All posts by Loretta George

Nelson Blythe Selected to Fill District 1 Commissioner Position

Nelson and Euna Blythe.
A convention of the Bourbon County Republican party committee members was held on August 4 to decide  who would fill Lynne Oharah’s Bourbon County Commissioner District 1 position.
To view a prior story on Oharah’s resignation:
After the rules of selection were explained, the Republican committee had two individuals who asked to be considered:  Donald Coffman and Nelson Blythe.
Mark McCoy. Submitted photo.
“Each candidate was given three minutes to address our meeting, after this portion, the candidate and any of the public were asked to leave,” said Chairman Mark McCoy. “Much discussion took place amongst us. A motion was made to appoint Mr. Blythe by an acclamation motion, it was seconded, and all in attendance answered  in the affirmative.”
The required state form was sent certified mail on Friday, August 5 to the governor’s office, McCoy said.
“In my experience, the governor will notify our county clerk within 10 days,” he said.
Nelson Blythe will start mid-August as the new commissioner.
Nelson Blythe

Nelson Blythe, 28, worked as a deputy for the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office for approximately four years. Since 2021, he has worked as a deputy for the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff in Linn County is flexible in scheduling personnel, he said, and that will allow him to be present at the commission meetings, which typically meet at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays at the courthouse.

One thing that motivated him to run for the commissioner position was being involved in Bourbon County.

“When I went to Linn County, I didn’t like missing out on what is going in Bourbon County,” he said.

“I maintained good working relationships with most of the people who work in the court house, especially in the county attorney’s office,” according to a press release from Blythe. “I believe that my professional relationship with the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office will help smooth the sometimes rocky relationship with the commission.”

Additionally,  Blythe said he is glad he will be “in a position to defend our rights from state and federal governance.”

“Local elected officials need to be willing to stand up to state and federal authorities that violate the Constitution,” he said. “This isn’t an extreme view. It is a methodical, constitutional, conservative, law-abiding, Christian mindset.”

Blythe has been married to Euna for six years.

He is the son of Bud and Lee Belle Blythe of rural Uniontown. He lives on part of the farm that has been handed down in his family for over 150 years.  His grandparents were Kaley and Julia Blythe.

He is the youngest of Bud and Lee Belle’s five children and one of the three triplets. His older brother, Paden, works for the Fort Scott Police Department; his older sister, Katie Dyastra lives with her husband and three children in Fort Scott, and his sister, Hannah Stark and husband live in Fort Scott.

His identical twin brother, Kaley, is married to Kelsey and they have one child. He also lives on a part of the Blythe family farm.

Blythe earned a bachelors of science degree from Pittsburg State University in business administration.

 

 

 

 

New FSHS Teachers: Jon Barnes and Mike Krull

This is part of a series featuring the new educators in Bourbon County. There are 26 new educators in USD 234.

Jon Barnes. Submitted.

Jon Barnes, 23, is the new Fort Scott High School American Government and American History teacher.

Barnes graduated from Fort Scott Community College with an Associates of Science and from Pittsburg State University he earned a Bachelor of Science in Education.

He is a first year teacher.

Barnes comes from Yates Center. His family:  mom Tonya Billiard Barnes  of Fort Scott, dad is Kevin Barnes of Mound City.

In his spare time he enjoys walking his dog, lifting weights, playing golf, basketball, watching movies, playing video games, hunting/fishing, and is involved at the  Fort Scott Church of  the Nazarene.

“I decided to become a teacher after working as a tutor my second year at FSCC,” he said. “Both my parents are in education and they certainly inspired me, as well as my fourth grade teacher and high school cross country coach, Rex McVey.”

“The part of teaching I’m most excited about is getting to work with my students,” he said. “I’m in it for the kids, I love building relationships and being a positive influence on the next generation.”

“As a first year teacher, I’m sure I will find the challenges when we get rolling, but I look forward to working through them,” he said.

Mike Krull. Submitted photo.

Mike Krull, 56, is the new Fort Scott High School Physical Education Teacher and head boys basketball coach.

He has a Bachelors of Science in Education Degree from Pittsburg State University, with emphasis in physical education and social studies.

