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Kansas House honors Stephenson for his 100th birthday

Raymond “Lefty” Stephenson, of Scranton, center, was honored for his 100th birthday with a tribute from Kansas state representatives Ken Corbet, left, and Blaine Finch, not pictured; right is Raymond’s son, Terry.

An Osage County man achieved a major milestone in his life last week and was honored at the Kansas Statehouse for it. Raymond “Lefty” Stephenson, of Scranton, turned 100 years old on Sept. 22, 2019. As a tribute to Stephenson, two of Osage County’s state representatives, Ken Corbet and Blaine Finch, honored him with a tribute from the Kansas House on Thursday.

The official tribute document offered sincere congratulations to Stephenson from the representatives, Ron Ryckman, Kansas Speaker of the House, and the Chief Clerk of the House Susan W. Kannarr, and also summarized the World War II veteran’s service:

“’Lefty’ served 4 1/2 years in the Army 635th Tank Destroyer Unit, entering WWII during the Normandy invasion of Omaha Beach. He participated in 5 major battles, including the Battle of the Bulge, and mustered out with the rank of Buck Sergeant.

“Congratulations on this memorable achievement and best wishes for continued happiness,” the document reads.

When asked by spectators what he thought contributed to his long life, Stephenson said, “I didn’t smoke and I didn’t drink.”

Stephenson remains active politically as a member of the Republican Party, and he serves as a committeeman for the Scranton Precinct. He is known for his great sense of humor. He loves to go out to eat and tries to be as active as possible. He loves the Royals and Chiefs and teams of K-State and KU. He watches lots of sports, due in part to being a baseball player when he was younger. He played baseball for a farm team, as a left-handed pitcher and later as a center fielder, until he was 37, in Norton, Kan. He played baseball before, during and after his military career. He was recruited by the Brooklyn Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals after the war but wanted to stay home and continue to raise a family.

With Stephenson for the ceremony at the Kansas Statehouse on Sept. 26 were his daughter, Dana Webber, and son, Terry Stephenson, both of Scranton.

Gardeners, lawn owners learn to fight moles on their own turf

“You’ll either learn to trap them or learn to live with them,” Charlie Lee, K-State’s wildlife damage control specialist, told the crowd gathered last Saturday morning at Peggy and Gary DeForeest’s home in rural Scranton, Kan., for a mole eradication workshop.

The Frontier Extension District hosted the workshop, which provided information to about 30 frustrated gardeners and homeowners. Damaged lawns make moles very unpopular, and with mowing season starting up, the creatures have come under fire.

The only successful way to rid your lawn of the insect eating mammal is to learn how and where to trap them, Lee said.

He discussed other eradication methods, noting that if you believe everything you see on TV or the Internet, you might have purchased repellants, toxicants, fumigants, ground shakers, or sonar devices to try to rid your yard of the pests. Almost all of those things are not effective, he said.

Moles prefer live, moving prey, which makes most poisoned food uninviting to them, the specialist said. Seeing mole holes by major highways indicates ground-shaking products are also ineffective.

Vassar celebrates fall’s arrival with cool day of fun festivities

Vassar’s annual FunFest features cars on display with the historical one-room schoolhouse as their backdrop.

Despite chilly weather, Vassar schoolhouse was the place to be to have fun Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, with a costume parade and contest, car show, pie contest, and other activities. The historical one-room schoolhouse, which now serves as Vassar’s community center, and its surrounding park were the center of the day’s activities during the annual fall event.

Washburn Rural eighth-graders dig up dirt on famous Carbondale dinosaur hunter

Teacher Cynthia Wilson and eighth-grader Madison Blanchette explain an exhibit to visitors to the science room museum.

The minute you walk into Cynthia Wilson’s eighth-grade science room at Washburn Rural Middle School, you become mesmerized by the information presented in the classroom-turned-museum. Student-made exhibits allow visitors to follow the geological timeline, and explore Kansas as it was millions of years ago.

