Since August 2018, Fort Scottians can take a bus to Wichita and Joplin and points in between on Beeline Express, seven days a week.
“This is a community service for rural Kansans,” said Jim Lynch, the manager of Beeline Express. “It’s subsidized by the Kansas Department of Transportation.”
The pickup point is Pump N Pete’s, 1920 S. Main on 69 Hwy.
Riders can purchase a one-way ticket for $40 for the destination of Wichita, with stops at Iola, Eureka, and El Dorado, Lynch said.
The 48 passenger bus has a restroom and electric chargers for phones, Lynch said.
“You can put the seats back and take a nap,” he said. “We do have wheelchair accessibility.”
“A lot of people use it for Fort Scott to Joplin,” Lynch said. The cost of a ticket from Fort Scott to Joplin is $19, with a stop in Pittsburg.
The bus arrives at 8:55 a.m. at Pump N Petes on 69 Hwy. and arrives at noon in Wichita. It leaves Wichita at 2:45 p.m. on its way back to Joplin.
It arrives at 5:55 p.m. in Fort Scott to pick up riders and arrives in Joplin at 7:15 p.m.
“A person can just show up, pay $40 and get on the bus to Wichita,” Lynch said. To pre-arrange phone 1-855-201-6700. The Beeline office number is 316-249-6774 with office hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Lynette Jackson, a second-grade teacher at Winfield Scott Elementary School, is retiring after 31 years in education.
“I taught first grade for one year in Shawnee, Oklahoma and thirty years have been with USD 234 as a K-3 teacher and instructional coach,” Jackson said.
Born and raised in Fort Scott, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Education and Masters Degree in Elementary Education from Pittsburg State University.
Several factors influenced her to become a teacher.
“One was the relationships I had with my former teachers,” she said. “I have great memories of school because my teachers made school fun and exciting. They also made me feel very secure and important. Although I’ve enjoyed school throughout my lifetime, my elementary years are the most memorable to me. Therefore, I became an elementary teacher.
“In thinking about all the teachers I’ve had from elementary school through college, I must say that the great majority of them had some influence on me, one way or another. I’m reminded of how important it was to be assured at school that I had potential and skills, that I could use in life to be successful. It was very important and with gratitude, I will never forget what they did for me as I was growing up. All my educators impacted my desire to teach and I hope I have repaid the debt to my past teachers that invested in me.”
Jackson believes a teacher has a mission.
“Being a teacher means being a nurse, counselor, substitute mom or dad, cheerleader, and disciplinarian,” she said. “It is my hope that I have been all these roles for my students over the years. I am flattered when a child says to me, ‘I want to be a teacher just like you.’ Have I given that youngster the best example I could to pattern his or her life and career?”
Jackson has had the privilege to work with colleagues that were past students.
“There is no better honor than working with someone that you once taught,” she said. “To see these students, grow up and have a career in education, is overwhelming. It is my hope they enjoy their careers and have many years in education as much as I have.”
As with all professions, there have been challenges.
“Several challenges I have faced over the years have been balancing the different learning styles of students, technology in the classroom, budget constraints, office politics, and lack of time to collaborate or implement new resources,” she said. “I would urge the community to get behind our schools and become knowledgeable about the educational trends we use at USD234 and become involved with our local school board and legislation.”
Jackson said she is hoping to spend time with her family and “enjoy attending my son’s school events.”
Tri-Valley Developmental Services is having its’ bi-annual Gardener’s Christmas Auction on Saturday, March 30 from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
It is a silent auction and plant sale which will feature annuals, garden tools, silk bouquets, and home and garden decor, TVDS Horticultural Therapist Barb McCord told the Chamber attendees Thursday morning.
Donations of gently used gardening items are sought by March 22 for the Compost Bin Market, which is part of the fundraiser.
The Gardeners Christmas Auction will benefit the Horticulture Therapy Program, which serves those with intellectual disabilities.
The Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce members take turns hosting a weekly coffee where they can tell about upcoming events.
During the March 14 coffee, Knights of Columbus Member Mark McCoy presented TVDS Executive Director Tim Cunningham with a check in the amount of $932. 67.
Cunningham told fortscott.biz the donation will be put in the foundation funds that supports TVDS and used “to build homes” for the clients, he said.
Cunningham noted that TVDS has been in Fort Scott since 1978 offering services to people with developmental disabilities.
There will be a golf tournament fundraiser on Sept. 14 at Woodland Hills Golf Course in Fort Scott, Cunningham said.
