‘Big Rural Brainstorm’ coming to Newton Feb. 3-4

Organizers for “The Big Rural Brainstorm” are hoping to bring new energy and action steps to issues facing rural Kansas.This one-of-a-kind event was inspired at the “Kansas in Question” Symposium held recently in Wichita. One of the symposium breakout sessions did just enough to whet the appetite for a larger and more in-depth discussion about grassroots efforts that could help renew rural Kansas.An organizing team from around the state is planning the brainstorm for Feb. 3 and 4 at the Meridian Center in Newton. Headed up by Marci Penner of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, the committee is made up of people in education, economic development, small business, environment, music, housing, telecommunications, and community foundations.

The goal of the Big Rural Brainstorm is to bring people together from every aspect of rural life and create innovative solutions that are achievable, especially by volunteer-led communities.

Registration is open to anyone who lives or works in a rural community and wants to be part of a solution; good rural advocate thinkers and people who can see the big picture; PowerUps (21-39s who are rural by choice); PowerOns (40+ who are still passionate about rural living); representatives from all aspects of rural life; and, especially, representatives from volunteer-led communities.

Kansas Sampler Foundation director Marci Penner said, “Rural communities need to hear that they are an important component to a thriving Kansas. It is profoundly important that we create an atmosphere of hope, energy and opportunity at this Brainstorm. The common bond with everyone will be a shared passion for rural Kansas. We plan to have action steps in hand when we leave.”

The times for the Brainstorm will be Friday, Feb. 3, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 4, from 8:30-11:30 a.m. The registration fee is $40 and people can register online at kansassampler.org or call 620-585-2374.

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/big-rural-brainstorm-coming-to-newton-feb-3-4/

Man killed Wednesday in Jeff County crash

For the second time in three days, a motorist on Wednesday night was killed along the same stretch of US-59 highway in Jefferson County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol identified the victim of Wednesday night’s fatality accident as Donald G. Vandyke, 54, of Perry.

According to the patrol, the crash occurred at 7:14 p.m. Wednesday on US-59 highway about three miles south of Oskaloosa.

Vandkye was driving a 2003 Jeep Wrangler sport utility vehicle north on US-59 highway when the vehicle left the roadway, went across the west ditch and rolled, the patrol said.

read more

from News http://cjonline.com/news/2012-01-19/man-killed-wednesday-jeff-county-crash

Kansas knifemakers gather in Meriden

by Carolyn Kaberline

Approximately 20 members of the Kansas Custom Knifemakers Association from a four-state area turned out for the first shop tour of the year last Saturday.

Highlights of the tour, held at the shop of Steve Culver, Meriden, were demonstrations on the planning and construction of a gas forge and the evaluation of Little Giant power hammers. There was also ample time for those in attendance to share techniques and test out a variety of tools.

Eric Showalter Steve Culver Kansas Knifemakers

Eric Showalter, Louisburg, (left) inspects a knife as Steve Culver looks on. Photo by Carolyn Kaberline

“The shop tours are basically for anyone interested in knives and a willingness to learn,” said Dave Sloan, a founding member of the association from Diller, Neb. “We usually have two or three different lessons during the tours. We’ve done sessions on blade finishes, how to make handles and sheath making. We try to have informative courses to help people make knives.”

Sloan noted that one of the most important aspects of the tours was that they allowed time for people to visit and to find out how different folks do things.

“I’ve learned things that have helped me, and have hopefully given material that has helped others,” Sloan said.

Phil Evans, Columbus, agreed. “I learn something or see a different way to do things every time I come to these. This time I found a better way to build a forge. I’ve also had a chance to see what other people are making.”

While most of those in attendance were experienced knifemakers, Dan Stumpf, Auburn, said that even beginners could get a lot from the shop tours.

“This is my first tour,” Stumpf said. “I’m definitely a beginner. I haven’t made a knife yet. I’ve done a lot of research on building a gas forge, but seeing one in person is different.”

Stumpf said he had made two blades so far, but hadn’t heat treated them yet. “I’m still figuring out what the final design will be.”

