Beacon to hold Soup Line fundraiser Friday

For the 28th year, the Beacon food pantry will host their Soup Line fundraiser Friday, with the goal of raising $5,000 and serving 1,000 people from the community.

Photo Credit: Kenny Felt
Photo Credit: Kenny Felt

The Beacon, which helps provide food, clothing and other necessities to Bourbon County residents in need, is partnering with the Young Professionals League and about 35 area churches to put on the event, which will be held at the Kennedy Gym at St. Mary’s Catholic School from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday.

For the past five years, Jamie Armstrong has organized the event, including the purchasing of the food needed for the vegetable beef and chicken noodle soup, helping prepare the food as well as organizing the efforts of the 100 volunteers and 35 area churches who provide about 300 homemade pies.

“We really couldn’t do it without our churches,” Armstrong said, adding she appreciates the inter-faith partnership among the churches to help provide for those in need in the county.

For $5, participants can get a bowl of soup made from scratch, a drink and homemade dessert. Anyone who might not be able to stay long because of work or other responsibilities can take the meal to go.

Although Armstrong admitted there may be other, more efficient ways to raise money, such as just by asking the community for donations, she said they enjoy the “labor of love” the soup line is as they take time to work to serve the community and raise funds for the Beacon.

City Commission renews Neighborhood Revitalization Program

For the past five years, the city of Fort Scott has offered tax rebates to residents and businesses of Bourbon County who participate in the Neighborhood Revitalization Program, which offers property tax rebate incentives to those who improve the state of their homes or properties.

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During the Fort Scott City Commission’s meeting Tuesday evening, the commissioners unanimously voted to renew the program another five years after hearing a report from Heather Smith, the city’s director of economic development.

“This has really been a critical tool for us in economic development,” Smith said, saying the program from 2011 to 2014 had 16 commercial and 14 residential properties participate with 10 others applying to participate in 2015.

During that time, the commercial properties increased their valuation by about $2.6 million while the residential participants increased their value by $920,000. That total of $3.5 million in increased value outweighed the approximate $1.3 million in property tax rebates for the participants over the five-year term for residential properties and 10 years for commercial.

To receive the tax rebate, participants must increase the value of their property value by at least 15 percent. The rebate is then 100 percent of the taxes resulting from that appraised value increase, so it does not reduce the current revenue from taxes.

Brochures of NRP information Smith brought to the meeting states that “qualified improvements include any construction, rehabilitation, or additions that increase the appraised value of the property.”

“We’ve got some great opportunities I think to utilize this program and sell this program to people that have an interest,” Smith said.

Since its beginning, changes have been made to streamline the program, including putting it into the hands of the county starting in January, as the county has the needed software and capability of running it more easily than Smith and the city could.

“We want to see valuations go up,” Smith said of the goal of the program.

County finds location for new jail site

After putting years into the project of finding a new location to house inmates, Bourbon County is a step closer to constructing a new jail after making an offer on a piece of property in Fort Scott off E. 20th Street east of Highway 69 and behind the Shepherds Auto Group.

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“I’m anxious to see if this is going to work for us,” presiding commissioner Barbara Albright said.

In a special executive session held last Thursday morning, the commissioners discussed the acquisition of about six acres of property and a building at 323 E. 20th Street for $200,000. The current business there will be required to close and leave within 60 days, while the county will be responsible for removing other equipment, storage containers and trailers located on the property.

The property is currently zoned commercial. Though an offer has been made, the deal will not be complete until after surveys and studies on the property are finished.

Architect Kevin Rost of the Goldberg Group met with the commissioners again Tuesday morning and showed them maps of the property displaying how the jail could fit on the property once existing structures and trees are removed.

“I’m glad we finally have a piece of property in the works,” Rost said. “I know it’s been a long time coming.”

But before ground can be broken, surveyors will come to look at the topography of the land, the boundaries and its property lines. An environmental study will also be conducted.

A geotechnical engineer will also be brought in to take soil samples and see what amount of rock is beneath the surface, which will determine the foundation of the structure and the cost of building it. Those services of the geotechnician could cost between $2,500 and $5,000, but a potential grant could help the county cover that expense.

