All posts by annacarpenter

Little Luxuries, LLC to offer knitting classes

Starting in September, Lynn Chaney of Little Luxuries, LLC will offer knitting classes to the public. According to Chaney, the classes will cost $20 per person for a 6-week session, and the classes will meet once per week. Chaney mentioned that students will need to bring their own materials. When asked about the inexpensive price for the classes, Chaney said, “I like to keep my prices down here,” and explained that she wanted to keep the classes affordable to anyone in the area who had a desire to learn. Chaney will be closing her shop downtown, but Common Ground Coffee Co. has offered to allow the knitting classes to meet in their building.

Lynn Chaney works on a special order.

When asked about the beginnings of her knitting work, Chaney said that she took up the hobby in 1999. Chaney said, “I taught myself to knit . . . and it went from there.” Chaney said that she had several people ask her to teach them to knit, and from those queries came the idea to hold knitting classes in the area.


In addition to her knitting courses, Chaney takes special orders for knitted goods. During the interview, she was working on a beautiful pastel yellow baby blanket.

While her store at 13 N. Main is still open, Chaney also has several antiques to sell, including a unique writing desk made in 1919.


County collects on back taxes

As a result of the August 12th tax sale, several property owners were prompted to pay back taxes. County Treasurer Susan Quick presented numbers she had tallied at today’s County Commissioners’ meeting. According to Quick, $262,104.17 was collected on tax sale properties after charges were filed in court. According to county officials, the number of properties redeemed by payment of back taxes came to a total of 16. The addition of $46,075.57 in penalties brought the total amount of revenue from back taxes to $304,317.34 before expenses were taken out. Those expenses include a $60 per parcel charge from Security 1st Title. Collected fees equaled $5,472.

“The real benefit in having these sales . . . we had some properties that were $25,000 in taxes paid up this time. We need to pursue delinquent taxes. By the time it gets to where we can sell it, taxes have not been paid for 4 years,” said Commission Chairman Allen Warren. “The 16 that were redeemed brought in a lot of money.” County Attorney Terri Johnson agreed. “A lot of properties were redeemed after the process started,” Johnson said. Warren explained that last year, the county started an “aggressive program” to deal with delinquent properties.

  •  After a 15 minute executive session, Commissioner Barbara Albright moved to transfer Bobby Reed to the title of Jail Administrator at a salary of $37,205 per year, and that Julie Miller step into the Director of Security position at a salary of $32,205.89. Commissioner Harold Coleman seconded the motion. Both positions are exempt from overtime, according to county officials. According to County Attorney Terri Johnson, both Reed and Miller had been doing extra duties to fill these positions even before their job titles changed at today’s meetings. The position of Program Director formerly held by Miller will remain unfilled. In addition, Reed reported that a joint effort between departments had brought the number of jail occupants and number of inmates housed out to 49 and 6, respectively. According to Assistant County Attorney Valorie LeBlanc, one of the 6 inmates currently being housed out will be released August 24th. Reed said that he thought the department was “doing very well” at preventing overcrowding.
  • Hubert Thomas came to the meeting with County Road and Bridge Director Jim Harris to discuss repairs on Grand Road. “Looking at the project, it’s a big project,” said Commission Chairman Warren. “The landowner should be commended for calling it to our attention.” Warren explained that Brad Blythe, the landowner, had offered to work with the county by moving both of his fences in order to give the county room to work. The commission asked Thomas to come up with an estimate for the project. Thomas gave a preliminary rough estimate of $21-22,000 to repair the road and install a new culvert. Thomas explained that the 1,600 acres of rocky ground that drains into the current culverts sends an overwhelming amount of water toward the road. “No wonder it went over,” Warren said. The commission and Harris are looking into making the project a T-Works project, in which case the county would be reimbursed for the cost of the repair work. “That’s where we’d like to get the financing for it if possible,” Warren said. Commissioner Barbara Albright asked if the road were safe in the meantime. “It’s passable,” Thomas said, explaining that the damaged area of the road had been blocked off.
  • Bids have come in on repairs to the A/C units on the courthouse. Design Mechanical put in a bid of $25,998.00, while CDL put in a bid of $37,061.80. However, after looking over the specifications for work to be done on each bid, Warren said that he would like County Custodial Supervisor David Neville to review the bids to make sure that the two bids were comparable in scope of work. Warren said that he wanted to make sure the commission would be “comparing apples to apples.”
  • Richard Perry brought a road concern to the meeting. “We had so much rain that it tried to take [a culvert] out,” Perry said. “It wouldn’t take too much to fix it.” Perry said that lots of gravel had been washed out around the culvert, and that he would have semis hauling his corn harvest through the area around 160th soon.
  • Public Works Director Jim Harris brought an update on road work done in the past week. “We did a lot of rock hauling this week,” Harris said. Harris said that the plan for work on paving roads was to start paving the second lane on 18th Street/Kansas Road on Monday. Harris expected that the job would be finished in as little as 2 days. Commissioners also discussed with Harris the reclamation work to be done at the Blake Quarry. The project will include the construction of a 5-wire fence.



