Commissioners bog down Carbondale mud run

LYNDON – A mud run will go on as planned Saturday at Melvern, but Osage County commissioners remained adamant this week that an event permit for a race scheduled for Oct. 11 at Carbondale is revoked, while one commissioner expressed concern about his possible reelection if the permit was reinstated.

During the meeting of the Osage County Commission Monday, Jason Richardson and Jewell Eastman were introduced as operators of Kansas Mud Boggers, an organization that operates mud runs, or mud bogs, around the state, including some at a site west of Carbondale and another near Melvern. Mud runs or mud bogs are an off-road motorsport in which 4-wheel drive vehicles are driven through a mud pit or track, with winners determined by distance traveled or time.

At their Sept. 8 meeting, the commissioners had voted to revoke a permit previously issued to Richardson for the Oct. 11 race near Carbondale. At that meeting, commissioners said they had received complaints about an Aug. 30 event at Carbondale, including reports from the Osage County Sheriff’s Office about a brawl that broke out, and people passed out on the ground.

During that event four ambulances were eventually called to the scene, along with calls to the sheriff’s office about lack of parking, possible drug use, fights, and unsanitary conditions due to the number of available toilets.

Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn confirmed to Osage County News this week that no arrests were made during the incident, although three county deputies, the Kansas Highway Patrol, and Carbondale police officers were called to the scene. Also none of those injured during the melee were transported by any of the ambulances. She said it was known that at least four people were injured, but left the scene by private vehicle. She said one injured person “jumped out of the ambulance and took off running.”

In the permit revocation letter sent to Richardson after last week’s meeting, Becky Bartley, county land development director, listed the permit violations as: “The event ran past the hours in which it was issued for; insufficient emergency medical staff; insufficient security staff; insufficient parking; insufficient portable potties to accommodate the large crowd that gathered; insufficient event staff.”

Richardson told commissioners on Monday the problems at the Aug. 30 event were due to a larger-than-expected crowd, which got out of control. He explained that addition of a live band to the event attracted a bigger crowd than planned, and also caused the event to end later than usual mud runs.

“We learned a big lesson on this one – do not have a live band with a mud bog, I think it just got a little bigger than we expected,” Richardson.

He said the band the Jawga Boyz is a popular group and drew a larger crowd than 500 people as stated in his Aug. 18 application for the special event permit. The crowd was estimated at 1,543, Richardson told the commissioners.

As Richardson tried to explain that the organizers had learned from the event, and requested the commissioners consider allowing the Oct. 11 event to occur, he was repeatedly interrupted by Osage County Commissioner Ken Kuykendall, who repeated the words “giant riot” or “giant drunken riot” about 10 times during the meeting, later asking a reporter to count the times he had said the phrase.

“We really love doing what we do there,” Richardson said. “And we try to maintain it to the best of our ability. We’d love to continue to have them there and we’re willing to do whatever we have to do to keep it there. We have a lot of people that like the event.”

Kuykendall responded, “This one turned into a basically a giant riot with fights. We had every ambulance in the county, all four of them tied up there. If somebody else had had a heart attack somewhere else – we’ve had complaints from a lot of your neighbors hoping they never have it again.”

Richardson pointed out that after holding seven events at the Carbondale site this was the first time the sheriff’s office was called due to fights.

Osage County Commissioner Gaylord Anderson said he had received many complaints about the mud run at Carbondale, with some before the Aug. 30 event. During discussion about whether to allow another event at the location, Anderson said, “If we have another one and it gets out of hand, I probably don’t get reelected.”

“There’s a lot of mad people up there,” he said. “Our job as elected officials is to take care of public safety, that’s number one. I don’t feel this is a good use of taxpayer resources, ambulances and sheriff’s time, and this kind of stuff.”

Kuykendall complained the event lasted longer than the permitted time, which the discussion indicated was midnight, although the permit issued by the county designated the events as three hours long, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“This time you ran way over your time limits,” Kuykendall said.

Richardson explained the last truck run of the evening ended about 11:15 p.m. and it took until after midnight to clear the crowd from the premises. He said another fight occurred, resulting in another call to the sheriff’s office. Dunn said that call came in about 12:20 a.m.

Richardson said at that time, law enforcement advised the organizers they could not force people who had been drinking or were intoxicated to leave the premises.

Kuykendall asked about glass bottles at the event, after it was noted a security person was hit in the head with a bottle. Richardson said glass bottles were prohibited at the events, but the policy needed to be better policed.

As he explained that notice would now be put on flyers and the glass prohibition would be announced to the crowd, Kuykendall interrupted and asked about event’s security personnel.

“What do you have for security people?” Kuykendall asked. “Just friends of yours that you give T-shirts to, or are they some type of authorized security people?”

“I don’t think they’re qualified for security,” Richardson said, “but if that’s what we need to do – at a normal event don’t have fights so bad …”

“Well our standards now for you are going to be what happened this time I’m afraid, in my mind, as far as I’m concerned, cause what this last one was was a drunken riot,” Kuykendall said.

As Richardson told about his company, its involvement with charities, its sponsorship by other area businesses, and that he puts on races around Kansas, including Girard, Carbondale, Melvern, and Marysville, Kuykendall interrupted.

“Melvern? You’re involved in Melvern?” Kuykendall asked.

“I do all the mud bogs around here,” Richardson replied.

“I wasn’t aware you were the same ones running the Melvern one, I thought that was different organization, too,” Kuykendall said, later stating that Larry Privat had applied for the permit.

Richardson noted, “There again, when we were at Melvern there were no issues.”

With Richardson offering an apology for the Aug. 30 event, he questioned if the permit for the Sept. 20 event at Melvern was also revoked.

“My direction to you,” Kuykendall said, “is if you really want to continue having these, Carbondale, Melvern anywhere, get an appointment with the zoning board, go in front of them, have the zoning board come up with much stricter application and guidelines. We can’t have a repeat of that.”

Bartley told the commissioners she had already told Privat “officially” the permit was approved for the Melvern event.

“That one’s pretty late to do anything with,” Kuykendall said, getting nods from the other commissioners.

“If that one would go down smoothly with no incidents …?” Richardson said.

“It would be a mark in your favor is all I would say,” Kuykendall interrupted.

“Would you reconsider the October race …?” Richardson said.

“No, I will not,” Anderson said.

“Not without going in front of the zoning board for Carbondale,” Kuykendall said.

“I think we need a cooling off period here and maybe we’ll consider it next year,” Anderson said.

Ending the discussion, Kuykendall said, “The Melvern one, I hope it goes off without disaster, that’s the track record we have to look at.”

Richardson responded he had put on 15 other races this year.

“Not all of them in our county that turned into a giant drunken riot,” Kuykendall interrupted, “and I don’t know how many times I have to say giant drunken riot.”

“Thank you, you’ve been told what we’ll we do and what we won’t,” Kuykendall said.

The Carbondale mud run had been held at 13829 S. Morrill Road, Carbondale, on property owned by Jeff Craig. Saturday’s mud run is about five miles southwest of Melvern at 1653 E. 341st St. Gates open at 8 a.m. Mini mud boggers start at 12:45 p.m. and mud flies immediately afterward.

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