Black Friday by Pastor James Collins

 “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.”                  

         1 Chronicles 16:34


    Years ago, my wife, Amanda, talked me into going shopping with her. Shopping with Amanda is dangerous and stressful enough, but, we went shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving. We went shopping on Black Friday.

The name “Black Friday” sounds awful. It brings to mind being blackmailed, the black plague, and the black death. It sounds bad.

Black Friday has always puzzled me. Why is it that on Black Friday Americans are willing to kill over materialistic items just one day after celebrating what they are already thankful for?

I have heard that the term “Black Friday” refers to the pattern of pedestrian and vehicle traffic that hits large cities. However, that is not true. Retailers actually coined the term to describe the day of the year when their shops go from being in the red to going into profit or into the black.

Black Friday has become the largest day of shopping both on the internet and in retail stores. Last year on Black Friday, Americans spent an average of $938.58 per shopper, and Americans spent $655.8 billion overall.

Anyway, years ago, before our children were born, Amanda talked me into going shopping with her on Black Friday. And I went shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving for the first and last time in my life.

At first, I thought it would be fun. I thought it might become a family tradition. I thought we might do a little shopping. Then we would hang out and have breakfast. I thought it would be a nice way to spend time with my wife, but I was wrong.

The day started out okay. We got up early before dawn. We had coffee. Then we went to Walmart at 5 in the morning. I have never seen anything like what I saw that morning. Three-hundred people lined up waiting for Walmart to open. I can’t get three hundred people to get up that early and come see a new believer get baptized. Man! I can’t even get thirty people to get up that early and come see a new believer get baptized. To tell the truth, I can’t even get three people to get up that early and come see a new believer get baptized.

When they opened the doors, I was almost trampled by a wild pack of shoppers. Inside the store wasn’t any better. I made the mistake of standing in front of a door-buster sign. People pushed me out of the way to get to a video game that was on sale.

They wheeled out a blue flashing light. Grown men and women ran from all over the store to the blue light to get a Tickle Me Elmo Toy.

Two women almost got in a fistfight. They were both going after the last coat on a 50% off rack. All over the store people were running, pushing, shoving, fighting, and cussing. I’m telling you, those people were crazy.

The point is: We have lost our way. On that Black Friday, I realized America has become a nation which has slipped away from worshipping God to a nation that worships material things. One day after giving thanks to God for all their blessings, Americans fight over TVs and toasters. On the day that kicks off the Christmas season, Americans act anything but Christ-like.

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday this week, let us pause and give thanks to almighty God for all His blessings. Let us reflect on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as we decorate for Christmas. Let us spend quality time with family and friends. It is okay to go shopping, but don’t let shopping come between you and your relationship with God.

Besides, I have discovered that Black Friday equals Broke Saturday.

James Collins is the pastor of Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. His latest book, “The Nativity” is available on Amazon or by calling (620) 223-2986. 

