Category Archives: Government

Meet the Candidate: Abbie Hodgson

The public is invited to a Meet & Greet with
Abbie Hodgson
Candidate for Congress 2020
this Sunday, August 18th at 2pm
(sending on behalf of Chamber member
Bourbon County Democrats)
Candidate for Congress
Abbie Hodgson
will be at Boiler Room Brewhaus,
2 s. National Ave., for a Meet and Greet
this Sunday, August 18th at 2pm.
The public is welcome and
encouraged to attend.
Find out more about Abbie
by clicking HERE.

DCF Terminates Grant Funding for Kansas Reading Roadmap Administrator


Audit Discovered Non-Compliance with Grant Terms and Conditions


Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard today terminated the agreement with Hysell & Wagner, LLC, which administers the Kansas Reading Roadmap (KRR) program. In addition, Howard also announced the agency will directly fund schools that made plans to offer the KRR program during the 2019-20 school year at the same level Hysell & Wagner was contractually obligated under the terminated grant.


“The Department for Children and Families is committed to ensuring that recipients of federal and state funds are spending those funds efficiently,” Howard said. “After reviewing the results of a DCF audit and despite heightened oversight during the first six months of 2019, it’s clear that Hysell & Wagner is falling short of this basic standard.”


The audit, initiated during the Brownback administration but never finalized or released, uncovered problems with internal controls required to achieve compliance with grant terms and conditions and applicable state regulations. All totaled, DCF auditors determined nearly $2.3 million were incorrectly claimed and paid to Hysell & Wagner during the time period from February 2014 to December 2015.


Since January, DCF Economic and Employment Services leadership uncovered additional concerns with Hysell & Wagner’s FY 2019 Kansas Reading Roadmap grant, including:

–          TANF funds, categorized as indirect costs, used for excessive payments to company executives surpassing federal salary limits

–          $216,000 was paid to owners as direct expenses and more than $607,000 has been charged to the grant in “guaranteed payments” as indirect expenses which would also go to the owners

–          TANF funds, categorized as indirect costs, were used for 38 trips between Kansas and the CEO’s and CFO’s residences in Washington, DC, and San Diego, CA

–          Administrative expenses charged to the Kansas Reading Roadmap grant exceeded federal and grant-specific limits of 15% of grant costs.

DCF has, in good faith, worked with Hysell & Wagner to educate and correct the identified issues. Despite these efforts, Hysell & Wagner continues to struggle with the heightened monitoring requirements and has rejected revisions in their FY 2020 contract addressing indirect costs.



“I’ve always been concerned about the use of no-bid contracts and lack of accountability under the previous administration,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “It’s clear that the State of Kansas cannot continue to support Hysell & Wagner’s administration of the Kansas Reading Roadmap program.


I am pleased that the Department for Children and Families is providing direct funding to schools for the coming year to ensure they receive the funds they’re counting on.”


Hysell & Wagner has until September 15 to complete their work with the program including providing notice of termination to sub-recipients of the award. DCF issued the draft audit to Hysell & Wagner August 15. The company has up to 30 days to respond. Once the agency receives their response the audit report will be finalized and made public.


Following is a complete list of schools who will receive funding directly from DCF for the 2019-20 school year.


Kansas Reading Roadmap Schools
• USD 210 Hugoton
• USD 216 Deerfield
USD 235 Uniontown-Bourbon
• USD 247 Southeast Cherokee
• USD 252 Southern Lyon County
• USD 283 Elk Valley
• USD 288 Central Heights
• USD 297 St. Francis
• USD 298 Valley Heights
• USD 310 Fairfield
• USD 322 Onaga
• USD 333 Concordia
• USD 341 Oskaloosa
• USD 353 Wellington
• USD 383 Manhattan
• USD 386 Madison-Virgil
• USD 404 Riverton
• USD 417 Council Grove
• USD 428 Great Bend
• USD 440 Halstead Bentley
• USD 447 Cherryvale
• USD 457 Winfield
• USD 487 Herington
• USD 493 Columbus/Highland Park
• USD 497 Lawrence
• USD 503 Parsons
• USD 504 Oswego
• USD 505 Chetopa
• USD 506 Labette County
• USD 508 Baxter Springs
• Manhattan Boys and Girls Club
• Olathe Boys and Girls Club

Bourbon County Unification Committee Forms

Fort Scott City Hall.

