2017 a year of change for businesses, communities

Read the online edition each week in full at www.thebellevilletelescope.com

January

Outstanding Marching, Outstanding Drum Major. Outstanding Music. Outstanding Percussion. Outstanding General Effect. First Place in Class AA And the Special Award to the Program that Most Embodies the Fiesta Bowl. The Republic County Marching Buffs had to make room for some metal on their buses home for Phoenix-six large trophies and assorted plaques for the performance in the Fiesta Bowl parade in Phoenix New Year’s Eve.

With the stroke of a pen and little fanfare members of the Belleville City Council on Monday authorized the mayor to sign contracts awarding the demolition bid of a downtown city block to Diehl Enterprises of Salina for $108,029. The last in a series of steps brings an end to legal jockeying which has taken nearly three years to complete in order to raze a series of run down buildings on M ST in Belleville

Baby boy Liam, son of Lucas and Lynelle Elliott from Concordia was the first baby born at Republic County Hospital in Belleville in 2017, on January 3.

Belleville native Randy Krotz, chief executive officer of the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, will drive one of the tractors in a Rural Tractor Brigade organized by RFD-TV during the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington DC.

Many business employees and students in North Central Kansas and South Central Nebraska joined government workers for an unintended three day weekend for the Martin Luther King holiday, when an ice storm moved in Sunday and lasted through noon on Monday. Extensive tree damage was evident across the area, and electric workers spent Monday chasing down outages and removing limbs from lines.

A $100,000 estate gift from the late alumna Marynell Dyatt Reece, Scandia, will provide funds for the Spencer Museum of Art, a nursing scholarship and the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas

February

The Board of Directors for both Central Valley Ag (CVA), based in York NE and Farmway Co-op, Inc., based in Beloit, have each voted unanimously to begin a formal study regarding the possibility of merging the two cooperatives.

Belleville can’t claim a new record-high temperature for the middle of February, but towns in the area can. Climatologist Mary Knapp said Washington, Beloit, Concordia, and Clay Center have new records. This is only the ninth warmest February on record for Belleville. The warmest temperatures recorded in the area this month were in Washington when the city recorded a high temperature of 74 degrees on both Feb. 11 and Feb. 18.

Sam Massey, development manager in Kansas for NextEra Energy, told the board the company has 40,000 acres under lease, and another 13,000 acres near agreement. “But they also said they may be able to get up to 100,000 acres leased between the two counties, best case scenario,” said Luke Mahin, Republic County economic development director. “Most 200 megawatt wind farms are situated on about 40,000 acres, so that means they could be thinking a bigger project for this area.”

A rural Agenda woman, Audrey Kalivoda, 62, died February 8 in a three vehicle collision on US24 west of Clay Center.

Belleville can’t claim a new record-high temperature for the middle of February, but towns in the area can. Climatologist Mary Knapp said Washington, Beloit, Concordia, and Clay Center have new records. This is only the ninth warmest February on record for Belleville. The warmest temperatures recorded in the area this month were in Washington when the city recorded a high temperature of 74 degrees on both Feb. 11 and Feb. 18

Pike Valley hired a new part time superintendent for the 2017-18 school year, to replace Mary Treaster who will retire in June. Sue King, Salina, will work two to three days a week as Treaster has for the district for the past several years.

It took a tie-breaking vote from Mayor Blaine Miller on Monday to end a stalemate from a sharply divided Belleville city council, but for now, at least, the long embattled Travel Information Center will be morphing into a new use. Miller’s vote will begin the process of merging the TIC and the local Chamber of Commerce/Main Street into a combined entity.

March

The final chapter in the saga of the 1700 block of M ST, commonly known as the Republic Hotel block, was written Monday when a contractor arrived to demolish the buildings. The excavator began chewing into the Republic Hotel about 8:30 a.m. (bottom left) and progressed quickly through the block. The demolition was halted about 6 p.m. with the lower level of the old bank building on the south corner still intact. The demolition drew a number of spectators and motorists downtown. About noon wall, a narrow alley all but separating the buildings. About 4:30 p.m. the roof of the bank building collapsed in a spectacular fashion, once again crashing past the barricades and enveloping city crews and spectators in a cloud of dust. No injuries or damages were reported.