Obituary of Donald V. Cummings

Donald Verne Cummings, age 82, resident of Fort Scott, KS, went to his heavenly reward Thursday, November 28, 2019, at his home surrounded by his family.  Don was born June 19, 1937, in Fort Scott at the old Mercy Hospital to Paul Verne and Delta Armour Cummings.  He attended the one room schoolhouse at Godfrey and graduated from Fort Scott high school with the class of 1955.  His first job was with JC Penney Company where he worked in the men’s department and learned that gentlemen always carried a white handkerchief which he did every day.  He served as a Sergeant with the National Guard Military Police unit in Pittsburg, KS.  On June 24, 1961, he married Peggy Pat Rose in the Sacred Heart Church in Mound City, KS.  His career with the Western Insurance Company began in the supply department in 1957.  In 1962 he accepted a transfer to the Lebanon, IN, branch office as a commercial lines underwriter.  In 1976 he assumed management of the Kansas City, MO, branch office and in 1979 became manager of the office in Bettendorf, IA, the Western Insurance Companies largest branch office.  He returned to Fort Scott in 1987 and worked as commercial lines manager for American States Insurance retiring in 1994 after 37 years in the insurance industry.  He always appreciated the opportunities the Western Insurance Company provided him.
Don was an avid collector and trader and the couple owned Collectiques, an antique business in Iowa.  Upon returning to his hometown he took great pleasure in restoring the Victorian home which had been in the family since 1955.  He would tell everyone that his children came to see their grandparents in this home and now his grandchildren and great grandchildren came to see him in the same home.  After retiring, his focus turned to gardening and landscaping to provide a proper setting for the home.  He was a former member of Kiwanis, the Bourbon County Arts Council, the Western Block House Committee, a board member of CASA and served on the Bourbon County Strategic Planning Committee.  Don was very proud of his membership in the Sons of the American Revolution and enjoyed traveling to research his patriot.
He is survived by his wife of 58 ½ years, Peggy; children Cara Gentry, Fort Worth, TX, Chris (Lori) Cummings, Dallas, TX, Todd Cummings (Brandi), Independence, MO, and Joey (Rachel) Cummings, Fort Scott; grandchildren Wyatt Gentry, Cari (Andrew) Oteo , Michael, Keli Jo, Caleb, and Jacob Cummings, Ashley (Greg) Garza, Sannam and Aamir Alaudin; and great grandchildren Charlee Rose Cummings, Quinn and Ana Oteo, and Kareena and Aubree Garza.  He was preceded in death by his parents; and sisters Betty Joan Cummings and Mary Lou Brungardt.
Gene Payne will conduct memorial services at 1:00 PM Saturday, December 7th, at the Cheney Witt Chapel.  Memorials are suggested to either Fort Scott Wreath Ride or E3 Ranch  Foundation and may be left in care of the Cheney Witt Chapel, PO Box 347, 201 S. Main, Fort Scott, KS 66701.  Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at

Historic Redo Back On Track

The residential development at 1st and Main Street is now on track for a summer 2020 opening. This is a 2018 photo.

Though there has been no activity for months on the building at First and Main Street, that will change soon, said the developer.

“As happens from time to time, we are in the process of switching general contractors,” Tony Krsnich, president and CEO of Flint Hills Holding, 2315 W. 65th, Mission Hills, KS. said.

“We are getting ready to start construction back up in 30 days,” He said.

The three-story building is being converted into 25 “high-end” apartments, he said. “They are for the general public and rent will be based on income.”

“It will be historically preserved,” Krsnich said. “It will pretty much look like it did when built.”

What was known as the Stout Building, adjacent to the west at First and National Avenue was torn down.

“The old Stout Building was endangered and needed to be razed,” he said. “It will be used as green space and a parking area for downtown.”

“The project is fully financed and construction is expected to resume within the next few weeks,” Rachel Pruitt, Fort Scott Economic Director said. “The City looks forward to seeing the construction restarting and is thankful for the additional investment from Flint Hills Holdings. ”

The First and Main building as seen from National Avenue on Nov. 4. The Stout Building was razed on this space and will be made into a green space and parking lot for downtown Fort Scott.


American Legion Scuttlebutt


American Legion Fort Scott Thompson-Harkey Post 25 is in 1st place in 2nd District membership. This week’s Department membership numbers have Post at 79 members or 103.95%. Post 25 leads 2nd District in membership.  Thanks to all the new members and renewals who made this possible. This is our 4th consecutive year in achieving 100% membership at our Post.

If you have not yet renewed for 2020, please consider doing so. What does your membership do? See the attached Membership Impact Report. It’s a new by the numbers monthly report on what the American Legion does nationally to help Veterans and their families.  Your membership helps the American Legion reach these Veterans.

You can easily renew your membership online at It’s safe and secure and takes less than five minutes.

You can also mail in your $40.00 renewal to the Post 25 Finance Officer.


Darrell Spencer

1183 185TH ST

Fort Scott, Ks, 66701.

I can also arrange to meet with you to pick up your renewal.  I’m retired so I can easily work around your schedule to meet you, but no 3 AM meetings please!

