Category Archives: Featured

Hidden History: Kansas county named in honor of Civil War private, Osage County native

Rev. Josiah McAfee, inset, as a Kansas legislator, honored the sacrifice of one of his recruits by naming Rooks County after him.

By Wendi Bevitt

Fifty-six Kansas counties honor the names of soldiers from the Civil War. Only two, however, bear the name of men who held the rank of private – Rooks and Osborne. Rooks County, while located in the western half of the state, is forever connected to Osage County as the recipient of the name of Osage County native, John Calvin Rooks.

John Calvin Rooks, familiarly called “Calvin”, was born in Pennsylvania and came with his family to Kansas in 1858. His parents, John and Delilah, set up their farm two miles south of Burlingame when the county was still known as Weller. The family became members of the Burlingame Baptist church and faithfully attended.

In mid-September of 1862, Calvin enlisted in Company I of the 11th Kansas Volunteer Infantry. Many men from both Burlingame and Grasshopper Falls (modern Valley Falls in Jefferson County) were recruited into this company by the Rev. Josiah B. McAfee.

The new recruits were taken to Fort Leavenworth where they received brief military training and then were deployed to the battle fronts in Indian Territory and Arkansas. Company I saw action at Old Fort Wayne, Indian Territory (Oklahoma), on October 22 and then at Cane Hill in Arkansas on November 28.

Each time the company established a camp, a Thursday night prayer meeting would be held in a large Sibley tent, led by the Rev. Josiah McAfee, who served both as 1st Lieutenant of Company I as well as chaplain. Being a Christian man, Calvin attended each meeting. At the prayer meeting on December 4, Rev. McAfee was shaking hands with each of the attendees and asking them to relate his religious experience. Private Rooks told Rev. McAfee that from the age of nine, he had chosen to be a soldier for Christ.

Cemetery map inquiry clears up foggy history of old Prairie Center Church

The remains of Old Prairie Center Church, now being used as a barn. OCHS photo.

By Eileen Davis, Osage County Historical Society

Usually I title these discussions as “day” rather than month but that does not adequately describe this adventure. It began with an email from a person who had looked at Wayne White’s website, www.osagecountyonline.com. (Please check it often if you don’t already.) His query was innocent enough.

“I am seeking help in identifying the name of a church and cemetery that were located approximately one mile east of the Prairie Center Cemetery on 125th Street. Your cemetery map records this as #34 and calls it ‘No Name.’ Can you shed any further light on the name of the church and those who are buried at the adjacent cemetery? Does the cemetery and any grave markers still exist?”

So I checked Mr. White’s website and learned that his Osage County cemetery map differed from the one we use and I learned that we could not give permission for ours to be used at his website. (Another long story but the permission was not ours to give.) I’m not sure where Mr. White got his map but I did find a similar one on the website that indicated a #34 one mile east of Prairie Center. (See Osage County News’ Cemeteries of Osage County here.)

Esther Little and I drove out there on the way home one evening and found Prairie Center on the south side of the road at 125th and Valencia Road. We saw no other cemeteries in the area.

I turned this problem over to John Hill, who’s been doing new research on several Osage County cemeteries and some really great field work. He spoke to farmers who now own the land and learned that the original church and cemetery had been moved. He also learned that the church, after some additions, was still being used as a barn. John also discovered evidence of graves at the original location. To further add to the confusion, John found an obituary for Andrew H. Caldwell, which stated in the first column that he would be buried in Prairie Center Cemetery. The second column of the same article said “Sharon Cemetery.”

Lions and Tigers share Lyndon pride

This spring Lyndon High School students participated in the first Tiger Action Day. One of the activities was to help paint the Lyndon Lions Club picnic tables at Jones Park. Students shown painting are, from left, Marah Bingham, Skye Brosch, and Kolsyn Bergkamp. The picnic tables, serving counter and shelter house were constructed in the late 1990s in Jones Park by the Lions Club. The Lions extended a hearty thank you to the students for their great work.

Photo thanks to Bill Patterson.

Lyndon High School graduates roar off to live their dreams, ‘be what they want to be’

Wearing Lyndon Tigers’ traditional colors, the LHS class of 2018 said their goodbyes to high school life. Photo by Bill Patterson.

