No Rearview Mirrow by Carolyn Hayward Tucker

Keys to the Kingdom

By Carolyn Hayward Tucker


At the expense of sounding like the worst driver in the world, I’ll share my personal experience because it’s the perfect lede for this column.

My mother convinced me to enter my seven-month-old daughter in a baby contest in 1987. When we were in the car and on our way, I heard Mariam sneeze from the backseat. The thought of the possibility of snot running down her face was more than I could bear, so I turned around to see if there was a “disaster on aisle 3.” With my head turned and looking backward, I sideswiped an oncoming vehicle and my Buick and ended up in a bean field. My daughter and I were unhurt, and the driver of the other car had some scratches on her arm from the broken driver’s window. The wreck occurred because my attention wasn’t focused on what was in front of me. Looking backward instead of forward is the worst technique for driving.


Looking backward to your past is not the best approach to life either. Please don’t live your life looking in the rearview mirror. “Anyone who starts to plow and then keeps looking back is of no use for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 TEV.) Maybe your past hasn’t been perfect. If that’s the case, then join the crowd and realize you‘re in good company. The only perfect One on planet earth was Jesus. And even His life had some disappointments, hurts, and sorrow. I encourage you to let go of your past, move on, and embrace a future that’s full of hope in Christ.


It’s nice that we have a new year every 12 months because it gives us a fresh chance to change out the old and do things different and better. In Luke 9:51 TEV, it states that, “Jesus made up His mind….” Let’s make up our minds to do something beautiful for the Kingdom of God in 2024. We need to watch where we’re going and stop being halfhearted about our purpose and future.


Jesus is the loving and merciful Redeemer who can make all things new. Believe against all odds that divine help is on the way in 2024. Don’t look back at the things that have fallen to pieces, but look up and forward to Jesus. He is the One that is designing your future on a rock-solid foundation. “Look straight ahead and fix your eyes on what lies before you” (Proverbs 4:25 NLT.)

Although I’m uneasy about heights, I managed to walk across the Royal Gorge four times by looking straight ahead and focusing my eyes on the other side of the bridge. Life is short and there’s no time to waste on wallowing in regret or discouragement about the past. We can pour our heart out to God for any sin or failure, humbly receive His mercy, and then bravely move forward in hope and peace.


If you search your heart and find something that you should apologize and ask forgiveness for, by all means, do it for the sake of peace. But if there’s nothing you can do to defuse the bomb of your past, then simply walk forward into your future holding onto Jesus‘ nail-scarred hand. He loves you and can heal you everywhere you hurt. But you have to make up your mind to let Him soothe away the scars of your past.


Let’s stop looking back and intensify our commitment to do something worthwhile for the Kingdom of God.


The Key:  Obliterate your rearview mirror so you won’t look backward at your life.

Obituary of Charles Allen

Charles Arthur Allen, 85, of Holland Michigan, passed away peacefully on December 23rd, 2023, with his family lovingly by his side.  Although his family is deeply saddened by his passing, they are encouraged knowing that Charles touched many lives during his time on earth and is now celebrating in the arms of the Lord.  Charles was not one to quote scripture, but he encouraged others by the way he lived.  He believed in living life with a smile, a funny greeting and often his goodbye… “Keep up the good work.”  Those who met him were blessed to have known him.

Charles is survived by his loving wife Linda of 63 years; son Kurt Allen (wife Nona), daughters Susan Leonard and Kristin Wade (husband Robert); Nine grandchildren, Jacki Ferrier (husband Ryan), Lauren Ammons, Joce Renfro (husband Jordan), Kayla Crane (husband Ennio), Tim Wade (wife Kaity), Christopher Allen (wife Bryanna), Courtney Stoppel (husband Grant), Faith Adams (husband Davis) and Cale Wade; and four great grandchildren, Eden Cazares, Emma Crane, Archer Renfro and Juniper Adams; brother Harold “Pete” Allen (wife Janice) and sister Barbara Wheeler. Charles is loved and remembered by Rebecca Allen, Jim Leonard and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Charles is preceded in death by his parents Harold and Esther Allen; sister Bonnie Hill and brothers Tommy Allen and Jerry Allen.

Family and friends are welcome to attend a celebration of life in Holland, Michigan that will be held at Rose Park Baptist Church on January 13th, 2024.  An additional celebration of life will be held in Fort Scott, Kansas at Cheney Witt Funeral Chapel on January 20th, 2024 at 10:30 am.


