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Hidden History: On a quest for a place to call home, all roads lead to Osage County

The Elmer Duff family at their cabin in Montrose County, Colorado.

In the 1870s, with the expansion of railroad lines, access to Kansas and points in the western part of the United States was made much easier. Individuals in places like Pennsylvania with similarities in climate started looking west for opportunities. Farming in Kansas reportedly involved less labor than points east, and land was cheaper and easier to purchase in large parcels. The Duffs, who had lived in western Pennsylvania, was one of the families that made that trip.

Elmer Duff came to Kansas with his parents, James and Mary, and six siblings in the spring of 1871 on a three-day trip via the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe from Mercer County, Pennsylvania, to Osage City (at that time the ATSF was only completed to Emporia). From Osage City they loaded their household goods on spring wagons and completed the trip to Lyndon. James bought 160 acres outside of town, and built a house with only one small window and two doors until a bigger house could be built.

Elmer married Laura Gill, in 1887. Laura’s family had also made the trek from Pennsylvania to settle at Lyndon. The couple set up a household on the Duff family farm, but after a few years Elmer needed to create a space for his own family. While Osage County was the place their parents settled, the population boom of the 1880s made it a bit crowded. Elmer and Laura started looking elsewhere for greater opportunities, open spaces, and a place of their own.

The territory of Oklahoma was opened for settlement in 1879, and the fourth and largest land rush in Indian Territory was in September 1893, drawing the attention of several Lyndon citizens.

Elmer and Laura took a large wagon and joined a group of others leaving from Lyndon intending to make their race from Arkansas City. The plan was to stick together as much as possible in making any land claims. Other members of the group, Lew Huber and George Fleming, had racehorses in hopes of giving them a leg up on the Sooners, those who entered the newly opened lands before the appointed time.

The Lyndon group joined 100,000 others in a dash across the Cherokee Strip for approximately 40,000 homestead sites. Despite their best efforts, the Duffs weren’t able to acquire a parcel and returned to Lyndon.

OSU mascot honors frontier lawman, sharpshooter, former Kansas resident

“Pistol Pete” is the widely recognized Oklahoma State University mascot named after early day lawman Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton.

By Frank J. Buchman

Oklahoma State University’s “Pistol Pete” mascot is named after a real Wild West lawman cowboy. Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton was born October 26, 1860, in Hartford, Conn.

At the age of eight, Frank moved with his family to Twin Mound, Kan. Twin Mound is now a ghost town in western Douglas County. It was named for two natural mounds that rise gently from the landscape.

The famous scout, sheriff, gunman, working cowboy, passed away April 8, 1958, age 97,  at Perkins, Okla., with burial in Perkins Cemetery.

According to Frank’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth Wise, “[Frank’s] dad, my grandpa, was shot in cold blood by six former confederates. They had served during the war with the Quantrill Raiders.”

The six men, from the Campsey and the Ferber clans, rode with the vigilante Southerners. After the war, they called themselves “Regulators.”

In 1868, Mose Beaman, his father’s friend, said to Frank, “My boy, may an old man’s curse rest upon you if you do not try to avenge your father.” Beaman then taught Frank how to handle a gun, Wise said.

At the age of 15, Frank Eaton visited Fort Gibson, Okla., to learn more about shooting guns. Although too young to join the Army, Frank outshot everyone at the fort.

“He competed with the cavalry’s best marksmen, beating them every time,” Wise said.

The fort’s commanding officer, Colonel John Coppinger, gave Frank a marksmanship badge and a new nickname, “Pistol Pete.”

Willing Workers tour Osage City meat processing plant

Willing Workers 4-H Club visits Custom Meats, Osage City, front from left, Clara Thielen and Ruby Stucky, middle, Leila Wilcoxson, Jaiton Bosse, Mason Newman, Reese Newman, Hadley Bosse, Kassie Thielen, and Paige Thielen, back, Bo, Emilee Burkett, Avery Thielen, Claire Newman, Lena Stucky, Kaiden Bosse, Kevin Whitmer, and Gene Roberts. Courtesy photo.

