Initiative For Expanding Employment for People with Disabilities

Kansas 1 of 10 “Core” States Selected to Participate in Initiative to Expand Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

TOPEKA – Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) Secretary Laura Howard announced today that Kansas is 1 of only 10 states and the District of Columbia selected by the U.S Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to participate as a “core state” for its National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network initiative (NEON).

NEON is a technical assistance initiative that advances collaboration with national provider organizations (NPOs) to develop strategic plans for increasing competitive integrated employment (CIE) opportunities for the individuals they serve, including those with significant disabilities and those who have faced barriers to employment. Until now, NEON has focused primarily on advancing CIE by offering national provider organizations technical assistance from recognized subject matter experts and support for local provider organizations. By expanding participation to core states, NEON seeks to focus on promoting positive changes in state-level policies and systems.

“KDADS is honored to be selected as a participant in this initiative designed to make employment a reality for more people with disabilities,” KDADS Secretary Howard said. “We are committed to making competitive, integrated employment a priority and implementing a strategic plan that supports effective practices and promotes healthier workplace equality.”

Competitive integrated employment (CIE) is defined by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) as work that is performed on a full-time or part-time basis for which an individual is:

  • Compensated at or above minimum wage and comparable to the customary rate paid by the employer to employees without disabilities performing similar duties and with similar training and experience;
  • Receiving the same level of benefits provided to other employees without disabilities in similar positions;
  • At a location where the employee interacts with other individuals without disabilities; and
  • Presented opportunities for advancement similar to other employees without disabilities in similar positions.

Kansas’s participation in this initiative will help KDADS connect to consulting, capacity building support and ongoing mentoring as we seek to increase CIE for individuals with disabilities in the state.

Kansas has been designated to receive 100 hours of technical assistance from subject matter experts to be used by August 31, 2023, based on the state’s goals and needs with additional hours available as needed and approved by ODEP. This can include blending, braiding, and sequencing of funding, strategic planning, and data collection and analysis. KDADS will begin holding monthly stakeholder meetings to gather input.

Expectations for core states as set forth by NEON include a scope of work that includes the opportunity to work with a maximum of four subject matter experts (SMEs) who will provide virtual and onsite training, technical assistance and policy consulting to include:

  • One-on-One (1:1) Policy Consulting: Individualized support in accomplishing 1-3 policy-specific outcomes to assist the state in developing or implementing technical assistance objectives with the alignment of policies, practices, and funding to support the state’s initiative to enact Employment First principles, assist providers in transforming their business model, and advance NEON’s National Plan to Increase CIE.
  • Capacity Building Assistance/Training in Effective Practices: A combination of in-person and virtual capacity building assistance and training which will result in the accomplishment of 2-5 major outcomes that align with ODEP’s Criteria for Performance Excellence in Employment First State Systems Change and Provider Transformation.

In addition to the policy support described above, each NEON Core State will also have access to and be expected to engage in all ODEP’s National Employment First Community of Practice (CoP) activities, including but not limited to: monthly training webinars, a virtual policy platform, national inventory of resources to help providers achieve increased CIE, and timely updates from Federal officials on new policy developments and funding opportunities to support state NEON efforts.


FS Parks Advisory Board Has Opening For a Member

Fort Scott Parks Board Committee has an opening for a member.
  • One opening for a three (3) year term.


The function of the Fort Scott Parks Board Committee is to provide suggestions to the City Manager and Governing Body regarding all the parks within the City of Fort Scott. All boards and commissions of Fort Scott serve on a volunteer basis and are not compensated.   If you have a desire to serve on this board, please submit a Letter of Interest to the City Clerk, Lisa Lewis, 123 S. Main, Fort Scott, Kansas 66701 or [email protected].  The names and letters will be submitted for consideration to the City Commission.   Please submit your letter of interest by 4:00 PM on March 3rd, 2023.


Obituary of Mary Ramsey

Mary Louise (Scarbrough) Ramsey, age 80, went to meet her Lord and Savior on January 30, 2023.  Mary was born in Willow Springs, Missouri on November 12, 1942.  She was the daughter of Bertha Antoinette (Cotton) Scarbrough and Pete Scarbrough.  She had an extraordinary loving relationship with her sister Martha Ann (Scarbrough) Gentry.


Mary was the proud Mom of Edward Ramsey, Dana Ramsey, Bob Padgett and even prouder Grandma of Garrett Ramsey, Rebecca Ramsey, Tanner Ramsey, Ross Nolan, Brenna Schroeder, Spencer Nolan, Grady Ramsey, Emery Ramsey, Remington Ramsey, Ryleigh Bowen, Waylon Ramsey, Lauren and Clayton Riisoe, Braden Gipe, Kara Riisoe, Hope Riisoe, Bradley and Morgan Little, Adeline Little, Hunter and Lex Padgett, and Waylon Padgett.


