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Willing Workers’ nominees Jason and Amy Gilliland honored as Friends of 4-H

Jason and Amy Gilliland, Osage County Friends of 4-H.

By Avery Thielen
Willing Workers Club Reporter

Jason and Amy Gilliland, owners of JAG Trucking, have always been a friend of 4-H. This year they won the Osage County Friend of 4-H Award, announced Oct. 26, 2022, at the Osage County 4-H Achievement Night, held at Lyndon High School.

The Gillilands were recognized for their contributions to local 4-H. Every year he has been involved, Jason has donated his time to prepare the pit for the Osage County Fair demolition derby, and helped at the Overbrook Osage County Fair by trucking in lime screenings. Jason is also one of the main organizers of the Touch-A-Truck event at the Osage County Fair, at Osage City. Jason and Amy, who is a 4-H alumni, donate add-on money of $20 to each 4-H member who sells an animal at the Osage County Livestock Sale, in Osage City.

Because of their help, the Willing Workers 4-H Club nominated them for this award to say thanks for helping our community and 4-H! Congratulations Jason and Amy and JAG Trucking!

Dustin Stucky recognized with 4-H Alumni Award

Dustin Stucky

The 2022 4-H Alumni Award was presented to Dustin Stucky, Osage City High School English teacher. As a former 4-H member, mainly in Saline County, he served two years as a 4-H ambassador, held almost every officer role for his club, and was the county council president while serving on the council. He also served as a 4-H camp counselor and attended two 4-H hiking trips, to Mount Rushmore, and to Philmont Ranch, New Mexico. He won grand champion swine two years, won top in state for team demo at Horse Panorama (team demo involves competitions such as quiz bowl, public speaking, and presentations. He won fourth place in the nation for team demo with his sister, Tiffany.

Today, Dustin helps the community by being the debate and forensics sponsor, and high school play director. He is involved in the Willing Workers 4-H Club, and serves as the rocketry project leader. Congratulations Dustin for winning the 4-H Alumni Award.

Willing Workers members’ achievements win awards

The Willing Workers 4-H Club received numerous awards at the Osage County 4-H Achievement Night, held Oct. 26, 2022, at Lyndon High School.

Several members received achievement awards. Receiving the Clover Pin was Ruby Stucky, Leila Wilcoxson, Reece Wilcoxson, Hadley Bosse, and Claire Newman. Paige Thielen earned an Emerald Pin, Kaiden Bosse earned a Silver Pin, and Lena Stucky earned the Silver Guard Pin. The members who received their First-Year Guard Leadership Pins were Kevin Whitmer and Jaiton Bosse. Many members were recognized as record book winners.

In the junior division, Leila Wilcoxson won entomology; and Claire Newman won foods, pets, photography, plant science, poultry, rabbits and visual arts. In the intermediate division, Reese Wilcoxson won pets and visual arts; and Kevin Whitmer won plant science, poultry and sheep. Kevin Whitmer received the treasurer officer book award; and Brody Thompson received the historian officer book award. Jaiton Bosse and Brody Thompson will be joining the Ambassador Team. Congratulations to all award winners!

Mid-States Materials receives national award for mined land conservation efforts

TOPEKA, Kan. – A Topeka company was honored for sustainable mining practices and conservation efforts at Plummer Creek Quarry, near Scranton, Kan.

Nick Jackson, Mid-States Materials, with the 2022 NASLR award. Courtesy photo.

In an awards presentation Sept. 26, 2022, the National Association of State Land Reclamationists awarded Mid-States Materials, LLC, Topeka, Kan., with the association’s 2022 Outstanding Mined Land Reclamation Award (Non-Coal). The award recognized Mid-States Materials’ efforts to protect the environment and preserve Kansas’ natural landscapes with reclamation practices at the Osage County quarry.

Plummer Creek Quarry reclamation efforts included erosion control, gradual grading of slopes, and final vegetation to turn the 100-acre piece of the quarry into a productive agricultural asset. Calling it a true testament to the long-term reclamation and stewardship efforts at Plummer Creek Quarry, the NASLR Board of Officers gave special commendation to the construction of the wetland that intercepts the agricultural runoff from adjacent fields.

