Local News for Locals by Locals
I’ve been out of the loop for a bit handling some personal matters and now that they seem to be under wraps again, its time to resurrect the Spring River Current. That being said I can’t do it without your help. We all know there are tons of happenings in our communities that no one gets the word out about. So here’s your chance, email me using the link below or call me at 620-674-1516 or 620-429-1449.
Springfield-based artist John Short works on a mural on the side of the former Opera House Hotel, one of four historic buildings that make up the Block22 project in Downtown Pittsburg.
Block22 selected as finalist for 2018 Award of Excellence
PITTSBURG – Block22, an innovative, collaborative project between Pittsburg State University, the City of Pittsburg, and Vecino Group, has been recognized as one of the top university-based projects in the United States.
Located in Downtown Pittsburg, Block22 recently was selected as a finalist for the 2018 Award of Excellence by the University Economic Development Association following an extremely close competition this year.
Established in 1976 and based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the UEDA is the cornerstone membership organization representing higher education, private sector, and community economic development stakeholders. For the annual competition, higher education institutions and organizations across North America submit nominations for innovative programs that focus on developing economic prosperity in their communities and beyond. A panel of university and economic development professionals chose 24 finalists from the group of nominated projects, with Block22 being one.
The UEDA promotes the award validate and promote such programs, and to encourage their adoption by other institutions and communities. Program categories include: Innovation, Talent, and Place, as well as the intersections of these three categories.
Block22, which is located at Fourth and Broadway, is a finalist in the Place + Innovation category, along with the University of West Florida for its Sustainable Economic Development Initiative, the University of Iowa for Iowa City Area Development Group, and the University of Central Florida for its Economic Diversity and Inclusivity project.
Finalists will be judged at the annual UEDA Summit in Milwaukee, Wisc., in October.
PSU Chief Strategic Officer Shawn Naccarato said it is validating and rewarding for the project to be recognized at the national level.
“We’re honored to be a national finalist in a field of so many other wonderful projects by respected institutions,” Naccarato said. “It reinforces to us the significant value for this project and that it can serve as a model to others.”
Julie Potter, chair of the awards committee, said this year’s submissions showcase the value higher education provides to impact sustainable regional development.
“It’s energizing to see so many diverse and successful programs benefiting communities around the country,” she said.
Tim Hindes, UEDA Executive Director, described the finalists as the “very top programs from across North America, generating impactful and sustainable results in the regions in which they are engaged.”
Being a finalist likely will give Pittsburg State more exposure to others seeking to implement similar initiatives, Potter said.
“It is through participation in UEDA’s Awards of Excellence Program that the success of these initiatives can be given a platform to share their successes and inspire others to apply these best practices in other locations,” she said.
In fact, Iola-based Thrive Allen County has looked to Block22 in recent weeks for inspiration for their downtown revitalization efforts.
Columbus Woman Arrested in Felony Child Abuse Case
COLUMBUS – A 25 year-old Columbus woman has been arrested following a lengthy investigation by detectives with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.
The investigation began in March, when two children under the age of 5, were found to have been victims of physical abuse to the extent one of them was transported and treated at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
As a result of the investigation, detectives sought an arrest warrant for the suspect and late Friday morning, 25 year-old Samantha Weaver was located and apprehended.
She is being held in the Cherokee County Jail in lieu of $50,000.00 bond on charges of 2 counts of Aggravated Battery, 2 counts of Felony Child Abuse and 2 counts of Felony Child Endangerment.
“Child abuse investigations can be complex and disheartening,” stated Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves. “I’m appreciative of the hours of hard work put into this case by the investigators and also the ongoing collaboration with the County Attorney and medical professionals involved, so that now, the suspect is incarcerated and will have to answer for the allegations against her,” concluded Sheriff Groves.
Samantha Weaver was arrested last Friday on charges of child abuse and child endangerment.
Drugs and Guns Seized in Early Morning Stop
BAXTER SPRINGS – July 31st, 2018
Just after 3:00 a.m., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, a Cherokee County Sheriff’s Deputy stopped to make contact with the driver of a 2009 BMW on South Military Avenue in Baxter Springs. Initially, it appeared the driver may be having car trouble.
