Bank Foreclosure Sale Rescheduled

There was a bank foreclosure sale for a single piece of property scheduled this morning at 10 am on the county court house steps, but 10 am came and went with no sale. The court house was not open because of Veterans Day and it appears that the sale was rescheduled for December 9th.

Apparently when a bank wishes to foreclose on an owner who is not paying their mortgage, they can’t simply take the property back. The bank’s position against the home must be auctioned off with the bid starting at the amount the bank is owed. If there are no buyers the property goes back to the bank and then the bank can then sell it through a realtor or through their own auction.

Fort Scott Job Fair

Klein, H&H Publishing, and EPOCH tables at job fair

Seven employers had tables at the Fort Scott Job Fair at the performing arts building of FSCC today.  Here is a little about each company.

Carlisle

They didn’t want to say anything about their company without having it approved by their corporate office, but it is reasonable to assume they have at least one position open.

Klein

Klein makes water and fuel tanks that are then mounted on the back of large trucks. They are looking for welders, mechanics, drafts persons, and other positions. Klein is based in Fort Scott and the company has been around since the 1960s. They are looking for employees who can help them grow.

Epoch

Epoch is located in the old Western/Cigna building near Mercy Hospital. Epoch is part of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City. They process claims for Blue Cross and other companies. They have claims and data entry positions coming available and plan to hire 20 to 50 people in the next 3 or 4 months. They also plan to have some customer service positions open the second half of 2012.

Since examining claims is something that takes training, they are partnering with FSCC to create an online course to train claims examiners.

AZZ Atkinson

Atkinson is located in the industrial park in Pittsburg. They make custom enclosures for electrical and waste water treatment facilities. They have a number of floor positions open (electricians, welders, painters, etc.) as well as some office positions. They are looking to hire a total of 25 to 30 people. They are currently running a day shift of 7 to 3:30 Monday-Friday and are getting ready to start a night shift from 8:30p to 7am Sunday – Thursday.

Peerless

Peerless makes architectural windows and doors and is based in Fort Scott. They are looking for an IT Programmer and a Production Supervisor. Peerless touts their competitive pay, good benefits and stable business history as benefits to potential employees.

H & H Publishing

H & H publishes the Deadline and other advertising. They have current openings for sales associates and are looking to expand business in the near future. With their expansion they will need investigative reporters, sports writers and other writers.

Hospice Care of Kansas

Hospice Care of Kansas provides hospice services to people with terminal illness and support for their families. This includes medical help, but also involves bereavement support and even a summer camp for kids who have lost a loved one. They are currently looking for LPNs and RNs. They have two full time positions available, but there are many opportunities for people who want part time work.

They are also looking for volunteers who can sit with patients or help answer phones in the office.

Kansas Works

While not an employer, Kansas Works had a table at the job fair to let potential employees and employers know about their services. For employees they offer many self service tools via their website. These tools include job search and online resume listing services. There is also a Local Workforce Center in Pittsburg where job seekers can go to get help with their resume and job hunting skills.

Kansas Works also has a number of grants available that allow them to offer in greater assistant for people in certain situations. This can include training and education. In some cases they can even offer on the job training where employers are reimbursed for a portion of the wages they pay a new employee as they learn the skills of a new position.

Kansas Works also offers programs for at risk kids and youth to help them acquire work experience and  gain some of the soft skills necessary to pursue a job in the market.

For employers, they offer a number of services that can help provide grants and tax savings for organizations that are looking to hire. Since they work with a large number of prospective employees they can provide many services for free such as screening, recruitment, and advertising available positions.

Chamber Coffee – VFW

The weekly Chamber Coffee was held at the VFW Post 1165 this morning. VFW Chairman Clint Walker told a little about what the VFW is doing in the community and thanked the businesses for their support.  The VFW sponsors a Voice of Democracy scholarship contest where high school students make an audio essay. Theresa Schafer won for the state of Kansas. (You can listen to her audio essay here.)  The VFW also sponsors a contest for middle school age children called Patriot Pen.