Graduation season highlights the efforts of young students to learn all they could in 13 years of school, and the expectation they will use those lessons learned to confront the world as adults. Lyndon High School science and math teacher Anne Bichel addressed the graduates and their family and friends gathered in the gymnasium for the LHS commencement on May 13, 2018, telling them about watching the students grow into young adults.

“I’ve loved watching you make your plans for the future,” Bichel said. “Getting text messages from you about receiving a full ride scholarship is very exciting. Getting wedding invitations in the mail is also very exciting. No matter what you plan to do, whether you are going to the military, tech school, a four-year college, or joining the work force, we teachers are proud of you and all that you’ve accomplished. It gives me great joy to be here with you on this
day, as you close one chapter of your life and begin a new chapter. This is why we adults get so excited about graduation. You are at a point in your life that we have all passed. You are young and fresh and get to choose any path you want.”

Lyndon High School’s two valedictorians and the salutatorian reminded this year’s 35 graduates of their years of hard work and accomplishments, and encouraged them to take their gained knowledge and determine their own successes.

Salutatorian Michaela Forkenburg spoke about all of the lessons learned at Lyndon schools.

“We have made most of our decisions here and each one of those decisions has come with a consequence,” Forkenburg said. “Some were bad decisions resulting in bad consequences, while others were great decisions resulting in great consequences. Each one of those decisions that came with a consequence resulted in a lesson learned.

“Through sports, clubs, extracurriculars, and attending classes every day, we have been exposed to an abundance of opportunities to make decisions, which all led to consequences, and then to a life lesson,” she said.

“Whether we look at the positive aspect of the lesson, or the negative, each one benefitted us in some way. Every single lesson we have learned has shaped our class into who we are today,” Forkenburg said.

Forkenburg encouraged her classmates to keep learning. “Continue to make decisions and gain knowledge from their consequences,” she said, “but remember – always stay humble and kind.”

Valedictorian Lauren Volkman urged her classmates to use their learned lessons and personal growth to fulfill their dreams.

2018 graduates leave Burlingame High School headed toward great things

The 2018 graduates of Burlingame High School toss their hats in celebration. Photo by Keri Welch.

Attending graduation ceremonies at Burlingame High School is almost like hanging out with your family, as pointed out by the 2018 salutatorian Fallon Tyson.

Tyson joined with her two fellow valedictorians, Dalton Sporing and Tristan Lee, in good conversation and good company as they gathered with graduates and their families and well wishers, Saturday afternoon, May 12, 2018, at the elementary school gymnasium.

In her salutatorian speech, Tyson pointed out how her school family and good memories developed over the years.

“For most of us, we have grown up here in this building together,” Tyson said. “This has been like a second home to us, and my classmates have become like my family.”

“I would never wish these years away, and honestly my only wish is that they wouldn’t have went by so fast,” she said. “However, I am beyond grateful that we made the most out of our time together, and created memories that will last a lifetime.”

She spoke about the fun and enjoyment of school, along with personal stories that each student collected over the years.

“[E]veryone has their own unique story to tell,” she said. “I’m excited to see how each of you experience the rest of your journeys, and how amazing your stories will end.”

She advised her classmates to continue their lives by creating “new friendships, and experience new adventures and opportunities. Make the most of these moments, and face them head on. My advice to you is to make an impact in everything that you do. Be a voice, make a change, always persevere.”

In his speech, Lee warned about the struggles his classmates would face as they reached for success.

“Going through life is not easy, it is not fair, it never was and it never will be,” Lee said. “Accept it and get on with it, we are going to go through struggles. Whether it is going to college, your job, in anything you do, there will be a struggle, but that is why succeeding is worth it, you have finally accomplished something. The harder the road was to get there, the better you feel about achieving it – it is that simple.”

2018 Santa Fe Trail graduates charge down new paths, ‘reach out to greatness’

Throwing their caps, SFTHS grads celebrate their accomplishment. Photos by Brad Shaffer, allsportsdigital.com

In what might have been the most concise valedictorian speech delivered at Santa Fe Trail High School, 2018 valedictorian Xavier Ard bid his classmates farewell and encouraged them to reach for their potential in life.

During the commencement ceremony Saturday, May 12, 2018, Ard thanked the staff at SFTHS “from our big scary principal to the friendly custodians,” and noted the class’ appreciation for them helping to make “the past four years of our lives great, but they have also helped develop us into who we are today.”