While speaking with the driver, a suspected meth pipe was observed lying in the vehicle, leading the deputy and a Baxter Springs Police Officer to search the vehicle.
During the course of the search, suspected methamphetamine, unlawfully obtained prescription drugs and a handgun was also discovered.
Arrested at the scene was Stevie Anne Greenfeather, 32, of Neosho, Missouri. She was transported to the Cherokee County Jail, where she remains in lieu of $17,000.00 bond. Greenfeather is being held on allegations of Possessing Methamphetamine, Possessing A Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Criminal Use of a Weapon.
Naccarato Appointed to Delta Dental Board
KANSAS CITY – July 30th, 2018
Shawn Naccarato, chief strategy officer at Pittsburg State University, has been appointed to the board of directors for Delta Dental of Kansas by Gov. Jeff Colyer. His four-year term on the 10-member board four-year term began July 1.
Delta Dental of Kansas is the largest provider of group dental benefits in Kansas, and it is the chosen provider for the State of Kansas Employee Health Plan. As Pittsburg State University is a state agency, PSU employees are covered by the SEHP and currently receive dental coverage through Delta Dental of Kansas.
Naccarato said he’s proud to represent Pittsburg State and all of Southeast Kansas on the DDKS board of directors.
“It’s a great honor to be appointed by Gov. Colyer to the Delta Dental of Kansas Board of Directors,” Naccarato said. “Dental care is a critical issue across the state, and we must all work hard and work together to ensure that Kansans are offered the highest quality coverage at the best possible price. I’m proud to be Southeast Kansas’s voice on the board.”
Gov. Colyer said Naccarato’s strengths in leadership and collaboration will serve the board and all Kansans well.
“Shawn has a long history of being able to bring people together to accomplish big things,” Colyer said. “The most recent example is the transformative Block22 project in Downtown Pittsburg. We need that type of vision and leadership on the board of directors for Delta Dental of Kansas. Dental health is a vital component of overall health, and access to quality, affordable insurance is essential for all Kansans.”
The DDKS Board of Directors meets on a quarterly basis. Delta Dental of Kansas is based in Wichita. For more information about Delta Dental of Kansas, visit http://www.deltadentalks.com.
New Assistant Director focuses on providing students a home away from home
PITTSBURG – July 29th, 2018
For each of the 1,100 students who live on campus and the several hundred who stay on campus for summer camps, a residence hall is their home away from home.
Tasked with ensuring they are safe, happy, and have a positive experience is recently hired Assistant Director of University Housing Allison Ouellette — a face new to campus but someone who has long heard about all that Pittsburg State has to offer.
“Attending Pittsburg State was a natural next-step for a many of the students I served at Neosho County Community College,” said Ouellette, who worked there as the director of Residence & Student Life for seven years. “The Residence Hall Assistants I supervised there would frequently transfer here, and they all talked about how much they loved it.”
Ouellette is once again supervising students who oversee the daily functions of residence halls — this time on a much larger campus. She oversees the area coordinators, who in turn ensure the 44 RAs, three assistant residence hall directors, and two apartment managers have the resources and training they need to be effective.
“I’m most excited about the size of Pittsburg State, because I can try new initiatives with the resources that are available for students,” she said. “There’s a beautiful Student Health Center here, a Rec Center, student support groups — just many, many things that really enrich the student experience.”
Ouellette’s job includes training RAs in possible scenarios involving resident students and the things they might experience while living on campus, and appropriate ways to respond. And, she’ll focus on helping RAs with programming for resident students that touches on health and wellness, social life, academic success, and special events.
“Most of all, we want our RAs to be equipped to handle situations in appropriate ways, and for students who live in residence halls to know that they can count on us,” she said. “That’s vital, because when they’re living on campus, it truly is their ‘home away from home’.”
At the time of posting this they had been located and he was returned home.
The post on facebook was as follows:
“**** UPDATE**** His parents have been located! Thank you for your help!