Krull taught at Louisburg, from 1991-1998 Frankfort, from 1998-2000, Yates Center, from 2000-2002, and Parsons from 2002-2022.

He grew up in Girard, Kansas.

His wife’s name is Misty and together they have five children.

“Three are mine and two are hers,” Krull said. “One son shy of Brady Bunch. I have a son Wesley, who is a teacher at Parsons and two daughters, Kaylee, a teacher at Pittsburg, and Sydney, a  senior at PSU. I have a step-daugher, McCarly, a nurse/RN in Pittsburg and a step-son, McCade, an independent contractor in SEK.”

Some of his interests outside of school are  “obviously basketball / sports, learning new cultures around the world, traveling / cruising, grandchildren Rip and Myla,” he said.

He became a teacher because he enjoyed school, he said. “I was always around the school environment with my mother, a secretary, and father, a teacher. I went to Fort Scott Community College and Pittsburg State University for my formal training, and really enjoy being around the environment.”

“No one person really inspired me to be a teacher, but really a combination of the overall experience. My mother, father, coaches, my high school teachers, and my college teachers,” he said.

“The best part of teaching is probably knowing that other teachers go through the same thing you go through with students and also the bonds that are made with students and their families and the bond with other faculty members,” Krull said.

“Probably the biggest challenge is knowing that each day will be different, good or bad, from the previous days,” he said.

 

 

New Uniontown High School Teachers: Morgan Egidy and Breanna Taylor

Morgan Egidy. Submitted photo.
Morgan Egidy, 24, is a new instrumental/vocal teacher at Uniontown Junior/Senior High School.
Her hometown is Greeley.
She earned a bachelor degree in music education from Kansas State University and taught one year preciously at Council Grove Jr/Sr High School
“I also have judged music for 4-H Club days in multiple counties across Kansas and the North Central District Band Auditions. I have taught private lessons for all instruments, including guitar for seven years now.”
She has a son named London who will start kindergarten.
Outside of school she loves riding horses, photography, farming, plants, playing guitar/saxophone/clarinet, and composing/arranging music.
“I am very involved in my home community of Anderson County where I volunteer helping at the county fair, judging photography for them and surrounding counties, and I am active within my home church, The Garnett Church of the Nazarene.”
Egidy was very involved in band in all through her schooling and in her junior year was selected to  travel to seven countries across Europe to perform. She received scholarships from both Pitt State University and Kansas State University but accepted the K.S.U. one and was very active in marching band, pep band, quartets,concert ensembles, and solo performing, graduating  in May 2021.
 
She was inspired to teach by several people.
“Mr. Jeff Russell, my high school band director, and Mrs. Bonnie Kubacka, my elementary music teacher, were my biggest inspiration and a good friend who helped me realize how passionate I was about music.”
 
For her, seeing the light bulb moment happen for a student when they finally are able to do or understand something that was once difficult for them is the best part. “Also, the connections you make with students are so special.”
 
Teaching music has its challenges.
“Getting students in a music class in the first place is definitely a big challenge,” she said. “However, there is so much music has to offer: it greatly improves brain development, teaches life long skills such as work ethic, motivation, commitment, team work, and so much more.”
Breanna Taylor. Submitted.
Breanna Taylor, 23, is a new 8th, 9th, and 10th grade English teacher at Uniontown High School.
Her hometown is Uniontown and she is looking forward to teaching there.
This is Taylor’s first teaching job.
She earned a degree in English Education and Spanish Language and Culture from Pittsburg State University in May 2022.
She  married  Dakota on May 29, 2021, and they had a son, Greyson, born on April 20,2022.

Outside of teaching she loves to spend time with her family, shop, travel, and support small businesses.