Upcoming Events

December 2. Post 25 meet and greet starts at 630 pm in Memorial Hall.

December 2. Post 25 general membership meeting starts at 7 pm in Memorial Hall.

January 31 – February 2, 2020. Department of Kansas Midwinter Forum at Fort Scott.

 Informational Items 

Auxiliary Unit 25 has been collecting items for newborns at the Topeka VA Hospital. Marilyn Gilmore, Myra Jowers and Carl Jowers delivered the collected items to the Topeka VA Hospital last Monday. Marilyn, Myra and Carl are dual members, in that they are members in both the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary.

With the passage of the Legion Act, any honorably discharged Veteran who has served one day of active duty since December 7, 1941 can now join the American Legion. Invite a Veteran to join our growing and thriving Post. 

Apple Health Records now available to veterans across the US.

Volunteers are needed to put the Legion Room in Memorial Hall back together, Painting is complete, and your help is needed in setting up the room. Just reply to this email or call Carl at 620-215-1688 to volunteer to help your Post.

American Legion Riders (ALR) Chapter 25 is still accepting new members. To join requires membership in one the American Legion Family organizations, Legion, Auxiliary or Sons, plus own a motorcycle/scooter of at least 250 cc’s. Contact me for additional information regarding membership.

Photo of Auxiliary Unit 25 delivering baby items to the maternity wing of the Topeka VA Hospital. Submitted.


Don’t hesitate to contact me with any suggestions or questions you may have about Fort Scott American Legion Post 25.

Carl Jowers. Post 25 Commander.


[email protected]

Fort Scott City Commission Minutes of Nov. 19



Minutes of November 19th, 2019 Regular Meeting #21

The regular meeting of the Fort Scott City Commission was held November 19th, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Commission Room, 123 S. Main, Fort Scott, Kansas.


Commissioners Adamson, Bartelsmeyer, Mitchell, and Nichols were present with Mayor Parker presiding.

INVOCATION: Pastor Allen Schellack, Compassionate Ministries said a prayer asking God for guidance for the City, our Government and City officials.

AUDIENCE IN ATTENDANCE: Dave Bruner, Travis Shelton, Jacky Warren, Deb McCoy, Richard Clark, Michael Hoyt, Chad Brown, Devin Tally, Jenna Campbell, Reita Clark, Burton Harding, Josh Jones, Harold Martin, Jacky Martin, Nancy Van Etten, Seth Needham, Bobbi Kemna, Patrick Wood, Max Daly, Laurie Daly, Allen Schellack, Nick Ruhl, Michael Mix, Jim Adams, Tim Colegrove, Stan Jones, Bret Shogren, Allyson Turvey, Pete Allen, Max Fanning, Kevin Allen, Susan Bancroft, Paul Ballou, Robert Uhler, Deb Needleman, Clayton Miller, and representing the press, Jason Silvers of the Fort Scott Tribune.



  1. Approval of minutes of the regular meeting of November 5th, 2019.

  1. Approval of Appropriation Ordinance 1250-A totaling $295,043.24.

  1. Christmas Parade Permit Form- December 3rd, 2019.

  1. Certificate of Appropriateness – 3 W. Oak Signage

Patio Seating with Gates

Addition of Outbuilding

  1. Certificate of Appropriateness – 5 East Wall Street – Sign

  1. Certificate of Appropriateness – 24 N. National – Addition to building

  1. Resolution No. 25-2019 – Notice of Hearing with Reference to alleged unsafe and dangerous structure located at 510 S. Heylman Street – Public Hearing Date – 1/7/2020 at 6:15 p.m.

  1. Resolution No. 27-2019 – Notice of Hearing with Reference to alleged unsafe and dangerous structure located at 501 S. Osbun Street – Public Hearing Date – 1/7/2020 at 6:15 p.m.

Bartelsmeyer moved to approve the Consent Agenda. Nichols seconded. All voted aye.




Susan Bancroft, Director of Finance, introduced Seth Needham to the Commission. She said he has been a long time friend of hers and he has a vision for the City parks.

