New Aquatic Center impacts local economy

Though the Aquatic Center has certainly been a benefit to residents of Fort Scott with regard to recreation and entertainment, the center has also brought economic benefits to the area. According to Economic Development Business Recruitment and Retention Manager Macy Cullison, the pool has brought a good many visitors to the community. Cullison said, “I think it’s been really good for the area” and that quite a few people came from out of town last year to use the Aquatic Center facilities. Cullison said that the investment in the new pool paid off, and that the pool season last year was “the best in the last 10 years.”


The pool has seen, according to Cullison, an increase in traffic. She said that in just the first week of pool season last year, the pool saw a daily admission of 245. Attendance remained high, with the average throughout the season hovering around 100-150 visitors per day.

To put the finishing touches on the area around the exterior of the pool area this spring, Rodgers and Sons Concrete has repaired the historic concrete and brick seating built by the WPA in the 1930’s.


Commissioners eliminate 5% bid allowance

As the County prepares to put courthouse roof repairs out to bid, commissioners have made a change to the way bids will be conducted.  Commissioner Barbara Albright said, “I just think we need to be consistent.” Commissioners considered getting rid of the 5% bid allowance for Bourbon County contractors. “We’ve got to settle it before we put anything else out for bid, I think,” said Commission Chairman Allen Warren. Albright pointed out that local contractors already have the opportunity to benefit because they have fewer transportation costs involved in taking on a job in Bourbon County, and that complaints have been sent to the commission regarding the 5% allowance.

Warren moved to eliminate the 5% bid allowance for local contractors. Albright seconded, pointing out that commissioners would still be accepting bids based on price and quality of work, which would still give local contractors the opportunity to compete well with outside contractors.

The Board of Directors for SEK Mental Health also attended the meeting in order to present a request for $77,250 in mill levy support for 2014, a 3% increase from the amount requested in 2013. Robert Chase, Executive Director, explained the mission of SEK Mental Health to the commissioners. Chase said “Our goal is to treat people in the community where their family and support system is.”

Karen Owen, CSS Director, highlighted the number of individuals that the organization is able to treat in the community instead of sending them away from the community they call home. According to Owen, about 50% of the cases SEK Mental Health sees are treated locally instead of being transported to other facilities. SEK Mental Health currently employs 16 full time employees and 10 part-time employees, but Chase explained that some of those employees’ time is being used as employees adjust to changes made by KANCARE. Alan Hauser, CFO of SEK Mental Health, highlighted the positive in KANCARE. Hauser said, “It hasn’t caused us not to offer services.”

According to the board, the organization has lost $90,000 in funding in the past 4 years. Hauser presented a graph showing data on the number of clients the organization has served in past years. Hauser explained that while number of clients served has gone down in the past year, the number of hours the organization has spent with patients has actually grown.


Reverend Marty DeWitt, Case Manager, explained how the services SEK Mental Health offers are essential to the county. He explained that when a person approaches him with a need for professional assistance, he is able to refer them to SEK Mental Health professionals.

In other business:

  • Commissioners signed off on firework sales permits for 4 firework stands, including Jakes (2 stands), one in Mapleton and one other within the county.
  • David Neville, County Custodial Supervisor, explained that the SEK Health building had water damage from poorly installed siding that was put on in years past. Insurance will not pay for damage to windows or decking on the roof of the Health building.  The affected 4 windows are located on the north side of the building.

City puts in new sidewalk around memorial

Workers from R II Concrete Construction, LLC have been hard at work pouring and molding concrete curbs around the new Medal of Honor memorial on Skubitz Plaza in downtown Fort Scott.


According to Mitch Welch, the company is installing concrete curbs in preparation for a brick sidewalk. Welch said that the city will put down sand, then lay bricks to complete the sidewalk around the memorial.

The new sidewalk will match the concrete and brick sidewalk that leads to the old block house on the plaza.

5th Annual Riverfront Festival offers family-friendly fun

At this morning’s Chamber Coffee, Chamber members and visitors heard about upcoming events in Fort Scott and the surrounding area. Fort Scott’s 5th Annual Riverfront Festival will be held Saturday, June 29th. According to Dean Mann of Citizens Bank, events at the festival will include a variety of family-oriented entertainment, including a bounce house, hot dog eating contest and more. Mann said, “It’s really geared for the family and it supports the efforts down by the river,” and that “We’ll see in a couple years that area will be transformed.” Cheney-Witt is sponsoring the hot dog eating contest, and Jerry Witt quipped, “Last year we had someone about 10 seconds from winning, and let’s just say ‘he lost it’.”