In an effort to help make government more efficient in the county, a new Bourbon County Unified Services Committee was formed August 7, 2019.

“I have heard about it (unifying government) for three years,” Greg Motley, who was selected to be the vice-chairman of the group, said. “We have to look for ways to be more efficient.”

“We had one meeting to organize ourselves,” he said. “The purpose is ‘how can we make government more efficient: city, county, school districts, community college’.”

Fort Scott Community College

The unifying committee was launched by Bourbon County Economic Development Corporation, BEDCO.

They are in the first stage, which is researching the possibilities, Motley said.

“That will take a while,” he said.

“We have to plan for a reduced population,” Motley said. “The cost of government is going to increase. We have to think about ways…to do it (government) more effectively.”

Motley said Wyandotte County has unified in northeast Kansas and other sparsely populated counties are considering combining to unify resources.

So the group will study the issue to see if it can be done, and done well, he said.

Motley knows that if the public is not for the unification of government, it will not happen.

“People could say ‘even if it saves money on taxes, we don’t want it’ and that’s ok,” Motley said.


USD 234 Board of Education Building.
Uniontown High School.
The  Bourbon County Courthouse


Bourbon County Unified Services Committee is comprised of Mark McCoy, chairman; Motley, vice chairman; Nancy Maze, secretary/treasurer; Greg Fess, Clayton Whitson, Larry Shead, David Foster, Larry Martin and Larry Jurgensen.

Greg Motley


Motley can be reached at 620-768-2329 or cell 620-215-6411 or


Eco Devo Director Gives Update

Bourbon County Economic Development August 2019 Report

by Jody Hoenor, Economic Director

Performance Tracking

In light of Bourbon County’s economic trends, County leadership took an active approach to seek solutions in order to boost economic development. The county is taking a more proactive role in efforts to revitalize the economy, county-wide, and is placing more emphasis on outcomes. County officials believe tracking performance allows community members to see results of ongoing efforts, increases accountability, and ultimately trust in county leadership.

A National Association of Counties (NACo) survey found 84% of respondents mentioned that their county tracks performance. Despite the many differences between counties, all have the same goals: improve outcomes and increase efficiency.

Performance tracking involves both metrics and measures to help an organization evaluate and report outcomes and effectiveness. Essential to this process is evaluating against a baseline, determined as part of a strategic planning process. The strategic plan is tailored to meet the needs of county government and its residents.

Three Phases of Strategic Planning

In order to better allocate resources and plan for future growth, Bourbon County has adopted a community-informed approach to the strategic planning process. The three phases consist of:

  1. Gathering Data to Identify Needs and Priorities

Successfully complete!

2. Develop and Implement a Strategic Plan with Performance Metrics and Measures

Next Steps!

3. Ongoing Evaluation and Reporting

The top identified priorities are:

1. Business Retention and Expansion

2. Housing

3. Quality of Life

2019 Kansas Water Photo Contest Launched


Photos Featured at the Governor’s Water Conference in November


Kansas is blessed with an abundance of great natural resources and Kansans are encouraged to capture the most vital of these; water. The Kansas Water Office (KWO) is accepting water photos to be featured at the 2019 Governor’s Water Conference in November. The photos need to pertain to water or water use in Kansas.  Examples include all bodies of water, irrigation, agriculture, recreation and fun, or other water infrastructure.


Worthy entries will be selected for display at the 2019 Governor’s Water Conference, scheduled for Nov. 7-8, 2019 in Wichita. Attendees at the conference will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite photo. The winning photo will earn feature photo at the 2019 Governor’s Water Conference. It will also, along with second and third place, be displayed in the Kansas State Capitol and KWO during the year.


Entries can be submitted to with a minimum resolution of 300 dpi. The following formats are accepted: .jpg, .png and .gif. Participants have until October 11, 2019, to enter a maximum of five photos that follow contest guidelines.


