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 www.kansas.gop.

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, [email protected]620-719-9622

*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

2-20 FSCC Team

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.

City Commission approves, supports festivals in Fort Scott

During their meeting Tuesday evening, the Fort Scott City Commission approved the dates for the Marmaton Massacre Festival at Gunn Park in July and agreed to provide funding to the Second Story Festival of Arts and Ideas to be held in April.

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“There’s a lot of work that goes into putting on these events,” said Frank Halsey, who has been overseeing the creation of the bike trails in Gunn Park.

The 2016 Marmaton Massacre Festival will be held July 9-10, and will again include not just its race as part of the United Federation of Dirt series, but also a race for children, refreshments and live music from the Vogt Sisters. Halsey said their goal is to create an event for the entire community and not just for cyclists.

“We really want the community to come out and enjoy the festival atmosphere,” Halsey said.

Halsey also gave an update on the bike trails, saying they are now up to about seven miles and are now landlocked until they find more land to work with. In 2015, three events were held on the trails, bringing in numerous out-of-town visitors and spreading the word about the trails at Gunn Park.

“I want to thank you all for allowing us to do this venture, because I think it’s been very profitable for everybody,” Halsey said.

Recently, the trails were also awarded a grant that would provide signage that would have maps of and information about the trails as well as the park itself. It will also soon launch their own website.

“It’s a real asset to the community,” commissioner Jim Adams said, adding that he has visited the trails and enjoyed them.

Director of Economic Development Heather Smith also gave an update on the Second Story Festival of Arts and Ideas, to be held in downtown Fort Scott April 8-9, promoting not just the arts but entrepreneurship as well.

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“I think it will be a really great weekend,” Smith said. “There are a lot of people working really hard on this.”

On Friday, the festival will include a time of question and answer as well as table talks on start-up businesses and the steps that need to be taken to make them successful. There will also be a networking reception and possibly a guest speaker.

The festival will then shift from the innovative said of the event to the arts on Saturday, with a water-color session, cooking demonstration, lesson on poetry, pottery workshop and other visiting artists and authors, including one who will share information on children’s literature.

Smith informed the commissioners that they applied for an innovative partnership grant because of the arts and ideas emphasis of the festival and was awarded with a $7,000 matching grant. The area community foundation provided $5,000 while the local arts council gave $2,000 to help match the grant.

The commissioners unanimously agreed to provide the remaining $2,000 from the economic development budget.

Sheriff’s Office plans to bring K9 Unit to Bourbon County

Bourbon County Sheriff Bill Martin informed the County Commission Tuesday morning of the department’s plans to add a K9 Unit to the Sheriff’s Office.

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Martin said it has been about nine years since the Fort Scott Police Department had such a unit with a trained dog and they have recognized a need for that service in Bourbon County. When Martin brought the idea to the department, two deputies stepped forward and said they were willing to be trained as handlers and care for the dogs.

The deputies would have had to find a way to raise the money for the dog or receive funding from the county’s budget, but instead, a resident of the county stepped up and said they would provide the funding for two trained dogs and training for the deputies.

The handlers, which will also include the sheriff in case one of the others is unavailable, will go through three-week training sessions in Longford, Kan., in March and in May. The two dogs—about two years old and already trained with a guarantee of five years of service—will cost about $28,000 even after a $5,000 grant.

“These are dual-purpose dogs,” Martin said, saying they can sniff out drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamines, as well as help law enforcement search for wanted or missing persons.

Martin said the unit would be available not just to the sheriff’s office, but the police department and the highway patrol if they need it as well, adding he thinks it would be a great benefit as he recalled a time when law enforcement had to wait for four hours for dogs to be brought to them.

“That was four hours of law enforcement twiddling their thumbs,” Martin said, saying having their own K9 unit would solve that problem.

“I think it’s a good deal,” commission chairperson Barbara Albright said, expressing gratitude to the individuals who donated the funds.

Fort Scott Circles program gives update, looks for coordinator

During their most recent meeting held Monday, leaders and participants in the Fort Scott Circles Program gave an update on what has been accomplished over the past few months while also looking ahead to new changes.

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The two-phase program meant to provide resources and knowledge to low-income individuals who would like to improve their way of life has been in existence only over a year, but has already helped a number of people in Fort Scott. Currently, the program has six phase two participants, referred to as circle leaders, and 13 allies who partner with those leaders as mentors throughout the second phase.

“I’m excited about the group of allies that we have,” volunteer coordinator Jan Hedges said, saying they are pleased with how the first month of phase two has gone in building relationships between the allies and leaders.

Currently, the program is taking a break from the first phase of the program, which includes at least 12 weeks of training for the participants. After graduating some of the leaders of that phase prior to Christmas, those coordinating the program decided to delay starting it again until the first week of April so facilitators can take a break and also recruit more participants.

Prior to that time, the program will also recruit a new coordinator as Hedges said she has decided to step down from that role of leadership because of other responsibilities. She will continue to help facilitate phase two.

“I do need to step back a little bit,” Hedges said.

In the next two months, the program will be looking for a coordinator as well as those who might like to help facilitate the weekly meetings. They will also begin recruiting new participants as they begin phase one again in April.

Those at the meeting also discussed the possibility of taking steps to be classified as a 501(C)(3) organization, which could benefit those who donate to the program as a non-profit organization.

“I think that is something that we do need to look at moving forward,” Hedges said.

Doing so would require an upfront federal fee as well as an annual payment to the state to renew it once the application is approved.

Author visits fort to give presentation, sign books

In honor of February as Black History Month and the history of Fort Scott National Historic Site, the fort hosted a luncheon Friday that featured a presentation and book-signing with author Dr. Ian Michael Spurgeon, who wrote a book on the First Kansas Colored Infantry.

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The book—Soldiers in the Army of Freedom: The First Kansas Colored, The Civil War’s First African American Combat Unit—is believed to be the only book written on a black regiment from the Civil War, which Spurgeon said is likely because of the difficulty in getting information on the topic.

Spurgeon said his research on the regiment, which was mustered into the service at Fort Scott, began with a visit to the historic site in the fall of 2007 and then continued for seven years, including research such as looking at the soldiers’ pension applications for details on their lives since few had written accounts of their lives since only about five percent were literate.

“This is a story about men,” Spurgeon told his audience, saying he did not want his book to just be about the battles they fought, but their personal lives and how they became soldiers fighting for the Union.

Spurgeon said certain Civil War movies and other commonly accepted information claims that the 54th Massachusetts Infantry was the first black regiment, formed in 1863, but the First Kansas Coloreds came together in August of 1862, before such regiments had been officially approved by the government.

Most of the soldiers were former slaves who had fled to Kansas, with Spurgeon giving account of individuals who escaped after one or numerous attempts, many without their own possessions or even their own surnames.

Because of their identity as well as their location in Kansas, considered the edge of the United States and bordered by Confederate states and Indian Territory, the First Kansas Colored Infantry has rarely been heard of despite the action they saw and high losses they faced.

“The First Kansas Colored is such an amazing history,” Spurgeon said. “The hope of my book…is to really carry on the legacy of the First Kansas Colored.”

Copies of Spurgeon’s book can be found at the historic site’s visitor center.

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