Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation began a fund raising campaign “Advance Pottawatomie” in 2015 which asked for business partners to pledge over a four-year period.
The funds are used for various purposes, including working with the Greater Manhattan Economic Partnership to help area businesses. PCEDC has also been involved in expanding the industrial park. The city commission approved to support Advance Pottawatomie, for $10,000 a year for four years. This begins with the 2023 budget, and because it is on cash basis, it was amended to include a clause that this monetary contribution is based on the city’s budgetary availability and renewable on the approval of the city attorney.
It was also announced that the PCEDC will be looking for a new executive director, as Jack Allston is retiring at the end of September.
Governor Laura Kelly has recently announced grants for airports across the state of Kansas. The City of Wamego has received two grants. The first, for $66,500, will go towards doing phase two of the airport planning, allowing the city to plan for future airport projects, including new hangars. The second, for $468,000 will go towards reconstructing the taxiway and the gateway of the airport.
The commission accepted a bid from Country Graphics for Recreation shirts. Six proposals were received, with the lowest price from Country Graphics, which is owned by and located in, the Flower Mill. Country Graphics prices include an annual fee of $50, with shirts being $6.50.
The city was passed a resolution for temporary financing for two projects.
The first allows the city to go out for financing the Scenic Ridge specials and the second is for the city street project in town.
The street project ended up at a cost of $14 million, though it began at $7.5 million. During the latest work session, there was a plan made to take cash over the next four years in order to make those payments but due to public ordinance, the city manager asked to include $4 million of temporary financing.
Though they are two different projects, this was passed all together in one resolution instead of separately to save fees. The commissioners accepted the plan for the temporary financing.
City Manager Stacie Eichem presented a letter
of recommendation from Schwab Eaton recommending Bayer Construction for the Scenic Ridge project. Bayer presented a bid of $3,320,030.
Bayer is already working on the street project, so Eichem ensured the two projects will not conflict.
Bayer will be finishing up the street project in August in time to work on Scenic Ridge. Seeing that there was no conflict between the two projects, the city approved the infrastructure bid from Bayer Construction, for $3,320,030.
Because the city’s official newspaper, The Wamego Times, has changed its name to The Times, Pottawatomie County, statute requires an immediate ordinance stating the name of the paper the city is using. This resolution to state that the city’s official newspaper is now called The Times, Pottawatomie County was passed.
The city is continuing to work on Vision Wamego 2023.
Fourteen people were appointed to the Steering Committee – Lanny Bosse, Nancy Burton, Chris Eichman, Dwight Faulkner, Tom Fulmer, Casie Hartwich, Brady Herman, Jaimee Hoobler, Chris Hupe, Darin Miller, Bryan Newell, Bart Stewart, and Lance White.
These members were recommended by Eichem, Alston and Jessa Peterson of the Chamber of Commerce.
The library is continuing to progress on the annex. As work continues on the library’s basement, community volunteers have taken some books and brought them to the basement of city hall and several other locations around town.
Crews have begun moving into the new city shop.
There has been construction on Columbian Road, a three-week project to put in a new water line, connecting the loop for better water pressure. Once that is complete, the new traffic light project on the intersection of Highway 24 and Columbian Road will begin.
Plum Street is also progressing, and it is expected to be completed by May.
The Parks Department worked all day last Tuesday on the Recreation Complex, in preparation for high school baseball and softball seasons. The Aquatic Center has returned to its former schedule, opening at 6 a.m.
The Employee Appreciation Dinner is March 17.
Community Day In The Park will take place on Sunday March 26. More information will be available soon.
The St. Marys City Commission Feb. 21 considered three bids for running the concession stand at Riverside Park.
The first bid was from Adam and Sarah Harpe, who offered to run concessions for $350, plus a possible conditional license fee up to $250 for the use of the park’s concession stand.
They will sell the usual snacks and refreshments, as well as desserts and affordable nightly dinner specials for families attending the games. They also plan to run a food trailer on the south side of the park, closer to the baseball diamonds.
The Harpes have experience in serving concessions under similar conditions, including the Flint Hills Shakespeare Festival, various fundraising events, and the Fourth of July.
Cecily Stowers submitted the second offer, agreeing to pay the operator license fee by June 15. No other prices were mentioned in the letter.
The third bid came from Catherine Iserman, who offered to continue running the concession stand. After operating the stand for the past several years, Iserman wishes to return this summer.
