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Health Advisory: Safety tips issued during Flint Hills burning season

Kansas range fire. Flint Hills Smoke Management photo.

Smoke modeling tool to be activated March 1

TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is reminding Kansans that March and April are a time when large areas of the state’s Flint Hills rangeland are burned. These burns help preserve the tallgrass prairie, control invasive species such as Eastern Red Cedar and sumac, and provide better forage for cattle. Prescribed burning minimizes risk of wildfires and is effective in managing rangeland resources. Smoke from the burns can influence the air quality of downwind areas. The use of smoke management techniques reduces impacts.

KDHE will activate the Kansas smoke modeling tool March 1, 2021, prior to widespread burning in the Flint Hills. The computer models use fire data and current weather conditions to predict the potential contribution of smoke to downwind air quality problems. There are approximately 2.1 million acres burned on average in the Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma each year.

“We encourage ranchers and land managers to take advantage of this smoke modeling resource to spread out their burns more effectively and mitigate potential air quality impacts,” said Douglas Watson, meteorologist at the KDHE Bureau of Air. “For burns to be safe and effective, weather and rangeland conditions must be ideal. Many landowners will burn at the same time when such conditions are met. Air pollutants from the burns can affect persons in the Flint Hills and can be carried long distances to more populated areas.”

Prescribed burns release large amounts of particulate matter and substances that can form ozone. Particulate matter and ozone can cause health problems, even in healthy individuals. Common health problems include burning eyes, runny nose, coughing and illnesses such as bronchitis. Individuals with respiratory issues, pre-existing heart or lung diseases, children and elderly may experience worse symptoms.

Steps to protect your health on days when smoke is present in your community include:

  • Healthy people should limit or avoid strenuous outdoor exercise.
  • People with respiratory or heart related illnesses should remain indoors.
  • Help keep indoor air clean by closing doors and windows and running air conditioners with air filters.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue.

Osage City historical downtown property shares in statewide preservation grants

The Star Block, at 520 Market Street, Osage City, center of photo, was once an early day doctor’s office, operated by Dr. Roup for a year or so sometime around the early 1890s. Photo thanks to the Osage County Historical Society.

OSAGE CITY, Kan. – An Osage City property will receive a historic preservation project grant as part of 2021 round of Heritage Trust Fund grant program.

The Star Block, a portion of the downtown in Osage City on Market Street, will receive $90,000 of the total of $1,168,492 awarded for 15 historic preservation projects across the state.

HTF grants reimburse expenses for projects that preserve or restore qualifying historic properties. The funded projects represent a diverse collection of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places or the Register of Historic Kansas Places. All awards are contingent upon available funding.

“Kansas has a unique and rich history, and with these awards, we can continue to celebrate and learn about that history for generations to come,” Governor Laura Kelly said in announcing the grants.

Update: Boil water advisory rescinded for city of Overbrook

Update Feb. 23, 2021: OVERBROOK, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment rescinded a boil water advisory for the city of Overbrook public water supply system this morning, Feb. 23, 2021. The advisory was issued Feb. 16 because of a waterline break resulting in a loss of pressure in the distribution system.

Laboratory testing samples collected from Overbrook indicate no evidence of bacteriological contamination and all other conditions that placed the system at risk of contamination are deemed by KDHE officials to be resolved.

For more information, contact Overbrook City Hall at 785-665-7328 or KDHE at 785-296-5514. For consumer information, see KDHE’s PWS Consumer Information at www.kdheks.gov/pws/emergencyresponse/water_disruption.htm.

Eat Well to Be Well: Help men show their hearts some love

Here’s a fact that should get the attention of men and those who love them: About one in every four male deaths is due to heart disease. To make matters worse, half of men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.

Men need help – specifically when it comes to their heart health. Being neglectful of heart health is not in a man’s best interest. This vital organ needs tender loving care throughout a man’s life. However, for the past 90 years, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in men (and women).

Fortunately, thanks to the American Heart Association getting the message out on heart health, fewer Americans are dying of heart disease than ever. But there is still a long ways to go and every little bit of information, awareness and encouragement makes a huge difference in reducing a man’s risk of this killer disease.

