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ACCHS sends off seniors

EFFINGHAM — Thirty-three teenagers bid farewell Saturday, May 11, to their school years in Effingham and crossed the threshold to chart their respective courses future endeavors.

Principal Deanna Scherer of Atchison County Community Junior-Senior High School urged the class of 2019 to become more than something they just tell about, but to be ones that all can say you have made it.

Scherer’s remarks seemingly set an inspirational tone spoken throughout the commencement from class leaders to classmates.

Class valedictorians Jaycee Ernzen and Lane Scoggins were recognized for their consistent cumulative 4.0 grade point averages and other achievements.

Jonna McDermed and Sara Johnson earned the distinction of salutatorians for their second highest academic ranks. They too addressed their classmates.

Johnson encouraged her peers to maintain a faith-centered life as they follow their dreams.

“Never doubt yourself,” McDermed urged. “You are the only one in control of your life.”

Ernzen, Scoggins and McDermed are members of the Mu Alpha Theta, a mathematics honor society.

A Kansas Governors Scholar, Ernzen, Scoggins and McDermed are also members of the National Honor Society.

Ernzen encouraged her graduating class members not to be afraid to make mistakes as they find their way in life. She spoke of the famed inventor Thomas Edison whose belief was that mistakes offered him more life experiences to learn from.

Scoggins also referred to his ancestral ties traced back to 123 years of service to USD 377 schools. The class of 2019 and many of the guests present are a part of legacy as a result of all of the school district they served throughout the generations.

Ernzen plans to pursue kinesiology studies at Washburn University; Scoggins plan is to pursue accounting at Kansas State University; Johnson expects to pursue actuarial science at Washburn; and McDermed plans to follow her endeavor in biomedical sciences at Northwest Missouri State University.

The Atchison County Community High School classes of 2019 graduated seniors have indicated they have various plans to pursue, according to the published graduation program: One, Matthew Oswalt expects to enlist in military service with the United States Navy.

Other plans for the graduates include: One expects to attend Benedictine College; eight – Highland County Community College; two – Cloud County Community College; one – Colby Community College; nine are ready for employment in the private sector; one has plans to attend the Washburn Institute of Technology; University of Kansas – one; and one will attend Fort Hays University.

To see more ACCHS graduation photos log onto

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Riverbend staff still without pay

More than a dozen claims of unpaid work by Riverbend International School teachers and staff remain open as of Tuesday afternoon.

One of the unpaid teachers believes she is owed more than $17,000 plus interest, tacked on under state labor law. Laura Walters, who taught music at Riverbend in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 academic years, said she and her husband, Kyle, felt distrustful of assurances in March 2018 by Carol Kwan, president of the board of directors for Riverbend owner Kansas Education Holdings, LLC, that the staff would eventually be paid.

“Had I known they were going to be having financial problems, maybe I wouldn’t have taken the job in 2016,” Walters said. “She gave us assurances that they were going to find more investors, find more students, find a way to pay the bills. But it just, I guess it didn’t work out.”

Now, with Atchison attorney John Fresh Jr. retained to press the case by the remaining unpaid staff, it’s a matter of continuing to wait and see what might come of the process via the Kansas Department of Labor (KDoL) to obtain unpaid wages.

Kwan, a southern California resident who along with fellow director K.T. Leung is being sued by a team of Chinese investors in the District Court of Atchison County over Riverbend’s collapse as a business venture, couldn’t be reached for comment by Tuesday evening.

“We don’t expect money to come at all at this point,” Kyle Walters said. “If it does, it will basically be a bonus. It’s a substantial sum and it would definitely help, but we’ve kind of written it off.”

The path forward is complex. According to KDoL spokeswoman Julie Menghini, of the original 21 claims of unpaid wages received by her agency, five have been resolved and a state arbitrator dismissed two of them for failure on the part of the plaintiff to attend proceedings. The remaining 14 are outstanding, and the agency considers the claims to have various chances of success.

“You know I do believe in karma, and I hope this comes back to haunt them,” Kyle Walters said of Riverbend’s owners. “I don’t know how this system works exactly, but they should be pursued (for payment) to the fullest extent of the law. I think this is terrible, what they’ve done to us.”

