Category Archives: Housing

Jail Heating System on the Blink

Sheriff Bill Martin demonstrates how all the cells can be viewed from the control room in a direct line of sight at the jail in this photo from April 2018, before the jail was completed.

The Bourbon County Law Enforcement Center has been having issues with its heating and air conditioning system since late summer, according to Sheriff Bill Martin.

“The systems weren’t changing over from cool to heat and heat to cool,” he said. The jail was built in 2017-2018.

There are currently 58 inmates, he said.

Martin said the failure of the system to work properly was because of the design of the units.

The Bourbon County Commission opened and reviewedthe bids for the repair of the system at its January 4, 2022 meeting, Martin said.

“The commissioners approved  French’s Plumbling/A.C, to move forward with correcting the issues with the HVAC system,” he said.

Repeated calls to French’s Plumbing for an update on the work were not answered.

Inmates have been given an extra blanket to help until the problem can be repaired.

“When a person is processed or booked into the correctional facility, they are issued one sheet and one blanket,” Martin said. “Since the issues with the HVAC system, they are now offered a second blanket.”


Openings on FS Land Bank

There are four (4) openings for the Fort Scott Land Bank Board.

The function of the Fort Scott Land Bank Board is an independent agency and instrumental with the City on acquiring, holding, managing, transforming, and conveying surplus City properties and other abandoned, tax foreclosed, or otherwise underutilized or distressed properties in order to convey these properties for productive use. This Board meets on an as needed basis.

These four positions will be appointed by the Fort Scott City Commission and is recommended, but not mandatory, that a position from each one of the following professions be applied for:

One individual who represents the banking industry

One individual who represents developers

One individual who represents real estate

One individual at large in the community

If you have a desire to serve on this board and meet the above requirements, please submit a letter of interest to the City Clerk, Diane Clay, 123 S. Main, Fort Scott, Kansas 66701. She will then submit your letter of interest for consideration to the City Commission. All of the boards and commissions serve on a volunteer basis and are not compensated. If you would like more information on this board, please contact Diane Clay, City Clerk at 620-223-0550 or Please submit your letter of interest by January 21st, 2022.

Bo Co Coalition Minutes of Jan. 5

Bourbon County Inter-Agency Coalition

General Membership Meeting Minutes

January 5, 2022

  1. Welcome: Billie Jo Drake, the chairman, welcomed eleven members representing twelve agencies to the regular membership meeting. She reminded members that the Coalition Board had funds available to help with rents, utilities, and clothing. Persons in need just need to apply for assistance through The Beacon.
  1. Member Introductions and Announcements:
  • Mandi Woods was unable to attend the meeting; she sent her announcement with information about upcoming programs and openings in her program via email. Billie Jo forwarded her message to all members.
  • Elizabeth Schafer, CASA, and Pioneer Kiwanis announced that the annual Kiwanis chili feed realized enough money for their yearly budget.
  • Sandy Haggard, RSVP, explained the difference between her program and the Ameri-Corp program. Target areas for her grant included food distribution and drug disposal. Sandy also reported for April Jackson on the SEK Substance Misuse Prevention Coalition through Thrive Allen County. April has been able to obtain a location and will be opening a Recovery House in Iola shortly.
  • Christine Abbott, SEKWorks, reminded members that their food drive will conclude on January 7. She also noted that funds are still available for GED, work training, etc. She continues to be in the Fort Scott office on Mondays and Ashley is here on Fridays.
  • Allen Schellack, Compassionate Ministries and Salvation Army, happily announced the Red Bucket campaign has exceeded the goal of $10,000 and collected $11,398 to be used in Bourbon County. He also reminded members that he has grant funds that can help with taxi fees, obtaining birth certificates and driver’s licenses, heaters, blankets and bedding, and emergency shelter. The Salvation Army and the Senior Citizens will be hosting Evergy on January 12, 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. for LIEAP applications.
  • David Gillen, The Beacon, shared that they are beginning 2022 with a good stock of food thanks to generous organizations and careful purchasing. They are also able to help with some prescriptions and financial aid.
  • Holly Fritter, Bourbon County Health Department, shared copies of the latest COVID-19 guidelines and 2022 dates for the “Mommy and Me” meetings. For dates and to RSVP call or text 417-661-0308.
  • Michelle Stevenson, Fort Scott Early Childhood Program, announced that they are in the beginning stages of preparing for a new building, they now have a mental health worker on-site, and they continue to conduct “Child Find” screenings the first Friday of every month. Her primary role is to be a resource for parents of children prenatal through age six.
  • Janelle Tate, Early Childhood Block Grant, works in six counties to assess pre-kindergarten skills to provide necessary resources to ensure school success. Janelle also invited members to view the Warming Hearts of Ft. Scott website to become informed about the project to help the homeless in our area.
  • Patty Simpson, Director, Fort Scott Housing Authority, explained the locations of the 188 units that are part of the housing program. She also reviewed how rent and utility assistance is determined for those who qualify for the housing units. At present, she has three two-bedroom apartments ready to rent, one three-bedroom apartment ready shortly. She has a short – 30-60 day – wait for list for other units. She also noted that she works closely with Ironquil Estates, Cavalry Crossing, and the Highlands to ensure people receive appropriate housing.
  • Nancy Van Etten, CASA, shared that she and her husband are retiring closer to family and will be resigning from the Coalition Board. Thank you, Nancy, for your involvement with our organization.
  1. Program: There was no formal program today; the February program will be announced later.
  1. Open Forum: Nothing further came before the group.
  1. Adjournment: Next General Membership meeting will be February 2, 2022, at 1:00 p.m.