By Avery Thielen, Club Reporter

On March 1, 2023, the Willing Workers 4-H Club went to Custom Meats, in Osage City, to learn how livestock are processed. The 4-Hers were given a tour of the Custom Meats facility by Gene Roberts, Emilee Burkett and employee Bo. Gene did a great job of entertaining the group while educating them on the steps of processing animals. Many of the 4-H members show livestock at the county fair. This tour helped them understand what happens to their animals after they sell them. Even members who do not show livestock found the tour to be informative. It is important that people understand where their meat comes from. Thank you Custom Meats for the tour.

Caution: KDOT to begin survey of U.S. 75 bridges in Osage County

Beginning Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, the Kansas Department of Transportation will conduct a field survey on two bridges on U.S. 75 in Osage County. The bridges go over state Highway 276 and the Marais Des Cygnes River, and are located approximately four and seven miles, respectively, north of the Coffey County line.

The survey is necessary to gather information for the detailed design of the proposed improvements, and is estimated to be completed by April 15. Roger Dill PS, of RIC, will be the survey project manager for KDOT.

A member of the survey crew first will contact property owners and/or tenants for permission to enter private property. Survey activities will include the use of survey instruments on the ground to determine locations of existing features within the survey corridor.

Hidden History: Santa Fe Trail charts course for railroads, highways across Kansas

An American family travels using a common mode of transportation during Santa Fe Trail times and later, a covered wagon. Photo source unknown.

The Santa Fe Trail cuts across Osage County, entering the northeast corner and exiting northwest of Osage City. Road markers are visible for travelers on local highways, but what was the Santa Fe Trail, and why was it significant for Osage County?

The route of the Santa Fe Trail, as is commonly the case with historic period trails, was comprised of a series of more ancient routes of travel established and widely used by the original inhabitants of the region far back into prehistory. This trail closely followed a series of indigenous roads.

When Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, the trading center of Santa Fe could finally become a target of trade with the American frontier. That same year, William Becknell led an expedition from Franklin, Missouri, to Santa Fe to gather furs and find a viable route to that center of commerce. By 1822, Becknell had secured a route to Santa Fe that was accessible to wagon traffic, making travel easier. In 1824, the road to Santa Fe was declared an official route by an act of Congress. The following year, representatives of the U.S. government and the Kansa and Osage met at Council Grove, Kansas, where the tribes agreed to relinquish claims to large tracts of the Plains to the United States. The tribes also agreed to provide open access and assistance along the Santa Fe Trail to all travelers. Starting in 1825, Becknell mapped the route, and Colonel George Sibley was put in charge of an expedition to survey and secure safe passage for the travelers through treaties with the Native American tribes.

Part of Sibley’s responsibilities required him to make the route easier to travel, and in 1826 he paid John Switzler $200 to build the bridge over Bridge Creek, later known as Switzler Creek, at modern-day Burlingame.

Early traders along the Santa Fe Trail in Osage County were members of the Shawnee tribe. After a treaty designated a reservation in Kansas for the Shawnee, they were moved to lands south of the Kansas River, which included modern-day Osage County. The Shawnee had long had close associations with Euro-American traders in their recent history, which led them to build a way of life located in close proximity to those they traded with. In Kansas, the Santa Fe road corridor became an ideal location for this because it cut through the Shawnee reservation. Tribe members typically settled in family groups spread out along waterways. Prime locations in what would become Osage County were the Switzler Crossing (at Burlingame) and 110 Mile Creek crossing (near Four Corners).

Willing Workers enjoy fantastic foods

Willing Workers 4-H Club members enjoy pancakes after learning how to make them, left, Clare Newman, Kassie Thielen, Avery Thielen, Jack Ferrer, Ruby Stucky, Mason Newman, right, Leila Wilcoxson, Charlotte Ferrer, Paige Thielen, Clara Thielen, Lena Stucky, and Reese Wilcoxson. Courtesy photo.

By Avery Thielen
Club Reporter

The Willing Workers 4-H Club is always keen to learn about new types of food. Every month the club gets together for a meeting hosted by Pam Whitmer. Unlike monthly meetings held for all members, she teaches members in the cooking project how to cook certain foods and baked goods.

The last cooking meeting was Jan. 29, 2023, at the Osage City Lutheran Church, where the members learned how to make pancakes from scratch. The 4-Hers always have a fun time learning new forms of cooking.

