Betty Bechard

Betty Marie Bechard, 82, Clifton, died Jan. 7, 2012, at her home.

She was born May 13, 1929, in Clay County near Morganville, the daughter of John and Mary Gunter Urban-Lewis.

She married Norman Bechard Dec. 6, 1948. He preceded her in death.

She worked as a nurse’s aide for over 30 years at nursing homes in Clay Center, Morganville and Clifton. She also cleaned at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the post office, city hall, and the bank, all in Clifton.

She was also preceded in death by a granddaughter, Tess Gallagher, and two brothers, George and Alvin Urban.

She was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Altar Society, Senior Citizen’s Club, American Legion Auxiliary, Crawford/Sherman Club, and the Redhatters of Clifton.

Survivors include daughters, Kathryn Kahrs, Gardner, Mary Yadon, Topeka, Michelle Gallagher, Salina, and Lisa Bechard, Clifton.; sons, Steven Bechard, Clifton, and Anthony “Tony” Bechard, McLouth; 15 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren; brothers Fred Urban, Clay Center, Clarence Urban, Morganville, and Charles “Chuck” Urban, Berryton; and a sister, Scharlotte Knitter, Clay Center.

Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at the St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Clifton.

Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Clifton.

Memorials can be made to St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Altar Society or Meadowlark Hospice and sent in care of Neill-Schwensen-Rook Funeral Home Inc., 918 7th Street, Clay Center.


Pauline Zook

Pauline L. Zook, 98, Olathe, formerly of Topeka, died Jan. 2, 2012, at Assisted Lifestyles of Olathe.

Private family graveside service will be held Jan. 14 in McLouth Cemetery.

She was born Oct. 13, 1913, in Angleton, Texas, to Chester Russell and Eva Grace Burbaker Zook. She moved as a child to McLouth and graduated from McLouth High School.

She was a clerk for over 30 years for Kansas Power & Light in Topeka. She attended the Baptist Church.

She was preceded in death by a brother, Roswell Russell Zook.


Eleanor Edmonds

Eleanor Marie Edmonds, 90, Blue Springs, Mo., formerly of Oskaloosa, died Jan. 3, 2012, at St. Mary’s Manor.

She was born Feb. 21, 1921, at Leavenworth, the daughter of August C. and Mary Hund Orlowski. She graduated from Leavenworth High School in 1938.

She was a homemaker. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, Oskaloosa, and more recently attended St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Nortonville.

She married Vincent LeRoy Edmonds June 14, 1941, at Leavenworth. Soon after marrying, they moved to Oskaloosa where they owned and operated a dairy farm for over 50 years.

He preceded her in death Feb. 4, 1996.

Survivors include two daughters, Dolores Priddy, Blue Springs, Mo., and Doris Dowdy, Pearl City, Hawaii; a sister, Florence Hitzeman, Olathe; five grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life Service was held Jan. 6 at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Nortonville. Burial was at Pleasant View Cemetery, Oskaloosa.

Memorial contributions can be made to Crossroads Hospice of Kansas City, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church or Furry Friends and sent in care of Barnett Family Funeral Home, PO Box 602, Oskaloosa, 66066.


Winter Weather Advisory issued January 11 at 8:58PM CST until January 12 at 1:00AM CST by NWS


from JF-KS Situation Room

KDHE promotes exercise through Walk with Ease program

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, in partnership with the Arthritis Foundation, is offering a free, individual walking program for Kansans interested in walking more in 2012.The Walk with Ease program is a six-week, structured walking program that teaches participants how much they should walk, how to increase walking pace and endurance and how physical activity can be a part of daily life. Establishing a walking program has many benefits, to include reducing the pain associated with arthritis.

Walking for fitness

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, in partnership with the Arthritis Foundation, is offering a free, individual walking program for Kansans interested in walking more in 2012.

“Arthritis is a chronic health condition that can be improved with exercise,” said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. “Physical activity, with proper warm up and cool down, actually nourishes the cartilage between joints.”

Walk with Ease offers information and tools to help people develop successful walking routines and stay motivated to continue walking. The training includes the warning signs of exercising too hard, tips on when to increase the intensity of a workout, stretching and strengthening exercises and information on building stamina and walking pace. Walk with Ease is available to anyone (with or without arthritis) and can be modified to meet individual needs, so each person can develop an exercise routine that fits his or her unique goals. Information and strategies taught in Walk with Ease are based on research and tested programs in exercise science and behavior change.

