January


Overbrook PRIDE and Frito Lay teamed up to construct a regulation soccer field for Overbrook youth. Frito Lay donated $20,000 to the project.

Burlingame City Council considered a request by J&H Construction, Inc., to extend the substantial completion date of an ongoing water project until Jan. 31.

Osage County commissioners found renovations at the Osage County Courthouse to be almost completed during a walk-through inspection of the $1.1 million project that replaced heating and cooling systems and installed interior storm windows, lighting upgrades, and low-flow water fixtures.

Carbondale City Council tabled a decision to raise water rates. With recent completion of a water treatment plant, state officials had recommended rates should be increased to keep up with increased costs.

The bodies of Michael Shirley, 52, and his children, Ethan C. Shirley, 14, Ashten Shirley, 11, and Caleb Jackson Shirley, 9, were found in their Scranton home by the children’s mother and a neighbor Jan. 12. Authorities said Michael Shirley killed the children, set fire to his house, and attempted to kill himself with a shotgun before succumbing to smoke and dying.

Quenemo received information indicating revised flood plain maps could place an extra 15 homes in the official flood plain. Affected homeowners could be subject to new insurance requirements determined by mortgage holders.

Scranton City Council’s enforcement of building codes began with a resolution declaring a property as unsafe or unfit for human habitation. Three other properties were under investigation.

A dog from rural Melvern was found severely injured after missing for two weeks. The dog’s adopted owner believed the animal had been caught in a snare trap for most of the time it was missing, resulting in a laceration that encircled its body. After treatment by a Burlington veterinarian, the dog was recovering.

An Osage City USD 420 community task force began looking at proposed plans for elementary school renovations and a new track and field facility.

The Marais des Cygnes Valley USD 456 Board of Education selected four finalists for the superintendent’s position, eventually deciding to hire Darrel Finch, former superintendent at Madison USD 386. The new superintendent would begin duties July 1.

The city of Overbrook will hire a second full-time police officer after a December advisory vote.

Dogstock promoter Randall Long entered pleas of no contest to one felony count of giving a worthless check and a misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana. The charges stemmed from the 2007 weekend concert held on Long’s property in rural Melvern and subsequent investigation of charges that Long had written numerous bad checks for services at the event.

Santa Fe Trail USD 434 Board of Education held a two-hour meeting with patrons to discuss budget issues, including the continuous decline of student enrollment numbers and impending action by the Kansas Legislature.

Carbondale City Council sought bids on a project to extend the city’s sewer to the site of a new Dollar General Store and other nearby businesses.

February


Osage County partied in celebration of the county’s 150th birthday. The sesquicentennial celebration was held at the Burlingame Schuyler Museum annex Feb. 11.

Osage City again decided to proceed with the construction of a biking and hiking path along the old Missouri Pacific rail line through town. The city council’s review of the project came two years after it had first approved the first phase of the project.

Osage City Manager Nick Hernandez announced a deal to bring a stronger Sprint cell phone signal to the area had fallen through. Plans for construction of an AT&T tower continued to proceed.

High winds ripped a portion of the roof off of Lyndon High School’s gymnasium – the second time in 10 months. Weather spotters verified winds of 60-65 mph left spotted damage across the county.

A human skull was found in a hidden cellar under a Melvern home undergoing renovation. The skull, thought to have been there at least 50 years, was found with a collection of doctor’s instruments. The skull and instruments were likely left behind by a former owner of the home who was a doctor.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation issued an order to cease and desist to the First State Bank of Burlingame, outlining corrective actions for unsafe or unsound banking practices. The bank’s president said all depositors’ money was safe and the bank was in no danger of closing.

Burlingame City Council heard citizen complaints about the ongoing water system rehabilitation project. Council members questioned quality of work and lack of communication with the city by the project’s contractor and engineer. The council authorized revising the date of substantial completion to Feb. 27.

A suspected arsonist destroyed an 80-year-old landmark in Quenemo, the picnic shelter in the city’s park, on Feb. 1. The historic pavilion, built in 1929, was the site of many picnics, reunions and dances over the years.

Carbondale City Council fired police officers Greg Wallace and Shane Quigley during a special meeting. City attorney Sue Devoe said the city would not comment on the firings. Wallace said he was told the firings were the result of officers accepting free drinks at a local convenience store.

Osage City business owners and citizens took an in-depth look at the Kansas Main Street program during a presentation and question-and-answer session led by Mary Helmer, assistant state Main Street coordinator.

Overbrook heard from an engineer that the first phase of an ongoing sewer rehabilitation project was complete except for reseeding and settlement issues. Plans were underway for the second phase of the project that will address the sewer lagoon and additional sewer line replacement.

Osage City USD 420 Superintendent David Carriger announced his resignation after accepting the position of USD 493 superintendent at Columbus. Carriger had worked for USD 420 for 17 years as a principal and superintendent.

