Local Debate Coach Earns Recognition

Fort Scott High School debate coach Amber Toth received national recognition recently for her efforts to help her students develop skills in speech and debate, finding success in regional and state competitions in recent years.

The National Speech and Debate Association announced this year’s recipients of the Diamond Coach Award in recent weeks, with 21 speech and debate coaches across the nation receiving those awards for their excellence and longevity in that field with their students.

Toth was awarded the Second Diamond level of the award. Coaches with 1,500 points are given the first diamond, 3,000 points the second diamond, and coaches with 6,000 points are awarded the third diamond. Points are awarded based on team participation, achievement, public service and leadership work.

Toth was the only coach from Kansas awarded. Other states represented included South Dakota, Ohio, California, Florida, Idaho, Texas, Minnesota and others.

The coaches are to be recognized at the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Birmingham, Al., in June, which is attended annually by more than 7,000 students, coaches and parents.

BRCC Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day

Families had an opportunity to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at the Buck Run Community Center Saturday morning, participating in a number of crafts and other themed activities.

The facility provides a number of events celebrating holidays throughout the year. The next event will be held in honor of Easter on April 15, and will feature crafts, face-painting and snacks. Pre-registration is encouraged so sufficient materials can be provided.

Patty LaRoche: Changing Children’s Lives with Shoes

Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them; and the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them. For the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these. And after He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there… Matthew 19:13-15

Andrew and I had driven to Urias, Mazatlan’s poorest colonia, to work with the ministry team there. Andrew was frustrated. Placing his hands on the shoulders of Estelle, a mother of five, he translated to me in English the scolding he was giving her in Spanish. Two of her sons, Paco, 10, and Miguel, 11, stood by her side. They are part of Andrew’s Bible study/soccer program.

The mother’s life is not to be envied. As a dump scrounger, she works 10 hours a day sifting through trash, looking for recyclables. Five children depend on her $8.00 a day wage. Paco and Miguel are not in school, and Andrew was warning their mother that the drug cartel would find them if they continue to walk the streets all day. The police had already been called to stop the boys’ gang fights, so this was not going to end well.

“Paco has no school shoes,” his mother explained. Andrew turned to the youngster and asked if he would go to school if he had shoes. He would. Andrew told him to meet us by his car when the Bible study/soccer match was over. When questioned about her oldest son, the mother insisted he attends school. She had “found shoes in a second-hand store.” Andrew asked to see the shoes and the boy’s report card. She hustled across her dirt road into a house no bigger than a single car garage, and within a few minutes, returned with the ragtag shoes and the paperwork.

Cecilia, her older daughter, joined our conversation. She, a senior, wants to be a cosmetologist and works with her mother at the dump. I made a mental note to contact Debbie Rodriguez, owner of the local beauty salon, who dedicates her life to helping others. I asked Cecilia if she would stick with cosmetology if someone sponsored her to attend. She would.

Andrew then pointed to Roots and Wings, a two-story, under-construction, adobe building on the corner. It is a ministry started by Robin and Rochelle, 25-year-old American, Christian women. They came to Mazatlan on vacation four years ago, saw the desperation of the dump scrounger families, and opened a small day care for six children. Because of others’ generosity, within two years a 1,600 square foot facility was built, and now a second floor is being added. Today they—and local volunteers—teach more than 20 young children about Jesus Christ. The two women, like Andrew, live out Matthew 19:13-15.

As our day came to a close, Andrew and I packed up our things and headed to the car. Waiting there was Paco. “Jump in,” Andrew told him in Spanish, and he did. Paco contained his excitement. I couldn’t. Once we were in the shoe store, even the attendant seemed to catch on. She said nothing about Roberto’s dirty feet, but instead handed him a sock, telling him it would help the new shoe go on easier.

Within ten minutes we were driving Roberto back to his colonia. If we heard “Gracias” once, we heard it five times. A pair of shoes would change Paco’s direction forever. The Christian volunteers in Urias know the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these, and, putting feet to their faith, live sacrificially for these children to end up there. I owe them a huge thanks for allowing me to tag along and be a part of their ministry. So here it is: Gracias, Andrew, Robin and Rochelle.

But most of all, Gracias, Jesucristo.