“I look out and I do not see just people,” Ard said. “I do not see only peers. I do not see matchless friends. I see much more than that. I see unlimited potential and I am beyond excited to see all of the amazing things it accomplishes.”

Ard’s speech echoed SFTHS salutatorian Madelyn Foster’s sentiments as she noted her classmates were “an extremely competitive group” that will impact the future.

“It is time for us to aspire beyond the cement walls of our high school, and reach out to greatness,” Foster said.

“I know our class, our entire generation, can do incredible things,” she said. “Now is the time when we are supposed to make waves and transform the ways of the world, and we are doing exactly that.

“We have raised the bar for those here at SFT, we have shown the community that we are not just rebellious teens, but we are powerful, impactful young people,” Foster said. “While our time here at Santa Fe Trail may be coming to an end, the revolution is only just beginning.”

The class of 76 graduates ended their high school years with SFTHS Assistant Principal Keith Johnson presenting the class of 2018 for graduation; USD 434 Board of Education President Randy Boudeman recognizing the class; and SFTHS Principal Patrick Graham announcing graduates as they accepted diplomas from members of the USD 434 Board of Education.

Old bull rider to get down in chutes one more time at Burlingame rodeo

Most cowboys, especially bull riders, have long stopped competing when they pass 70 years of age. Ron Snoddy just can’t get the adrenalin out and proved it a few years ago when he entered the bull riding at Club Rodeo in Wichita. Snoddy, 76, will mount another bucking bull at the 48th annual Burlingame Rodeo, May 18-19, in honor and memory of Burlingame Saddle Club members.

By Frank J. Buchman

It’s just impossible to take the boy out of a cowboy.

Living proof is lifetime cowboy Ron Snoddy, active member of the Burlingame Saddle Club.

He’ll be 77 years old in just a few weeks, but age is no detriment for a real cowboy.

Snoddy is entered in the bull riding in the first performance of the 48th annual Burlingame Rodeo Friday evening, May 18, 2018, at Burlingame.

“I’m doing it in memory and honor of the Burlingame Saddle Club members who started and have continued sponsoring the rodeo,” Snoddy said.

“Ron was one of the saddle club members when the Burlingame Rodeo began,” said Pat Rusher, active club leader now.

“I can’t begin to name everybody who has helped through the years,” Rusher admitted. “Ron along with Pete Stout and John Pickett are the only ones left from when the rodeo started. Paul Lang had been heavily involved from the beginning, but he passed away about a year ago.”

“I competed in lots of rodeos in the late ’50s and early ‘60s,” Snoddy reflected. “Just the bull riding, no other events, always loved the bull riding.”

Collecting a number of payback checks, Snoddy claimed, “I paid for lots of gas for the other cowboys, but I had as much fun as anybody going up and down the road. There’s nothing like being a rodeo bull rider.”

Like many, after getting married and starting a family, Snoddy was forced to step away from rodeo. “I had to make a living and wasn’t able to do that with rodeo. I became a carpenter as my profession,” Snoddy said.

Living in Topeka, Snoddy was always in the bleachers at rodeos in driving distance throughout the years. “Watching those other cowboys ride just doesn’t compare to getting down on the bull and nodding for the gate yourself,” he insisted.

19 Trojans march into the future at Marais des Cygnes Valley High School graduation

The 2018 graduating class of Marais des Cygnes Valley High School. Photo by Jerry Kramer, Kramer Photos.

Springtime marks the beginning of new life, but also the end of another school year. With graduation season here, 19 Trojans led the way in collecting their hard-earned diplomas May 6, 2018, at Marais des Cygnes Valley High School, at Melvern, Kan.

In his address to family, friends and well-wishers at the ceremony Sunday, MdCV  salutatorian Kaden Armbrister noted the finality of graduating, but also the promise of the future.

“High school graduation finds itself among a very short list of life milestones that serve to mark both an end and a beginning,” Armbrister said. “This way-point is the end of our official childhood, and the beginning to our years as adults.”

The salutatorian recognized everyone present at the graduation and their roles in the graduates’ childhoods and “paving the way to make us better, more prepared adults.”

He noted that memories will remain but the graduates will face new paths toward the future.