“We’ll have to start with step one and then we’ll move forward,” Rost said of the project, saying it is a lengthy process.

From start to finish, the project should take about 12 to 14 months after a groundbreaking, depending on the weather as well as ground composition. A Universal Construction representative said he is concerned about staying within budget as construction prices rise, but Rost said if the county can offer some assistance, such as through grating, rock excavation or clearing the site, then they can cut some costs.

Rost assured Sheriff Bill Martin that though they will have to work to find ways to keep within budget, the jail will still have the space for 74 prisoners as well as an option for 16 more for a total of 90.

“I like what I’m hearing,” commissioner Lynne Ohara said. “I’m ready to get started.”

National Historic Site to participate in Centennial project

The Fort Scott National Historic Site is looking for people who have stories to tell about the history of the fort over the years as the National Parks Service and StoryCorps work together to record stories from sites in the Midwest region in honor of the NPS Centennial year in 2016.

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StoryCorps, a non-profit organization in existence for a decade, has helped thousands of people over those years record their stories and are now helping the NPS do the same. Those recordings will be stored in archives as well as used on the StoryCorps’ weekly radio broadcast on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.

“What we would be looking for is pairs of people who have interesting stories to tell about maybe something that happened here at the fort,” said Holly Baker, chief of interpretation and resource management at the fort, adding that could be a wide variety of people, such as volunteers at the fort, those involved in making it a national site or residents of the orphanage. “Anyone else who has had a special tie to this place and has a story that they can share that would be interesting to a national audience.”

The project asks for participants to tell their stories in pairs, using their dialogue to tell the story instead of an actual interview. Each recording will last about 40 minutes.

“We’ve got some folks in mind who have stories to tell and now we’re opening up the invitation,” Baker said, saying anyone interested in participating should contact her at her email: [email protected] or look for examples of such recordings at storycorps.org.

Baker says they hope to have four or five pairs of people committed to the project by the end of the year and a date will be set in the spring for the recording. Whether the recordings from Fort Scott are specifically used on the radio or not, Baker said they will likely be able to get copies of the recordings that can be shared with the community.

“I think it’s certainly very valuable to us to preserve our own oral history and what fascinating things have transpired that some of us may not know about and others of us may have forgotten about,” Baker said, adding that history will then be archived with the NPS for safekeeping.

Nate’s Place holds book signing event for local authors

As part of the National Novel Writing Month, Nate’s Place opened their venue up to local and Kansas authors Friday evening to display their books for community members interested in purchasing signed copies of the books or meeting the authors.

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“I think this is mainly a celebration for our local authors,” hostess Pat Lyons said of the event, which featured about seven authors.

For some authors, such as Fort Scott resident Kathryn Salsbury, it was her first book, while Leigh Stites is working on a series of books, with Fort Scott and local venues such as Nate’s Place being featured in her novels.

The books on display Friday included romance novels, children’s books, a biography of a Fort Scott Community College professor and other works of fiction and nonfiction.

Topeka resident Ken Berry, a former major league baseball player, said he now enjoys visiting elementary schools and reading his children’s books he has written to the students, often bringing his World Series ring and Gold Glove Award with him.

Local historian Don Miller was also present to provide a preview for a pictorial book of Fort Scott which will be ready for purchase in the next couple months and will include photos of the city covering more than a century.

For the rest of the month of November, Lyons said they encourage writers to come to Nate’s Place to work on their own writing, saying they have already had some visit with their laptops to work on a novel.

Christian Heights students work on Gunn Park trails for fundraiser

The sophomore class of Fort Scott Christian Heights had their second annual work-a-thon fundraiser at the Gunn Park bike trails Friday, with local businesses and individuals sponsoring them as they raise money for their senior year.

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“We are raising money for our senior trip,” student Christin Guilfoyle said, saying the students hope to travel to the Redwood Forest in California.

