Debate team places first in competition

During their weekend competition, the Fort Scott High School debate team placed first at Pittsburg Colgan, facing each other as opponents in the final rounds.

Photo Credit: Amber Toth
Photo Credit: Amber Toth

“We were the last four undefeated in the tourney going into round 5,” coach Amber Toth said of the event end results. “So we were going to have to debate ourselves.”

Instead, Toth said the students decided to choose the winners based upon preliminary events and the flip of a coin in order not to debate against each other.

With that method, the results were as follows:

  • Dalton Womeldorff and Chloe Studyvin took first with a 5-0 record and 20 speaks.
  • Isabella Provence and Joe Adams took second with a 5-0 record and 21 speaks.
  • Rebekah Sweyko and Darby Toth took third with a 4-1 record and 18 speaks.
  • Seth Cross and Zach Humble took 4th with a 4-1 recordand 21 speaks.
  • Georgia Loyd Breana Mooney took 7th with a 3-2 record.

In novice:

  • Ashtyn Elizabeth Dowell and Madi Toth took first with a 5-0 record and 17 speaks.
  • Emma Faith Humble and Caleb Hopkins took second with a 5-0 record and 18 speaks.
  • Brooklyn Lyons and Elizabeth Ngatia took third with 4-1 record and 17 speaks
  • Addie Smith and Jonie Antonio took 6th with a 3-2 record and 24 speaks.
  • Conner Parker and Kaden Kiwan walked away with wins and amazing speaker points.

Tayton Majors and Tristan Watkins also participated in the weekend tournament as judges.


FSCC prepares for local events, fundraiser

FSCC To Honor Local First Responders

Fort Scott Community College will honor local first responders during its football game on Saturday, October 15, at Frary Field in Fort Scott.

9-25 FSCC

“We are grateful for everything these everyday heroes do to keep our community safe,” said Tom Havron, FSCC Director of Athletics. “FSCC is proud to recognize them during our First Responders Day.”

Emergency medical technicians, firefighters, police officers and other first responders will receive free admission to the game. In addition, several local first responders will serve as honorary captains of the football team for the evening.

The Fort Scott Community College Greyhounds will face the Dodge City Community College Conquistadors at 7 p.m. on October 15.


FSCC Rodeo to host the Dan VandeWynkel Alumni Rodeo

The Fort Scott Community College Rodeo Team will host the annual Dan VandeWynkel Alumni Rodeo 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 1, at the Arnold Arena, 2108 South Horton, Fort Scott.

During the rodeo, students will compete alongside FSCC alumni. Events will include bareback riding, barrel racing, breakaway roping, bull riding, calf roping, goat tying, saddle bronco riding, steer wrestling and team roping.

Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for FSCC students, $2 for children and $10 for families (two adults plus children). The team will also host an athlete auction at 6 p.m., where community members can bid on a few hours of labor from rodeo athletes.

All money raised will benefit rodeo student scholarships. For information, please call Chad Cross, FSCC Head Rodeo Coach, or Cali Griffin, FSCC Assistant Rodeo Coach, at 620-223-2700, ext. 7020.



Smith to leave city position, replacement announced

After serving the city as the director of economic development for more than three years, Heather Smith completes her final days in Fort Scott this week as she prepares to move on to another job in Wisconsin.

Photo Credit: Kenny Felt
Photo Credit: Kenny Felt

“It’ll be really difficult to leave here, but I’m excited for the next step in my career,” Smith said during the most recent Chamber Coffee held Thursday, saying the collaboration among the city, chamber of commerce and the local businesses made her job and the recent accomplishments in Fort Scott possible.

Smith first worked at Peerless for six years and then at UMB Bank as a manager for two years before the position with the city opened in 2013. Believing her background in both manufacturing and finances would assist her, Smith said she jumped right in.

“It was a little bit overwhelming at first, but a big part of being able to make progress is just jumping in and talking to people and doing research,” Smith said, saying she was comfortable in her position within the first year.

Smith said the revitalization of downtown Fort Scott has especially been an enjoyment for her on the job, seeing investments made in that area that she said she believes will be transformational, bringing energy back into the area.

“One of the top priorities is business retention and expansion,” Smith said, adding she and the city focused on working with local employers and assisting them in their projects and meeting their needs can be met so they can continue to grow. “We try to be very business friendly.”

In her more than three years at her position, Smith has taken a part in projects such as the Lowell Milken Center, the Western Building project, the LaRoche Baseball Complex, Country Place Living, Sleep Inn, Casey’s General Store and a variety of other additions, expansions and improvements made around the city, adding up to millions of dollars in investments.