The flags that line the road to the National Cemetery are done by the VFW. Most of them are given in honor of someone. You can buy a flag in honor of a loved one for $35 through the VFW.  Mr. Walker said he would be setting up the flags at 7am tomorrow morning if anyone would like to come out and help.

Mr. Walker told the story of when he was working as a recruiter at the beginning of the first Gulf War. He said a 70 year old woman came in to show him a bag of medals and a newspaper clipping from her son who had died in World War II. The woman said that if she had it all to do over, she would give her son for America again.

A few other announcements that were made at the meeting:

  • There two veteran’s programs tomorrow at 11am and 2pm at the National Cemetery.
  • Jamie Armstrong announced that her Edward D. Jones office is going to be opening next to Subway on Thursday.
  • Everything Pets will be opening on Saturday.
  • The downtown Christmas open house (pdf) is tonight and many businesses will be staying open until 8.
  • Life + Style will have a number of food samples available downtown tonight.
  • The Kiwanis chili feed is tonight.
  • Mercy has a chili cookoff on the 15th.
  • The Citizen’s Bank Bowl will be played in Pittsburg on December 4th.
  • The Chamber Community Guide is looking for content about local businesses.

 

 

Tax Statements Coming

The county is getting ready to send out tax statements to property owners. Joanne Long said that the county sends out over 15,000 tax statements. Some properties have two statements–one that goes to the mortgage holder and one to the property owner. Property owners should see the statements sometime in the next week or so.

The County Clerk helps stuff some of the 15,000 tax statements on Monday.

The taxes can also be viewed online by following this link. Type in your last name, push “find now” and then click on the “current taxes” link.

Commission Meeting – November 7th

There was some discussion of the getting a crane to help move crusher equipment at the rock quarry. Commissioner Coleman said that when he was working with cranes they always tried to oversize the crane by 5x of whatever they are trying to lift. The commissioners were going to check to see just how much the equipment that needs to be moved weighs.

There will be no commission meeting on Friday due to the holiday. There will be no commission meeting on Monday due to the Kansas Association of Counties annual conference.

A citizen came in to talk to the commissioners about a large rock that bent up the A-arm and stabilizer from bottom of his car last Tuesday when he hit it and it drug him over into the ditch. The commissioners and county clerk gave him a form to fill out for the county insurance company.

Sewer District

Two citizens, John Scott & Curt Shankel, were updating the advisory committee for the new sewer district. The sewer system should be operational by the end of the month. They are asking that the committee be kept in the loop particularly in matters related to the price increases. They discussed how to keep things fair if people want to connect to the district in the future. The commissioners based a motion to recognize the advisory committee in an advisory capacity.

Vacation & Holiday

The commissioners passed a motion to close the landfill on Saturday when there is a holiday that falls on a Monday or Friday.

Redfield Alleged Stalker

The Mayor of Redfield, Gary Judd, came to talk to the commissioners about an alleged stalker / peeping tom. He said that citizens have started arming themselves and walking the streets at night. The other evening two citizens were out with a baseball bat and shotgun. He was concerned that some of the people arming themselves “shouldn’t even have a gun.” He said the sheriff’s department is doing the best they can do, but he was still concerned that someone was going to get hurt.

Allegedly someone broke into an individual’s home, watched her sleep, and kidnapped her from a convenience store. The review of the tapes from the convenience store doesn’t seem to support that.

He said there was a city council meeting tonight where the issue is going to be discussed.

The Commissioners suggested that he talk with the sherrif.  The Mayor said he had tried, but no one called him back. He felt like the person at the front desk was interrogating him. He said that if there was anything Redfield could do to work with the sheriff’s department, they would be very willing.

The Mayor came back after talking with the sheriff and said he and the sheriff were both questioning the validity of the allegations, but that the sheriff’s department was helping the town with the issue.

Quarry Meeting

The commissioners are meeting with the road and bridge crew at 7 am, November 9th at the county barn to discuss the move to a new quarry.

 

 

Job Fair

There will be a job fair held at the FSCC Danny & Willa Ellis Fine Arts Center on Thursday, November 10th from 10am to 2pm. If you are looking for a job, put it on your calendar. If you know of anyone looking for a job, please let them know about it.

