County Commission Discusses Current Jail Building

During a work session held Wednesday morning, the Bourbon County Commission discussed how the current jail building will be used once the inmates and Sheriff’s Department moves to the new law enforcement center later this year.

“We’ve got to get this going,” commissioner Nick Ruhl said. “October will be here before you know it.”

A number of county employees attended the work session to share ideas on how the building could be utilized.

Commissioners first mentioned that moving the offices currently on the second floor, including the treasurer’s and clerk’s offices, could be moved to that first floor area so members of the public would not have to climb the stairs to the second floor. The second floor could then be used by the county attorney, making the second and third floors used only by the judicial system, and thus more easily secured.

Further discussion revealed that plan could end up being costly, as walls would have to be added in those second floor offices to accommodate the attorney’s staff, which currently works out of a separate building across the street from the courthouse.

Instead, the commissioners decided it made more sense to have the attorney’s office move directly into the old jail, where the rooms are already arranged to serve as offices, storage rooms, the law library and a conference area.

“It shouldn’t take a lot of money,” commission chairman Lynne Oharah said, adding the area would likely only need paint and new carpet.

Other options that arose during the work session, some of which could be done in conjunction with the attorney’s move, included turning portions of the old jail into storm shelters. Certain office areas may also be available to lease, such as to the city codes and community correction departments, who have already expressed interest. The building could also be sold entirely.

In upcoming weeks and months, the commission will continue to listen to ideas and begin to form a plan for how the building will be used. The remaining funds from the tax increase for the law enforcement center project are to be used to fund those changes and other courthouse improvements.

Regardless of how it is used, the commissioners said they will likely save money by not having to use the utilities in that building all the time as they did when housing inmates. They also plan on closing off that entrance for security purposes and repairing the east entrance to make it handicap accessible.

Arts Council Hosts 25th Fine Arts Exhibit

Almost 100 pieces of art are on display at the Ellis Fine Arts Center, as the Bourbon County Arts Council hosts the 25th Annual Fine Arts Exhibit.

“It really speaks well of the community and the arts council itself,” Ray Streeter said of the 25 years of hosting the event.

Through Friday, members of the community can visit the exhibit to view and purchase a variety of pieces, including paintings, photographs, ceramics, jewelry and others. Prizes were awarded to the first place pieces of each category, donated by individuals and businesses of Fort Scott.

The exhibit includes 95 pieces from 42 artists. Nineteen of those artists are from Bourbon County while the others are from surrounding cities and into Missouri. Items from the Fort Scott High School art class students are also displayed.

The exhibit will be available from noon to 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday. The arts council is also asking its members to renew their memberships and encourages other members of the community to join.

“We think we do a lot for the community and we need your support to do it,” Streeter said.

Public Library Prepares to Reopen

After spending recent months in Memorial Hall while their building went through renovations, the Fort Scott Public Library is preparing to reopen in its own building.

Photo Credit: Public Library

The project, which began in September, 2016, includes more than $500,000 of renovations, including changes to the floors, ceiling and walls and adding new light fixtures and a second restroom.

When they changed their location to Memorial Hall, only about 10 percent of their circulation went with them, while the other books remained in storage at Landmark Bank. But now the library is preparing to move those books back into their building.

On Friday, students from Christian Heights helped clean areas of the library in order to prepare for that move. Others who are interested in volunteering their time to help with the move can contact the library director Lisa Walther at [email protected].

“We’re looking for volunteers to haul off recycling, help clean, help move, help organize the books on the shelves and help move the books around,” Walther said.

Walther said the library will be closed beginning Thursday, and will not reopen again for about three weeks as the transition back into the building is made. The library will stay open until 6 p.m. Wednesday to accommodate those wanting to visit before that closure.

FSHS leads efforts for National Theatre Education Awareness Campaign

Submitted by Angie Bin

Theatre in Our Schools Month (TIOS) is a grassroots effort to educate everyone about the benefits of having theatre in the schools, and to draw attention to the need for more access to quality programs for all students. The campaign is jointly sponsored nationally by the American Alliance for Theatre Camp, Education (AATE), the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), and the International Thespian Society (ITS).

Fort Scott High School is promoting the importance of Theatre In Our Schools this month through the following activities: traveling to New York City for Broadway performances and classes, posting photos of our classroom activities to the Fort Scott High School Thespian Facebook page, posting Educational Theatre facts on posters at FSMS and FSHS and through social media posts, and promoting the Tiger Drama Camp in the Buck Run Program Guide.

Fort Scott High School is the home of ITS Troupe 7365, the nationwide high school drama honorary society planning TIOS activities. TIOS is a chance for students, parents, communities, school boards and elected officials to become familiar with the benefits of school theatre participation, which include development of the 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.