Here are some  steps that can boost a man’s heart health helping him live a longer, healthier life:

Encourage him to get an annual checkup

When is the last time a man you love in your life got an annual physical? The American Academy of Family Physicians survey found that more than half of all men don’t get regular checkups. If they are not going to the doctor annually, they will not know what their risk factors are.

Every man should know what his blood pressure number, his heart rate, total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglyceride level. Men should know that once he hits the age of 45 (or younger age for black men), blood pressure begins to climb increasing his risk of a heart attack or stroke. An annual checkup gives a man the opportunity to talk with his doctor about any concerns he has such as erectile dysfunction that can actually be an indicator of heart disease.

Gov. Kelly declares emergency weather conditions, urges citizens to conserve energy

TOPEKA, Kan. – Due to extreme winter storm conditions and stress on utility and natural gas providers, Gov. Laura Kelly issued a state of disaster emergency Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, and urged all citizens and households to cooperate in a conservation effort. Earlier today, Osage County Emergency Management issued a warning for citizens to be alert for possible rolling power outages. The warning said utility companies could shut down portions of the area to lessen the strain on the power grid, and advised blackouts will range from 30 to 60 minutes.

Area citizens were warned to plan ahead and be ready; check with neighbors for possible alternate heat sources; make sure pets have adequate shelter.

The outages could continue for the next 48 hours, OCEM’s advisory said.

The governor’s order noted the state has experienced bitter winter temperatures and below zero wind chills for more than a week, which has put stress on utility and natural gas providers across the state. The declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties that meet certain criteria.

“As the extreme cold temperatures continue to affect the region, we are urging Kansans to conserve energy in order to help ensure a continued supply of natural gas and electricity and keep their own personal costs down,” Kelly said.

Because sub-zero temperatures cause increased energy demand and natural gas supply constraints, utilities are currently experiencing wholesale natural gas prices anywhere from 10 to 100 times higher than normal. Those costs will eventually flow through to consumers, and increase monthly natural gas and electric bills.

Customers can keep these costs down by reducing their natural gas and electric usage at this critical time. Here are some things each household can do to help in the conservation effort and slow down the increases in energy bills due to high usage:

  • Keep warm, not hot. When possible wear additional layers of clothing, consider turning down your thermostat and check your programmable settings.
  • Seal leaks around doors and windows. Apply weather stripping or caulk to seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors to stop air leaks and prevent energy loss. If that is not an option, cover windows with towels, sheets or plastic to help keep the warm air in your house.
  • Reduce the temperature on your water heater. Set the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or put it on the “warm” setting. If your home will be vacant for two days or more, set the dial to the pilot position for even more savings.
  • Close blinds and curtains. This helps keep warm air inside, especially if the sun is not shining.
  • Change or clean filters. A clean filter on your furnace can lower your energy consumption by 5 to 15 percent. Dirty filters cost more to use and overwork the equipment.
  • Hold off on doing chores. Doing laundry and washing dishes can both use natural gas to heat the water and your dryer. If you can, wait until the extreme cold weather passes to complete these activities. If you cannot wait, use the cold setting when possible.
  • Install foam gaskets on electrical switches and outlets. Electrical switches and outlets can account for up to 10 percent of your home’s energy loss.

For more information about local emergency conditions, contact Osage County Emergency Management, 785-828-3323, 131 W. 14th St., Lyndon, KS 66451.

Bitter cold temperatures in Kansas require winter precautions to keep safe

Groundhog Day came and Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, meaning more winter headed our way. To underscore Phil’s prediction, Kansas has suffered a week of extreme winter temperatures, with temperatures for much of next week expected to range from sub-zero to teens or possible 20s.

“I know we’re all tired of staying indoors because of the coronavirus, but with temperatures like these, it’s a good idea to stay inside as much as possible and only go out if you really need to,” said Angee Morgan, Kansas Division of Emergency Management deputy director. “If you have to work outside, dress warm, don’t work alone and take frequent warming breaks. Now would be a good time to check your home and auto emergency kits to make sure they are up-to-date.”

“As Kansans we always do a good job of checking on our neighbors,” said Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly. “During bitter temperatures it is especially important to check on our elderly neighbors and family members who may be shut in either with a phone call or a visit. If you go to their home make sure and wear a mask and practice social distancing.”

