2013 Year In Review via The Belleville Telescope

HomeBidding farewell to 2013

Business news, weather top stories in past year

As the final days of 2013 wind down, a look at the top stories of the year shows that business milestones, weather, work to improve communities, and agencies hard hit by federal and state cutbacks made the headlines this year. A few of the top stories from the Telescope archives during the past year:

January – Prior to Dec. 20, Belleville experienced the longest period for consecutive days without snow: 310. A New Year’s Eve snowstorm brought 5 to 7.5 inches to the region. Mitch and Tami Wiezorek purchased Garman and Sons Inc. on Jan. 1, a three-generation business that has operated in Courtland since the 1920s. The business will operate under the new name M&T Appliance and Electric. Pike Valley starts a quest to raise $20,000 in private funding to guarantee a preschool will operate in the district for three years. $15,000 in anticipated tuition and $5,000 from the school district will also fund the endeavor. Michael Couch, Haviland, has been hired as new school superintendent beginning July 1. He replaces Brian Harris, who has served as interim superintendent for three years. Munden residents hope to duplicate a feat they accomplished 60 years ago, by building a new community center completely with donations and volunteer labor. Rachel Zenger, Haddam, is named new Belleville City Attorney, replacing Doug Simms, who retired after 27 years in the job.

February – After more than two years of study, debate and waiting for answers, Republic County Commissioners decided to forego a state grant to rebuild the 70 year old windows on the north side of the courthouse, and instead spend $157,000 to install new replacement windows in the entire building. TamiCakes, a homebased baking business operated by Tami VanSant, Belleville, will soon have a new storefront in downtown Belleville. The first fundraiser for the Republic County Marching Buffs trip to Chicago, a smoked rib benefit hosted by Food Mart, raised the first 10 percent of the band’s $65,000 goal. Pike Valley High School will move to a trimester schedule next year to allow students to concentrate on only five classes per session instead of eight.

March – Republic County High School boys basketball team won the state 2A championship in Manhattan in an overtime thriller against Meade. The Republic County girls also qualified for state tournament, but lost in the opening rounds to Sterling. Film crews descended on Lovewell Lake to film a documentary about snow geese migration and bald eagles. Lexia Aurand, Belleville, is named one of 10 Leaders of Tomorrow scholarship winners from the Dane Hansen Foundation. Despite the plea of nearly 60 Courtland residents, the US Post Office announced plans to reduce their post office hours to four per day. The US36 Highway Association celebrations its 100th anniversary. The association was formed March 21, 1913 in Belleville when representatives from 13 northern tier counties attended the inaugural meeting of the Rock Island Highway Association. The association later merged to become the Pike’s Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway.

April- The US Postal Service announces plans to close the processing center in Salina. All outgoing mail will be taken to Wichita for automated sorting before being returned to local post offices for distribution. The Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative announced a strategic plan that will locate a main offi ce facility in the Beloit area with satellite facilities around the area for fi eld personnel. Food Mart marks 60 years of business in Belleville. The store was opened April 1, 1953 by Clifford Munk, and today is owned by his son, Nick Munk. Blaine VanMeter is promoted to director of the Republic County Emergency Medical Service. The Belleville City Council debates whether the Travel Information Center should be turned into a convenience store. An April 23 snow broke a 106 year old record in the area that an inch or more of snow was recorded after April 22.

May – An auction of used items has pushed the Republic County Marching Buffs within a few thousand dollars of their goal to march in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Chicago IL. Parking lot repairs at Republic County High School will cost more than $456,000. The former Republic County Middle School building has been named to the state and national Registers of Historic Places. That designation is needed for the Pioneer Group to turn the closed school building into apartments. When Julius Wade Jensen completes his career at Pike Valley High School it will be with the distinction of not missing a day of school since first grade. Agenda will celebrate its 125th anniversary. Republic County Hospital asks for a two mill increase to six mills, and debates how to deal with reductions in Medicare reimbursements, which accounts for more than 70 percent of the income to the hospital.

June – The Swedish-American State Bank in Courtland will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Mike Johnson and Tanner Johnson represent the third and fourth generations of their family to call Courtland home and enter banking as a career. Government offices are struggling how to meet new state mandates on concealed carry of handguns and other firearms that allows properly licensed individuals to carry them into public buildings. The number of cattle in Republic County fell nearly eight percent since last year, which many attribute to the drought that decreased feed supplies and increased costs. After years of stagnant housing sales, local realtors say housing are selling quickly, and often for near asking price. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback attends a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new 30,000 sq. ft. Reinke Manufacturing plant in Belleville.

The headlines in the Telescope from the past year reveal progress, business openings and
expansion around the region. Some of the highlights from the last six months include:
(Continued from last week)

July- Due to the overwhelming success of fundraising efforts for the Marching Buffs trip to Chicago IL, the USD 109 board of education agrees to allow the band to continue raising funds for new band uniforms. The current uniforms are nearly 25 years old Total cost is $46,465 The first Ag Heritage Day is held in Belleville Fourth of July weekend. Mike and Sandy Cole will purchase Leonard’s Appliance Store and change the name to Coles Appliance Center. USD 109 board votes to increase the capital outlay fund to eight mills to help finance building improvements. The Kansas Department of Transportation plans to undertake major construction on US36, changing the highway from four lanes to three through Belleville, and rehabbing the highway west of Belleville to the Jewell County line. Belleville pharmacists Tony Bombardier and Kevin Couture announce plans to merge their two businesses into one. They will operate from the current Arbuthnot Drug location.

August –Even with a one mill drop in the levy Republic County will have about $250,000 more in tax revenues to work with next year. That windfall is thanks to a $3.7 million increase in the county’s assessed valuation. Republic and Cuba are the latest post offices to be notified that the USPS plans to limit their hours to four at Cuba and two in Republic. BellevilleFarm and Home has partnered with Geneva, Hebron, Superior Implement to offer used equipment sales on a vacant lot that at one time was the downtown site of an implement dealership. Joel and Naiara Salguero will open Los Primos Restaurant on US81 Highway in the former Kravmore 81. Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative members vote 951-735 in favor of consolidating the business operations in Belleville, Ellsworth and Mankato to one central location. Just days before the start of school, USD 109 board votes to add a third section of Kindergarten. Enrollment shows 49 students in the class. The National Weather Service says temperatures in August make it one of the coolest on record. The first 19 days averaged 78 degrees, which happened last in 1915. Courtland’s downtown area is receiving $450,000 in new sidewalk, curbs, gutters and lighting. Republic County Hospital trustees continue a discussion about whether to close Long Term Care or build a new facility. The United Methodist Church in Republic celebrates its 125th anniversary. A rare 1969 L88 Corvette Stingray originally ordered through Melton Motors in Belleville and driven by Jim Melton on drag strips in the Midwest sold at auction in California for $726,000. Melton sold the car to a collector in the mid-80s. Heavy rains in August caused $300,000 damage to a bridge and roads in Republic County. Federal Emergency Management Agency funds will be available for repairs.