Marais des Cygnes Valley High School crowns 2023 Queen of Courts

Marais des Cygnes Valley High School 2023 Queen of Courts royalty, front from left, Ryder Naber and Izel Traver, middle, Gracen Stahl, Kyla Vogeler, Queen Madison Cormode, Olivia Lacey, and Evie Stephens, back, Katie Parker, Jayden McClintic, Isaac Hockett, King Joey Del Percio, Mason Rose, Dallen Flatin, and Max Davis. Photo by Lisa Reeser.

Marais des Cygnes Valley High School crowned seniors Madison Cormode and Joey Del Percio as 2023 MdCV High School Queen of Courts queen and king during last Friday’s basketball game. 2022 King Max Davis and Queen Katie Parker, and kindergarten attendants Izel Traver and Ryder Naber, assisted with the crowning ceremony during halftime of the boys game against Cair Paravel.

Osage City’s Moulin spells his way to championship at county spelling bee

Osage County’s top spellers of 2023, front, from left, Kenzie Bellinger, Mady Rose, Haley Fine, Alaina Richardson, Malachi Samson, back, Jack Moulin, Iris Sherry, Nolan Wolfe, Kynlee Ard, and Averi Doan. Osage County News photo.

LYNDON, Kan. – In a “gargantuan” win, competing against nine other accomplished spellers, Osage City seventh-grader Jack Moulin took the top spot at the Osage County Spelling Bee, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, at Lyndon High School auditorium.

Competing in the bee, hosted this year by Lyndon Middle School, were champions and alternates from five schools in the county, each having competed in their respective school’s competition. Competitors were Iris Sherry, 6th grader, and Nolan Wolfe, 7th grader, from Burlingame; Alaina Richardson, 6th, Kynlee Ard, 7th, Carbondale Attendance Center; Averi Doan, 8th, Malachi Samson, 7th, Lyndon; Mady Rose, 8th, Hailey Fine, 5th, Marais des Cygnes Valley; Jack Moulin, 7th, Kenzie Bellinger, 7th, Osage City.

Kahler files motion in Osage County District Court to overturn death sentence

James Kraig Kahler is led out of the Osage County Courthouse to the county jail after his sentencing, Oct. 11, 2011. File photo.

LYNDON, Kan. – A man condemned to death for murdering his wife, two daughters, and grandmother-in-law at a Burlingame, Kan., home in 2009, has made a possible last ditch effort to reduce or overturn his sentence.

James Kraig Kahler, convicted of the quadruple capital murder and sentenced by an Osage County jury in 2011, filed a civil lawsuit Jan. 19, 2023, against the state of Kansas in Osage County District Court. In the filing, Kahler and his attorney, Julia S. Spainhour, of the Kansas Capital Habeas Office, Topeka, Kan., seek a motion for the court receive evidence on his claims for relief and vacate and set aside his convictions and death sentence.

The motion relies on a state law that allows a prisoner to claim the right to be released on grounds that a sentence was imposed in violation of the constitution or laws of the United States or Kansas, or the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or other grounds. KSA 60-1507 provides prisoners a filing time limit of one year from the last time an appellate court exercised jurisdiction.

Kahler has previously appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court, which affirmed his conviction and sentence. March 23, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its judgement affirming the Kansas court’s decision. The Kansas Supreme Court subsequently mandated Osage County District Court to execute judgment of the court, with that filing made May 5, 2022, and which set the one-year clock for Kahler to file the current motion.

The motion outlines 14 grounds that allege substantial violations of Kahler’s constitutional and statutory rights to receive effective assistance of counsel and due process of the law, to enjoy equal protection of the laws, to demand witnesses to testify on his behalf and to effectively confront the witnesses against him, to receive a fair trial conducted by an unbiased judge, and to have his evidence heard and decided by an impartial jury. Kahler also alleges the state of Kansas has violated his constitutional right to be free from cruel or unusual punishment.

In a separate motion to appoint counsel and set a status conference, Kahler, who is currently incarcerated under special management status in El Dorado Correctional Facility, El Dorado, Kan., asks for a one-year period to investigate and gather evidence to support his motion.

Following a two-week trial in August 2011, an Osage County jury convicted Kahler, then 48, of killing his wife, Karen Kahler, 44, his daughters, Emily, 18, and Lauren, 16; and Karen’s grandmother, Dorothy Wight, 89, on Nov. 28, 2009, in Wight’s Burlingame home. In addition to capital murder, Kahler was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated burglary. During the Oct. 11, 2011, sentencing hearing, then-Osage County Chief Judge Phillip Fromme affirmed the jury’s verdict of the death sentence.