Mom loved her family like no other.  She provided for them and loved working as a CMA for many years.  Her passion was for her children, her grandchildren, her sister, and her sports.  She was an iconic “Grandma” to so many in the Rose Hill Community – she loved you all.


Her final wish was to return home to the loving Uniontown community where she raised her family.  We will miss her so much, but she will be with each and every one of us every single day.


Pastor Marty DeWitt will conduct funeral services at 1:00 pm. on Friday, February 3, 2023, at the First Missionary Baptist Church in Uniontown, under the direction of the Konantz-Cheney Funeral Home.

Burial will follow in the Uniontown Cemetery.

Visitation will be from 4:00-6:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 2, 2023, at the funeral home.

Memorial contributions may be made to the First Missionary Baptist Church and may be left in the care of the Konantz-Cheney Funeral Home, 15 W. Wall Street, P.O. Box 309, Fort Scott, Kansas, 66701. Condolences may be submitted to the online guestbook at



Branson Illiusionist Coming to Fort Scott For Splash Pad Project Fundraiser

Reza from his website.

A Branson illusionist will perform at Ellis Center on the campus of Fort Scott Community College on Friday, Feb. 17 from 7-9 p.m.

Tickets range from $50 to $65 for the event that is a fundraiser for the Fort Scott Splash Pad project.

Reza is a touring illusionist that performs at Branson’s Famous Theater. His performance is on a grand scale with interactive comedy and magic, according to

Josh Jones, one of the splash pad project members, talked to the performer a year ago about coming to Fort Scott and then again following the Jeff Leeson Comedy Tour on Jan. 21, which netted the project $5,000.

“They will be traveling through and will cut us a break on that day,” Jones said. “The college is letting us use the Ellis Center for free.”

Project Committee to Make City of Fort Scott Presentation

Taken from the Fort Scott Splash Pad Facebook Page.

The Fort Scott Splash Pad Committee is comprised of Jones, Bailey Lyons, Katie Hueston, Kelly Barr and Meredith Tucker.

A presentation by that committee will be made to the Fort Scott City Commission on Feb. 7 at the city meeting, he said.

They will be presenting the proposed location of the splash pad on Skubitz Plaza, and show an architects rendition of the project.

At completion of the build, the project will be donated to the City of Fort Scott for public use.

“To run it, it is estimated to be $5,000 a year in maintenance and operation costs,” Jones said.

Josh Jones.

All together, the cost for the project is estimated to be $200,000, he said.

“Two years ago, Kristin and Will Bishop reached out to me about a splash pad project,” he said. “We didn’t move it forward until a year ago.”

“We thought it would be a two year project but with gracious grants from Walmart for $40,000 and Timken LLC for $75,000 and other community members it is moving forward,” he said.

In addition to those big grants, on Nov. 29 during the national Giving Tuesday day, an anonymous donor gave $10,000 to the project and the project had a $10,000 match plus $10,000 from other citizens, he said, totaling $30,000 for that day.

Jones said the water park project is around $120,000 and any money extra will go towards landscaping, shade and seating at the site, plus possibly a public bathroom there as well.

The project is estimated to be completed this year.

About the Illusionist

REZA has taken the art of illusion to a new level, delivering his rock concert style magic show to audiences across the globe, according to press release from Reza.

Reza’s current tour transports concert level lighting and production elements merged with cutting-edge magic. Reza has garnered a  loyal fan base with his passion for creating signature grand-scale illusions such as making motorcycles and helicopters materialize out of thin air!

Reza’s unique brand of illusion has landed him on popular reality shows across 31 countries, including recent U.S. television appearances on A&E’s Duck Dynasty and The CW’s Penn & Teller : Fool Us.

Audiences can expect to witness such illusions as passing through the spinning blades of an industrial fan, a record breaking recreation of Houdini’s most famous stunt, and the appearance of a real helicopter, live on stage.

Reza infuses state-of-the-art production elements, comedic timing, and numerous interactive and inspirational moments, allowing the audience to experience the magic first hand. Perhaps Reza’s greatest secret is his uncanny ability to communicate his performance art on such a personal level.

Reza’s new show, “Edge of Illusion,” has earned various awards including “Magician of the Year.”





