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Atchison reflects on equality and faith on MLK day
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The Atchison and Benedictine community joined together Monday night for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day March and presentation.

The event was organized by the college’s Black Student Union and the Atchison Ministerial Alliance. The march started at Atchison City Hall and went up 2nd street to end at Benedictine College.

An hour long presentation followed at O’Malley-McAllister Auditorium where the speakers included several BC students, Dr. Josh Wolf and Father Ryan Richardson.

Atchison native Lisa Kelley Jones, an Educational Specialist at Emporia State University also helped lead the crowd in a spirited rendition of “We Shall Overcome” during the presentation.

Benedictine students presented certain quotes from Dr. King that have inspired them in their lives to be better people.

Many of the speakers talked about how big of a role King’s Christian faith played in his life and goal of bettering racial equality in America.

“We oftentimes lose sight of the fact that Dr. King was a man of Christ,” Wolf said. “I forgot myself. He was a man of profound faith.”

Wolf also said King prided himself as being an advocate of how important and powerful redemption and forgiveness can be in the fight against racism.

“Dr. King was also confident in the power of forgiveness,” Wolf said. “He was confident that the power of forgiveness was the most powerful weapon we have to combat the sin of racism.”

The racial tensions and civil unrest from the racial injustices the country saw this past summer were also touched on.

“It’s apparent that we are still struggling with the content of the character that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was referring to,” College employee and former president of the Black Student Union Tyler Shepard said. “Emulating the King’s teaching is the first step towards unity and fulfilling the royal law in the scripture which is loving your neighbor as yourself.”

President of the Black Student Union Jordan Malcom said the support the event received this year is just another example of how much more together he thinks the Atchison community has grown during his four years at BC.

“Just to see the progress that has been made within my four years with the togetherness and the community coming together really warms my heart,” Malcom said. “I’m happy to see that outcome today.”

Malcom also reflected on tragedies in the previous year for the Black community across the country and how he has been able to uphold King’s legacy by responding to these events with faith in God, a forward-thinking mindset and a belief that the goodness of others will bring about change

“Going forward, just having those difficult conversations, as I always say in my meetings with the Black Student Union, talking about racism isn’t really difficult if you’re not racist,” Malcom said. “So, seeing people come out, being warm, being welcoming, even with COVID, and all the negative things going on in the world ... it really just brings joy to my heart.”

Richardson ended the event with a hope that everyone at Benedictine and in the Atchison community can demonstrate the kind of dangerous unselfishness that King mentioned in his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech he delivered in Memphis, Tennessee on April 3, 1968 just two days before he was assassinated.

“My prayer tonight is that each of us can choose the path of radical love and dangerously unselfish love that is called for by Jesus Christ and reflected in the life of Dr. King,” Richardson said.

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City sets 2021 Legislative Policy Agenda
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City Commissioners unanimously approved the 2021 Legislative Policy Agenda during Tuesday’s meeting, setting Atchison priorities for the state and federal legislatures.

The agenda is given to state and federal elected officials as a guide on issues that impact Atchison residents directly.

Home Rule principals are of chief concern when it comes to municipalities in regards to state politics. Home Rule allows local elected officials – the most direct voice of local residents – decide on policy that most impacts this community.

Highlights of the policy specific to Atchison include protecting the current countywide sales tax distribution method, calling for countywide transportation funding equity, asking for state support of highways in city limits to be fully funded, equitable alcohol laws and regulations when compared to neighboring states, a statewide look at housing issues, and US Highway 59 flood aversion measures east of the Amelia Earhart Bridge.

“Our elected officials use our policy agenda to help them determine what most effects constituents from Atchison,” City Manager Becky Berger said. “With the sheer volume of legislation that is discussed each year, the policy agenda helps narrow the focus on issues that impact our residents.”

In addition to the policy agenda, commissioners also approved an amendment to the Arbor Lane Agreement, set a show cause hearing for demolition of two residential garages that are in disrepair, approved the employee COVID-19 policy update extending leave allowance through July, re-appointed Justin Bottorff to the Airport Advisory Board for another four-year term, heard a weeds enforcement program update and discussed an ordinance that would establish a vacant property registry.

The vacant property registry ordinance would charge fees to property owners who have vacant property that is not up to code or owe back taxes. That ordinance was discussed with the promise of more discussion at the Feb. 1 meeting with the goal of considering the measure for adoption at the Feb. 16 meeting.

The commissioners also addressed a number of things on the agenda like a resolution for supporting the creation of a Kansas Main Street chapter in Atchison, approved a lease agreement with Evergy and approved a resolution that allows the redemption and payment of Industrial Revenue Bonds for Atchison Hospitality Group.

