Golf Course holds ribbon-cutting ceremony for new clubhouse

After years of changes at the Woodland Hills Golf Course, from ownership to appearance, members of the Chamber of Commerce and the community celebrated another accomplishment with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the recently completed clubhouse.

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“This is what a community can do when they set their sights to work together to make something nice and better in Fort Scott,” City Manager Dave Martin said of the clubhouse as well as the entire golf course project.

Martin said he first heard suggestions when he entered his position in 2010 that the city should purchase the golf course to keep it from going to waste or getting in worse shape. Others advised the city not get involved, but when no one else stepped up, Martin said the community should raise money if they agreed the city should become the owners. Members of the community responded by raising about $350,000.

Martin and Fort Scott Director of Finance Jon Garrison expressed appreciation to a number of people who played key roles in raising that funding and making the golf course improvements and changes a reality.

With the funding available, the city made the purchase and then a variety of improvements were made as the city worked to improve the appearance of the course as well as its marketing, adding PGA Tour professional Shannon O’Neill as the clubhouse manager in the last month.

“I’m very happy to be here,” O’Neill said, saying he looks forward to adding even more services to the golf course such as through a driving range and giving lessons.

Already, O’Neill said they have started taking steps to create a new scramble league that could meet Tuesday nights starting in May. A scramble event will also be held over the Memorial Day weekend. Over the next couple months, other businesses and organizations in Fort Scott will also hold fundraising tournaments at the course.

“The product is good,” O’Neill said of Woodland Hills. “It’s a good golf course…There’s something worthwhile here to sell.”

The new clubhouse is another accomplishment that adds to that product, as it offers a place even for non-golfers to spend time and purchase drinks. The old clubhouse was demolished in the past month with just rubble remaining.

“Congratulations to the city and the entire community for the wonderful facility,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lindsay Madison said. “Get out and enjoy it.”


CJ’s Closet now open in Fort Scott

What was once Vette’s at 605 S. National Ave., has seen changes in recent weeks as Chuck and Connie Harper purchased the business, made changes and have now reopened it for customers as CJ’s Closet.

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Connie said her friend and former school mate had owned Vette’s and let her know when they decided to sell the business. Even though Connie had not even considered running her own business, she decided she could not turn down the offer.

“It really wasn’t something I was looking for,” said Connie, who is from Fort Scott and has spent years in nursing as well as with foster care. “We thought it’d be an interesting adventure.”

Unlike Vette’s, CJ’s Closet is a consignment shop as well as a thrift store that will sell men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories and may expand to include some furniture in the future.

“I thought it was a good idea,” Connie said. “Not everybody likes to garage sale.”

CJ’s Closet opened to customers Saturday and Connie said business has already been pretty good since then.

Store hours are Monday – Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The store will remain closed on Sundays. Donations of clothing are welcomed.

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County Commission hears report of Garland Fire District

During their meeting Tuesday morning, the Bourbon County Commission met with Drywood and Scott township members who gave an update on what has occurred within the Garland Fire District in recent months.

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Scott Township clerk Don Banwart and Drywood Township trustee Darrel Bloomfield gave information on issues they said they have faced with the fire department of unincorporated Garland in recent months and even years.

“The situation in Garland has deteriorated,” Banwart said.

First created in 1968 by the county commission and a vote, the Garland Fire Department has responded to calls around the small town and the surrounding area since that time.

As townships lines were drawn in Bourbon County, it was determined that the district includes areas in the Scott and Drywood townships, leading to the Garland fire board including representatives from the two townships. As a result, a hierarchy of authority was created, with the fire board answering to the township boards that then are beneath the county commission if needed.

But most recently, Banwart and Bloomfield said townships have not been made aware of the state of the fire district concerning such information as how many board members or firefighters there are, who the treasurer is or how the money is being used. When those details and an audit were requested, the fire board refused.

Banwart said the department has also responded to emergency calls in an untimely manner of late, sometimes arriving with few volunteers or not at all, resulting in the Scott Township firefighters often responding. To resolve that risk, the townships made official their request to Fort Scott Fire Chief Paul Ballou that the Scott Township department always respond to Garland emergencies.

Enforcing a statute that states the townships have the right to form the fire board, citing insubordination of the current board as their reason for doing so, Banwart said the joint townships voted to make changes to the board by presenting new electors who would represent township members who do not live in the Garland district and so can not serve on the board directly. Some of the board positions are currently open since such electors have not been appointed while others have served beyond the three-year terms of elected township members they represented.

But prior to the meeting held Monday evening, when names of electors would have been proposed, Banwart said they received a restraining order that stated the actions to change the fire board were causing confusion and disorder.