U.S. Highway 56 near Burlingame was closed for three hours after an anhydrous ammonia tank overturned and began leaking on the roadway and into the air. The driver had driven on a soft spot on the highway’s shoulder, losing control of the trailer that toppled onto its side.

The Osage County Sheriff’s Office purchased $113,716 in new vehicles - four Chevrolet Impala police cars and a four-wheel drive Ford F-150 pickup truck.

March

A fire caused by an unattended heat gun thawing frozen pipes destroyed two Osage City businesses and damaged several downtown buildings March 1. The structures at 529 and 531 Market Street, Mink Photography and Ramblin’ Rose, burned for about six hours before fire fighters extinguished the blaze. Other businesses affected by the fire were Schroeder Drugs, Osage Hardware, Furniture Loft, McCoy’s Radio Shack, Burns, Burns, Walsh and Walsh law offices, and The Osage County Herald-Chronicle. Investigators determined the fire originated in the photography business.

Anthony Culbertson, 21, Overbrook, was fatally injured when the vehicle he was driving rolled and he was ejected, on Paulen Road about a half mile north of U.S. Highway 56. All four teenage passengers in the vehicle were injured and transported to Topeka hospitals.

Burlingame City Council agreed to submit to voters a question of whether the city should provide utilities for the Schuyler Museum. The election would be advisory only.

After an announcement by the Kansas Department of Transportation regarding availability of federal stimulus funds for urban transportation projects, the Scranton City Council convened a special meeting to assess infrastructure needs.

USD 434 Board of Education agreed to consolidate grades at the district’s schools in response to declining enrollment and reduced state funding. Pre-school through second grade will be at Overbrook Attendance Center; third and fourth grades will be at Scranton Attendance Center; and fifth through eighth grades will be at Carbondale Attendance Center.

Almost two weeks after a March 1 downtown fire, the Osage City Council took over the task of removing the burnt structures, approving a bid for demolition of the buildings. As demolition progressed, Market Street was reopened after a 13-day detour.

Overbrook seventh-grader Meredith Foulke, 13, won The Topeka Capital Journal’s 56th annual regional spelling bee.

Burlingame City Council announced its dissatisfaction with work done on the city’s water system, withholding payment to contractors and submitting written notice of concerns to contractors’ bonding firms.

Osage County commissioners agreed to participate in the city of Lyndon’s ongoing sewer project, with a decision to reline the sewer beneath the Osage County Courthouse. The sewer under the courthouse was once one of the city’s main lines from the north end of town to the south, but the sewer had been rerouted during the project.

Osage Hardware reopened after being closed for three weeks due to a fire in downtown Osage City.

The Kansas Department of Transportation announced Burlingame would be the recipient of $493,465 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for curb and gutter repair. The project would also address recurring drainage problems.

City of Scranton reorganized emergency responders and law enforcement, creating the Scranton Department of Public Safety. The action was taken at the request of Scranton Police Chief Jon Reed, who became the city’s chief of public safety. By unanimous vote, the city council agreed to the reorganization and increased Reed’s salary from $38,000 to $42,000 annually.

April

The Kansas Department of Transportation announced approximately $2 million in federal stimulus funds would be used to replace an old railroad bridge with a pedestrian bridge across U.S. Highway 75 north of Lyndon. The bridge serves the Flint Hills Nature Trail, a portion of which has been developed near Vassar. The bridge is one of 14 statewide transportation enhancement projects to be funded by $11.4 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

Osage City USD 420 is asking district patrons, staff and students to provide input as part of the district’s search for a new superintendent. The district also contracted with Kansas Association of School Boards to assist with the hiring process.

Barbecue teams prepared to converge on Osage City’s annual Smoke in the Spring barbecue contest on April 10. Over 64 teams registered to compete.

A late winter storm wreaked havoc across the state, dumping two feet of snow in western Kansas and up to four inches of ice elsewhere. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius declared a state of disaster for 62 counties.

A district court judge ruled in favor of Osage City in a dispute over payment for space formerly used by a pharmacy in the city-owned medical center. Schroeder Drugs, Inc., was ordered to pay the city $68,382 in rent, $27,050 in taxes, and $3,435 for insurance for occupying the space from May 2006 to October 2008.

Write-in candidate Jeff Bronson won the Lyndon mayor’s seat in a race against Martin Price.

The Carbondale City Council authorized a resolution to issue revenue bonds for improvement of the city’s swimming pool. Funds not to exceed $985,000 were approved for the project, to be paid in annual payments of $86,500 for 20 years using a one-cent sales tax authorized by voters.

Burlingame Mayor Brenda Dorr signed an engineering and design contract with BG Consultants in the amount of $57,500 for curb and gutter work and resurfacing of Santa Fe and Topeka avenues.

Osage County took steps to declare over 50 miles of township roads as minimum maintenance roads. County commissioners acted on a state law that allows the declarations based on the opinion the roads are used only occasionally or by a few individuals.

