Year In Review - May through August
A bond issue was approved for a new Holton elementary school, the recall of Denison’s mayor, primary elections, pit bulls and “Second Saturdays” were just a few of the topics talked about in the middle third of 2014, according to Holton Recorder headlines. Here’s the second of three articles looking back on the year that was.
Supporters of the Holton school district’s $21.5-million bond issue for construction of a new elementary school to replace the Colorado and Central elementary schools, tentatively set for completion by June 2016, celebrated the victory of the bond issue at a special election this month. The bond issue won by a 934-756 vote. It was the third time the district attempted to pass a bond issue for elementary school construction at a special election.
More than 200 high school seniors at Holton, Jackson Heights, Royal Valley and Wetmore celebrated the end of their high school years this month as Holton High School alumni prepared to hit Holton to celebrate their “Glory Days” over Memorial Day weekend. Brad Stauffer, a member of the HHS Class of 1964, was named the school’s outstanding alumnus of the year.
Three volunteer firefighters with the Hoyt Fire Department were recovering after a firetruck tire they were replacing exploded and injured them at the fire station. Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse said that first responders were called to the fire station in regard to injuries sustained when the tire exploded. The firemen were attempting to replace an inner tire on a 1979 Chevrolet tanker truck when it exploded.
Holton residents who own pit bulls are banding together to muzzle a three-decade-old city ordinance against the keeping of those dogs in the city. The pit bull issue was publicized after a handful of pit bull owners were given two weeks to get their dogs out of town. The city has had the ordinance banning pit bulls since 1985, but some pit bull dog owners were given a two-week reprieve on having to get rid of their dogs,
Extreme drought conditions in 2012 hit Jackson County farmers hard. According to recently released agriculture census data, county farmers reported the largest loss in net income of any Kansas county that year. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, conducted every five years, there were 1,054 farms in Jackson County in 2012, compared to 1,127 in 2007 and 1,099 in 2002. County farmers reported a loss in income in 2012, mainly due to drought.
With Holton Main Street’s first five years of existence coming to an end, the recent departure of executive director Bob Carlson and the likelihood of reduced funding from local government sources, the future of the program is “in limbo,” according to Main Street President Lynne Mulroy. The non-profit program, in place here since 2008, has spurred volunteer efforts to promote and invest in Holton’s Town Square.
A petition to recall Audrey Oliverius as the mayor of Denison has been filed and validated by the Jackson County Clerk’s Office, and a recall election is being planned for August. The petition was submitted to the clerk’s office recently by a recall committee on the basis of Kansas Open Meetings Act violations. Denison City Hall has also been closed for several weeks due to the resignation of several city employees.
Barbara Pollock has initiated a plan to make a palliative care room available at Holton Community Hospital in memory of her daughter, Kelly Hale. Pollock is planning to expand an existing hospital room so that local patients with terminal illness may have that option as well. The plan has met with a positive response from hospital officials, and HCH is now accepting donations to help realize Pollock’s plan.
The Holton City Commission has agreed to allow the use of personal fireworks on the west side of the Prairie Lake grounds from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, July 4 after hearing requests from Holton residents and Prairie Lake campers to have the city allow small fireworks at the lake. The matter will be finalized at the commission’s June 2 meeting with action on an ordinance allowing fireworks use at the grounds for one day.
The state’s 89-year-old mortgage registration fee tradition will be phased out in the next five years. Gov. Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2643, eliminating the mortgage registration fee over five years while, simultaneously, phasing in an increased per-page fee for all filings with the register of deeds offices across the state. The per-page filling fee will increase by $3 per year for four years beginning Jan. 1, 2015 while the mortgage registration fee falls.
The Holton City Commission voted to allow the city’s ordinance on pit bulls and vicious dogs to remain in place and develop policy to enable police officers to better enforce the ordinance. The commission also voted to “grandfather in” a pit bull owned by Holton resident Danyel Monaghan, whom commissioners noted had complied with the city’s request to ensure the safety of her dog and those who interact with it.
Dry conditions in northeastern Kansas have prompted the city to go into a “water watch” and could affect the city’s plans to open the Prairie Lake grounds for personal fireworks use on Independence Day, the Holton City Commission noted. Surface water levels at Banner Creek Reservoir have fallen more than four feet below normal levels, prompting Public Wholesale Water Supply District 18 to issue a “water warning.”
