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January

Osage County was one of 48 counties listed in a state of disaster emergency declaration, following severe winter storms during Christmas 2009 that dumped heavy snow and left icy and snow packed roads. As the new year began, Kansas Department of Transportation crews continued plowing roads with more snowfall predicted.

Burlingame made plans for its first Burlingame Wilderness Weekend Festival, planned for June. The city council agreed to expend $2,500 for the event.

Osage City supporters continued to work toward becoming a Kansas Main Street town, after the town was accepted into the state’s Inside Track program in 2009. The planning committee decided to host the Cruisin’ Downtown event in conjunction with the city’s annual Smoke in the Spring barbecue contest.

Scranton City Council approved initial video inspection of the city’s sanitary sewer system, at a cost of $48,486, in anticipation of an upgrade project.

Firefighters responded to residential fires in Lyndon and Osage City. The cause of the Lyndon fire was undetermined, but the Osage City fire was blamed on an electric heater used to thaw pipes under a porch.

Osage County Fire District No. 4 board of directors faced calls for more available emergency equipment while disputes within the department caused volunteers to resign. The board established a committee to search for a district medical unit, and agreed to seek bids for a new heater at the Michigan Valley equipment building.

Santa Fe Trail USD 434 patrons were notified of $430,000 in potential budget reductions targeted by board members through an internal poll. The board also approved design of a capital outlay project to renovate high school science classes at a cost not to exceed $250,000.

Water service was restored in Overbrook after leaks shut off the town’s supply for two days. Cold weather was blamed.

Burlingame prepared for upcoming infrastructure projects. One project is to repair and replace curbs, gutters and pavement on Santa Fe Avenue and Topeka Avenue. A three-phase project will repair parts of the city’s sanitary sewer system.

Burlingame Schuyler Museum was the site of a Kansas Day celebration, hosted by the Burlingame Historical Preservation Society.

Lyndon City Council voted to annex six acres of proposed residential lots, on the northwest corner of town, at the request of Tiger Ridge subdivision’s developers, Shane Kirkpatrick and Randy Kirkpatrick.

The Osage County Conservation District honors land stewardship with annual conservation awards, presented in the annual conservation issue of The Herald-Chronicle.

February

Osage County high school students have an opportunity to learn construction skills indoors through a class offered in a partnership of Allen Community College and KanBuild, in Osage City.

Roadblocks on Auburn Road, due to reconstruction of two bridges, were the topic of discussion during a meeting of area emergency personnel and citizens. Concerns focused on emergency response time and motorists’ safety. It was noted unpaved roads used as unofficial detours had more traffic, impacting township and county road maintenance resources.

Osage City Council Member Frank Towle resigned from the council due to his change in residence outside of the city. Gary Whalen was appointed to replace Towle on the council.

For the second time in two weeks, the Lyndon City Council voted to increase the size of the city. The 67-acre Rockin Z subdivision annexed into the city was projected to provide 60 residential lots.

A Carbondale woman was killed when her vehicle went left of center and struck another vehicle head on. Amy Stadler, 21, died at the scene 1.2 miles east of the U.S. Highway 75 and U.S. Highway 56 junction. The driver of the other vehicle, Patricia Cooper, 54, Carbondale, was transported to a Topeka hospital with injuries.

A discussion of the amount charged by Scranton’s water supplier led to the city council voting to increase the city’s water rates.Perry Thompson, Osage City, presented a petition, said to contain 1,600 names, to Osage County Clerk Rhonda Beets, in an effort to change the county’s roads to the county unit road system.

For the second year, Santa Fe Trail student Meredith Foulke won the Osage County spelling bee. Foulke also was reigning champion of the 2009 regional spelling bee.

Lyndon USD 421 braced for impending cuts in state aid. Board members reached consensus that raising taxes should be considered only after implementing cost-cutting measures.

Osage City Council took a second look at a proposed policy that would ban the use of tobacco products in city parks during school and youth activities.

Burlingame USD 454 Board of Education considered the impact of school consolidation after seeing the results of a report issued by the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit. The report laid out two scenarios to cut costs: one that would consolidate USD 454 with Osage City USD 420, and another that would consolidate all of the schools in the county.