Take some time before the temperature drops to ensure you are ready for the worst and have a plan in place.

Assemble an emergency kit for your home that includes a battery-operated radio, a flashlight and extra batteries, extra blankets and warm clothing, food that you can open and prepare easily and plenty of clean drinking water (at least one gallon per person per day), in case water supply lines are compromised.

Before you travel make sure your car or vehicle has at least a half a tank of gas during extreme cold situations so that you can stay warm if you become stranded. Keep an emergency supply kit in your car with these automobile extras: jumper cables, flares or reflective triangle, ice scraper, car cell phone charger, blanket, map, cat litter or sand (for better tire traction).

For a complete list of items for an emergency kit for home or vehicles, see www.ready.gov.

As temperatures drop, open cabinet doors under sinks on exterior walls of your home and turn faucets to a slow drip to help prevent pipes from freezing. Place rolled-up towels or blankets around drafty windows and doors to help keep the cold air outside and the warm air inside.

If you must use portable space heaters to warm your home, check that they have been tested and certified to the latest safety standards. Keep heat sources at least three feet from combustible items, like papers, blankets and curtains. Never leave a fireplace or portable heater unattended; turn off heaters and extinguish flames when you leave the room or go to bed. Never use appliances that weren’t designed to heat your home, such as cooking stoves and ovens, for that purpose.

Osage County’s top orthographers ‘dignify’ Burlingame in annual bee

Osage County’s spelling competitors for 2021 included, front from left, Kynlee Ard, Lucas Gantenbein, Carter Gibson, Jaselynn Tyson, Haley Burkdoll; back, Alexa Heder, Braden Bowin, Evelyn Stephens, Kathleen Patterson, Morgyn Young. Photos thanks to Burlingame Schools.

A sixth-grader from Carbondale Attendance Center has claimed the countywide spelling championship for 2021.

Kynlee Ard, County Spelling Champion 2021

Competing in the annual Osage County Spelling Bee, Feb. 2, 2021, at Burlingame High School, CAC’s Kynlee Ard claimed the championship title by spelling the word “dignify” in the 11th round of the bee. Kynlee faced a final tough competitor, Lucas Gantenbein, seventh-grader from Osage City Middle School, who took the county’s runner up spot.

Kynlee will compete and Lucas will serve as alternate in the statewide Sunflower State Spelling Bee, scheduled to be held virtually on March 27, 2021, at Newman University, Wichita, Kan. Both were presented plaques for their accomplishments.

Who’s the champ? It’s time to compete in the Souper-Bowl

The fifth annual Help House Souper-Bowl-Soup-A-Thon is underway. All churches, scout troops, school organizations, civic groups, and 4-H clubs are encouraged to join in the fun. Divide your group into teams and vote for your favorite team by donating the most soup and or boxes of crackers to be donated to the food pantry at Help House. Bring in your donations the week of Feb. 14, 2021, the week following the big game, to be in the running for big rewards and bragging rights. The winners last year were Overbrook United Methodist Church, winning the Golden Ladle Award, Carbondale Community Church of Christ, winning the Silver Ladle Award, and Lyndon United Methodist Church, winning the Bronze Ladle Award. A total of 1,354 cans of soup and 25 boxes of crackers were donated. We hope to increase the number of groups participating this year. Look for collection boxes in your local churches.

Kansas Bankers Conservation Award: Shoups continue family tradition in caring land

Shoup Farms: Doug and Lara Shoup and their children Garrett, Cade, Charlotte and Leanne. Courtesy photo.

By Lori Kuykendall
Osage County Conservation District Manager

This year’s Kansas Banker Award for soil conservation goes to Shoup Farms. Shoup Farms is located north of Lyndon, and operated by Doug Shoup and his wife Lara and their four children. Doug received his BS, MS and PhD in agronomy from Kansas State University, and was an agronomist for 20 years before returning to Osage County to farm full time in 2012.

Doug and Lara both grew up on farms. Lara grew up in southern Osage County, where her parents still farm. Doug grew up on the farm they now care for.

Doug said, “Like most who farm, I grew up around it and have a passion for the challenge of raising a successful crop, and trying to make improvements to the operation every year.”