Positive Events in Fort Scott: Mayor Jones

Fort Scott Mayor Josh Jones.

Fort Scott Mayor Josh Jones said many positive events happened in the community this past year, and the city is poised for some promising events in the new year.

“A lot of things done in 2021 laid the groundwork for 2022 and we expect a lot of 2021 things to be executed in 2022,” Jones said.

The following is what Jones provided as accomplishments.

In 2021, the Fort Scott City Commission:

1. Refinanced city bonds saving $15,500 per year over the next five years.
2. Passed a half-cent sales tax with 90% of revenue going towards streets and 10% going towards parks. This money will start coming in, in 2022.
3. Started an in-house safety training program saving the city $15,000 per year.
4. Utilized the Firstsource Building for  Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department’s giving mass vaccines during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
5. Put out Requests for Qualifications for a new city attorney leading to the city commission hiring a city attorney saving the city approximately $200,000 a year.
6. Approved to enter into a cost-sharing venture with the Bourbon County Commission for joint purchase of materials and equipment.
7. Approved a conditional use permit for an area south of town to allow a micro-meat processing plant to build a facility,  which will create about 30 jobs.
8. Implemented the SeeClickFix app, which allows citizens to report road problems and code nuisances.
9. Started semi-monthly roller skating sessions at Buck Run Community Center for an added amenity for the community.
10. Moved city-county emergency dispatch to the Bourbon County Courthouse.
11. Improved the beach area at Lake Fort Scott.
12. Sold the Firstsource Building for $315,000.
13. Sold four Lake Fort Scott lots for approximately $500,000.
14. Entered into a shared services agreement with Bourbon County for information technology services, saving approximately $30,000 per year.
15. Used $200,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for a feasibility study for re-use of the former Mercy Hospital Building as a hospital.
16. Reworked and finalized setting up the Fort Scott Land Bank which focuses on the conversion of vacant, abandoned, tax-delinquent, or otherwise underused properties into productive use.
17. Approved $2,000 bonuses for all emergency services workers that work for the city.
18. Entered into an agreement with Bourbon County REDI (Regional Economic Development, Inc.) to provide economic development services for the City of Fort Scott,  saving approximately $100,000 a year.
19. Repaired over one mile of city sewer lines.
20. Entered into an agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation for traffic signal upgrades in 2022 on Highway 69.
21. Was awarded a $50,000 grant from T-Mobile Internet for upgrades to the Skubitz Plaza area on the north end of historic downtown Fort Scott.


Sleeping Pods Are Planned For Fort Scott’s Homeless

The Warming Hearts in Fort Scott Sleeping Pods will look similar to this one. Submitted photo.

