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(Top Stories of 2011, Part I - May through August, click here.)

May

Area citizens gathered for the fifth annual Senior Resource Fair, held at the Osage County Senior Center, where area businesses and agencies displayed and demonstrated services and products they offer to senior citizens.

The Osage City Council learned accessibility improvements at Huffman Park could cost as much as $50,000, and force the closure of the current park access, to resolve an anonymous complaint about handicap accessibility in the park.

Kelsi Wiscombe’s graduation from Washburn University’s School of Nursing marked the fourth such degree earned by members of her family in recent years. Her sister and two cousins all received nursing degrees from Washburn.

Following resignation of its police chief and appointment of an interim chief in April, Carbondale City Council continued to field complaints about the police department and its operations. One council member presented information about contracting with the sheriff’s office for law enforcement services.

Scranton seated two new council members, Randy Ming and Robert Sims, amid an ongoing sewer renovation project and reports of disagreement with a citizen about easement access to an affected property.

A traffic stop in Carbondale led to the arrest of four individuals suspected of being involved in local thefts, after stolen property was found in the car. Three of the suspects were also arrested in connection with possession of methamphetamine and other charges.

Overbrook looked forward to the end of a street renovation project that affected most of the main thoroughfares in the city.

Area school districts looked at ways to cut costs after Governor Sam Brownback proposed reducing state aid to schools in the 2011-2012 state budget.

A former Osage City Council member, Jason Croucher, was sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to two counts of receiving or distributing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.

The Scranton City Council rejected its mayor’s appointment of Larry Alexander as police chief. Alexander remained in the city’s employment without mayoral appointment.

A cool and quiet May was interrupted with tornadoes that damaged buildings in Quenemo and destroyed the town of Reading.

Osage County commissioners awarded an ambulance services contract to TECHS Inc., at an annual cost of $479,000. The contract increased the number of full-time ambulances stationed in the county from one to two. The county’s previous contract with American Medical Response for one ambulance stationed in the county cost about $190,000. The new ambulance service will take over on Jan. 1.

June

The Osage City High School Lady Indians softball team won the state 3A softball title during a tournament at the Twin Oaks Complex, in Manhattan.

The city of Reading was granted a declaration of federal loan assistance in the aftermath of the May 21 tornado that destroyed the town.

The Burlingame City Council accepted the resignation of part-time police officer Anthony Richman, 38, after he was charged with burglary of a rural residence and theft of city-owned gasoline.

As other highway construction was ongoing in the county, the state announced renovation of state Highway 31 from Osage City to U.S. Highway 75 was on the list of projects in the state’s 10-year highway plan. The renovation of the seven-mile stretch of road was estimated to cost $14 million and expected to begin no sooner than 2014.

Contractors and home builders gathered at the former Kan-Build manufacturing plant to bid on tools, vehicles and supplies as part of liquidation of the closed business’ assets.

An engineering firm advised the city of Lyndon that the city’s infrastructure could support added development on the north side of the city, but estimated extending sewer and water lines to a proposed residential and commercial development could cost as much as $1 million.

Melvern’s mayor announced plans of several new businesses expected to open in the city, including a convenience store, storage facility and recreational vehicle park.

Three male subjects were arrested in northern Osage County, suspected of running a clandestine marijuana growing operation, after they were apprehended during a manhunt on the rural property that abuts U.S. Highway 75. Authorities said the suspects appeared to be living on the property.

As work finished on a pedestrian and horse bridge over U.S. Highway 75, a group of horse riders traversed the bridge and traveled west on the Flint Hills Nature Trail from near Vassar to Osage City and the county line.

Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn met with the Scranton City Council to answer questions about the possibility of the sheriff’s office providing law enforcement services for the city.

Melvern hosted its third annual 5K walk and run on its recently developed riverfront trails.

Blake Treinen, an Osage City native, was drafted as a major league baseball pitcher for the Oakland Athletics.

A district court judge ruled that James Kraig Kahler, accused of killing his wife, two daughters and his wife’s grandmother in Burlingame, will face the death penalty if convicted of the crimes. Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn announced special security measures would be implemented during Kahler’s trial set to begin in August.

Osage City’s city manager, Nick Hernandez, announced his resignation, after being offered a job in the same position at Arkansas City.

A citizens group at Carbondale announced a new library might be in the town’s future if funding for the project can be secured. The city’s current library is housed in 435 square feet of space in city hall.

A Scranton resident proposed that she would carry a petition in support of the city’s police chief. Council members did not respond to Paula Schuler’s request for two week’s time to collect signatures on the petition.