A three-county pursuit ended when a train blocked the road near Quenemo. Terry Leroy Cable, 53, Honolulu, Hawaii, was arrested after a trooper shot out one tire and broke out the driver’s side window of the vehicle.

Carbondale City Council hired Scranton’s police chief, Jon Reed, as Carbondale’s police chief. Reed resigned the same day from the Scranton Police Department. Reed replaced Carbondale’s former police chief, Adam Marion, who resigned without giving a reason in December 2009.

Burlingame City Council approved an ordinance that allows no more than three horses to be kept in areas not less than 10 acres.

County commissioners approved implementation of the county unit road system, acting on a petition calling for the change in the county’s road maintenance system. The commissioners’ action gave opponents 90 days to submit a petition to bring the issue to a vote. Commissioners directed the county counselor to draw up a petition that would force an election, and made it available to anyone who wanted to carry it.

March


Osage City increased its recycling efforts by partnering with the county to purchase recycling bins and a trailer. Recycled products can now be dropped off at a collection site at Ninth and Main streets in Osage City.

Santa Fe Trail USD 434 Board of Education approved refinancing bonds to save the school district $71,000.

Citizens questioned county commissioners about proposed plans to take over maintenance of all of the county’s roads, which would have happened if a valid petition was not presented, bringing the issue to a vote.

A ‘70s and ‘80s rock band with connections to Osage City, Plain Jane, was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.

A preliminary hearing for James Kraig Kahler, charged with killing his wife, two teenage daughters, and his wife’s grandmother in Burlingame in November 2009, was rescheduled from March to May.

The only stoplights in Osage County were temporarily installed in Burlingame as streets were narrowed by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project to install new curbs and gutters on portions of Topeka Avenue and Santa Fe Avenue.

Two patrons questioned USD 434’s involvement with Schools for Fair Funding, Inc., an organization formed to sue the state for increased funding for schools. The board of education had voted to join the organization in October 2009 to support reopening or initiating new litigation.

Osage County commissioners approved a plan to operate a farmers market on the courthouse lawn every Wednesday throughout the growing season.

Lyndon City Council voted to not renew the contract of city administrator Larry Thurston. He had been Lyndon’s city administrator for almost three years.

April


Petition carriers organized into a group that would attempt to bring the county unit road maintenance issue to a vote.

County commissioners fielded complaints from citizens unhappy with the county’s maintenance of roads.

William Cody Hodgson, 23, Vassar, was killed in a vehicle rollover accident on state Highway 268, just east of the U.S. Highway 75 junction. The 1997 Ford Explorer left the roadway on the south side, and crossed the highway to the north side before rolling an unknown number of times.

Carbondale City Council agreed with a request from the police chief to transfer more funds from the city’s diversion agreement account to the police equipment fund.

A renovated railroad crossing west of Carbondale brought concerns to county commissioners from drivers whose vehicles had caught bumpers or undersides on the now elevated rail.

Holy Smoke BBQ, of Shawnee, won the grand champion award in the Smoke in the Spring barbecue competition.

Scranton Mayor David Barnes appointed former city council member Ken Croucher as the city’s fire chief.

USD 434’s Odyssey of the Mind team was scheduled for world competition after placing in state competition in March. The world competition was to be held in May at Michigan State University, Lansing, Mich.

Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn seized 13 horses near Melvern after neighbors reported seeing horses that appeared underfed and unhealthy. Property owner Salah Ibrahim, of Linwood, was later charged with misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and unlawful disposal of a dead animal.

Lyndon native Sgt. Robert Knoernschild was injured in Afghanistan after an improvised explosive device detonated and destroyed the mine-resistant vehicle he was riding in. Knoernschild was transferred to Fort Bragg, N.C., to recuperate from his injuries.

Osage City was informed that a resolution approved by the city council had no effect on the ongoing county unit road maintenance issue. The city’s resolution called for the issue to be brought to a public vote, but state statutes provide that an election could only occur if a valid petition was submitted to the county clerk.

Scranton’s sewer inspection revealed 3,609 feet of unmapped sewer lines. The inspection was part of a project to upgrade the city’s sanitary sewer system.

