County leaders give update to Chamber members, events announced

During the first Chamber Coffee of the month of March, Bourbon County leaders gave an update to Chamber of Commerce members of current projects and services provided and other changes happening at the courthouse.

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“We are very proud of the services and the people that are resources in this county,” county commission chairperson Barbara Albright said Thursday, taking time to introduce each of the county’s department leaders. “They’re here to serve you.”

Information provided included items such as a move by the register of deeds to a new office, real estate appraisal notices being sent with the deadline approaching, emergency exercises to be conducted in upcoming months, newly appointed department leaders as well as changes in appearance to bring the courthouse back to its original look.

The county leaders also reminded members of the community of services they offer such as offering election information, providing hunting, fishing and boating licenses and taking care of the approximately 1,000 miles of road in the county. Representatives from the different departments said anyone with questions or concerns should reach out to them.

Sheriff Bill Martin also gave an update on the department’s new K-9 unit program, which received its first of two dogs this week. The dog will begin getting acquainted with the county and his handler during the next month while his handler also begins training.

Other chamber members were given the opportunity to announce upcoming events including:

  • The Young Professionals League will hold their monthly meeting at Papa Don’s Friday at noon, with Sheriff Bill Martin and USD 234 Superintendent Bob Beckham being on hand to provide information and answer questions about their areas of service in the community.
  • Fort Scott Community College will hold their 35th annual spring rodeo Friday through Sunday.
  • Mercy Hospital will hold a Save a Life event Saturday, providing mammograms between 7 a.m. and 12 p.m. Those interested should contact the hospital to schedule a time.
  • Registered voters can cast their ballots Saturday, March 5, for a presidential candidate. Information on where to go can be found at the County Clerk’s office.
  • The Fort Scott National Historic Site will host the Lift Every Voice: The Black Experience in the Heartland play Tuesday, March 8, at 7 p.m. Admission is free.
  • Country Place Living Senior Center will hold their ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, March 10, with festivities beginning at 5:15 p.m.
  • On March 13, during their Sunday service, the First United Methodist Church will celebrate 150 years of existence. Members of the community are welcome to attend.
  • During the month of March, participants can register for the Kansas State Extension Office’s Walk Across Kansas health initiative, a state-wide program that involves teams of six people in challenges to walk far enough in their own community during the months of April and May to cross the state of Kansas.
  • Later this month, local churches will come together for a Good Friday service at Life Point Assembly of God while an Easter sunrise service will be held at the downtown gazebo on Main Street. Anyone is welcome to attend.
  • The Chamber of Commerce will host the annual Chamber Banquet on March 31. Members of the chamber are encouraged to begin nominating businesses and individuals for awards such as for a new business, business person and best community spirit awards.
  • The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes is holding a fundraiser for the new Unsung Hero Park, allowing participants to purchase bricks for $100 each to be engraved and placed at the park. Those interested in sponsoring a brick can contact the center for request forms.

City Commissioner to resign from position as family moves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill for Bourbon County to go before state senate

After alleged violations in rural fire districts came to the attention of the Bourbon County Commission and the county attorney, the county leaders began to work with District 13 Kansas Senator Jacob LaTurner to create a bill that would help ease the process and create better transparency with the districts.

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County Attorney Justin Meeks said they determined no violations had been made when records had first been requested from the fire district by the township as an open record and then through an audit, since the necessary funding had ever been paid.

However, the circumstance opened another issue since only the township can request such an audit. Currently the commission has no jurisdiction over the fire districts or townships other than to appoint or approve township board members.

The proposed bill, which is to go through a hearing Thursday, would provide another means for getting an audit through the commission, who could request the audit if residents of the township bring probable cause to their attention.

“I think we’ll get it done,” LaTurner said during a meeting with the commission Tuesday morning. “I don’t know why anyone would oppose it.”

The township would still be responsible for paying for the audit, which could already be the key issue in having one done in some townships. If a fire district is located in more than one township, than the cost of the audit could be divided among the townships.

The bill would only apply the new statute to Bourbon County, though LaTurner said he believed it could be beneficial to other Kansas counties as well. If passed, the bill would go into effect as soon as it becomes a statute.

“It’s hard for me to imagine that we’re the only ones who have run into this,” commission chairman Barbara Albright said.

County leaders will draft a letter of support for the bill prior to the hearing. A copy of the bill can be found at the following link:

Kansas voters prepare for Saturday Caucus

With the arrival of March and Super Tuesday, residents of Kansas can also look forward to showing their support for presidential nominees and other candidates by participating in the Democratic and Republican caucuses to be held on Saturday, March 5.

Stock Photo
Stock Photo

Those registered as Republicans can participate by traveling to the Linn County Fairgrounds in Mound City Saturday. The doors will open at 9 a.m. and close at 1 p.m., with votes being cast by secret ballots between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Representatives from the five, current candidates may be on hand to speak on behalf of their candidate in order to sway voters.