“What is important is not what exactly each of us is going to do, but the knowledge that there are so many possibilities within our reach,” he said. “My sincere wish is that each of us
chooses the path that is best for us, and a great future waits.”

MdCV valedictorian Kali Holt encouraged her classmates to take a break and pause before jumping off into the future.

“Graduation is one of those awkward times in our lives when we are torn between the joy of our memories and the excitement of our future,” Holt said. “Should we look back on what were the greatest four years of our lives, or instead, should we focus on the next stage in our journey?”

Holt noted the graduates’ lives had been forever altered from their time at MdCV and “after we toss our caps into the air.”

“This town being where we made all of our memories together, we can’t forget where we come from,” she said.

“Here is my advice: I believe this isn’t the time to make hard, fast decisions,” she said. “The moment you cross this stage, be a little reckless and carefree. Go make mistakes … do something out of your comfort zone.

“Admit what your dreams are,” she said. “Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what you’re going to do.”

Holt told the graduates that only they could determine their future success.

“I cannot emphasize enough that success is not defined by how much money you make, how big your home is, or how many likes your social media posts arc getting. It is about the amazing people that are a part of your life, the memories you will make along the way, the way that you impact the lives of the ones around you, and the genuine happiness that you will feel when all these attributes come together. That is success,” she said.

After the salutatorian and valedictorian recognition, MdCV counselor Abby Robertson introduced the senior class of 2018, which was then presented for graduation by MdCV Superintendent Ted Hessong.

Members of the USD 456 Board of Education presented diplomas to the following graduates: Kaden Lee Armbrister, William Harrison Booth, Savannah Diann Cannon, Dakota Joe Chapman, Noah James Oren Criqui, Dominik Dylan Crowell, Jevan Scott Gregg, Amya Nicole Hidalgo, Kendra Sue Holloway, Kali Nicole Holt, Dalton Jones Hook, Kylie Jordann Hughes, Brennan Wayne Irey, Garrett Paul Scott Johnson, Samuel Chase Jones, Daniel Adams Siroky, Richard Allen Vest, Makaya Jaquin Weber, Josey Rene Weimer.

Osage City Girl Scouts donate comfort products for fellow students

Girls in Osage City Girl Scout Troop 30149 voted to take some of the proceeds from their nuts and candy and cookie sales, and purchase hygiene items to donate to Lisa Crettol, nurse for USD 420. The scouts purchased shampoo and conditioner, body wash and deodorant for Mrs. Crettol to have on hand for USD 420 students that need them. The local girl scouts range in ages from kindergarten through third grade.  

MdCV FFA celebrates year of successes with annual banquet

New and retiring officers of the MdCV FFA include, front from left, Josey Weimer, Kali Holt, Brookelyn Janssen, Chloe Volkman, Bayleigh Lacey, Kathryn Vaught, Alaina Marsh, Grace Bradely; back, Frank Warner, Dalton Hook, and Koby Vanderpool.

By Grace Bradley

On Thursday, April 12, 2018, the Marais des Cygnes Valley FFA chapter hosted its annual chapter banquet at the Melvern Community Center. Chapter treasurer Kali Holt opened the banquet with the invocation, which was then followed by the yearly potluck dinner.

This year’s president, Josey Weimer, spoke on behalf of the chapter in welcoming everyone to the banquet and thanking the chapter for a year full of achievements and plenty of activities that kept the MdCV chapter busy.

Sharon Thielen was keynote speaker at the MdCV FFA banquet.

Chloe Volkman, MdCV FFA secretary,  introduced this year’s guest speaker, Sharon Thielen, an MdCV graduate and former FFA member. Thielen spoke about how FFA played a major role in influencing the career path she chose to take on and how the lessons she learned through FFA were lessons she will continue to pass on. Thielen’s message not only spoke to the FFA kids in the room but it spoke to the adults in the room as well. Her main lesson to the crowd was, “To never skip a step.” Meaning, do not just jump to the good parts of life, take every step, even the tough ones.

The banquet gives chapter advisor Danny Rice a chance every year to recognize the personal achievements of the FFA students, and announce scholarships awarded to senior members. For the class of 2018, senior Jevan Gregg received the Hometown Agriculture Scholarship. The Don Lichtenauer Family Scholarship was awarded to Dalton Hook, who also received the Marais des Cygnes Valley FFA Scholarship along with Josey Weimer and Kali Holt. Scholarships were also awarded to three sophomores who will be attending the Washington Leadership Conference in June that is held in Washington, D.C. Bayleigh Lacey and Grace Bradley were awarded the Lehning Scholarship, and receiving the Casten Memorial Scholarship was Kaelin Criqui.