Dave Darpinian, Olathe, used some time at the shop to split a piece of koa wood for a handle using Culver’s band saw. “This is also a chance to see how others’ tools work,” he said.

“The tours allow you to see other shops and encourage you to get your shop the way you want it to be,” Doug Stice, Wichita, added.

Saturday’s shop tour also allowed members to purchase raffle tickets for a variety of items including tools, wood pieces for handles, and metals for blades. The proceeds from the ticket sales will be used to put on the Heartland Bladesmithing Symposium later in the year as well cover operational expenses such as postage and maintaining the organization’s website.

Founded in 2008, the Kansas Custom Knifemakers Association Inc. seeks “to expand awareness of the art and science of handcraft knives, to provide an educational forum for the exchange of ideas, techniques and innovations, and to promote the outstanding craftsmanship and representational interests of its members.”

Currently there are 48 members in the association from Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Florida.

Officers for 2012 are Steve Culver, president; David Sloan, vice president; Dan Dick, Hutchinson, secretary; Doug Stice, director of events; Jim Bevan, Valley Falls, outreach director; Steve Hansen, Chanute, recruitment director; and Dave Darpinian, web master.

More information about the association can be found on its website at kansasknives.org.


from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/kansas-knifemakers-gather-in-meriden/

Puzzles, games and educational value

Why do people buy and play games? Entertainment value certainly factors in, but there are several other benefits to puzzles and games, including their educational value.

Chess Board games

Chess is a game that often provides educational as well as entertainment value.

Just think about what happens when children (or adults) sit down to play a board game or contemplate a puzzle. Individuals come together, learn lessons about getting along and strategize. Games also encourage following guidelines for play and winning or losing with good manners. There are many who believe these are valuable life lessons, but games and puzzles also may have other intrinsic educational value in the real world.

Although it can’t be assumed that playing games or doing puzzles will help make better students, there are some indications that playing certain games can have academic benefits.

In a 2008 study by Geetha Ramani and Robert Siegler, preschoolers were involved in “number line”board game research, where the player had to move a game piece through a series of sequentially numbered spaces. Prior to and after the game play the children were given math tasks appropriate for their age group. The kids who were in the control group and didn’t play experienced no math skill improvement. But the ones who had played the line game had marked improvement in measured math skills. Ramani and Siegler have also found correlations between the number of board games that a child plays and a greater propensity for better preschool math performance.

Puzzles are another form of recreation that also have some educational merit and could trigger certain areas of the brain, resulting in improvement in intellectual skills. Puzzles develop hand and eye coordination and foster skills in problem-solving. They also encourage kids not to give up until the finished product is reached.

Chess has been a game of strategy played throughout the ages. There have been statements that chess can help a child become more intellectual and do better at school. Others argue the flip side, that it is the intellectual child who gravitates toward chess play and therefore skews the numbers in the terms of intelligence and chess relation.

Still there is some evidence that chess has educational merit. Markus Scholz of the University of Leipzig in Germany studied kids with learning disabilities. Researchers assigned students to receive either 5 hours of math instruction each week or 4 hours of math and 1 hour of chess instruction each week. The kids were tested at the beginning of the school year and again at the end. The students who had received chess lessons showed more improvement in basic math skills like counting and addition than those who had just received tutoring.

When choosing games for children, educational value is derived most from games that require deductive reasoning and not pure chance from the spin of a wheel. A game like “Clue” or chess requires strategy and reasoning to become the winner. Even games like “Connect Four,” “Boggle,” “Scrabble,” and other deductive games are good choices to consider.

Although games and puzzles have the fun factor, there are educational benefits that may arise also in play.

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/puzzles-games-and-educational-value/

Leavenworth County man pleads guilty to gun theft in federal court

One Leavenworth County man has pleaded guilty and another is awaiting trial for the burglary and theft of firearms from a Winchester gun shop.

Andrew M. Amundsen, 19, Leavenworth, pleaded guilty last week in Federal District Court to one count of burglary and theft from a federally licensed gun dealer.

A co-defendant, Justin E. Hornback, 20, Tonganoxie, is awaiting trial.

According to court records both men drove and parked a short distance away from the gun shop during the early morning hours of May 18, 2011.