USD 234 gears up for school year

As school starts, students are getting ready for another year of learning. However, most teachers, school administrators and support staff have been preparing all summer for several changes.

One change students will notice immediately is the addition of 14 new faces. “There are 14 new-to-the-district teachers,” USD 234 Superintendent Diane Gross said. “That’s a larger number than most years.” Gross mentioned that the district does have a “pretty veteran staff,” but that the district is “excited about the possibilities and the enthusiasm” that new teachers bring with them.

Another change students will see in the coming year is a change in state standards. Kansas  adopted the Common Core standards on October 12, 2010, and full implementation is expected during the 2013-2014 school year, according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Of the standards, Gross said that teachers in the district had spent “quite a bit” or in-service time in the past year working with the standards in grade level teams or departments. Gross said that the teachers had worked toward a grasp of what the standards ask the students to do, and that the next step is to identify what teachers need to do in delivering content to help students succeed according to those standards. “It’s really about asking students to engage in higher level thinking and processing skills,” Gross said. Gross said that once teachers are comfortable with the standards, they will have greater latitude to teach depth of knowledge in their subject area. “I think it’s a positive thing for teachers as well as students,” Gross said.

In addition to work related to Common Core, Gross said that the district is training teachers in a Literacy First program. Because only 40 teachers can go through the program at a time, Gross explained that half of the Fort Scott Middle School and half of the Fort Scott High School teachers are going through the intensive, year-long training at the moment. “We’re establishing a consistent, coherent instructional framework,” Gross said. Gross indicated that though teachers may already be using some of the strategies outlined by the training, the conversations among teachers that occur may allow for sharing of ideas and a greater awareness of instructional practices.

A third change for the district comes in the form of changing extracurricular activities at Fort Scott Middle School. “This year we’re going to be adding interscholastic sports at the Middle School,” Gross said. Gross explained that the middle school will still offer some intramural activities for students who do not wish to compete outside of their own school.

A final change students, parents and the community will see in the school calendar during 8 months of the school year is an early release day. “We have some very focused time that is built into our calendar,” Gross said, to allow teachers collaborative time to work on instructional practices.

When asked about budget cuts from the state, Gross indicated that the school would find ways to keep the quality of education in the district high. However, as a result of a steady decline in enrollment, Gross said that the district had analyzed the staffing needs of each school. Through number crunching and discussions involving the staff and administrators, the district has determined what adjustments need to be made in staffing. “We lost two positions in each building, if my calculations are correct. They all ended up being people who were retiring or looking for a job elsewhere,” Gross said. In addition to evaluation regarding numbers of staff, Gross said that district buildings were slated for analysis by engineers. According to Gross, the district refinanced bonds and has set aside the funds to do a “major engineering analysis” of the school buildings. The school should get that report during the second semester, Gross said.