Over the course of the year students accumulate points by participating in activities for the sweepstakes award. This year the top five winners were Kali Holt, Bayleigh Lacey, Chloe Volkman, Kaelin Criqui, and Josey Weimer. For the Greenhands, the winners were Colby Vogeler, Izzy Toman, and Sadie McGowin. The Proficiency Award winners for this school year were Dalton Hook in beef production, Josey Weimer in outdoor recreation, and Kali Holt in veterinary science. Each year two Star Greenhands are chosen for the integrity and work they put into excelling in the FFA program – this year Sadie McGowin and Izzy Toman were chosen as the chapter’s star Greenhands.

One of the highest honors in the Kansas FFA Association is the State Degree. Only three percent of the state’s membership are awarded this honor. Three MdCV FFA members were given this honor recognizing their outstanding involvement in the FFA: Josey Weimer, Dalton Hook and Kali Holt.

Lyndon Leaders sample international cuisine

Lyndon Leaders show off their delicious international food dishes. Shoup photo.

By Garrett Shoup
Club Reporter

The Lyndon Leaders 4-H Club had their monthly meeting on April 8, 2018. The meeting started with roll call of “What’s your favorite Easter candy?”

During new business, the club voted to pay $100 per 4-H member wanting to attend camp and that met the requirements for the club scholarship application. So far there are at least five members from the club planning to attend camp.

The parent committee announced the club met on March 18 to add soil to the landscaping and wall project on Topeka Avenue. They also discussed that the weed guard and river rock would be finished in the upcoming week. All the club has left to do is start planting plants.

Next was the program, which included a demonstration by Josye Hutchroft on how to make oobleck. Following this, Kendall Young and Morgan Gross gave a presentation on how to play the trumpet.

The meeting ended with each member sharing their international food dish they prepared for the club to sample. The members agreed that this is their favorite meeting of the year because it is so exciting to anticipate what each member will bring!

The next meeting will be at 4:30 p.m. June 10, at the Kneisler farm, for the Lyndon Leaders’ annual potluck dinner, farm tour and project show.

Hidden History: Osage County boy’s curiosity unearths enormous discoveries

Barum Brown, left, and Henry Osborn at Como-Bluff during the American Museum of Natural History expedition of 1897. At front, limb bone of Diplodocus. AMNH photo.

By Wendi Bevitt

The fossil record in Osage County might be relegated to small marine specimens, but one young man’s fascination with them led to prehistoric finds of gigantic proportions, and the title of “Father of the Dinosaurs”.

In 2017, an Osage County native named Barnum Brown was memorialized by signage on U.S. Highway 75 through the work of Washburn Rural Junior High School students. Barnum Brown, a paleontologist also known as “Mr. Bones”, gained national notoriety for his discovery of the first identifiable Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in southeastern Montana.

Barnum grew up just outside of Carbondale, Kan., the son of William and Clarissa Brown. William Brown was known for his profitable business of outfitting wagons heading westward, providing land for the town of Carbondale, and being a successful coal mine operator.

Barnum Brown, Mr. Bones, as a student.

Barnum, the youngest of the Brown children, was named for Phineas Barnum of circus fame, reportedly because the circus arrived in town on the day of his birth in 1873. From a young age Barnum began collecting fossils, and his collection eventually overflowed from the family home and was relegated to the family laundry building nearby.

Referring to his childhood collections, Barnum once said, “I followed the plows and scrapers, and obtained such a large collection that it filled all of the bureau drawers and boxes until one could scarcely move.”

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.

Be prepared for tornado emergencies, know these local warning siren facts

By Bryce Romine
OCEM Director

As we approach the spring tornado and severe weather season, here are a few facts about tornado sirens:

  • Tornado sirens are an outside warning system only.
  • When you heard a tornado siren go inside, take cover, and tune to local media for more information.
  • It is a good idea to have a second means of receiving warnings such as a NOAA weather radio or sign up for alerts at Osage County’s website (under Osage County Emergency Management or the sheriff’s office at www.osageco.org.)
  • Osage County tornado sirens are tested at 1 p.m. the first and third Wednesdays of month, unless there is inclement weather.
  • Sirens are not used to give an all clear – if you hear a second warning take cover. All clear information is broadcasted by local media.
  • Osage County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for activation of the tornado sirens. During a real event the tornado sirens are activated following a warning being issued by the National Weather Service.