Both men walked to the shop where power lines were cut to avoid setting off a security alarm.

A rear door was forced open and Amundsen entered the building while Hornback allegedly waited outside. Both men carried 15 firearms back to the vehicle that included pump shotguns, semiautomatic rifles and pistols.

The records state that both men drove to an acquaintance in Leavenworth County the next morning and demonstrated the weapons.

Later that day the weapons were sold to some brothers in Leavenworth County for cash and electronic items.

A month later Leavenworth County Sheriff Deputies issued search warrants at the brothers’ residence where the stolen firearms were found. The brothers claimed that they did not know the guns were stolen and said they had bought them from Amundsen and Hornback.

Police contacted friends of both men who confirmed that they had seen both men with guns and that they had talked about stealing them at Winchester.

Amundsen could face 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine but prosecutors will ask for only five years probation as part of the plea agreement. Sentencing is set for April 4.

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/leavenworth-county-man-pleads-guilty-to-gun-theft-in-federal-court/

City of Valley Falls considering higher court costs

by Clarke Davis

A trip to Valley Falls city court might get more costly if a suggestion by city Administrator Chris Channell gets council approval.

Court fees are now $55.50 with $20.50 going to the state. It is suggested that it be raised $20 to $85 plus the fine.

Channell said Judge Dennis Reiling had suggested the city make it the same as the district court, which is $98, but Channell said $85 is more in line with area cities.

He further suggested putting the $20 increase in a special equipment police fund for the purchase of tasers, video equipment, and so forth.

This drew an immediate negative reaction from Mayor Charles Stutesman and some council members who did not like the way that would appear to the public.

“We don’t want an officer writing tickets to justify his existence,” Stutesman said.

Shawn Jepson said he didn’t like the idea either that somehow an officer could profit from writing a ticket. Todd Harrington brought up waterboarding but failed to get a reaction.

The concern then shifted to the city receiving community service from those who cannot pay their fines and costs. Presently, those sentenced to community service report to the animal shelter operated by the Jefferson County Humane Society.

Lucy Thomas and Jo Tichenor both said they’d like to see the city derive some benefit from community service. They along with Jepson plan to meet with Judge Reiling on the next court date, Jan. 25.

The history of community service varies. The street department has received some good help in the past but utilities superintendent Daryl Courter said he had one person who sat in the street and refused to work. He had to call a police officer to escort the person off the street. Thomas also had a bad experience, telling about a woman who showed up to a job site at quitting time wearing a bikini.

Thomas wants the city to derive some good from those who can’t or won’t pay the court fees and hopes by meeting with the judge they can work out a better program.

Those who don’t pay the court fees can have their driver’s license suspended and a warrant issued for their arrest, according to Channell.

It’s only a matter of semantics, but Channell is going to call court fees, docket fees from now on. That, too, came as a suggestion from the judge to put an end to the argument put forth by those who pay their fine but don’t go to court.

Asked if equipping officers with Tasers was going to be back on the agenda, Channell said they came as a recommendation to the council by former police chief Gordon Bledsoe.

Police Chief Josh Pence said he is very familiar with Tasers, having been trained and equipped with them while on duty in east Topeka where he had to use one on several occasions.

In other business, the council:

  • Discussed the recycling program expected to begin Feb. 1. The $1 charge will be assessed to every water meter, thus businesses and multi-family dwellings will pay just the $1.
  • Held an executive session after which they voted to dismiss Jeff Church from city employment.
  • Discussed purchasing a used highway patrol car.
  • The city has new software for writing payroll and Channell intends to go to direct deposit soon.

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/city-of-valley-falls-considering-higher-court-costs/

Construction on Oskaloosa city pool is on track for opening day

City council considers leasing pool

by Dennis Sharkey

Construction on the new city pool in Oskaloosa is progressing toward opening day but decisions still need to be made about who will manage the pool.

Oskaloosa swimming pool

Construction on the new city pool in Oskaloosa is progressing toward opening day but decisions still need to be made about who will manage the pool.

One option the city is considering is leasing the pool to a private individual or organization. Exactly how the lease would work is still being determined City Clerk Patty Hamm said on Monday.