Per capita revenues for Jackson County government offices decreased 2 percent between 2004 and 2012 to $782. The county’s per capita expenditures decreased 3 percent to $820. Meanwhile, real per capita revenues in the average Kansas county increased 30 percent to $1,533 and expenditures rose 29 percent to $1,497. This data comes from Kansas State University researchers’ “Kansas County Fiscal Conditions and Trends” report.
Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Council Secretary James Potter was killed in a June 11 motorcycle collision with a deer, according to a Kansas Highway Patrol report. The 56-year-old Potter, whose term as Tribal Council secretary was set to end this year, was remembered as a bridge between the tribe and county government officials, as well as a genial person and a knowledgeable member of the tribe.
The next day, on June 12, a traffic accident in which a vehicle struck a horse on U.S. Highway 75 near 246th Road north of Holton killed a Topeka woman, according to Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse. Vicki Barbara Self, 58, of Topeka, was in a 2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer that was southbound on U.S. 75 at about 9:30 p.m. that evening when the Trailblazer struck a horse standing on the highway. The horse, belonging to John R. Uhl, was killed in the collision.
The Jackson County Commission asked the Heart of Jackson Humane Society to provide housing for all stray dogs in the county in order to continue to receive county funding, but after society members said they could not meet the county’s requirements, the commission voted to terminate the county’s contract with the society.
Commissioners later entered into a verbal agreement with Banner Creek Animal Hospital in Holton to shelter dogs picked up by county sheriff’s officers. No decision has yet been made by the commissioners on where individuals who live in the unincorporated areas of the county can take stray dogs they encounter after the county’s contract with the humane society was terminated. Commissioners agreed to pay the clinic $300 a month to house dogs picked up by sheriff’s officers.
A Topeka teenager accused of abusing a seven-month-old Holton child to the point of reportedly causing irreversible brain damage has been given more time to plead his case in Jackson County District Court. Koylen McKinney, 17, was charged in district court as a juvenile with aggravated battery, child abuse and aggravated endangerment of a child, all felonies, according to McKinney’s court docket.
A Holton woman died June 23 from injuries sustained in a two-vehicle accident that occurred in the northern part of the county the day before. Donna Johnson, 83, Holton, was a passenger in a 2005 Chevy Impala driven west on 286th Road by her husband Donald shortly before 4 p.m. As the Johnsons’ Impala crossed the intersection at U.S. Highway 75, it was struck on its passenger side by a 1999 Honda heading south on the highway, killing Donna Johnson, it was reported.
Visitors to the 89th-annual Jackson County Fair later this month are likely to encounter a number of animals and other exhibits similar to those shown at previous fairs, said Cara Robinson, 4-H program manager for Meadowlark Extension District. This year’s fair is expected to be the last such event held at the existing Jackson County Fairgrounds in Holton, and Robinson said exhibits will be on display at the existing fairgrounds during the main week of the fair, set from July 28 to Aug. 1.
At the fair, Dean Klahr of the Pleasant Valley Rustlers showed the grand champion beef exhibit, a crossbred steer, while Makayla Crow of the Delia Early Birds showed the grand champion market hog and Judd Nelson of the Soldier Boosters showed the grand champion market lamb. Melvin and Carol Wells of Holton were named grand marshals of the fair parade. The fair will move south next year to the Northeast Kansas Heritage Complex.
The end of 2014 will also mark the end of Holton Main Street, but organization president Lynne Mulroy said some activities on Holton’s Town Square that are associated with Main Street, such as Jazz on the Square and holiday window painting, may likely continue under the auspices of the Holton/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. Main Street is also looking at replacing railroad ties at the southwest corner of the Square with a rock wall.
Updates have been made to the Jackson County jail recently that have improved security at the facility, as well as made it a more efficient working environment, according to Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse. Phase 1 of construction for the jail was approved in 1997, and Phase 2 was approved in 1998. Since then, Morse said, little additional work has been completed on the jail’s infrastructure.
The City of Holton could possibly tap its capital improvement fund budget for fiscal year 2015 to fund reconstruction of the roads in the city’s industrial park, the Holton City Commission noted this month. Bret Bauer, city manager, said it was likely that the road reconstruction project would be bid to an outside firm to keep the city’s street department focused on the city’s street repair program.
Whether a Topeka man charged with the December rape and attempted murder of a Holton woman was under the influence of drugs or merely paranoia when the incident occurred was called into question in Jackson County District Court. District Court Judge Mike Ireland denied a motion filed by defense attorney Ron Evans to have Rosario’s preliminary statement to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department suppressed in the case.