Obituary of Russell Blubaugh

Russell Leroy Blubaugh, age 88, a resident of Olathe, Kansas, passed away early Tuesday, December 26, 2023, at the Olathe Hospice House in Olathe. He was born December 20, 1935, in Bentley, Kansas, the sixth child of Oscar H. Blubaugh and Minnie A. Krauss Blubaugh’s ten children. In 1948, the Blubaugh family moved from Bently to a farm in Anderson County, Kansas northeast of Westphalia. Russ attended Mont Ida Rural Grade School and went on to graduate from Westphalia High School. He married Evelyn June Johns on June 8, 1961. Russ, along with his brother, Roger, eventually took over the operation of the Blubaugh Farm. They grew row crops, milked and raised beef cattle. They took pride in their land and received an Anderson County Soil Conservation award. While in Garnett, Russ and Evelyn were member of the First Christian Church where Russ served as a Deacon. In 1985, Russ and Evelyn left the farm and moved to Olathe, Kansas where Russ began working as a plumber for Gladstone Plumbing where he worked with his longtime friends Raymond and Milton Johnston. He worked in the profession until the mid-1990’s. Russ was a natural when it came to fixing things. Therefore, when he retired from plumbing, he started a part-time job with Lowe’s in Olathe. He enjoyed staying busy and helping the many customers. Russ enjoyed woodworking and helping Evelyn keep up their yard and flowerbeds, but above all he enjoyed spending time with his four granddaughters. Many hours were spent riding bikes, swimming, and going out for ice cream. Russ will be remembered as a devoted husband, father and grandfather.

Survivors include two daughters, Diane Hastert (Duane) of Garnett, Kansas and Deann Mitchell (Greg) of Olathe, Kansas; four granddaughters, Meagan Ingold (Josh), Lauryn Linzay (Jesse), Shelby Ellis (Tim) and Sydney Gray (Tristan) and two great-grandsons, Carter and Kaysen Ingold with another Ellis grandson on the way. Also surviving are four brothers, Roger Blubaugh (Judy) of Olathe, Kansas, Reuben Blubaugh (Barbara) of Excelsior Springs, Missouri, David Blubaugh (Sheila) of Ft. Scott, Kansas and Steve Blubaugh also of Excelsior Springs and a sister, Norma Jean Nilges of Garnett. Russ was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn, on September 3, 2022; two infant twin great-granddaughters, Marcie and Jaycie Ellis as well as his parents, three brothers, Ralph, Robert and Raymond Blubaugh and a sister, Lois Nilges.

Pastor Chris Goetz will conduct funeral services at 11:00 A.M. Tuesday, January 2nd at the First Christian Church in Garnett, Kansas. Burial will follow in the Mont Ida Cemetery. The family will receive friends on Tuesday from 10:00 A.M. until service time at the church. Memorials are suggested to Friends of the Garnett Library and may be left in care of the Cheney Witt Chapel, 201 S. Main, P.O. Box 347, Ft. Scott, KS 66701. Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at

FS City Commission Agenda for January 2

The only order of business for 1-2-2024 is to establish the new 2024 City Commission. All other business will be discussed on Tuesday, January 9, 2024 at 6:00PM


January 2, 2024 – 6:00 P.M.
I. Roll Call:
T. VanHoecke M. Guns M. Wells
II. Pledge of Allegiance & Invocation: M. Wells
III. New Business
A. Oath of Office – Commissioner Tracy Dancer and Commissioner Dyllon Olson
B. Appointment of Mayor of Fort Scott
C. Appointment of President of the City Commission of Fort Scott
D. Review and agreement of Code of Ethics – Ordinance 3563
E. Review and agreement of Code of Procedure for the Commission of the City
of Fort Scott, Kansas
IV. Public Comment:
Sign up required. Comments on any topic not on agenda and limited to five (5) minutes per person, at the Commission’s discretion.
V. Reports and Comments:
A. City Manager Comments:
B. Commissioners Comments:
T. VanHoecke –
M. Wells –
M. Guns –
T. Dancer –
D. Olson
C. City Attorney Comments:
VI. Executive Session:
VII. Adjournment:
Next regular meeting scheduled: Tuesday, January 9, 2024, at 6:00PM

Community Presentation to Disrupt the Exploitation of Sex Traffickers

BeAlert® is the awareness and prevention strategy of The Stop
Trafficking Project® to end domestic minor sex trafficking
(DMST)before it starts by disrupting the exploitation of vulnerability.