Seth Needham said that he left his notes he had wrote out at work. He said that he is an advocate for the parks. He said thirteen (13) days ago he had an idea to bring a few people together to assist with some of the issues at the parks. In that 13 days, he now has 275 members on his Facebook page. They had their first work day and had planned to get about one project done, but ended up getting four projects done. Some people just brought in bottled water to them. Bobbi Kemna volunteered to paint the teeter totter. In the future, they are focusing on Gunn Park and right now the first playground area. People have donated materials for these projects. They look to work on the roof on the bathroom, siding, paint, swing set area, bring in mulch and move onto another area of the park. We can assist the park personnel so they can focus on bigger projects. He thanked Chad Brown and Susan Bancroft for their assistance.

City Manager thanked him and his volunteers for their work.

B. CITIZEN COMMENTS (Concerning Items Not on Agenda – 3 minute

limit per citizen)

Richard Clark – Mr. Clark said that the Commission is supposed to talk about the sewer increase for the lake tonight. He heard recently where a grinder pump went out and the people had to pay like $900 and he is concerned about that happening all over. He would like to see a $1.00 a month extra to cover the grinder pumps and you could replace two or three a year. He would rather replace his with his own grinder pump. He said there are 197 grinder pumps at the lake. These were put in due to poor lake quality and doesn’t want that to happen again.

City Manager said he would take this under consideration.

He had one other item. He asked if there were grants available for fire hydrants. On the east side of the lake there are fire hydrants, but on the west side of the lake there are not any. He would be willing to assist in working on a grant for this. The insurance premiums are much higher on the west side of the lake due to this.

Mayor Parker said that is a good point and the City will look into this.

Michael Hoyt – Mr. Hoyt that said that he attended the Bourbon County Commission meeting this morning and have continued to express his concerns about who is overseeing our overall implementation plan in Bourbon County in case of an emergency. He is not saying what kind of an emergency, a storm emergency, an active shooter emergency, anything, but it became very clear to him that the County wants no part of that leadership role. They went on to say that if anything went on they would call the Department of Homeland Security. They are in Lees Summit, Missouri. It would take them a while to get here. Back to the 911 issue we talked about three or four months ago, he got a call from the communications specialist here. He can’t say that he got a full response, but in our latest High School incident, the parental notification system failed. Some parents did not get notified until after 7:00 p.m. in the evening that there was a lockdown in the school. That is not acceptable. The High School has not published their plan. His understanding is that they have to pay a company to monitor social media for key words and then funnel any threats to law enforcement or whomever. I think this needs to be looked at. There needs to be some central coordination. We aren’t that big of a county that we can’t do that together.

Mayor Parker thanked him for his comments.

Nancy Van Etten – Ms. Van Etten said that she lives at the lake and was recently appointed to the Lake Advisory Board. There has been some questions about the closure of Indian Road and asked if there were any updates. She hasn’t seen anything in the newspaper about it.

City Manager said that the environmentals are still being conducted. A grant has been applied for but the environmentals have to be completed on the land first. A public hearing will be published once these are complete. No other discussions have been held.


Mitchell moved to open the Public Hearing at 6:15 p.m. Adamson seconded. All voted aye.


6:00 p.m. Lake Sewer District Sewer Increase Public Hearing – Susan Bancroft, Director of Finance, informed the Commission that to give them a little background on this district is that the Lake Sewer District was created in 2011. It was created by Bourbon County and we are under a 40 year agreement. These rates have not been increased since 2011. We went through the proper procedures to notify the Lake residents of this proposed increase. The rate will match what the City residents now pay. It will go from $15.77 to $22.79. It is quite an increase, but considering it has not been raised since 2011, it is bringing it up to what City residents pay. The City residents pay sewer based on their water usage per gallon used. The City does not meter their water at the lake but is based on the annual average user charge of new users within the City limits. This increase will be effective January 1, 2020. In the future, the rate will be increased with any rate increase approved for the City residents. Bourbon County will be notified of any increases each year.