A Lyndon man died in a rollover accident about four miles west of U.S. Highway 75 on 245th Street. Andrew Parker, 22, had lost control of the 1989 Ford pickup on the gravel road. The vehicle struck a culvert and went airborne before hitting a tree and rolling. Two passengers were also injured.

For the second time in eight days, the Osage County Sheriff’s Office seized a herd of horses. A person reported to the sheriff that eight horses and a dog near Overbrook looked neglected, resulting in two misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals against Davin Ortiz, Overbrook.

May


Osage County and The Osage County Herald-Chronicle agreed to collaborate on a county information guide. Commissioners approved paying $1,000 of the printing costs of the guide that is to be distributed throughout the county, at state tourist information centers, and at tourism events.

Susan Grasmick, formerly of Lakin, was appointed as postmaster of the Osage City Post Office. She fills the position that had been vacant since former postmaster Sharyl Bolyard retired in 2009.

Carbondale City Council approved purchase of a new police vehicle and a variety of equipment at the request of recently-hired police chief Jon Reed. A 2010 Dodge Charger was to be purchased through a three-year lease program.

Rural Water District No. 1 awaited a decision by the Lyndon City Council on whether the city would add the water district’s users to the city’s water system. The water district was under a state deadline to either merge with another district or hire an operator.

A group that carried a petition to allow voters to decide whether the county will convert to a county unit road maintenance system delivered the promised petition to the county clerk. Ken Dubois, Burlingame, and members of the Voters’ Rights Patrol delivered the petition, said to contain 2,011 names; 1,080 names of registered voters were required to validate the petition.

Santa Fe Trail USD 434 Board of Education decided to not renew the contracts of seven district employees, citing reduction of state funds and decline of student enrollment.

Scranton City Council approved the employment of Larry Alexander as the city’s new police chief.

A federal wetlands project proposed near Burlingame was reported to be in non-compliance with county regulations, due to the lack of the owner filing for permits. A Natural Resource Conservation Service representative told the county’s land use coordinator the federal project did not require county permits.

Over 200 students graduated from Osage County’s five high schools during weekend graduation ceremonies.

Burlingame enjoyed a weekend of rodeo fun during the annual Burlingame Rodeo Days.

The Osage City Lady Indians cleared out their Class 3A regional with a 6-0 win over Central Heights, securing a spot in the Class 3A State Softball Tournament.

Osage County commissioners agreed that a petition calling for a vote on the county road system was sufficient. Commissioners decided the issue would be placed on the Aug. 3 primary election ballot.

The magistrate judge ruled that the son of James Kraig Kahler, charged with killing his wife, two teenage daughters, and his wife’s grandmother in Burlingame in November 2009, would testify by closed circuit television during a preliminary hearing in the matter. The preliminary hearing was rescheduled from May to June.

Carbondale planned a community celebration for the grand opening of a new swimming pool May 29. Free hot dogs and chips and free admission was offered during the opening day.

June

A project to install a pedestrian bridge over U.S. Highway 75 north of Lyndon began June 1. The $887,364 bridge project, which will replace an 80-year-old railroad bridge, is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Efforts to include Osage City in the Kansas Main Street program have been cancelled after organizers determined the city would not reach set goals to be considered for the downtown revitalization program. Cited as lacking was an initial five-year commitment of funds, community support, and interest in the program by businesses and property owners in the downtown area.

The Osage City Council stated its support for development of a hiking and biking trail on an old railroad route through town. Answering concerns of several citizens, the council reiterated its previous decisions to proceed with the project. More design work and land acquisition were needed before the project would continue, Osage City Manager Nick Hernandez reported.

Former Osage City Council member Jason Croucher was arrested by the FBI after being indicted on two counts of receiving or distributing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. The crimes were alleged to have happened in May and June of 2009.

Federal charges of intent to distribute cocaine were filed against a Texas man, after a highway traffic stop yielded more than 25 pounds of cocaine in May. State charges against Jose Allegandro Ugarte-Arellano, 31, were to be dismissed after a federal arrest warrant was served on the suspect being held in the Osage County Jail. Ugarte-Arellano had been stopped on I-35 south of Melvern.