Kansas Education Enrichment Program to Open for Applications February 22

Governor Kelly Announces Program to Provide $1,000 per Student to Qualifying Families to Promote Learning Recovery


TOPEKA – As Kansas students continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Laura Kelly announced today the creation of the Kansas Education Enrichment Program (KEEP), which will provide qualifying parents and guardians with a one-time $1,000 award per child to pay for educational goods and services such as tutoring and school supplies. KEEP will open for application on February 22. Kansas businesses that provide educational materials or services are urged to join the KEEP Marketplace.

“With KEEP, we’re enabling Kansas students to access the resources and support they need to thrive in the classroom. I look forward to families being able to access these funds soon,” said Governor Kelly. “In the meantime, I am calling on all Kansas businesses that provide education services to join the KEEP Marketplace and help our students live up to their highest potential.”

Students whose household income is less than 185% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines will be eligible for KEEP funds.

KEEP funds will be able to be used on enrichment and educational activities including:

  • ​The purchase of curriculum and educational materials, including school supplies and certain allowed technological devices
  • Camps with academic-related curriculum such as music, arts, science, technology, agriculture, mathematics, and engineering
  • Tutoring
  • Language classes
  • Musical instruments and lessons

The funds will not be eligible for private school tuition.

Parents and guardians may select enrichment and educational activities from approved service providers via the online KEEP Marketplace or request that a service provider be approved and added to the statewide directory.

Businesses that offer educational opportunities and services are encouraged to join the KEEP Marketplace to assist families and students. Businesses interested in becoming a provider on the KEEP Marketplace can apply to become a Qualified Education Service Provider on the program website:

More information on how families can apply for, access, and use their funds is forthcoming and will be available in February when the KEEP application launches.

KEEP is being offered through a contract between Merit International, Inc. and the Kansas Office of Recovery, with the goal of providing educational activities and learning opportunities to students across Kansas to promote educational learning recovery in response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.


U.S. Senator Jerry Moran’s Weekly Newsletter

Happy Kansas Day!
On January 29, 1861, the great state of Kansas was founded. Each year, Kansans everywhere celebrate the history, ideals, people and natural beauty that make our state unique. Our history is marked by the events and people that have shaped us into the state we are now, and I am encouraged by the many Kansans who paved the way before us over the years. I am grateful for the opportunity to represent the people of our state in the U.S. Senate and mindful of the many farmers, ranchers, teachers, entrepreneurs, parents and countless other unsung heroes who came before us.

Ad Astra Per Aspera. Happy birthday, Kansas!


Continue reading U.S. Senator Jerry Moran’s Weekly Newsletter

Chamber Coffee Hosted by Communities in Schools at Middle School

Join us for Chamber Coffee hosted by
Communities In Schools
Thursday, February 2nd
1105 E. 12th St.
The Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce invites members and guests to a Chamber Coffee event this Thursday, February 2nd at 8 a.m. hosted by Communities In Schools at the Middle School, 1105 E. 12th St.
Communities In Schools of Mid-America currently provides services in 70 schools to more than 39,000 students each year by placing Student Support Coordinators directly inside the schools to work with students. Its mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. CIS of Mid-America does whatever it takes to ensure that all kids – regardless of the challenges they may face – have what they need to realize their potential. It is able to do this because its Student Support Coordinators are in schools all day every day, and they see the unique needs of each student. CIS of Mid-America partners with teachers and the community to address these needs and help students succeed.
The Chamber encourages everyone to come out and learn more about this great school-based organization. The Chamber ask that everyone attending to please park on the South Side of the building and enter through the South Door. The coffee will be held in the Community Room right inside the south door at the FSMS.
Coffee, juice, and light refreshments will be served in addition to a door prize drawing. Contact the Chamber of Commerce at (620) 223-3566 for more information.
We hope to see you there!
Thank you to our Chamber Champion members
shown below!
Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce | 231 E. Wall Street, Fort Scott, KS 66701

2022 Kansas Birding Big Year Results, 2023 Contest

PRATT – The 2023 Kansas Birding Big Year Contest, hosted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), is officially underway! Participation is simple; record the number of unique bird species you see in Kansas from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2023 and submit your findings. You just might end up a 2023 Kansas Birding Big Year winner!

Participants of all skill levels are invited to compete in one of three age groups: Youth (age 17 and younger), adult (ages 18-64), or senior (age 65 and older). The winners from each category will receive prizes to be awarded in January 2024.

Participation Guidelines

  1. Participants must register online at on or before April 1 to participate in the 2023 contest.
  2. Participants must read and abide by the set of rules governing the competition. These rules are adapted from the American Birding Association Recording Rules and Interpretations and include the Code of Birding Ethics. Breaking, or disregard for, these rules will result in disqualification.
  3. Participants must log their data into the online service, eBird, available on the Cornell University website, Each participant must create an individual profile, sign-in and password to begin submitting sightings.
  4. Participants must submit a running total list of observed species quarterly to the program coordinator to track progress and provide quality control. The program coordinator and competition committee have final say on list totals. Quarterly submission dates for the 2023 contest are: June 30, September 30 and December 31.