Starting tomorrow, March 8, two more side road intersections with U.S. 69 Hwy. will be closed for reconstruction south of Fort Scott.
This is part of the expanding to four-lanes project of the national highway in Bourbon County.
On Friday, weather permitting, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) plans to close the Fern Road and Deer Road intersections on the west side of the U.S. 69. The two intersections will be reconstructed during the month-long closures, according to Priscilla Petersen, Public Affairs Manager for the Southeast District Office of the Kansas Department of Transportation.
Birch Road won’t be reopened until late May 2019, Petersen said. “The U.S. 69 southbound lanes are closed beyond the Birch Road intersection, and the placement of traffic control devices plus the temporary crossover between the new and existing lanes creates line-of-sight and visibility issues for drivers.”
“The Bourbon County U.S. 69 expansion project should be open to four-lane unrestricted traffic by late May or early June, conditions permitting,” Petersen said.
Next in line for expansion is the 11 miles in Crawford County of Hwy. 69.
“The U.S. 69 expansion projects in Crawford County are the six-mile Arma Connection Expressway and the five-mile Crawford County expansion,” Petersen said. “The Arma Connection is tentatively scheduled to be let in the fall of 2019, with construction starting in the winter of 2019 or early in 2020. The Crawford County Expansion is tentatively scheduled to let in the fall of 2020, with construction beginning in winter 2020 or early in 2021. Both projects would likely cover two construction seasons.”
Koss Construction of Topeka is the primary contractor on the U.S. 69 project, which has a construction cost of $21.8 million. Persons with questions may contact Darrin Petrowsky at KDOT-Iola, (620) 365-2161, or Priscilla Petersen at KDOT-Chanute, (620) 902-6433.
The Bourbon County Commission’s Economic Development Director has launched a survey to gather information from business owners to develop a strategic plan.
The survey began March 1 and will end April 19, 2019.
“Our goal at the county is to make Bourbon County the place people want to live, work, and play,” said Jody Hoenor, the county’s economic director. “By increasing our population we can lessen the weight of taxes on the individual with more citizens sharing these costs. By being strategic in our planning and involving the community in the process, we believe we will be able to lower taxes.”
The survey is sponsored by the Bourbon County Commission, the Kansas Department of Commerce, with assistance from the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce, Live Local Bourbon County and the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team.
Survey results will inform the county on how to develop an economic development strategic plan and process.
” We will develop measurable goals with actionable items and report progress to the community through several communication channels,” she said.
“Like any other community, there will be many opportunities that will be identified in the survey,” Hoenor said. ” We do not have the capacity or resources to address every single issue. Through a transparent process of gathering community input through both a community perception and business retention and expansion survey, soliciting feedback from focus groups all over the county, and analyzing primary and secondary data we will be able to articulate how the priorities in the strategic plan were identified and determined by Bourbon County citizens years from now.”
The target people for the Business Retention and Expansion Survey, is Bourbon County business owners, CEO’s, and upper management, she said.
“That is everything from at home, e-commerce, farmers, ranchers, long term businesses, to our new healthcare providers,” Hoenor said.
She listed the objectives of the survey as:
“Obtain a source of primary data to develop a measurable county-wide economic development plan.
Aggregated regional survey results will be used to inform regional strategic planning with the Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission.
Voices of business owners will be used to participate in the process of improving the business climate, validate local needs, and advocate for regional, state, and federal resources.
Build and maintain strong relationships with businesses.
Develop a better understanding of the concerns, problems and opportunities of businesses in the area and leverage perceived strengths with perceived barriers within the community.
Confidentiality: Information will be protected closely so no one will be able to connect responses and any other information that identifies businesses. Responses will be combined with those of other firms to form an overall aggregate result in percentages, sums, or averages at the county and regional levels.
Final Report: A copy of the summary of findings will be available to all firms that participate in the survey.”
A ceremony of speeches, prayers, cookies and punch, and tours of the new Ascension Via Christi Emergency Department took place in the former cafeteria of Mercy Hospital on Feb. 28.
Ascension Via Christi assumed operations of the closed Mercy Hospital Emergency Department on Feb. 1, 2019.
On Feb. 18, the new department began operations in Fort Scott.
The grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony was the celebration of the emergency department opening.
Randy Cason, president of Ascension Via Christi in Pittsburg said it “was no small feat to open up an emergency department and lab services” and acknowledged the help of the Mercy Hospital administration team and others (a city/county collaboration) who “worked hard to make sure health care will move forward in our community. We understand the need.”