The seven students said they started raising money with a similar work day their freshman year, and have set the goal of raising $1,000 each year. Area business such as Country Cupboard, Cheney Witt, Sleep Inn and city hall sponsored them with either flat donations or a rate for each hour they worked.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the students worked to clear leaves from the trails, remove fallen limbs, repair bridges and move dirt to improve the bike trails. Frank Halsey, who started the work on the trails at Gunn Park and directed the work day, said the students cleared leaves from about five miles of trail just in the morning hours.

“It’s great to have this type of a group,” Halsey said, saying the students worked really hard, though they admitted it was tiring. “It’s for a good cause for them.”

Halsey said he was also pleased that the students considered the bike trails a good way to help the community as well as raise money.

The students said they hope to have raised $1,000 by the end of next week. Those interested in supporting the students can contact their school.

Community Foundation grants awarded during Chamber Coffee

During the weekly Chamber Coffee Thursday morning at Landmark Bank, the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation presented grants to nine different local organizations, for a total of more than $21,000.

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“Fort Scott should be proud that they…are celebrating the vision of community leaders…who had the long view of how do we support our community and important needs on an ongoing basis,” chairperson Carla Bryant Farmer said.

Since their beginning in 2007, the foundation has given 76 grants to non-profit organizations and other entities for a total of more than $103,000.

Grant Chairman Patty LaRoche said they had 21 applicants this year who had to prove they were a cause worthy of receiving the money, going through a lengthy process which this year focused on how they would help beautify Fort Scott.

Those recipients included entities such as the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, Fort Scott/Bourbon County Riverfront Authority, First Presbyterian Church with the Bourbon County Arts Council, the city of Fort Scott, First United Methodist Church of Fort Scott, Fort Scott Middle School, Fort Scott National Historic Site and the Bourbon County Casa.

Their causes included improving the image of vacant downtown buildings, a pavilion and trails at the riverfront, an arts festival, new downtown pole banners, trees and plants for the new city park coming to Main Street and training among other goals.

“This is a real exciting program for Fort Scott,” said foundation member Steve Buerge, saying it will help make the community better. “It’s a way to get money, invest it in the future of Fort Scott, which we all are interested in.”

The foundation accepts donations, and has a matching program in place.

Other upcoming events or services announced during the Chamber Coffee include:

  • Fort Scott Family Dental is offering six-month smiles to adults who would like their teeth straightened in 4-6 months.
  • The Beacon will hold their Soup Line fundraiser Nov. 20, with tickets still available.
  • The Adopt-a-Child program will begin in coming weeks, giving businesses, families or individuals a chance to shop for Christmas gifts for children in low income families.
  • The Fall Extravaganza will be held at the Fort Scott Middle School Nov. 23, from 5 to 8 p.m., with about 60 vendors present and child care provided.
  • Mercy Hospital will hold their Chili and Soup Cook-off Nov. 19, to raise money for their red stocking fund.
  • Bye Bye Birdie will be performed by students once more Saturday evening at 7 p.m. at the Fort Scott High School. Tickets are still available.
  • The Chamber of Commerce will conduct an open enrollment Monday through Wednesday of next week, contacting members and potential members who might want to be involved in the chamber.
  • The sophomore class of Christian Heights will work on the Gunn Park bike trails Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., as a fundraiser for a school trip. Students will be seeking sponsors as well as donations.
  • Fort Scott Community College will host the Ryan White Benefit Rodeo Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Arnold Arena to help pay for the medical expenses of the rider who was injured earlier this year. The event will include live and silent auctions as well.
  • Key Industries will hold their annual warehouse sale Nov. 21-28, excluding that Sunday and Thanksgiving Day.
  • Nate’s Place will host book signings as well as sales Friday, 5-8 p.m.
  • The Christmas parade will be held Dec. 1. Groups and businesses interested in participating are encouraged sign up.
  • A fundraiser dinner for the trolley will be held Nov. 28, at 6:30 p.m. at the Beaux Arts Centre.

Fort Scott honors military members with Veterans Day events

Community members of all ages had the opportunity to participate in Veterans Day activities around Fort Scott Wednesday, as local organizations, schools and other venues hosted events to honor those who have served in the military.

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The Fort Scott National Cemetery invited members of the community to attend a service which featured Cmdr. Matthew Jones, retired, of the United States Coast Guard, taps played by Jerry Witt, an honor volley by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1165 Honor Guard and music from the Fort Scott Community College band.