Press Release: Unloaded Gun Brought to Eugene Ware

Fort Scott Police Department Press Release

On March 15, 2017, at approximately 07:47 hours, the Fort Scott School Resource Officer responded to 900 E. 3rd (Eugene Ware Elementary) to meet with school administration. Upon arrival it was discovered a 10-year-old boy had brought an unloaded handgun to school. After a subsequent investigation, officers learned that no adults or students had been threatened with the gun and two juveniles were taken into custody.

This case is still under investigation and all suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in the court of law.

Tri-Valley Prepares for Bi-Annual Auction

Tri-Valley Developmental Services will hold their bi-annual Gardener’s Christmas Auction Saturday, March 25, with doors opening at 9:30 a.m. and the auction closing at noon.

The silent auction will benefit the Horticulture Therapy program, which began more than a decade ago and is used to serve those with intellectual disabilities as well as impact the community by providing plants that are used to decorate downtown and Gunn Park or are provided for fundraising events.

“Our clients do get a lot out of that,” director Tim Cunningham said of the program, which gives participants an opportunity to take care of plants as well as take part in other projects.

Barbara McCord said some of the plant beds and other materials used in the greenhouse are starting to wear out and need repairs or replacements.

“The last few years have been very difficult for us,” Cunningham said, saying because of limited funds from the state, they have to raise the funds needed to provide for the horticultural program.

McCord said the silent auction often brings in about $5,000 to support the program. This year, more than 120 items are available to be bid on, and they will be accepting gently used gardening items through March 22, to be available for auction as well.

“It is a lifesaver for us,” McCord said of the event and the funds raised.


Chamber Presents Awards During Annual Dinner

The Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce sold more than 200 tickets to their annual Dinner and Awards Celebration held Thursday evening, when a number of individuals and businesses were recognized and Kansas Department of Commerce Secretary Antonio Soave spoke.

The theme of this year’s dinner was “Made in Greater Fort Scott,” and emphasized the variety of services and commerce available in the city and county.

“We are thankful to celebrate the businesses, individuals and our community that we have here in Fort Scott and Bourbon County,” chamber Executive Director Lindsay Madison said.

“Fort Scott has touched my heart deeply,” said Soave, who married his Fort Scott native wife in the city, and referred to his first visits to Fort Scott as an adventure as he became familiar with a smaller town.

Soave said he has heard people describe people from smaller towns as genuine and authentic. Although the city of Fort Scott has its own issues, as does every city, Soave said there is an authentic beauty that is innate in towns like Fort Scott, as well as attributes such as commitment, conviction, integrity, honor, decency, humility and hard work.

“Smaller communities in Kansas are sacred, and I have come to learn that,” Soave said, saying those communities are determined to never give up, but to thrive. “If we lose our small towns, we lose our identity…There is a quality of life in a smaller town that you will never get in a big city.”

Soave referenced the Kansas motto, ‘To the stars through difficulty,’ and said that is the mission of the state and Fort Scott, as they strive to grow the town through expanding the economy and increasing available jobs.

“We have to continue to attract more companies to these areas,” Soave said. “And when they know the inherent value that’s here—the goodness, the decency, the hard work, the resilience of the people—then they will invariably continue to choose areas like this.”

The chamber honored a number of businesses and individuals for that kind of investment they have made in Fort Scott.

Awards and recipients included Young Professional of the Year Bailey Lyons, the Community Spirit award given to the Fort Scott Good Ol’ Days board, the Agri-Business of the Year award presented to The Butcher Block, New Business of the Year given to Shiney Studios, Businessperson of the year Bill Michaud, Business of the Year given to Ward/Kraft, Mayor JoLynne Mitchell’s citizenship award given to Elizabeth Schafer, and the Keystone Award presented to Dick and Jan Hedges for their involvement in the community.

A number of businesses participated in the evening by providing live and silent auction items or sponsoring a table, including businesses such as Fort Scott Community College, the city of Fort Scott, Mercy Hospital, Cheney Witt Funeral Chapel, The Bunker, Briggs AutoGroup and a number of others including banks, restaurants and other businesses.

Groundbreaking Ceremony Kicks off Highway 69 Project

State and local leaders took part in a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning at Cherry Grove Baptist Church in preparation for the Highway 69 widening project that is set to begin this week.