“Walking can help manage weight, which can reduce your risk for arthritis in the knees, heart disease and diabetes,” said Lisa Williams, KDHE Arthritis Program Manager. “Walking also helps reduce the pain and discomfort of arthritis, increases balance and strength, improves overall health and increases participants’ confidence to be physically active.”

A group format of Walk with Ease is also available to individuals and organizations interested in hosting a walking class. A class meets three times a week for six weeks and is led by a certified instructor. For more information on Walk with Ease or to register for the free individual program, visit

KDHE’s Arthritis Program works to improve the quality of life of Kansans with arthritis through the promotion of proper self-management to prevent or delay the potential joint destruction associated with the disease.


Some local educators wary of Brownback’s finance formula plan

by Dennis Sharkey

A plan to overhaul the state’s education finance formula has some local educators wondering if it will benefit rural students.

At a meeting of Keystone Board members last month the topic of Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan was a topic. Early analysis of the plan has some concerned like Keystone Director Dr. Tim Marshall.

A plan to overhaul the state’s education finance formula has some local educators wondering if it will benefit rural students.

A plan to overhaul the state’s education finance formula has some local educators wondering if it will benefit rural students.

Marshall compared the plan to numbers he is familiar with. He is only a year removed from the position of Superintendent for Jefferson County North USD 339. JCN is in the bottom 10 districts in the state in property valuation.

If the governor’s plan goes into place, Marshall said it could mean between $250,000 and $350,000 more revenue for the county’s six districts.

However, critics like Marshall argue that those levels are far below what local schools were being funded just a few years ago before education groups began suing the state.

“Basically Mr. Brownback is under the impression that if he stabilizes the funding formula it will eliminate lawsuits,” Marshall said. “My personal feeling is that the plan does less to equalize the tax burden.”

Marshall said some larger districts like Atchison or Blue Valley would see funding levels stay flat.

A main component of the plan would remove the cap that local districts are allowed for their local option budgets and that’s where Marshall has an issue.

“They just want to be able to levy more for their schools,” Marshall said about districts in Johnson County. “That’s where it really gets unfair. They can raise a whale of a lot of money.”

Marshall said if JCN raises the levy one mill it would raise about $14,000 compared to the millions that could be raised in some larger districts.

Furthermore, Marshall believes the plan will make it harder for rural districts to raise capital for projects. At $14,000 a mill it would take a considerable amount of mills or time to pay off a large bond and rates will double for the district.

“People won’t stand for that,” Marshall said.

Marshall told Keystone board members that Brownback will have a hard time getting the plan passed through the Legislature and that there are other issues with funding that need to be addressed first.

The final plan when approved would not become effective until the 2013-14 school year.

The following points, which are the latest from the state Department of Education, outline what some of the changes would be:

  • School districts would receive $4,492 for each regularly enrolled student (Kindergarten at 1.0 and virtual students at .75).
  • The plan includes a hold harmless provision equal to the general state aid, supplemental general state aid (LOB), general fund local effort, and supplemental general fund (LOB) local effort.
  • Hold harmless amount will change yearly subject to enrollment increasing/decreasing.
  • The plan includes a 20-mill statewide levy based upon the general fund valuation that is distributed on an equalization formula as defined in Column 8 of the Column Explanation.
  • The increase under this plan is limited to 6 percent assuming that the local mill rate remains the same as the 2012-13 school year.
  • The local effort must equal the LOB property tax rate in the prior school year to receive 100 percent of hold harmless.
  • A school board may increase their local property tax in order to raise their budget above the formula amount, subject to protest petition.
  • The following weightings have been eliminated: enrollment, bilingual education, vocational education, K-12 at-risk, high-density at-risk non-proficient students, new facilities, transportation, ancillary facilities, declining enrollment, and cost of living.
  • The special education state aid distribution will not change.
  • A new plan for vocational education is under development.
  • The final details on bond and interest state aid for future bond issues has not been determined. The Governor wants to focus state resources on classrooms.
  • The combining of general fund budgets for consolidated school districts will remain in effect. The process for adjusting budgets at the end of the time period has not been finalized.


Jefferson County Commissioners on the move

by Dennis Sharkey

County commissioners were relatively quiet over the holidays but found time for a property tour.