The next regular city commission meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 1.

Police nab Leavenworth trio for vehicle burglaries along city streets
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Two of three males from the Leavenworth area remained in the county jail after their arrests by Atchison police early Thursday morning for multiple vehicle burglaries in the North Second Street vicinity.

Bladen A. Bellar, 18, Leavenworth, and Cole S. Acevedo, 18, Lansing, were arrested for vehicle burglary, theft and contributing to a child’s misconduct. Bellar was additionally arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Police also arrested a 17-year-old male, of Leavenworth, who was in the company of Bellar and Acevedo. The teen was released to a parent.

Atchison Police Chief Mike Wilson reported police responded about 1 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 21 to the Second and Unity streets area to investigate persons attempting to enter parked vehicles. The officers located a truck identified as the suspect vehicle near Third and Mound streets where a driver was sitting inside it as two other persons ran toward it. Police officers managed to stop the suspect truck as its driver and occupants appeared to make an attempt to leave the area.

As the result of a subsequent investigation, police allege the three occupants of the truck were responsible for burglaries into two additional vehicles that had occurred in the 100 block of East Mound and another in the 100 block of SuTerra. Items taken and recovered from those two burglaries included a purse, keys and new auto parts, Wilson said. Police also determined there were attempts to enter additional vehicles, which included one with an alarm system that triggered an alarm that alerted police to the area.

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Coronavirus teeter totter students and staff in area schools
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Maur Hill-Mount Academy carries on school activities the third week of January without any reported positive cases or quarantines among students or staff members related to the COVID-19 virus.

“We are back to zeroes across the board,” MH-MA President Phil Baniewicz reported Wednesday. “No students or staff (members) are positive or quarantined at this time.”

Meanwhile at other area schools quarantines continue to outnumber the positive cases even though the infection continues to show a declining trend in comparison to 2020.

USD 409 Superintendent Renee Scott reported as of Tuesday districtwide there were 17 students quarantined and only three students were positive cases. The cases are: Atchison Elementary School — eight pupils quarantined and zero positive cases; Atchison Middle School — two students are positive and one student is quarantined; Atchison High School has one student positive and eight students in quarantine. There are zero positive students and none are in quarantine.

The 409 staff report shows: AES – one positive and three quarantined staff members; AMS – one staff member is quarantined; and one AHS staff member is in quarantine.

USD 377 Andrew Gaddis reported on Wednesday there is one positive student case at Atchison County Community Elementary School and four ACCES pupils are quarantined. There are no other cases of infection or quarantine within the district at this time.

Benedictine College reported via their website benedictine.edu/coronavirus/index that there are two active cases, which represents 0.8 percent of the 2,505 persons comprising the population on campus.

County designate holiday observances and assignments for 2021
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Casey Quinn

County leaders will continue to regularly meet once a week same times and same days despite a suggestion for change.

When the Atchison County Commission convened Jan. 10 to organize for the year newly elected Commissioner Casey Quinn suggested commissioners meet in late afternoon hours to make it more convenient for the persons who work day jobs to attend meetings.

After some discussion among the three commissioners, Chairman Jack Bower, Vice-chairman Eric Noll and Quinn, it was approved by a 2-1 vote to continue having the 10 a.m. workshop sessions for discussions and planning purposes and the business meeting at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays. Quinn voted in the negative.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day observed Monday, Jan. 18 marked the first holiday commissioners members had designated to observe for the year as a result of their 2021 organizational meeting the previous week.

The other holidays the county will observe for the remainder of the year include:

President’s Day – Monday, Feb. 15;

Memorial Day – Monday, May 31;

Independence Day – Monday, July 15;

Labor Day – Monday, Sept. 6;

Veteran’s Day – Thursday, Nov. 11;

Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26;

Christmas Eve Friday, Dec. 24;

New Year’s Day Friday, Jan. 1;

Martin Luther King Day Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.

Although not observed as a holiday, Atchison County Offices will close to the public on Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 11 that is designated as training day for employees.

The next annual organizational meeting was set on the calendar for Monday, Jan. 10, 2022.

Concerning the 2021 committee assignments, commissioners made the following appointments:

Chairman Jack Bower – Ambulance Advisory Board, Community Corrections Advisory Board to expire January, 2024, Juvenile Justice Authority, Project Concern and Economic Development Representative.

Vice-chairman Eric Noll – Area Agency on Aging, Multi-county Health Board, North East Kansas Community Action Programs, North East Kansas Environmental Services, Safety Committee (new commission appointment).

Commissioner Quinn – Joint Communications, Solid Waste Advisory Board, and Atchison Senior Village (new board appointment).

Human Resource Director Jamie Madison – Atchison Area Chamber of Commerce Board.