Jones said veterans are often men and women who serve others before themselves, and reminded retired veterans that they still have much to offer their community, including wisdom they have gained through their experiences.

Jones also reminded his audience that Veterans Day is a time “to honor those gone before and take time to listen to those we still have.”

Second graders at Winfield Scott Elementary School sang patriotic melodies for their family members and veterans in attendance at their program Wednesday morning. Certain children also read lines expressing their gratitude to those veterans.

“We want you to know that we appreciate all the veterans of the United States of America,” Principal Marianna Daugherty said.

The event at that school ended with a slideshow of photos portraying the students’ and teachers’ relatives who have served or are currently serving in the military, whether it was the students’ great, great grandparents or the teachers’ children.

Students at St. Mary’s Catholic School also sang patriotic songs during their service Wednesday afternoon, presenting gifts to the veterans in attendance.

The program at the Fort Scott Middle School included an array of fake poppies in honor of the poem, In Flanders Fields. The FSMS Concert Band and Select Ensemble provided music while eighth grade students read quotations from historical figures and even unknown authors, expressing gratitude and respect to veterans.

“We can’t say enough to say thanks,” Principal Jim Howard said to veterans who attended the program. “This day is for you.”

“Today we honor our veterans who have served and died,” speaker Chief Warrant Officer 3 Robert Black said, saying his question now is who from the next generation will step up and carry on that legacy.

Pioneer Kiwanis hosts chili feed fundraiser Thursday

The area Pioneer Kiwanis club invites members of the community to participate in their Chili Feed Thursday, their largest fundraiser of the year which will set the pace for the organization’s budget for the upcoming year.

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Kiwanis member Gayle Sackett has been a part of the group for 12 years and said they have held this particular fundraiser each of those years. In previous years, Sackett said the community has really shown their support by attending.

“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” Sackett said, saying in past years they have raised about $4,000.

Sackett says they hope the fundraiser is successful again this year as those finances will then be used for the organization’s budget and ability to help area children and elderly through other local organizations.

“There are lots of things we budget for to give back to the community,” Sackett said of what the funds will be used for, including giving to organizations such as the Beacon, Adopt a Family, Care to Share, United Way, My Father’s House, as well as after-school programs and to the police department for backpacks they give to youth taken into custody.

The chili feed will be hosted at the First Presbyterian Church, from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., for $5 when tickets are purchased in advance from Kiwanis members or at the Chamber of Commerce, Landmark Bank or Country Cupboard, or for $6 at the door. Children under the age of 5 years old are free.

Tickets include the chili meal and a dessert of homemade pie. Hot dogs will also be available.

Local to hold bingo fundraiser to prepare for trip to Africa

For a fourth time, Kayla Puterbaugh, 24, will travel to Africa to work with children in Uganda, staying for three months starting in January.

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After hearing a missionary family speak at a Christian camp she went to during middle school, before her family moved to Fort Scott after she finished high school, Puterbaugh said her desire to visit Africa became even more real to her.

“I’ve just always loved it since I was a kid,” Puterbaugh said of Africa and her fascination with the idea of traveling there.

That desire was realized when she went on a 10-day medical trip in 2010, helped at an orphanage and as a nanny for that same missionary family for six months in 2011, and again went there this past August for a month.

The most recent trip, Puterbaugh spent two of those weeks working with Ruja, translating to “to dream,” an organization started by a friend of hers out of Idaho a couple years ago. This time, she will spend the full three months partnering with that group to help take care of five foster children.

“Long-term I want to be working with an organization that goes to Africa,” Puterbaugh said, saying she enjoys being with the children, caring for them and letting them know they are important. “I’m not positive if I want to live there full-time or not, but I definitely want to be going.”

Puterbaugh needs a total of $3,000 for her upcoming trip and will hold a bingo fundraiser Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Common Ground Coffee Co., where she is a barista, to help raise some of that money. Participants give a donation for each bingo card, with prizes including baked goods and even gift certificates donated by local business.

