City Commission names Mayor, approves trolley purchase

During their final April meeting Tuesday evening, the Fort Scott City Commission approved the appointment of JoLynne Mitchell as the new mayor of the board while Sam Mason was named the president of the commission.

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Former mayor Cindy Bartelsmeyer, who had held the position the previous three years, nominated Mitchell to the position and the other commissioners approved the appointment unanimously.

“We appreciate your three years of service,” Mitchell said to Bartelsmeyer, adding she is unsure that she can fill those shoes.

Bartelsmeyer expressed confidence that Mitchell would be able to do so.

“I feel like the city is moving in a very positive, upward way,” Bartelsmeyer said, adding she enjoyed her time as mayor. “We’ve gotten a lot accomplished and I think we’re all proud of that as commission members.

Recent commission addition Randy Nichols was also named the Fort Scott Housing Authority delegate while commissioner Jim Adams was appointed the commission’s Bourbon County Economic Development Council, Inc., representative.

The commissioners also received an update from Reta Baker, Chamber of Commerce board chairman and representative for the transient guest tax committee, concerning the goal to purchase a new trolley for the city’s traditional trolley rides, which have been unavailable for some time since the retirement of Dolly the Trolley.

“There really is something very engaging about a trolley tour,” Baker said, saying the ride with a narrator provides an enjoyable opportunity to learn about the community and ask questions without visitors having to drive or find information on their own.

Baker said the trolley tours in Fort Scott had a decrease in riders before they ended, but said that was likely at least partially a result of the unreliability of Dolly. Baker said they believe a new trolley would recapture some of those numbers.

After looking at a number of new and used trolleys, Baker said they narrowed it down to three and then to their favorite, a new 2015 diesel model that can accommodate 22 to 24 passengers and is handicap accessible. The trolley will be brought to Fort Scott next week for a trial run before purchase.

So far, the fund for the new trolley has received $23,500 from the sale of the old trolleys and an additional $20,500 raised through fundraisers. A bid for a loan brought an interest rate of 2.49 percent from City State Bank for six years of quarterly payments of about $3,600, with the first coming in August.

Baker said they decided to seek a loan instead of raising the funds in advance in order to have a trolley available before the summer months.

“We’re coming up on prime tourism season,” Baker said. “And the longer we put off replacing the trolley, marketing and promoting it, then the more lost opportunity we have to really give people a wonderful experience in our community.

Director of finances Jon Garrison said there are ample funds available from the transient guest tax, coming from those visitors staying at hotels and not from Fort Scott residents, so there should be no problem making payments.

The commission unanimously accepted the transient guest tax committee’s request to purchase the trolley.

Forensics students to compete at state and national contests

Submitted by Amber Toth, April 18

The Fort Scott High School Tigers will be well-represented at the National Tournament in Salt Lake City this June.

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Photo credit: Amber Toth

The team has qualified nine students to the national tournament this year. Charlotte Hutchison and Sebastian Loyd will take duo interpretation. Seth Cross, Joe Adams and Darby Toth will take student congress. Garrett Tatro will be taking domestic extemporaneous. Isabella Provence will take humorous interpretation. Rebekah Sweyko will take informative speaking and Thomas Nighswonger will take program of oral interpretation.

Fort Scott is ranked the number one school in our district. Charlotte Hutchison is ranked first in the district and 6th in the state and was also named district student of the year last weekend. Garrett Tatro is ranked second in the district and 11th in the state. Sebastian Loyd is ranked 3rd in the district and 12th in the state.

“This is an amazing accomplishment,” forensics coach Amber Toth says. “These students are ranked in all classifications, not just with other 4A schools.”

But the excitement does not stop there. Fort Scott will also be represented at state. The state only allows each school to bring 16 total entries. However, this year Fort Scott had 30 entries that qualified for state. Unfortunately, that means there will be students who qualified that will not be attending the state tournament April 29-30.