“While at PSU, I did a solo study abroad experience for a semester in Salamanca, Spain,” she said. “I lived in a dorm ran by nuns! It was such a rich experience. I made friends from all over the world, went to places all over Europe like: Ireland, Portugal, and London, and gained a new level of independence.”
 “I have been focusing on motherhood, but I plan to get very involved in both the Fort Scott and Uniontown community,” she said. “My goal is to one day have a scholarship program in the community for students, like me, that come from low-income single parent homes.”
“I had the idea of becoming a teacher my senior year of high school, and the idea became my reality,” she said. “I was heavily inspired by my high school English teacher, Alicia Jackson. I grew up wishing to be just like her. She is so strong, smart, and wears the BEST high heels. I hated English, but she allowed me to grow a passion for it”.
“I think one of the many best parts of teaching in having a role in students’ lives!,” she said.  “I love helping students find what they are passionate about, what allows them to reach personal success, and what helps them grow to be the person they wish to be in life. “
 “I think the biggest challenge in today’s world is teachers not truly understanding what our students are going through in their lives in and outside of the hallways,” she said. “Mental health has become a huge issue in our schools- for both teachers and students. This is why my classroom will always be a welcoming room for any and all students to be their authentic selves, be kind, and discuss their mental health.”

549 Fort Scott Residents Had No Power Following Storm Last Evening

Fort Scott substation on fire on August 3, 2022. Taken from Fort Scott Commissioner Tim Van Hoecke’s Facebook page.

As of 7:30 a.m. August 4, there were 549 Fort Scott residents on the north side still without power, according to a  customer service representative at Evergy.

This follows a thunderstorm that swept through town on Wednesday evening.

To view the outage map:

https://outagemap.evergy.com/

At that time there was no estimated time to restore service yet, but a customer service agent at the Evergy phone number, said the outage was caused by a lightning strike, which caused a fire and that two substations are down.

They are in the process of delivering a mobile substation to Fort Scott, which will allow power on, but there is not estimated restore time, she said.

The agent said they are working as fast as they can to restore power.

One area where there was no power is from Pine Street on the north, to 8th Street on the south, from National Avenue diagonally to Short Street.

There was a smaller section just east of the substation just off of Old Fort Bvld. encompassing North Buchanan Street, and North Clark, Wilson and Hill Streets.

At 8 a.m. the City of Fort Scott posted this on its’ Facebook page:

“Power has been restored to most of those that lost electricity because of the substation fire (lightning strike) late yesterday, however, there are still some spotty areas that may still be without electricity. Buck Run Community Center is still available to those needing a place to cool off, rest (cots available), and to use medical equipment (such as oxygen concentrators). We appreciate everyone’s patience and support.”

Nick Johnson: New Fort Scott Preschool Center Principal

Nick Johnson, 35, is the new  principal at Fort Scott Preschool Center.
He is not new to the district school system, however.
“I have worked in the USD 234 school district for the last thirteen years,” Johnson said.  “I began my career teaching second grade at Eugene Ware Elementary. After the two elementary schools became attendance centers, I moved to Winfield Scott where I continued to teach second grade for nine more years.  For the last three years, I have been teaching English Language Arts and Social Studies at Fort Scott Middle School.”
Since graduating from Fort Scott High School in 2005, Johnson earned an associate’s degree from Fort Scott Community College, a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Pittsburg State University, and a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Emporia State University.
His hometown is Fort Scott.

His wife, Amanda, is also an educator who teaches elementary music at Jayhawk Elementary in Mound City.  They have two sons-  Leighton, 13, and Reid, 7.

When not teaching, he is involved in his children’s sports activities.

 “My boys enjoy sports, so when I’m not at school, I am often coaching youth football, basketball, or baseball,” he said.
How did you choose to become a  teacher?
“I worked part-time at The Keyhole Youth Center while attending FSCC.  I enjoyed getting to know the youth who frequented the center and being a positive influence in their lives.  That experience led me to explore the field of education.”
 
Is there someone who inspired you?
“While attending Fort Scott schools, I was fortunate to have many great teachers who influenced my career choice.”
 
What is the best part of teaching for you?
“The best part about being an educator is having the opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of our youth.”
 
What are the challenges?
“The biggest challenge we are facing at the preschool is the lack of physical space to meet the current demand for early childhood education services.  We are looking forward to working with the district administration, school board, and community to develop a solution to meet the needs of our community.”

Update on Jail Staff Shortage

Bob Reed is the Bourbon County Law Enforcement Center Administrator. Taken from the jail’s website.

On June 16, 2022, Bourbon County Jail Administrator Bob Reed announced that inmates are being sent to other counties, because of staffing shortages.