City Manager said that they have found out that the County is not the actual Lake Sewer District board and that one needs to be formed.

Harold Martin, Lake Resident, said that he thinks the increase is inappropriate. He said he has water at the lake that is metered.

Susan Bancroft said that Rural Water supplies their water and they are not willing to share that information with the City.

Mr. Martin said that his water usage is between 1,500 and 2,000 gallons per month and he lives there full time. There are a lot of people who don’t live there full time and they would be charged the same amount. He thinks that is unfair.

Mr. Martin said that this should be tabled until the sewer board is put together.

Nancy Van Etten said that she lives at the lake. She thinks the Lake Advisory Board should get together and talk about this first. She said that is too much money and is too big of an increase.

Kevin Allen said that the City and Rural Water needs to work out any issues with billing and metering water use. He said we should work together and take care of any animosity.

Mr. Martin said that it is unfair that the City play catch up on the Lake residents.

City Manager said that the City is a partner with the County on this. This is really a County issue. We charge the rates. City Manager said that he will reach out to the County on this issue.

Bartelsmeyer moved to table this issue at this time until more information can be obtained. Mitchell seconded. All voted aye.


Bartelsmeyer moved to close the Public Hearing at 6:29 p.m. Adamson seconded. All voted aye.



  1. Consideration of Resolution No. 26-2019 authorizing for sale of General Obligation Temporary Notes, Series 2019-1, of the City of Fort Scott, Kansas – River Intake Project – Susan Bancroft, Director of Finance, introduced Stan Jones and Bret Shogren with Stifel Public Finance to the Commission.

Stan Jones informed the Commission that Stifel is a public finance company who helps cities and schools issue bonds. He is based out of Kansas City and Bret is based out of Wichita. They focus on Kansas bonds. Their company is national with over 7,000 employees. They are able to market bond issues coast to coast which is important. He focuses on small towns and counties. Rates are low right now compared to traditional rates. The ten year treasury is 1.77. At the beginning of the year it was 2.5. He does not think that the rates will skyrocket.

Bret Shogren said that he was based out of Wichita. In previous years, improvements were authorized to the River Intake Structure. U.S.D.A. will be doing the long term financing. Shifel will be doing the short term temporary financing. The total size of the project is $4,925,000. The project is projected to take 1 to 1 ½ years to complete. They are recommending a note to mature in June of 2022. The note will be advertised nationwide and placed in the local newspaper as well as the Kansas Register. The City has a credit rating of A-2 which is a great rating. A competitive sealed bid will be received and brought before them at their December 3rd, 2019 meeting.

Parker moved to approve Resolution 26-2019 authorizing the sale of General Obligation Temporary Notes. Nichols seconded. All voted aye.


  1. Approval of Financials – Susan Bancroft, Director of Finance, informed the Commission that this approval of financials will be on the consent agenda after this meeting, but she wanted to explain the financials to them. She shared with the Commission that the Sales and Compensating Use Tax make up 43% of our general fund. The Ad valorem taxes (personal property tax) make up 24% of the general fund. The franchise fees from private utilities make up 18% of the general fund. As of October 31st, 2019, 84% of the budget has been expended. This is on target for the number of months we have encountered for the year. Spending will be tightened as the end of the year draws near to meet cash carryover targets. She also showed the bank reconciliation figures showing that the books are balanced each month.


  1. Director Updates:

Allyson Turvey – Ally informed the Commission that she created a Fort Scott Animal Shelter Facebook page for the Police Department. In two weeks since it was created, there have been over 300 likes. There have been four dogs posted with over 3,500 views. She invited the Commission to check out and like the page.

Veteran’s Weekend – Ally said that the Veteran’s Day celebration actually turned into a four day celebration. This event was made possible with a grant from the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation. The V.F.W. was heavily involved. Live Local sponsored the Veteran’s Day Parade. The Fort Scott Southern Baptist Church sponsored a concert. The E-3 Foundation cooked hamburgers. The Friends of the Fort sponsored their annual Grand Ball. The Boiler Room Brewhaus hosted a parade watch party. The Fort Scott Nazarene Church hosted a church service and did free Veteran portraits. The Fort hosted events the entire weekend. The Lowell Milken Center provided freebies for the Veteran’s along with a ton of community involvement. She said the goal was to get people to come to the event. Last year there were 14 Veterans which were local. This year there were 44 Veteran’s with a few from out of town. They plan to hold it again next year.