First District Commissioner Lynn Luck said commissioners briefly met last Tuesday, Dec. 27, to sign vouchers and conduct a public hearing on amendments to the 2011 budget. She said no one from the public had comment.

Planning and Zoning Director Bill Noll also met with commissioners to set a hearing at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 9 for a sand dredging operation along the Kaw River just east of Lecompton Road.

The request for a conditional use permit was recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission and will involve about 205 acres of land.

On Wednesday, Dec. 28, commissioners took a brief tour of properties the county owns and did not sell in the last tax sale.

Luck said many of the properties are in bad shape and need to be secured. Most have been gutted by scavengers.

One of the properties toured was the old meat packing plant just west of Oskaloosa. Luck said the county has extra obstacles in selling the property. She said the building also has state and federal liens weighing.

Properties in the Lakeside Village campgrounds are also of a concern because scavengers are not only ransacking dwellings, there are reports that utility poles have been yanked down and stripped. Luck said the county owns so much property in the area that some roads may be closed.



Courthouse records: Jan. 5, 2012

District court—


Other traffic violations— Eric J. Moore, McLouth, failure to yield or stop at a sign, fine plus costs, $173.

Cases filed—

Limited civil:

DeBacker’s Inc. vs. Clara Billdgas, recovery of money.

Domestic relations:

Brandi L. Cretsinger vs. Stephen M. Cretsinger, order of protection. A counter petition has been filed.

Stan R. Tichenor vs. Tonyia E. Tichenor, divorce.

State Social & Rehabilitation Services vs. Lamar M. Hayes, petition to determine paternity.

Christina M. Annis vs. Jonahthon G. Osburn, order of protection.

Mary C. Seeley vs. Keith L. Seeley, order of protection.


State vs. Kerry W. Anderson, theft.

State vs. Ronnie D. Bryant, Topeka, violation of protection order.

State vs. Daniel C. Vining, Meriden, criminal threats, assault and criminal trespassing.

State vs. Steven C. Drake, Oskaloosa, traffic in contraband in a correctional instituion(controlled substance.)

Register of deeds—

WD, Janet Rowan and John R. Lowther II to New Hope Church of God Christ Inc., NW 1/4 28-11-20.

WD, James D. Jones et ux. to Secretary of Transportation of the State of Kansas, SE 1/4 30-8-20.

WD, Kyle L. Moomau et ux. to Richard M. Kendall and Sheri L. Kendall, SW corner of blk. 9, Meriden.

WD, Kendall State Bank to John K. Coleman and Mandy K. Coleman, SW 1/4 16-8-18.

WD, Mary J. Chrisman to John J. Callagy et ux., lot 1, blk. A, Chrisman Hills Subdivision.

Sheriff’s reports—

The following offense and traffic reports are the latest released by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. The date of offense is often approximate and sometimes long before the reporting date.

Dec. 21: Joetta Weaver, Lawrence, reported threats.

Dec. 21: Gallagher Farm reported a burglary.

Dec. 21: Officers responded to a report of a disturbance on the 200 block of Oak Street, Perry.

Dec. 21: Officers responded to a report of suspicious persons on the 1400 block of K-4 Highway, Valley Falls.

Dec. 21: Officers responded to a report of stolen mail near 39th Street and Detlor Road, rural Grantville.

Dec. 22: James Hunsperger, rural Perry, reported burglary and theft.

Dec. 23: Officers responded to a report of a disturbance on the 9800 block of Military Trail North, rural Ozawkie.

Dec. 23: Eric E. Benton, Meriden, reported threats.

Dec. 23: Stephen J. Garcia, McLouth, reported criminal damage.

Dec. 24: Officers responded to a report of a theft on the 8200 block of K-4 Highway, Meriden.

Dec. 24: Officers responded to a report of a prowler on the 200 block of West Agnes Street, McLouth.

Dec. 25: Officers responded to a report of a disturbance on the 400 block of Union Street, Oskaloosa.

Dec. 25: Robert Ellerman, rural Nortonville, reported a theft.

Dec. 25: Officers responded to a report of a prowler on the 200 block of West Memory Lane, McLouth.

Dec. 25: KC Foreclosures LLC reported a burglary.

Dec. 26: Officers responded to a report of a disturbance on the 3300 block of KOA Road, rural Grantville.