“It’s a big day for us to be here and to actually be turning dirt,” said Ken Brock, the volunteer leader of the Kansas Highway 69 Association who played a key role in making the project a reality.

Governor Sam Brownback attended the event and said he is glad the project is underway after it “hit a rut” in recent years because of budget issues.

“There’s a lot of people who have fought for this for a long period of time to make this a reality,” Brownback said.

Brownback explained the state is currently focusing on the maintenance of roads instead of new constructions, but added the Highway 69 project is key to commerce and safety and is a priority of the state.

“It is one of the major arteries of the state that needs to be finished,” Brownback said of the six-mile project that will make it four lanes to the county line, adding he plans to have that project continuing to Pittsburg before he finishes his time in office. “Today is the beginning of a nice victory lap.”

Kansas Secretary of Transportation Richard Carlson, appointed to his position just in the last year, said he looks forward to the completion of the project and how it will bring a boost to the entire state.

“It’s an important corridor for the area for the expansion of 69,” Carlson pointed out. “It’s another important step in moving our four-lane highway system further south…We at KDOT are proud to be a part of this important project and certainly look forward to the completion of it all the way south.”

Carlson also encouraged drivers to be cautious when driving on the highway during periods of construction in order to avoid any dangerous situations for the drivers or the construction workers.

“There’s a lot of people that go into making a project like this happen,” Brock said, saying the governor and Senator Jake LaTurner invested great effort into the project. “It doesn’t just happen and it doesn’t happen quickly.”

LaTurner pointed out he was not the individual who began the process, as a number of bipartisan senators and representatives invested time into it over the past 30 years. The first portion of the project is expected to be complete by the end of 2018.

From the Capitol: Adam Lusker

This Week on the House Floor

Submitted by Representative Adam Lusker

This week, an elections bill passed through the House 120 votes – 0. The bill is in regards to the special election to be held on April 11, 2017, to fill the Congressional seat in Kansas’ District 4 vacated by Mike Pompeo. Pompeo was appointed CIA Director by Donald Trump and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

A Congressional seat in Kansas has not been vacated since 1950. The rules and regulations of a special election that are not specified must be drawn. This particular bill from the Senate, (SB 43), deals with setting forth those updated rules and processes.

Brownback Tax Plan Dead in Senate

On Tuesday, the Kansas Senate took up Governor Brownback’s tax plan for a vote. The tax plan included more unsustainable fixes to plug the budget deficit, like doubling the alcohol and tobacco taxes across the state. The process was long and drawn out, as the Senate divided the bill into separate parts, voting each one down in turn.

Senate Creates Education Budget Committee

Following the Kansas Supreme Court ruling in the Gannon case, which deemed the school finance system both inadequate and unconstitutional, Senate President Susan Wagle created a special committee to address the school funding issues that the Kansas Legislature must solve and prove adequate by June 30, 2017.

The committee is composed of 9 Republicans and 2 Democrats. The Kansas House had already established such a committee at the beginning of the 2017 session.

International Women’s Day

Wednesday, March 8th, we celebrated International Women’s Day – a day to honor women across the world, recognizing their great contributions to our history, to our present and to our futures. This day also spotlights the inequality that women face in many aspects of their lives, and emphasizes the need for solutions to those issues. Kansas has a long history of showing respect for women’s rights.

Happy International Women’s Day!

It is a special honor to serve as your state representative. I both value and need your input on the various issues facing state government. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions. My office address is Room 50-S, 300 SW 10th, Topeka, KS 66612. You can reach me at (785) 296-7698 or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-432-3924 to leave a message for me.

Additionally, you can e-mail me at [email protected]. You can also follow the legislative session online at www.kslegislature.org.

FSCC to Host Play, Other Events

Submitted by Heather Browne

FSCC Theatre Department to Stage “Like Father”

The Fort Scott Community College Theatre Department will stage “Like Father,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 16 through Saturday, March 18.

“Like Father,” is a drama written by Chicago playwright Seth Kramer. It was performed at the American College Theatre Festival in Sioux Falls, S.D. FSCC Theatre will be the first company to produce the play.