By submitting photos, participants grant KWO permission to freely use and share photos at the Governor’s Water Conference, on social media, web, publications and displays.


Updates on the contest will be provided through the KWO social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For more information about the categories, etc., visit


The Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas is hosted by the Kansas Water Office, K-State /Kansas Water Resource Institute. Major sponsors for the event include Black & Veatch, Burns & McDonnell and Great Lakes Dredge & Dock.


Kansas Beyond Visual Line of Sight Drone Operation To Advance Technologies

Kansas approved for first Beyond Visual

Line of Sight drone flight in the nation


TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) received permission to conduct the first ever Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone operation in the nation leveraging only onboard detect-and-avoid systems. This is the first-ever FAA authorized operation to fly without a requirement for visual observers or ground-based radar and is the result of the 31-member Kansas Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) team efforts to advance drone technologies.


In a collaborative effort between Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus (K-State Polytechnic), Westar Energy, Iris Automation and KDOT, the Kansas IPP team will fly a nine-mile track to evaluate technologies to inspect power lines in rural Kansas. This approval is the first of its kind for long line linear infrastructure and is the first step to enable routine commercial infrastructure inspection across the state.


“The UAS industry has worked over 10 years to demonstrate the most significant commercial benefit of drone operations within the United States,” said Bob Brock, KDOT Director of Aviation. “We are proud of the joint state, university and industry team effort that made this landmark decision possible.”


“The ability to fly BVLOS missions without ground-based radar or visual observers is a significant advancement, and Westar Energy views this as an opportunity to play a key role in shaping the future of UAS operations within the utility industry,” said Mike Kelly, Westar Energy Senior UAS Coordinator. “Being able to operate under this waiver allows the Kansas IPP team the ability to research and develop truly scalable BVLOS UAS operations for the automated inspection of linear infrastructure.”


The Applied Aviation Research Center on the K-State Polytechnic Campus will be responsible for the training and flight operations with a cross-functional team from the KDOT IPP. Flights will take place over the next few months, providing the FAA with much-needed data on true BVLOS activity.


“We look forward to leveraging this waiver to integrate UAS technology into the transmission line inspection process,” said Kurt Carraway, UAS Executive Director of the K-State Polytechnic Applied Aviation Research Center. “We are certain that utilities will be able to quickly realize a return on investment while mitigating safety to their maintenance personnel and increasing the reliability of their infrastructure to the general public.”


This is the first UAV flight in history to leverage onboard sense-and-avoid systems alone for collision avoidance. It also marks the first required automated avoidance action. Historically, all FAA-issued Part 107 BVLOS waivers have required visual observers or ground-based radar. These mitigations limit the possibility of true BVLOS flights, as they are typically prohibitively expensive and limit operations to pre-defined corridor areas with radar coverage.


This important milestone is facilitated by Kansas UAS IPP partner Iris Automation’s Casia onboard collision avoidance system.


“Flying rural missions like these without a human pilot onboard or costly radar on the ground is exponentially safer and more cost effective,” said Iris Automation CEO and Co-Founder Alexander Harmsen. “The FAA is trusting us to pave the way for a safer, scalable future together with this precedent-setting second approval of our system.”



Don’t Drink and Drive

Kansas Law Enforcement Warns: Don’t Drink and Drive

Impaired drivers to be tested during “No Refusal Weekend”


Topeka, KS – As the summer season concludes over the next few weeks, Kansas law enforcement will be doing all they can to keep the roads safe from impaired drivers. Beginning on Aug. 14 and through the Labor Day weekend, more than 150 law enforcement agencies from across the state will join forces in a concentrated effort detecting and removing the impaired driver.


This year’s campaign includes a No Refusal Weekend, Aug. 16 – 17, when all suspected impaired drivers who refuse breath testing may be subject to blood testing for alcohol and/or drugs. This No Refusal Weekend, law enforcement officials may work in coordination with prosecutors to obtain blood draw warrants for drivers who refuse breath and/or drug testing. No Refusal programs help ensure that prosecutors obtain the scientific evidence needed to effectively prosecute cases involving impaired driving.

“My hope is there are no impaired driving crashes or fatalities in the state of Kansas,” said Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent Herman Jones.  “Make the right decision, don’t get behind the wheel impaired. The impaired driver makes the choice to endanger themselves and everyone else on the road.”