A recent city commission meeting decision prompted action by a group of residents to help the community’s homeless population during the winter months.

Following the Fort Scott City Commission passing an ordinance to allow basic tents in designated camping areas for homeless people, the group of concerned citizens began conversations about helping the homeless in the wintertime.

The core group of Warming Hearts in Fort Scott, the name proposed for the group, is Tonya Cliffman, Anne Dare, and Sarah Maike.

“Our goal is to assist in winter with temporary shelter, clothing, basic essentials, and nutrition,” Tonya Cliffman, one of the organizers of the project, said. “We want to build relationships to provide basic needs in hopes we can move them into more traditional housing in the future.”.

Tonya Cliffman from her Facebook page.

To that end, work has begun on two sleeping pods which are four-foot by five-foot by eight-foot wooden structures. These are being constructed by a small group of men who are donating their skills for the project, she said.

“(Those sleeping in the pods) can sit up, but not stand up, that way their body heat will keep them warm,” she said. “It has no heat or water, just a wooden insulated structure.”

“They are $1,000 each,” she said. “We are building the first one now.”

They will complete two pods by the first of the year and as soon as they have an individual to utilize the pod, that person will use it for the whole winter, she said.

The group reached out to the owner of a vacant lot, a former mobile home park, Patrick Wood, who permitted use of the lot for the project pending approval by the City of Fort Scott. That approval came at the Dec. 7 commission meetings.

The area is located at 19th and Horton Streets, just north of Community Christian Church (CCC).

CCC already has programs in place to provide showers and basic hygiene needs, plus food and some clothing, she said.

“CCC is my home church,” Cliffman said. “This is not a CCC project but they are supporting us.”

The group set up a fund at CCC for receiving the donations to the project, she said. “This is for transparency, accountability, and stewardship. We felt that is a great partnership.”

Once the pods are in place, the individuals who will be using the sleeping pods will have portable latrines and trash service provided, she said, and be told of the regulations to sleep in the pods.

This initial part of the project will provide the sleeping pods until March 31, Cliffman said.

Cliffman was able to visit with 15 out of the 18 residents that are on the block where permission was given for the sleeping pods, she said.

“I know the Lord’s hand is on this,” Cliffman said. “Doors are opening: we’ve been blessed with a location and some donations to get started. I’m following the gifts the good Lord gave me to do this.”

Facebook page to follow along on progress:

A link to donate to the cause:[0]=AT0eZ_iOSWcNYAEGcJuoJuQ8KZz2CFqTEig36EFyTBI025cbPswq7KfMGW3AcYQXYsYXmJ-SzeajqZPxwBbF_P-XEiO6YD4W56OMFPllDu3Eq62zcD3fdup2rhA42XOZmHSTz5oAehpwZlDsTuzX-k1ftjVyi-8rj4Af2l8At9iKwPGznq2xzV2-4h_1StsBC7-9EJsZyhXp_MZvxuI





FSCC New Housing: Garrison Hall

New FSCC student housing is located at 18th and Horton Streets, across from the campus.

The former Garrison Quarters apartments reno is completed after being purchased by Fort Scott Community College last spring.


FSCC purchased the complex for student housing and the building is renamed FSCC Garrison Hall.


“Each unit has two large bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen, and living space,” Tom Harvon, FSCC Vice President of Student Affairs, said. “Each unit will house four students, for a total of 40 residents.

Tom Havron Submitted photos.

The apartments are a female-only complex, he said.

The reno added amenities.

“We have added on a laundry facility on the south end,” he said.  “Also, we have put new flooring, security system, and fire suppression system in the entire complex.”

The cost to students aligns with other student apartment living, Harvon said, which is $2,500 per semester.

“We are working with the city to get crosswalk markings across Horton for students to safely get to and from campus,” Havron said.

The college administration is being proactive for the school year.

“We have a waitlist at the start of every fall semester,” he said.  “It is difficult to turn students away, as many will then go somewhere else who can provide them housing and meals.  FSCC providing equitable housing options to students continues to be a priority.”

“We currently have students at (former) Mercy (Hospital building),” he said.  “We can’t predict the number of students who will be there this spring, at this time.  Hopefully, in the coming weeks, we will have a better idea of who will be completing their academics or transferring on to their four-year institution.”