The police department has located this little guy. If you know where he belongs please get a hold of the Police Department at 856-2112.
This post was intended to help locate the child’s parents, In a little over an hour it had 6,000 views, and his parents were found. You guys are amazing thank you for help. It was not intended to belittle or call into question parenting. Please refrain from negative comments, that are not helpful.
Again thank you for your help in locating his parents.”
If you need a place to nurse or change your baby during the Cherokee County Fair this week stop by the Lactation Station provided by SEK Breastfeeding Coalition.
The Health Department stated on their facebook page that they will be having a Breastfeeding Support Group on the first Friday of the Month at 10:00 am at their office in Columbus at 110 E. Walnut Street.
Extension Office to Host Pond Management Workshop
COLUMBUS – July 28th, 2018
Water is a precious resource. Water quality and quantity has been a major issue this summer. The lack of rainfall has caused most of the ponds to fall well below their normal water levels. The buildup of sediments and nutrients in the water can lead to weed and algae issues. Without clean fresh water, the health of livestock and fish populations becomes a concern.
Maintaining a healthy pond can be a challenge. Therefore, Cherokee County K-State Research and Extension is pleased to have Charlie Lee, K-State Wildlife Specialist, as the featured speaker for a Pond Management Workshop. Charlie will focus on identifying the different algae, submerged and floating plants found in a pond and the control measures for each. Questions are welcomed during the workshop.
The workshop is sponsored by H & R Block of Columbus and will be held Thursday August 9 at the Cherokee County 4-H Building located at 124 W. Country Rd in Columbus, KS beginning at 6:00pm. For any questions concerning the workshop, please contact the Cherokee County Extension Office at 620-429-3849.
Kansas State University is committed to making its services, activities and programs accessible to all participants. If you have special requirements due to a physical, vision, or hearing disability, contact Dale Helwig, Cherokee County Extension, 124 W. Country Rd, Columbus, KS 66725, phone 620-429-3849 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shrine Bowl Itinerary for Friday and Saturday
Pittsburg, KS, PSU Campus – Friday, July 27
· FCA Luncheon at Mirza Shrine Center for band, cheer and teams – 12p
· Band Awards Event – 1p (location TBD)
· Cheer practice at Carnie Smith Stadium – 2p
· West Squad’s first practice at Carnie Smith Stadium – 2p (East at Plaster Center)
· Banquet at Plaster Center – 6p
Saturday, July 28
· Strong Legs Run 5K/Walk for Love – 8a at Carnie Smith Stadium
· Parade in Downtown Pittsburg – 10a
· College Combine at Plaster Center – 1p
· Squads arrive at Carnie Smith Stadium – 5p
· Kickoff – 7p
Additional information about the Kansas Shrine Bowl is available at https://www.kansasshrinebowl.com/
Library to hold 100-year commemoration for Little Blue Books
Pittsburg, KS – Long before Pinterest, the internet, and cable television, and well before attending public universities was mainstream, there were Little Blue Books.
Starting in March 1919, they were sold by the millions out of tiny Girard, Kansas, (population 2,446 at the time, and not much bigger today), and provided readers across the nation with information, entertainment, and topics of discussion.
Axe Library at Pittsburg State University will observe the 100th anniversary of the pocket- books in March 2019 with a two-day commemoration featuring speakers and sessions, and to prepare, is seeking proposals for papers and presentations. The deadline is Sept. 21.
It was a newspaper publisher named Emanuel Haldeman-Julius who started publishing Little Blue Books. Extremely popular in their day and quite ubiquitous, they were found in waiting rooms, bus and train depots, homes, and a variety of other places. Eventually, they gained worldwide popularity, with Arctic explorers and kings taking them on their journeys.
At that time, most literature was available only to those with financial means, and he wanted to change that. Titles ranged from “Fifty Famous Sauces: How to Make Them” and “Hints on Public Speaking” to “Isaac Newton: Superman of Science” and “Her Burning Secret. A Dramatic and Moving Story of Modern Marriage.”