City ups codes work, remains within budget

Just as Fort Scott citizens are becoming creative with ways to stay within their budgets, the City of Fort Scott is doing the same. City Manager Dave Martin explained at this morning’s Chamber Coffee the challenges the city faced as a result of the destructive April hailstorm. As a result of increased workload in the Codes Department, the department needed more help to keep up with notifying homeowners of the need to clean up their properties, and  keeping track of licensing for the numerous roofing contractors coming into town. “I’m real proud of our codes department,” Martin said. Martin said that the “extra hours and the extra money” resulting from the storm have been successfully absorbed by the city. Part of these money-saving strategies was the transfer of Bruce Swank from Streets to the Codes Department.

Codes Manager Brent Crays, Police Chief Travis Shelton, and Codes assistant Bruce Swank listen as local businessman Mark McCoy conducts the “Dollars for Dolly” announcements.

Codes assistant Bruce Swank said of the situation, “Since the hailstorm . . . we’ve just been swamped.” Swank described operations at the codes department as a “three-tiered cake” of goings on with repairs, cleanup and daily operations. Of progress on home repairs in the city, Swank said, “We’re only about halfway through.” Codes Manager Brent Crays reported that of the 183 occupational licenses issued to contractors, only “two or three” have been problematic. When asked how long work on storm-damaged homes would continue, Crays said that work would likely continue into next year.

In other storm-related news, Tim Emmerson Jr. reported that for residents 62 years old and older whose homes have been damaged, an income-based grant of $7,500 may be available. Emmerson said that the application is easy to fill out, and that County Emergency Manager Terri Coop is the person to see about getting an application.

In other news:

  • The Santana family, owners of La Hacienda, hosted chamber members and guests for this morning’s Chamber Coffee. “We are very happy to have everybody here,” said Mirna Santana. According to Santana, the restaurant is now in its 3rd year of serving Fort Scott. Mark McCoy, announcer for today’s Chamber Coffee, added that La Hacienda is run by “wonderful, accommodating people.”
  • City Economic Development Director Heather Griffith announced that the city is working with officials in Lawrence to discuss options for other internet service providers in town. “The city is working hard . . . to expand our internet offerings in Fort Scott,” Griffith said.
  • Chamber Executive Director Lindsey Madison announced the Chamber After Hours event to be held next Thursday from 5:15PM-7:30PM at the Fort Scott Professional Building, formerly Newman-Young Clinic. Madison also announced that next Friday an Art Crawl event will be held downtown from 5Pm-8PM. Madison said that booths are free, and encouraged local artists to participate in the event. According to Madison, Ralph Carlson has organized musical entertainment for the 3 hour event.

Edward Jones Financial Advisor Jamie K. Armstrong Wins Spirit of Partnership Award

Jamie K. Armstrong of the financial services firm Edward Jones in Fort Scott, Kansas recently won the firm’s exclusive Spirit of Partnership Award for outstanding performance during 2012.


Jim Weddle, the firm’s managing partner, calls Armstrong a leader in the firm and an example of what a dedicated Edward Jones financial advisor can achieve.

“Jamie has demonstrated unyielding dedication and enthusiasm for her business of serving individual investors,” Weddle said. “Jamie has reached a benchmark in her career that deserves recognition, and the Spirit of Partnership Award provides that recognition. I am proud to call her an Edward Jones financial advisor.”

Armstrong said she is honored to receive the award.

“Edward Jones is a partnership. That structure is not just financial, it’s a philosophy,” Armstrong said. “We work together, help each other and all share in the rewards of working with long-term individual investors. That brings out the best in everyone.”

Armstrong was one of only 1,061 financial advisors out of the firm’s more than 12,000 to receive the award.

