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‘... we’re all about having a good time ...’
Racers slip, slide down muddy track

In an ordinary obstacle course, the objective might be to avoid the mud. The kids of Atchison have a different idea.

The annual Mud & Suds Fun Run held on Saturday morning at Jackson Park included dozens of children doing their level best to get absolutely filthy, almost with a higher priority than running faster than their competitors. The event presented no shortage of opportunities to become coated head-to-toe in mud, in what might be thought of as Atchison’s unofficial start to the summer outdoor fun season.

“We’ve really started to use it to kick off the city’s summer activities, and it’s turned out really well,” said Mayor Shawn Rizza, who leads Fun Run organizers each year as a volunteer for Project Atchison, a charity dedicated to improving local life.

“With this event, we’re all about having a good time in one of our town’s beautiful parks and just the joy of being outside.”

The run incorporates help from the Atchison Fire Department and the Atchison County Rural Fire District volunteer firefighters of Shannon Township and Mount Pleasant Township, who help ensure the course stays safely squishy and slick with their firehoses, and just interact with the kids.

“We interact with parents and kids out there, and you keep kids with a friendly impression of a firefighter,” said Fire Chief David “Spider” Shell, who leads the Shannon Township department. “Then they’re not scared of you when you show up when they need you, and they understand what we’re all about.”

Rizza estimated that event registration, organized by Project Atchison and Live Well Live Atchison, a local nonprofit promoting healthy living, raised a little more than $1,000 for Project Atchison, with more expected on event day; the agency purchases supplies to clean up or perform basic maintenance of public areas like parks. Yet the fundraiser’s secondary goal was to have good, not-so-clean fun with local friends and family.

“You just can’t help but smile and laugh, you know?” said Emily Tull, one of the Atchison High School cross country runners who volunteered to help guide kids through the course. “It’s just a whole lot of kids going down and getting muddy and smiling. It’s great.”

For more information, visit

City talks skatepark plan's future

A plan to bring a state-of-the-art skating area to Reisner Park hasn’t seen nearly as much fundraising success as had been hoped for, and the City of Atchison is discussing how to adapt.

While a conversation held on Monday evening involving members of the City of Atchison governing body and professional staff hasn’t yet produced any concrete steps to change things up, officials agreed that the city’s hopes to have seen major progress on fundraising by the Skate High With Hope Foundation by the end of this year don’t seem likely to be be achieved.

“I think they have realized that what they’re doing isn’t working,” Mayor Shawn Rizza said during the City of Atchison budgetary workshop conversation which reviewed the skate park project situation, among a variety of other subjects.

The foundation, run by Jeremy Watkins and Pam Cline, parents to the late Joshua Kinsman — an avid skater who envisioned the return of a public skate park to Atchison before his death last January — has partnered with Pillar Design Studios of Chandler, Arizona. The couple hope to obtain a grant via the foundation of legendary pro skateboarder Tony Hawk toward project costs. Yet before any of that can happen, some way of generating more cashflow must be found.

To fully fund the first phase of the planned skating area at Reisner Park, the foundation will need to generate more than $200,000. Yet as of Monday, the project remained some distance away from an initial $75,000 benchmark, which would trigger $75,000 in matching funds from the city government for a total of $150,000.

City leaders are contemplating putting the $75,000 matching grant on hold for the FY 2020 budgetary process; if they simply keep the match grant in place as it is, and the $75,000 benchmark is not met through all of 2020, then the city will have set aside an unspent $75,000 line item for the duration of the fiscal year.

Officials emphasized that if the matching grant plan is altered, they can always restore the current plan in future budgets. Either way, if fundraising doesn’t happen at a faster pace, the skate park will remain a dream for the longer-term future; city officials agreed that the city supplying $75,000 up front, or otherwise directly injecting funding without further private fundraising, isn’t in the cards.

“It’s got to be driven organically,” Vice Mayor Allen Reavis said during the budget workshop. “It can’t be driven by us.”

As of Tuesday, the Skate High With Hope Foundation maintained a Facebook account and a renewed GoFundMe effort to generate funding; the foundation had a fundraising presence on Saturday at the Mud & Suds Fun Run at Jackson Park. For more information, visit

Local 2019 elections ready to roll for November

A dozen filers beat the Noon deadline on Monday to round out a few slates of candidates for the upcoming 2019 cities and school board elections.

Deputy Election Clerk Kalee Vanderweide, Atchison County Clerk’s Office, reports despite a last minute rush of candidates, it does not appear there will be a need for a primary election in August.

The candidates who did file are guaranteed to see their names appear on the respective ballots for the Tuesday, Nov. 5, general election.