LOCATION:Fort Scott Community College  Ellis Fine Arts Center


The Who – caring adults invited to attend:
• Law enforcement
• Firefighter’s and EMT’s
• Medical professionals
• Counselors
• Faith community leaders
• School personnel
• Parents, guardians, and all other adult family members

The What – educate and empower caring adults in our community:
• Students are enamored with social media and “life online”
• Name apps and provide practical advice to guide caring adults
• Unpack vulnerabilities that can be exploited: loneliness, isolation, depression, suicide, sexting, sextortion, pornography, cyberbullying, exploitation, sexual exploitation, and domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST)

The How – the approach: Fast-moving Power Point presentation designed for maximum impact.
The presenter – an active abolitionist: Has command of the topic and speaks with energy that grabs and keeps the attention of attendees.
The presentation – fast-paced with appropriate images and videos:
• Provide insight into the role of technology in exploiting vulnerabilities
• Identify the demand in this high-demand business of sexual exploitation
• Provide the option to engage with the BeAlert® Strategy, the Stop Trafficking App, and the “top ten practical steps” for adults to keep students safer


Fort Scott Has A New Human Resource Director and City Manager Reflects on 2023, Looks To 2024

Fort Scott City Manager Brad Matkin was asked what the city’s accomplishments were this year and also what is on the horizon for 2024 and he sent his reply.

He also announced a new administrative position has been filled by Payton Coyan.

Payton Coyan. Submitted photo


Payton Coyan started as the Fort Scott Human Resource Director on December 27.

She has four years of experience in driving strategic human resource operational initiatives, with a  focus on talent acquisition, employee retention, succession planning, organizational development, legal compliance, and grievance management. She also has skills in recruitment, interviewing, resume screening, negotiating, conflict resolution, streamlining operations, and heightening employee productivity by mastering HR situations for integrating human resource functions with overall goals, according to a press release.

She has experience managing employee benefits, employee hiring and onboarding, performance management, and HR records.

Coyan is a graduate of Ottawa University.

“Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with family and friends,” she said in the press release. ” I come from an amazing family and am fortunate to have… every one of them in my life. I am a lifelong resident of Bourbon County and love our community full-heartedly. In my free time, I enjoy…camping, (going) on a nature walk, walking downtown, or reading a book.”

Brad Matkin. Submitted photo

Matkin stated he is sure there is more coming for the city in 2024  but this list of goals will get things going, and “I am sure I missed some things on what we did in 2023.”

2023 Accomplishments:

  • Establishing the “My Fort Scott” App
  • Completion of Cooper Street
  • Completion of the “Old Faithful” sewer project near Nelson Park, between Elm and Pine on North Grant Street.
  • Improved wages for city staff, crews, and public safety members
  • Gunn Park Campground area improvements
  • Lake Fort Scott stem repair
  • The 2022 Cape Seal program completed
  • 2023 Cape Seal program prepped and ready for 2024
  • Increased advertisements and promotion of area events by the Fort ScottTourism Department
  • Approvement of 2nd Phase of  City Connecting Link Improvement grant for the Wall Street project. This is a federal and state-funded program that will start in 2025.
  • Pothole and crack sealing program
  • Established “street repair” crew
  • Memorial Hall improvements (thanks to volunteers for helping this happen)
  • Additional Lake Fort Scott docks
  • Buck Run Community Center improvements
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant lagoon improvements and elimination of the “smell”
  • Assignment of Baker Tilley,  a consulting and public accounting firm, as City Finance Director, with their representative being Ben Hart.
  • Flawless 2022 City audit
  • Establishing a budget that did not increase taxes and freed up city monies for investments
  • Community Development Block Grant sewer repair throughout the city
  • Fort Scott Airport runway and taxi-way improvements thanks to an FAA grant
  • Stormwater project from 15th to 17th and Eddy streets
  • Purchased street line paint machine, city crews painting streets instead of outsourcing
  • Several street and water line repairs
  • Bringing back the Community Development position
  • UTV for the fire department (thanks to Timken Foundation grant)
  • Additional quick-action weapons for the Fort Scott Police Department
  • New Christmas “swags” for downtown
  • Woodland Hills Golf Course cart path improvements and repairs
  • Workman Compensation insurance graded the city with a Gold Star which will equate to a 5% reduction in premium


What’s Up in 2024:

  • Tourism Department to branch out to the Kansas City  area to promote Fort Scott
  • 2024 Street program that will improve streets one block at a time
  • Horton Street project
  • Additional aeration systems to the wastewater plant
  • Woodland Hills Golf Course maintenance barn and simulator barn justified; built either in the 4th quarter of ’24 or 1st quarter of ’25.
  • Gunn Park shelter house renovation and shower house built
  • Gunn Park sewer project
  • 2” water line replacement program
  • Caboose in Fisher Park painted and moved to an uptown location at Scott Avenue and Wall Street
  • Two additional police cars were purchased
  • Memorial Hall bathroom renovations (grant pending)
  • Memorial Hall tables and stage lights improvements
  • Phase 1 on the Farmers Market Pavilion completed, and Phase 2 started
  • Buck Run Creek area sewer repair
  • Improved housing initiatives
  • Goals and expectations for our Economic Development Department, which is Bourbon County Regional Economic Development Inc.
  • Contractor licensing completed and implemented
  • Event Tourism Grant policy completed and implemented
  • City of Fort Scott webpage improvements and updated
  • Lake Fort Scott camping area – phase 1
  • Lake Fort Scott secondary valve installed
  • Additional water sources researched
  • Buck Run Walking Trail phase 1 started (grant search and cleanup)
  • Additional downtown parking (plus paving what we currently have)
  • 25th Street rebuilt
  • School speed signs installed on Margrave and National





Governor: Kansans to See State Sales Tax Go Down on Food for Second Straight Year

Governor Kelly Announces Grocery Shoppers Can Expect an Additional $150M in Tax Relief in 2024

~~Kansans to See State Sales Tax Go Down on Food for Second Straight Year~~ 

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today announced that in 2024, consumers in the Sunflower State are projected to see an additional $150 million in savings because of the “Axe the Food Tax” legislation she signed in 2022. According to projections from the Kansas Department of Revenue, the reduction of the state sales tax on groceries from 4% to 2% will save shoppers $12.5 million per month in 2024.

“By taking a middle-of-the-road approach, we have been able to continue putting money back in the pockets of every Kansan,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “This reduction is a step toward eliminating the state sales tax on groceries completely, which will happen in 2025.”

After working tirelessly to put the state on solid financial footing, in 2021 Governor Kelly called on the Kansas Legislature to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries as soon as possible. The legislature ultimately passed legislation that gradually reduced the state sales tax on groceries over three years.

In 2023, the state sales tax rate on groceries went down from 6.5% to 4%, saving consumers $187.7 million per year. By the end of 2024, it is projected that shoppers will have saved more than half a billion dollars in sales tax on groceries over the two years the reduction has been in place.

The state sales tax reduction applies to food, food ingredients, and certain prepared foods. When looking at a receipt, shoppers will see two tax rates, one for qualifying purchases and one for all other items.

The reduction to the 2% state sales tax on qualifying items goes into effect on January 1, 2024.


What Kind of a Wait-er Are You by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche. 2023.
Author: A Little Faith Lift…Finding Joy Beyond Rejection
AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Assoc.)

Are you a considerate “wait-er”?  Not like the person who takes your restaurant order, but one who is asked to demonstrate patience?  Think of traffic jams. Lengthy red lights when no car is in sight.  Standing in a return line after Christmas. Unnecessary, college requirements in order to graduate. Impulsive credit card debt as opposed to saving money for a purchase. Writing off a potential friendship because of a bad first impression.

If you’re like me, your patience is constantly tested. Think, the grocery store line.  You choose the shortest one and watch everyone in the longer lines get out the door before you.  This is a regular occurrence for me.  My line always seems to be the one in which the customer argues about the price or has expired coupons or whose debit card is denied.  I wouldn’t mind it if they made eye contact and said they were sorry, but they seem oblivious to me tapping my toes or clearing my throat or semi-whispering, “Seriously???!!!”

We impatient types do not accept that this “now” moment is a teachable one but focus only on what is ahead.

The article “Exploring Your Mind” listed eight consequences of impatience.  Two came as a shock: (1) it causes obesity (because you eat impulsively) and (2) it speeds up the aging process by weakening the telomeres, structures that protect DNA from breaking down so the signs of aging appear. (In other words, if I don’t get my impatience under control, I will become fat and wrinkly.)

I make rash decisions with less-than-desirable consequences. Volunteering to help where I am not qualified.  Purchasing a car that cannot handle our town’s brick streets.  Becoming involved in a friendship that zaps my energy.  Defending someone without knowing both sides of the story. When I am impatient, I expect God to answer my prayers…Now!

The crazy thing is, being too patient also can be problematic.  I know people who are patient to a fault. (I do not fall into this category.) They cannot make a decision and miss out on great sales/ job opportunities. They spend too much time weighing their options for wonderful friendships or a loving relationship. They delay seeing a doctor until the prognosis is a deadly one.