Those representing Fort Scott will be Tayton Majors, Rebekah Sweyko, Isabella Provence, Darby Toth, Joe Adams, Suzi Owen, Garrett Tatro, Seth Cross, Charlotte Hutchison, Sebastian Loyd and Thomas Nighswonger. Those qualifying for state but not attending include Asia Farrington, Ashton Williams, Jake Province, Sara Al-Shawish, Ethan Tatro, Dalton Womeldorff, and Logan Hall.

“While I hate to leave students home from state that absolutely deserved to be there, it is a nice problem to have,” Toth said.

First Graders Tour the Public Library

Submitted by Valetta Cannon, April 18

On Friday, April 15, 134 1st graders and 10 teachers from Winfield Scott toured the Fort Scott Public Library.

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Photo Credit: Valetta Cannon

They learned about the different types of books available, displays, ongoing programming offered, their options for getting a library card and the names of both their youth librarian and clerk. Miss Val read them a story and let them browse books, while helping any children who asked find what they were looking for. They were sent home with flyers about their visit and stickers.

The library would like to offer similar group tours to local public and private schools, daycares, preschools and homeschool groups. Interested parties may call youth librarian Valetta Cannon at (620) 223-2882 or email vcyouthlib@gmail.com to book tours. Typical availability is M-F, 9-10 am & 2-5 pm.

Prepare your children for summer reading by introducing them to the library today!

State representatives hold panel discussion in Fort Scott

During a legislative breakfast hosted at Mercy Hospital Saturday morning, two state senators and two state representatives answered questions from members of the Fort Scott community on a number of topics.

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“I’m always glad to come up here and participate in this forum,” Representative Adam Lusker said.

With Mark McCoy serving as moderator, the politicians answered questions from the floor as well as questions and comments that had been emailed in advance. Topics ranged from slot machines at dog and horse racing tracks to energy rates and state resources, but much of the time was spent discussing a property tax lid and state education funding.

The panel, which included Lusker with Rep. Marty Read, Sen. Jake LaTurner and Sen. Caryn Tyson, discussed a bill which ould allow property tax rates to be voted on by the citizens if the city or county leaders decide to increase the rates beyond that allowed by inflation and other exemptions.

The panelists pointed out that such a change would grant more rights to the citizens while making the market more competitive in bringing landowners and businesses to the county and the state, since Missouri rates are consistently lower than those in Kansas.

City and county leaders in attendance at the breakfast panel expressed their disagreement with the proposal since it would add restrictions on the leaders voted in by the citizens to represent them, and whom the citizens could vote out of office if they do not properly represent them. Another comment from the audience pointed out that such a change would force the community to pay for an election.

“I don’t think it ties their hands at all,” LaTurner said of the proposed bill and how it affects elected officials, while Tyson said it will help prevent high rates, such as agricultural property rates that went up an average of 15 percent in Bourbon County this year and as much as 40 percent in other areas.

Another key topic, referred to as the second elephant in the room, was education and house bills that have raised concerns for those involved in the schools.

One area concerned a senate bill passed in 2012 that provided a reimbursement for high school students completing technical college courses and even a $1,000 incentive to the students’ high schools. However, that incentive has been taken away as the budget decreases from more than $1 million to about $50,000 in the 2016-2017 year, only covering the testing done during the college courses.

Tyson explained the larger budget and incentives had been designed to only be temporary as the program kicked off. Area educators expressed their concern at that fact as area schools and colleges strive to start up such a program but need that financial support.

The panelists also discussed Kansas House bill 2741, which would prevent state education funding from being used for administrative, maintenance, construction, repairs, extra-curricular activities and food service costs. Tyson and LaTurner both pointed out this bill has not had a hearing yet and they doubt it will advance any further.

Tyson also pointed out that education funding from the state was last cut in 2009 and has only increased from there, although its distribution has left some areas with cuts.

City Manager Dave Martin expressed his appreciation to the four panelists for their representation of Bourbon County and for being willing to speak and work with local leaders, despite any differences in opinion.