On that day he announced that approximately 56 inmates out of 65 are being housed elsewhere, with a  cost to the county of $40 per day per inmate.

Reed said he and Sheriff Bill Martin are still working on the problem.

“As of 08-01-2022 we have 30 inmates (out of 54) being housed out,” Reed said. ” Depending on the county that is $35-45 per inmate per day.”

Currently, there are 24 being housed in Bourbon County with the rest in Allen, Cherokee, and Wilson County’s jails, according to the jail’s daily reports.

The Bourbon County Law Enforcement staff are still transporting inmates for hearings, etc.

“Some hearings are done by zoom and some are done in person,” Reed said.  ” The ones that are done in person are obviously transported here from the county they are being housed in and then transported back.”

“I currently have nine employees,” he said. “Three to five more will get us going.” Sixteen would make the jail fully staffed, he said.

“I have not been fully staffed for a long time,” he said.

Since June Sheriff Bill Martin and Reed have worked to raise the base pay from $12.50  an hour to $14.50 an hour, he said.

He said the county offers standard benefits of eye, health, dental, major medical insurance, sick time, and vacation.

Bourbon County Sheriff Bill Martin works at his desk at the Bourbon County Law Enforcement Center, Fort Scott.

To view the prior story:

Bo Co Jail Inmates Moved to Other Counties

Uniontown Schools Enroll Aug. 3-4

The two school districts in Bourbon County are preparing to start classes this month.
In USD235, Uniontown, parents have an opportunity to enroll their students on Aug. 3 from 8 a.m. to noon and Aug. 4 from noon to 7 p.m. The student’s first day is August 25. This district is welcoming two new principals, a new superintendent, and six new teachers.
Fort Scott’s school district has student enrollment today, August 1, with the first day of school on August 18.
See last Friday’s fortscott.biz feature to learn more about USD 234 enrollment:  Fort Scott’s USD 234 Enrolls Next Monday
Vance Eden. Submitted photo.
U235 is varying the times to best accommodate families’ schedules, Vance Eden, superintendent, said.
Students aren’t required to attend the event, but a parent/guardian would need to come for all enrolling students unless other arrangements have been made,” he said.
Parents will go to their children’s respective schools to enroll their students.
“While students will be able to find out who their teachers are, teachers will not be working that day,” he said.
The district has one position that they were unable to fill, “but we have made the needed adjustments to respond to the shortage,” Eden said.
As far as COVID-19 plans: “The district will continue to receive guidance from the county health officer as appropriate,” Eden said. “With it now being treated as endemic, we do not anticipate any significant impact on the student experience.  We will continue to use appropriate cleaning and disinfecting practices to minimize the sharing of illness.”
Teachers will report on August 22, with students’ first day on August 25.
To view interviews with the administrators:
New teacher profiles will be featured in coming publications
“We are excited to get the school year going,” Eden said.  “Students won’t see any major changes to their experience on the first days.  That said, we will be reflecting on and making adjustments throughout the year to best meet student needs.”

Fort Scott’s USD 234 Enrolls Next Monday

USD 234 Board of Education Building, 424 S. Main

Fort Scott’s School District is  set to begin the new year and has 26 new teachers and five new administrators.

The district scheduled student enrollment for August 1, with the first day of school, August 18.

“USD 234 does still have paraprofessional, coaching, and HVAC positions open,” Dalaina Smith USD 234 Assistant Superintendent, said.

A series featuring the new teaching staff will be featured in the next few weeks on fortscott.biz.

New USD 234 Administrators  are Nick Johnson, Fort Scott Preschool Principal; Krystle Mayginnes, Winfield Scott Assistant Principal; Shelly Charter, WS Principal; Zach Johnson, Fort Scott Middle School Principal, and  Destry Brown, Superintendent.

To view prior profiles of these adminstrators:

Destry Brown: New USD 234 Superintendent

New School Administrator Series: Shelly Charter

New School Admin Series: Zach Johnson

Winfield Scott Assistant Principal: Krystle Mayginnes

Smith’s role as assistant superintendent is new, even though she is not new to the district.