Billed as the Greatest Show on Earth, the students created the museum representing life and rock as time has progressed. Each turn at the 2017 geology museum will find interactive artwork, correspondence with experts in their fields, or interesting facts about Kansas and its past inhabitants. Tying Kansas geology to the world, Wilson provided students a bit of information about a man that grew up close by and made significant advancements in our knowledge of dinosaurs, Barnum Brown.

“The students took it from there and wanted to share their discoveries,” Ms. Wilson said.

Brown turned out to be one focus of the multi-year project, resulting in a student led request to the Kansas Department of Transportation to honor Brown with special roadside signs along U.S. 75 at Carbondale.


An artist’s diagram shows a proposed highway sign to be placed near Carbondale on U.S. 75.

Barnum Brown was born on Feb. 12, 1873, in Carbondale, Osage County, Kan., growing up on the family farm nearby. As a young man, Barnum preferred to spend his time studying the land around him. His formal education in geology at the University of Kansas led to a career collecting bones and fossils for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Barnum soon was referred to as “Mr. Bones” and brought many important finds to the museum.

Chicken Scratchin’s: Dear Mom …

Dear Mom,

Betty Williams - 1963

My mom, Betty Williams, hard at work being a mom in 1963.

Thank you for being my mom. I know I didn’t ever say I love you enough. We hardly ever saw eye to eye on anything and were complete opposites. But you certainly helped make me be the person I am today. And now that you have been gone for eight years I think that we were more alike than either of us wanted to admit.

You taught me family was the most important thing in the world. Of course, it was your life. You were a stay-at-home mom. In fact, all moms stayed at home when I was a kid.  And at our house it was a huge job with five kids that came in all sizes.  Not to mention the dog, cat, fish, hamster, parakeet, mice and whatever else we dragged home. You took care of all us. Not because you had to, but because you wanted to.

At times I doubted your child-raising skills, like when the neighbor came over to complain about the mud balls plastered on the side of his house. You defended my honor only until you found the garden hose and mud puddle between our houses. And then you turned into a prison warden, confining me to my room until my father came home from work. I thought you were so unreasonable. Of course the neighbor kid had been taunting me from his bedroom window, but you didn’t even consider that piece of evidence. You just yelled at me saying I knew better than that.

Cookin’ cars cruise in to Market Street

Approximately 280 car and motorcycle owners participated in the 11th Annual Cruis’n and Cook’n Auto Show held Saturday, April 11 in downtown Osage City along Market Street. (See more photos here.)

The 2015 Cruis’n and Cook’n award winners are:


Holiday home tour highlights pride of Osage City

120214-GINGERBREAD-HOUSE-01Osage City Pride has announced the homes chosen for the annual Holiday Pride Home Tour, a fundraiser for the organization, to be held 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7.

Tickets for the home tour can be purchased at Ramblin’ Rose, 629 Market St., in advance and starting at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7. Tickets may also be purchased at any of the homes on the tour that day for $5. All proceeds go to projects that are supported by Pride, such the upkeep of Santa Fe Park and flower beds in the park, along with donations made to ECAT and the Osage City Warmth Fund, adoption of Christmas families, and youth projects. Everyone is invited to bring a friend to Osage City and enjoy an afternoon of beautiful homes and Christmas spirit.

Chicken Scratchin’s: Isn’t our world worth a little bit of effort?

Gifted freezer containers were perfect for preserving this year’s sweet corn crop.

It is sometimes said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But in today’s world we should strive to no longer produce any trash. At our house for example, we make every attempt to reuse, repurpose and recycle what we can to minimize the amount of trash we send to the landfill. And thanks to the successful recycling program in Osage County we are able to recycle most of our trash.

I remember when I was in junior high we had a young, enthusiastic science teacher that tried very hard to get the school and community involved in recycling. This was a new concept for all of us and I remember volunteering at the recycle center thinking we were saving the world. On Saturdays we unloaded sacks of newspapers and bags of aluminum cans as people drove through the center. This was pretty progressive thinking for central Kansas in the early 70s, or so we thought.

Wymore captures county’s top spelling honor against ‘horrendous’ competition

Judges and competitors who participated in the Osage County Senior Center’s spelling bee Thursday night gathered afterward for a group photo.