In fact, according to The College Board, in 2015, students who took four years of arts classes in high school scored an average of 92 points higher on their SATs than students who took only one half year or less. But, according to the U.S. Department of Education, only 28 percent of public high schools in high poverty areas offer theatre instruction.

And according to a 2016 poll:

 9 in 10 American adults agree that the arts are part of a well-rounded K-12 education.

 90 percent believe students should receive an education in the arts in elementary school, middle school and high school.

The poll, “Americans Speak Out about the Arts: An In-Depth Look at Perceptions and Attitudes about the Arts in America,” was conducted by Americans for the Arts.

To see ITS Troupe 7365, and the Fort Scott High School drama program in action, come to the next performance of the Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre, “Wedding Song” on April 7 and 8, at 7 p.m. at the Beaux Arts Centre.

For more information about TIOS visit and follow #TIOS17 and #TheatreinOurSchools on social media


Dear Editor,

In many places, like Fort Scott, March is known as much for introducing spring as it is for basketball “madness” or the launch of baseball season. It’s a season when we come together to cheer on students for their efforts outside the classroom. Now there’s another way to recognize another group of students for similar achievements.

March is Theatre in Our Schools Month and, just like basketball and other sports, putting on a play requires collaboration and communication. It teaches teamwork, and builds team spirit. It creates learning experiences that benefit the student for the rest of that person’s life. Putting on a play creates opportunities for students to take initiative, demonstrate leadership and more.

After her first experience at the recent international Junior Thespian Festival for middle-schoolers, a first-year drama teacher was inspired to share about her own experiences and what she was witnessing now with her students. She wrote, “When I was 14, I played Anne Frank. When I performed it, I was noticed for the first time. The confidence I gained made a difference then and it’s still making a difference now for me, and for my students. Through theatre in my school I see ‘invisible kids,’ who can’t do sports, finally being noticed by their peers, by their teachers, and sometimes, by their families.”

A Thespian alum who heads an international business says, when meeting sales and marketing candidates, that he can instantly spot those who have theatre experience—it shows in their strength and self-confidence.

So this March, go to a game and cheer the team, and go to a school play and applaud the actors. Specifically, you can see the FSHS Thespians on stage at the Beaux Arts Centre on Apr. 7 and 8, in the Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre “Wedding Song.” Share your school theatre thoughts online with #TIOS17 and #TheatreInOurSchools and visit the Fort Scott High School Thespians Facebook page and spread the word about Theatre In Our Schools Month.


FSHS Thespian Troupe #7365

Public Speaks up for Eugene Ware Principal

During March’s school board meeting Monday evening, held at the middle school to accommodate the audience, parents and teachers spoke during the public forum, asking the board to reconsider its decision to not renew Principal Dave Elliott’s contract.

Elliott has been principal at Eugene Ware for more than 20 years, but the board decided during the executive session of their February meeting not to renew his hiring for the upcoming school year. Elliott is not eligible for retirement for two more years.

Parents and others involved in the school system spoke positively of Elliott and his kindness to and support for the students.

“Everyone in Fort Scott loves Mr. Elliott,” Sara Mills said. “All of us would like Mr. Elliott to renew his contract.”

Misty Adams said since Friday afternoon, a petition has received almost 350 signatures in support of rehiring him for the 2017-18 school year.

“He is a good asset to the school system,” Adams said, adding he is also a resource to those students without supportive family members. “For someone who’s given 20 years of service to the district, I feel like we can give him two more.”

Retired teacher Tami Lawrence said Elliott truly cares for his students, visiting their classrooms, taking them outside to play and even greeting them when he sees them off-campus. Lawrence added that even though Elliott is not from Fort Scott, as soon as he arrived and took his position, he began to invest in the town and his students.

“The kids know that he cares,” Lawrence said.

Those who spoke during the meeting expressed their desire to know why Elliott would not continue as principal. Some rumors that have been mentioned include school finances, low grades from Eugene Ware students and Elliott being written up for some violation of school policy.

Board Chairman Jordan Witt said the board is not allowed to comment during open session because it is a matter concerning personnel, but did say the board will consider all the comments and continue their discussions on the matter.

“It’s obvious that you love Mr. Elliott, and it’s obvious that he’s made an impact,” Witt said.

Other board members also expressed their appreciation to those that spoke and for their support and loyalty to the district and its staff. Board member Vanessa Poyner said she and the others plan to think on the comments made and will not make a rash decision.

Downtown Building has New Owners

The downtown building that housed the Fort Scott Tribune until it moved in 2016 has a new owner after recently being purchased by Jennifer LaRoche.