Hogline BBQ heads home to Minnesota as Smoke in the Spring’s grand champion

Hogline BBQ team of Mary and Dustin Reese accepts the grand champion awards from Corey Linton.

OSAGE CITY, Kan. – Barbecue teams stoked their cookers all night long Friday, fighting cold wintery winds to cook up the best of the best for Saturday’s 15th annual Smoke in the Spring State BBQ Championship, at Osage City, Kan. Cooks reported a miserable night of cooking, while the next day some judges complained of tough ribs, but others praised the brisket as “the best they’d ever tasted.”

Hogline BBQ and its head cook, Dustin Reese, of Owatonna, Minn., captured the top score – and the judges’ palates – to take home the grand championship prize of $3,000. The team’s win took away bragging rights from the defending two-time Smoke in the Spring championship team of the Clark Crew BBQ and Travis Clark, of Yukon, Okla.

4 Legs Up BBQ, with head cook Kelly Wertz, of Great Bend, Kan., turned in the second best scored samples to take reserve grand champion and the $1,500 prize money.

Hogline BBQ’s chicken sample shot the team to the top with a perfect 180 score and first place in that category. The team also took home extra prize money in two other categories, placing ninth in brisket and ninth in pork, but turned in one non-prize winner at 31st in ribs.

4 Legs Up BBQ won reserve champion by taking third in brisket, 10th in pork, and finishing just out of the money at 16th in both chicken and ribs.

While no longer Smoke in the Spring’s grand champion, Clark Crew BBQ still took home prize money, finishing sixth place overall with fourth in brisket, fifth in ribs, 12th in chicken, and 42nd in pork.

Eggs are in the basket after hunting season opens Saturday at Pomona State Park

The big kids enjoy a mad dash across the lawn at Southwind Shelter, looking for dozens of Easter eggs and prizes scattered by the Friends of Pomona State Park.

The Easter Bunny arrived along with the Easter Dinosaur at Pomona State Park Saturday, and it was open season for hunting Easter eggs. Kids and parents enjoyed the sunny day at the park, hunting eggs, playing games, doing arts and crafts, and taking photos and getting hugs from the Easter Bunny.

For more photos of the day, see https://osagecountynews.smugmug.com/Events/Easter-Egg-Hunt-Day-at-Pomona

Health advisory, safety tips issued during Flint Hills burning season

TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is reminding Kansans that springtime is 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 is vital to reduce impacts.

KDHE activated the Kansas smoke modeling tool on March 1, prior to widespread burning in the Flint Hills. On average there are approximately 2.3 million acres burned in the Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma each year.

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.

“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, KDHE meteorologist.

Spring Aboard: Boaters urged to be educated before boating season

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The temperature may still be cool outside, but it is a perfect time of year to start getting prepared for the boating season. Boating safety advocates are urging boaters to enroll in a boating education course prior to the main boating season. Spring Aboard – Take a Boating Education Course campaign is a nationally coordinated effort during the week of March 18-24, 2018, to increase the awareness of taking a boating education course.

“We know that an educated boater is safer on the water,” said Tom Guess, president of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and lead organization for Spring Aboard. “If a boater has taken a boating safety education course the likelihood of their time spent on the water being a safe and enjoyable experience is much greater for them as well as their passengers. There’s no reason to head out on the water without knowing what you’re doing, and spring is the perfect time to take a course before the summer boating season begins.”

Hidden History: Burlingame’s ‘Aunt Emily’ endeared for her strength and virtue

By Wendi Bevitt

You probably haven’t heard of her, but Aunt Emily Ford was one of the most beloved citizens of Burlingame, Kansas. At a time when prejudice and segregation ran rampant throughout most of the country, the color line however did not exist for Aunt Emily in her adopted community, and she held a special place of honor and respect there.

Aunt Emily Ford was a spry little figure, with toil-scarred hands and a kindly face. “To know her [was] to love her” and later in her life, the local newspapers would run lengthy articles on the occasion of her birthday celebrating her many years, or an interview inquiring about her past.