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In other news:

  • Slow Food SEK will be hosting a Chocolate and Coffee tasting event at Life+Style in downtown Fort Scott Sunday, June 23rd at 4:00PM. The cost per person to attend is $8. The Slow Food movement began in Italy and has spread worldwide, according to the Slow Food USA website. The event will feature chocolate produced in Springfield, MO and coffee roasted in Wichita, KS.
  • Norm Conard of the Lowell-Milken Center announced that the Center has new exhibits on display and encouraged the public to come view them.
  • J.D. Ettore, Athletics Director at FSCC, announced that Greyhound sports were returning to KOMB FM. Ettore said, “We look forward to out partnership with KOMB,” and announced that the Greyhound football team would be playing their first game against Highland at Frary Field in less than 70 days.
  • Brian Holt of Union State Bank announced that the Uniontown Independence Day Bash would be held Saturday, July 3rd at 7:00 PM. The Bash will include fireworks and food will be available for purchase.
  • Main Street Gallery and Gifts has now moved into what owner Josh McClelland calls its “final resting place” in the former Village Shops building in downtown Fort Scott. The McClelland family is making headway on repairs to the building. McClelland said, “Something needed to be done,” and that he had been devoted to preserving the downtown for the past 12 years. McClelland said, “I’ve been devoted to Fort Scott for 23 years, and I hate to see another empty building.” Main Street Gallery and Gifts houses a number of different smaller business, including Sweet Repeats, Gene’s Upholstery, and The Frame Up, and also sells decorative items and Spice of Life Natural Foods. The shop is also home to the wares of many local crafters, which are displayed in the lower part of the building, which McClelland called the “artique.”

The Sharing Bucket Fundraiser

For the next two weeks, from June 20th through July 4th, will be holding a fundraiser for The Sharing Bucket. For every local subscriber during these two weeks, we will donate $1 per subscriber up to $5,000 to the organization.  If you want to participate, simply subscribe by clicking the link below and click on the confirmation link you receive in your email. You may also subscribe on our homepage on the upper left hand side of the page. See paragraphs below for more details.

Click here to subscribe!

Bucket and Spade
Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn /

Care to Share, formed in 2007, is a local cancer support group that provides resources for cancer survivors and their caregivers. Care to Share started “The Sharing Bucket,” which is a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to cancer patients in the area. The Sharing Bucket offers assistance with fuel costs, transportation, food and even utility bills. All money raised by the organization is given back to local patients.

What exactly am I signing up for?

When we publish a story on FortScott.Biz, it will send you an email with the contents of that story. Typically we only publish one or two stories per day. If you ever decide you don’t want to get the emails, you can click the unsubscribe link at the bottom and be automatically removed from the list.

Can anyone sign up?

Yes, but the $1 per subscriber pledge only applies to local people within 50 Miles of Fort Scott.

How much will you donate to The Sharing Bucket?

$1 for each person who subscribes to our mailing list up to $5,000. To subscribe, you have to fill out the form above and then confirm you want to be subscribed by clicking on the link you receive.

Can I unsubscribe after signing up?

Yes, but we will take the official count several days after the fundraiser ends, so please stay subscribed for a few weeks to make sure we count you.

Can I sign up with more than one email?

Yes, as long as it is an account you actually use. Subscribing both your home and work accounts is fine. Creating hundreds of fake accounts just to subscribe isn’t.

What if I’m already subscribed?

If you are already subscribed, please pass this page on to someone else who might be interested in our newsletter and wants to help The Sharing Bucket.


Midwest Interlock opens location in Fort Scott

A new business is opening in one of Fort Scott’s unique downtown-area buildings. The former service station at 501 S National is being cleaned up and repaired in order to house the business operations of Midwest Interlock.


Alison Hamilton originally arrived at her business idea when Hamilton’s father suggested she research the ignition interlock business. Hamilton said, “It was just networking, really.” While doing so, Hamilton met Steve Robson, who had established interlock businesses in the area. The two reached a business agreement in which Hamilton would run the business in Southeast Kansas. Midwest Interlock has been in business in other locations in SEK since September 2012, but decided to open a storefront in the area of their hometown. Midwest Interlock is already involved in the community—the company sponsors a softball team.