“His goal was to bring education and good literature to the working class. For a nickel, just about anybody could afford these,” said Steve Cox, curator of Special Collections and University Archivist at Axe Library.
Special Collections holds a near-complete run of the Little Blue Books, as well as Haldeman-Julius’s personal and professional papers.
Over a span of 30 years, Haldeman-Julius would publish and sell more than 500 million of the books with more than 2,000 different titles and subjects. He advertised them as a “University in Print,” as he included many academic subjects.
His death in 1951 ended his publishing empire and as decades passed he became less well-known and remembered.
Pittsburg State held a 50th anniversary event in 1969 The symposium to mark 100 years will be titled, “The Little Blue Books at 100: Haldeman-Julius’s Revolutionary Publishing Venture.”
Individual papers should be 25 to 30 minutes in presentation length. Send proposals of no more than 250 words for individual papers and panel sessions, plus a one-page CV as a Word or PDF attachment, to Cox at email@example.com, by Sept. 21.
Deputies Find Suspected Burglar Inside Home
Just before 4:30 pm on Wednesday, July 25th, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a report of a suspicious person approaching an unoccupied residence north of Riverton.
Upon their arrival, deputies discovered the back door had been kicked in and while clearing the home, they found 40-year-old James Dowell, of Seneca Missouri, inside.
Dowell was arrested and transported to the Cherokee County Jail on allegations of Burglary and Criminal Damage to Property. His bond is currently set at $6,000.00.
“In this case, deputies were able to quickly respond and apprehend the suspect before he could steal anything and leave the scene,” stated Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves.
“We always encourage citizens to contact our office, or their local police department, if they see something suspicious and this is just another example of how vigilant neighbors who promptly report that suspicious activity can assist us with holding criminals accountable,” concluded Sheriff Groves.
2 Additional Suspects Arrested in
Connection to Assault
Two additional suspects have been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into the assault of a man on Monday afternoon north of Galena.
Robert Link, 47 of Chetopa, was taken into custody early Wednesday evening after investigators with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and Kansas Bureau of Investigation sought a warrant for his arrest. He is currently being held in the Cherokee County Jail in lieu of $35,000.00 bond having been charged with Aggravated Battery.
Also arrested on Wednesday evening was Crystal Bilke, 44, of Galena. Bilke has been charged with Battery, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Felony Interference with Law Enforcement. She was released after posting $3,000.00 bond.
The arrests stem from an armed assault on Dustin Baker, which led to his hospitalization for non-life-threatening injuries.
Tim Green, 41, of Galena, was arrested on Monday night and formally charged on Wednesday. He remains in the Cherokee County Jail on $40,000.00 bond, facing charges of Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon, Criminal Possession of a Firearm, Criminal Use of a Firearm, Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
Two Arrested on Overnight Arson and Burglary Case
Galena – Just before 8:00 p.m., on Tuesday, July 24th, firefighters responded to an area south of Columbus where hay bales were burning. Cherokee County Sheriff Deputies also responded to the scene where, in addition to the 68 bales of burning hay, it was discovered an unoccupied home had been burglarized and damaged.
As the result of a criminal investigation, at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, deputies located and arrested 41-year-old Brian Wells, of Galena. Wells is being held in the Cherokee County Jail on allegations of Arson, Burglary, Criminal Damage to Property, Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. His bond is currently set at $15,000.00.
A second suspect, 38-year-old Ronny Piercefield, also of Galena, was arrested early Wednesday afternoon. Piercefield is being held on allegations of Arson, Burglary and Criminal Damage to Property. His bond is currently set at $11,000.00.
“I’m glad this investigation came together like it did,” stated Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves. “People work hard for their property and when criminals damage and destroy that property, they need to be arrested and held accountable.”
The Galena Police Department had previously arrested Piercefield in March 2018 on an arson related case.
Growing Industry Prompts New Degree Emphasis
There’s a growing industry in the Four State Area, and Pittsburg State ‘s Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation responded: it now offers a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Services, Sports, and Hospitality Management with an emphasis in Hospitality Management.