Edward Jones provides financial services for individual investors in the United States and, through its affiliate, in Canada. Every aspect of the firm’s business, from the types of investment options offered to the location of branch offices, is designed to cater to individual investors in the communities in which they live and work. The firm’s 12,000-plus financial advisors work directly with nearly 7 million clients to understand their personal goals — from college savings to retirement — and create long-term investment solutions that emphasize a well-balanced portfolio and a buy-and-hold strategy. Edward Jones embraces the importance of building long-term, face-to-face relationships with clients, helping them to understand and make sense of the investment options available today.

In January 2013, for the 14th year, Edward Jones was named one of the best companies to work for by FORTUNE Magazine in its annual listing. The firm ranked No. 8 overall. These 14 FORTUNE rankings include 10 top-10 finishes, consecutive No. 1 rankings in 2002 and 2003, and consecutive No. 2 rankings in 2009 and 2010. FORTUNE and Time Inc. are not affiliated with and do not endorse products or services of Edward Jones.

Edward Jones is headquartered in St. Louis. The Edward Jones website is located at, and its recruiting website is Member SIPC.

Friends of Mercy Kickoff to be held Saturday

This Saturday, August 17th at Crooner’s Lounge a 6PM, Mercy will be holding a Friends of Mercy Kickoff event, including a  happy hour, dinner and auction to raise support for the Telemedicine Initiative at Mercy Hospital in Fort Scott. The cost to attend the event is $25, and registration for the event is available online. “Telemedicine is a wonderful new form of medicine where a patient is able to have a physician visit via a computer,” said Tina Rockhold, Regional Marketing/Communications Manager. Rockhold said that telemedicine holds great opportunities for increased care in rural communities. “The beauty of that in rural communities . . . is that it gives access to our patients who need care quickly and we may not have that specialist in that community,” Rockhold said.

Rockhold explained that telemedicine has been very effective and had great results for stroke victims in other areas where telemedicine has been used. “We don’t have those specialists like neurologists face to face,” Rockhold said. Rockhold said that through telemedicine, a local practitioner works with the specialist to treat and assess the patient. Rockhold said that in the case of a stroke victim, prompt treatment can help reverse potential damage. “That time is precious,” Rockhold said. Through telemedicine, Rockhold explained, a stroke patient could potentially be treated faster than if that patient had to travel to see a neurologist.

“The goal of the event on Saturday night is to raise funds to have the equipment and the necessary components in place,” Rockhold said. Rockhold explained that Mercy would like to have the equipment set up so that when specialists are in place for the program, Mercy will be able to serve patients as soon as possible.

For more information about the event, please contact Tina Rockhold at (620)-223-8094.



Ellis Foundation scholarships bolster student opportunities

The bright blue metal roof of the Ellis Foundation building is quite visible on the downtown Fort Scott skyline. In contrast, the work that the Ellis Foundation does is quiet and behind the scenes, but that work makes a priceless difference in the lives of students all over the United States.

We caught up with Chris Ellis, President of the Ellis Foundation, to ask a few questions about the mission of the Ellis Foundation, its impact, and the daily operations of the foundation.

Ellis started by giving a bit of background on the beginnings of the foundation. “My sister, Kathy, grew up here,” Ellis said. Ellis explained that his sister, a beloved English educator at Blue Valley High School, passed away from cancer in 1997. Ellis said that students held a ceremony for the family and “said things that were just amazing” about Kathy and how she had encouraged and supported her students. “That was an inspiration for everything we do here,” Ellis said.

In 1998, the Ellis family gave out 3 scholarships funded with their own money. “That was the beginning,” Ellis said. After about 5 years, positive feedback from recipients and a desire to expand and continue the work prompted Danny and Willia Ellis to ask their son, Chris, to take over the running of the foundation.

Ellis said that the foundation has grown from its initial few family-funded scholarships to 185 new scholarships this year. Ellis added that the foundation now has over 100 partners that fund scholarships, including the Helzberg family of Helzberg Diamonds fame. The first year of Ellis’ involvement, the foundation raised $13,000 from donors for scholarships. This year donations jumped to over $3 million. “It’s grown like you wouldn’t believe,” Ellis said.

