to fix our downtown,” director of economic development Heather Smith said. “But what it will do, I think, is bring opportunity for additional developments.”

Krsnich said construction will begin within the historic building in January and will likely be complete by October. Already a list is forming for those interested in becoming residents, which could lead to a waiting list as Krsnich said they expect the apartments to rent out quickly.

Presbyterian Village to host quilt show and speaker

Submitted by Ginger Nance

The Fort Scott Presbyterian Village will host a week-long quilt show that is open to the public for everyone to enjoy, January 5th – 12th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

Quilts displayed during the Pioneer Harvest Fiesta 2015.
Quilts displayed during the Pioneer Harvest Fiesta 2015.

Bring a friend and come out to view the quilts on display during the event. Many varieties of quilts will encompass the show, ranging from old, new, hand-stitched, machine-stitched, large and small. No two quilts will be the same. The only common thread that each quilt has is that they are each pieced with love and artistry. Quilters from Southeast Kansas and Southwest Missouri will be featured during the show, all with a passion for rural living, family ties and a love of quilting.

In addition to viewing the display, join us for special guest speaker, Nancy Swanwick on January 7th at 2 p.m. at the Village for a “Quilt Trunk Show.”  Nancy will give information about how quilting can be the ties that bind us together over the generations. Her presentation is highly recommended by others as a must see and she has many treasures in her trunk to share.

For more information about the show or entering a quilt for the exhibit, contact executive director Ginger Nance at (620) 223-5550 or email All quilts are welcome, the more variety, the better the show. Fill your car with friends and come out to enjoy the show!

Fort Scott welcomes Soleil Tan with ribbon-cutting

On New Year’s Eve, Fort Scott and the Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Soleil Tan, a tanning salon bringing its services to Fort Scott after opening a similar location in Nevada.

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“I feel like we’re going to do really well here,” general manager Devin Miller said, saying their presence was requested by some of Nevada’s customers who had been traveling from Fort Scott, so they began working to bring it to the area more than a year ago. “We felt there was a need.”

The business offers a range of tanning levels on different beds manufactured in Kansas City, some sessions lasting about six minutes and going up to 15 minutes. It also provides teeth whitening and tanning lotions and moisturizers that Miller said can help tans last longest. Miller said they hope to add more services in the future.

“Our mission has always been to dispel the myths about sun beds and explain the science behind UV tanning,” Miller said, saying they use a controlled environment of UV exposure in moderation. “Our goal is to earn our customers’ business with a well-trained staff, a clean environment and a relaxing experience that gives great results.”

To go with their grand opening, Miller said they are offering specials including 12 tanning sessions for the price of 10 and 20 percent off lotions. The first tan is also always free.

Soleil Tan will be open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Miller said those hours may change based on demand. Appointments can be made via their text line, sending those messages to 620-215-0176.

“The place looks beautiful,” Chamber of Commerce director Lindsay Madison said of the building they renovated and cleaned up. “And we’re just glad you’re here.”

Other announcements concerned New Year’s Eve events being held at Vinedo del Alamo Winery and the Liberty Theatre at 8:30 p.m., and music and a champagne toast at Sharkey’s.

On Feb. 9, at 1 p.m., the Fort Scott National Historic Site will host a program concerning pasture burning for the cost of $10. The 10-month LEAD Bourbon County program is also still accepting applicants.

Fort Scott NHS volunteer to be in New Year’s Parade

One of Fort Scott National Historic Site’s volunteers will have the opportunity this weekend to ride in the 127th Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., which will feature the National Parks Service’s Find Your Adventure theme in honor of its centennial celebration in 2016.

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Barrett Young, a resident of Paola and Fort Scott Community College student, began volunteering at the local historic site in 2007, participating in numerous reenactments and other events at the fort since then.

Young was invited to ride in the opening theme banner float of the parade in recent months by Mike Matthiessen, president of the Tournament of Roses, who met Young in May of 2012 when he and his parents visited the Tournament House in Pasadena. Young will be representing the more than 220,000 volunteers in the National Park Service.

“When I got the email inviting me to ride the theme float in the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade, I felt undeserving,” Young said. “At first I did not want to do it because I felt others deserved the honor more than I did.”

But Young said he accepted the invitation when he realized it would give him the opportunity to represent Fort Scott National Historic Site and other Kansas NPS sites.