“That’s pretty impressive for a community our size,” Smith said, pointing out the top ten employers have also seen a net job growth of 18 percent while the county minimum wage has increased by 20 percent. “All of these are signs that Fort Scott is on a really good trajectory and recovering quite well from the 2012 recession. It’s a good place to be.”

Smith said she is sure that momentum will continue with the continued work of the city leaders, saying she has seen them make many wise and forward-thinking decisions such as by hiring an IT director and working closely with other entities such as the school district.

“Thank you so much for being such a progressive and visionary commission to work with,” Smith said to the Fort Scott City Commission during her last meeting with them Tuesday. “It’s not an easy thing to leave. I love this community. It’s been a very difficult decision.”

The commission said Smith will be missed and even stated she is welcome back if she should decide to return.

“We want to thank you for everything that you have done for Fort Scott,” Mayor JoLynne Mitchell said.

City Manager Dave Martin pointed out Smith is not just appreciated among the city staff, but is also liked and respected in the community.

Smith will move to Wisconsin, where she will work at the Chippewa Valley Technical College, managing a $5 million grant from the department of labor for workforce development in a consortium of technical colleges.

“I love Fort Scott,” Smith said, saying she had not necessarily been looking for another job when this one became available. “Fort Scott is home. I love this community. It’s like a family.”

Rachel Pruitt, who is from Fort Scott, will begin working as the new director of economic development on October 10, and said she is looking forward to filling a position that has such worthwhile results for the city, after working in corporate marketing and commuting away from her home for her previous job.

“[They’re] big shoes to fill,” Pruitt said, but added she is hoping to get up to speed quickly without losing any of the forward momentum Smith initiated.

Smith said she believes Pruitt has the capacity to continue the collaboration between the city and businesses in order to continue the progress already made in Fort Scott.

Public Safety Facility to receive improvements

During their meeting Tuesday evening, the Fort Scott City Commission approved Fire Chief Paul Ballou’s request to put to bid improvements needing to be made at the Hawkins Public Safety Facility.


The building housing the fire and police departments as well as the dispatchers was built in 1993, and Ballou said few improvements have been made since that time.

“It just needs a refurb[ishment],” Ballou said. “Bring it back up to where it really looks nice.”

The project is to include tuck pointing of the mortar, repair and replacement of bad block – including the front sign, repainting and sealing around the bottom of the building and resealing or repair of the roof where it is needed. Ballou said water damage has lead to some of the need for repairs.

The entire project is expected to cost no more than $30,000, an amount already budgeted for in the capital improvements budget. Ballou said they have already approached contractors and others to look at the building for a price estimate.

While it is already later in the year, Ballou said they hope to put the project to bid quickly so work can begin before weather prevents it and so the building can provide better protection against the winter months.

Library to go through renovations

Over the next few months, the Fort Scott Public Library will take on a different appearance as it goes through numerous interior renovations before opening again in February.


After saving federal funding since about 1992 as well as accepting a $100,000 gift from Cliff Gordon’s estate after his death, the local library decided the time was right for major renovations on their building after having gone about 50 years without such improvements, according to director Lisa Walther.

“It’s been much needed for a long time,” Walther said.

The total bid for the project is about $572,000, plus an approximate $10,000 for asbestos abatement. That price will include removing the carpet and redoing the floors, ceiling and walls as well as adding other improvements such as new light fixtures and the addition of a second restroom.

“We’re changing pretty much everything,” Walther said, saying all the books will be moved upstairs while the offices, computers and an adult meeting area will be available downstairs.

Since the project began on September 6, the library has changed its location temporarily to the lower level of Memorial Hall. Walther said about 10 percent of their current circulation is available there while the remainder is in storage at Landmark Bank.

While their space is limited, Walther said they have made available their newest books as well as those that are most popular. The library also continues to offer its storytime for young children not in school each Tuesday at 10 a.m., and computers are still available for the public’s use.

“I think it’s going to be very nice when it’s done,” Walther said of the library project, adding their appreciation to Landmark and the city of Fort Scott for providing assistance while they are away from their building.

The project is scheduled to be complete by February 3, with the addition of a few weeks to move the books back into the library before opening once again.

Lowell Milken Center announces competition winners

Submitted by the Lowell Milken Center

Students in history teacher Nathan McAlister’s Royal Valley Middle School class in Mayetta, Kan., have won the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Hero’s 2016 Discovery Award $7,500 grand prize. This international student competition awards creative projects that discover positive role models, or Unsung Heroes, whose positive impact on history remains largely unknown.

Visitors participate in the grand opening of the new Lowell Milken Center facility in May.