Banwart said their goal is to have transparency between the fire board and townships, adding they have heard from numerous residents from within the Garland Fire District that have concerns about how it is run and how the taxpayers’ money is being spent.

“All that we want is for things to run smoothly and for people to get what they’re paying for,” Bloomfield said.

County Commissioners said they did not think they should step in with action at this time, but thanked Banwart and Bloomfield for the information and expressed their desire to be kept up to date on further issues.

Country Place Senior Living Construction Begins

Submitted by Marie Jensen, April 15

On Thursday, April 14, 2016, Fort Scott’s newest assisted living residence, Country Place Senior Living, began construction. Weather permitting, Country Place Senior Living is expected to be complete in late 2016 or early 2017.

Photo Credit: Country Place Senior Living
Photo Credit: Country Place Senior Living

Each of the 26 suites in the Country Place Senior Living assisted living residence will be equipped with a fully accessible private bathroom, large sitting and sleeping areas and a hospitality kitchen. In addition to the private living suites, the residence will included a large dining area, indoor and outdoor social areas, a respite care suite, library, commercial kitchen facilities, an interior concrete reinforced storm shelter and countless other amenities.

The general contractor for the project is Loyd Builders, Ottowa, Kan. Loyd Builders has previously partnered with Neighborhood Senior Living, LLC, the developers of Country Place residences, on Country Place Memory Care of Fort Scott, Country Place Senior Living of Chanute and Country Place Memory Care of Chanute.

To learn more about Country Place Memory Care or Country Place Senior Living, please call Marie Jensen, Marketing Coordinator at 913-638-0377, visit us online at or on Facebook,

FSCC to host Women’s Appreciation Luncheon, BBQ and Auction

Women’s Luncheon

Submitted by Heather Cutshall, April 21

Fort Scott Community College will host its annual Women’s Appreciation Luncheon 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, at the Danny & Willa Ellis Family Fine Arts Center, 2108 South Horton, Fort Scott, Kan.

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The luncheon menu includes chicken salad croissant sandwiches, salad, fresh fruit, gourmet cookies, and refreshments. In addition to lunch, the popular event will offer free gifts, door prizes, musical entertainment and product displays from local businesses. The event will showcase a variety of businesses, including: Advocare, Bids & Dibs, Bobbi Kemna’s Pottery, FSCC School of Cosmetology, Gold Canyon Candles, Jillybeadz, Mercy Health for Life, My Very Own Bags of Love, Premier Designs Jewelry, Relay for Life, Rodan + Fields, Thirty-One Gifts, Tupperware, Young Living Essential Oils and more.

Ticket prices are $9 per person. Attendees who purchase five tickets by Tuesday, April 26, will receive one ticket free. For more information or to RSVP, please call (620) 223-2700.

BBQ and Aucton

Submitted by Heather Cutshall, April 25

The Fort Scott Community College Meats Judging Team invites the community to its annual BBQ and auction event on Saturday, April 30, at FSCC East Campus (The Armory), 2301 Horton Street, Fort Scott, Kan.

The event will feature a BBQ dinner, live auction, silent auction and raffle. The meal will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the auction will begin at 6:30 p.m. The menu will include pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, potato salad and cookies. Admission is by donation, with a suggested donation of $7 per person.

“The students travel thousands of miles competing at national contests all over the country throughout the year, representing our school and community to the best of their abilities,” said Jenilee Martin, FSCC Meats Judging Team Coach. “We are so thankful for the support of our community, and we would love to have everyone join us for a fun night!”

Items available for auction will include a handmade deer antler knife, hay bale ring swing, handmade quilts, horseshoe crosses, duck calls, home décor items, themed baskets, toys, tools, welding helmet, gift certificates, photography session voucher, half of a hog (processed) and much more. The team is still accepting donations; those who wish to donate items may call at (620) 223-2700 ext. 3540.

Additionally, the team is raffling tickets for chances to win a choice of two guns – a Remington® Model 11-87™ 12-gauge shotgun or a Henry® Golden Boy .30-30. Tickets may be purchased now through April 30. The raffle will take place the night of the BBQ and Auction and will be announced at the end of the event. Winners need not be present to win.

Proceeds from the event and raffle will benefit FSCC Meats Judging Team scholarships, travel expenses, supplies, and equipment. For more information about the event or to purchase raffle tickets, please call Jenilee Martin at (620) 223-2700 ext. 3540.

CarHelp opens location in Fort Scott

After providing car services from a mobile unit for the past few years, Leroy Walker and others with CarHelp Mobile Mechanic, LLC, celebrated the opening of their new location at 1114 S. Clark Street Saturday with a ribbon-cutting event and open house.