A Jewell man burned in a fire in Beloit March 4 died of his injuries March 7. Trenton Mitchell, 21, who graduated from Pike Valley in 2014, was life flighted to Via Christi St. Francis Regional Burn Center in Wichita after the incident. Mitchell sustained burns on more than 50 percent of his body in the fire

A divided Belleville City Council reluctantly agreed to at least consider a proposal that would call for the Republic County Sheriff’s office to cover law enforcement in the city limits nightly from midnight until 7 a.m. for a 90-day trial period

A road reconstruction project on US-81 in Republic County will begin Monday, March 27. The project begins 8 miles north of the Cloud/Republic County line then north to a point 1-mile north of the US- 81/US-36 Interchange.

Agriculture land use values–the figure used Haase died unexpectedly Thursday afternoon. Haase had worked for the Telescope for more than 35 years, starting under the Merle and Mark Miller family ownership, and continuing with the purchase of The Telescope by Fred and Lori Arnold in 2009.

April

Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC, based in Wilmington, Del., announced Monday the acquisition of Nesika Energy LLC and its ethanol facility in Scandia. Butamax is a a 50/50 joint venture between BP and DuPont, combining expertise in fuels with industrial biotechnology. Butamax will start the detailed engineering work to add bio-isobutanol capacity to the Nesika facility.

While members of the Belleville City Council are weighing the future of the local police department, city leaders voted Monday to expand the size of the law enforcement agency.

May

The Republic County Hospital board made the unanimous decision to close the nursing home portion of the facility as soon as possible. Official notification was made this Monday, and some 20 residents will now be forced to look elsewhere for long term care. They have 60 days to relocate. The Long Term Care is projected to have an $880,000 negative impact to the bottom line in the amount of money the hospital receives for caring for Medicare eligible patients, which makes up more than 70 percent of the hospital’s revenue each year. The Belleville Police Department, once made of five officers is down to just two: Brian Schulze and Matt Cole, following the resignation of interim chief Jeff Smith.

Belleville city leaders took no official action regarding the status of the WPA bathhouse at the Belleville City Park which has been targeted by some as a potential site for tennis courts.

The full USD 109 school board got a peek Thursday night at what building updates could make Republic County High School and East Elementary ready for students in future decades. Architect Kelly McMurphy of Landmark Architects, Hutchinson, walked the board through drawings that show a classroom addition and main entrance on the south end of East to house grades K-5, and new construction and remodeling at RCHS to add science and FACs labs, an auditorium, multi-purpose practice gyms for wrestling and junior varsity.

Great Plains Health Alliance and Republic County Hospital announced that DavidPaul Cavazos has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer (hospital administrator) for Republic County Hospital.

Nearly $62,000 in grants were awarded through the Republic County Community Foundation in the May grant cycle.

June

The Republic County Health Department hopes to be back seeing clients late this week in a new location after a quick decision to rent the former Rolling Hills Electric facility on US81 Highway. Republic County Commissioners said the decision was spurred by an estimated $100,000 worth of repairs to the present downtown location, and more problems recently uncovered when a contractor begin to work on the building.

The Belleville American Legion Post closed abruptly about three weeks ago when the commander resigned after the weekly bingo game.

The Belleville City Council voted 3-2 to tear down the WPA swimming pool bath house.

The assessed valuation for Republic County 2017 is $76,530,152, up $7 million from a year ago.

Meeting in special session members of the Belleville City Council voted 5-1 to retain the Belleville Police department.

July

Paul Kallman was elected to head the US36 Highway Association at the association’s 104th annual meeting June 9 in Norton.

The Midwest Transplant Network said Republic County had the highest percentage increase of adults who registered as organ donors last year.

The USD 109 board voted 5-2 to conduct a special bond election to upgrade the district’s facilities on February 20, 2018.

The purse for the 40th annual Belleville Midget Nationals on Aug. 4-5 at the Belleville High Banks exceeds $78,000 for the two-day midget portion of the event. The USAC Midget National Championship Series event is of one of midget racing’s crown jewel events.

Chris Springer will become senior officer of the Belleville Police Department.

August

Vintage race cars took to the Belleville High Banks Friday and Saturday for an exhibition and show sponsored by the Belleville High Banks Hall of Fame race museum. 70 cars from around the country tested the track.

Sara Vytlacil was named the Miss Czech Slovak U.S. second runner-up on Sunday night in Wilber, Neb. Vytlacil also won the authentic Kroj category and was runner up in the Sokol talent division where she performed a traditional Czech folk dance.