Finals week at FSCC is Dec. 7-10.

The campus will open Jan. 5, 2022, classes start on Jan.  12, with spring graduation on May 14.


FS Housing Authority Has 2 and 3 Bedroom Units For Rent

The Fort Scott Housing Authority, 315 Scott Avenue, has 2 and 3 bedroom units available for rent.

For more information on this income-based housing:

Patty Simpson

Executive Director

Fort Scott Housing Authority

315 Scott Avenue

Fort Scott, KS  66701

Ph: 620-223-4570


Fort Scott Home Placed on the Kansas Historical Register

512 S. Judson.
The house at 512 S. Judson has recently been approved for the Kansas State Historical Register.
The current owner, Ronda Hassig, and husband, Rob,  moved in in February 2019.
“We are both history teachers and moved from Olathe to Lawrence for retirement,” Ronda said.
They were there for one year when a native of this area and friend, Carmen Streeter Misse, showed her the house.
“We drove right down and bought it outright,” she said. “It was the house we had always dreamed of owning and putting our Victorian antique furniture in.”
It had been up for auction two times since Ken Lunt died, she said.
Ken and his wife, Charlotte, were well-known volunteers in the community. Lunt who was the mayor of Fort Scott died in 2013, Charlotte in 2007.
“Both times (it went up for auction) there was interest from a salvage company in Kansas City,” she said. “We decided to get it on the Kansas Historical Register, once we settled in. Once on the register, it would be protected from such a fate.”
Ronda was a middle school librarian, and is a historical fiction author and “all-around research nerd,” she said and began researching the history of the house.
Ronda Hassig. Taken from the Lowell Milken Center Facebook page.

History of the house

“The Thomas and Anna Herbert house sits at 512 Judson Street, the sign on the house says it was built in 1887, but it was built in 1888,” she said. “Thomas bought the property in 1870 and married Anna in 1873. They waited a while to build the house though.”
“He owned a successful home design business at 2nd and Wall and sold paint, wallpaper, household items from all over the world, and anything dealing with decorating your home,” she said. “He was a painter. In my research, I found that he helped decorate some of the most beautiful homes in Fort Scott.”
The couple had no children and Thomas died in 1913. Anna sold the house in 1917 to a banker, C.D. Sample.
In seeking to be on the register, Hassig thought she could do the architecture piece on the application.
“It became apparent after trying to use the dictionary for every other word when explaining the features of the house, that this was a job for a professional,” she said.
Hassig hired Susan Fort, a preservationist, and architect from Kansas City, Missouri to help her with the application.
On November 13, 2021, she found out the application was approved.
Now it is on the Kansas State Historial Register, but is heading to the U.S. Park Service for approval for the National Register of Places, she said.
“We should know in three to six months,” she said. “Then a plaque will be put on its’ beautiful facade.”
“I hope that Ken and Charlotte Lunt are happy in heaven with the exciting news and won’t mind too terribly that the house will now be called the Thomas and Anna Herbert House,” she said.

Another Historic Downtown Building Gets Some Attention

Workers from Mid-Continental Restoration Company work on the front of the building at 20 N. Scott. New awnings, siding, and paint are improvements being added to the building.

The Fort Scott downtown area is seeing new life.

Already approximately one dozen buildings have been purchased by new buyers and are being or have been renovated in the last few years.

Judy and Jerry Witt, who sold their suburban home and moved downtown to an apartment at 9 Main Street, have also purchased a  building in the back of their living space, located at 20 N. Scott Avenue.

The purchased building has 1,812 square feet on each floor and was built in 1880 as a harness shop, Jerry said.

“Harnesses were put on horses to pull wagons,” he said.

“It’s the small building north of the Courtland Hotel,” Judy Witt said. “It was formerly owned by Jim Shoemaker and before that, it was a coffee shop.”

“I wanted to preserve it,” Jerry Witt said. “I wanted to see renovations on Scott Avenue.”

“It was basically in good shape,” Jerry said. “We finished the downstairs area; redid the bathroom and put new cabinets in.”