The county’s school boards worked on their budgets for the 2014-15 school year this month. Holton proposed a slight mill levy increase, while Jackson Heights and Royal Valley leaders noted their budgets for the year would mark mill levy decreases from 2013-14.
Audrey Oliverius has resigned as the mayor of Denison less than two weeks before an election to recall her from office. The special question to recall Oliverius, however, will remain on the ballot for Denison voters, according to Jackson County Clerk Kathy Mick. Oliverius submitted a letter of resignation to Denison city council members this month and turned in her keys to city hall. Bruce Sweany will serve as the city’s mayor, it was reported.
The City of Holton and Jackson County would do well to strengthen their ties in the area of economic development, possibly through the creation of a position that could serve both entities, a Kansas Department of Commerce representative told city and county representatives. Local government leaders met at Holton City Hall to discuss “economic development opportunities” after the city commission approved an economic development incentive policy for the city.
Tuesday’s primary election in Jackson County saw two Holton High School alumni serving in Washington, D.C. holding off Republican challengers and Rob Ladner earning a spot on the November general election ballot for a Jackson County Commission post. Ladner outlasted fellow Republicans Steven Duryea and Bob McNicholas for a shot at the first district county commission seat held by Democrat Ed Kathrens, who ran unopposed on his party’s ticket.
Changes to the reservation procedure for residents taking part in the lunches at the Holton and Denison senior citizen centers were outlined for the Jackson County Commission. Commissioners and Cheryl Hamlin, senior services director, agreed that county residents who take part in the lunch program at the centers will be required to call in and notify staff at the Jackson County Senior Citizens office how many meals they will need for the coming week.
“Second Saturdays” are a new promotion that Holton/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce executive director Carolyn McKee is hopeful that will draw more people to the Square, McKee told the Holton City Commission this month. The annual Fall Fest Vintage Market, set for Oct. 11 on the Square, is set as the kickoff event for a Second Saturday program, and participating businesses on the Square will remain open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the proposed monthly event.
As the 2014-15 school year prepared to begin, Holton school board members discussed plans for the new elementary school, Jackson Heights board members approved a base pay increase of more than $1,500 for teachers and Royal Valley noted that enrollment for the coming year was holding steady.
Homestead Affordable Housing is getting ready to move forward with its 36-unit senior housing project at the south end of Holton, and Homestead executive director Tom Bishop asked the Holton City Commission if it would be willing to trade a 10-year tax abatement on the project for improvements to nearby Countryside Park. Bishop proposed a restroom facility, a concession stand and a pedestrian/bicycle path connecting all amenties at the park.
Workers renovating the Holton laundromat literally uncovered several pieces of Holton history recently. A few weeks ago, new owner Will Segenhagen was taking down a pine wall in the basement of the building, located half a block east of the Square on Fifth Street, when he found five 10-foot picture frames filled with photographs of local people from World War I. The frames were stacked on top of each other and left between two walls.
Rural Health Resources of Jackson County has purchased land just north of Denison State Bank in Hoyt to build a new clinic, according to Carrie Saia, Holton Community Hospital chief executive officer. Family Practice Associates has operated a clinic at a residential home at 207 Highland Ave. in Hoyt since May 2004. When it was first established, the renovated residence was considered a temporary solution.
The trial of a Topeka man charged with the December 2013 rape and attempted murder of a Holton woman has been delayed until early 2015, following the continuation of a hearing on a motion to have the trial moved from Jackson County District Court to another location. Filip Chase Rosario’s trial had been set for mid-September in district court, but Judge Mike Ireland agreed to continue action on a change-of-venue motion to Nov. 7.
The winners of the Saturday run-off election for three Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Offices are Liana Onnen, chairperson, Camilla Wishkeno Chouteau, secretary, and Rey Kitchkumme, gaming commissioner 3. In the first election on July 26, Warren “Junior” Wahweotten won the council person seat outright, but the other positions resulted in a run-off between the two candidates for each position that received the highest number of votes.
Jackson County Appraiser’s Office employee Jason Claycamp will now serve as the zoning administrator for the county. During a recent Jackson County Commission meeting, Jackson County Appraiser Larry Reynolds noted that Claycamp had completed his training and is now eligible to be a county appraiser. Reynolds willingly agreed to relinquish his zoning administrator responsibilities and give them to Claycamp.