It was the fifth year for the annual Senior Spelling Bee, held at the Osage County Senior Center, and still no male has claimed the title of best speller in the county. Thursday night, the senior men in Osage County came closer to winning the contest though, as they took three of the top five spots.

This year’s top speller in the Osage County was Cindy Wymore, a first-time entrant. Wymore, of Osage City, couldn’t “camouflage” her spelling abilities, winning the competition on that word and taking home a first-place prize of a $40 gift card to use at Jerry’s Thriftway.

Lucky winners to get something on a stick at the Kansas State Fair

Four lucky Osage County News viewers will have fun at the Kansas State Fair this year, as winners of Osage County News’ “Get on a Stick” ticket package giveaway. In the giveaway, four winners were randomly selected today from among eligible entrants who met yesterday’s entry deadline.

Chicken Scratchin’s: Modern technology connects us to the past

A fun part of operating a local news website is the interesting and unique connections that can happen. We take for granted nowadays how easy it is to find information on the Internet, but it also makes connecting with others, near or far, as close as your fingertips.

A recent connection, for instance, started with a request from a reader to find someone that would treasure a wonderfully preserved 1937 photo of an Osage City second-grade class.

Easter Bunny hops around the county

With Easter Sunday just next weekend, the Easter Bunny has been busy throughout Osage County. Kids and parents gathered Saturday morning at Lyndon High School’s practice football field, which had been covered with eggs to be hunted when the signal was given.

Chicken Scratchin’s: Made with love

Has everyone tried all of their new Christmas presents yet? I found a new cookie cutter in my gifts this year and couldn’t wait to try it out.

My grandmother had me making sugar cookies with her from the time I could stand on a chair with an apron tied around my neck. We didn’t have a written recipe because these were the everyday cookies and they were made at least once a week. She had all shapes of metal cookie cutters from stars to trees to little Scotty dogs.  A sprinkle of sugar was all we ever put on them but we used tinted sugar for holidays. The recipe that was attached to the cookie cutter was almost the same as Grandma Williams’ recipe from the past.

Happy New Year from Osage County News!

The calendar says it is time to say goodbye to 2013 and welcome in 2014. We didn’t know how 2013 would turn out when we were counting down last New Year’s Eve. We were leaping into unknown waters and having faith that the water was deep enough, there were no hidden rocks, and the fish wouldn’t bite.

Chicken Scratchin’s: Veterans Day

Boot Camp, Fort Lewis, Wash., ca. 1945. Photo by Fort Lewis Sentinel.




Thank you to everyone who has served my country and fought for my freedom.

Veterans Day was a day I tried to spend with my dad. He was barely 18 in 1945 when he and his twin brother left Kansas to answer the call of duty. They were farm kids, most comfortable on the back of a workhorse, then all of a sudden they were driving Army ambulances in California. After some fancy talking, the brothers were assigned to a hospital ship and set sail across the Pacific to bring medical aid to fallen soldiers.

Dad didn’t like to talk about the war. He said he never wanted his kids to go to war. To see the things he saw. To smell the smell of burning flesh. He wanted to protect us and thought that his enlistment was enough for all of us.

Chicken Scratchin’s: Sweet corn harvest produces mixed emotions on the farm

The corn is ready.

These simple words bring delight and fear to the farm. Although our farm is very small and our crops are nominal, we want to run and hide when we hear those words. Everyone on the farm enjoys the bountiful harvest, but only those with thumbs fear the corn.

Chicken Scratchin’s: Vacancies at birdhouse gourd-plex

Vacancies, tenants welcomedEarlier this year I suggested using a cold winter day to work on a birdhouse gourd project. Last week felt like winter even though the calendar has been turned to May. So what better time to finish the birdhouse project than a snowy day in May?

Chicken Scratchin’s: Too many eggs means noodles and angel food cake

One of my favorite memories is Sunday dinner at grandma’s house. Every Sunday after church my grandparents’ table was filled with five rambunctious children eager to share their experiences from the past week. She always served a delicious dinner, all handmade with love.

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