According to the National Safety Council, 40 percent of car fatalities occur in the summer months. The Labor Day holiday brings increased traffic and unfortunately, a higher-than-normal number of deaths related to impaired drivers on the road. On average, impaired drivers cause about one-third of all traffic fatalities in Kansas. Across Kansas, impaired drivers injure or kill more than 2,200 people each year in car crashes.


“We want everyone’s summer to end on high note and not in a senseless death that is 100 percent preventable,” said Chris Bortz, Kansas Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Program Manager. “Law enforcement will be vigilant in their efforts to keep everyone safe, but everyone has a personal responsibility in this effort; not just law enforcement.”


The 22-day enforcement campaign will be supported with statewide education and on-the-street vigilance by law enforcement.  This year’s campaign reinforces that no excuse is a good excuse for driving impaired. Designate before you celebrate, use a ride sharing service or get a ride from a sober friend are just a few ways to get home safely.


Impaired drivers can face jail time, suspension of their driving privileges, fines and other costs of up to $10,000. In addition, the offender will be required to install and pay monthly services fees on an ignition interlock. Beyond the financial and legal penalties, impaired drivers face the risk of losing their own lives or taking someone else’s.


Greet Congressman Watkins Aug. 22

Meet and Greet with
Steve Watkins
(2nd District of Kansas)
at Boiler Room Brewhaus
Thursday, August 22nd
at 4:00 p.m.
Community members are invited to a
Meet & Greet with
Congressman Steve Watkins.
The event will take place on
Thursday, August 22nd at the
Boiler Room Brewhaus, located at
2 S. National Ave. Doors will open at 4:00pm for the meet & greet.
Steve Watkins is a 6th generation Kansan, growing up down the street from the State Capitol in Topeka. His father served in the Air Force and has been a well-respected physician for nearly 40 years. His mother is
a retired public school teacher.
After graduating from Topeka West high school, Steve went on to get an engineering degree from West Point and master’s degrees from both MIT and Harvard.
Steve Watkins is an Iditarod racer,
a Mt. Everest climber, and a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan in 2004.
Steve Watkins’ life and career have been characterized by integrity, courage, leadership, and selfless service.
While the uniform may be changing, the values and convictions are not.
For more information, contact the Chamber at 620-223-3566.

New FS City Staff Accountant: Devin Tally

Devin Tally, 30, is the new City of Fort Scott Staff Accountant.

He graduated from Fort Scott High School in 2007 and received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from Pittsburg State University. In May 2019 he completed my Master of Business Administration through Northwest Missouri State University.

Previously, Tally has worked at Wise Tax and Accounting for almost four years.

He started working for the city on June 24, 2019.

Tally’s duties include payroll, accounts receivable, assisting with the budget, bank reconciliation, sales tax, and additional duties as needed. His office is located at city hall, 123 S. Main.

Appointees to Humanities Kansas

Governor appoints two members to Humanities Kansas

Governor Laura Kelly appointed Brad Allen and Lisa Sisley to Humanities Kansas, which was formerly named the Kansas Humanities Council.

“The Humanities Kansas board is dedicated to ensuring that people across our state have access to programs to help enrich their communities,” Kelly said. “Brad and Lisa are passionate about generating new ideas and strengthening our democracy. They will be a wonderful addition to the team.”

Brad Allen, Lawrence, has worked as the executive director of the Lawrence Public Library for seven years. Previously, he worked as the branch manager and programming coordinator for the Everett Public Library in Everett, Wash. Allen received a master’s degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Master of Science in library and information science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a bachelor’s degree in American studies and psychology from the University of Kansas.

Lisa Sisley, Manhattan, has worked as the principal for New Boston Creative Group, LLC, for 13 years. Previously, she worked as a writer for the dean’s office at Kansas State University’s College of Human Ecology, and owned Lisa Sisley Writing Services. Sisley earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Kansas State University.

Humanities Kansas is an independent nonprofit group that works to strengthen civic life by pioneering programming, grants and partnerships to connect communities with history, traditions and ideas. Kansans can visit to request a speaker, explore stories about our state, find a humanities-related event nearby and more.