Taking home the grand champion prize in Osage City’s Smoke in the Spring barbecue contest was Munchin’ Hogs at the Hilton, of Prairie Village.

Melvern officially dedicated the city’s riverfront park and trails. Melvern Riverfront Park features seven miles of trails for hikers and bikers along the Marais des Cygnes River.

Santa Fe Trail USD 434 Board of Education appointed Shandy Vollrath to complete the unexpired term of board member Carolyn Hugg, who had resigned.

An Osage City man was charged with involuntary manslaughter after a rollover accident on state Highway 31. Javier Rodriguez, of Ottawa, died from injuries suffered in the accident. The Kansas Highway Patrol reported Ruben S. Callejas was driving a 2003 Hummer westbound when it went into a ditch and flipped several times.

As part of its building code enforcement efforts, the Scranton City Council ordered the removal or demolition of a building at 310 S. Brownie.

Dozens of law enforcement officials gathered at an Osage City residence after a male occupant called police. According to the Osage City Police Department, the man was believed to be suicidal. The standoff ended about five hours later after the man exited the home. He was transported to Newman Hospital, Emporia, for evaluation.

Carbondale City Council approved $295,000 in general obligation bonds for sewer improvement projects.

May

Several area landowners confronted the Osage County Commission in regard to plans to declare a number of township roads as minimum maintenance roads. Commissioners agreed to remove the minimum maintenance designation of the protested roads from the list.

Osage City Manager Nick Hernandez recommended the city council consider scrapping the proposed trail project to provide funds for other city improvements. The council tabled the matter for further consideration.

Osage City Council agreed to raise electric rates, noting rates had not been adjusted since 2001.

A Lyndon woman was killed in a one-car accident near Melvern Lake. The Kansas Highway Patrol reported Peggy Peterson was eastbound in a 1998 GMC on state Highway 268 near U.S. Highway 75, when the vehicle left the roadway and rolled four times.

Two Osage City men were arrested in connection with a residential burglary. James Parks, 18, and Samson Davenport, 19, were booked into jail accused of stealing a laptop computer and prescription medicine. Police said a search of Davenport’s residence turned up other stolen items and illegal narcotics.

The city of Burlingame issued a notice to declare a contractor in default on the city’s second phase of a water system improvement project. City attorney Rick Godderz requested a conference with the contractor’s bonding company to discuss methods of completing the contract.

Less than six months after Junction Township elected two new board members, husband and wife Chuck and Janet Trautman, township clerk Virgil Scheid resigned. The county commission appointed Don Croy to fill the vacant position.

Osage City USD 420 Board of Education offered a two-year superintendent’s contract to William Orth. He was previously employed at Altoona-Midway USD 387 near Chanute.

The Burlingame Rodeo, the main event of Burlingame’s Rodeo Days, drew hundreds to the city’s arena.

Newly elected Lyndon Mayor Jeff Bronson and council members discussed how $100,000 budgeted for street repairs would be used. The city administrator and maintenance supervisor were instructed to review street conditions and decide which repairs would be addressed.

Burlingame City Council approved a contract with the Burlingame Historical Preservation Society for the abatement of utilities supplied by the city to Schuyler Museum and annex. The contract stipulates the museum will provide storage space for city records not to exceed 60 square feet.

Osage City businesswoman Nancy Washburn was recognized as the 2009 Osage City Distinguished Citizen at the annual alumni banquet.

An Osage County jury found a Carbondale man guilty of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol in connection with a fatality wreck near Michigan Valley in February 2008. Justin Spencer, 25, was also found guilty of driving while a habitual violator. The rollover accident claimed the life of Jessica Alford, Scranton.

The city of Lyndon made plans to raise sewer rates, citing the need to cover state loan payments for the recent sewer renovation project.

Burlingame USD 454 dedicated a 139-year-old bronze bell and monument to denote the city’s history of educational opportunity.

June

Osage County’s communities teamed up with the Corps of Engineers for the annual Get Outdoors Day, to make the county a playground for the day. Lyndon hosted an all-day geocaching event, while Melvern highlighted that community’s recently dedicated riverfront park and trails. Numerous activities were planned at area Corps’ lakes.

Osage City officials met with county commissioners to seek assistance in funding $2.17 million in repairs to the city’s lake and dam. The city had previously approved issuance of bonds to pay for the repairs, but was investigating the possibility of other funding sources. The concrete portion of the dam is cracked and leaking, and the city was under a 2001 consent order to make the repairs. The lake serves as a secondary water source for Osage City, Burlingame, Harveyville and Osage County Rural Water District No. 7.

Burlingame City Council sought more American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, agreeing to spend up to $14,200 to prepare a proposal for a two-inch overlay on city streets.

The Osage County Herald-Chronicle’s Year in Review will continue with the rest of the top stories from 2009 in the Thursday, Jan. 7 edition.