All four encouraged residents in their districts to contact them with any questions, comments or concerns they might have on state or local issues.

Fort holds 34th annual Civil War Encampment

Over the weekend, scores of people enjoyed the nice weather by visiting the Fort Scott National Historic Site for the 34th Annual Civil War Encampment, which featured about 90 volunteers of all ages in period clothing who demonstrated attributes of the local fort during the Civil War.

Visitors were treated to infantry, cavalry, baking, artillery and other demonstrations that highlighted information such as medicine and fashion of that era. Infantry men demonstrated the soldiers’ advance and retreat in battle while visitors could also walk through a camp set up to show what life for the soldiers would be like.

FSCC Judging Team’s achievements honored with reception

After a season of successes that will take the team to Scotland to compete this summer, Fort Scott Community College recognized the sophomore Livestock Judging Team with a reception Friday afternoon that drew a number of faculty, family and community members.

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“They’ve had a tremendous season,” FSCC faculty member Ryan Edgecomb said of the team he referred to as record-breaking, with national contest wins in Louisville, Fort Worth and Kansas City, as well as other wins throughout the year and across the country.

Edgecomb said the team faced many joys and trials along the way as they traveled numerous miles, building strong relationships along the way that he said could last a lifetime.

“That’s what we’re all here for,” coach Ryan Page, named coach of the year, said of that team-building process, adding the school strives to give them a good education as well as a good experience in Fort Scott while they participate on the team.

Page said he had a feeling from the beginning of the year that the team could have a good season, saying he was proud of the team for its self-initiated drive that took them to competitions the coach had not thought they would participate in.

“We’re never going to forget Fort Scott,” team member and academic all-American Chase Gleason said, thanking the faculty and others for their constant support and encouragement.

“There’s just something special about Fort Scott for me,” team member Callahan Grund agreed, saying the homey feel to the town encouraged him to come to FSCC from his home in west Kansas.

Because of their win at the North American Livestock Expo in Louisville, Ky., the team was invited to compete at the Royal Highland Stock Show in Edinburgh, Scotland. The team will leave June 22 and return July 3.

Presbyterian Village hosts Art is Ageless Exhibit, Chamber Coffee

During the weekly Chamber Coffee, the Fort Scott Presbyterian Village gave information on their place of residence as well as current and upcoming events being hosted by the assisted living facility.

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Executive Director Ginger Nance explained the Presbyterian Village is an independent and assisted living facility that focuses on serving their tenants’ needs and keeping them involved through events in the community as much as they are willing and able.

The facility is three levels and has three apartment sizes with other features including a pond and services such as massage therapy and beauticians.

“Every dollar that is spent here stays here to make this a nice place for our seniors to retire to and to be in the community involved,” Nance said of the Christian-based, not-for-profit organization. “They want to be involved.”

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Nance said they are always looking for ways to contribute in the community such as at businesses or organizations who their tenants could volunteer for. They also welcome services from other businesses who could bless the seniors who have greatly influenced the community throughout their lives, but now need assistance.

Currently, the Village is hosting the Art is Ageless Exhibit, including photographs, paintings, quilts, woodwork, pottery, jewelry and other items completed by artists often in their 70s or even late 80s. The exhibit also serves as a contest between the manors, with the winning pieces being featured in next year’s calendar created by the Village.

The exhibit will be available to the public through April 20, with a reception held that final day at 3 p.m.

On May 5, the Village will also host a speaker from Kansas City on the topic of the Holocaust while on May 11, they will hold a fundraising dinner to support the non-profit’s Good Samaritan program, which helps provide for the tenants who might need financial assistance for the care they need. That event will include a Chicken Annie’s dinner, an auction and a 50/50 drawing that will provide half the donations to the winner. Donations to the Good Samaritan program are accepted throughout the year and are tax deductible.