Hamilton says that the store, when it is opened in July, will offer ignition interlock installation, window tinting, custom painting, remote start installation and car detailing. The building will also serve as a location for Hamilton’s father’s bail bonding business.

So far, Hamilton, family and friends have been working on cleaning out the building, which was purchased on April 1st of this year. Hamilton said, “We still have a lot of work to do on the building.”

They have already added two brand new bay doors from State Line Garage Doors, installed a new window to replace the shattered glass plate that was formerly on the front of the building, repainted the exterior, fixed the lights that run along the eaves of the building in front of the bays and put up new signage produced by Trainwreck Tees and NV Photo. In addition, Midwest Interlock plans to add a new roof sometime next week.



Be sure to visit Midwest Interlock in July and check out their car detailing and automotive services!



City puts in new sidewalk along National

Residents passing through town on National Avenue may have noticed Rodgers and Sons Concrete hard at work on a new sidewalk in the residential area between 13th St and 15th St.


According to City Financial Director John Garrison, the project was one that had been planned last year as part of the city’s upkeep of infrastructure.

Garrison said that “Rodgers and Sons is the local contractor and it [the project] was funded out of a bond issue.” Garrison said, “We have a 5-year plan—5 million dollars a year—to fix side walks and side streets.” He mentioned that it was a part of the 2012 plan budgeted to take care of these issues.


Workers from Rodgers and Sons Concrete mentioned that they would be putting in a new sidewalk on the opposite side of the street as well, and that the new sidewalks will help keep pedestrians walking through the area safe from road traffic.


Lowell Milken Center expands

Many local residents and visitors from around the world come to see living history reenactments at the Fort Scott National Historic Site. However, the Fort is not the only place where history is alive and breathing in Fort Scott. At the Lowell Milken Center at 4 S Main St, the dedicated staff and volunteers work to resurrect the stories and extraordinary acts of unsung heroes around the world. The staff and volunteers work with students to create projects for the National History Day competition, through which students may advance from regional competition to state, and from there, to the national competition.


According to Executive Director Norm Conard, the center assists students according to their requests, of which the center receives many. Sometimes the center will suggest a mode (display board, website or performance), a topic or even help students develop a topic they have already begun to pursue. The center works not only with students and teachers, but Conard mentions that it is “tremendous the number of parents we work with here at the center.” When asked how students come up with topics for their projects, Conard said many visitors to the center will suggest a person to be researched, and that once a U.S. Senator stopped by to do just that. In other instances, interested parties will email the center the name of a person they consider to be an unsung hero. The center also employs two part-time employees in Topeka, KS who research possible topics to suggest to students.

One interesting recent local discovery was a relative of a Fort Scott community member. The name brought to the center’s attention was Adam Shoemaker. Shoemaker was a minister and early abolitionist in a small town in Indiana, who according to Conard, taught a Sunday school class at a small church. Attending that class was a gangly youth named Abraham Lincoln, future president of the United States. No doubt Shoemaker had a great influence on Lincoln, who would fight and eventually give up his life while working to provide freedom and equality for African-Americans and peace for his nation.

The center works not only with local students and teachers to develop projects, but also assists students located all across the globe through web applications such as Skype, Facebook and Twitter. In addition, the center has recently expanded to provide a location in Kedzierzyn-Kozle, Poland. According to Conard, Coodinator Marzanna Pogorzelska is located within 300 miles of 20 different countries in central Europe, which greatly expands the outreach of the center and its mission,  which is, according to the Lowell Milken Center website, “to teach respect and understanding among all people, by developing history projects about unsung heroes whose actions promote these values, regardless of race, religion and creed.”

Aside from the center’s expansion overseas, it also has expanded its physical location in Fort Scott in order to present more exhibits to the public. According to Conard, the center has seen almost 20,000 visitors walk through its doors in the first 6 years of its existence, and that the expansion will “increase tourism and visibility in the community” for the center.

Drop by to see the exhibits and see the new expansion to the center from  8AM-5PM Monday-Friday, or Saturday 10AM-3PM. Donations to the Lowell Milken Center may be made on their web page in the upper right-hand corner.

Conservation District requests support for upcoming year

Most Kansas residents are aware of the drought and subsequent water restrictions that occurred in the past year. Members of the Bourbon County Conservation District, who are well acquainted with the intricacies of Bourbon County’s water supply, stopped by today’s Bourbon County Commissioners’ meeting in order to provide information on water conservation and to request funding for the upcoming year. Conservation District member Dean Bailey introduced those on the panel, including Mandy Shoemaker, Kathy Valentine, Ronnie Brown and Wayne Thorpe. Brown announced that the orgnanization’s budget remains balanced. “I guess the highlight is that we don’t want more money–we have a level budget,” Brown said. According to members of the Conservation District, the organization was able to bring in $1.672 million in the past year–a very good return on the county’s investment of ~$42,000.