July

Lyndon Saddle Club, Osage County Fire District No. 5 and the city of Lyndon hosted a fireworks display at the saddle club arena, drawing spectators from across the county for the July 3 event.

The Kansas Department Social Rehabilitation Services announced that its office in Lyndon would be one of nine across the state closed as part of the agency’s restructuring.

Officials with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in Melvern Lake. Evidence of adults of the invasive species were found in four foot of water in the Melvern marina cove.

The Osage City Council voted to discard a trail project through the city that had been planned for years, along with previous expenditures of $289,000 for development and design, and state transportation enhancement funds that had been designated by Kansas Department of Transportation for the project since 2005.

The Osage County Historical Society discovered the original deed to land that became Lyndon’s town site, in boxes of files of a Lyndon attorney from the 1920s and 1930s. The deed showed the signature of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, although it was suspected it was not actually Grant’s signature, but likely that of his secretary. The document was dated June 15, 1871.

Osage City hosted the second and biggest of the county’s three fairs, featuring a parade, fireworks display, talent show, carnival and demolition derby. Melvern had opened the county’s fair season in June, with its annual Sunflower Days event and county fair.

Melvern City Council considered a study conducted to evaluate traffic and children’s safety in the school zone along the town’s main street.

The Osage City Arts Council presented a concert featuring Jeff Davidson and the Trail Rider Band in celebration of Kansas’ 150th birthday.

USD 420 Board of Education members approved a resolution authorizing an election for voters to decide to whether to issue $4.5 million in bonds for expansion and renovation at the elementary school, and athletic facilities expansions including options for adding seating in the auxiliary gymnasium, constructing a gymnasium, and construction of a track.

Jury selection began for the trial of James Kraig Kahler, accused of killing his wife, two daughters and his wife’s grandmother in Burlingame. About 300 Osage County residents were summoned to the Lyndon High School gymnasium, where they filled out questionnaires as the first step in the selection of the jury.

Osage County residents suffered in a heat wave in which 100-degree days were recorded during 10 consecutive days.

The Osage City Council offered little hope to supporters of a long-planned trail project that the council had scrapped in June. A representative of the Osage City Chamber of Commerce presented a statement saying the Chamber supported offering the public a chance to vote on whether the project should continue, but the council took no action on the Chamber’s statement.

August

About 100 volunteers showed up to work at a half-dozen sites in Osage City in an effort to better the community. About half of the volunteers worked on the section of the Flint Hills Nature Trail that passes through the city.

Overbrook geared up to host the third county fair of the season, with events including two parades, a carnival, country music show and tractor and pedal pull competitions.

Carbondale was the site of a three-city National Night Out, which was hosted by Carbondale, Scranton and Overbrook law enforcement and emergency personnel. The event offered free hamburgers and hot dogs, free admission to the Carbondale swimming pool, and fingerprinting for the Ident-A-Kid program.

Osage County commissioners approved the 2012 budget with a 3.685 mill levy increase and an approximate $2.5 million increase in spending.

The jury trial for James Kraig Kahler, accused of killing his wife, two daughters and his wife’s grandmother in Burlingame, got under way in Lyndon, with Kahler’s son testifying he saw his father shoot his mother. Another witness, a sheriff’s deputy, testified about how he tried to comfort one of the dying victims after the 2009 shootings.

The Osage City Council voted to give eight property owners 120 days to abate conditions of properties that had been declared unsafe or hazardous by the city’s enforcement officer.

USD 420 Board of Education heard that hurdles had been cleared to use land near Osage City’s Jones Park for constructing athletic facilities as part of a proposed $4.5 million bond issue. The school district had gained tentative approval for use of the land from co-authorities Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the city of Osage City.

Downtown Osage City was shut off to traffic as police arrested a burglary suspect found in Schroeder Drugs. The man, Kelley M. Beard, threatened to shoot officers, but was found to only have a knife after officers subdued him with a Taser. Beard was booked into jail on counts of burglary, theft, criminal damage to property, and assault on law enforcement officers.

An Osage County jury was told James Kraig Kahler suffered from mental illness when he shot and killed his wife, two daughters and his wife’s grandmother in Burlingame during the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Following two weeks of testimony, jurors deliberated two hours and 15 minutes before returning verdicts of guilty on charges of capital murder, first degree murder, and aggravated burglary. Afterward, after deliberating for 55 minutes, the jury recommended Kahler be sentenced to death for the capital murder conviction
.