The flyer lists six companies that will be at the fair:

  • Atkinson Industries from Pittsburg
  • Carlisle Transportation Products
  • The Epoch Group
  • H&H Publishing
  • Klein Products
  • Peerless Products

There are over 20 positions listed. You can download the flyer from here: Job Fair Flyer – Fall 2011

Pet Store Coming To Fort Scott

Fort Scott will have a new petstore called Everything Pets. The new petstore will be next door to the gas station at 6th and National.

Owner, Dawn Bryant, plans to open next Saturday on November 12th. A variety of birds, hamsters and guinea pigs have already taken up residence in cages and are waiting for opening day.

The new store will fill a void left by the closing of Pets n Pets a few months ago.

 

Disc Gunners Take Advantage Of Nice Weather

Members of Fort Scott Disc Gunners took advantage of the warmer weather late Friday afternoon to play some disc golf in Gunn Park.The Gunn Park disc golf course was originally installed with 9 “holes” in 1999 and in more recent years has been upgraded to 18 holes. Most have a regular and alternate location and they are regularly shifted between these positions to add variety. The course length varies between 4908 ft. and 6375 ft. depending on the configuration.

 

Why Wasn’t This Property Sold?

Here is a screenshot of the 2005 property taxes for a local business. Half of this amount should have been due on December 20th 2005 and the other half on May 10th 2006. Since the taxes weren’t paid, they should have been published in October 2006 which would have started the redemption period. For non-homestead property that would have been 24 months.

So the property should have been at any Sheriff’s sale that occurred after October of 2008. However, the taxes were not paid until March of 2010. Was there no tax sale from October 2008 until some point after March of 2010? The Bourbon County website lists a 2009 tax sale list, but this property was not included. According to the Commission minutes, there was a tax sale held January 27th, 2010.

When I asked Treasurer wasn’t sure why this property wasn’t on the sale and she didn’t recall any reason why it was held off. It is important to note that there are many stages that property goes through before being listed on a sale and it is entirely possible that it was submitted as property for sale, from the Treasurer’s office but held out based on other criteria.

If there was a reason why the property was held off the tax sale, was the interest calculated correctly? The interest rate for 2005 taxes was 7%. The total amount owed would incurred interest from May 20th 2006 until March 22nd, 2010 or 46 months and two days.  Half of the amount would have incurred interest from December 10th, 2005 until May 20th, 2006 or 5 months 10 days. If we round the time to just months the total comes to $7,116.29 in interest. There should have been another $15 or so in fees as well.

According to Susan Porter, who used to work in the Treasurer’s office, the system we are looking at here, has a safe guard against accepting incorrect interest.  It requires that you manually over-ride the interest.

When this is entered to actually pay the tax on the tax payment screen the only way for the interest or penalty to be changed or removed is a manual override or to back date the payment calendar date. Until this is done the correct amount of interest and penalties are calculated correctly. ~ Susan Porter source

If this is correct, then someone would have needed to intentionally marked the amount as complete even though the system was showing there was still around $900 owed. I asked the Treasurer the discrepancy could be due to the way that the amortization schedule works. In other words if part of the taxes owed were paid early on, those taxes would no longer be accuring interest. So it is possible the taxes were calculated correctly, but since the date of each payment doesn’t show up on the public website, it is hard to tell.

Interestingly this particular company does have a payment plan that was setup in 2010. They own just under $30,000. The payment plan states that they will pay $2,000 per month from April 20, 2011 until May 20, 2012. This only comes to $28,000 which is about $2,000 less than what they owe without factoring in the interest.

According to Mr. Sercer, he was told that the payment plans were based on an amortization schedule produced by the old computer system and that sometimes it came up with “crazy” interest rates. The Treasurer confirmed that this was likely what had happened in this situation. It seems very odd that it would generate a completely even number that doesn’t even add up to the full amount much less include interest.

