City Commission names Mayor, approves trolley purchase

During their final April meeting Tuesday evening, the Fort Scott City Commission approved the appointment of JoLynne Mitchell as the new mayor of the board while Sam Mason was named the president of the commission.

4-21 Commission

Former mayor Cindy Bartelsmeyer, who had held the position the previous three years, nominated Mitchell to the position and the other commissioners approved the appointment unanimously.

“We appreciate your three years of service,” Mitchell said to Bartelsmeyer, adding she is unsure that she can fill those shoes.

Bartelsmeyer expressed confidence that Mitchell would be able to do so.

“I feel like the city is moving in a very positive, upward way,” Bartelsmeyer said, adding she enjoyed her time as mayor. “We’ve gotten a lot accomplished and I think we’re all proud of that as commission members.

Recent commission addition Randy Nichols was also named the Fort Scott Housing Authority delegate while commissioner Jim Adams was appointed the commission’s Bourbon County Economic Development Council, Inc., representative.

The commissioners also received an update from Reta Baker, Chamber of Commerce board chairman and representative for the transient guest tax committee, concerning the goal to purchase a new trolley for the city’s traditional trolley rides, which have been unavailable for some time since the retirement of Dolly the Trolley.

“There really is something very engaging about a trolley tour,” Baker said, saying the ride with a narrator provides an enjoyable opportunity to learn about the community and ask questions without visitors having to drive or find information on their own.

Baker said the trolley tours in Fort Scott had a decrease in riders before they ended, but said that was likely at least partially a result of the unreliability of Dolly. Baker said they believe a new trolley would recapture some of those numbers.

After looking at a number of new and used trolleys, Baker said they narrowed it down to three and then to their favorite, a new 2015 diesel model that can accommodate 22 to 24 passengers and is handicap accessible. The trolley will be brought to Fort Scott next week for a trial run before purchase.

So far, the fund for the new trolley has received $23,500 from the sale of the old trolleys and an additional $20,500 raised through fundraisers. A bid for a loan brought an interest rate of 2.49 percent from City State Bank for six years of quarterly payments of about $3,600, with the first coming in August.

Baker said they decided to seek a loan instead of raising the funds in advance in order to have a trolley available before the summer months.

“We’re coming up on prime tourism season,” Baker said. “And the longer we put off replacing the trolley, marketing and promoting it, then the more lost opportunity we have to really give people a wonderful experience in our community.

Director of finances Jon Garrison said there are ample funds available from the transient guest tax, coming from those visitors staying at hotels and not from Fort Scott residents, so there should be no problem making payments.

The commission unanimously accepted the transient guest tax committee’s request to purchase the trolley.

5 thoughts on “City Commission names Mayor, approves trolley purchase”

    1. Wonderfully! Trolley rides are an important part of our community, allowing visitors to see first hand our history and new happenings. Believe it or not, people travel to take trolley rides, they spend their money in our community which benefits everyone as a whole.

    2. “same old” meaning we had a trolley and now they are getting another one? It actually seemed to work pretty well back when it was running, but they don’t last forever.

  1. The Trolley is a diesel bus made to imitate the appearance of a Trolley.

    I hear by dub Dolly the Trolley: Dolly the Folly

    I feel embarrassed we continue to raise this thing up like it’s some icon of Fort Scott when it is nothing more than a poser. San Francisco has Trolleys. We have a diesel bus with bright colors.

    The only place we the our version of the Trolley belongs is on the main strip in Branson, MO where all of the other cheap imitations.

    Find a way to give people an authentic experience.

    Noting says hey come experience historic Fort Scott in our cheap imitation of the “Good Ol’ Days” exemplified by nothing other than…a diesel bus that has the colors of the Seattle Seahawks.

    And for the record, what does this sentence even mean when describing why no one wanted to ride the Folly? : “was likely at least partially a result of the unreliability of Dolly”

    How about: “The decline in the riders of the Trolley had absolutely nothing to do with the Trolley’s reliability concerns. Instead it was due to passengers feeling they just took a trip in a Branson, Missouri theme park ride around Fort Scott. But then passengers decided they could have a better ride watching the Seattle Seahawks – who interestingly enough share the same color scheme as the Folly – without the nauseating headache that comes bouncing up and down on the unkept brick roads in Fort Scott – a true historic feature of this town.”?

    Too wordy? Yes, I agree.

    The Folly having reliability issues does nothing to why people stopped riding it. You are putting the cart before the horse. If people wanted to ride the Folly, they would pay money to ride it and that money would then be able to maintain the Folly. Supply meets demand. There was no supply of people wanting to ride the Folley, therefore there was no demand for it. So it broke.

    End the Folly.

    1. I will start at the beginning to make sure I touch base on each of your accusations.

      The trolley is diesel, you are correct. However, it’s structure/framework closely resembles that of a truck, not a bus. The interior design is very much so like a traditional trolley, with the beautiful wood seats and gold hand rails, however, I am guessing you had not taken a spin on the new addition to town.

      Next: San Francisco actually uses “cable cars” that resemble a trolley.

      Next: The new trolley belongs exactly where it is, in Fort Scott.

      Next: “Find a way to give people an authentic experience.” There is a reason other communities have trolleys, it is because they have attractions. Fort Scott happens to have a National Historic Site, a National Cemetery, one of the ONLY TWO Lowell Milken Center’s for Unsung Heroes in the WORLD, a new winery, a lavender patch, an elk ranch, a 155 acre park…I would continue on but I am sure you knew of these attractions that surrounding communities do not have. When my family comes to town we spend so much time stopping into these places that we have to force ourselves to sit down for a break to eat at one of the numerous restaurants in town. All of the attractions listed above are very much so “authentic.” I believe one would have a difficult time finding a National Cemetery in the middle of the Branson Landing.

      Next: The trolley does have similar colors to the Seattle Seahawks, which means whomever chose those colors did a miraculous job of “branding,” which creates recognition. You sure happened to notice! (ding, ding)

      Next: Unreliability: The decline of riders was a definite reaction from the unreliability of the old Dolly. If no one knew if it would be broken down or now when they came to visit town, then they would make plans to not ride the trolley. Now, families will base their whole trip around being able to ride the trolley. Not all families can afford to go to Branson for a weekend, but they may be able to spend some time in a beautiful, historic town in the heart of Southeast Kansas.

      Next: Supply meets demand. I checked my resources before answering this concern. The new trolley has had multiple passengers for EVERY tour on Friday & Saturday on its hourly tours, which are 11-4, with the last tour leaving at 3. Therefore, the supply is there. People are coming. People will continue to come. Others are extremely happy to have this wonderful addition in our community, and I invite you to join in on the happiness or please quit raining on the parade.

      Perhaps if you take a spin on the trolley your views may change.

      END THE PITTY PARTY and jump on the trolley bandwagon! 🙂

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