Seventh graders Luke Boyden, Colin Everts and Colin Caviness created a documentary on Emma Darling Cushman, an American nurse who saved the lives of thousands of Armenian children during the Armenian genocide. In addition to caring for countless orphans, Cushman served as Acting Consul of the Allies and Neutral Nations, overseeing millions of dollars in relief funds and prisoner exchanges. Because of their work to bring Cushman’s unsung heroism to light, the students have been given the honor of inscribing her headstone at the American Cemetery in Cairo.

“This was our strongest year of applicants yet,” says Lowell Milken Center Executive Director Norm Conard. “We are truly impressed by the discoveries made and quality of projects completed by students across the country and the world through robust research and a commitment to celebrating Unsung Heroes from history.”

The $2,000 second place prize has been awarded to Jeremy Wells and Natalie Brodine, seniors in Susan Sittenauer’s history class at Seaman High School in Topeka. Their award-winning documentary tells the story of Eugene Lazowsi, a doctor who saved the lives of more than 8,000 Polish Jews during World War II by injecting them with a phony vaccine that would create a false positive for typhus. By convincing the Nazis that the typhus epidemic was spreading across 12 different villages, Dr. Lazowski’s ruse caused the Nazis to sanction off the “infected” Polish ghettos and stopped the transport of these Polish Jews to death camps. In an article written by Dr. Lazowski 35 years later, he wrote,” I was not able to fight with a gun or a sword, but I found a way to scare the Germans.” His bravery is largely unknown but his impact was immense.

Additional winners in this international student competition discovered Unsung Heroes whose actions positively changed the course of history and improved the lives of others. They include:

Third Place ($1,000)

Students: Mya Hagerty and Kate Clarke

Teacher: Jeffrey Rudkin

School: Batchelor Middle School (Bloomington, Indiana)

Project: The documentary “A Kristallnacht Survivor Courageously standing up to Discrimination,” tells the story of Unsung Hero Walter Sommers, a World War II veteran whose actions helped de-segregate lunch counters across Southern Indiana at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

Outstanding Elementary Project ($1,000)

Students: Adam Perez, Addison Theriot, Allison Leach, Suzette Medina

Teacher: Beth de Mahy

School: Iberia Parish 6th Grade Gifted Program (Iberia Parish, Louisiana)

Project: The documentary, “The Florence Nightingale of the Bayou Country,” tells the story of Katherine Buckner Avery, a nurse who broke social boundaries to improve rural health care in Louisiana, particularly for African-Americans, during a time of intense racial segregation. Avery took charge of a refugee camp following the 1927 Mississippi River flood, and later established the New Iberia Crippled Children’s Association to treat children afflicted with polio and other spinal injuries.


Outstanding Middle School Project ($1,000)

Students: Molli Christensen and Rachel Osborn

Teacher: Alice Bertels

School: Washburn Rural Middle School (Topeka, Kansas)

Project: The documentary, “Heroes Don’t Always Wear Capes,” tells the story of Frances Kelsey, a Canadian pharmacologist and physician who, as a reviewer for the FDA, refused to authorize thalidomide, a drug later shown to cause serious birth defects. Through a long career with the FDA in decades following, Kelsey continued to have a significant impact on strengthening the agency’s oversight of pharmaceuticals.

Outstanding High School Project ($1,000)

Students: Avery Munns

Teacher: Lindsey Dowell

School: Washburn Rural High School (Topeka, Kansas)

Project: The documentary, “Ex Parte Endo: A Journey Toward Justice for Japanese Americans,” tells the story of Mitsuye Endo, a woman who challenged Japanese-American internment all the way up to the United States Supreme Court and won.

Outstanding International Project ($1,000)

Students: Eva Jemelkova, Martin Muzikar, Tomas Rysavy, Martin Tichy, and David Valecky

Teacher: Olga Myslikova

School: SSTE Brno, Olomoucka, prispevkova organizace (Czech Republic)

Project: The website tells the story of Jan Opletal, a brave activist whose premature death in 1939 from injuries sustained during an anti-Nazi demonstration catalyzed widespread student activism and served as a model for Nazi defiance across the Czech Republic. Fifty years later, on November 17, 1989, a mass demonstration organized to commemorate Opletal sparked the Velvet Revolution.

LMC’s Discovery Award provides U.S. and international students in grades 4 through 12 a unique opportunity to use their creative talents to develop projects that feature Unsung Heroes from history who demonstrate the power that one person has to make positive change in the world. Projects can take the form of documentary/multimedia, performance or website. In addition to robust research, an annotated bibliography and a process paper, projects must show potential for life beyond the development of the project and an ability to inspire students and others to take sustainable actions that carry out the legacies of their subjects.