The problem isn’t so much that the property wasn’t sold. Obviously it is better if the taxes are paid. However, if a property doesn’t have the threat of being sold, it is possible for other payments to become the priority.

Is it possible that simply following the timelines specified for selling delinquent property would have encouraged enough payments to have made the past mill levy increase unnecessary?

 

Internet Access In Fort Scott

Fort Scott has a reasonable number of choices for internet access.  Here is a list of what is available depending on exactly where you live.

  • AT&T – DSL services provided over phone lines. Your lines can be further than 14,000 feet from the central office and some of the older lines won’t work.
  • Suddenlink – Provided over cable connections. If you can get cable, you can probably gett this.
  • RTS – Local wireless provider.
  • Valnet – A wireless provider from Independence.
  • Alpha Wireless – A new wireless provider in town. It isn’t clear if they are up and running yet or not.

That looks like quite a few options, but they all have one thing in common. They all get their bandwidth to Fort Scott from AT&T. So while there can be a certain amount of competition in how to connect your home, there is no competition in the underlying resource–access to the Internet.

Does this lack of competition drive the price up in Fort Scott? For comparison, I have a server in downtown Kansas City. For $50 per month I can get a 100 Mbps connection to the Internet. This would be enough bandwidth to let a local ISP supply reasonable service to a large number of customers. Now we’d expect that it would cost more to get a connection like that in Fort Scott than in Kansas City, but how much more? If it would cost 20 times more that would be $1,000 per month. Obviously that is more than what you’d want to put in your house, but it wouldn’t be out of reach for a business–particularly an ISP.

When I talked to AT&T about getting a connection like that, the initial price started out at around $39,266 per month. With a long contract and a special they were running, the price would come down to $31,333. After talking with a few different people, it sounded like there might be a way to cut that in half and get down to the $15,000 range. Still that is 300 times what bandwidth costs in downtown Kansas City. Could you imagine if your electric or telephone bill cost 300 times more than it costs in a larger city? Instead of a $90 per month electric bill, it would cost you $27,000 pre month. Instead of a $32 per month phone bill, it would cost $9,600.

If you were starting a business that required a reliable high speed connection to the Internet, would you go to the town where it costs $50 per month or the town where it costs $15,000? The future of small towns like Fort Scott is going to be very closely tied to their ability to tap into reliable inexpensive bandwidth. As long as everything comes through a single provider, there is no competition to drive the price down. Right now, no matter how many new ISPs start up in town, they are are all going to be reselling bandwidth from the same expensive source.

If Fort Scott wants to be competitive in the future, we are going to need to find ways to get competitively priced bandwidth into the city.

Progress On New Pool

Construction is proceeding rapidly on the new pool.  In three weeks the old structure has been removed and workers are currently digging out additional dirt for the new pool. As expected they have hit rock and are using a jack hammer on a backhoe to break it up.

Construction workers said that once they get everything dug out, they will lay in the drain line and then start pouring concrete. So far everything is on schedule. Weather is the biggest unknown and a large rain could significantly slow things down.

 

Harvest Ministries and Fraud Charges

Harvest Ministries owns the old Western building down town. In November of 2009, the Tribune ran a story about plans to turn it into a medical facility and television studio. There was also a story by KOAM.  In January of this year, the Tribune reported that the president of Harvest Ministries had been indicted on charges of fraud bankruptcy fraud.

Despite claiming innocence back in January Paul and Charolette House have both plead guilty to the charges according to eMissourian.

Apparently Mr. House pastored a church and he directed them to pay his salary to Harvest Ministries instead of to him directly. He then claimed he was not employed for bankruptcy and disability purposes while Harvest Ministries funneled the salary back into his personal accounts.

The county tax search shows that Harvest Ministries owns the property at 8 1st Street and 14 1st Street. There are outstanding taxes due on the properties of around $45,000 dating back to 2006.

With the Paul and Charolette House waiting to be sentenced early next year, it seems unlikely that there will be any plans to do anything with the building in the near future if ever.  It is possible that the county could sell the properties at the upcoming tax auction, but it may be difficult to find someone with a plan and the financing to do something with those buildings.