Dec. 27: Travis Ray, Winchester, reported an attempted burglary and theft.

Dec. 27: Aimee Dockweiler, Meriden, reported a burglary and theft.

Dec. 27: Casey’s, Oskaloosa, reported a gas drive off.

Dec. 27: Officers responded to a report of trespassing near 37th Street and Wellman Road, rural McLouth.

Dec. 27: Officers responded to a report of a theft on the 400 block of Delaware Street, Winchester.

Dec. 27: Officers responded to a report of trespassing on the 1100 block of Union Street, Oskaloosa.

Dec. 27: Officers responded to a report of a disturbance on the 13300 block of Sherman Road, rural Meriden.

Officers also responded to the following calls for service:

  • abandoned vehicle 2
  • alarm 3
  • animal call 11
  • check welfare 5
  • citizen assist 21
  • domestic disturbance 5
  • felony warrant 2
  • funeral escort 2
  • juvenile call 1
  • keep peace 1
  • misdemeanor arrest 2
  • restraining order violation 2
  • suspicious activity 9
  • traffic problem 7
  • unsecured building 1
  • vehicle check 7
  • 911 hangup 59
  • DUI 1

The following accidents were recently reported:

Dec. 10, 5:35 p.m.: Tyler C. Banton, 19, Auburn, pulled out of a parking lot on U.S. 24 Highway near Detlor Road when his vehicle struck a vehicle driven by Bruce L. Esslinger, 50, Meriden.

Dec. 16, 3:08 p.m.: Oren O. Long, 87, Valley Falls, was traveling south on K-4 Highway and was turning on to K-16 Highway and struck the front of a vehicle driven by Lyle M. Wellman, 72, Oskaloosa.

Dec. 19, 9:30 a.m.: Vickie J. Buttram, 53, Oskaloosa, was traveling south on Ferguson Road when her vehicle left the roadway at the entrance of Lakeside Village. The vehicle traveled south in the east ditch, hit a field entrance, went airborn and continued south in the east ditch before coming to rest at a tree that was hit head-on.

Dec. 20, 11:10 a.m.: Christopher Hamm, 26, Perry, backed out of a driveway onto Nemaha Road and struck a parked unoccupied vehicle owned by United Repossessors Inc., Olathe, and left the scene. Hamm later contacted the Sheriff’s Department.

Dec. 22, 11:30 a.m.: Richard W. Erhart, 59, Winchester, was traveling east on K-192 Highway near Rawlins Road when a flatbed truck going westbound lost a five-gallon bucket. The bucket went under Erhart’s vehicle causing damage to the radiator and undercarriage.

Dec. 23, 8:31 a.m.: Barrett G. Belt, 45, Lawrence, was traveling on U.S. 24 Highway near Phillips Road when the sun got in his eyes causing him to go onto the shoulder and hit a patch of ice. Belt overcorrected and collided with a power pole.

Dec. 24, 8:15 a.m.: Jason T. Warden, 15, Oskaloosa, was stopped on U.S. 24 Highway waiting to make a left turn onto Elm Street in Perry. Caitlin D. Stover, 18, Topeka, was traveling behind Warden and did not see his vehicle stopped and rear-ended Warden’s vehicle.


Wheels on Meals CEO would like program to reach more people

by Clarke Davis

Helping people be independent and providing the things necessary to keep them in their homes is important to an aging population. Heidi Pickerell would say a warm meal every day is one of them.

Meals on Wheels rolls into the eight Jefferson County towns Monday through Friday to hand meals off to 40 volunteers who in turn knock on the doors of homebound senior citizens.

Meals on Wheels President and CEO Heidi Pickerell

Meals on Wheels President and CEO Heidi Pickerell with a delivery van in Valley Falls. Photo by Clarke Davis

Heading the Shawnee and Jefferson County organization is Heidi Pickerell, Valley Falls, who became the president and CEO last May.

She talks about the obvious worth of the meal, but she emphasizes the importance of the personal contact made daily by the volunteer.

“We received a call from a recipient’s daughter last week who said, ‘Had you not called . . .,’ ” Pickerell said. In this case it was believed to have been a medical problem and the Meals on Wheels delivery person had notified staff that he thought something might not be right.