“We opened on the 18th at 7 a.m. and we had our first patient at 7:15 a.m.,” Cason said. “It’s been 24/7 service since then.”
“It’s the most mission based thing we have done,” he said. “I am proud of our team pulling it together.”
In addition to the move to Fort Scott, Via Christi had a name change, “a unified brand move” Cason said. “On Feb. 14, we officially became Ascension Via Christi.”
There are 40 employees at Fort Scott, including emergency, radiology and laboratory services, said Michelle Kennedy, Ascension Via Christi Senior Marketing Specialist.
“We worked hard to see the former employees staying on,” Kennedy said.
The operation of the emergency department will be like any other, she said. “We’ll put patients in categories and the level of care they need.”
“Depending on the urgency, they would be stabilized and transported to another facility for advanced care.”
The facility chosen would depend on hospital availability and the condition of the patient, Kennedy said.
Redfield’s City Council is working to improve their town.
One of the ways to improve is the way the council is elected.
“We will have elections every two years, like everyone, but not everybody running for office at the same time,” said Beth Guss, acting Redfield City Clerk.
“When my husband (Ed Guss) took office, everyone but Wilma Graham was new, and nobody had known what to do,” she said.
They visited with neighboring Uniontown Mayor Larry Jurgensen and City Clerk Sally Johnson about the issue and were told about staggering the election so all are not new members at the same time, she said.
Following protocol, the City of Redfield published the proposed changes in the Fort Scott Tribune on Feb. 9 and 16.
This ordinance will take effect 61 days following the final publication.
An election of city council members will take place this November 2019, with succeeding elections every two years for the positions of those whose terms have expired.
This year Wilma Graham and L.D. Morrison will be up for re-election.
“Anyone can register to run,” Guss said.
Other members of the council in addition to these two are Clarence (Ed) Guss, Kirby Martin, and Michael Beerbower.
Beth Guss said she is the acting city clerk until a replacement can be found.
It is difficult to find citizens who will serve in a community of Redfield’s size, 157 people, “not counting the dogs,” she said with a laugh. The town is located in the middle of Bourbon County.
“We’ve got small-town issues, like all small towns,” she said. “We are working to make our town better.”
A local church is expanding its’ facility because the congregation is growing.
First Southern Baptist Church, 1818 S. Main, is building a new building east of the present one, which will be the FSBC Family Life Center.
James Collins is in his third year of pastoring the church, and the church has grown from 12 to 130 people, he said.
“The church was small,” Collins said. “We’ve had tremendous growth.”
“I taught on the Passover last year,” he said. “We didn’t have enough room, so we decided to expand.”
The church’s childrens program includes AWANA on Wednesday evenings.
“We have a big children’s program, 80 kids on Wednesday night,” Collins said. “We needed a place for them.”
AWANA stands for Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed, from 2 Timothy 2:15 in the Bible.
In addition to that growth, the Cornerstone Bible Church, at 6th and Horton, merged with FSBC after its’ pastor left.
Ben Workman, the former pastor of Cornerstone Bible Church, was called to a church in Oklahoma, his home state.
“They wanted to get back closer to home,” Collins said of Workman and his family. “He loved it here but wanted to go and do that.”
That congregation asked Collins to fill in preaching and help look for a new pastor.
After a few months, when the pastor-less congregation felt like God was working in the First Southern Baptist Church congregation, “They wanted to be a part of where God was working,” Collins said.
Approximately 25 people came from the Cornerstone congregation to the First Southern Baptist congregation, Collins said.
An expansion was in the works.
The new building will be two-stories and feature a multi-purpose room, classrooms and a kitchen and measure approximately 80 feet by 120 feet. The multi-purpose room will be used as a fellowship hall and gym. It will be built on the east side of the current church building.
Groundbreaking will be in the spring.
“April or May, hopefully,” he said.
“We are not going into debt,” Collins said. “We are doing the building in phases.”
Fundraisers have been scheduled for the year including a recent pancake feed and the preparing and delivering of a luncheon meal to Peerless Products. In May the church will be part of the town-wide rummage sale and there will be a fundraiser at the Bourbon County Fair in July, he said.
Collins believes God led him to Fort Scott.
“I was in the Army as a chaplain,” he said. “I was retiring. I was being considered for a big church in Oklahoma. We were on vacation and a friend said ‘You need to check out Fort Scott.'”