Robert Uhler – Robert said that he has a couple of projects to update them on. The first is the Capital Recovery and Reinvestment Project which is the energy audit upgrade project. They have been to all the City facilities since April and made suggestions for improvements. We are now looking at the scope of work and looking at financing for these improvements. More information regarding this project and financing will be heard at the December 3rd, 2019 meeting.

Smart Growth America – The City of Fort Scott was chosen as one of six communities in the United States to serve with a technical assistance program. Representatives will be in Fort Scott on January 14th and 15th and will help us look at our long term strategic plan and our economic liability about how we grow and make sure we grow smart. This is exciting for Fort Scott. This is about a $90,000 grant.

  1. City Commission:

Bartelsmeyer Nothing to report.

Mitchell Nothing to report.

Nichols Nothing to report.

Adamson – Nothing to report.

Parker – Nothing to report.

  1. City Manager:

  1. Lake Sewer Increase – City Manager said he wanted to make sure in reading the contracts that the City is really a vendor in this process. The County doesn’t have a wastewater treatment plant. The sewer comes through our sewer plant just like the City residents. We are a support system for your sewer system. We want to work together and work with the Rural Water District also. It can’t just be the City – it has to be everybody. We are here to support the sewer system at the lake.

Harold Martin said that every time they look one of the utilities is raising their rates. He is charged $30.00 availability fee every month for his electric bill.

  1. City Manager asked that the next meeting time be changed due to the Christmas parade to 5:00 p.m.

Bartelsmeyer moved to change the time of the December 3rd. 2019 meeting to 5:00 p.m. for the Downtown Christmas parade. Parker seconded. All voted aye.



City Manager asked for a 15 minute Executive Session to discuss personnel matters of non-elected personnel. He asked that the City Commission, Director of Finance, and himself be included in this meeting. There is no action anticipated.

Nichols moved to adjourn into a 15 minute Executive Session to discuss personnel matters on non-elected personnel to include the City Commission, City Manager, and Director of Finance with no action anticipated. Parker seconded. All voted aye.


Bartlesmeyer moved to come out of Executive Session at 7:07 p.m. Adamson seconded. All voted aye.



Nichols moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:08 p.m. Mitchell seconded. All voted aye.


The next regularly scheduled meeting is to be held on December 3rd, 2019 at 5:00 p.m.




Fort Scott City Commission Agenda for Dec. 3






DECEMBER 3, 2019

6:00 P.M.




III. INVOCATION: Michael Mix – Public Utilities Director



  1. Approval of minutes of the regular meeting of November 19th, 2019

  1. Approval of Appropriation Ordinance 1251-A totaling 216,872.18.

  1. Request to Pay – Crossland Construction Pay Request #1 – $1,062.50 – River Intake Structure Project

  1. Request to Pay – Crossland Construction Pay Request #2 – $62,206.80 – River Intake Structure Project

  1. Request to Pay – Crossland Construction Pay Request #3 – $308,966.02 – River Intake Structure Project

  1. Request to Pay – Crossland Construction Pay Request #4 – $71,059.43 – River Intake Structure Project



B. CITIZEN COMMENTS (Concerning Items Not on Agenda – 3 minute limit per citizen)



  1. Consideration of Employee Christmas bonus

  1. Consideration of Lake Sewer District Sewer Increase
  1. Debt Service Structure Presentation
  1. Approval to publish Budget Amendment for the December 17th, 2019 meeting
  1. Consideration of Ordinance No. 3554 authorizing the City of Fort Scott, Kansas to enter into a lease purchase transaction, the proceeds of which will be used to pay the costs of acquiring certain equipment for use in the City; and to approve the execution of certain documents in connection therewith.