Already, activity has been evident at the building at the southeast corner of Wall Street and National Avenue as a truck has been spotted there. Details of what the building will be used for is not yet available.

Patty LaRoche: Colorful Soccer Balls

Last week I wrote about the connections God made possible through Debbie Rodriguez, the owner of a beauty salon here in Mazatlan, Mexico. Debbie introduced me to Heather and Andrea, two YWAM (Youth With a Mission) workers who are involved in several local ministries. Before long, connections were made involving people I know who could help the ladies’ outreach.

Little did I know how far back God’s plan extended. One connection had begun two years earlier in Nevada, Mo., with Mike and Betty Morris. The Morris’s had met with me to describe their ministry of using color-patterned soccer balls to share the gospel. They donated several balls for me to bring to Mazatlan. For a year, they stayed in my closet—the balls, not Mike and Betty– because I had no clear direction as to how they should be used. Not surprisingly, God did.

Last December, a former professional soccer player, Andrew, spoke at church, asking for help with his soccer ministry involving some of Mazatlan’s toughest youth. If he could turn them to Jesus, he said, he could turn them away from the drug cartel that was actively pursuing them as delivery boys.

I about tackled him after the service.

Two Saturdays ago, Andrew and I drove to the colonia where he ministered to those kids. His rule is simple: If you want to play soccer, you come to the Bible study first. Twenty boys and girls—ages 8-16, attended. Holding the multi-colored soccer ball, Andrew explained the gospel. Pointing to the black patch, he spoke of sin. The red patch represented the blood of Jesus. The green one was new life. White was how God sees us after we make Jesus the Lord of our lives, and gold is Heaven. He spoke for 30 minutes, but since it was in Spanish, I just stood at his side, nodded, and pretended to understand. (I think “Amen” makes me look bilingual.)

Fifteen minutes into his talk, a flirtatious young girl sashayed onto the concrete slab where we were meeting. No language necessary. Her skimpy dress and heavy make-up caused the young men to almost salivate. Andrew invited her to join the Bible study. Not on her radar. She then was asked to leave, much to the young men’s frustration.

Five minutes later, Mr. Cool Guy arrived. Donning several gold necklaces, GQ clothes and shoes, he was out of place with these shoeless, dirty-clothed adolescents. He jumped on the concrete water bin next to one of the boys. Immediately he had the adulation of everyone there who laughed as he tussled the hair of his seat-mate. Clearly, he loved the attention. Clearly, Andrew did not. Andrew gave him three chances to pay attention and then told him to leave.

Following the Bible study, the “futbol” game began. It was rough. Bare feet and flip-flops blasted the soccer ball as hard as any shoe could, and not infrequently the boys ended up on the concrete. When a fight broke out, Andrew broke it up. My job was to stay out of the way, guard the two extra soccer balls and not break up any fights.

On our way back to town, Andrew and I spoke of his mission. He needed help. Immediately I thought of Heather and Andrea. Once back in my condo, I contacted them to see if they were interested in connecting with Andrew. They were thrilled.

In all honesty, I have done very little throughout this “Connection” journey. I’ve listened. Sent out a few emails. Partnered to watch other’s talents be used. God simply multiplied my meager efforts. Of course, if He can use a soccer ball and a beauty shop, there’s nothing off limits…including me and including you.

Presbyterian Village to Host Community Events

Information submitted by David Sorrick

In the month of March, the Fort Scott Presbyterian Village is scheduled to provide a number of events open to the public, including demonstrations, presentations and musical performances.

On March 2, at 2 p.m., Susan Jones will lead a spinning class titled “Working with Fibers,” teaching the basics of carding, roving, spinning and knitting with wool.

Shirley Carey will perform a piano recital on Wednesday, March 8, at 3:30 p.m.

During a “Historical Events of Fort Scott Kansas” event on March 9, at 2 p.m., historians Fred Campbell, Don Miller, Arnold Schofield and Donald Banwarts, authors of “Fort Scott Kansas: Then and Now,” will give a presentation and hold a book-signing. Jack Scott, author of “History of Fort Scott Schools” will also be available to sign books and give a presentation.

The Uniontown School Musical ensemble will perform on Tuesday, March 28, at 1 p.m.

Each of these events is free to the public and will be held in the community room on the lower level of the Presbyterian Village. For questions, contact Anicia Robinson at 620-223-5550.

The Presbyterian Village is also still accepting art entries for the Art is Ageless exhibit for artists 65 years and older. The deadline is April 6.