Doug and Lara met at Kansas State University and were married in 2005.

Shoup Farm’s crop rotation consists of soybean, corn and wheat. Doug believes soybeans are the most profitable crop in their rotation, so they try to implement a crop rotation to help improve their soybean yield. Corn can be profitable, but they mainly use it as an option to help break up their rotation keep from continuously growing soybeans. Wheat is valuable in reducing soil erosion, because it is a growing crop for eight months in a year and produces additional crop residue for added erosion reduction.

“We nearly always plant a double crop behind the wheat,” Doug said. “We do plant double crop soybeans but look to plant other crops to continue to help break up the rotation.”

Shoup Farms just completed their ninth growing season since Doug’s dad retirement. Doug’s dad cared for the soil enough to adopt soil reducing practices like terracing and reduced and no-till.

“I feel very fortunate to take over a farm that has been well cared for over the last 50 years,” Doug said.

Shoup Farms has seen a lot of changes in the last 10 years. They sold all their livestock in 2014, and have increased their crop rotation, and improved the monitoring of soil fertility levels. One way to monitor soil fertility is to grid sample, which reveals how nutrients are distributed across a field. By using the results of the grid sample, fertilizer can be applied where it is needed the most.

Doug feels that they essentially missed most of the “golden years” of agriculture between 2007 and 2013. “I’m hoping we experience future positive opportunities ahead for all of agriculture,” he said.

When asked what was next for Shoup Farms, Doug said, “I want to continue to adopt technology that will offer the greatest return on investment.”

For their conservation practices, Shoup Farms will be honored with the Kansas Banker Soil Conservation Award at the Osage County Conservation District annual meeting 10:30-11:30 a.m. Jan. 25, 2021, at the Osage City Community Building. The meeting will be an informal come and go meeting; all are welcome.

Sheriff seeks suspect in vehicle burglary near Burlingame

OSAGE COUNTY, Kan. – At approximately 4 a.m. this morning, Jan. 24, 2021, an unknown subject broke a window out of a vehicle in the 19500 block of South U.S. Highway 56, near Burlingame. The subject entered and rummaged through the vehicle, removing a black powder pistol.

The Osage County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information to contact the sheriff’s office criminal investigations unit at 785-828-3121, or to remain anonymous contact Osage County Crime Stoppers at 877-OSCRIME.

Surveillance photos show the suspect. Osage County Sheriff’s Office photos.

Lyndon Leaders 4-H Club: Great start to a New Year!

Lyndon Leaders 4-H Club members celebrated the new year with congratulations for their winning Christmas parade float.

By Morgan Young, Club Reporter

The Lyndon Leaders 4-H club held their first meeting of 2021 virtually. There were 14 members in attendance. Members enjoyed a snack of their choosing and had fun seeing each other even though it wasn’t in person.

Everyone that participated in the parade should be very proud since the club’s float placed first at the Lyndon Christmas Parade.

Time was spent discussing participation in the Osage County 4-H Blue and Gold Meats fundraiser. Members are looking forward to selling bacon, sausage, and chicken strips to help the 4-H Council and Lyndon Leader’s club.

It was also discussed that District 4-H Club Day will be held virtually this year.

Lyndon Leader’s 4-H club is off to a great start in the New Year!

Teen escapes rollover accident with minor injuries

Emergency responders with Osage County Fire District No. 6 work to extricate a woman from a rolled over vehicle, Sunday near Burlingame. Photo thanks to Eric Willard.

A Pleasanton woman escaped serious injury after a rollover accident Sunday afternoon east of Burlingame. The Osage County Sheriff’s Office said a 911 call came in about 1:12 p.m. Jan. 17, 2021, reporting the accident in 4700 block of U.S. Highway 56, or near U.S. 56 and South Indian Hills Road.

The sheriff’s office reported that a 2008 Ford Mustang convertible driven by Megan Gillespie, 18, of Pleasanton, Kan., had been eastbound on U.S. 56, when she lost control of the vehicle for unknown reasons. The driver overcorrected, and the car went into the ditch, where it hit an embankment and rolled over. Gillespie was the only occupant of the vehicle and was trapped underneath of it. After Gillespie was extricated, she was checked by EMS for injuries, but declined to be transported. She had been wearing a seatbelt.