Ellis said that the foundation attracts donors for two reasons. The first is that the foundation requires students to be accountable, and the second is that 100% of the donors’ money goes directly to paying tuition and fees for students.

Ellis explained that the mentoring program begun by his’ wife, Cathy, helps students succeed throughout all 4 years of college. Cathy Ellis identified an Ellis Scholar, Alexandria Horttor, whom the foundation hired as Mentoring Coordinator. Horttor travels to every university where Ellis Scholars are enrolled to hold mentoring meetings. In addition, each student is given a student-created “survival guide” specific to the college they attend. According to Ellis, this guide includes not only information geared toward academic success, but also the best place in town to get pizza. “We try to take the mystery out . . . and make them part of a family,” Ellis said.

Ellis also mentioned that donors appreciate the way the foundation operates financially. Not a cent of donors’ funds go to running the foundation. Ellis said of the donors that many are wealthy people in the Kansas City area who took it upon themselves to give back. “Our list of donors is impressive,” Ellis said. “When you have that kind of people . . . you can do a lot.” And the foundation does, indeed, do a lot. This year, according to Ellis, the foundation has offered scholarships of $1,000 per semester for 8 semesters to about 600 students. In addition, students send a personal letter to their respective donors each semester keeping the donor up-to-date on the progress of their education. Ellis said that at least one donor was moved to tears after reading a letter from a student.

The foundation not only looks to metropolitan areas for funding, but also looks locally to generate opportunities for scholars. The foundation involves the community of Fort Scott to offer a Community Scholarship funded by local donations. “It’s the cumulative total of masses of people that create an opportunity,” Ellis said. According to Ellis, $6-10,000 is the amount usually raised by the annual campaign the foundation holds every year in Fort Scott.

Regarding the process of selecting scholarship recipients, Ellis and his wife interview every candidate personally. This is quite a task, considering the foundation works with about 75 different high schools in 19 different states, and an additional 105 colleges and universities, according to Ellis. “We interview every kid face to face,” Ellis said, except for a few in remote areas that the foundation interviews through telecommunication. “That’s powerful.” The approach has, indeed, been a successful one. The retention rate for returning freshmen is 95.41%, and Ellis expects that percentage to rise. “Our overall percentage of students retained is 81%,” Ellis said. “The national average is 47%. We’re almost double the national average.” So far, the foundation has “given 2,140 scholarships and graduated 823 students out of college,” Ellis said.

Of the students the foundation works with, Ellis said the foundation likes to work not only with students who are at the top, academically, but also with those “gap kids” who may be hardworking and possess a decent GPA, but have been overlooked by colleges.

The foundation also does valuable work in connecting industry with prospective workers. According to Ellis, the foundation works with Westar Energy as well as Delta Dental to identify students these companies would eventually want to hire, and in some cases, the company will pay the entirety of the student’s tuition through college. Ellis used as an example the program through which Delta Dental funds a student’s education on the agreement that a dental student will go to work in a “dental desert,” an area that is in desperate need of a dentist or dental hygienist.

Aside from the daily work the foundation already does, Ellis said that foundation is planning for the future. “Absolutely, we’re big thinkers,” Ellis said. “We’ve already met with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation twice.” Ellis said that he hopes to build the foundation until it has a national reach and a “$100 million endowment.” “I think that’s realistic,” Ellis said. There’s need out there.”


FSCC considers adding welding program

Fort Scott Community College is in the process of adding a welding program to its offerings. According to Interim Dean of Instruction Regena Lance, documentation for the curriculum has been sent to the Kansas Board of Regents for review. Lance said that the program had been approved by the board of trustees, and that the curriculum had been revised before it was sent to the Board of Regents. According to Lance, students enrolled in the program would work toward a Work Ready Certificate, which they would earn after the successful completion of 24 hours of classwork. Successful students would also earn Certification A American Welding Society Credentials after the 24 hours of courses.