Dalaina Smith began duties as assistant superintendent of USD234 on July 1. Submitted photo.

“At this time we don’t have an anticipated number of students,” she said.

USD 234, is anticipating operating a normal school year for 2022-23, “although…the district admin team will be working to ensure that there is a plan in place in an effort to be proactive,” regarding aCOVID-19 outbreak, she said.

USD 234 will be hosting in-person enrollment on Monday, August 1, 2022. 

Here is the process.

All new students will need to enroll in person at their school, according to information provided by Smith. Families having difficulty with online enrollment or internet access should also plan to attend.  Students who have enrolled online will not need to attend in-person enrollment.  
Families with multiple students will be able to enroll at a single location, but may need to visit with other buildings about specific needs.  Food service, transportation, and technology information will also be available during these times.


Building staff will be on-site to assist families with the enrollment process during the following times on Monday, August 1:

Pre-Kindergarten through 8th Grade will enroll from  7-11 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.
Fort Scott High School will enroll from 8 a.m. to noon  and 1-5 p.m.
For specific questions or concerns, please contact the building secretaries at:
Preschool Center – 620.223.8965
Winfield Scott – 620.223.0450
Eugene Ware – 620.223.3380
Middle School – 620.223.3262
High School – 620.223.0600
The following is the school district’s calendar:

New Teachers at Eugene Ware: Sarah Hendricks and Anna Kim

This is part of a series featuring new educators in Fort Scott.

There are 26 new educators in USD 234 this year.

Sarah Hendricks and Anna Kim are two new teachers at Eugene Ware Elementary School.

Sarah Hendricks. Submitted photo.
Sarah Hendricks, 22, is a new fourth grade teacher at Eugene Ware Elementary School in Fort Scott.
She received a Bachelors in Science for Elementary Education at Kansas State University and taught second grade last year at Pleasanton.
She is from Olathe.
Her husband is Caleb Hendricks, who is the head football coach for Pleasanton.
Hendricks  interests outside of school are traveling, “going on runs with my dog and watching my husband coach football,” she said.
Since a small child, she knew she wanted to be a teacher.

“It was something I knew that I always wanted to do, so it is a dream come true to be able to do this job,” she said.

“I had great teachers growing up so I always wanted to be like them,” she said.” I learned from them, but I also knew I was loved and cared for at school, I want to do the same for my students.”
For Hendricks, the best part of teaching is getting to know all of the kids and making connections with them.
“I strive to be someone who students look up to and go to whenever they may be having a difficult time whether it’s in academics or not,” she said.
“The biggest challenge in teaching for me, is knowing that I can’t fix everything in my students’ lives,” she said. “It’s hard not to bring work home.”
Anna Kim. Submitted photo.
Anna Kim, 35, is a new fifth grade teacher at Eugene Ware.
Kim is a hometown girl, that has landed back in Fort Scott.
She went to school in Fort Scott from kindergarten through high school then earned a B.A. in Cross-Cultural Ministries from Manhattan Christian College (2009) and M.A. in Teaching from Kansas State University (2022).

 

“I have been teaching in different ways for twelve years, primarily in China,” she said. “I coordinated a volunteer English teaching program for Chinese migrant students, taught third grade at an international school, and English as a Second Language at a Chinese elementary school. I have also taught online and been a substitute teacher.”

“My husband, Jong Kim, is running a restaurant in the Philippines, but will join us in Fort Scott soon,” she said. They have two kids, Naomi (6) and Josiah (3).
My parents, Curt and Kelly Toll, have taught and coached in Fort Scott in the past. My twin brother lives in Colorado with his wife and daughter.
Her involvement with the community centers around spending time with family. “I also attend and teach Sunday School at Community Christian Church,” she said.
How did you become a  teacher?
“For my first official teaching job, the school my husband worked for in China called me in and said, ‘We need a third grade teacher!’ I said, ‘Absolutely not! Not me!’. They said, ‘You’re hired.’The first year was very challenging, but I slowly adjusted and realized I really enjoyed teaching children.
Is there someone who inspired you?
“My mom has been a teacher my whole life. She has always made learning fun and made kids feel special. She is definitely a model of the teacher I want to be.”
What is the best part of teaching for you?
“One of the best parts of being a teacher is seeing students grasp something that was challenging. Building pride and confidence in students is priceless. Another fun aspect is that every day is different. Kids are hilarious and unpredictable.”
What are the challenges?
“Students today face hardships at home, with friends, and on social media like never before. Teachers are not only responsible for the academic success of students, but also for their overall well-being. It is a huge responsibility.”