She can expand on the menu items by bringing in her own equipment, including a shaved ice machine, hot dog rollers, pizza and pretzel oven, and cotton candy maker. Iserman offered $400 for the use of the stand. She will pay $125 for the license and the other 50 percent of the licensing fee goes to the St. Marys High School Bears, if they use the stand for their games.
Commissioner Gerard Kleinsmith wanted to go with the Harpe’s bid because of the lower dollar amount. The concession trailer idea was also well received by the commissioners. They accepted the bid from Adam and Sarah Harpe for $350.
The commission unanimously passed the new trash contract with Tri-County Waste and also adopted the master fee resolution reflecting the different rate.
The city has the authority to change the speed limits but statute requires a traffic engineering study.
According to Mayor Matthew Childs, changing the speed limits is something the city wants to have done and because this is the means to do it, there is an intention to go forward. A consensus was made to approve the traffic engineering study.
KDOT suggested that the city apply for a Traffic Engineering Assistance Program.
There has been a proposal to build a wider bridge on the west side of Palmer St. sometime in the next few years.
Because it is a narrow one-lane bridge only capable of holding up to 14 tons, it is not accessible to fire trucks. The city can apply for a grant to cover 80 percent of the cost, and the county will cover some of it as well. There was a consensus to move forward with this item.
There was a request by a new local group, called Experience St Marys, to have the armory available for four days, at no cost. Experience St Marys is a group similar to the Chamber of Commerce, which is going to be planning and organizing events in town. The commission agreed to provide the armory.
There were two application letters received for a Zoning board vacancy — one was from Michael Swan and another from Joe Bryan, who formerly served on the city commission. Childs appointed Bryan due to his experience.
Kleinsmith reported he had spoken with Rick Farrant, one of the owners of Great Life Fitness, regarding fixing up the golf course and possibility running it.
Farrant referred Kleinsmith to Daryll Pearson, who runs Mammoth Construction’s golf course division. At the moment, Mammoth Construction is redoing the Topeka Country Club’s fairways, greens, and tee boxes, a similar job that the city is currently looking for.
Pearson has agreed to come to St. Marys to tentatively meet with Commissioner Kleinsmith and City Manager Maurice Cordell. He will inspect the grounds, but his company will not deal with the buildings. Pearson’s inspection will be without a fee, and the city sees the restoration of the golf course as a worthy investment.
On Sunday, Hutchinson Pastor Glenn Koster took 47,800 steps. That’s 47,800 steps toward his his goal of raising awareness of the challenges faced by foster children.
Koster has walked across the country in support of this cause. Now he wants to walk to all of the 105 county courthouses in Kansas, where he now lives. Sunday’s walk was between the Riley County Courthouse in Manhattan and the Pottawatomie County Courthouse in Westmoreland … 47,800 steps. Those were courthouses 38 and 39.
Four years from now, he also plans a walk from Upper Michigan to Lower Michigan, from where was abandoned to where he was first adopted. Which brings him to why he walks … he is a double product of the foster care system.
“I was abandoned at the age of six, in 1962,” he explained, “the only one of six kids to be left behind. I was adopted quickly, but that adoption failed 13 months later due to neglect and abuse.”
He added some of that abuse was at the hands of a cousin.
“It was not the first time,” he continued. “I was routinely sexually, physically and emotionally abuse by my birth father through much of those first six years.”
After the first adoption failed, Koster was moved 65 miles away and placed into a foster family. The family wanted to adopt him, but the father was too old by Michigan law. “He had just turned 60,” Koster said. “Just before Christmas 1964, he passed away of a heart attack when I was still living with them.”
He then went to his next foster home, which turned out to be his last.
“John and Alice Visser had raised 12 kids of their own and then started taking in foster children,” he said. “I was the 13th and the last, they were Grandpa and Grandma until they day they passed away some 20 years later.” That adoption occurred when he was 10-years-old.
The trauma suffered in his youth stayed with Koster for a very long time. He said he became like his birth father in many ways. “I’m a recovering alcoholic, sober since March 13, 1989, and a recovering spousal abuser, violence free since May 29, 1989.”
For these reasons, Koster cannot become a foster or adoptive parent himself. So he had to figure out another way to support his cause … and that way became walking.