A familiar name to Oskaloosa parents surfaced at the meeting last Thursday, Jan. 5, as a possible person to lease the pool. Former Oskaloosa Elementary School Principal Darren Shupe was mentioned by Hamm. Shupe leases the city pool in Tonganoxie.

The other option would be to hire a manager to run the pool and the staff with the city being the responsible party.

Hamm said a decision needs to be made soon because the end of January is when she typically begins advertising for a pool manager.

Mayor Mike Paavola was the only member of the current council who was around the last time the city pool was open in 2010. He said the council should expect a visit from the Parks and Recreation Commission to ask questions about how the pool will be operated.

“(The Parks and Recreation Commission) would kind of like to see us handle it in a different way from the past,” Paavola said. “They are very concerned about that. Don’t be surprised if they come and ask us some questions.”

Paavola did not explain any further. The last time the pool was open in 2010 the relationship between the council and the manager that was hired deteriorated halfway through the summer and the manager was fired.

There were also some issues raised with former Mayor Mike Boyd for his handling of a disagreement with the manager.

Regardless of who manages the pool the chemicals and their handling will be done by city staff.

Councilman Gary Bryant said some of the chemicals used for the pool are extremely corrosive and teenagers wearing swimming suits and flip-flops could be in danger. Anytime a problem is discovered city staff are supposed to be called.

“If there’s an issue they get called anyhow,” Bryant said.

The council also approved a payment of $51,800 to the contractor working on the pool. In total the city has paid more than $89,000 and $54,000 is still owed.

The Parks and Recreation Commission committed $50,000 toward the project but the two groups have not met since construction began.

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/construction-on-oskaloosa-city-pool-is-on-track-for-opening-day/

Jenkins to meet with voters in Valley Falls

Rep. Lynn Jenkins will conduct a listening session at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Delaware Township Library in Valley Falls.

The gathering in the Jefferson County library at 421 Mary St. will be the 53rd Congress to Kansas tour stop the Republican 2nd District congresswoman has made since beginning her second term Jan. 3, 2011.

read more

from News http://cjonline.com/news/2012-01-17/jenkins-meet-voters-valley-falls

USD 340 board gets figures for proposed bond issue

by Clarke Davis

Submitting a bond issue to voters in the Jefferson West school district is far from being a done deal after hearing comments at the school board meeting Monday night.

Schools bond issue technology

Submitting a bond issue to voters in the Jefferson West school district is far from being a done deal after hearing comments at the school board meeting Monday night.

Superintendent Pat Happer laid out some cost estimates for repairs to facilities, enhancing technology, and improving the sports facilities that ranged from $2.85 to $3.31 million.

The board has always thought of considering something around $3 million that will not exceed eight to 10 years and not carry a larger mill levy than the high school bonds that got paid off last year.

Board President Jeff Van Petten was quick to pour cold water on the list of projects. He thought the list leaned too heavy on athletics — new locker facilities and a concession stand at the football field, new football field lights, reseeding the field, resurfacing the track, and some improvements to the baseball field along with some visitor bleachers.

What concerns Van Petten more was the technology proposal. He said he wanted to float some money for technology to get the district up to speed, but besides the $705,000 initial outlay from the bond issue the board was told it will cost $460,000 a year to maintain and keep everything upgraded.

“Where’s that money going to come from?” he asked.

Linda Jones-Giltner noted that everything on the list were items that had been discussed and were needed and many had been put off too long.

She and Dreana McClurg believe it’s doable. “We just have to figure out how,” Jones-Giltner said.

Van Petten said too much of the capital outlay fund is committed for other projects, such as the bus barn to take up the slack on these other items.

Happer noted that he had included a new roof on the high school and could throw in a school bus or two to take the pressure off the capital outlay fund.

“The list of improvements to the facilities makes sense, but this is not salable,” Van Petten said. “There will be no money to maintain this technology plan. We’ll wind up with something we can’t pay for.”

The board scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, at the administration building to continue to iron out a plan.

The board must pass a resolution by Feb. 7 in order to hold an April 3 election.

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/usd-340-board-gets-figures-for-proposed-bond-issue/