The Beacon Staff: Increase In Need Is Seen

Dave Gillen and Patty Mowen are the co-directors of The Beacon Food Pantry of Bourbon County. Submitted photo.
The Beacon Food Pantry of Bourbon County is seeing an increase in need.
“We have seen a uptick in new families this summer,” Dave Gillen, director of the pantry said. “New families have been the larger families. I believe with the increase in prices of everything their money does not go as far. “
The pantry is running low on a few things and  are paying more for things they must purchase for food baskets.
THE BEACON IS IN NEED OF A FEW ITEMS:
Specifically, the Beacon is in need of boxed marcaroni and cheese, Ramen noodles, boxed cereal and spaghetti noodles.
The Beacon is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
It is closed Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
The phone number is (620) 223-6869.
It is located at 525 E. Sixth Street, Fort Scott.
The Beacon is  a not-for-profit organization,  a food pantry serving Bourbon County, Kansas, that also provides financial assistance.

New Restaurant and Pub Coming to Downtown Fort Scott

From left: Bret and Sara Holder, Pat McDonald and Kim and Robert Coon are the investors in Pizza Republic.

A new restaurant and pub is on the horizon for downtown Fort Scott, called Pizza Republic.

“We want to make sure people have good options,” Bret Holder, the president of the new business venture said. “You’ll get a great meal and it’s a place for the whole family.”

Robert and Kimberly Coon, owners of 17 S. Main, the old Kress Building, are partnering with Pat McDonald and Bret and Sara Holder, all of Fort Scott,  and Dennis Moon, Houston, TX, Sara’s uncle, to open the new business venture by September 1.

Demolition is taking place inside 17 S. Main, in preparation for the new restaurant, Pizza Republic.

Bret Holder is the president of Pizza Republic, and has 20 years of corporate law experience, he said. “I am setting the vision, and making sure it’s going,” he said.

Pat McDonald just moved from Kansas City Northland, and has previous restaurant ownership experience: PatMacs in Kansas City. He is also an investor, chief chef and manager, he said.

Moon is the treasurer of the new venture, Holder said.

The Coons have been facilitating the reno of the first floor,  5,000 square foot of space, that will be divided into a family dining area, a bar, a large kitchen and an office space.

In the family side will be arcade games, a juke box, 10-plus big screen TVs and space for live music on occasion.

“It’s a big thing coming,” Robert Coon said. “The new floor plan requires a lot of reconstruction. The restaurant and pub will take up the entire first floor.”

“Kim and I have a residential construction crew, that we are having them take time off from that, to work on this,” he said. “We’ve been working non-stop.”

Demo workers are employed by Robert and Kim Coon, from left, Noah Terry, Drake Garcia, and Dacoda Garcia, all of Fort Scott.

The idea for the business has been percolating for some time.

“Bret and Pat approached me quite some time ago, but I wasn’t open to the idea because the building was already rented,” he said.

A sushi restaurant business was formerly the renter of a portion of the first floor.

“The sushi restaurant closed on July 5,” Coon said.

The new restaurant plans to employ 15-20 people, Holder said.

The ideal candidates for employment are “go-getters from Fort Scott High School and Fort Scott Community College and others,” Holder said.

Holder, a veteran,  said the reason he moved to Fort Scott “was to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome with Adam LaRoche.”

Adam LaRoche, retired from major league baseball, along with his wife, Jennifer, both of Fort Scott, are the founders of the E3 Ranch Foundation.  Together, they are committed to put God’s love into action, through supporting combat wounded veterans, fighting against sex-trafficking, and providing support during humanitarian crises globally, according to their website.

In the future, Holder sees opportunities for veterans getting training at this restaurant for future franchises.

“The plan is open other restaurants, in other towns,” Holder said.