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Benedictine students to help kids at Boston middle school
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In 2019, Benedictine College and the Seymour Institute on Black Church and Policy Studies created a partnership that sent college students to Boston to work as tutors and mentors for middle school students through the Martin Luther King Summer Scholars Program.

This year, three students are preparing to head off to help students in mathematics and to overcome learning loss from the online programs of the pandemic.

Solomon Wallace, a junior, Zyon Mathis, a junior, and Obediah Lewis, a sophomore, will leave June 28 for Boston to meet with Dr. Jacqueline C. Rivers, executive director of the Seymour Institute, and her husband, the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, III, a noted political advisor on faith-based initiatives and a crusader against gang violence.

The three Benedictine students were recruited for the program by Tyler Shephard, director of student support and engagement at Benedictine. The program runs until Aug. 6.

“This summer we’ll be working with students who graduated from eighth grade and are heading into high school, students who are struggling,” Wallace said. “I’ll be helping them get their math and language arts skills up. They were hit by COVID pretty hard with the online learning and it impacted their grades.”

The program includes morning academic classes and then afternoon sessions like museum visits or trips to historical sites planned by the college students. The Benedictine students also will have their own sessions with Jacqueline and Eugene Rivers.

“This summer, we’re doing the 5 Ps (philosophy, poverty, personal commitment, program and politics) plus some very challenging readings,” Wallace said. “We’ll sit down with the Rivers at least five times a week and they’ll want us to discuss the readings and our thoughts on the philosophy of success presented by the 5 Ps. They’re going to challenge our thinking.”

Mathis praised the Rivers for the effort they have put into helping out their community.

“I like their energy,” Mathis said about the couple. “I like their willingness to serve. The great work they are doing in the community is very inspiring to young men such as me and Solomon.”

Wallace said that aside from his own learning experience, it is the impact on the young people of Boston that is the most important part of the program.

Dealing with middle school-aged students, teaching, planning trips for the kids, managing their own learning program, traveling and living in a big city can amount to a challenge for the college students participating in the program. The students said they are ready to make a difference in the lives of the children in Boston.

“If it’s a challenge, we’re ready to step up,” Mathis said. “There’s always going to be adversity and challenges, so we just have to rise above it, push through and help these kids. They’re the future and we need them.”

County commissioners prepare for human resource change
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Jamie Madison

The Board of the Atchison County Commissioners convened an executive session on June 24 to interview potential hires for the position of human resource director.

Current Human Resource Director Jamie Madison is vacating the position effective Friday, July 2. On May 27, Madison gave official notice to commissioners of her intent to resign to accept a position in the private sector.

Madison served as the county’s inaugural human resource director since her hire in late September of 2014. Atchison Globe files indicate commissioners made their decision to hire Madison for the newly created position after they interviewed more than 30 applicants.

“I am grateful to have been able to be a part of the Atchison County team and the opportunities that I have had during the last six and a half years of my employment with Atchison County,” Madison wrote via email to the Globe. “There are some amazing individuals that belong to the organization and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with them and learn from them.”

Concerning another matter involving a change in personnel, Assistant County Attorney Michelle Rioux started her position, which now is a full-time job, on April 1. Rioux was reared in the Cummings area.

Previously, Atchison County Counselor Patrick Henderson served as assistant county attorney on a part-time basis.

Concerning some other county matters, commissioners:

Unanimously voted to sign

Resolution No. 2021-1482 during their June 8 meeting, “A Resolution of the Board of the Atchison County Commissioners Authorizing Participation in Rural Opportunity Zone Student Loan Repayment Program Calendar Year 2021.” The incentives include direct student loan repayment assistance with a 50/50 match of local effort matching a state grant up to $3,000 per year and up to $15,000 total per recipient as administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The other incentive, administered through the Kansas Department of Revenue that offers a 100% state income credit for each recipient for each year of their participation up to five years. The individuals must be from out-of-state to qualify for this credit. This incentive is not offered to In-state residents.

Recessed from public sessions to discuss matters of attorney-client privilege in the presence of Henderson. There was no action taken concerning the discussions after commissioners resumed their public meeting other than to go back into privileged session and then adjourn the respective meetings. Commissioners convened twice on June 15 in closed-door sessions initially for 30 minutes, returned to open session and immediately took action again for an additional 15 minutes before adjournment.

On June 22, commissioners again excused themselves from public session to go into executive session with Henderson for 30 minutes to discuss an attorney and client matter.

Also on June 22, commissioners discussed the countywide 1-cent sales tax with Assistant Atchison City Manager Justin Pregont and approved the purchase of new furniture and computers for Atchison County Community Corrections with state funding for the program.

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Historic sculpture recognizes past to brighten future
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On the day of the inaugural federal Juneteenth Holiday, the tragic fate of George Johnson was seemingly long forgotten in the pages of local history, now it has become a beacon of light and hope for the future of the Atchison Community.

Near the spot where George Johnson, a Black man, was dragged, tortured, shot and hung by an angry mob of about 50 white men on Jan. 4, 1870, a historic memorial marker now stands within a few feet of a newly created “Reflections” sculpture.

People from all walks of life gathered on June 19 in the newly designated sculpture courtyard, located in the 400 block of Commercial Street, for a dedication of the marker and sculpture. Atchison United, Atchison Juneteenth, the Equal Justice Initiative Community Remembrance Project and Atchison Art Association partnered to make the event possible. EJI provided the historic marker.

The story of Johnson, the victim, came to light within the past four years when Dr. Josh Wolf, a Benedictine College history professor, was reaching violence in the United States that included lynchings.