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Walker said he first started his business with a pickup and a toolbox, but has since expanded to include two mobile trailer units as well as “The Shop” that opened in the past couple months. And Walker said he did so without credit.

“It’s already booming,” Walker said of their business, which has already begun turning a profit. “Fort Scott has been absolutely wonderful.”

Walker said Fort Scott has already become like a family for him as he provides services to the community through car repair and maintenance, whether at the customers home or at “The Shop,” and even helps inspect used vehicles someone might be considering purchasing.

“We’re so excited,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lindsay Madison said before the ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday, congratulating Walker. “Thank you for everything you’ve done to be involved n the chamber and the community.”

Saturday’s open house also included lunch provided by 5 Corners, numerous drawing prizes and KOMB radio on site.

Sunshine Boutique a downtown staple 35 years after opening

Despite changes over the years because of health restraints for the owner as well as a change in location, Sunshine Boutique continues to sell a variety of items and provide a number of services to their visitors.

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“This is a family affair,” owner Georgia Brown said during the weekly Chamber Coffee Thursday, explaining she and her granddaughter Kinede Houdashelt run the business. “We’ve always been a family-oriented business.”

The boutique is open limited hours each week because of other employment responsibilities, with the doors open 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, but faithfully provides a wide selection of greeting cards, gift items, therapy products and more than 40 flavors of gourmet coffees as well as about 20 chai tea flavors and a number of dip and soup mixes.

With high school proms and Mother’s Day approaching, Brown also pointed out that the Sunshine Boutique provides tuxedo and suit rentals, fresh and silk floral arrangements and a number of ideal gifts for mothers.

“I think we’ve really got some neat stuff right now,” Brown said, saying she enjoys meeting people at her place of business and finding out what they are interested in.

The boutique, located in the oldest building in downtown Fort Scott, also rents out upstairs apartments, which Brown says are currently filled.

“We’re so lucky to have them,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lindsay Madison said of Sunshine Boutique, adding they would like to see more businesses join them in the downtown area.

Other announcements concerning upcoming events in Fort Scott included:

  • CarHelp Mobile Mechanic’s ribbon-cutting and grand opening open house will be held Saturday, with the ribbon-cutting at 10:45 a.m. and activities and food to follow, including drawings held throughout the event. The open house will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1114 S. Clark Street.
  • The Good Neighbor Action Team will hold one of their first organizational meetings of the season Tuesday at 5 p.m., at City Hall unless informed otherwise. Anyone interested in becoming involved is encouraged to attend the meeting.
  • Mercy Convenient Care will host a DEA drug take-back event Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mercy, in conjunction with the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office and the Fort Scott Police Department, will accept expired prescriptions and other medications and drugs without question to properly dispose of them.
  • The Southwind Extension District will host the second annual barbecue 101 workshop April 30, in Iola. The day-long event costs $50 per individual or $80 a couple and includes an apron and cookbook as well as the information on cuts of meat and how to prepare it.
  • The Farmer’s Market will kick off the first weekend of May and will include plants as well as food items for sale.
  • The Townwide Garage Sale will be held May 13-14. Participants are encouraged to sign up their garage sales.

Lowell Milken Center prepares for Grand Opening

With just a month before the grand opening of its new building on May 24, work continues to install exhibits and other features at the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes.

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Employees of Exhibit Associates, Inc., of Kansas City—which is responsible for exhibits at a number of museums, corporations and trade shows in multiple states—continue to work to install the exhibits at the new center, including interactive exhibits using sound, video and other technology.

“We’re excited about doing it,” Exhibit Associates President Don Jalbert said.

When approached about the project by Lowell Milken Center Director Norm Conard, Jalbert said one of his first responses was to ask why choose Fort Scott as a location. But when he learned more about the center and its beginnings with a project created by local high school students, Jalbert said he was blown away by the concept and eager to participate.

Megan Felt, program director and one of the founders of the original Unsung Hero project, said the center is preparing for not just visitors from the community for the grand opening, but from across the world, with commitments from the Kansas governor, founder Lowell Milken and project creators and subjects from around the nation and even internationally.

During the week of the grand opening, students who participated in Unsung Hero projects, which feature individuals who made a positive and lasting impact but are often unrecognized for their efforts, will give presentations of their projects, created in the form of documentary film, performance or website.

Four subjects of some of those projects will also speak about their experiences and accomplishments that led to their becoming an Unsung Hero at the Lowell Milken Center.

Felt said the team at the center is excited about the completion of the building located across from the original building on Main Street as well as the festivities that will occur during the week of the grand opening.

Anyone interested in attending the festivities occurring Monday and Tuesday, May 23-24, should contact the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes as space is limited. Fort Scott residents should also be aware that portions of the downtown area will be closed off for the events.

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 [email protected] 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.