“I know it’s a big number, but I also know God can provide it,” Puterbaugh said. “God just keeps supplying every time I’m ready to go.”

Those interested can find more details of her trip and make donations at https://www.gofundme.com/hs78yvp4

Weekend rodeo event to benefit injured rider

Fort Scott Community College will host benefit rodeo and other events Saturday to raise funds to help pay for the medical expenses of Ryan White, who suffered a brain injury earlier this summer from a riding accident.

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Photo credit: Cali Griffin

A local and FSCC alumnus, White and his father-in-law, Dave Carey, have helped the college in past events for other auctions, donating items from their website. White has also spent time training as well as buying and selling horses.

“They’re really involved with the rodeo team,” said Cali Griffin, assistant coach of FSCC’s rodeo team. “We just wanted to help out.”

Griffin said White has had surgery since the accident and is well on his way to recovery, but he and his wife Cody still face medical bills as a result. Money raised during Saturday’s events will go to the family.

Activities will begin at 5 p.m. with a barbecue meal for a free-will donation. A silent and live auction will begin at the same time. T-shirts will also be sold and a two-year-old gelding will be raffled off.

The rodeo itself will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Arnold Arena and includes events such as calf roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, peewee barrels for those under 10 years old, goat tying, bull riding and bareback and saddle bronco riding. Event winners will be given Montana Silversmith buckles. Admission to the rodeo $5.

Griffin helped organize the fundraiser and said already they have had about twice as many entries in the rodeo as they had hoped, including team roper and National Finals Rodeo qualifier Coleman Proctor, who has also offered a day of private lessons for two people in the auction.

School board accepts architect plans for school renovations

During their November meeting held Monday evening, the USD 234 school board received a report from the architects of Hollis and Miller and Nabholz Construction representatives concerning the renovations that will be done at each of the USD 234 schools.

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“We felt it was perhaps a little overdue that we come and share some exterior, elevations and the colored floor plans to give you just a snapshot of new construction,” said architect Ed Carlson of Hollis and Miller, who participated in the report along with Michael Patrick and Meaghan Williams. “We’re going to give you that broad overview.”

Patrick said the process is moving right along, as they completed the schematic, design and development portions of it, with construction being the next step.

Each of the schools will receive a high-wind shelter located on the school grounds which will have the mandatory specifications to provide shelter to everyone in the school in case of severe weather.

Winfield Scott will also receive a new entry and other changes include a new administrative area, relocating the kindergarten class and other renovations.

Patrick said Eugene Ware served as a bit of a challenge because of the requirements as a historical building, so exterior changes such as in a more secure entry and the shelter will be complementary to the existing structure. The cafeteria will also be relocated and some of the grades shuffled around. The bus loop and drop-off areas could also change slightly.

The middle school will have upgrades done to the corridors as well as the entry piece and add large and small meeting spaces for students.

The elementary and middle schools will also include flexible learning spaces that Williams described as “a different environment than the typical classroom,” meant to get the students excited about learning. Those areas provide more opportunity for interacting while learning as well as spaces where presentations could be made.

The high school has already seen changes, such us in the removal of the old junior college wing, which in the future will include a new entrance and administrative area. Other additions include the auxiliary gym, a science room located in the high-wind shelter, a common space and gallery to place students’ works.

The entire project will include two or three other packages other than the building renovations and changes, which will include signage, furniture and other interior work such as in the auditorium. Those packages will come to the school board in months ahead.

Bids for the project will be accepted on two days this month, Nov. 19 and Nov. 24. Earlier Tuesday they held a pre-bid that included a large number of businesses interested in taking part in the project. A decision will be made by Dec. 7, and will likely require a special school board meeting to approve of it so construction can begin immediately.

“We’re just as anxious to get started as you are,” said Steve Bennett of Nabholz Construction. “We’re optimistic that we’re well on our way to a good project.”

School board members expressed their excitement at seeing progress through the architects’ designs and the interest of bidders for the project, when in recent months there seemed to be no visible achievements. But Carlson and Bennett said both groups have been busy since the school bond was approved a year ago.

“The pace will quicken from here,” superintendent Bob Beckham said.

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