Young was selected as a result of his support of and passion for the NPS, which has led him to visit all 50 states and 379 of the 409 NPS sites as well as 49 other NPS affiliated sites. He has also completed more than 390 junior and senior ranger programs and promotes the NPS by speaking at community events or organizations and setting up displays, such as at libraries, senior citizen meetings and rotary club meetings.

Young said he hopes to have a career in the NPS, and has ever since he began volunteering and reenacting with his parents.

Debate Team finds success in regional debate tournament

Submitted by Amber Toth, USD 234 debate coach, Dec. 20

We started Christmas vacation with the regional debate tournament in Parsons. There were six schools in our 4A regional. We competed against Coffeyville, Independence, Chanute, Wellington, Mulvane and Parsons.

Photo Credit: Amber Toth
Photo Credit: Amber Toth

The team of Joe Adams and Isabella Provence were the Affirmative and went undefeated. The negative team of Zach Humble and Seth Cross only dropped two rounds. Our alternates were Breana Mooney and Hunter Parker.

We walked away with a regional championship. Mulvane came in second. These students, along with the two-speaker teams of Sebastian Loyd/Charlotte Hutchison, Garrett Tatro/Darby Toth, Tayton Majors/Sara Al-Shawish, and Jake Province/Suzi Owen will be representing us at state. Rebekah Sweyko and Ethan Tatro also qualify for state as novices. Unfortunately, due to the cap on entries, the younger team will not be competing at state.

I am so proud of this team. They are strong across the board. State will be in Independence on January 15th and 16th. The very next weekend we will begin our forensics season. Enjoy your break. I know we will.

Grain Elevator to go through improvements, changes

In recent weeks, equipment has been spotted at the old grain elevator located at Wall Street and Highway 69 as crews begin work to repair the old concrete in preparation for other improvements and changes.

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Neil Burkhardt, who is overseeing the Wall Street Properties and is assisting in the project plans for the building on behalf of its owner, said the goal is to turn the building into a facility for entertainment and recreation, such as repelling or other physical activities.

“It’s to try to create some activities for local people and bring people from out of town,” Burkhardt said, saying they are researching what would work with the building and what the city allows. “That’s in the process of being thought out and checked out.”

Burkhardt said those involved in the project are still kicking around ideas, but while doing that the building is being cleaned, repaired and painted. The goal is to have a plan in place by late spring.

“Just keep an eye on it,” Burkhardt said of the project.

Tigers fall in final 2015 basketball games

In the last basketball games of the 2015 calendar year, neither the varsity boys nor girls teams could hold off the Chanute Blue Comets Friday evening, despite hard-fought games and loud support from their fans.

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The Tigers boys’ team just narrowly missed ending the year with a win after leading by seven points at half time, only to score a total of nine more points the remainder of the game, which included four minutes of overtime.

The Tigers lost the lead before the end of the third quarter, but managed to tie the game twice in the fourth quarter to take it into overtime. But with one second left in overtime, trailing by just one point, the Tigers lost possession and then the game to the Comets, 37-35.

While their defense kept Chanute to well below their average points per game for the season, their own offense ultimately kept them from ending the night with a win, despite 16 points including three three-pointers from senior Kaleb DeLaTorre and six points apiece from seniors Josh Hudiburg and Austin Cook.

The girls also struggled with offense as they faced a taller team in the Lady Comets, with a 3-2 lead in the early minutes of the game being their only lead of the evening. Despite holding Chanute to only seven free throws and no field goals in the fourth quarter, the Lady Tigers fell 59-35.

Senior Ashley Cook led the team with 11 points, including three three-pointers, while junior Emily Hale added seven points. The Tigers play again in Fort Scott on January 8.

A portion of the student section in attendance came dressed in Star Wars costumes in honor of the movie’s recent release and bearing signs with words of encouragement along the same theme, including ‘May the Fort be with you.’

Public Library provides Christmas party for local children

During a Christmas party Saturday, the Fort Scott Public Library gave children an opportunity to decorate Christmas cookies, wrap gifts, make crafts, hunt for candy canes, earn prizes and even have a “snowball” fight.

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Youth librarian Valeta Cannon and other library staff and volunteers from the community helped organize and run the event that split the children up into separate groups in order to participate in age-appropriate activities.

Throughout the year the library has provided a reading time each Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. for those children not in school yet, reading stories on specific themes, singing songs and doing crafts before ending with a snack time. A holiday story time will be held Tuesday morning for families with children before taking a break for the holidays.