The pulpit committee asked him to come and preach.
“When we got to the city limits of Fort Scott, I felt like the Lord spoke to my heart ‘This is where you are coming’,” Collins said. “I always had a heart to be a small town pastor.”
“The first year and the last year of our four-year-old’s life I had (served in the Army) in Iraq,” Collins said. “It hit me. I wanted to go where I could close the door and take my kids fishing. That was a little bit of my motivation…a slower pace.”
“We are pouring our lives into the community,” Collins said. “We love being a part of Fort Scott.”
He and his wife Amanda have three children: Abby, 14 years old; Tim, 12 and John, 8.
The Beacon has a multi-decade history in Fort Scott as a helping agency to those with limited resources.
“The Beacon has just completed 33 years as a food pantry,” said Carol MacArthur, president of the Beacon Board of Directors. “We are working toward making Beacon’s services more available to clients, and this includes trying some methods not done previously.”
This includes the agency becoming more consumer-friendly by adding evening hours on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month, starting March 12.
“On March 12, The Beacon will adapt its hours in order to become more “user-friendly” to Bourbon County residents,” MacArthur said.
“Since a number of individuals have expressed a need for evening hours, the Beacon staff will open for full service twice a month between 4:30 and 7 p.m.,” she said.
“We’ll be closed the Tuesday we are open in the evening,” said Garry Murrell, the director of the Beacon.
Murrell will be available to provide service and assistance as he does during day-time hours.
The Beacon provides a food pantry for the community.
“Basic needs for the family,” Murrell said. “Canned goods, rice, beans, potatoes, (the food) varies.”
“We have a limited amount of meat, which we give until we don’t have anymore,” he said.
Individuals, churches, businesses and others donate food throughout the year.
“We have a lot of food drives to help us,” Murrell said.
The Beacon also provides financial assistance, if the person qualifies, for utility bills, and occasionally rent and prescription assistance.
“If we have the funds, we can help,” Murrell said. “If we don’t we can’t.”
The new evening hours will be offered on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month.
Women needing mammography services in Bourbon County and surrounding areas can once again schedule appointments for the procedure close to home. As part of the transition of services from Mercy Health System to the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, the hospital’s 3D Mammography equipment was donated to CHC/SEK. It remains in its original location and staffed by the experienced staff who have been responsible for the service for more than 15 years.
The equipment – considered the most advanced breast screening technology available – was funded when it was originally acquired through a gift from the Mercy Health Center Foundation.
“We all agreed that the women of southeast Kansas – regardless of their ability to pay – should have continued access to this service,” said CHC/SEK Chief Executive Officer Krista Postai. “In our discussions with staff and community members, we found that many women in the region had come to rely upon its availability.” As in the past, regardless of where a woman goes for primary care, she can make an appointment for a mammogram in Ft. Scott.
“We were surprised at how many women have used this service locally saving – for many of them – a trip to Kansas City or elsewhere,” Postai said. “That certainly speaks well for the quality of the program and staff.
“We will now be able to extend this resource further making it more accessible to low-income women through special programs and discounts based on ability to pay,” she said. “Every woman has the right to quality screening and thanks to Mercy, the Mercy Foundation and CHC/SEK that will continue.” Postai went on to add the Foundation has contributed funding toward covering the cost for those in Bourbon County who otherwise would not be able to afford it.
Among the benefits of 3D mammography are more accurate detection resulting in fewer call backs for additional tests. Because of the use of multiple angled images, 3D mammography may help detect cancers earlier than conventional 2D mammography and is especially effective with women with dense breast tissue. It also can help reduce anxiety from false alarms while also delivering a minimal amount of radiation.
Mammography Technicians Jennifer Dugan and Suzanne Quick, well-known to area women, will be managing the program and look forward to continuing to serve women throughout the area.
“We chose to become a part of CHC/SEK because we love their mission and the opportunity to continue serving patients in the community that we have grown to love, as well as reaching out to a whole new group of women,” said Jennifer Dugan.
“It was their obvious commitment to helping women that convinced us that we should continue this service,” said Postai, who described her first meeting with the two technicians as inspirational. “I have never met anyone more dedicated,” she said. “They were far more concerned about their patients than themselves after learning of the hospital’s closure.”
Despite CHC/SEK’s lack of experience with mammography, Postai was confident the two women would make it work. “We’ve all spent the last two months learning the legal, technical and practical aspects of offering this service,” she explained. “Our staff worked closely with the organizations that approve mammography and despite all the hurdles were able to get all approvals within a week of transitioning the equipment to CHC/SEK ownership.”