Lance explained that the program resulted from “a push by the Crawford County Workforce Education Alliance. It was requested by local business and industry,” Lance said. According to Lance, FSCC has received financial support for the program in the form of $33,000 from the Crawford County Workforce Education Alliance, and $16,000 from Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center. Lance said that these donations will help purchase initial equipment for the program.

“I’m looking forward to getting it [the program] up and running because I think there will be a good turnout,” Lance said. Of the benefit the program provides for students, Lance explained that the program would provide “a quick turnaround.” “It puts them in the workforce a little bit quicker,” Lance said.

Gunn Park to host Frontier Fanatic Trail Run

Though Gunn Park has had several 5Ks run through its grounds, Frank Halsey, the Fort Scott Recreation Department, Redlogic and Red Team Racing have teamed up to hold a new kind of running event in the park–a trail run.

The run, which will be held August 31st at 8:00AM, will take place at the Gunn Park Trails located near the entrance to the park. According to the Frontier Fanatic event website, the race will cover approximately 4.1 miles–a bit more distance than the usual 5K, which is equivalent to 3.2 miles. The race is also unique in that it will be timed with disposable time chips. The race may just be the first of its kind in Fort Scott. Regina Cassner of Red Team Racing said that while the Mercy Day running events had used time chips in the past, the Frontier Fanatic is “the first ever trail race in Fort Scott using chip timing.” Halsey added that Red Team Racing had used this method for races located in Mound City.

When asked if the Frontier Fanatic trail run could become an annual event, Halsey indicated that he had considered it. “We are hopeful this can become an annual event,” Halsey said. “Ideally, this could become an annual festival, with the trail run, a mountain bike race, possibly a music festival, and more. There is even talk of hosting some sort of ‘Tri’ event, including running, biking and swimming or kayaking. We would love to take advantage of the great venue that Gunn Park can provide.”

Of expected participation in the event, Halsey said that previous events coordinated by Red Team Racing had “attracted more than 100 participants.” “However,” Halsey said, “considering this is scheduled for the start of Labor Day Weekend, it’s our first ever event, and the beauty of our trails is somewhat unknown outside of Fort Scott, we simply don’t know what to expect. I feel certain we will have at least 40 to 50 participants, but we’d love to have more.”

Those interested in participating can register online or download a registration form. “Early Birds” who register by August 17th are guaranteed a race t-shirt.


Visioning Survey deadline extended

Residents of Fort Scott may have noticed emails in their inboxes concerning participation in the Fort Scott Community Visioning Survey. In an effort to garner opinions and ideas from citizens all over town, the Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce and the City of Fort Scott have teamed up on the project, which was begun by former city Economic Development Director Macey Cullison.

According to Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lindsey Madison, the survey deadline has been extended in order to allow for increased participation. Madison said that the survey was based on a former survey done in years past, but that the current survey had been updated to reflect current issues.

“We wanted some more feedback,” Madison said, from all quadrants of the town. According to Madison, a volunteer sat outside Gene’s IGA promoting the survey within the past few weeks, which Madison said was a success.

According to Visioning Steering Committee member Gary Palmer, the purpose of the survey is to collect feedback from the community to be used in determining future projects. Palmer explained that the committee is “interested in surveying residents of Fort Scott and the entire county to receive feedback on recent efforts deployed over the last several years from the community visioning process. Furthermore, as a part of the visioning process we would like to collect data on what our next challenge should be.” Palmer explained that the next step after collecting survey information is to hold a “community conversation” in which the compiled survey data will be presented to the public.

“The visioning process is community wide,” Palmer said.  “We want to ensure the public is constantly and consistently informed in the work we are doing. This survey is one of the ways our committee felt we could do that.”

For those taking the survey, there is an opportunity to win $50 in “Chamber Bucks,” which gives the holder $50 to spend at local businesses.