Burlingame police officers joined other officers from across the state in carrying the Special Olympics torch through Osage County en route to the event in Wichita.

Hundreds of bicyclists stayed overnight in Osage City during the 494-mile Biking Across Kansas event. An estimated 850 to 1,000 bikers camped on the grounds and in the gymnasiums at Osage City’s schools.

James Kraig Kahler, charged with killing his wife, two teenage daughters, and his wife’s grandmother in Burlingame in November 2009, asked the court to dismiss charges against him, saying investigators improperly seized and reviewed attorney-client privileged communications during the investigation. Osage County Magistrate Judge Stephen Jones denied Kahler’s motion to dismiss the charges. A preliminary hearing scheduled for June was postponed until August due to a pending evaluation of the defendant.

Overbrook proceeded with plans for infrastructure projects. Water line replacement, street work, and sewer repairs were expected to begin in the summer.

Burlingame’s Wilderness Weekend was a roaring success as the sounds of competition chainsaws filled the town. A variety of events offered fun for all, and included a water log jousting tournament, a car show and lumberjack competition.

Fair season got under way with the first county fair of the season at Melvern. Sunflower Days offered four days of 4-H activities, free entertainment and a carnival.

Osage County commissioners confronted operators of the Flint Hills Nature Trail about the condition of bridges located on 221st Street and 229th Street and a former railroad right of way. Commissioners and the operators did not agree on the operators’ statutory requirements for maintaining the bridges. One trail representative offered to transfer ownership of the bridges to the county, to which the county counselor objected, saying the county would need more right of way to build new bridges.

July

County commissioners grappled with finding funding to repair the county’s aging bridges. A consensus was to select 15 bridges most in need and eligible for federal assistance, and ask voters to approve a bond to pay the county’s share of costs.

Burlingame City Council expressed concern about sidewalk obstructions after the recent Wilderness Weekend, when a person on a mobility scooter rolled off a top curb on the sidewalk on Santa Fe Avenue.

Osage County celebrated the Fourth of July as fireworks shows dodged rain showers across the county. Osage City Osage County Fair began the week after the holiday, bringing more fireworks, a carnival, and five days of summer fun.As summer warmed up, Melvern relaxed after the 101st annual Sunflower Days county fair; Scranton geared up for the annual Saturday in the Park; Lyndon’s non-motorized Fourth of July parade trotted through town without a hitch.

County commissioners continued to field questions about funding plans for the county unit road maintenance system, pending possible voter approval at the Aug. 3 primary election. Commissioners said they planned to develop two budgets, one reflecting the county unit system and another for regular county operations, but were awaiting answers from the auditor and some townships.

Scranton City Council approved negotiations for purchase of a Cheverolet Impala as a new police department vehicle, and authorized a three-year lease of a pickup for the maintenance department.

Carbondale, Overbrook and Scranton made preparations for a three-city celebration of emergency responders and public service. People from across the county were invited to National Night Out, scheduled for Aug. 3.

Burlingame City Council authorized the use of special purpose vehicles – all-terrain vehicles, golf carts, micro utility trucks – on city streets. Owners must provide liability insurance and have a driver’s license; special vehicles must be registered with the police department.

USD 421 Board Member Devin Sprecker submitted his resignation from the board, citing the board’s nepotism policy. Later in the meeting, the board approved employment of his daughter, Chelsea Sprecker, as a first-grade teacher.

The city of Scranton prepared for a sewer improvement project. During a public hearing, consultants laid out a project design the included 130 manholes and eight miles of sewer line. An estimated 5,000 feet would need open trenching, but the entire system is to be slip-lined.

August

On Aug. 3, county voters defeated the conversion to the county unit road maintenance system – 2,675 no to 1,575 yes – and allowed townships to continue maintaining township roads. Incumbent county commissioner Carl Meyer beat primary opponent Fred Diver by one vote in the uncertified tally.

Lyndon officially accepted the 67-acre Rockin Z subdivision into the city, with approval of a final plat of the project.

Two business owners requested rezoning of property in Melvern’s downtown. Joyce Lacey presented her plan to construct a convenience store. Randy Kirkpatrick requested rezoning to build a storage complex.