Walters said she and her husband managed to afford a real estate equity loan based on their holdings in Atchison; Kyle owns several properties he rents to residential tenants. This left them a position more favorable than most of their colleagues, she said. There has still been plenty of difficulty and, the Walters couple said, little input from Riverbend’s owners, who seem to have left the situation behind them.

“Carol, be a good person, and pay us,” she said. “Pay us. Pay all of your debts that you have. It’s the right thing to do.”

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Weekend ambush jails man

A local man allegedly ambushed his ex-girlfriend inside her own home cloaked in early morning darkness on Saturday and raped her at knifepoint, authorities said on Monday.

Atchison Police Chief Mike Wilson said Richard C. Butler, 43, of Atchison, committed the crime against a 53-year-old woman. The attack happened after a dispute the two had on Friday night at a location away from the victim’s home, Wilson said.

Following the dispute, Wilson said, the woman spent several hours at another location. She then returned to her home in the early morning hours of Saturday, where she believed Butler didn’t have access, Wilson said. Despite her precautions, Wilson said, Butler broke into the residence before she arrived and appeared with a knife in his hand as she entered.

“He grabbed her, held a knife against her, made threats against her, threatened great bodily harm to her, then raped her,” Wilson said. “This continued over a period of several hours.”

Eventually, Wilson said, at about 8:30 a.m. Saturday, the woman managed to escape from her residence and sought help from neighbors. Police responded in force to the victim’s residence. The man inside, who Wilson said officers identified as Butler, appeared to have been on the verge of fleeing the scene.

Following his initial appearance in the District Court of Atchison County on Monday afternoon, Judge Robert Bednar read formal charges against Butler, including aggravated kidnapping; rape by threat of force or fear; aggravated criminal sodomy; aggravated assault; aggravated domestic battery; two counts of criminal threat; harassment by telephone; criminal damage to property; and criminal restraint, all felonies. Butler stated he intends to hire his own defense counsel.

Bednar ordered Butler to remain confined in the Atchison County Jail pending fulfillment of a $100,000 surety bond agreement. Bednar further ordered that Butler is to have no contact with the victim should he obtain release. Butler is set to next appear in court at 1 p.m. Monday, May 20.

Wilson said the kidnapping charge rests on APD’s conclusion that Butler used his knife to confine the victim to her residence against her will, and that he didn’t remove her from her residence. Wilson said police do not believe that Butler posed an active threat to anyone other than the victim prior to his arrest.

Wilson said Butler is believed to have damaged the home to get inside and added he also destroyed contents, including a television set and furniture. The charges have been filed in cooperation with Atchison County Attorney Sherri Becker, who leads all local adult criminal prosecutions.

“When great bodily harm is threatened or inflicted, we consider it a very serious case,” Wilson said. “And that’s what happened here. He actually had a knife to her face, to her neck, to her body, along with the sexual attack that actually occurred. This is very serious, as illustrated by the serious charges that he faces.”

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Layoffs speed up at Fargo factory

Job losses are accelerating at the Fargo factory following news earlier this month that it will shut down by no later than the end of June.

A new document shown to Atchison Globe, signed by Fargo Assembly of PA company president Patrick Pendergast states that “circumstances require” an accelerated termination date set for mid-May with regard to one or more employees in the overnight shift at the factory.

“Thank you for your loyal service and dedication to Fargo,” wrote Pendergast, who is based in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

A confidential source with knowledge of the situation, who previously informed the newspaper of Fargo’s fate, said they believe that the accelerated layoffs affect a significant number of the remaining employees at the factory, but that it’s not clear exactly how many people will lose their jobs in the immediate future.

The more experienced employees thought a previously discussed transition period would allow for people to stay employed while looking for jobs through the end of June, the source said.

“It’s just sad,” the source said. “None of us planned for this. We thought we had at least a couple more paychecks coming.”

The Fargo factory is a longtime parts supplier for Harley-Davidson, Inc., chiefly producing wire harnesses and other parts for motorcycles. Harley announced it is shutting down its massive northern Kansas City factory last year. The Harley plant went up for sale in February ahead of a planned final shutdown this summer.

Despite repeated calls and an Atchison Globe editorial pleading for public clarity on the situation from Fargo upper management — who ultimately answer to parent company Electronic Components International of St. Louis, Missouri — no official statement has been released on the Fargo factory.

The final shutdown date is thought to remain set for June 28.