“The upstairs has a commercial kitchen,” he said.  “Three sinks, a double oven, and a range.”

“We hope to have an area for a small business on the lower level,” Judy said. “And an apartment upstairs.”

“The idea is someone could start a business downstairs and live upstairs,” he said.

“I’d like to see something like an ice cream shop or popcorn,” he said. “To serve the visitors to the fort (Fort Scott National Historic Site).”

The building will be for rent, when the reno is completed, which should be the end of the year, he said.

Jerry and Judy moved downtown last year.

“We have a front door on Main Street and a back one on Old Fort Boulevard,” he said. “I talk to a lot of visitors to the fort and find out where they are from.”

Old Fort Boulevard is directly in front of the national historic site.

Jerry said he is enjoying living downtown.

Jerry and Judy Witt hand out Halloween candy in front of their apartment on Main Street on October 30. Taken from the Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

“We are part of everything going on,” he said. “And it’s close to restaurants. There is always something happening. It’s beautiful and peaceful at night.”

“I have my rental office in the front room of my condo,” he said. “It’s the only one-story building on Main Street.”

The Witts own three businesses on North Main Street that currently house Audette Davis’s beauty shop,  Mary Eastwood’s upholstery shop, and Stacy Gooderl’s healthy living store, he said.

This week Mid-Continental  Restoration Co. of Fort Scott was working on the front side of the building at 20 North Scott Avenue.

“They are doing siding, awnings, painting, and bringing the brick back to life,” Judy said.

20 North Scott Avenue. Nov. 16, 2021.

New Employee Profile: Josh Hays

Josh Hays. Submitted photo.

Josh Hays, 40, recently began a new chapter in his life: a realtor at Stewart Realty Co., 1707 S. National Avenue.

The broker of the company, Diann Tucker, has encouraged Hays to join her for years, Hays said.

“One of her boys is my best friend,” he said. “She wanted me to do it for a long time.”

He is currently a farrier as well.

“I’m still shoeing horses,” Hays said. “I’m a journeyman farrier.”

A farrier is a  craftsman who trims and shoes horses’ hooves.
Hays said the farrier career has limitations.
“The physical aches,” he said. “I’m tired of crawling under a horse and shoeing horses.”
“Real estate is one of those things you can work into,”  he said. “I still have flexibility. It’s a good career path to transition into.”
Hays has already listed his first property with Stewart Realty Co.
The property is at 1780 Indian Road, Fort Scott, KS 66701.  The link is:
Fort more information, call or send him a text (620) 215-5621
Stewart Realty Co., 1707 S. National Avenue. The photo is from its Facebook page.
In addition to horses, his family has a cow-calf operation south of Fort Scott.
Hays and his wife, April, have two daughters, Isabel, 11 years old, and Dally, 4.
They like to attend rodeos together and Josh is a roper.
“I like roping when I can, I enjoy it,” he said.
Hays is a 1999 graduate of Fort Scott High School, a 2004 graduate of Pittsburg State University with a major in history, and graduated from farrier school in 2010.

Kansas State Housing Needs Assessment: Your Feedback Is Needed

State officials are seeking feedback from Kansans to help guide future housing development efforts. The initiative, part of the state’s first comprehensive housing needs assessment in nearly 30 years, aims to review current housing opportunities, identify strategic goals, and develop recommendations to guide future housing development.
We’ve wrapped up our statewide listening tour, and now it’s time to share your feedback in our statewide survey. Hurry! Our survey closes Wednesday, June 30.

Kansas Housing Needs Assessment: Feedback Needed

State officials are seeking feedback from Kansans to help guide future housing development efforts. The initiative, part of the state’s first comprehensive housing needs assessment in nearly 30 years, aims to review current housing opportunities, identify strategic goals, and develop recommendations to guide future housing development.
We’ve wrapped up our statewide listening tour–now it’s time to share your feedback in our statewide survey.
All respondents who provide their email address will be entered in a drawing for a $100 VISA gift card!
In case you missed it: Ryan Vincent, KHRC’s Executive Director, shared how every Kansan can help solve the state’s housing crisis in the Kansas Reflector.
Ready to learn more? Visit the Kansas Statewide Housing Needs Assessment webpage.