Approval of Resolution 28-2019 – Authorizing the City to enter into an Energy Savings Contract for the acquisition and installation of certain energy savings improvements in the city.

  1. Consideration of architectural services from Zingre’ & Associates for repairs to the Water Treatment Plant facility


  1. Director Updates: Dave Bruner

Susan Bancroft

  1. Commission:
  1. City Manager:



SESSION FOR ________________________________ IN ORDER TO

(see below justification)

DISCUSS ______________________________________. THE


MEETING TO RESUME AT ________________.

Justifications for Executive Sessions:

  • Personnel matters of non-elected personnel

  • Consultation with an attorney for the body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship

  • Matters relating to employer-employee negotiations whether or not in consultation with the representative or representatives of the body or agency

  • Confidential data relating to financial affairs or trade secrets of corporations, partnerships, trusts and individual proprietorships

  • Preliminary discussions relating to the acquisition of real property


Kansas Photo Contest Invites Youth to Enter

Happy Birthday, Kansas! Student Photo Contest Now Accepting Entries

Contest deadline is December 20, 2019


TOPEKA, KS—Third-grader Katherine Bartel of Wichita photographed James in the Pasture last year. Her photo showed a boy peering over a fence while cattle operations were in progress, the vivid blue sky with puffy clouds overhead. She received first place in her category in the Happy Birthday, Kansas! Student Photo Contest and won an iPad for her work. Katherine’s was one of 402 contest entries and she was among 24 students to receive awards.


Students are once again invited to enter their photographs in the Happy Birthday, Kansas! photo contest, and will be eligible for special prizes. This year’s theme is Going to School in Kansas. First place winners in each grade from first to 12th will receive iPads; second place awards in each grade are Kindles. These photographs from students across the state contribute to the pictorial history of Kansas. They will be preserved by the Kansas Historical Society.


  1. W. Halbe was an early 20th century student photographer who made a similar impact in his community. With a small box camera, the 15-year-old captured photos of Dorrance in Russell County and left a remarkable history, that continues to be preserved at the Kansas Historical Society. Today’s young photographers can make similar contributions by photographing people and places in their lives.


The contest deadline, for first through 12th grade students, is 5 p.m. Friday, December 20, 2019. Winners will be announced as part of the state’s 159th birthday commemoration at the Kansas State Capitol at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, January 29, 2020. Find more information and a complete list of contest rules at


The contest is sponsored by the Kansas legislative spouses in conjunction with the Kansas Historical Society.


Find photographs from the Halbe collection online in Kansas Memory:


Find photographs of last year’s winners online at KSHS.ORG:


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Israel Tour by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Here we were in Israel, my two sons Jeff and Andy, Andy’s wife Kristen, and I, hoping for a trip of a lifetime, but wondering if we should just turn around and come home. We had been removed from our tour bus when the air raid sirens sounded, but once they stopped, we re-boarded to head to Jerusalem where we would walk the path of Jesus.

Anticipating a weepy, serene experience, I had taken a purse-load of Kleenex. I didn’t need them. Thousands of other tourists crammed into the walkway, and guides held flags on sticks above their heads so their group could find them. Most times, we were to hurry into a church or scenic area before another group beat us there. We were told we were on the Via Dolorosa, and there certainly were Stations of the Cross hanging on stone walls, but because of jostling with the crowds, the spiritual feeling evaded us. At the end of the day, we were sad that the seven-hour experience had become so commercial (and yes, we were part of the problem).

During the day, we were inundated with news that the Gaza Strip soldiers were shooting missiles at Israel in retaliation for Israel’s drone strike, killing a Jihad leader and his wife. We learned that Israel protects itself with an Iron Dome which detracts incoming missiles, but occasionally the missiles sneak through cracks in the Dome. Before the Dome, we were told, residents used to run to storm shelters when the air sirens sounded, but post-Dome, they now run outside to watch the incoming missiles blow up. Not my kind of photo-op.