“We continuously strive to be the model for the industry,” said Nick Jackson, Mid-States Materials environmental specialist. “Extracting the resources for growth here in the present, to provide a thriving future when we leave.”

Osage County Historical Society to document personal histories of Melvern Lake

Local residents encouraged to send photos, documents

TOPEKA, Kan. – Humanities Kansas recently awarded $3,006 to the Osage County Historical Society, Lyndon, Kan. The grant will support “Melvern Lake: Citizens’ Stories,” a community-wide oral history and photo collection project that will explore the impact of Melvern Lake and dam, which was completed in 1975. OCHS Director Lynsay Flory will serve as project director.

The society is asking the public for the submission of photos and documents that relate to the construction and early use of Melvern Lake. All items will be digitally scanned, and the originals kept by the owner.

The society will also be collecting oral histories from several Osage County residents who lived in Osage County during the 1970s and were impacted in various ways by the building of the lake.

Anyone interested in participating or volunteering for this project in any way is asked to contact Flory at 785-828-3477,, or at the Osage County Historical Society, 631 Topeka Ave., Lyndon, KS 66451.

Nominating commission chooses Reynolds as new Coffey County magistrate judge

TOPEKA, Kan. – The 4th Judicial District Nominating Commission has selected Kara Reynolds to fill a magistrate judge position in Coffey County. Reynolds’ new position will be effective on her swearing-in. She currently is the executive director of Coffey County Transportation.

The 4th Judicial District is composed of Anderson, Coffey, Franklin, and Osage counties. The position was among several recently certified after the Kansas Legislature passed legislation to fund them.

To be considered for this position, nominee were required to be a resident of Coffey County while holding office; a graduate of a high school, a secondary school, or the equivalent; and either a lawyer admitted to practice in Kansas or able to pass an examination to become certified within 18 months.

After serving one year in office, the new magistrate judge must stand for a retention vote in the next general election to remain in the position. If retained, the incumbent will serve a four-year term.

LTE: Road disrepair causes hazard at U.S. 75 ingress

Dear Editor:

Heading north on U.S. Highway 75 and turning on 205th Street is an accident waiting to happen. The asphalt from the old road formed a large hole, making it dangerously bad for both on and off Highway 75. It’s the same for turning on 213th Street.

A lot of taxes are paid by people living on these roads. There is one entrance in and out. Why can’t 205th Street’s entrance be fixed?

Thank you,

Jean House

Qualifiers represent Osage County at Kansas 4-H State Shotgun Match

From left, Osage County 4-Hers Kiera McNellis, Austin Eichem, and Dylon Harris competed at state sporting clays shoot Oct 9.

Three members of the Osage County shooting sports program participated in the Kansas 4-H State Shotgun Match, Oct. 8-9, 2022. Participants were Kiera McNellis, of the Clover Wranglers 4-H Club, and Dylon Harris and Austin Eichem, both of the North Osage 4-H Club. All three members qualified for the state shoot by shooting and scoring high enough at a regional trap and skeet shoot held in August.

Nearly 200 4-Hers from across the state shot trap and skeet Saturday, Oct. 8, at Ark Valley Gun Club in Sedgwick, Kan., and then many returned to shoot sporting clays the next day at Shady Creek Sporting Clays, in Belle Plaine, Kan.

Eichem placed 29th overall for the weekend in the junior, 10-13-year-old division. McNellis placed 96th in the senior, 14-18-year-old division, for skeet. Harris placed 16th in senior trap, 20th in senior skeet, 12th in senior sporting clays, and 13th overall in the senior division for the weekend.

Following the event, Harris was invited to apply to be a member of the 2023 Kansas Shotgun Team at the National 4-H Shooting Sports Competition, in Grand Island Neb., next summer. Team selection will be announced in November.

Dylon Harris to retire from 4-H archery with 6th-place finish at state match

Harris also qualified and participated in the state 4-H archery match, which was held Sept. 24, at Smoky Valley Shooting Sports facility, Lindsborg, Kan. He competes in the senior, open/compound bow division.  He finished in 6th place overall at the event.