Let’s face it.  We all are called to be a patient “wait-er.”  In the Bible, we read in the Old Testament of the Israelites waiting hundreds of years for the Messiah to appear, and as Christians, we also wait expectantly for that same Messiah to return to earth for the final days before eternal judgment begins.  In the meantime, we are to find the balance necessary between impatience and patience, to enjoy our journey and not waste the “now” in our lives.

Sounds like a perfect New Years’ Eve Resolution, don’t you think?



Bourbon County Inter-Agency Coalition Meeting Agenda for January 3, 2024

The monthly Bourbon County Coalition Meeting will be on January 3, 1:00 p.m., in the Conference Room at the Scottview Apartments.  If unable to attend and have an announcement, send it to Billie Jo Drake to share.

Please be thinking about future programs that could be scheduled; bring ideas to the meeting!

Bourbon County Inter-Agency Coalition

General Membership Meeting Agenda


January 3, 2024



  1. Welcome: 



  1. Member Introductions and Announcements:



  1. Program:  Tess Watson, bed project



  1. Open Forum:



  1. Adjournment:  The next General Membership meeting will be February 7, 2024.



There is a Resource for Residents Seeking Info on Legislative Matters

Kansans encouraged to call, chat, or email the State Library’s Legislative Hotline

TOPEKA –As the beginning of the 2024 legislative draws near, the State Library of Kansas reminds Kansans of the dedicated Legislative Hotline, an ongoing resource for residents seeking information about state legislation or legislative matters. Staffed by experienced librarians, this hotline serves as a trustworthy point of contact.

Residents can inquire about various topics, such as:

  • Identifying their legislators
  • Accessing legislator contact information
  • Checking the status of specific bills
  • Understanding the legislative process
  • Locating historical information
  • Other inquiries related to Kansas government

“Finding timely and accurate information about state government can be challenging, yet is critical to ensuring that Kansans can engage with their elected officials on the issues that matter the most to them,” said State Librarian Ray Walling. “By reaching out to the legislative hotline, Kansans can get the information they need from trusted librarians.”

Kansans can connect with the Legislative Hotline by phone, chat or email:

Live assistance is available Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm. Outside of these hours, messages left via voicemail or email are promptly returned on the next business day. Additionally, Kansans can engage in real-time conversations with librarians through the Ask a Librarian service at TTY users can dial 711 for assistance.


Obituary of Harvey Green

Harvey Preston Green Sr., a devoted husband, loving father, and dedicated community member passed away on December 25, 2023, at his home in Shawnee, Kansas. He was born on May 14, 1935, in Licking, MO, to Charles and Martha Green.


Harvey was preceded in death by his eight siblings: Fred Andrew Green, Arngie Green, Delphia Dodson, Melba Cooper, Albert Green, Charlie Green, Bessie Morgan, and Melvin Green. He was also preceded in death by three children: Debra Jones, Ida Rene Davis, and Timothy Green. Despite the sorrow of losing his siblings and three children, Harvey leaves behind a legacy of resilience and strength.


Harvey is survived by six children: Darlene Atkinson, Robert Green, Karen Winters, Janice Zickefoose, Harvey Green Jr., and Susan Leichter. He is also survived by many loving grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


In his early years, Harvey served with honor in the United States Army, showcasing his commitment to duty and country. Following his military service, he utilized his skills as a maintenance technician, working across the country. Harvey’s dedication to learning was evident as he earned two Associate’s degrees, one as an insurance adjuster and the other in HVAC. Harvey was a proud Shriner and a member of the Rising Sun Masonic Lodge in Fort Scott, Kansas. His commitment to service extended to his role as the President of the resident group at the Homestead of Shawnee, where he also contributed as the editor of the assisted living newsletter, “The Spade.”


A man of many talents and passions, Harvey enjoyed playing musical instruments, spending quality time with his family and friends, and expressing himself through writing. Recently, he dedicated his time to serving as the President of the resident group at the Homestead of Shawnee, leaving a lasting impact on those around him.


Harvey’s love story with Wilma Jo Green, whom he was married to for 33 years, was a central part of his life. In a final tribute to their enduring love, Harvey was laid to rest in the Clarksburg Cemetery, next to Wilma.


A memorial service to celebrate Harvey’s life will be held at the Cheney Witt Funeral Chapel on Saturday, January 13, 2024, at 10:30 AM.

Following the service, a family meal will be served at the Cheney Witt Carriage House at 301 S. Main in Fort Scott, Kansas.


Harvey Preston Green Sr. will be remembered not only for his accomplishments and contributions but also for the love and warmth he shared with those fortunate enough to know him. May he rest in peace, leaving behind cherished memories that will forever be etched in the hearts of his family and friends.


Words of remembrance may be left online at