Spencer Bayston scored a wire-to-wire winning the 40th annual Belleville Midget Nationals Saturday Night at the Belleville High Banks. Bayston became the thirteenth driver to win the event from the pole position. The Great American Eclipse, as it’s being called, will cross 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina. Kansas a

the states in the path. The last time a total solar eclipse was visible in Kansas was 1918; the next total eclipse to be visible in Kansas will occur on Aug. 12, 2045, when the southwest corner of the state lies in the path of totality. Both Republic County and Pike Valley schools will take students to Nebraska where they will observe totality.

The new fixed route bus service from Belleville to Salina, 81 Connection, will start running on Tuesday, September 5. The route will mark the fi rst time in nearly 30 years that a daily bus service has stopped in Belleville. Greyhound Bus Line abandoned the Belleville to Salina route in 1989, saying the route was not profitable for a full size bus.

September

Road signs will be replaced across Republic County over the next three years, thanks to a $727,000 project funded 100 percent by the Kansas Department of Transportation.

As many as 400 children ages birth to five years could benefit from a new reading program in Republic County over the next five years thanks to a grant from the Dane Hansen Foundation in partnership with the Belleville Public Library and the North Central Kansas Health Care Foundation. Parents and guardians of children who live in Republic County can register now for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, which will send one free age-appropriate book every month to a child until they turn five.

Chester residents will be tuned to the Miss America pageant September 10 to cheer on native Allison Tietjen, 21, in her quest for the national title. Tietjen, a Thayer Central graduate, was crowned Miss Nebraska in June.

A 24-hour manhunt in Republic County that involved multiple state agencies ended quietly when two Republic County Sheriff’s offi cers-aided by multiple calls from the public– arrested the suspect walking along the blacktop road south of Cuba. Zachary Barnes, 25, was treated at Republic County Hospital Friday morning before he was taken into custody by Wyandotte County, where he is wanted for questioning in connection with the August 30 shooting death of a Kansas City man.

A longtime downtown business has purchased the former Travel Information Center on US81 Highway at 12th ST and plans to move in early 2018. Tony Bombardier and Kevin Couture, Belleville, owners of Arbuthnot Drug Company, entered an agreement to purchase the building for $75,000. The sale was approved by the Belleville City Council

October

CloudCorp announced plans last week to compete for the Tyson chicken project, a multi-million dollar facility that includes a hatchery, feed mill and plant capable of processing more than one million birds per week. Tyson says its project would generate annual economic impact to Kansas of $150 million.

Go big or go home. That was the final decision of the USD 109 board Monday night in a 4-3 vote to send just one question to voters in February for a $16 million bond for school improvements.

Sometimes the mission field is out your own back door. That’s the concept of the new county-wide interdenominational group FaithWorks, whose members hope to encourage others to serve their neighbors.

Barry Bottger, chief financial officer, told the hospital board that Medicare owes the hospital $437,000 in additional reimbursement for FY 2017, which ended September 30. Prior to the decision to end the LTC service, the hospital was on track to owe Medicare money at the end of the year, he said. In addition, Medicare reimbursement rates for 2018 will increase nearly 25 percent, which is projected to add $1.2 million to the hospital’s bottom line next year.

November

Corn quality and yields are better than average in Republic County this harvest season, as many producers near the end of fall harvest. Republic County Commissioners voted to advertise the sale of the former Republic County Health Department building on 18th ST, near downtown. The building was abandoned earlier this year, and commissioners said they estimate it would take at least $100,000 to make improvements to the building. Concordia attorney Justin Ferrell was nominated by Republic County Republicans to fi ll a post left vacant by the resignation of Republic County Attorney Marlea James. The post will be eligible for election in the 2018 midterm election. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has announced that the Talmo Marsh located in southern Republic County is closed to all activity because of the presence of a pair of whooping cranes.

December

Midget racing in Belleville is likely dead–at least for 2018. A somber fair amusements committee broke the news to the Belleville Chamber & Main Street board of directors Thursday that the United States Auto Club is no longer going to be running races on the Belleville High Banks. After nearly a half an hour of discussion members of the local city council voted on Monday to continue to refrain from allowing liquor sales in Belleville on Sundays. The motion “to allow” Sunday liquor sales failed on a 4-2 vote.