The seed was planted in 2011, when Koster was 257 pounds and on high blood pressure and high cholesterol medication. He lost 60 pounds that year, partly by walking. The next year, he worked for a company which had a fitness challenge and it was based on how many steps he walked. He admitted he “cheated” as his work required a lot of walking and he was also a reporter for the Harvey County Independent … more walking.
“I won by some 60 miles in three months,” he said. “But when I was done, I liked walking so much, I decided to keep doing it. One day, I said ‘Lord, if you want me to walk for You instead of me, show me a sign.’”
The Lord did.
“In the next half mile, I found the only silver dollar I’ve ever found walking.” By the end of his day, he found even more. “OK, that’s the sign, now it’s up to me to figure out how I could walk for Him best.”
Since Koster couldn’t be a foster or adopt kids, he decided to walk for them.
Koster says there are big needs in the foster care system … and those needs exist in every county in Kansas.
“Pottawatomie and Riley counties stand in stark contrast perhaps in large because of the vast differences in population densities,” he explained. “Riley County is the seventh most densely populated county in Kansas, with 72,602 people, but is 13th in the number of kids in foster care with 84 at the end of 2022. Pottawatomie is 24th in population with 25,082 citizens but is well down the list at 61st with just 27 kids in foster care. However, taken on a percentage of children in the county, both counties rank high in the list of children in out-of-home placement.”
While there is a dramatic need for foster homes, especially for older children, Koster said that’s not the only way people can help.
“Everybody can do something,” he said.
He suggested Big Brothers, Big Sisters. “The number one recipient of help from them is foster kids, or kids who are in danger of being pulled because they need somebody’s help. If you can’t do anything else, you can be a prayer partner.”
Another need is respite parents.
“You’re not committing to doing anything other than taking foster kids over a weekend, probably every two or three months, just so that foster family can have time alone,” he explained. “That’s vital, especially if they have kids of their own in that house.”
Additionally kids “aging out” of the system also need help as they transition into adulthood.
As he walks through the various counties and shares his story, Koster finds people who share theirs as well.
“Three things happened to me today,” he said of people he spoke with along the way.
“One of them was a clerk at a convenience store I stopped at,” he said. “He was impressed because his mother was an adopted child in the 60s. And he told me to keep going.
“At Moe’s BBQ, where we stopped for lunch, I was talking to the ladies there and they said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but we have several of our staff members who are adopted.’ I stepped out, and when I stepped back in, they said they were just checking out my page. And they were very interested.”
The third story involves an old motorcycle … and its owner.
“About a half mile north of the historic church, I saw a motorcycle parked on somebody’s driveway,” Koster said. “I went to take a picture of it.”
The owner asked why he was walking. It turned out, he was a foster child himself who had aged out of the system and enlisted in the military. “‘Some of the places you are walking, I have served,’ he told me. ‘Keep doing what you’re doing’.”
And that’s exactly what Koster plans to do … keep doing what he’s doing. Walking to raise awareness and help for the kids in the foster care system.
To keep up with his journey, follow him on Facebook at Charity Steps.
A vandal has struck the Onaga Historical Society, according to Pottawatomie County Sheriff Shane Jager.
On Feb. 21st, the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office took a report of graffiti painted on the
Onaga Historical Society at 302 East 2nd Street in Onaga.
The vandalism is believed to have occurred sometime between Feb. 11 and Feb. 21, 2023. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Rowdy Gates at the Sheriff’s Office at 785-457-3353, or leave a tip on the PTSO Crime-Stoppers link at www.ptsheriff.com.
The “Growing Crops in Volatile Conditions” class sponsored by the K-State Research and Extension – Pottawatomie County has been rescheduled to March 8.
It was originally set for February.
A meal is provided. Please register by March 3, online at www.pottawatomie.ksu.edu by clicking the registration link or by calling the Pottawatomie County Extension Office at 785-457-3319.
“Growing Crops in Volatile Conditions” will be from 1-7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 601 Elm, Wamego.
Have a question about something happening in Pottawatomie County? Send it to email@example.com and we’ll try and find the answer.
Q. I drive to Manhattan every morning to go to work, through Wamego and for the past 6 months the football field lights are on every day. I usually see this every morning between 1 and 3 am.
Can you tell me the reason why, and who is being charged for this? The last I knew electricity was not free.
A. The lights you see are low-level security lights. They are needed so the cameras can see the field and surrounding area to help prevent vandalism to the multi-million dollar facility. As they are LED, they use very little electricity. (Source: USD 320 head groundskeeper.)