This sixth place finish wrapped up Harris’ 4-H archery career as he prepares to age out of the program.  He joined 4-H in 2011, started the shooting sports project in 2012, and made his first appearance at the state archery match in 2015. Harris finished 5th, 10th, 4th, 4th respectively from 2018-2021 at the state matches, earning an invitation to be part of the Kansas National archery team each year. In 2021, only being able to attend nationals once per discipline, Harris finally accepted the team invite. In June 2022 he was one of four compound archery team members for Kansas who brought home the national championship title with their impressive scores for the week.  Harris placed 9th at the national shoot in the individual scoring.  

Grace Community Church hosts a ladies night out at Overbrook

A “Ladies Night Out” is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at Grace Community Church, Overbrook, Kan. The event is free and open to the public. A potluck dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by a special presentation at 7 p.m. with Christian author Beverly A. Brown.

Brown worked in deaf ministries for several years, and has served in various other roles within her church. She is a wife of 54 years, mother, grandmother, and also a great grandmother.

Her book, The Joy of Letting Go, is said to show our joy in the Lord, not in the circumstances or in other people, and is described as a story with no condemnation or judgment, and a soul-searching work.

Grace Community Church, 310 E. Eighth St., Overbrook, will also serve as an Osage County election site that day. The “Ladies Night Out” event will be held in the church’s walkout basement; enter through the doors on the west side of the building. Pull into the west side parking lot and park anywhere in the gravel lot and enter through the lower door.

Willing Workers 4-H Club starts off new 4-H year willingly working

Sweeping the playground at Osage City Elementary School are Willing Workers, from left, Lelia Wilcoxson, Kassie Thielen, Claire Newman, Lena Stucky, and Paige Thielen. Courtesy photo.

By Avery Thielen
Club Reporter

The Willing Workers 4-H Club jumpstarted its 4-H year by celebrating National 4-H Week and 48 Hours of 4-H, and initiating the officers who will serve in a leadership role this year. The club has always been open to help their community. On Oct. 2, 2022, the Willing Workers 4-H club journeyed out to clean the school playground and paint windows. After asking for ideas for National 4-H week, the club thought that cleaning the Osage City Elementary School playground would be a great way to help the community.

The club used brooms and leaf blowers to clean up mulch, dirt and trash, making the playground look much cleaner. After cleaning, the club went to Market Street to paint windows and glass doors, saying “Join 4-H.”

Willing Workers 4-H Club thanks the businesses that allowed us to paint their windows.

Missing Clay Center man found safe at Norton

Update: The Silver Alert was cancelled at 9:06 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2022, after Bobby Bulk was located by law enforcement officers in Norton, Kan. Bulk was assessed and was to be reunited with his family.

State health officer encourages public to get flu shots

TOPEKA, Kan. – Influenza season is here in Kansas. While activity remains low, influenza cases have already been seen in Kansas.

The flu vaccine remains the best way to prevent flu illness and serious flu complications, including those that can result in hospitalization and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends receiving the vaccine before influenza activity begins in your community, ideally by the end of October.

“Early indications say the flu may hit a little harder this year, so it’s very important to start thinking about getting the vaccine,” said Dr. Joan Duwve, State Health Officer. “The good news is you don’t need two separate appointments; you can get your flu and COVID vaccines at the same time.”

KDHE monitors flu activity, including the percentage of emergency department visits and deaths attributable to influenza. During the 2021-2022 flu season, influenza was a contributing or direct cause of death in 44 deaths. Pneumonia, which often develops with influenza infections, was a contributing or direct cause of death in 1,200 deaths. Severe influenza infection and symptoms may be avoided with vaccination.

Melvern church invites all to community fall festival

Melvern Community Church of God is hosting a communitywide fall festival 4- 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, outside on the church and parsonage grounds. There will be fun for children and their families.  Everyone is invited.

Games for all ages, guessing contests, prizes, face painting, plus coloring contests little ones.  Each child will receive a goodie bag of Halloween candy. Also, hot dogs with buns and condiments along with chips and a drink will be served, along with music and a fire pit for roasting marshmallows. 

Children don’t need a costume for this event.

Melvern Community Church of God is at 133 NW Mayes St., Melvern, Kan., and thee parsonage is across the street.

In case of bad weather, festivities will be inside the church fellowship hall. For more information, call or text Donna Fincher at 785-219-1490  or Audrey Cop at 913-215-0107.

