Sons of the American Revolution honors local during Chamber Coffee

During the first November Chamber Coffee, hosted by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1165, the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution honored Aubrey “Buzz” Hawpe for his care of the American flag in Fort Scott.

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Jim Gilpin, of Iola, president of the local SAR, presented a plaque to Hawpe in recognition of his tending to more than 40 American flags at over a dozen locations in Fort Scott, including those at the 20th Century Veterans Memorial, Skubitz Plaza, at the East National and National streets triangle and those at the triangle at Horton and 18th streets.

“The U.S. flag is one of the most recognized symbols of American patriotism,” Gilpin said. “One of the five goals of the Sons of the American Revolution is to encourage respect for our national symbols, including our flag.”

In the past, the SAR has presented similar awards to the Fort Scott VFW and the Fort Scott National Historic Site for taking care of flags such as by keeping them well lit and replacing and properly retiring worn flags.

Other announcements from local businesses included:

  • Mary’s Catholic School will host their fall bazaar Sunday at the Kennedy Gym, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Medicalodges will host a potato bar from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to raise money for the residents’ Christmas Fund.
  • Students of Fort Scott High School will be presenting the play Bye Bye Birdie at the school’s auditorium next Tuesday and Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Planning for the 2016 Pioneer Harvest Fiesta has already begun, which includes changing the dates from the last weekend in September to the last weekend in August to avoid conflicts with other events.
  • The Power and Light musical trio will perform Saturday at the Common Ground at 7 p.m. The coffee shop is also hosting a bingo and baked goods fundraiser Thursday evening for a barista who will be going to Uganda in January.
  • The Beacon is serving as a go-between in coming weeks for the adopt a child program, allowing businesses or individuals to buy Christmas gifts for children in low income families this holiday season.
  • Fort Scott Community College theater department will be putting on the Wildflowering of Chastity play Friday through Sunday at the Ellis Fine Arts Center.
  • The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes recently presented Discovery Awards at a ceremony in Topeka Wednesday.
  • The Chamber of Commerce fundraiser Forks and Corks: Taste of Fort Scott will be held at the Memorial Hall Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m., offering a variety of beverages and food vendors as well as auctions.
  • The theme of this year’s Christmas Parade is announced as Old Fashioned Christmas, and will occur December 1, at 6 p.m.
  • The Holiday Open House will be hosted at downtown shops next Thursday, Nov. 12, with businesses selling holiday items as well as providing snacks to customers.
  • The Beacon Soup Line will offer hot meals to the public Nov. 20, at the Kennedy Gym for $5 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Tickets are on sale for the Homes for the Holiday Tour the first weekend of December, including a limited number of tickets for the Moonlight and Mistletoe Tour which will include the LaRoche home.
  • The VFW will hold a free-will donation luncheon on Veterans’ Day, Nov. 11, at 11:30 a.m.

City Commission approves exemption for downtown center

During their first November meeting Tuesday evening, the Fort Scott City Commission voted to approve an exemption that would allow the Beaux Arts Centre to sell liquor despite being located near a downtown church.

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The ordinance amending the current article, which forbids liquor sales within 500 feet of schools, colleges or churches, now allows such sales within 200 feet of such locations after obtaining a retailer’s license. The Commercial Core District ordinance was created with those businesses located downtown in mind, where structures are close to each other, often including historic churches.

City Manager Dave Martin said the city initially thought they would have to turn down Bobby and Denise Duncan, who opened a winery in recent months and now hope to open the Beau Arts Centre to the public by the beginning of the new year. But the Commercial Core District ordinance allows such businesses to sell liquor.

Denise Duncan said they plan to hold events at the 8,000 square foot center and provide live music or dramas as well as wine tasting and sales.

“We think it will help the downtown area,” said Denise, who moved to Kansas from Texas. “We love this town.”

Bobby added they are already scheduled to use the center during the three species hunt at the end of the month and an art festival in the spring. He also said they plan to let local vendors and artists use the center at reasonable rates.

“We want to provide something for the people,” Bobby said.

For now, work continues on the ground floor of the historic, three-story building located at 102 S. National Ave., which the Duncans have already done work on so they could live on the top floor.

“We really appreciate your investment in the community,” Mayor Cindy Bartelsmeyer said to the couple.

The commissioners also approved the formation of an advisory board to help manage the use of the LaRoche Baseball Complex.

“We had a good year,” Martin said of the complex’s first year of use. “We had a lot of teams here and it was utilized quite a bit.”