Commissioners questioned about Public Works Director hire

Today’s Bourbon County Commissioners’ meeting brought about controversy surrounding the hire of the new Public Works Director. At the start of the meeting, Public Works Director Jim Harris stated that he was “glad to be here.” “There is a lot of work to be done, but that’s what we’re here for,” Harris said. Harris made positive remarks about Public Works Supervisor Marty Pearson’s work in the county. “I’ve seen some good things that Marty has done that we can build on and move forward,” Harris said. Harris and Pearson left the meeting to get started on other Road and Bridge work.

Jarrod Handly later came to the meeting to question the commissioners’ choice of hire for the position, as well as the addition of the Director’s job to the structure of the Road and Bridge Department. Handly stated that his intent was not to launch a personal attack against Harris, but rather to bring forward questions he had heard from other citizens.

Handly asked how the salary and new truck for the Public Works Director had been fit into the 2013 budget. “Where did that money come from?” Handly asked. Commission Chairman Allen Warren replied that the $40,000 for the Director’s salary had been planned in the 2013 budget, and the remaining $4,000 to pay Harris’ salary of $44,000 would come from a reduction in the County Supervisor’s salary. “The pickup, we had budgeted for a 3 yard loader and we didn’t buy it,” Warren said, explaining that room had been left in the budget for the purchase of the truck.

Handly said that he spoke for the public in saying, “People are not happy with the spending.” Handly added that citizens are “definitely not happy” with the choice of hire for the position.

Commissioner Harold Coleman asked why the citizens in question had not attended the meeting to voice their concern. “Why haven’t they appeared here?” Coleman said, to which Handly replied that he didn’t know.

Handly made accusations against Harris based on information he said was given to him by two contractors and a former commissioner. “I have documentation that he has lied to the county commission in the past,” Handly said. Handly brought with him minutes from the June 1st County Commissioners’ meeting in which Harris had told the commissioners workers were all mowing, except one whose machine had broken down. Handly said a commissioner later discovered that four employees had been working on a bridge instead of mowing. Handly also said he had been told that Harris had received, “numerous kickbacks” from equipment companies. Handly added that he had been told Harris manipulated bids.

Commissioner Barbara Albright reported that she had heard positive feedback on the hire of Harris as Public Works Director. Albright said of the need for the Public Works Director’s position, “What I’ve seen, it is just a very large job.” Albright explained that the decision to bring back Harris as Director was made because of his previous experience. Albright said that the reason Harris left county employment reflected a commission decision to eliminate the Director position. Albright indicated that there had been no documentation to indicate Harris was dismissed for wrongdoing.

  • County Public Works Supervisor Marty Pearson reported that some areas had been further damaged by heavy rains. “Anderson County got hit pretty hard Saturday morning,” Pearson said.
  • Public Works Supervisor Jim Harris observed that the goal for quarry production in the past year was 180,000 tons, and that only 90,000 tons were generated. Commission Chairman Allen Warren suggested that on rainy days, one county worker could break up large rock at the quarry with a jackhammer. Warren said that the county had spent extra money to “run lines” for a jackhammer to be attached to the track hoe, and that it would be a good use of time in wet weather. “I’ll bet that thing has a windshield wiper,” Warren said, indicating that the track hoe could be operated during wet weather.
  • Larry Runkle came in to report that work to remove an old gas line had put one of his fences at risk. “It’s going to for sure wash out,” Runkle said. Commissioner Warren said that he would ask Harris to look at the situation this week.
  • Jim Stewart and Dan Meara conducted the county Tax Sale today at 10:00AM in the Bourbon County Courthouse. “We have had a number of redemptions of some of these properties,” Meara said. “We started out with 59 tracts.” Meara explained to those in attendance that there was no minimum bid or reserve at a tax sale, and that an $8 fee from the Register of Deeds would be collected at the end of the sale from those who had purchased properties. Meara also outlined the stipulation that relatives of a person with property being sold at the tax sale could not purchase the property formerly held by that relative. Tom Davis of the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office reported that the properties sold for a total of $1,832.