Gov. Kelly issues emergency declaration for risk of wildland fires

TOPEKA, Kan. – Gov. Laura Kelly issued a declaration of a State of Disaster Emergency starting at 8 a.m. today, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, due to a high risk of wildland fires over the weekend with the primary threat being on Sunday.

The declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties that meet certain criteria. There is a threat for fires for the majority of the state with dry conditions with low relative humidity, gusting winds, and an abundance of dry grass and other flammable vegetation.

“As we have seen in past years, wildland fires can cause widespread destruction and present a very real threat to life and property,” Kelly said. “Outdoor burning of any kind is strongly discouraged, whether getting rid of unwanted brush or enjoying a backyard barbecue. It only takes a spark to start a fire that can quickly get out of control.”

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management State Emergency Operations Center will be staffed on Saturday and Sunday to monitor the situation and assist counties with requests for state assistance.

Kansas Forest Service will have aviation assets on standby along with ground resources.

“Critical fire weather returns to Kansas earlier than normal this year,” Rodney Redinger, Kansas Forest Service Assistant Fire Management Officer said. “With harvest and hunting in full swing, there is an increased chance for human caused ignition sources. On Sunday, fires will ignite easily and be extremely hard to contain, especially in the western portions of the state. Vegetation barriers that normally slow or stop fires will carry fire easily due to the drought and low humidity. Please be aware of the conditions and take every precaution necessary to prevent any fires this weekend.”

Highly pathogenic avian influenza confirmed in Shawnee County

KDA advises poultry owners to be vigilant

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Agriculture has identified a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a backyard flock in Shawnee County. This is the third confirmed case of HPAI in Kansas this fall; there were six cases in March and April for a total of nine counties across the state affected so far in 2022.

“The widespread nature of the positive premises in Kansas is proof that all counties are susceptible to HPAI because the risk is from the wild birds traveling across the state,” said Dr. Justin Smith, Kansas Animal Health Commissioner. “If you have not yet taken steps to protect your backyard flocks, now is the time to take this threat seriously.”

This confirmed case is in a non-commercial mixed species flock, and KDA is working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture–Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on a joint incident response. KDA officials quarantined the affected premises, and birds on the property have been depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease.

KDA asks anyone who owns poultry in the following area on the north side of Topeka to contact the KDA phone bank at 833-765-2006 or email them at to work with state and local officials to prevent further spread of the disease. Poultry owners can also self-report birds at Reporting area: Contact KDA or report online if your home or farm sits in the area from 21st Street (to the south) to 94th Street (to the north), and Highway 4 (to the east) and Humphrey Road (to the west). The area includes the north half of Topeka and the towns of Elmont and Menoken. It does not include Silver Lake, Meriden or Hoyt.

KDA advises owners of backyard poultry flocks to be particularly vigilant in protecting their birds. Analysis of this outbreak of HPAI has shown that the spread has been primarily from wild migratory waterfowl, which makes free-range backyard flocks at high risk because of the potential of exposure to the wild birds.

Anyone involved with poultry production from the small backyard chicken owner to the large commercial producer should review their biosecurity activities to assure the health of their birds.

Rapp School rings bell once again as students learn about old-time schooling

Lynsay Flory, who acted as the teacher during a visit to Rapp School, leads students in singing lessons. Photo by Wendi Bevitt.

For the first time in several years, on Oct. 10, 2022, Rapp School opened its doors to host a field trip day. Rapp School is a historic one-room school located on U.S. Highway 56, about five miles west of Osage City.

The Rapp School Preservation Association worked with Lynsay Flory, of the Osage County Historical Society, to arrange the field trip for local homeschooled students.

Students shared sack lunches, played on the playground, enjoyed practice lessons, and generally explored a different kind of schooling. All had fun as they experienced what school was like more than 60 years ago.

For more information about Rapp School, see In Osage County: Rapp School, District No. 50, 1871-1962

Thankful and blessed with help from the Osage City community

ECAT would like to say thank you to the community for your continued support these last two years. 2021 and 2022 have been challenging for ECAT as it has for everyone.

With the shut down due to COVID and now with the economic impact ECAT has found it necessary to think outside the box and find new ways that we can continue to serve the community. During COVID we continued to provide food boxes by having designated pickup days, as well as a volunteer always available to give out food boxes. The holiday program was a great success.