After an almost 12-hour manhunt following the killings, a Shawnee County deputy found Kahler the next morning sitting in a roadside ditch along Auburn Road. The murder weapon was never found.

The current motion might not be Kahler’s last chance to attempt to overturn his death sentence. Although he has exhausted his direct appeals, and his capital murder convictions and death sentence have been affirmed, further appeals are possible. If Kahler’s motion is granted, he will also retain the right to appeal the court’s final decision.

Help House kicks off annual Soup-a-Thon; Prom Shop scheduled for February

The competition will be fierce for Help House’s Soup-a-Thon ’23! Area churches and organizations are urged to begin collecting cans of soup and sleeves of crackers for Help House’s food pantry. The goal line will be reached on Feb. 15, 2023, by when competitors must deliver soup and crackers to Help House.

The church or organization that brings in the most cans of soup and sleeves of crackers will win the gold award. Silver and bronze winners will also be named.

Help House has also announced its upcoming Prom Shop, which will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday Feb. 18, and 1-5 p.m. Sunday Feb. 19, at 104 W. Santa Fe Ave., Burlingame. Many beautiful gowns have been donated and are available for any high school age girls living in Osage County, and all are free.

Help House offers a big thank you to Ted and Shirl Ammerman, of Royal Cleaners, Ottawa, who donated professional cleaning of all gowns.

For more information about either of these events, stop by Help House at 131 W. 15th St., Lyndon, Kan., see www.helphouse.online, call 785-828-4888, or email osagecountyhh@gmail.com.

Eat Well to Be Well: Why crash diets capsize your weight loss efforts and what to do instead

Crash diets rarely last for the long term. The best diet plan is one that stresses realistic long-term expectations.

One of the worst things you can do when attempting to reach a healthier body weight is to follow a “crash” diet.  Crash dieting takes on many forms – fasting, detox programs, yo-yo diets, cleanses, Keto, or perhaps extremely low-calorie liquid diets. Unfortunately, each one is unsustainable and an example of radical calorie or macronutrient deprivation, all in the name of losing weight quickly.

My take on crash dieting

I’m not a fan of crash dieting. Plain and simple. Yet, many people will still rely on these weight loss methods. And when people ask my opinion of the latest crazy crash diet circulating on social media, this is what I tell them and what I am telling you: If the diet is followed as written, there’s no doubt you will lose some weight fairly rapidly – but at a cost to your health, metabolism, muscle mass, and ability to sustain weight loss long-term.

Nutrition and health professionals know keeping weight loss off long-term after following a crash diet rarely works. Once you go off the diet, weight regain begins. You end up feeling like a failure until the next trending crash diet comes along, promising yet another “easy” solution setting you up, once again, for frustration and defeat.

Crash diets depend on selling you “quick” weight loss. They’re designed that way for a reason. Immediate gratification is motivating. You experience speedy success with a quick drop in weight, a thrilling and intoxicating influence. But, the rapid drop in pounds is most likely water weight loss. In addition, shedding weight too fast can lead to muscle mass loss, eventually slowing down your metabolism and weakening strength and endurance.

Achieving and maintaining optimal body weight is challenging. Wanting to succeed at improving your health and well-being is admirable and should be encouraged.  When the goal is to lose a few pounds, it requires understanding the physiology and psychology of how to lose weight successfully and sustainably.

However, if you follow a crash diet lacking competence and a realistic strategy, your prospect of long-term success in keeping whatever weight you lose off for good will likely be thwarted.

Blake Treinen, 2020 World Series Champion, hometown hero, comes home for Christmas

Blake Treinen, Osage City hero and World Series Champion pitcher, talks to the crowd gathered Dec. 23, 2022, at Osage County Senior Center, Osage City. Osage City Chamber of Commerce photo.

World Series Champion Blake Treinen and his family came back to the Osage City, Kan., area to be with family for the Christmas holiday, and the Osage City Chamber of Commerce hosted an open house in Blake’s honor. Everyone in the area was invited to the meet and greet and question and answer session, Dec. 23, 2022, at the Osage County Senior Center. A group of all ages braved the bitter cold to come listen to Blake’s experience as an Major League Baseball pitcher.

