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Atchison County communities' July Fourth celebrations to shine in history
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Independence Day celebrations were in full swing in Atchison County throughout the holiday weekend.

The communitywide “Celebrate our summer of Freedom”-themed festivities Sunday in Lancaster got rolling with an unexpected parade-stopping tribute along Broadway Street to honor parade founder Mayor Tim Callahan. Callahan unexpectedly died June 19 at his home.

Lancaster City Council members Vice-mayor Ronnie Meyer, Larry Meyer, Emily Bare, Erin Hager and Matt Wilburn announced a proclamation proclaiming the Fourth of July 2021 as Tim Callahan Day for loving and living in the community for 65 years; for his love of the Independence Day and St. Patrick’s Day; and for his years of annually organizing and presenting the City of Lancaster July 4th celebration.

City Council members presented Callahan’s wife, Sandy Callahan and family a framed tribute of Callahan’s legacy in the community.

A free will donation meal for a free will donation before the parade started the activities, proceeds from the supper will go towards the purchase of Christmas decorations for the city of Lancaster.

Parade winners contest winners were: Best Entry – The Wilburn Family Float; Best Group/Organization – Ocean Dream Massage by Michelle Henning and Henning family members; Best Family – Kate Oswald and the Oswald Family on 4-wheelers; Best Theme – “COVID Jail” by the Meyers’ and Hermreck families; and the Oldest Entry – Brent Duncan for his Rat Rod pickup truck.

Free Ice Cream was offered to event-goers after the parade provided by Lancaster Oil Co., Burke Farms and Oswald Dairy Farm.

After dusk an aerial fireworks display showered over Fuhrman Park that closed the annual celebration that illuminated the sky with lots of shimmer and sparkle. The Lancaster Lions Club also sponsored the event.

On Saturday, July 3 the Atchison Lions Club Community Fireworks display sponsored by Atchison Lions Club members were fired off by father and son pyro-technicians, Dave and Bryce Hundley and the pyrotechnical crew composed of Hundley family members and friends. The annual event was at Warnock Lake and featured aerial displays and the musical selection provided by Paul Kelley, of Power Sound DJ Service.

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Mascot decision on Monday agenda
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A decision regarding the Atchison Public Schools mascot is on the agenda for the upcoming USD 409 Board of Education meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, July 12 in the community room at the BOE office located at 626 Commercial Street.

Board members made their decision to proceed with the mascot change at their April meeting. Since that time they have hosted open forums to hear public comment, reviewed survey results and have discussed options. At the June meeting, board members agreed to table the matter until this month in an effort to make an announcement of a new mascot by the start of school.

The public may address the board soon after the meeting starts with certain guidelines: sign in the “Request to Appear Before the Board” sheet located on the table at the entrance; comments are subject to a time limit; groups shall assign a spokesperson; all comments are limited to issues and not personalities of district employees, students or other persons.

Concerning other matters, Board members:

Expect to hear reports and updates about: The Highland Community College Technical Center from Lucas Hunziger, The Atchison County Neighborhood Revitalization Program from Justin Pregont; and an update about fundraising efforts to renovate the soccer field from Stephanie Affield.

Consider resolutions for the 2021-2022 school year, as well as agreements for food service, legal services and acceptance of a Juvenile Justice Authority grant funding and donation of water bottles.

Review and discuss on first reading reaffirmations of Policy JFA through Policy JGFB.

Expect to recess from the public meeting session to go behind closed doors for an executive session to discuss matters of non-elected personnel. After public session resumes, board members might take action regarding the personnel matters discussed before they adjourn the meeting.

On June 29, board members gathered for a special meeting for a critique of their self-evaluation from Brian Jordan, of the Kansas School Board Association.

Board members also took the following action to approve: the real estate contract terms for the sale of Central School; transfer of and funds; void outstanding checks that are 24 months or older; and approved on second reading the 2021 Handbooks in effort to have them ready by enrollment time.

Board members also:

Accepted resigations from: Nic Rebant—middle school girls head basketball coach; Orlando Rivera – assistant boys high school basketball coach; Nina Hewitt – first-grade teacher; Bridgett Baker – seventh-grade team leader; Heather Shepher, a paraeducator, Mary Stewart—summer maintenance, and Tracy Cline – summer school.

Approved recommendations of employment: Beth Meit –seventh- grade English teacher; Lisa Lowry – elementary teacher; Brandy Enzbrenner and Abiguel Durnin as paraeducators.

Approved transfer for Dawn Smith from seventh-grade English to ninth-12-grade English teacher.

Approved supplementals for: Pat Battle as assistant high school football coach and Jennifer Smith as sixth-grade team leader.

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Holiday weekend housefire cause under AFD scope
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The cause of a recent roof fire resulting in some extensive damage to a vacant south Atchison residence remains at the center of an ongoing investigation said Fire Chief Patrick Weishaar, of the Atchison Fire Department.

“Fireworks have not been ruled out,” Weishaar said Wednesday about the Friday, July 2 blaze located at 913 South Fourth Street. AFD crews were paged out to the structure fire about 11:22 p.m. Friday during the Independence Day holiday weekend.

Atchison Police Department authorities have indicated they had no reports or complaints about fireworks in that area of the city, Weishaar said. However, some residents in the neighborhood indicated to AFD indicated they heard fireworks that sounded like there might have some firework activity in some adjacent neighborhoods.

The home was currently vacant and the utilities had previously been turned off, Weishaar said. The home has been unoccupied since September of 2020 when an electrical issue had caused a fire in the attic. At that time, the residents notified AFD firefighters in time and they were able to quickly respond and extinguished the fire. The home has remained unoccupied since, Weishaar said. The homeowners have been working in the residence and their plans have been to move back in the residence after the complete remodeling.

“There was no electrical service or other utilities to the house this time,” Weishaar said.

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City Approves Expanded Sunday Liquor Sale Hours
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City Commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance that will allow for the expanded hours for cereal malt beverage and liquor sales on Sundays beginning in mid-September during Tuesday’s meeting.

The ordinance allows the retail sale of such beverages on Sundays to begin at 9 a.m., rather than noon, after the state legislature approved the change during the last session. Now approved, the ordinance will be published in the Atchison Globe, after which there is a 60-day waiting period to allow for any public petition that could force the issue onto a public ballot. If no petition is filed, the ordinance would become law in time for the first Sunday with expanded sales to be Sept. 12.

Commissioners also denied a petition to vacate the alley in the 1100 block of Unity Street after staff recommended the denial due to potential utility and emergency access concerns that could arise if the alley were vacated.

In other actions, Commissioners approved the setting of fees for tiedown parking and the rental of the former MGP hangar at the airport, and heard a report on the Atchison Area Chamber of Commerce from Executive Director Jim Rowland.

By consent agenda Commissioners approved a 5-year sledge hauling contract, the North Headworks air handler replacement project, an extended agreement with Network Kansas which administers the E-Community Loan program, and conveyed five properties bought at the April tax sale to the Atchison Landbank. Following the meeting there was a Landbank meeting in which the five conveyed properties were officially accepted into the Landbank.

Two items that had been on the original agenda but were taken off the amended agenda sent out on Tuesday were the possibility of a police review board and a workshop on ATV usage in the city. Those two items may be considered at a future meeting.

The next regular city commission meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, July 19 in the commission room. The meeting will largely consist of a budget discussion regarding operations and the adoption of the city’s net revenue neutral rate for 2022.