Finding qualified radiologists to read the mammograms was also a challenge since this equipment is usually located in a hospital or a physician-owned service.
“Fortunately, Alliance Radiology based in Kansas City had originally provided this service to Mercy Fort Scott when it was started and were willing to reconnect,” said Postai. The technicians were very familiar with Alliance and had confidence they would meet local needs.
“This was definitely a team effort and it would not have been possible otherwise,” said Postai adding that the community – and CHC/SEK – owe a thank you to Jennifer and Suzanne for putting their patients first.
On February 6, Connie Jackson, a local resident and former Mercy employee, became the first person to have her mammogram at CHC/SEK. “I was scheduled for a six month follow up after having been diagnosed originally with breast cancer in January 2016. The technicians were so caring and considerate and put me at ease,” she said, urging other women to schedule this live-saving test.
In order to schedule a mammogram, it is not necessary to have a local physician. Women may call 620-223-8040 to make an appointment and test results will be sent to the physician of their choosing. Mammograms can be scheduled between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday with expanded hours on Wednesdays to 5:30 p.m. to accommodate work schedules. Additional benefits offered through CHC/SEK include the ability to offer mammography at a lower cost with increased access.
Like Mercy, CHC/SEK is a participant in the Kansas Early Detection Works program with free mammograms available to women between the ages of 45 and 64years who do not have health insurance and otherwise qualify.More information about the program can be found on the Kansas Department of Health website www.kdheks.gov/edw.
CHC/SEK also offers financial assistance and accepts all patients regardless of their ability to pay along with commercial insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare. For additional information on CHC/SEK’s financial assistance program go to their website at www.chcsek.org or call 620-231-9873.
The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas is a Federally Qualified Health Center dedicated to providing quality health care to everyone regardless of income or insurance status.CHC/SEK is a patient-owned and operated organization serving more than 50,000 children and adults annually.CHC/SEK employs more than 400 professionals and support staff at 15 clinic sites in Bourbon, Crawford, Cherokee, Labette, Linn, Montgomery, and Allen counties and is governed by a 13- member Board of Directors which includes patients and community representatives.
FOR QUESTIONS CONTACT: Carla Farmer, senior marketing advisor, 620-224-6500
Patrick Whalen and his wife, Kristi, and moved to Fort Scott in 2017. Patrick Whalen helped found and serves as the headmaster for St. Martin’s Academy, a new boy’s Catholic boarding school.
An interest in good tasting coffee turned into a coffee roasting business for the couple, called Ad Astra Roasters.
“As far as I can tell we are the only roasters in Fort Scott,” Whalen said. “We just obtained our license from the state and are excited to be doing business with a couple local coffee shops, Common Ground in Fort Scott and Root in Pittsburg.”
“I had served on active duty as a Marine for about a decade and both my wife Kristi, and I had done a lot of traveling where we developed a taste for geographically specific coffees and an interest in coffee cultures from around the world,” Whalen said.
“As a result of how hard it is to find excellent coffee, I have been roasting coffee for my own family for several years,” Whalen said.
“When we moved to Fort Scott and decided to settle down, we thought we’d share our beans with friends and colleagues etc.,” he said. ” We received great feedback and in 2018 thought we’d try to sell a little bit on the side.”
“We worked with some close friends to build bigger roasters and with the support of the Boiler Room Brewhaus (another local business) and the Common Ground Coffee Shop, were soon selling directly to folks in the community.”
Currently, Ad Astra Roasters is based out of the Whalen home on Main Street in Fort Scott.
“We have turned a section of our basement into the roastery and have our food processing and wholesale license,” he said.
Their beans are from a variety of different bean importing companies around the country who have a reputation for ethical sourcing and business practices, he said.
“Many of our offerings are organic and fair trade certified, and frequently we can tell you the name of the specific farm or cooperative from which the beans come,” Whalen said. “Most of the coffee we roast is what’s called a single origin, meaning that it is not a blend from all over the world, but represents the specific geography and climate of where it was farmed.”
The Whalens currently sell bags of coffee at Common Ground, The Boiler Room Brewhaus, and at Root Coffeehouse in Pittsburg or online through their website www.adastraroasters.com.
“Both Root and Common Ground serve our coffee by the cup, and we’re always happy to provide data on the coffee and brewing tips to make it the best possible cup of joe,” he said.