The new, nationally-accredited option will be available with the start of the Fall semester. Students completing the emphasis will be able to plan, execute, and evaluate events and meetings as well as begin the management track in casinos, resorts, spas, and other related travel and tourism enterprises. A minor and internship are also required. The program also is open to professionals seeking to earn a certificate in hospitality management to gain skills and understanding or further their career.
“We’re the only one in the region who offers anything like this,” said Sarah Ball, who along with Rick Hardy will be teaching the courses in the program. “It’s an ideal program for either people who want to be wedding planners, hotel administrators, event coordinators, museum directors, work for convention centers or parks and recreation departments — anything related to the hospitality industry.”
A recent Pittsburg Micropolitan Economic Report shows that the hospitality industry is one of the fastest growing in the region; in 2017, local lodging revenue, room sales, and related jobs have seen a 25.3 percent increase over 2016.
Ball, an assistant professor, holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a master’s degree in parks and recreation management. Hardy, also an assistant professor, holds a master’s and a doctorate’s degree in parks, recreation and tourism management, and a master’s degree in communication and advertising. Together they’ll teach courses such as REC 406: Resort, Spa, and Lodging Operations and REC 410: Tourism Planning and Development.
As a precede to the new program, about 50 area professionals gathered at Pittsburg State this week for the first Event Planning and Management Workshop, led by Ball. Activities demonstrated best practices and resources in the field, with event professionals from Joplin, Overland Park, Kansas Crossing Casino, and Pittsburg Parks & Recreation sharing expertise.
Chris Wilson, who recently joined the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau as a tourism marketing assistant, has a background in news and publicity. His agency is tasked with getting visitors to Crawford County and ensuring their experience is a positive one, so he wanted to learn more about the event management and coordination side of the business.
“There’s definitely a need for this kind of education,” he said. “The CVB does anything and everything related to events and tourism and hospitality, from the Four State Farm Show to the Shrine Bowl, to grants and sponsorships for area groups. I’m taking away a lot from the workshop that I can integrate immediately and that will help me speak the language. The idea that this will be something students can major in is great.”
Jenna Spencer, who helps coordinate events at Memorial Auditorium & Convention Center that range from wedding receptions to art exhibits to boat shows, also was among attendees.
“It’s very valuable to have this available right here at Pitt State,” she said. “There’s definitely a need for it.”
Learn more about the degree and emphasis choices at https://www.pittstate.edu/education/hhpr/undergraduate.
Violent Altercation Leads to Arrest
Galena, KS – A Galena man is being held in the Cherokee County Jail following a Monday afternoon altercation, resulting in the hospitalization of 37-year-old Dustin Baker, also of Galena.
Just prior to 2:30 p.m. on Monday, July 23rd, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the staff at a Joplin, Missouri Hospital, who reported Baker had arrived by private vehicle to be treated for a gunshot wound.
During the course of the investigation, detectives executed a search warrant on the home and vehicle of 41-year-old Tim Andrew Green. Green was arrested and is currently being held in the Cherokee County Jail in lieu of $21,500.00 bond on allegations of Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon, Criminal Possession of a Firearm, Criminal Use of a Weapon, Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
Baker is still hospitalized and is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The investigation remains ongoing and additional arrests are anticipated.
PSU Student Curates Special Exhibit for
Bicknell Family Center for the Arts
Pittsburg, KS – While audiences who attend events and performances at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts are focused on the entertainment, students who are working behind the scenes are focused on something very different: preparing for their careers.
Some oversee the technical components of a production, while others livestream concerts via broadcasting equipment. Still others assist with event planning.
“Everything we do has an academic component and is student-focused,” said Joe , director. “Every day we take a $33 million building and turn it over to the students.”
Among them is Shawna Witherspoon, an art student from Riverton, Kansas, who is employed as an assistant at the Bicknell Center. After spending the past eight months examining, researching, curating, measuring, and preparing, this week she’s putting the finishing touches on an exhibit in the Gallery.
When it opens Aug. 1, it will represent a milestone for Pittsburg State. Entitled, “The Vault: Unlocked,” it features works from Special Collections and the University Archives that were preserved during the university’s 115-year history.
