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.

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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.”

Bids & Dibs

Bids & Dibs, located at 19 S National Ave in Fort Scott, just might be the most innovative new business in the Fort Scott area. It offers three different ways for customers to sell merchandise–the Bids & Dibs website, the physical storefront in Fort Scott, and an Ebay store. Owner Angela Simon says, “When they [sellers] bring items in, we decide whether they will well best in our store, in our website or on our Ebay store–whatever is going to make them the most money is what we do.”

Consignment Consultation by Appointment

According to Simon, her business idea started with the Bourbon County BidIt! Facebook page. While the page is still up and running and is quite popular with residents, Simon has invested in the community by creating Bids & Dibs, which includes an easy-to-use, free auction site, a store location for consignments and an Ebay storefront for consignments. The owner has also invested in the downtown by beautifully restoring the interior of the building in which the business resides. The exterior has been repainted and restored by Kent and Amy Boyd. The Boyds were able to save the original molded tin ceiling in two rooms, which is certainly a treasure in itself.


Simon mentioned that by creating Bids & Dibs, she was able to find a way to make a system similar to the BidIt! page a source of revenue for the city. Simon explained that BidIt! sites on Facebook do not generate revenue in tax dollars and sales, but her business, Bids & Dibs, does. Consignments sold at the store on National St. do contribute to city revenue, and the auction site remains a free service that anyone can use. There are no charges to list and sell on the site–in fact, there are absolutely no hidden costs anywhere! Simon reports that Bids & Dibs has users in 43 states, and that the online store can be seen globally on Ebay.

Bids & Dibs offers more to the user than BidIt! sites on Facebook in that the service is more streamlined and easy to use. Simon explained that because Facebook gives a limited amount of server space to BidIt!-type sites, sometimes pictures and other information are lost by the Facebook servers.

In contrast, Bids & Dibs has its own server, which prevents problems from occurring with information that users put on the site. This makes Bids & Dibs a more reliable service for users, saving them time and frustration at no cost to them. The site, which was designed and developed by Simon and developer Banning Stuckey, also offers advertising opportunities for local businesses at a reasonable price. Local businesses can advertise on the website for $25 per month. Advertisement is unlimited, and the advertising business can attach the ad to any URL they wish, whether it be a Facebook page, coupon or other destination. Businesses interested in advertising on the Bids & Dibs website should contact Kristin Boyd, who can be reached through email at [email protected].

In addition to offering the free website for listing auctions, Bids & Dibs operates a physical storefront that sells items on consignment for a small commission. Simon explained that one of the benefits to selling on consignment with Bids & Dibs is that the Bids & Dibs website offers a service to the seller that some consignment stores do not–an itemized list of the seller’s consignment items. Since the list is online, it is readily accessible. The website also gives sellers “a lot more control over the items and selling price,” according to Simon. Simon described the available merchandise in the store as “a mix of resale and new retail.”

In addition to working with individual sellers, Bids & Dibs also offers its services to other local businesses. Businesses that have sold items through Bids & Dibs in the past include Big Sugar Lumber and Country Cupboard. Simon remarked, “Creating foot traffic in these small businesses is what it’s all about.”

Misguided snake causes power outage

Last night many Fort Scott area residents may have found themselves without power between 11:15PM and 2AM. According to Shane Batchelder of Westar Energy, a snake wandered into some equipment and caused a fuse to blow. Batchelder said, “That’s the first time I’ve seen a snake.”

Image by SweetCrisis from

However, he mentioned that he has seen birds and squirrels cause the same sort of issue for the power company. Batchelder said, “It looks like we had a total of about 2,500 customers affected. It looks like everybody should have been restored by about 2AM this morning.” He added that if any customers are still without power, they should call 1-800-LIGHT-KS (1-800-544-4857) to report the outage.

County considers effects of transient guest tax

At this morning’s meeting, county commissioners listened intently as Mark McCoy, Chamber Representative to BEDCO (Bourbon County Economic Development), proposed  the current city transient guest tax give way to a tax more broad in nature. According to McCoy, the current city transient guest tax, which applies only to visitors using hotels and other hospitality businesses in the city, is around 6%. However, McCoy indicated that replacing the city tax with a county-level version would help generate more advertising dollars for hotels and other hospitality businesses throughout the county. For long term visitors, McCoy mentioned that a 28-day stay exempts a visitor from this tax, and that a hotel must have a minimum number of beds to implement the tax. According to Kansas Statute Chapter 79: Taxation, Article 53: Transient Guest Tax, the tax may be implemented by hotels or other hospitality businesses “having more than eight bedrooms furnished for the accommodation” of paying guests.

McCoy offered to do more research to see if this tax would be beneficial or if it would be detrimental to the county. He plans to meet with Blake Benson, President of the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce, who oversees the transient guest tax for Crawford County. Commissioner Barbara Albright, who did some quick research during the meeting, said 34 counties in Kansas have already implemented a county-wide transient guest tax.

McCoy said, “I don’t see a downside” to implementing a county wide transient guest tax, and that he wants to see a “level playing field” for hospitality businesses in Bourbon County. McCoy also mentioned the detrimental effect of railroad-related noise on tourism in the area. McCoy said, “I’m not referring to the tracks–I’m referring to the whistling,” and that many people stay in Crawford County to escape the racket.

Other news:

  • Gary Houston attended the meeting in order to ask about a fence to be built near the Slick Rock Road bridge near 255th and Native Road. and. Houston said, “When they put the [Slick Rock Road] bridge in, they had an agreement to put a 5 wire fence in.” According to Houston, the owners plan to use the land for pasture, as the CRP agreement on the land is coming to a close. In order to use the land as pasture, the owners will need the fence to be built, complete with two gates for access.
  • Bourbon County approved the hiring of two new employees at today’s meeting. The first motion and second approved the hiring of Jimmy Ray Wiggins as the loader operator for the quarry. A subsequent motion and second approved the hiring of Eric Bailey as a Sanitation Officer with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) responsibilities. Bailey will report to Shane Walker.

Bourbon County Local News