Osage City offered an energy efficiency program to citizens. Low cost loans will be made to property owners for energy improvements and can be repaid through utility bills.

Jeremy Struemph, Lawrence, nearly doubled his state skydiving record by jumping 101 times at Skydive Kansas, Osage City. Struemph’s skydives Aug. 12 also raised awareness and $3,300 for pancreatic cancer.

County commissioners considered how an expected murder trial would affect next year’s budget. The county’s expenses to prosecute James Kraig Kahler had been estimated to total or exceed $200,000. Kahler is accused of killing his wife, two teenage daughters, and his wife’s grandmother in Burlingame in 2009.

Osage City Council approved revocation of a downtown bar’s sidewalk dining license, after the Sportsman’s Club’s co-owner was charged with aggravated assault. The bar was the city’s first business licensed under a new sidewalk use ordinance three months earlier.

Overbrook Osage County Fair got under way. Highlights included two parades in the summer heat, a carnival running for four nights, and exhibits of the county’s best produce, agriculture products and livestock.

Frequent travelers between Auburn and Burlingame breathed a sigh of relief after two replaced bridges were opened to traffic. Drivers in the area had used a circuitous detour for almost eight months.

Storm damage at Burlingame schools allowed students an extra day of summer. High winds hit high voltage lines in the area, blowing out a crucial transformer.

Overbrook readied for upcoming street repair and water main construction. Citizens were to be notified of work schedules; the contractor is to hang notices on resident’s doors.

Vassar residents reported to county commissioners their nerves were rattled after a neighbor had set up a firing range in his yard. Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn agreed to research statutes, but noted there were no laws against shooting in the residential areas of the county.Two sisters from Russell were killed in a two-car accident south of Lyndon. Joyce L. Miller, 66, and Carol A. Miller, 70, died after a 2000 Ford van driven by Richard L. Baysinger, 78, Lyndon, crossed the center line and struck the 1999 Buick LeSabre driven by Joyce Miller. Another sister, Dolores J. Keenan, 76, Russell, was transported to a Topeka hospital and treated and released. Baysinger was injured and treated at the scene.

Quenemo and Agency Township officials met with county commissioners to propose the idea of forming a new city/township fire district. Commissioners directed the county counselor to research statutes on forming a fire district and provide legal assistance.

Carbondale City Council agreed to seek citizen input about funding for a possible infrastructure project, setting a public hearing for September.

Scranton council members learned new easements would be needed for portions of the sewer project. Residents were to be notified by mail if access inside homes was needed during the project.

September


After almost 25 years of planning, a $4.1 million federal project to expand Osage City’s airport was scheduled. The project was to begin with acquisition of about 130 acres of nearby land. The project, which will construct a longer runway east of the existing runway, will cost the city an estimated $207,000.

School districts in the county hired 12 new staff members as the new school year began.

Burlingame Mayor Ray Hovestadt convened a special meeting for the purpose of considering purchase of a new police department vehicle. The city council authorized the purchase of a 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche at a cost of $25,679.

Carbondale spruced up for a fall celebration, featuring arts and crafts, food vendors and family fun. The event included a street dance, gospel singers and a lawn mower demolition derby.

The county road department repaired an obstacle at the railroad tracks west of Carbondale. The hump in the road, which had snagged the undersides and bumpers of vehicles, was created by railroad crews when the rail bed and crossing were recently rebuilt.

Osage County was notified it was in the running for two possible major highway projects as the state’s 10-year transportation plan was considered. Included in the top tier of possible projects in the plan were expansion of U.S. Highway 75 from Carbondale to Lyndon, and modernization of state Highway 31 from Osage City to U.S. 75. Public input was solicited by KDOT to assist in determining which projects should be included in the final plan.

County, township and city officials continued with a plan to form a new fire district in Quenemo and Agency Township. Plans are for the township and city to approve resolutions, which will be presented to the county commission for its approval.

Carbondale City Council rejected a sewer improvement plan after a public hearing laid out possible funding sources for such a project. Council members said they would seek other solutions for the town’s sewer problems.

Lori Sturdy, Lyndon, was appointed by the USD 421 Board of Education to fill the position vacated by former board member Devin Sprecker.