Both Commissioner Barbara Albright and Commissioner Harold Coleman thanked the members of the Conservation District. Coleman said, “I think you’re a valuable program.”

Brown proceeded to explain some of the prominent conservation issues in the state of Kansas at present. Brown noted how fortunate Fort Scott is to have Cedar Creek Lake as a water resource in times of drought. Brown said, “Cedar Creek Lake is one of the best assets we’ve ever had,” and that Fort Scott had only 2 years’ worth of water in a drought before Cedar Creek Lake was built. Brown also mentioned that the county had released water from Cedar Creek Lake “most of the summer last summer” to alleviate drought conditions, and that the lake still had not run dry. However, Brown did highlight the issue of sediment build-up occurring in many bodies of water in the United States. Brown said, “The biggest problem we have in Eastern Kansas is the sediment coming into the lakes.” He said the cost of cleaning sediment from the bottom of a lake can cost as much as $4 million, and that it is a difficult process because of the toxic nature of the material, which often absorbs chemical runoff.

Commissioner Coleman also asked Brown if the control of the Arkansas River had anything to do with the low level of the aquifer in Western Kansas. Brown replied that it had affected water levels in Western Kansas and that there are ongoing lawsuits regarding water rights to that river. In the meanwhile, Brown mentioned that in some areas of Southwest Central Kansas it has gotten too expensive to pump water from the aquifer, and that a plan is being considered to put in a pipeline to carry water from the Missouri River to the area. Brown said that it would take a 12 ft. [diameter] pipe to carry the water.

In addition to explaining current issues in conservation, Brown informed commissioners that there now exist conservation compliance regulations attached to farm insurance, which encourages farmers to practice conservation and follow guidelines.

In other business:

  • The Kansas County Association Multi-Line Pool (KCAMP) has sent a new scope of work proposal approved by their adjuster. The new document still only approves the installation of 1/2 inch of insulation on the courthouse roof, which is less insulation than what is currently on the courthouse roof.
  • Bourbon County Public Works employees have addressed problems at the river bridge north of Fulton. According to Marty Pearson, Public Works Director, “Two men went up and cleaned it out. We opened it up and got the water off the bridge.”
  • County Attorney Terri Johnson and commissioners revisited Bourbon County’s tuition reimbursement policy for county employees. According to the policy, reimbursement is based upon the final grade the employee earns while taking classes. Johnson said that according to policy, the reimbursement should be paid out of the Bourbon County General Fund, and that all courses must be pre-approved by an adviser and the commission. “It’s hard to work full time and go back go school,” said Johnson, explaining why this issue did not often appear. Johnson said that in the past, one employee actually got a 4 year degree while working for the county.


County revamps employee evaluations

At today’s County Commissioners’ meeting, Commission Chairman Allen Warren, Commissioner Barbara Albright and Commissioner Harold Coleman discussed with Terri Johnson, County Attorney, the format and content of the new evaluation forms being generated by each county department. Johnson suggested that the county have one, general form for assessing employee performance. Albright remarked that the job duties of a road grader differ greatly from those of a legalist in the county attorney’s office, for example. Johnson pointed out that having criteria on the evaluation that is job-specific would not solve the problem of a supervisor being unable to assess employee work properly.

In addition, commissioners and Johnson signed final resolutions for the sale of bonds to purchase the Courthouse Annex building.

“We had one bid come in, “ said County Attorney Terri Johnson. Comissioners passed Resolution 18-13 to approve the sale of bonds, which Johnson explained “authorizes the issuance sale and delivery of the general obligation bonds, series 2013 involving the $190,000.” Commissioner Albright moved to accept the bid from Citizens Bank at an annual interest rate of 2.95%, and Commissioner Coleman seconded.

Johnson explained that one of the things that is required when the county issues general obligation bonds is to appoint a bond compliance officer. Kendell Mason had been recommended for this position. Comissioners also passed resolution 19-13, which authorized compliance procedures and approved Mason for the position of bond compliance officer. According to Johnson, her duties will involve making sure the building is still being used under the tax-exempt purpose for which it was purchased. Johnson said of the time it would take to repay the bonds, “This is a ten-year payoff.”