I reminded the kids that we were in the country of God’s chosen people, so there probably wasn’t a better place to be. Nevertheless, we remained on alert.

That night, our landlady came by to reassure us that every newer apartment in Israel was required to have one room that served as a safe room in case of missile strikes. My bedroom was that for us. Comforting. I wouldn’t have to go far. It didn’t take long to test its usefulness. I had been asleep about an hour when sirens jolted me awake. I sprang from bed to alert the others, and when they ran to the balcony to listen for themselves, they told me it was an ambulance, not an air raid siren. Perhaps I was a little too edgy.

Day three. Today we bussed to the Dead Sea and the Masada. The guide began the morning bringing us up-to-date on how the Dome had, overnight, done its job—good news: more missiles had been downed. Still, much of our conversation centered around avoiding potential targets…as if we had any idea what those would be! An hour after leaving Tel Aviv, we were at the Dead Sea where we swam in the salty water, so salty it is impossible to sink. Even those like me who genetically cannot float, now could. It was one of the first times we actually relaxed and were able to ignore (somewhat) the threat surrounding us. (Would missiles float if they hit the Dead Sea?)

Two hours later, we boarded our bus for the Masada, Herod the Great’s fortress built atop a nearby mountain. To get there, sixty-two (maximum capacity) of us were crammed into a cable car which hoisted us to the top. There, we learned that although Herod visited the site only one time, those overseeing it were expected to keep it a running city, just in case he decided to pop in for a visit. With its vast storehouse for food, an exercise room, sauna and massive living quarters, what impressed me the most was the watering system made of cisterns which held more than one- million gallons of water. Oh yes, and the view of the Judean Desert—Amazing! Today, Masada is in ruins. Jewish zealots, revolting against Rome, conquered the area but in 72 A.D. were besieged when the Romans constructed an enormous ramp from which they battered the exterior wall. The zealots committed suicide rather than succumb to their deaths at the hands of the Romans. Israel certainly had a history of violence. We prayed that we would not become part of that history. Stay tuned for more adventures even we could not have anticipated.

Small Business Saturday: Buy Local

Small Business Saturday
Saturday, November
30, 2019

The Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce encourages the community to support SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY on November 30th.

For every $100 spent locally, $68 stays in our community. When the same $100 is spent with a national franchise, only $43 is retained locally. Shoppers across the nation are encouraged to “SHOP SMALL” and support local businesses this season.

The Chamber encourages all to take part in a Passport Event as part of Small Business Saturday. This Saturday when shopping at participating retailers, customers may collect stamps by spending $5 or more at a minimum of four stores, then turn in the passport to one of the businesses by 5 pm to be entered in a drawing for Chamber Bucks.

Small businesses promoting the passport event include Bartlesmeyer Jewelry, Bids & Dibs, Books & Grannies, Country Cupboard, Courtland Spa, Fort Scott Munitions, Fort Scott Gun & Pawn, Front Door Christmas Store, Hedgehog.INK, Here We Go Again Upholstery, Hole in the Wall, Iron Star Antiques, J & W Sports Shop, The Lavender Patch, Lowell Milken Center, Main Street Gallery & Gifts, Mayco Ace Hardware, Papa Don’s Pizza, Redbud Farm & Nurseries, Ruddick’s Furniture, Sekan’s Occasion Shop, Sunshine Boutique, The Electronics Store, Trader Dave’s, and Treasure Hunt Flea Market.

Contact the Chamber of Commerce for more information at 620-223-3566.


Youth to perform in January

Fifth graders Lanie Jackson, Lillian Jackson, Jackson Montgomery, Icysis Reeder, Madi Davis, Karlee Hereford, Michaela Morrell, and Javon Steadman were nominated by Eugene Ware Elementary Music Educator MJ Harper to participate in Southeast Kansas Music Educator’s Association Elementary Honor Choir.

This event will take place in Frontenac on Saturday, January 18th. Students meet after school once a week and on
their own to prepare the five pieces and are eager to perform with their counterparts throughout the district.
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Contact: MJ Harper, 620-719-6633, [email protected]