“I shouldn’t think anyone would want to hear about slaves and slavery,” she said, but the reply was, “Yes, but everyone especially those of the younger generation know little of slavery and such an article would be of interest to the readers.”

This is her story.

Emily was born in North Carolina in 1813. Her family was owned by a family named White. The Whites treated their slaves harshly and used them for hard manual labor clearing trees and grubbing out shrubs when they moved to Tennessee.

As was the custom for slave owners, when Mr. White’s daughter was married to a man by the name of Farmer, she was given Emily as part of her dowry. Emily was two years older than her new mistress, and the two had shared a childhood together. Because of this familiarity, Emily found herself in a much more hospitable environment in her new home. Emily served as a cook in the Farmer household. The family moved to the Springfield, Missouri, area in 1837. It was there that she was allowed to marry another local slave, Daniel Ford.

When the area was invaded by Union soldiers in 1861, the Union forces freed slaves on the farms they encountered. Daniel Haney, of Burlingame, was with the 1st Kansas regiment when their company came upon Daniel Ford hauling potatoes in from the fields with his master’s wagon.

“Come with us to freedom!” was the call. Daniel Haney helped the Fords load all their children, earthly possessions, and even the feather mattress from the big house into the master’s wagon and the family followed the soldiers to a new life.

Their eventual arrival in Burlingame found the family without much means to start their new life. Instead of letting them remain relegated to their poor status, the people of Burlingame gave them a fair shot at success in their new life.

Overbrook Overlook: Dry, windy weather causes fire danger in the city, too

Sworn to serve: With official swearing in of officers at the first of the year, Overbrook’s 2018 governing body includes, from left, Council Member Cheryl Miller, Council Member Tammy Metzger, Council Member Carol Baughman, Mayor Jon Brady, Overbrook City Clerk Jim Koger, Council Member Joanne Allen, and Council Member David Penrod. Photo by former mayor Don Schultz.

Burn bans observed in Overbrook

Due to dry weather or wind conditions, Osage County Emergency Management issues countywide burn bans, which are also observed in Overbrook. Citizens with leaves or branches to burn should call Overbrook City Hall to determine if a burn ban has been issued. Citizens can also sign up for Osage County Emergency Management alerts at www.osageco.org; click on “County Departments” and “Emergency Management”. Remember when burning, do not burn trash or processed lumber. Always be prepared to put out your fire completely if needed.

Burn permits – As a service to country residents, applications for Osage County burn permits are available at Overbrook City Hall.

Spring break

Santa Fe Trail Schools will be on spring break Monday, March 19, through Friday, March 23. Keep an eye out for children.

Dangerous conditions spark numerous fires across Kansas

The Kansas Adjutant General’s Department provided an update on recent Kansas fires, some that continue to burn as of today. According to the department, most are in some level of containment.

Approximately 50 fires were reported to the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka since Monday, burning more than 25,000 acres.

Greenwood County is currently fighting a wildfire near the town of Hamilton. The Kansas Army National Guard is providing aerial firefighting support for local firefighters.

Aerial and ground firefighting resources were coordinated by the SEOC through the Kansas Forest Service and Kansas Army National Guard to augment fire suppression efforts by local responders. Soldiers of the Kansas National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 108th Aviation, along with troopers from the Kansas Highway Patrol and personnel from the Kansas Forest Service provided aerial and ground support to local crews battling fires in Ellis and other counties yesterday and the Greenwood County fire today.

The State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka is providing support and coordination of state and federal resources as requested by the counties. County emergency managers may continue to report incidents and request state assistance to augment local response and recovery actions through the state’s 24-hour emergency notification line.

Weather conditions are improving with increased relative humidity and decreasing wind. However, grass remains very dry and people should remain vigilant about preventing fires. Avoid any activity that could create a spark and touch off a new fire. Do not drive on or stop your car on dry or tall grass because the exhaust can spark a fire. Do not throw cigarettes on the ground. Stay away from all affected areas and do not drive through heavy smoke. Sightseeing puts people in danger and hampers the work of firefighting crews.

Gov. Jeff Colyer, M.D., has declared a state of disaster emergency that includes Barber, Clark, Ellis, Greenwood, Harper, Kingman, Logan, Reno, Smith, and Stevens counties.

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