New Trolley again tours Fort Scott

For almost a month, residents and visitors to Fort Scott have again been able to see the city from the inside of a trolley, after the previous trolley was removed from the streets about three years ago because of its age and need for improvements such as air conditioning.


“This has been a long time coming,” said Lindsay Madison, executive director of the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce, during the August 18, Chamber Coffee, when the trolley was introduced during a ribbon-cutting event.

Madison said they had photos from as far back as the late 1800s that showed a trolley used in Fort Scott. With that heritage in mind, the chamber and others in the city worked together to raise funds for the new diesel vehicle.

“Many people made generous donations,” Madison said. “Thank you all for your support.”

The new trolley fits 24 passengers and is now wheel-chair accessible. It provides 50- minute narrated tours on the hour Fridays, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Groups can also reserve tours for other times during the week.

Already the trolley has been used to give tours from groups visiting from neighboring cities.

“We’re really excited and we think it’s just perfect,” Madison said.

County Commission approves bids for Law Enforcement Center

During their meeting Tuesday, the Bourbon County Commission received an update on the bids and budget for the Bourbon County Law Enforcement Center from the construction and architecture teams.


Steve Smith of Universal Construction Company, Inc., said the larger portions of the structure have been put to bid and it is important for the commission to agree to the estimated total construction cost so they could move forward in finalizing those bids before the contractors move on to other projects. With just concrete, masonry, drywall and a few other smaller construction items remaining to go to bid, Smith said the total construction cost will be about $6 million.

“It’s been a bit of a struggle to get bidders of late,” Smith said, saying there are billions of dollars worth of projects being worked on in the Midwest that are keeping contractors busy and away from the local project. “Construction costs are continuing to rise.”

Kevin Rost of Goldberg Group Architects pointed out that in just the past year of delays, due to the difficulty in finding property and having to complete land surveys, the cost of construction has gone up about 17.4 percent because of the rise in material prices and the trouble of finding contractors.

The commissioners agreed to a guaranteed maximum price of $6.25 million for the construction costs, with the price of land acquisition and architect fees alone bringing that total to the initial goal of $6.85 million. The remaining cost of about $1.7 million will be reached through lease purchasing items such as the cells and some electrical work, not costing taxpayers any more than was promised at the beginning of the bond project.

“It is disappointing,” commission chairperson Barbara Albright said of the unexpected rise in expenses, despite their efforts to decrease costs. “It’s more than we anticipated.”

Already, changes had been made to the plans to decrease the square footage and cut out other features the commission decided they could do without, but Albright pointed out that they still have to make sure the facility is functional.

“We’ve been committed since day one to make this project happen for you,” Rost said, saying they hope to have the remaining bids in place in the next few weeks, allowing work to begin before winter weather arrives. “We’re trying to stretch the dollars as much as we can.”

Once construction does begin, the project will likely take just over a year. Already, the building on the property has been removed so just a concrete slab and some debris such as bricks remain.

Fort honors fallen soldiers with Symbols of Sacrifice

For a fourth year, the Fort Scott National Historic Site hosted the Symbols of Sacrifice in conjunction with the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


Almost 7,000 flags cover the parade ground of the fort, each one representing one of the American soldiers killed since the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism. On Saturday, volunteers read the names of those fallen men and women over the public address system in downtown Fort Scott.

Students from Christian Heights and Uniontown helped place the flags at the fort, despite the rain, on Thursday and Friday.

Festivities at the fort over the weekend included hosting the Friday night community concert as well as providing a performance Saturday evening by the United States Army National Guard’s 35th Infantry Division Band’s Brass Quintet. American Gold Star mother Jennifer Jackman also spoke.

The flags will remain in place at the fort through Thursday and visitors are encouraged to come and see the flags and honor and remember the soldiers that have died.

United Way recognizes recipients of funding

During the weekly Chamber Coffee Thursday morning, members of the local United Way board recognized agencies that receive funding from the organization this year in order to assist them financially as they provide assistance to Bourbon County residents.

Current United Way President Gina Shelton expressed her appreciation to the businesses and individual sponsors who donate the funds that they then distribute into the community.

“We receive the money and then push it out,” Shelton said, saying they handle it carefully.

This year’s recipients included non-profit organizations such as Tri-Valley Developmental Services, 4H, Bourbon County Senior Citizens, United Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Safe House of Pittsburg, Kansas Legal Services, Care to Share and the Keyhole for youth. A representative from each agency took time to describe the services their organization provides.

Shelton said each year they go through a vetting process to decide where the funding would be best used and which organizations are truly benefiting the local community. Recipients provide services for the young, elderly, disabled, ill and a number of others.