The Osage County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Osage County Fire District No. 6, Burlingame, and Osage County EMS.

Melvern Jr. Highline forgoes December meeting but sends off holiday care packages

Members of Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club show their pile of care packages before they were mailed. Bella Reeser photo.

By Bella Reeser, Club Reporter

Due to Marais des Cygnes Valley USD 456 being in remote learning, the Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club opted to forgo their December meeting, yet at the same time the members still wanted to follow through with the care packages they annually send to service men and women who will be unable to come home for the holiday season.

Dec. 6, 2020, club members dropped off their care packages supplies. From those supplies, eight very full care packages were sent off to deserving men and women as a small thank you for everything they do.

Hidden History: Cheese depression ends success of Burlingame’s Western Reserve

In the 1860s and beyond, Osage County was one of the most prolific cheese manufacturing areas in Kansas. Cheese production increased in the county when under the guidance of W.D. Canfield, a cheese factory was established at Burlingame, making the town an important cheese producer in the state.

When Canfield and Harvey Parker came to Kansas in 1873, they likely had every intention to establish a cheese factory the moment they settled in the town. Both men were natives of northeast Ohio known as the Western Reserve, Geuga and Portage counties, respectively.

The Western Reserve had long been one of the leading cheese producing locations in the United States, exporting so much cheese that it became known as “Cheesedom.” In 1860, Portage and Geuga counties had produced about 8.5 million pounds of cheese, selling at about 13 cents per pound in eastern and southern markets.

H.W. Parker in particular had gained extensive experience in the cheese industry and was ready to put it to use in Burlingame. A publication in 1872 promoting the success of a cheese factory system, coupled with a depression of the cheese economy in the Western Reserve, sent Canfield and Parker to Kansas, where they could produce a large quantity of cheese at a lesser price.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Burlingame and Osage County were already established as the leading producer of cheese in the state – Osage was the first county to give a thought to its production. John S. Bush and Gamaliel Kent, also from the cheese districts of New York and Ohio, were among the first dairy men in the county. Bush and Kent’s cows produced enough milk to make nearly 70 pounds of cheese (primarily American) per day. The pair sold large loads of what was considered the finest quality cheese to both Leavenworth and Lawrence, earning 10 cents per pound, wholesale.

At that time, three dairies were located around Burlingame and they gained a reputation for superior cheeses, winning state fair premiums for the best cheese for most of a decade. Merchants were willing to pay a premium for Osage County cheese because of its quality.

In the early days, cheese was cured at the homes of local farmers, but due to the benefits of the factory system and increase in demand for cheese from the Civil War, factories began to be established. In 1866, Superior (a now extinct town south of Burlingame) created a factory within its former hotel.

For their cheese factory in Burlingame, W.D. Canfield and Harvey Parker joined with Homer Rogers, of Lyndon, and purchased a former furniture factory with hopes to convert it for cheese production. A steam mill and boiler were attached for use in pumping and heating the water for the cheese process. The men invested less than $5,000 in the property, buildings, and machinery, and named their venture the Western Reserve Cheese Factory in honor of their place of nativity. By May 1873, they were ready for production, reportedly one of five small factories in the state. The Western Reserve Cheese factory projected that they could manufacture 1,000 pounds of 40-pound cheeses per day, contracting with local farmers for 400 cows.

Burlingame, while the center of Osage County at that time, was not the only area town that was considering the marketability of cheese. Carbondale began looking into a flour and cheese mill pairing. The booming town of Lyndon and Valley Brook Township also marginally passed $3,000 in bonds to build a steam mill and cheese factory within a half mile of the disputed county seat.

Lyndon students deliver community’s generosity to Help House food bank

Lyndon Middle School Student Council and sponsor, Randy Gales, delivered 1,982 food items to Help House on Dec. 12, 2020. All Lyndon elementary and middle school students, pre-K through eighth grade, participated in bringing in the items to be donated to the Help House food pantry, which serves families and individuals in need in Osage County.

The generosity of our community and others during these difficult times is such a blessing to those who will receive – thank you from Help House.

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