A proposed community electronic message sign for Osage City gained support from USD 420 Board of Education, which approved paying $3,000 toward the purchase of the sign. A committee was to meet with other entities to seek financial support.

Burlingame changed its water rate structure, establishing 1,000 gallons a month as the maximum amount that can be used without an extra charge.

A city engineer reported Overbrook’s infrastructure projects were on track for fall completion. The projects include sewer repair, water line installation and street resurfacing.

U.S. Highway 75 was closed for three days as workers removed the 80-year-old railroad bridge that serves the Flint Hills Nature Trail. Announced were plans to close the highway again in October when a new pedestrian bridge is to be installed.

Overbrook PRIDE celebrated the town’s history during Santa Fe Trail Days. The Adjutant General’s Mounted Color Guard opened the celebration that featured children’s games, family contests, an open-fire chili cook-off, and historical re-enactors.


Osage County’s annual Relay for Life, held at Lyndon High School’s football field, raised $57,000 for cancer research. Twenty teams walked the track during the all night fundraising event.

Plans for expansion of Osage City’s airport drew a large crowd of concerned citizens during discussion of the project by the Osage City Council. Land acquisition for the project had begun, but area residents asked the council to reconsider the project. The council tabled discussion of the project.

Burlingame initiated the process to condemn two downtown properties. The buildings at 114 and 116 E. Santa Fe Ave. were deemed as a dangerous structures. A public hearing was set to allow the owners to present evidence showing why the buildings should not be razed.

Although voters defeated a plan to shift township road maintenance to the county, county commissioners continued to be involved in township road issues. Barclay Township requested that commissioners consider providing road maintenance in that township. In another township road issue, commissioners acted as referees in a dispute between a resident, whose home sits on the boundary between two townships, and township officials. The resident was dissatisfied with the lack of road maintenance by either township.

Denise Bahner, Scranton, was named as the winner of The Herald-Chronicle’s summer photo contest. Bahner’s photo of Pomona Lake was published on the cover of Your Guide to Osage County, an information publication that is to be distributed throughout the county and state.

Citizens and public officials met at the Osage County Courthouse to determine which highway projects would have local support. Modernization of state Highway 31 was estimated at $13 million, while converting 13 miles of U.S. Highway 75 to four lanes was projected to cost at least $66 million. Consensus was that both projects had local support. Officials were to present the public’s preferences during an upcoming consultation meeting with KDOT.

October

Osage City Council considered more information about an airport expansion project. After discussion, the council voted unanimously to continue with the project as planned.

Lyndon City Council spread the workload for city office employees in preparation of the arrival of a new city administrator. The council had approved an employment agreement with Kim Newman, of Killingly, Conn., who was to begin serving as city administrator in November.

Osage County commissioners had the unfortunate task of appointing a new county counselor after the death of longtime counselor Delton Gilliland on Sept. 29. Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones was assigned the duties of county counselor and administrator, both positions that had been held by Gilliland.

Nine years after stepping off the field he had coached on for 25 years, Bob Von Stein’s service was recognized as the Santa Fe Trail High School football field was named in his honor.

About 30 bicycle riders gathered at Melvern for the town’s first mountain bike race on trails in Riverfront Park. Experts raced for 16 miles on the course laid out along the wooded bank of the Marais des Cygnes River and through an old quarry.

Bissessarnath Ramcharan-Maharajh, Osage City, filed a petition in Osage County District Court in an effort to correct what he said was negligence by county officials. The action pertained to Ramcharan-Maharajh’s attempt to petition for an election to overturn Osage City’s decision to develop a trail on an unused railroad right of way.

A preliminary hearing for James Kraig Kahler, charged with killing his wife, two teenage daughters, and his wife’s grandmother in Burlingame in November 2009, was rescheduled to December. Kahler’s defense attorney said his co-counsel had resigned from the firm and a new co-counsel was studying the case to assist in the defense. While being escorted from the courthouse to the county jail, Kahler showed an interest in a deputy’s gun, asking the deputy about the gun’s caliber.

The Year In Review will continue in next week’s edition of the Herald-Chronicle.