The governor’s appointments to Humanities Kansas are not subject to Senate confirmation.


Appointees to Board of Mortuary Arts

Governor appoints two members to the Kansas Board of Mortuary Arts


Governor Laura Kelly appointed Amy Elliott and reappointed Barry Bedene to the Kansas Board of Mortuary Arts.  


“Barry and Amy are dedicated individuals, and we are fortunate to have them on our mortuary board,” Kelly said. “I know they will work hard to ensure safe and ethical practices among our state’s licensed embalmers.”   


Barry BedeneArma, is a licensed embalmer and funeral director, and the owner of Bedene Funeral Home. He is a past president of District Three of the Kansas Funeral Directors Association; a member of the National Funeral Directors Association; served as a board member of the Crawford County Fire District Number Two for more than 20 years; served as a City Council member in Arma for four years; and has served on several other boards and commissions. Bedene also served as a member of the Mortuary Arts board for many years.  


Amy Elliott, Lenexa, currently works as a lawyer in her firm, the Law Office of Amy E. Elliott. Previously, she worked as a legal assistant for the law firm Cohen, McNeile & Pappas, P.C. Elliott received a juris doctor, a bachelor’s degree in English and an associate degree in paralegal studies, all from Washburn University.  


The board ensures that licensees who work in the practice of embalming perform their services in a manner that provides maximum protection of the health, safety and welfare of Kansans.  


Three members of the board must hold an embalmer’s license issued by the state board of mortuary arts, must have five consecutive years of experience in the practice of embalming and must be currently engaged in the practice of embalming in Kansas. The other two members must be a representative of the general public and without an embalming license.  


The governor’s appointments to the mortuary arts board are not subject to Senate confirmation.  


Appointees to Creative Arts Industries Commission

Governor appoints four members to the Creative Arts Industries Commission 


Governor Kelly appointed Aubrey Streit-Krug, Abby Killingsworth, Jamie Oliver and Brittany Novotny to the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission.  


“The creative arts industry is a very important piece of our state’s history,” Kelly said. “In difficult times, the arts bring people together – from all across Kansas. Creativity is what makes Kansas an extraordinary place to live. It amplifies everything we find important and celebrates our greatest accomplishments. When our creative arts industry thrives, so does our state. Aubrey, Abby, Jamie and Brittany have dedicated their lives to the creative arts, and I know that they will work hard to create jobs in our state and enhance Kansans’ quality of life. We are lucky to have them on the team.”  


The commission, which is part of the Department in Commerce, is focused on measuring, promoting, supporting and expanding Kansas’ creative industry to grow the state’s economy and foster creative industry-related jobs. The commission’s 11 members must be representative of the major arts fields. 


Aubrey Streit-Krug, Salina, currently is the Director of Ecosphere Studies at The Land Institute in Salina. She also has worked as a professor of writing and literature at Kansas Wesleyan University, Bethany College, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Streit-Krug received a doctorate in English and a master’s degree in English from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, and a bachelor’s degree in English from Bethany College. She has several published books, articles and essays.  


Abby Killingsworth, Goodland, is currently the executive director of the Carnegie Arts Center in Goodland. She previously worked as the career services coordinator at Northwest Kansas Technical College. Killingsworth received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Fort Hays State University, and was a national exchange participant at California State University in Chico, Calif.  


Jamie Oliver, Pittsburg, currently teaches art courses at Pittsburg State University, and is the chairperson of PSU’s Art Department. Previously, he was an assistant professor of painting and drawing at Denison University. Oliver received a Master of Fine Arts from Tulane University, a master’s degree from Easter Illinois University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Denison University.  


Brittany Novotny, Pratt, currently works as the co-executive director of the Vernon Filley Art Museum. Previously, she worked as a finance and administration intern at the Indiana University Art Museum. Novotny received a master’s degree in arts administration from Indiana University, and a bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver.


Two members of the Creative Arts Industries Commission are appointed by the president of the Senate; one member appointed by the minority leader of the Senate; two members appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives; one member appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives; and five members appointed by the governor.