Legislative Update

By State Senator Caryn Tyson

February 24, 2017

2017 Session – Week 7

The message some are sending out is “we want a massive tax increase now!” when they demanded support of Substitute for House Bill (Sub HB) 2178. The bill would have been the largest tax increase ever, even more than the sales tax increase in 2015 (which I did not support). This huge, half-billion per year tax increase would have been retroactive, starting 1/1/2017. You might not think that is a big deal, as we are only in the second month of the year; however, it could take two to four months to implement. You would have to decide whether to increase your withholding to handle the increase for the entire year, or owe a lump sum at the end of the year. This tax increase passed both chambers but was vetoed by the governor. His veto was upheld in the Senate.

Sub HB 2178 was bad policy. I voted against this massive tax increase and to sustain the veto. Some legislators didn’t know the amount of tax increase or that the bill was retroactive; they just knew that it was a tax increase and it would “stop Brownback’s 2012 tax policy.” As legislators, our job is to govern. Understanding the policy that we are voting on is critical. It appears that too many people are putting political sound-bites before sound policy.

The last week before the halfway point of session, both chambers raced to pass legislation to the other chamber. This is not a good way to conduct business. To make it worse, Tuesday the Majority Leader told senators they would have six more bills to debate on a day they had already been working 17 bills. This would give us less than two hours to prepare for debate and request any amendments. I strongly requested that leadership reconsider this reckless schedule so that we could be more diligent in working the bills. The expedited process is not a good way to conduct the State’s business.

One such example is Senate Bill (SB) 154. The bill seemed fine but after reading it, I found that the only way to file a complaint with the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability (KDADS) would be via KDADS ‘hotline.’ You could not write a letter, email, or submit a complaint in any other manner. Why should there be a law requiring you complain via a phone call to a hotline? There were 38 Yes votes and 2 No votes. I voted No.

Another bill that needed work but also passed the chamber is SB 144. It would prohibit the use of hand-held wireless devices in construction and school zones. Distracted driving is already against the law. If we try to list every type of distraction, we are bound to miss something. I voted No. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 21 Yes and 17 No.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your 12th District State Senator.


Office Telephone: 785.296.6838

Telephone: 913.898.2366

Email: [email protected]

Commission Decides Not to Add More Jail Beds

After much discussion and consideration of county residents’ input, the Bourbon County Commission decided during their meeting Tuesday morning to not purchase another jail pod, which would have added 16 more beds to the new law enforcement center.

The plans for the jail began with 74 beds, but included an option for adding one more pod to increase that to 90 in case they found that the jail was filling up with local and out-of-county inmates. Sheriff Bill Martin said that, in communicating with other counties and their law enforcement agencies, most encouraged them to not limit their bed space, such as Cloud County, whose jail built just two years ago is already overflowing.

The present jail currently has 48 inmates, while six had to be moved out of the county because there was not enough space. Martin said they have also had to turn away other counties asking if Bourbon County could house some of their inmates.

Citizens present at the meeting spoke against adding the pod, which would add more than $380,000 to the jail project, which has already come in above the initial $6.85 million budget because of an unexpected increase in the cost of materials and construction.

“You can’t keep spending money we don’t have,” Brian Wade addressed the commissioners. “You’re burdening us to no end.”

Rhonda Dunn, now working part-time for the county treasurer’s office, said the funding for the pod would not come as a new tax. The 0.4 percent tax increase approved for the jail project, an increase that will sunset after 20 years or as soon as the project is paid off, is expected to bring in more than enough to cover the added cost.

“This is not costing the taxpayers more,” Dunn said, but added it would take funds away from other projects, such as improving the county courthouse and renovating the area where the jail is currently located.

Dunn said so far the tax revenue for the project is coming in above their projections, bringing in more than $761,000 in 2016 when they had estimated about $676,000 annually.

All three commissioners said they received calls from citizens in the past week, some expressing support for adding the pod now, when it could likely be done at a cheaper rate, while others said that is not what the county voted for when they approved the project, which has already exceeded the agreed upon cost.

Commissioner Jeff Fischer said he believes citizens are beginning to feel as if they are losing their say in the project, which was already approved by a narrow margin. Fischer said it may be best to delay adding the pod in order to draw in more revenue before deciding to spend more.

Commissioner Nick Ruhl said it makes sense to add the pod now, since the other pods are currently being installed and since the county is already paying for the utilities and staff needed. But Ruhl said he believes the county should wait to spend more money and instead give the sheriff’s department an opportunity to raise that money itself by housing inmates from other counties once the project is complete.

Martin said the jail could potentially raise between $100,000 and $200,000 annually by housing other inmates. Dunn said the county could create an account for that surplus money from the sheriff’s department for the law enforcement’s use.

The commissioners voted unanimously not to approve the change order for the project that would have included the extra pod.