Other upcoming events include:

  • Mercy Home Health and Hospice will host the National Healthcare Decision Day Expo at the Ellis Fine Arts center at Fort Scott Community College Friday, 3-6 p.m.
  • The Young Professionals League will hold their monthly social at Nate’s Place Friday evening starting at 5:30 p.m.
  • Mercy Hospital will host a Legislative Coffee Saturday morning, 9-10:30 a.m., at their café. Four state senators and representatives will be on hand to answer questions and share information.
  • Fort Scott National Historic Site will hold their annual, free Civil War Encampment event Saturday and Sunday, featuring a large number of volunteers dressed in period clothing and participating in demonstrations including baking, fashion and weapons firing.
  • A blood drive will be held at the Fort Scott Church of the Nazarene Monday, 1-7 p.m., and Tuesday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • The Friends of the Fort will hold their annual Friends Fest gala at Liberty Theater Tuesday evening, including dinner and a program featuring President Teddy Roosevelt. Tickets must be purchased in advance and soon.
  • On April 23, FSCC will hold a fundraiser dinner, Greyhounds Go Gourmet, on behalf of the football team to raise money for scholarships and other needs. Dinner of steak or chicken will be served by the coaches at Nate’s Place at 5 and 7 p.m., with tickets for the three-course meal costing $30 each. Reservations are requested by Monday.
  • Medicalodges is participating in raising funds for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s with a taco salad and dessert fundraiser on Friday, April 23, at $5 a meal.
  • Fort Scott’s Townwide Garage Sale will be held May 13-14. Those interested in participating can sign up with the Chamber of Commerce and also place advertisements in the flyers.
  • Landmark National Bank locations are accepting canned goods or other non-perishable food items over the next week to donate to the Beacon.
  • Starting this week, athletes from the FSCC football team will begin selling posters featuring the team schedule for $10 each.

USD 234 projects on schedule and budget

Construction fences and equipment have been seen at the four USD 234 schools in Fort Scott for several weeks and soon progress will become more visible according to a report given during the April board of education meeting held Monday night.

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Steve Bennett of Nabholz gave that update, addressing topics and concerns such as safety, quality, time and cost of the projects.

“We have run into some problems with your project,” Bennett admitted, saying groundwork turned up different obstructions underground at the sites such as an old cistern and foundation, coal, poor soil and trouble caused by a broken and obstructed pipe.

The work at the high school is also about a month behind schedule because the contractors have struggled to match the precast concrete to the current colors. But instead of having to push back the time of completion, Bennett said they changed their initial plan of starting with the high school, and instead began at the other schools, which are all on schedule.

“Time-wise, we’re doing really well,” Bennett said, saying the precasting should be done by the end of April or beginning of May, with structures going up soon after those concrete molds are in place.

Some of the problems crews have come across were budgeted for, but Bennett said some are eating into the contingencies. Despite that fact, Bennett said nothing has been lost from the project to keep it within budget.

Bennett said, despite looking for ways to make sure they do not surpass the set budget or the schedule, the team will not sacrifice in quality, always verifying purchased items, checking for the correct densities of grading as well as taking time to find all existing underground lines and recording them for the school for future work.

Bennett said the buildings will be ready before the start of the new school year in August, although some small projects could remain to be completed by the crews overnight. Until the end of the current school year, Bennett said the contractors have already scheduled much of their work, such as interior projects, to be done at night or over the weekends.

Over the past weekend, the workers succeeded in turning off utilities at the school to relocate power lines to underground lines.

The team also prioritizes safety at the job sites, using fences and signs as well as enforcing safety orientation, planning and emergency exits from the schools.

 

Fort Scott community participates in annual Home Show

Numerous Bourbon County residents visited the Arnold Arena Friday and Saturday to attend the annual Home, Farm, Sport and Garden Show, organized by KOMB-FM and featuring more than 50 local businesses and other entities.

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Visitors to the Fort Scott Community College campus could view booths set up by those groups including the city of Fort Scott, the Lowell Milken Center, Hartman Spine and Joint, Brigg’s Auto, Scentsy, Mary Kay and several other organizations and businesses. Those vendors provided information as well as prizes throughout the weekend.