For the two 4-year and one 2-year terms open on the City of Atchison city commission, the hopefuls are:

Abby Bartlett

David Hausmann (incumbent)

J. David Farris

Luke Jesnowski

Charlie Perdue (incumbent)

Lisa Moody

William J. Murphy

Perdue, Bartlett, Moody and Murphy all filed on Monday. Hausmann filed on May 31. Jesnowski filed on May 22. Farris filed all the way back on May 2.

The cities of Effingham and Muscotah each have a full slate that includes mayor and five council positions. The candidates are:

Effingham: Justin O’Brien, filed for mayor on Monday; Harvey D. Fasse, David Lowe, Ross Montgomery and Kirk Wohlgemuth all filed in May; and Mark Hurst was the first to file for a candidacy throughout the county on April 18.

Muscotah: Brian Higley filed May 30 as the only mayoral candidate; three council hopefuls are Susan J. Higley, Darryl Hundley and Margaret Jacobs all filed for positions on Monday to join Dale W. Small and Dalia M. Wilson. Small and Wilson each filed toward the end of May.

Incumbent Huron Mayor Jaquetta Peak is the only candidate to file to maintain her lead spot on Huron City Council. There are five open council positions, meaning five blank lines on the ballot.

In Lancaster, voters will need to fill in the blanks lines on the ballot because not one candidate filed for any of the open Lancaster City Council positions.

The USD 409 Board of Education will have six candidates on the ballot, all at-large, vying for one of the three positions available. Josh Wheeler beat the deadline countdown on Monday to be the sixth to file. Among the candidates, sitting 409 President Herb Gwaltney is the only incumbent. Other candidates are Sally Berger, Stefanie Gardner, Pamela Rizza and John Bishop.

James R. Cormode filed for the at-large position on the USD 377 Board of Education on the last day to file. President Nancy Keith currents serves at-large. However, Keith filed for the Position No. 3 spot. Vice-president Barbara Chapman filed to retain the Position No. 1 seat and Greg Smith, incumbent, filed to hold Position No. 2.

Potential voters who will be 18 years old on before the general Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 5, may register to vote in the Atchison County Clerk’s Office at the courthouse. For information, contact the clerk’s office at 913-804-6030.

Local man dies in rollover

A Monday afternoon single-vehicle rollover claimed the life of a local man near Bendena in Doniphan County, the Kansas Highway Patrol reports.

Jay C. Jewell, 54, of Atchison, was pronounced dead at the crash scene located in Friendship and 125th roads vicinity. KHP reported Jewell was transported to Harman-Rohde Funeral Home, a Doniphan County–based mortuary.

The accident occurred about 5:30 p.m. after Jewell was southbound along Friendship Road as he drove a 1997 Ford F150 pickup truck, according to KHP Crash Log Report. The truck left the roadway toward the west. It appeared Jewell overcorrected, then left the roadway toward the east. The vehicle struck a culvert and rolled.

The KHP reported Jewell was not buckled into his seatbelt and had suffered a fatal injury. Sauter Towing removed the vehicle from the accident scene.

Felony probationer faces new charge

Jace M. Crail

A local probationer is currently back in jail following his arrest within recent days on a felony warrant alleging threats on of a violent nature, though he was convicted of aggravated assault less than six months earlier.

Jace M. Crail, 18, is facing one count criminal threat after he uttered his intent to harm some of his extended relatives in Huron. The allegation against Crail stemmed from an incident a 34-year-old female reported to Atchison County Sheriff’s authorities late afternoon on May 8.

The victim alleged Crail made a threatening statement to her and her two children, Sheriff Jack Laurie said. A warrant was subsequently issued. Crail was arrested after deputies spotted him May 31 in the 100 block of South Eighth St. After a short foot pursuit, Crail was apprehended near Eighth Street and Kansas Avenue and was transported to Atchison County Jail, where he remained confined on Tuesday evening, pending fulfillment of a $10,000 bond agreement.

Crail heard the formal charge announced Monday in Atchison County District Court. Atchison-based attorney Rex Lane was appointed to serve as defense counsel for Crail, who became aware he is facing probation violations in connection with his January conviction. All matters were continued to the 9 a.m. criminal docket Friday, June 14, in district court.

Crail is serving felony probation for a felony aggravated assault he pleaded guilty to on Jan. 11 in district court. The conviction arose from a Thanksgiving evening incident on Nov. 22 in an alley located in the 700 block of Santa Fe Street after Crail jumped out with a knife in hand and a approached a young man. Then he proceeded to strike the man’s vehicle with the knife.

The crime carries an underlying prison sentence that was suspended to probation monitored by Atchison County Communication officers.