“In 1992, I saw a production of ‘Like Father,’ and it made an impression on me. I have wanted to direct this play for as long as I can remember,” said Lawrence Alford, FSCC Theatre Director. “In my undergraduate theatre program, I was fortunate enough to play the character, Mark. It is still one of my most memorable roles.”

“Like Father,” explores family dysfunction and life choices.

“The play examines the age-old question: ‘Are we doomed to become our parents?’” said Alford. “Many times, we make choices in our lives because we have to—rather than because we want to—which can lead to feelings of being trapped in those choices.”

Performances will be held at Danny and Willa Ellis Family Fine Arts Center. General admission tickets may be purchased at the door on the day of the show—prices are $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for FSCC students. This show is recommended for mature audiences only, due to adult language and content. For more information, call Lawrence Alford at 620-223-2700, ext. 3056.

FSCC Aggie Day slated for Mar. 31

The Fort Scott Community College Agriculture Department will host the 41st annual Aggie Day on Friday, March 31. Approximately 1,400 students representing more than 100 schools will compete in the contest.

“We look forward to hosting Aggie Day each year,” said Ryan Edgecomb, FSCC Agriculture Instructor. “We are anticipating another large event, which will draw schools and 4-H clubs from across the Four States.”

Students will compete in a variety of areas, including agronomy, entomology, farm management, floriculture, food science, livestock, meat evaluation, milk quality and products, nursery/landscape, poultry, speech and veterinary science.

“To meet the needs of the competitors, we added veterinary science as a new competition category this year,” said Edgecomb.

Sponsored by Purina and Purina Mills Honor Show Chow, this event is the longest running interscholastic competition in the region. “We are honored to have Purina and Honor Show Chow back as our sponsors for a second straight year, and we’re grateful for their support,” said Edgecomb.

Teams should pre-register online at fortscott.edu/aggieday before Friday, March 24. Registration for the event will begin at 7 a.m. on March 31, at Arnold Arena. For more information, please call Ryan Edgecomb at 620-223-2700, ext. 3280.

FSCC to Host Spring Junior/Senior Day

Fort Scott Community College invites high school juniors and seniors to the Spring Junior/Senior Day on Thursday, April 6. The free event will begin with registration at 8 a.m. at the Danny & Willa Ellis Family Fine Arts Center.

During the event, students and their parents will have the opportunity to visit and experience FSCC. College faculty, staff and students will be on hand to show potential students what it’s like to be a Greyhound. The event will also include a free lunch, entertainment, and games.

“For seniors who plan to attend FSCC upon graduation, this event is a one-stop shop,” said Matt Glades, FSCC Director of Admissions. “Seniors can apply, complete the compass test, meet with financial aid, enroll and apply for scholarships.”

Seniors who complete all of the items on the admissions checklist will receive a scholarship for the fall 2017 semester.

Juniors and seniors who have not yet decided where they will attend college will have the opportunity to tour the FSCC campus and visit information booths to learn about the variety of programs and activities that the college offers.

Students may preregister at fortscott.edu/juniorseniorday. For more information, please contact Matt Glades at 620-223-2700, ext. 3520.


Tourism to Return to City’s Control

During the Fort Scott City Commission meeting Tuesday evening, the commission voted unanimously to remove the responsibilities of tourism from the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce and put it back in the hands of the city staff.

“This is not about the city versus the chamber,” City Manager Dave Martin said, adding they plan to continue working very closely with the chamber. “It’s about moving the city forward.”

Martin said the issue has been a concern for a number of residents for a while. After recently hearing from those residents directly, the commission decided to bring the issue to the table and determine how to proceed.

By becoming responsible for the tourism of Fort Scott, Martin said the city would be able to hire a full-time tourism director, providing benefits and a competitive wage, something the chamber has not had the finances to do.

A number of business leaders and other residents spoke both in favor and in opposition to the change during the meeting.

“Tourism has been an integral part of the chamber for decades,” chamber executive director Lindsay Madison said, listing the accomplishments recently made in publicizing the many attractions the city offers.

Chamber board member Reta Baker pointed out that in recent years, the chamber has succeeded in increasing the revenue from the transient guest tax from about $44,000 annually to more than $150,000 in the latest report. In the current model, it is the chamber that collects that tax and uses a portion of it annually for their budget through an agreement with the city.