“It’s important to be there,” Bourbon County Republicans Vice-Chairperson Rhonda Dunn said, saying she hopes Bourbon County makes a good showing at the caucus. “This is our chance to vote for a presidential candidate.”

Registered Democratic voters in Bourbon County will caucus at two locations based on what district they reside in. Those in Senate District 12, which includes the northern part of Bourbon County, can participate at the Jayhawk-Linn High School in Mound City. Those of Senate District 13, including the southern part of Bourbon County, will caucus at S.E. High School in Cherokee. Those unsure of which district they live in can contact the county clerk.

Caucus registration will begin at 1 p.m. and will include everyone in line by 3 p.m., excluding any late arrivals. After registration, representatives from both Democratic candidates will have an opportunity to speak and the process will be explained to the caucus-goers by a master of ceremonies.

Participants will divide themselves into groups to show their support for a specific candidate. If one of those groups does not receive enough supporters, it will be considered nonviable and those supporters must join another group.

When all in attendance decide on which candidate they will support, the number of each group is tallied and their ballots gathered and counted.

“It is an opportunity for representatives of presidential candidates, democrat family, friends, neighbors and local candidates to meet and greet like-minded people,” said Shirley Palmer, Bourbon County Democrat Treasurer.  “It will be the largest gathering of Democrats in one place at one time probably since 2008.”

Palmer encouraged registered voters to participate in order to make a difference in Kansas in the 2016 elections.

Kansas Republican Party Announces Presidential Caucus

Submitted by Deb Martin, Feb. 22

Fort Scott, Kan., Bourbon County Republican Party Chairman Randall Readinger announced the March 5, 2016, Republican Presidential Caucus for Bourbon and Linn Counties.

Photo credit: Bourbon County Republican Party
Photo credit: Bourbon County Republican Party

“This year it looks like Kansas’ Caucus will play a major role in the presidential selection process,” Readinger says. “By all accounts the race will stay competitive for some time and Kansas’ Caucus is the first event after the first Super Tuesday on March 1 and before the second Super Tuesday on March 15.

“The Caucus gives all registered Republicans the opportunity to cast their ballot for the Republican Presidential nominee of their choice and help determine which candidate receives the votes of Kansas’ 40 delegates at the Republican National Convention.

“The Caucus is free, fast, and open to all registered Republican voters in Kansas.

“Our Caucus will be held at the Linn County Fairgrounds, 4­H Building, Mound City, Kan. The doors will open at 9:00 a.m. and close at 1:00 p.m. We will caucus, or vote, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Ballots will be counted immediately after voting is over.

“In order to participate in the caucus, participants must have been registered as a Republican by February 4, 2016, and must provide a photo ID at the caucus location. The Caucus process is free, fast and simple. After checking in, voters may hear short presentations by representatives of each candidate and then receive a ballot to vote.”

Additional information such as frequently asked questions and all caucus locations can be found at

FSHS Forensics team again places first

Submitted by Amber Toth, Feb. 22

Another successful first place in Coffeyville this week.

Photo Credit: Amber Toth
Photo Credit: Amber Toth

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Amber Toth
Photo Credit: Amber Toth

Knights of Columbus continue tradition of Lenten Fish Fry

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

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

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

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

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

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

Director for Country Place Senior Living a familiar face in Fort Scott

In mid-March, the Country Place Living Memory Care center located on Horton will be open and ready for residents under the leadership of Director Darcy Sinn, born and raised in Bourbon County.

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Sinn grew up in Bronson, attended school at Uniontown, and then received her nursing degree at Fort Scott Community College. She then worked at Mercy Hospital as a nurse, eventually helping with long-term care.

“I enjoy taking care of people,” Sinn said, saying some of her family members have also been nurses and helped her with her career decision.

While familiar with long-term care due to her time as a nurse, Sinn said this position is at a new level for her. Already she has spent time visiting and observing at other Country Place Living facilities in Kansas while also marketing for the Fort Scott location.

“We’ve had a lot of interest,” Sinn said of the facility that can provide a home for 12 residents at a time and also care on a daily basis for those who only need care for single days.

Sinn said she is excited about her new position, saying her favorite part of long-term care is building relationships with the residents and their families.

“I like the concept of the smaller residency,” Sinn said, adding that it allows for more personal care for residents.

Currently, Country Place Living is still accepting applications for positions such as Certified Medication Aide, Certified Nursing Assistant and a dietary nurse. Sinn said she will be conducting interviews this week.

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Dancing with Our Stars event a success

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

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

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

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

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

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

The total amount raised reached $16,937.

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

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

FSHS Thespians Stage the Dramatic Play “Missing”

Submitted by Angela Bin, Feb. 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

# # #

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

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

FSCC Livestock Judging Team Earns First Place

Submitted by Heather Cutshall, Feb. 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing with Our Stars event to support Rotary, charities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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