Along with question and answers, Blake gave a very informative journey of his trials and tribulations to reach his ultimate goal to play baseball with a major league team. His motivational speech reflecting upon his Christian faith and perseverance inspired everyone in the room.

Signs are installed on state Highway 31 on the north side, state Highway 170 on the south side, and  K-31 on the east side recognizing Osage City as Blake’s hometown.

Treinen, No. 49, pitches for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Osage City hero was American League Reliever of the Month and AL All Star when playing for the Oakland Athletics in 2018, then became a World Series Champion with the Dodgers in 2020, after having signed on as a pitcher with the team in 2019.

Happy holidays from the Willing Workers

Willing Workers’ Christmas parade float celebrated the theme of “Songs of Christmas” as they “jingled all the way” along Market Street in Osage City, front, Jaiton Bosse, Brody Thompson, and Kevin Whitmer, middle, Adalynn Wagner, Leila Wilcoxson, Kaiden Bosse, Clara Thielen, Hadley Bosse, Lena Stucky, Claire Newman, Mason Newman, and Jack Ferrer, back, Reece Wilcoxson, Avery Thielen, Paige Thielen, Elisa Wagner, and Kassie Thielen. Courtesy photo.

Club Reporter Avery Thielen

This holiday season the Willing Workers 4-H Club showed its holiday spirit in many ways to the community. During the Osage City winter parade on Nov. 12, 2022, the 4-Hers brought a colorful sled float to the street. Upon their arrival they won first place in the judging of the floats. The red sleigh was built from pallets and decorated with beautiful homemade snowflakes. On Dec. 11, the Willing Workers made sugar cookies and planned to go caroling to assisted living facilities to deliver the cookies. Due to the Osage City Schools closing, the 4-H club was unable to go caroling, but the cookies were still delivered for the residents to enjoy.

Willing Workers 4-H Club would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

High-priced winter livestock feed cost can be managed

Big bale feeders help save hay and lower cow winter feed costs. Courtesy photo.

As cold weather continues with forecasts for increasing blizzard conditions throughout winter, livestock hay needs increase. University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Gene Schmitz has provided thoughts for livestock producers to consider when feeding livestock.

“Test the hay,” Schmitz said. “This is the simplest, most cost-effective practice you can do,”

Sort hay supplies into quality groups and match the hay to nutritional needs of each group of livestock, he advised.

“Then feed appropriate supplement, if necessary, to each separate group based on nutritional needs and hay quality,” Schmitz continued.

“Reduce waste because poor feeding practices can result in hay wastage of more than 25 percent,” the specialist emphasized.

Cone-type hay feeders or tapered-bottom feeders greatly reduce hay waste, especially if they have a bottom skirt.

“If unrolling, limit the amount of hay being unrolled at a given time,” Schmitz recommended. “Unrolling more than one day’s feeding will substantially increase hay waste.”

It’s a bit late for this now, Schmitz said, but another substantial source of hay waste is how the hay is stored.

If covered hay storage is not a possibility, at least take measures to break soil-hay contact, the specialist urged. Building rock pads or storing bales on pallets, tires, or other surface reduces waste on the bottom of the bale.

Producers who have pasture or crop residues to graze can divide fields into smaller areas with temporary fencing, Schmitz said.

“These are easy to move and can greatly extend the number of grazing days from a given area,” he continued. “Fencing to provide one to two weeks grazing is acceptable.”

There are limit-feeding options. With adequate-quality forage, limiting cow access to hay feeders can reduce waste while achieving acceptable performance.

“Twelve-hour access seems to be a good compromise between performance and waste reduction,” Schmitz said. “Do not attempt this without a hay test.”

Cows can be limit-fed a high-grain ration to meet energy needs with less feed, he noted. “Compare the cost of grain to hay on a per-unit-of-energy basis when considering this option,” Schmitz urged.

Some producers graze standing milo as an effective, lower-cost way to feed cows through the winter.

Hidden History: Working for freedom in Osage County coal mines

Drawing of Kansas Exodusters by Solomon Eytinge, 1833-1905, Harper’s weekly, v. XXIII, No. 1181, August 16, 1879. Source Library of Congress.

After the conclusion of the Civil War there was a period of Reconstruction that attempted to graft the South back into the Union. The transition was disastrous, and at the forefront of other troubles with Reconstruction, individuals of African descent faced racial violence and the creation of the Black Codes (which mirrored previous laws governing slaves). Many chose to leave the south for a chance at a better life in Kansas in what was called the “Black Exodus.”