United Way also presented awards to local entities for their support. Diehl, Banwart, Bolton, P.A., received the professional division award; USD 234 the public division; WardKraft the industrial division; City State Bank the commercial division; and Mercy Hospital received United Way’s Over the Top award.

Over recent years, donations to United Way have decreased due to losing certain employer sponsors as well as a possible break between generations, where parents donated regularly but now their children might not, according to Shelton.

Fort to host weekend Symbols of Sacrifice events

Submitted by Fort Scott National Historic Site

Fort Scott National Historic Site (FSNHS) is pleased to present Symbols of Sacrifice, September 9-15, honoring the sacrifice of Americans throughout our nation’s history.

Park Ranger Bill Fischer looks over the Parade Ground of the Fort during the 2015 Symbols of Sacrifice week.

The main focus of the event will be a Field of Honor on the historic FSNHS Parade Ground, where a United States flag will fly for each service member who has died while serving in theater supporting U.S. military operations during the Global war on Terrorism. The purpose is to remember the fallen, their sacrifice and their humanity, not to glorify war.

Symbols of Sacrifice begins on Friday, Sept. 9, when school children and concerned citizens will place the flags on the Parade Ground. The public is invited to participate but will need first to register and receive instructions at the Visitor Center upon arrival at the site.

FSNHS is pleased to partner with Ralph Carlson and the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Center in hosting the community’s free Friday Night Downtown Concert on Sept. 9. Join us outside the Visitor Center, where the concert begins at 7 p.m. with an artillery volley and garrison flag lowering to honor the fallen. While benches will be available, please bring your own folding chairs for more comfort.

Beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, volunteer community members will read the names of the nearly 7,000 honored fallen from the Global War on Terrorism over the downtown Fort Scott public address system. As you hear the names of those sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends, please take a moment to thank them and the unnamed millions of other members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have answered the call to defend our freedom throughout the generations.

Then, Saturday evening, we are pleased to welcome the U.S. Army National Guard’s 35th Infantry Division Band’s Brass Quintet. These citizen-soldiers from Kansas and Missouri will perform a free concert on the FSNHS grounds. The evening’s activities begin at 6 p.m. with Mrs. Jennifer Jackman, past president of the American Gold Star Mothers, offering remarks on the fine work performed by that organization in supporting the families of the fallen, those still serving and all of America’s military veterans. Again, while the site will provide bench seating, we invite the public to bring personal folding chairs for a more enjoyable evening.

The Field of Honor will remain open during the daylight hours from Friday, Sept. 9, through noon on Thursday, Sept. 15.


Fort Scott takes step toward permitting UTVs on streets

During their meeting Tuesday evening, the Fort Scott City Commission decided to allow city manager Dave Martin and others to begin drafting an ordinance allowing utility task vehicles to be driven on city streets.

9-7 UTVs

In recent weeks, the issue of allowing the off-road UTVs on streets had come to the commissioners’ attention, with residents speaking both in favor of such an allowance as well as in opposition to it.

“We can’t make everybody happy, although we try,” Martin said.

Martin said he had discussed the decision with residents and the majority spoke in favor of such an ordinance, while those opposed to it referenced concerns such as their speed capabilities, ranging from 25 to 75 miles per hour, and the fact manufacturers built them as off-road vehicles.

A number of residents addressed the commission during Tuesday’s meeting and said they believe UTVs, including vehicles such as Kawasaki Mules and other models, are safer than motorcycles and golf carts as well as some cars.

Police Chief Travis Shelton gave a report, saying he had contacted other cities that allow UTVs on the streets, including Chanute, Parsons and Pittsburg. In speaking with representatives from those police departments, Shelton said they reported little trouble when it came to accidents, chases, ticketing and reckless driving involving UTVs.

“I don’t think you’ll have a problem with them” UTV owner Eric Shoemaker said, also emphasizing that he believes the UTV tires are also safe for the streets. “These are a lot safer than a golf cart.”

Martin said he had heard the UTV tires are strictly for off-road use and would not have proper traction on streets, but others in attendance at the meeting assured him otherwise, merely pointing out that the tires would likely wear out faster.

“I think there’s a lot of people in this county that it’s going to help,” said resident Tim Bradbury.

The commissioners approved writing an ordinance by January 1, with a 4-0 vote, with commissioner Jim Adams absent. That deadline will give Martin and others such as Shelton time to continue their research and determine what restrictions and regulations will be in place, such as being a licensed driver, 18 years or older and what safety features such as seat belts and turning signals will be required.

When the ordinance is complete, the commission will again address the issue and decide to approve it or not.