Many of the pieces were created by alumni, faculty, local artists, or were purchased by individuals and donated to the university, Witherspoon said.
She began the exhibit with research, making copious notes, digging into historical documents to find answers to her questions, occasionally tracking down artists if they still were living.
Witherspoon relied on the expertise of Randy Roberts, now the dean of Axe Library and for many years the curator of Special Collections and the University Archivist, as well as Steve Cox, who a few years ago assumed that role. She was assisted by Janette Mauk, senior administrative specialist in Special Collections, Jamie Oliver, chair of the Art Department, Alex Wiedemann, event manager at the Bicknell Center, and .
She then created a PowerPoint of her favorites and went through it with and Weideman to narrow them.
“It wasn’t easy,” she said. “There were four or five I really wanted to use, but once you start putting a tape measure to the walls, and you need this many oils, this many prints, this many of this size or that size, some have to be cut.”
This is the third year in a row a unique exhibit will be displayed in the Gallery. Previous years saw an exhibit showcasing the work of longtime university photographer Malcolm Turner, and an exhibit showcasing the work of photography students in Graphics & Imaging Technologies.
“This time, we wanted to showcase the magic of the University Archives and how important it is,” said. “At the same time, we want everything we do to have a connection to the students, to give them professional experience and ownership. We shared the overall vision with Shawna, and told her ‘We’re here to help you, but it’s your project’.”
Witherspoon, an incoming junior, is working toward a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, and through the project learned she loves the curation and gallery side of art.
“In working with Steve, I’ve found a fascination in the preservation aspect I never would have thought of,” she said. “It actually inspired me to do a gallery internship this Fall in the Art Department.”
And, she said, winding up working in a full-time position doing exhibit curation would be “a dream job.”
“To be able to be here, to share the knowledge of art with people locally and all of the visitors we have…to have a resident artist in the gallery — there is just so much potential here,” she said. “This was a project that really changed my path.”
A reception is planned for 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 23, and Witherspoon is sending invitations to the artists who are still living. The public is invited. The exhibit will remain in place throughout the school year.
Mann Resigns from Board of Great Plains Development Authority
Parsons, KS – The board of directors of the Great Plains Development Authority met in a special session this morning to accept the June 30, 2018 letter of resignation from CEO Daniel Mann, effective July 31, 2018. The board delayed taking action until now in order to resolve issues related to Mann’s employment agreement.
The board thanked Mann for his dedication to the project of redevelopment of the former Kansas Army Ammunition facility. Under Mann’s leadership, many things have been accomplished at the facility, enhancing the projects viability going forward. Among the accomplishments-
- Worked to acquire and manage more than $4.2 million in grant funds for property development and operations;
- Increased non-grant revenues by 32 percent, while decreasing non-grant expenses by 43 percent.
- Signed six leases with tenants;
- Spearheaded a project to lay more than 4.5 miles of new water line reducing the operational cost by over 70 percent, acquiring the $500,000 in funding to support the project
- Established three new creative economic development tools that received approval from the Kansas Legislature and signed into law by two Governors
Bob Wood, Chairman of the GPDA board of Directors, stated “The project is positioned in a much better place now than it was five years ago when Daniel came on board. His work on the infrastructure needs of the facility has put us in a strong position to attract industry going forward, and his efforts in Topeka with the legislature have given us some tools to use to set us apart from other sites. We’ll miss his leadership as we continue to work to develop the park.”
Mann thanked the Board for the opportunity to lead Great Plains over the past five years. “I could not have done it on my own. I’ve had a great team on site, and support from the Board of Directors and our local state elected officials. I still believe it was the right decision when local leadership stepped up and made the decision to take ownership and redevelop the former ammunition plant for the benefit of the entire County. I wish them nothing but success”, said Mann.
“The GPDA board is currently working closely with the Labette County Commission to determine the best path forward for management of the project. We are very fortunate to have Tim Peoples, Becky Dantic, and the rest of the staff in place to help guide us through this transition”, said Wood.