Business owner Bill Michaud said, despite that drastic increase of revenue, the funds from the chamber’s contract with the city have had a much smaller increase.

Martin responded by saying the city provides what the chamber budgets for, and could provide more based on their requests. Financial Director Jon Garrison said of the more than $150,000 in transient guest tax raised the previous year, about $42,000 was from one business that had not paid that tax in some years. Garrison said the average is usually closer to $120,000, and all of that is available to the chamber per their request.

Business owner Bobbie Duncan said he does not believe tourism works under the direction of the chamber, since the chamber’s efforts are driven toward supporting their members. Duncan also pointed out the chamber is not under any public records act, as the city is.

“Tax revenue that’s received by our town should not be used to promote any narrow interest, but instead should be used to promote the whole of our community,” Duncan said, saying it should not be used by a private interest group.

“The inherent obligation of a chamber is to its members,” Arnold Schofield agreed. “The inherent obligation of the city is to the entire population and to all the businesses in the city.”

Larry Nuss recalled a time when the city controlled the local historic site, before it became a part of the National Parks Service. Nuss said when it did become a national historic site, the city was grateful to hand over the responsibility of running it.

“I think you should carefully consider this issue before you get back into the tourism business,” Nuss said.

Don Miller said he believes hiring someone with the skill, knowledge, contacts and time to run the tourism department will make the difference the city is looking for.

“The chamber does a great job promoting a lot of things, but I think we miss a lot of things,” Miller said. “When you don’t have a leader that’s focused, you don’t have a project that’s moving forward.”

The commission unanimously voted to put tourism under the city’s direction and to draft a letter informing the chamber it would have 60 days to sign over the collection of the transient guest tax. That decision is to be reexamined annually to make sure it is working as planned.

Martin said the city plans to form a task group to help with the transition. The chamber also plans to revisit their plan.

Patty LaRoche: Fasting for Lent…And Life

In elementary school, my St. Mary’s classmates and I prepared ahead of time to answer the notorious, pre-Lenten question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” My friends’ answers paled in comparison to mine. “Candy.” “My bicycle.” “Ice cream.” “Bonanza.” Naturally, no one was crazy enough to say “Nothing”… especially when the nuns had us stand beside our desk and share our answers. It was a spiritual opportunity to one-up each other.

Probably because of jealousy, my noble sacrifice never received the acclamations it deserved, even though mine really, truly eclipsed everyone else’s. I would give up, for 57,600 LONG minutes, my absolute favorite snack, a snack I pined for all day long, a snack that could keep me satisfied for an entire evening, a snack upon which I was dependent for happiness—salt on ice cubes. Had my classmates starved for 40 days, their sacrifice wouldn’t have come close to mine. They, unlike me, had no idea what withdrawals were all about.

With a glass full of ice in one hand and the salt shaker in the other, I could sit for hours licking away. And refills, well, they cost me nothing.

I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

The first year I proudly broadcast my answer in class, Sister looked at me like I was a wack-a- doodle, told me this wasn’t a joke and had me sit down. (Seriously! Even I had limits as to how much I would lie. I mean, who’s going to be stupid enough to fib when grace points were involved?) Sister had no idea what discipline it took to pretend to be holy.

For the entire Lenten season, it was all I could do not to sneak an ice cube. It was simple. Remove the ice tray from the freezer. Pull the silver lever to loosen the cubes. Grab a sliver that fell to the linoleum floor. Add a couple of salt granules, and voila, I would be in Heaven.

Figuratively speaking, I mean. Literally, not so much.

After all, violating a sacred Lenten oath was serious stuff. And since I feared Hell for a number of other sins I recurrently committed, adding this biggie just might do me in.

Now that I’m older and have turned my addiction to potato chips instead of ice cubes, I see great merit in this 40-day sacrifice. But maybe there is something more that could be done, like the suggestions I received in an email recommending other ways to fast during Lent.

  • Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
  • Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
  • Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
  • Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
  • Fast from worries and have trust in God.
  • Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
  • Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
  • Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
  • Fast from selfishness and be compassionate with others.
  • Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
  • Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

Serious stuff, don’t you think? Of course, this should be a life list, not a 40-day one.

I have to think salted ice cubes or potato chips would be a whole lot easier.