Commissioners approve purchase of Sheriff’s Department vehicles

Bourbon County Commissioners put the stamp of approval on the purchase of 4 SUVs and 2 pickup trucks for the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Department at today’s meeting. Commission Chairman Allen Warren moved to accept the low bid for financing from City State Bank at an interest rate of 2.35% over a 5-year period. Undersheriff Bill Martin said that it would take approximately 6-8 weeks to receive the vehicles from Shepherd Team Auto Plaza. “It can be longer than that,” Martin explained. Martin said that other agencies would be submitting their requests, which would slow down the process.

Warren suggested that the department apply the $11,000 from insurance on hail damaged patrol cars to the current loan amount. “If you could lower that $186,000 by $11,000, that would help you out on your payments,” Warren said. Warren recommended that Martin request “new numbers” from the bank for budget purposes.

As far as the old, wrecked patrol cars are concerned, Martin said that he had contacted the adjustor, who in turn would contact someone to haul off the old vehicles. According to Martin, the department had $2,700 budgeted for July, August, September and October of 2013 that would not be used to pay for the old patrol cars, which were paid off June 30th. This money, according to County Attorney Terri Johnson, will be returned to the County General Fund.

The meeting also revealed positive results concerning efforts to reduce overcrowding in the Southeast Kansas Regional Correctional Center. Bobby Reed presented new data from that morning, which revealed that out-of-county inmate housing had been reduced. “As of this morning,” Reed said the jail had “46 inmates in house, and 11 housed out,” and “The numbers are down.” Reed explained that the reduction in numbers was due to efforts by Johnson, the courts and employees at the SEKRCC.

Reed has also managed to cut some of the overtime costs discussed in recent meetings. The jail will implement 8-hour shifts starting August 23rd, which will eliminate built-in overtime. Reed explained that a total of 4 employees had quite following the announcement of the switch to 8-hour shifts, and that he had recently hired two new employees. Because of the turnover, Martin requested that the county run a classified ad in the Tribune and other local papers in order to hire two more new employees to return the jail to full staff.

In other business:

  • Assistant County Attorney Valorie LeBlanc brought a letter from the Family Peace Initiative organization. The organization received $12,500 from the county in the past year for court-ordered counseling services. For the upcoming year, commissioners opted to reduce this year’s contribution from $12,500 to $3,000. The service, according to LeBlanc, is intended to be funded by more than one county in the area, though the organization received county funding from just Bourbon County in the past year.
  • Dwayne Neil stopped by the meeting to ask for an extension on baling hay at Elm Creek. “I want to get it baled as fast as I can get it baled,” Neil said. Neil cited recent rains as the delay in his work. As far as a new deadline, Warren said, “It’s hard to put a date on it, and “Just get it off there as soon as you can.” Neil also brought positive news to the meeting. Neil mentioned that Bourbon County’s flood control dams are working hard to hold flood water back. “It’s saving you a lot of road damage,” Neil said.
  • Greg Stine of Reformer’s Unanimous came to the meeting to present the Reformer’s Institutional Program. Stine said that his organization had been working with Sheriff Gray and Undersheriff Martin since mid-April to provide addiction counseling for inmates. The program gives the student “the tools to work with to know where to start, what to do,” Stine said. Stine explained that the curriculum involves work in small groups, and that after each meeting the student is given a challenge for that week. The faith-based program has been endorsed by several different dignitaries, including the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Dept. Lt. Bernard Salandy. Salandy called the program “a huge success” and that he had “never seen a program transform a facility the way R.U. did.” Salandy said that former repeat offenders had returned to being productive members of society as a result of the program. Lawrence J. Morrissey, Mayor of Rockford Illinois, also endorsed the efforts of the faith-based Reformers Unanimous.