Beginning in November we will begin our 2022 holiday signup program. Food is not as easily obtained as in past years, but we know that with all the community support we continue to receive, our holiday program will continue to be a success and no family will go without food and no children without Christmas gifts.

None of this would be possible without the continued support of the community, organizations, businesses, individuals, USD 420 students, Girl Scouts, and churches.

ECAT volunteers (who always go above and beyond) could not accomplish any of this without the Osage City community – you are awesome and we are blessed.

Thank you,
ECAT volunteers and board members

For more information, contact the Ecumenical Christian Action Team at 306 S. Martin St., Osage City, Kan, or 785-528-8164.

‘Final run’ motorcycle procession to celebrate Tanner Banks’ life

A “final run” will be held this Saturday for Tanner Banks, Osage City, who passed away at the age of 32 on Sept. 23, 2022.

His cycle riding friends and family will gather 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, at Four Corners, U.S. Highways 56 and 75. From there the procession will travel through Scranton and Burlingame before arriving in Osage City for 1 p.m. visitation and 2 p.m. services for Banks at VanArsdale Funeral Home, 107 N. Sixth St.

All area motorcycle riders are invited to join in on Banks’ final run.

See Banks’ obituary here:

LTE: Zoning officials ‘crucify’ all renewable power development in Osage County

Dear Editor:

Half Price! Who doesn’t love a half price sale?

Recently FreeState Electric Coop was able to modify our power supply contract with Evergy that powers our member’s homes, farms, and businesses. We currently buy virtually all of that power from the Evergy grid at a blended cost depending on generation mix and fuel cost. This contract modification made in early 2021 allowed up to 10 percent of our power to come from solar sites, either customer owned or sited next to our substations to be fed out on our distribution lines. As quickly as possible we identified three suitable substations, and put out for bids to build the solar arrays. Eventually the coop contracted with Evergy to build these three sites, with a 30-year fixed cost of power roughly half price of today’s grid power cost.

When our substation near Carbondale was identified, an adjacent landowner agreed to sell the 8.7 acres needed to build the 750kW solar array. Surrounding landowners were notified and no opposition has been voiced. Soon the Freestate Coop members would be sharing the benefits from the monthly $14,000 power cost savings. All of this came together in early 2022. The Planning and Zoning Commission had just approved a 10-acre 1000kW similar system for Osage City. We were on the home stretch. Then came the “Moratorium”. And eight months of waiting.

At this point we were put on hold, unable to communicate with the county. One self-proclaimed utility “expert” on the zoning board was free to spread whatever “facts” they wanted to, such as Freestate planning to build eight solar sites all over the county. That was news to me, a FreeState board member. We were never allowed to present formally to the zoning board or even have Q&A or tours of our other sites.

We did get our five minutes at the public comment meetings, but it was apples and oranges inserting our small local project in with the commercial wind proposals. Reminiscent of Pilate in Matthew 27, the zoning board faced the red shirted sign-waving mob and voted to crucify all renewable power development in Osage County.

It isn’t final until the county commissioners act on that recommendation They still have the opportunity to consider the interests of the 1,100 FreeState members living in the county being somewhat different than multinational for-profit corporations pushing commercial wind projects.

Serving on any public board is a thankless job, so if you see any of the zoning board members thank them for their time. And if you are a FreeState Coop member, also thank them for the giant lump of Osage County coal they just put in your stocking!

Larry Butel

Willing Workers 4-H Club elects officers for new 4-H year

At the first 4-H meeting of the new 4-H year, held Sept. 14, 2022, the Willing Workers 4-H Club selected new officers. Officers are: President, Jaiton Bosse; vice president, Cole Thompson; secretary, Brody Thompson; treasurer, Kevin Whitmer; reporter, Avery Thielen; historian, Paige Thielen; songs and recreation, Leila Wilcoxson; county council representatives, Kevin Whitmer and Brody Thompson; junior president, Lena Stucky; junior vice president, Kaiden Bosse; junior secretary, Reece Wilcoxson; junior treasurer, Ruby Stucky. Congratulations to all of the Willing Workers officers.

Celebrating National 4-H Week, Oct. 2-8, 2022!

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