Part of the volunteer’s job is to make a notation following a visit that they found everything in order or if they did not, to explain. If they perceive that the person might not have been quite themselves, Meals on Wheels has a social worker who will make a follow up call to that individual or another contact person just to check on them.

Pickerell is well suited for her job and has been in the trenches, so to speak. As a senior at Kansas State University, she was a Meals on Wheels volunteer. Her degree is in gerontology and long-term care administration.

She spent 15 years with Midland Care Connection and was vice president of client services. While there she served as the liaison between Midland and Meals on Wheels to provide regular volunteer services.

“I personally know the importance of the daily visit for someone who lives alone,” she said.

Today her job is to attract corporate sponsors who not only provide the necessary funding but provide many of the 1,200 volunteer delivery people as well. But that’s in the city. There’s not a lot of corporate structure in rural Jefferson County where Meals on Wheels relies far more on the individual volunteers who give of their own time and money to help out.

To receive meal delivery at the home a person must be 60 years of age and be considered homebound.

“That doesn’t mean one never leaves their house,” Pickerell said. “It just means that it’s difficult for a person or that they need considerable assistance to go to a meal site.”

“A young person can also be eligible if they are a caregiver and homebound because they care for someone who cannot leave,” she said.

The process is rather simple to apply. One has to call Meals on Wheels (Ph. 785-670-2434) and a social worker will make a follow up visit. The visit is short and the questions are few. One’s finances or ability to pay is not discussed. People are asked to make a donation based on their ability to pay. While a donation of $2.95 per meal is encouraged, some pay more, some less, but payment is not required.

Most of the questions, Pickerell said, are to help the volunteer who will deliver the meals: Should they come to front door or side door? Is the person hard of hearing? Do you have a microwave oven?

Also important are the dietary needs. Meals are prepared according to the health needs, such as low sodium for some or low sugar for diabetics.

It’s in the rural areas that Pickerell believes more growth and services are needed. Furthermore, she thinks more meals should be in the offering and hopes that someday it will be possible.

She has some questions of her own. For instance if one meal at noon is important, don’t people get hungry come suppertime? And what about the weekends?

Given sufficient funding, she believes a frozen entree could be delivered along with the noon meal for supper and a couple of additional frozen meals provided on Friday for the weekend.

Frozen meals might also be the key to getting the rural homebound served. While there is no service to the back roads in the rural areas, she thinks it might be possible someday to make one trip with five frozen meals to one’s home.

This is the 40th year for Meals on Wheels in Shawnee and Jefferson counties and the program is newly accredited. The hot meal program came into existence with the federal Older Americans Act. The program is directed by a 15-member board and Pickerell has six other full-time employees and about 20 part-time employees. The full-time personnel consists of a financial officer, a social worker, a dietician, and three assistants that include a receptionist.

The Meals on Wheels offices are located on Huntoon in Topeka at Washburn Tech, formerly the vocational school operated by the Topeka school district, USD 501. The district prepares most of the meals and, in doing so, provides the office space.

Pickerell said the district is now creating a kitchen in a building on the former state hospital grounds and the Meals on Wheels offices will move there as well.

The meals are now prepared at Topeka West High School. There are about 1,000 meals prepared daily with 600 going to the homebound and 400 to meal sites in the two counties. She said the program is obviously a good revenue source for the school district but the connection between Meals on Wheels and the school district is also “because the district wants to be a good community partner.”

The meals at Winchester are prepared by the hospital and the meals at Nortonville are prepared by the Village Villa Nursing Home. There are meal sites in Oskaloosa, Valley Falls, Meriden, and Winchester.

There is a second meals program now available in certain areas called “CHAMPSS” (Choosing Healthy Appetizing Meal Plan Solutions for Seniors) operated by the Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging. Under this program senior citizens can use a plastic card to purchase meals at commercial sites such as grocery store dining halls or restaurants.

Pickerell said she is for seniors having choices and wishes her department could have been a part of that program too. Nevertheless, as that program takes hold it will have an effect on where the Meals on Wheels dinner sites will be located or relocated.

As for Jefferson County, the CHAMPSS program is now only available in Oskaloosa.

With a budget of about $1.8 million, Meals on Wheels derives about 51 percent of its income from tax revenue from all levels of government, 32 percent is contributed by the recipients, and 17 percent comes from gifts, memorials, and special events, such as the Sumptuous Settings events.

Pickerell said a committee is now at work to find new methods of fundraising.