The board will have three members serving three year terms, including representatives from the city of Fort Scott, USD 234 and the LaRoche family. The first members appointed during the meeting included city finance director Jon Garrison, USD 234 superintendent Bob Beckham and Adam LaRoche.

Fire Chief Paul Ballou also gave an update on the demolition of the former Western Insurance building located downtown. Ballou said there are four men working at the site at a time, since any more than that could be dangerous. Some of those workers have told Ballou that it is the hardest concrete they have worked on.

Residents have asked Ballou why the project is going so slowly, and he said it is because of its proximity to other buildings. Once the third floor is complete, he said it will move more quickly and should be done by the end of the year.

NaNoWriMo helps Fort Scott writers through November

Submitted by Kate Emmett Sweetser

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, began fifteen years ago as a nation-wide movement to encourage would-be novelists to complete a novel by writing daily during the month of November, with the goal of writing 50,000 words by the end of the month.

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Photo Credit: Abigail Anderson

Fort Scott’s Common Ground Coffee Co. is holding a NaNoWriMo “Write-In” each Monday evening in November from 5 to 7 p.m., providing a venue for participants to write as well as find prompts printed on origami or paper airplanes. For the third year in a row, the write-ins are being organized by Abigail Anderson.

New to this year’s NaNoWriMo in Fort Scott is a book sale and signing to be held on Friday, November 13, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Nate’s Place Restaurant & Lounge at the Lyons Twin Mansions. The event is not limited to novelists; any author of a published book is welcome to attend, and there is no fee. Interested authors may contact Pat Lyons at

Also at Nate’s Place during November, bartender Bree Krebs will be pouring cocktails inspired by literary figures such as Hemingway’s mojito.

Both Common Ground and Nate’s Place offer free wifi and welcome writers anytime during business hours.

More information about NaNoWriMo activities in Fort Scott can be found by visiting the Fort Na No Wri Mo Facebook page.

Schools celebrate Halloween with parades and parties

The schools of Fort Scott celebrated Halloween a couple days early with parades or other festivities at their respective schools Thursday before getting Friday off from classes.

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The students of Winfield Scott came to school in costume and participated in a parade around the school grounds Thursday morning, with numerous friends and family members coming to watch despite the cold temperatures. Other schools in the district such as Eugene Ware had parties later in the day.

Halloween festivities continue in Fort Scott on Saturday with different costume contests or trunk or treat events for members of the community.

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten sets children on the path to success, one book at a time

Submitted by the Fort Scott Public Library

Local families are invited to join the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program at Fort Scott Public Library.

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The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program is a nationwide challenge that encourages parents and caregivers to regularly read aloud to their children. By reading just one book a night, families can reach the 1,000-book goal in three years and provide their children with essential early literacy skills.

Research shows that the most reliable predictor of school success is being read to during early childhood. Reading to children from an early age can help close the vocabulary gap and prepare children to enter kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed. Most importantly, sharing books with children promotes a lifelong love of books and reading.

The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program is available to all families with children between the ages of birth and five years.

This program is free of charge and all program participants receive a completion sticker as well as a free book at each 100-book milestone.

Registration is open. For more information, call the library at (620) 223-2882 or email Valetta Cannon at

Find more resources for the program at



Sleep Inn Hotel celebrates one year in Fort Scott

One year and six days after opening their doors in Fort Scott, Sleep Inn hosted the weekly Chamber Coffee and gave an update on their impact on the community.

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“We couldn’t have gotten this done without a whole lot of community support,” general manager Bill Michaud said.

In the first 365 days of being open, Michaud said they rented 10,148 rooms. With an average of almost two people staying in each room, those numbers resulted in about 20,000 people spending at least a night in Fort Scott.

“I think we’ve accomplished what we set out to do,” Michaud said, saying they had wanted to provide a place to stay for visitors as well as find ways to invest in the community.

The hotel has 59 rooms as well as an indoor swimming pool, fitness center and provides a hot breakfast for its guests each morning.

Because of their customer satisfaction ratings, the Fort Scott Sleep Inn is ranked fifth out of all the Sleep Inns in the world, and fourth for the cleanliness of their bathrooms. But Michaud said they hope to continue improving their services to move into the top three, becoming one of the Sleep Inns of the year.

USD 234 business manager Gina Shelton said she hopes they get to hold a similar celebration with the Sleep Inn Hotel 10 years down the road. Other business owners expressed their appreciation to Michaud  for his involvement in the community.