These migrants were dubbed Exodusters and started to arrive in Kansas as early as 1873. The most widely known Kansas Exoduster settlement at Nicodemus began in 1877, but black migration to Kansas didn’t begin in earnest until 1879.

Multiple Exoduster settlements were made in the state, and while Osage County received many Exodusters, it was not home to an “official” settlement. It was, however, the location of the only business enterprise of its kind in the state, solely owned and operated by Exodusters.

When the Exodusters arrived in Osage County in 1879-1880, many came to Osage City (the town of Burlingame, while welcoming to blacks during the Civil War, did not want the new arrivals).

Most Exoduster men in Kansas found labor positions, predominantly in agriculture. In Osage County, however, the coal resources were just beginning to be tapped in earnest and mining opportunities seemingly abounded. Osage City was an infant town that was booming with the coal industry. Within less than a decade, it boasted 77 new buildings, a great influx of new citizens, and ample opportunities for employment from local stone quarries to five coal shafts. And the coal jobs in the area paid well – double what was offered in the surrounding areas.

Osage City became a very appealing place to settle. But there was a problem. The established coal mines didn’t really want black miners. And so, a group of the earliest members of the Exodus created a mining colony that they called Liberia (named in honor of the colony in Africa established for freed slaves).

This community and mine were the only one of its kind in the state – fully owned and operated by men of African descent. There were two attempts at a Liberia settlement in Osage County. The first Liberia was located just south of the community of Dragoon (south of Burlingame), situated on lands purchased for one of the large coal companies.

The Liberia miners faced multiple hazards. The men were inexperienced and forged their own way with mining. In the over 60-foot-deep shaft, an accidental fall could be disastrous. Also, the community, while relatively close to Burlingame, had no easy access to the town to retrieve supplies. At the time Liberia was established in 1880, there was no safe bridge for regular foot or horse traffic, and crossing Dragoon Creek was accomplished by using the railroad bridge, which could prove deadly.

The first Liberia ended within a few short years and some of its members decided to return to the South, discouraged by lack of opportunities for people of color. When the settlement was disbanded, the buildings were sold and taken to the nearby community of Peterton and repurposed.

For those who remained, working at the Osage City mines was not an option for everyone, as there were only two mines at this time that allowed black men. Determination to make a Liberia mining settlement work led to another attempt in 1885, outside of Barclay, south of Osage City.

Christmas is an important birthday party

Area churches host live nativities for Christmas, Jesus’ birthday party. Courtesy photo.

“Remember the reason for the season.” The comment has often been repeated, but in reality, who has given much thought to what it means?

Christmas is supposed to be a birthday party celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, savior of the human race. That is readily forgotten by way too many, and more concerning not even known by perhaps the majority.

Oh, there are plenty of parties this time of year for enjoyment, relaxation, often excess carousing. Gifts are given and received creating appreciation, twinkling eyes especially of the little ones and usually everyone attending.

Yet, at how many of those fun times is there ever consideration of why the family and friends are together. How many said a prayer before a meal, or during the affair? Were there any Christmas carols sang about reason for the season?

Of course, there’s discussions involving Santa Claus. They’re really unimportant, unless knowing about Saint Nicolas, who the fairytale character is fashioned after.

Decorations in the community and homes are bright giving all feeling of joy, but little about the real birthday party.

How many churches displayed public nativity scenes this year? Were there any nativities set up in homes beside Christmas trees and stockings hung on the chimney with care?

Not that long ago, manger scenes were common during the Christmas season. Today they have often become a political issue and target of attack against Christianity.

Court cases and laws demanding the elimination of nativity displays seem an attempt to remove Christ Himself. Still, they cannot erase impact of Jesus’ life.

Humble setting of the baby in a manger doesn’t adequately convey significance of the most important birth in human history.

Mary’s newborn was God, Creator, Pre-eminent One, Sustainer, and Firstborn from the dead through resurrection.

Christmas is not about presents, eating, or fun, but about the coming of the Savior. Without the baby in the manger, there would be no cross, no resurrection, and no hope for eternal life.

Even a small child can understand and respond in faith to Christ’s offer of the gift of eternal life. Yet it’s beyond comprehension.

Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club spreads Christmas cheer during December meeting

Members of Melvern Junior Highline 4-H Club sing Christmas carols on a Melvern resident’s doorstep. Courtesy photo.

By Bella Reeser, Club Reporter

On Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, the Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club held its monthly club meeting at the Melvern Community Center. At 5:04 p.m., the meeting was called to order by President Gradey McNally. The club began their meeting with The Pledge of Allegiance and 4-H Pledge led by leader Caleb McNally. Reporter Bella Reeser called the roll; members and parents were to answer with, “Would you rather have Christmas tree tinsel for hair or have fingernails that light up like Christmas lights?” There were six members and four adults present.

Bella read the minutes from the previous meeting; they were approved as read. Treasurer Landon Roy read the treasurer’s report; it was approved as read.

Bella stated she submitted three articles to the newspaper.

There was no historian’s report, and no council report. In leader’s report, leaders Caleb McNally and Lisa Reeser reminded club members to enroll in the new 4-H year. Club shirts should be done this week. We will deliver MAYS House gifts before Christmas. There was no old business and no new business.

In program, members were going to go Christmas caroling around the Melvern Community. In songs, the club went over songs to sing during caroling.

At 5:14 p.m., it was moved and seconded to adjourn the meeting. The Melvern Jr. Highline’s next club meeting will be 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, at the Melvern Community Center.

Members enjoyed snacks brought by the McNally family. For recreation, members went Christmas caroling.

Grinch thwarted again: Operation Christmas for Kids recovers stolen toys

Local emergency personnel keep a close watch on the Grinch, a toy thief who was recently apprehended and rehabilitated (until next Christmas.)

That old Grinch, who has been spotted stealing toys from around Osage County since about Thanksgiving, was finally apprehended and all Operation Christmas toys have been returned and accounted for. Osage County Sheriff Chris Wells reported the Grinch was apprehended late Sunday night as he tried to steal toys from the toy drive central collection point at the Osage County Sheriff’s Office.

The Grinch reportedly was taken into custody around 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec.11, 2022, at the sheriff’s office, where he was caught green-handed trying to steal some of the toys gathered at the toy collection point. Undersheriff Scott Brenner had carried some toys inside, and after going outside to unload more, the Grinch snuck inside and immediately tried to pack up some loot. Personnel noticed the green menace’s attempted thievery and called for backup. He was arrested on the spot and quickly admitted to all of his crimes during the holiday season.

The sheriff’s office headed up the giant toy drive, enlisting help from local public safety personnel and many citizens to be part of Operation Christmas for Kids. Collection points were set up around Osage County at businesses and agency offices. Brenner estimated this year’s collections at around $7,000 worth of toys.

Officers, deputies, EMTs, fire fighters, park rangers, highway patrolmen, and others, along with the repentant Grinch, gathered Monday afternoon to load up the toys into emergency vehicles and distribute them to Help House, in Lyndon, and Ecumenical Christian Action Team, Osage City.

Sheriff Wells offered appreciation to all who were involved in the local Operation Christmas for Kids, “We would like to thank all of the individuals, groups, businesses, and agencies who donated toys, money, and space for collection boxes. Also, thanks to ORBIS Corporation of Osage City for the donation of toy collection boxes.”

Toy collection boxes were set up at Carbondale Police Department, Burlingame Police Department, Carbondale Fire Station, Burlingame Fire Station, Carbondale Library, Burlingame Dollar General, Osage County EMS, Burlingame Library, Carbondale Dollar General, Osage City Police Department, Quenemo City Hall, Osage City Fire Station, Osage Hardware, Pomona State Park, Osage Garden and Produce, Green Acres Restaurant, Osage City Library, Jerry’s Thriftway, Canine Country Clips, Melvern City Hall, Scranton Police Department / City Hall, Eisenhower State Park, Scranton Fire Station, Club Four Corners restaurant, Overbrook Police Department, Overbrook Fire Station, Overbrook Dollar General, Overbrook Library, Kansas State Bank, Lyndon Police Department and City Hall, Ann’s Diner, Lyndon Dollar General, Charger Arms, Harrison Shooter Supply, Lyndon Library, and Osage County Sheriff’s Office and Jail.

Although the Grinch was under close watch by officers when he helped load and unload toys, afterwards he slipped away unnoticed. With his whereabouts now unknown, he leaves only hope that he won’t come around next year to try to spoil another Osage County Christmas.

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