In other business:

  • Bourbon County has hired Wallace Maples as the new caretaker for Elm Creek Lake. Albright mentioned that Maples is interested not only in being caretaker, but also in preserving the buildings at the lake.
  • Kerry Hafner or Allied Business Solutions, LLC attended the meeting to offer his company’s services to the county. The company audits communications-related expenses and works with carriers to lower costs for organizations. Hafner said there is no up-front cost, but that the company takes 50% of the savings generated by their work as payment for a period of 24-48 months. Commission Chairman Warren told Hafner that the county would follow up with the company in 2-3 weeks.
  • John Green with the SEK Area Agency on Aging attended the meeting in order to present recent statistics concerning the number of elderly in Southeast Kansas, and to request the county’s financial support for the upcoming year. Green said that the precedent was set for the county to give $2,000 to support the agency. Green highlighted issues pertaining to population shift away from Southeast Kansas and toward Sedgwick County and other surrounding areas. Green said that this population shift causes reduced funding for the elderly in the area, but that the number of elderly residents in need remains constant. Green also mentioned that costs for assisting the elderly are higher in rural areas when transportation costs for services are considered.

Relay for Life gears up for big event

At this morning’s Chamber Coffee, Relay for Life hosted the gathering of Fort Scott’s business professionals and visitors. Brian Holt of Union State Bank introduced Bailey Lyons, Chairperson of Bourbon County Relay for Life, and Sean O’Brien, Vice President. Lyons said, “We are at crunch time–the Relay for Life starts at 6:00 PM tomorrow night.” Gina Findley reported that Bourbon County Relay for Life had raised $49,500 so far. Findley said “Our goal is $60,000–it is doable.”


Lyons and O’Brien outlined the entertainment for this year’s event, which includes a host of local talent. According to O’Brien, performers will include The Wayward Bettys, Alex Scimeca, several Fort Scott Idol contestants and others.

In addition to entertainment, Relay for Life is also providing an incentive for participation. According to Lyons, for every hour of participation, walkers will receive an entry into a drawing for a Kindle e-reader.

Participants and spectators will also have access to concessions during the event, which will be set up by Gene’s Heartland Foods, and the Fort Scott Fire Department will be serving breakfast at 5:00 AM after the start of the event. In addition, Lyons mentioned that the Ellis Fine Arts Center at FSCC will be transformed into a lounge for cancer survivors so that they will have access to an air-conditioned building.

In other news:

  • Fort Scott National Historic Site will host a special event this Saturday evening at 6:00 PM entitled “Vignettes on Parade: Highlights of Fort Scott History presented in a summer evening program.”
  • The Bourbon County Master Gardeners Secret Garden Tour will be held Saturday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Tickets may be purchased at Country Cupboard or the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce. Tickets cost $8.00 in advance and are $10.00 at the garden gate.
  • The Fort Scott Country Music show will be held Sunday at 2:00 PM at Memorial Hall. Ticket cost is $12 for adults, and individuals 15 and under get in free.


YPL Members meet Vice President of Sheila Siwela Global, LLC

Young Professionals League members met Friday June 7th to hear speaker Ricky Muloweni of Sheila Siwela Global, LLC. Muloweni outlined the business plan for the operations of SW Global, which would involve the purchase of a building in downtown Fort Scott. This building would serve as not only a center for business operations, but also a center for cultural outreach.


Muloweni explained that the plan for SW Global is to purchase farmland in Zambia and work with farmers in the Fort Scott area to purchase used farming machinery and equipment to send back to Zambia. The machinery, according to Muloweni, would improve the amount of yield Zambian farmers see. SW Global would also help establish trade connections between local residents in Zambia and Fort Scott as a way to prevent waste of surplus produce. This would be a fulfillment of SW Global’s “global vision to integrate people and marketplaces,” as Muloweni said.


Muloweni listed several reasons for SW Global’s decision to establish headquarters in Fort Scott. As he is a Pittsburg State University graduate, Muloweni is familiar with the people of Southeast Kansas and says that Fort Scott has a “well-established infrastructure and great people.” In addition, he mentioned that Fort Scott is also located near a major airport, which makes it a good base for traveling.

Muloweni highlighted Fort Scott’s agricultural history and SW Global’s goal to “maintain rural industry and make it vibrant once again.” Muloweni said, “I think we can re-create that history today.”

Bourbon County Local News