Other announcements included:

  • The Chamber of Commerce’s largest fundraiser of the year, the Forks and Corks: Taste of Fort Scott event will be held at the Memorial Hall Saturday, Nov. 7, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $20 or at the door for $25. At least 10 different vendors will provide food and drinks while items will be auctioned off.
  • Fort Scott National Historic Site is looking for people of the community able to share specific experiences related to the fort when it was an orphanage. Those willing to participate should contact the fort.
  • Fort Scott will be hosting a three-species hunt the Saturday after Thanksgiving for 10 invited hunters. It is the only hunt of its kind in the United States as deer, duck and turkey are in season at the same time. A fundraiser dinner will also be held that weekend to help raise more funding for the city’s trolley.
  • Marc Willson will be holding a workshop at the Empress Event Center Friday, bringing information for business owners such as how to remain relevant as the culture changes as well as art in business.
  • Fort Scott businesses will participate in a Holiday Shopping open house Nov. 12, providing treats as well as holiday wares for sale.
  • The Fort Scott Tigers play a district game Friday night against Paola and also hosts the senior night for athletes and other students. The high school will also host a sendoff for the girls’ cross country team, who qualified for state, Friday at 12:15 p.m.

Discussion on consolidating fire districts continues

A discussion that has continued for some time picked up again in recent weeks as the four Bourbon County fire districts consider the option of consolidating their efforts.

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In the past month, county commissioners have worked with Emergency Manager Will Wallis, county attorney Justin Meeks and others involved in the fire districts to consider the pros and cons of combining the districts to make their responses to emergencies run more smoothly.

While meeting with the county commissioners Tuesday, Wallis said the chiefs of the fire districts met together Monday evening along with Commissioner Lynne Oharah to discuss the consolidation of the districts and to see what their concerns were.

Some questions raised included who would pay the bills if the districts were consolidated and would the districts be able to keep their individual identities.

Wallis and the commissioners said their goal is not to drastically change the way the districts currently run, but to improve aspects such as how they are dispatched to fires around the county and part of the budget process, letting the county do the audit of budgets approved and funded by the townships and fire districts.

“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel here,” Wallis said.

Dan Banwart, part of the Scott Township and involved in fire districts for more than 40 years, met with the commissioners as well to express his own concerns over the idea of consolidating the districts.

Banwart said he is worried, as a “concerned taxpayer,” that the districts will become too centralized a force instead of individual districts and that money will not be filtered to the districts properly. He also said if they become a county-wide district, they may be considered too large or too financially stable to be awarded grants such as the ones that have helped them in the past.

In the current fire district situation, the commissioners said some of the districts are struggling to get enough volunteers or to even keep their fire trucks fueled because they get so little funding from the county taxes.

District four, for example, or the Redfield district, only received about $8,000 in 2014 from taxes, while district three received more than $228,000. Those same districts are valued at $1.8 million and $27 million, respectively.

But though some of the more populated districts are valued higher than others and receive more tax money because of their population, other districts have to cover more ground because of their size, and struggle to do so.

“My number one concern with the whole situation is safety,” presiding commissioner Barbara Albright said, saying the change might help by making the dispatchers’ jobs easier and more efficient so volunteer fire departments can respond more quickly to emergencies.

Wallis will continue to discuss the move with other fire chiefs and other members of the community interested in the issue before a decision is made and plans drawn up. Banwart said if the taxes are not raised and they do not risk losing grants, than he believes the change could be positive for the county.

County Commissioners visit new rock quarry

After trying two other locations in a search for rock the county could use for road and other projects, a third attempt resulted in their discovery of a quarry that could last the county for decades.

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“This quarry is a big deal,” county commissioner Lynne Oharah said during their visit to the Thomas Quarry Tuesday morning, calling it the “best rock in the county.”

Located near the southern edge of the county, the location also allows the county to provide gravel and rock to that area more easily.

“The location is perfect for hauling in the south part of the county,” presiding commissioner Barbara Albright said.

The county blasted the rock two weeks ago and has since been working on crushing it and screening it into separate sizes as it is prepared for use. The quarry is found on about 160 acres of land and some of the rock stretches to about 26 feet deep or more.

Kenneth Keeney, who lives near the quarry, said he knew the rock was there when other companies came in to install lines or towers and found the hard rock. He now looks forward to having that gravel put on some of the roads in that area.

“You can puts some on mine anytime you want,” Keeney said.

Roads and bridges director Jim Harris said they are currently turning out about 215 tons of rock an hour. Next summer he said they plan to blast some more of the rock.

“This quarry should last our county quite a while,” Albright said.

The commissioners also visited the county landfill, where a new transfer station is being installed to replace the current one, which has grown old and rusty.