Winners will be recognized, and prizes awarded, in mid-January of the following calendar year. Award categories are as follows: Youth, Adult Novice, Adult Intermediate, Adult Advanced, and Senior.

The 2022 Kansas Birding Big Year Contest wrapped up in December 2022, with youth participant Franklin Miller claiming the title of “Kansas’ Top Birder” after identifying 322 unique bird species in the state last year.

The top winners from 2022 in each category are listed below.

Adult, Advanced

  1. Malcolm Gold – 315*
  2. Mark Nolen – 304*
  3. Jeff Calhoun – 250*
  4. Dan Broers – 246
  5. Chad Gardner – 228

Adult, Intermediate

  1. Seth Miller – 290*
  2. Juan Avena – 275*
  3. Corey Entriken – 267*
  4. Melissa Bruce – 265*
  5. Kelli Egbert – 219

Adult, Novice

  1. Ann Tanner – 183
  2. Krystal Sarcone – 83
  3. Timothy Tarkelly – 79


  1. Franklin Miller – 322*
  2. Hezekiah Swihart – 192
  3. Michaela Gold – 166
  4. Danielle Gold – 143


  1. Henry Armknecht – 289*
  2. Sue Newland – 270*
  3. Dan Larson – 215
  4. Marie Plinsky – 206
  5. William Simon – 140

An asterisk (*) denotes a Top 10 Overall score.

Sponsors of the 2022 Kansas Big Birding Year contest include: City of Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Kansas Wetlands Education Center, Acorn Naturalists, The Kansas Ornithological Society, Dr. Robert Penner, and KDWP.

For more on the Kansas Birding Big Year, visit

Common Ground Offering A Valentine Concert on Feb. 10

Nevada MO musician Stephan Moses will be playing at Common Ground Coffee shop,12 East Wall Street on Feb. 10 from 7 to 8 p.m.

This is a Valentines Day Concert, so bring a special someone.

“He will be playing Jazz music and performing love songs by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra,” said Common Ground’s Event Coordinator Stacy Racy.  “All age groups are welcome to come out and spend their Friday evening with us.”

Stacy Racy from her Facebook page. Racy is the new events coordinator at Common Ground Coffee shop.

Racy’s goal is to utilize the beautiful facility while giving the community something to do on Friday Night, Racy said.

“So often we hear people say they have never been in the building and we would like to change that by offering  good coffee, pastries, food, concerts, catering, and by renting out the dock area and conference room,” Racy said.

About Stephan Moses

Stephan Moses was born in rural Northwest Iowa and came from a non-musical family. Since the age of ten, he’s been playing guitar and has a diverse musical background with influences from Crooner’s to Blues greats, according to Racy. As a singer, songwriter, musician, Moses has a love for Gospel music and Delta Blues. Mostly, he just loves to play. Moses currently resides in Nevada, MO.

Common Ground Coffee Shop, 12 E.Wall.


Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

f Someone Won’t Get a Pap Test for Themselves, They Should Get One for their Family

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly proclaims January as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Through a partnership with Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), Kansans are urged to get pap tests for cervical cancer to reduce long-term cancer risks. Free or low-cost screening test through the KDHE Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program is available for eligible women at average risk who also do not have health insurance and meet income guidelines.

There are many things a person can do for the ones they love; and they should make screening and preventing cervical cancer one of them. On average, 100 women in Kansas are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and half of those are diagnosed as late stage. If caught early, cervical cancers are treatable.

Anne Zajic is a mother of three active little girls and a loving wife. “I remember feeling as though the room was spinning when I learned I had cervical cancer,” says Zajic. “I have been cancer free for more than five years and encourage others to get the HPV vaccine and tests regularly because cervical cancer is a very preventable illness and one that I hope my daughters won’t have to experience.”

Newly released data shows that 83.9% of women are up to date in cervical cancer screening. But screening must begin at 21 and follow the schedule recommended by a health care provider. The goal in Kansas is that 90% of women will be up to date in cervical cancer screening by 2027.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for cervical cancer:

  • Every 3 years with cervical cytology for women aged 21 to 65, or
  • Every 5 years with primary HPV testing (an HPV test that is done by itself for screening) or HPV-Pap co-testing for women aged 30 to 65.

Recommended screening beginning at age 21 is the most effective way to prevent cervical cancer. For more information about cervical cancer, visit