Larger prizes such as a Kansas City Royals package and Branson show tickets were also given away and a prize wheel was on hand.

Saturday morning, FSCC also held a community fair in conjunction with the event, providing games, manicures, experiments, a cheerleading clinic and other activities for children and run by college students as well as the Fort Scott police and fire departments and other community members.

History Abounds as Historic Site Hosts Annual Civil War Encampment

Submitted by the Fort Scott National Historic Site, April 7

Fort Scott National Historic Site commemorates the Civil War and how it shaped our country by presenting the 34th Annual Civil War Encampment on Saturday and Sunday, April 16 and 17.

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Experience the sights, sounds and smells of the times—soldiers marching or on horse, rifles firing and gunpowder hanging in the air.  A variety of interpretive programs will illustrate the role Fort Scott played as a major supply base for federal troops during this pivotal conflict.

The public is invited to participate beginning Saturday morning at 9 a.m., and concluding with the last program at 3 p.m. on Sunday as park volunteers engage in various activities.  Union cavalry, infantry and artillery units will perform military training representing how troops were prepared for battle.  Members of the Ladies Union Aid Society will focus on the vital role civilians played in supporting the military.

On Saturday at 1 p.m., come learn about Victorian clothing with “Dawn to Dusk Fashion Show.”  At 6:30 p.m., you are invited guests to a 1916 Civil War Veterans Reunion. This program is a National Park Service Centennial activity highlighting 100 years of the National Park Service.  On Sunday at 10 a.m., come join in a period church service. Learn about the logistics of feeding soldiers with “Rolling in the Dough” Bake-house Demonstration at 11 a.m.   Cavalry, infantry and artillery demonstrations will continue in the afternoon.

The Civil War Encampment is made possible through the generous support provided by volunteer members of the Holmes Brigade, 4th Missouri Cavalry, Ladies Union Aid Society, Western Bluecoats Field Hospital, 3rd Kansas Artillery Battery B, Friends of Fort Scott NHS, Inc., and a host of Fort Scott National Historic Site volunteers.

The schedule of activities is as follows:

SATURDAY, APRIL 16

9:00 a.m. – Raising the Colors

10:00 a.m. – Cavalry Drill

11:00 a.m. – Infantry Drill and Weapons Demonstration

1:00 p.m. – “Dawn to Dusk Fashion Show”

2:00 p.m. – Infantry Drill and Weapons Demonstration

3:00 p.m. – Artillery Drill and Weapons Demonstration

4:00 p.m. – Flag Retreat

6:30 p.m. – “The Last Full Measure of Devotion” – Reunion of CW veterans

SUNDAY, APRIL 17

9:00 a.m. – Raising the Colors

10:00 a.m. – Church Service

11:00 a.m. – “Rolling in the Dough” -Bake House Demonstration

12:00 noon – Artillery Drill and Weapons Demonstration

1:00 p.m. – Cavalry Drill

2:00 p.m. – Infantry Drill and Weapons Demonstration

3:00 p.m. – Artillery Drill and Weapons Demonstration

Presbyterian Village names Assisted Living Director

Submitted by Ginger Nance, April 8

When its long-time, assisted living director Lori Collier decided to retire and take a less than full-time role at the end of May, Fort Scott Presbyterian Village did not have to look far to find her replacement. Jennifer Hyer worked at Presbyterian Village for years in both full-time and part-time roles as she continued to grow her expertise.

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“Jennifer is an outstanding nurse,” said Ginger Nance, executive director at Presbyterian Village. “We are so blessed that Jennifer is ready to step back into a full-time role as Lori retires. Many of our residents and their families already know Jennifer and are looking forward to working with her.”

During the transition, Collier will continue to work part-time, enabling Hyer to step into the role while leaning on Collier’s expertise and years of experience, Nance said. “Although I know Lori is looking forward to more days to garden and spend with grandchildren, we will miss her.”  She won’t be far away though.  Collier plans to continue in a more part-time and advisory role so she won’t lose touch with what she has loved doing at the Village for over 10 years.