Fort Scott hosts 12th Annual Gordon Parks Celebration

Members of the community as well as visitors from out of town participated in the Gordon Parks Celebration, Oct. 22-24, hosted by the Gordon Parks Museum and the Fort Scott Community College and providing a variety of events, tours and competitions for participants of all ages.

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Festivities kicked off with a luncheon Wednesday where elementary students read their winning poems of a contest. The Gordon Parks Museum hosted the Chamber of Commerce Chamber Coffee Thursday morning while other panel discussions and presentations were made throughout the weekend.

Fifteen high school and middle school students from local and surrounding communities also read or showed their poems, essays and photo that were chosen as finalists from 82 competitors who competed in the contest, which used photos as inspiration.

Area high school and middle school students also got to display their projects in the form of a documentary and two performances they put together for the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes and which gave them the opportunity to compete in a national competition earlier this year.

The Kansas City Lights jazz trio provided an evening of jazz Friday for members of the community as well as members of Gordon Parks’ family who were in town for the celebration.

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Children were again given an opportunity to participate through the ArtCreation Workshop hosted by the museum and art teachers who helped participating children create a piece of art similar to how Gordon Parks did.

The weekend ended Saturday evening with the Celebration Tribute Dinner, when the 2015 Gordon Parks Choice of Weapons Award was presented to Genevieve Young.

“The event went very well and it was so nice to have so many Parks family members here this year,” museum director Jill Warford said of the weekend’s event.  “Also, the kids’ events were wonderful and show that we have a lot of young talented writers and artists.”

Fort Scott Community College hosts Dan VandeWynkel Alumni Rodeo

Fort Scott Community College alumni and students participated in the annual Dan VandeWynkel Alumni Rodeo Saturday afternoon and evening, with area and returning contestants from out of town and state taking part.

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VandeWynkel, who died in 2006, was himself an alumnus and had been part of the college’s staff for almost 30 years. He was also very involved in the rodeo program, which led to the event being dedicated to him starting in 2005.

This year’s rodeo included events such as bareback and saddle bronco riding, team roping, goat tying, steer wrestling, barrel racing and bull riding. Some of the team events included fathers and sons competing together.

Contestants varied in age, including high school students as well as riders who had been involved in rodeos for several years. Current and past professional rodeo circuit competitors also participated.

A silent and live auction was held, with some rodeo athletes being auctioned off for labor prior to the evening event. Proceeds benefited the rodeo scholarships at FSCC.

Fort Scott Community College crowns royalty, falls late to Independence

Fort Scott Community College hosted its 2015 Homecoming activities Saturday, inviting the community to free tailgating snacks, their football game, coronation, band performance and recognition of the sophomore football players.

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During halftime of the Greyhounds’ game against the Independence Pirates, the college presented the 12 king and queen candidates who were nominated and voted for by their peers and then vetted through an interview process. Candidates represented different areas of the college including athletics such as volleyball, baseball, softball and football as well as theater and cosmetology.

Jamain Lang was named Homecoming King while Julia Stringer was crowned Homecoming Queen. Other king candidates included K.J. Miller, Jacob Biller, Jeremiah Fleming, David Hall and Onyx Yasuhara and queen candidates Payton Coyan, Emily Bowman, Alex Perez, Kourtney Harper and Taylor Schilling.

Sophomore players were recognized prior to the game along with their family or foster families who adopted them during the school year.

But while the FSCC Greyhounds fought hard throughout the Homecoming game, trading touchdowns with the Pirates the entire game, the Hounds fell late when the Pirates scored a touchdown with just seconds remaining in the game, for a final score of 49-42.

While the Hounds had nearly 500 yards in the game, 13 penalties and four fumbles hurt their cause as they fell late. Player Gabe Loyd finished the game with eight tackles however, enough to pass the all-time FSCC tackles record previously held by Lavonte David, currently playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at 218.

Halloween festivities begin a week early

Scores of families participated in Halloween activities over the weekend as Buck Run Community Center, the Chamber of Commerce, city of Fort Scott and area churches hosted festivities.

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Saturday morning activities began with crafts and a pumpkin carving contest at the Buck Run Community Center,  with volunteer students and adults hosting the activities.

From there, children and their families could then be a part of the Halloween Parade through downtown Fort Scott. Face painting, photos from Walgreens and free hot dogs were provided to those who trick-or-treated up and down Main Street, where downtown businesses and others handed out candy.

Area churches also held Trunk or Treat events over the weekend, inviting community families to take part.

Fort Scott News