“What an honor to be taking on the new position as Director of Assisted Living,” states Hyer.  “Lori Collier, has had such an impact on my nursing career and I’d like to thank her for her guidance and support over the years and also for the privilege it will be to train by her side in weeks to come.”  “It’s been six wonderful years since I first started at the Village.”  “This has been a journey filled with love for my profession where compassion, teamwork and our Christian-based mission collide.”  “I have found that the Presbyterian Village is a place where the little things we do for one another become our biggest rewards!”  “This is a community where we take pride in providing the best care for seniors and it’s my duty and promise to continue doing so by carrying out our faith-based mission and caring for each of your loved ones as though they are my own.”

Fort Scott Presbyterian Village has a history of zero-deficiency surveys from the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Last June, the campus received its seventh consecutive zero-deficiency survey and its ninth in the past 13 years. Hyer has worked at Presbyterian Village for six of those years.

“Jennifer’s experience and dedication to our mission will enable us to continue to provide the quality senior services those in the Fort Scott area expect from us,” Nance said.

Fort Scott Presbyterian Village is an assisted living community, which means it is licensed by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. Residents have their own private apartments, one or two bedrooms complete with all appliances, and may receive some assistance with activities of daily living.  The apartment setting is perfect for a single person or for couples to remain together and age in a place with compassionate help always available if and when they need it.

The Presbyterian Village setting is not only suitable for those who need physical assistance but designed for independent seniors, as well.  Some apartments have a comfortable patio and a parking garage is available for those who are active drivers.  The main concept is that people can come and go as they please from their home, but help is always available.

For more information about Fort Scott Presbyterian Village, contact Ginger Nance, executive director, at 620-223-5550 or gnance@pmma.org.

Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America has 18 senior living communities in Kansas and Missouri. The not-for-profit organization is headquartered in Wichita, Kan.

Fort Scott holds first annual Festival of Arts and Ideas

After months of planning and promotions, Fort Scott hosted the first 2nd Story Festival of Arts and Ideas over the weekend, encouraging members of the community to be involved in arts in conjunction with entrepreneurship.

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Leaders of the city, the area Chamber of Commerce, Bourbon County Arts Council members and other members of the community worked together to bring local and out-of-state artists and entrepreneurs to the event for discussions as well as hands-on activities for participants.

“Every town needs a little Bohemian,” said Denise Duncan, owner of the Beaux Arts Centre, where many of the events were held. “I think everybody’s had a good time.”

Jared Witt helped initiate the planning for the event and said their goal was to bring creative people together to spark new ideas as well as provide a fun time, adding he was pleased with the number of participants who attended.

“It was awesome,” Witt said. “It exceeded my expectations.”

The event kicked off Friday evening with a panel discussion with local business owners Amy Labbe, Bill Michaud, Jacki Prettyman and Trenton Banwart on how they started their separate businesses and continue to increase their reach through numerous avenues.

Experts in areas of watercolors, photography, fashion, pottery and poetry as well as published authors attended the Saturday event, which drew a number of community members to learn about those fields as well as participate in them. Visiting artists included Debbie Reed, Jane Campbell, Veretta Cobbler and Daria Claiborne and authors Casie Hermansson and Stephen Johnson with local author Don Miller.

Chef Jasper Mirabile of Jasper’s restaurant in Kansas City also held a culinary demonstration Saturday, an event which sold out in just one day.

Tom Byler of Pittsburg State University hosted a luncheon discussion Saturday on the topic of Art as a Business on behalf of speaker Marc Willson, who was unable to come after being injured in a home accident earlier that week.

The event ended with a fundraiser event Saturday evening with visitors able to view and purchase items provided by the visiting artists.

Witt said the event went smoothly but they still learned enough along the way to know how to improve the festival for future years.

 

Fort Scott News