“It was not a specific lynching here,” Wolf said of his work, which pointed him to a tidbit of information published in January 1870 in an edition of the Atchison Daily Champion. Wolf’s research progressed and more details about Johnson’s lynching emerged with horrific details consistent with atrocities associated with social injustice.

Wolf’s research indicates about 50 men engaged in the violent apprehension, torture and killing of Johnson while a crowd of about 2,000 spectators looked on but did nothing to intervene on the victim’s behalf. Johnson was hanged from the Fifth Street Bridge, which is about the location of the current viaduct.

A few days before the lynching, Johnson was involved in a pheasant hunting accident with a white man named Patrick Cox, who sustained a minor non-life threatening wound as a result of the accident. However, rumors around the community grew that indicated Johnson intentionally shot and killed Cox, which was not true. The mob’s violent intentions arose from the rumor.

In the meantime, Johnson was held in the jail located in the vicinity of Sixth and Santa Fe streets. The mob stormed the jailhouse and abducted Johnson. Despite some indications that law enforcement was aware about the mob’s formation and plans to harm Johnson, there are no reports of accounts to stop the racially motivated violence.

“Remembering George Johnson is atonement,” Wolf said.

Atchison United President Sean Crittendon welcomed the crowd and wished all a “happy Juneteenth.” Crittendon recognized the Atchison United Committee and told about the 18-month course from the revelation of Johnson’s ordeal and initiatives taken to foster diversity, peace, understanding and better relationships.

Deborah Geiger, executive director of the Atchison Art Association, said Atchison is at a crossroads that is reflective of our history and the movement of public artworks in the community.

“It is our duty to stand up and say ‘Yes, it happened,’” Geiger said. “Art opens new opportunities and it heals as it supports and nurtures.”

Geiger introduced Dave Breneman of Shawnee, the sculpture artist who created “Reflections.”

Breneman explained his sculpture is inspired by community and how people work together to support one another through struggles and heal with dialogue. Breneman said he is hopeful that when people look at his artwork they will see themselves and will be inspired to recognize their role to capture the celebration and energy of the community.

Courthouse closes to observe Independence Day on July 5
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The Atchison County Courthouse will be closed Monday, July 5, in observance of Independence Day.

The courthouse will reopen at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 6.

The regular commission meeting will be held, as usual, beginning at 1 p.m. on July 6 until there is no further business to discuss. This holiday will not have an effect on the commission meeting.

Lancaster community recalls legacy of Mayor Tim Callahan
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Longtime businessman, community volunteer and Lancaster Mayor Tim Callahan died unexpectedly June 19 at his home.

Outside of his family, business operation and civic leadership in Lancaster, Callahan dedicated a good deal of his adult life to community service.

Timothy John “Tim” Callahan, 65, was a mechanic by trade and for the past 43 years had owned and operated Lancaster Oil LLC, which was not only a shop but sort of a town hangout for some.

Ryan Chalfant, one of the Lancaster Oil regulars, paid his respects to Callahan via a Facebook posting.

“I was lucky enough to know Tim all of my 32 years,” Chalfant posted, “but I wish it could have been a lot longer. Sometimes I would make an excuse that I needed something from the station just so I could go chitchat with him for a while.”

Chalfant continued, “Now I wish I would of made more time to sit and talk longer.”

Chalfant posted a video and recalled an event just before his wedding when Callahan stayed at his shop all evening to put a loud exhaust on his vehicle because he knew how much it meant to Chalfant to be able to drive away from the church with it installed.

Lancaster City Clerk Barb Piper and Vice-mayor Ron Myer agreed it was soon after Callahan graduated from high school when he was elected to serve on the Lancaster City Council.

Piper said she has served as the clerk for 21 years and Callahan was mayor all of those years but four because he did not run for that particular term. However, he was elected to the position again in 2009 and has served as mayor since. However, he chose not to file for re-election for the upcoming 2021 ballot in November.

Lancaster City records show Callahan was first appointed to serve as mayor May 8, 1990, Piper said. The records go back to 1982 and indicated Callahan consistently served on the city council throughout the years.

“Tim knew all about Lancaster,” Piper said. “He knew all the ordinances, the resolutions and the rules. He really cared about the town.”

Callahan was especially fond of the Fourth of July and St. Patrick’s Day, when he would get all dressed up for the occasion, Piper and Myer agreed.

Myer said he served on the city council for numerous terms with Callahan. During those terms, the Lancaster City Council completed the installation of the new water project and the second phase of the city sewer system.

In addition to the years served together on the City Council, the mayor and vice-mayor served about the same number of years together as volunteer firefighters for the Lancaster-Huron District No. 5, Myer said. Myer joined the department in 1976 a short time after Callahan did.

“We both have been on for a long time,” Myer said.

Atchison County Commissioner Eric Noll, 2nd Commission District, acknowledged Callahan’s years of service during the June 22 commission meeting and offered condolences to the family and the city of Lancaster.

Noll said Callahan’s volunteerism spanned 47 years for Fire District No. 5.

Callahan served as a registered emergency medical technician with Atchison County Rescue and as a storm spotter for more than 41 years, according to Atchison County Emergency Management files.

Before 2013, Atchison County Rescue ran the ambulances in the western half of the county, said Wesley Lanter, director of Atchison County Emergency Management. Callahan was an asset to the community and will be greatly missed, Lanter added.

Callahan was also a lifetime member of the Jaycee’s and involved with the Lancaster Lions Club, according to his obituary.

Funeral services are scheduled for 39 years from the day Callahan married his wife, Sandra “Sandy” Vittitoe. The Mass of Christian Burial is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, June 26, at the St. Louis Church at Good Intent. Burial follows at Lancaster Cemetery.

“RIP Tim Callahan,” Chalfant posted. “There will never be a St. Patty’s Day, 4th of July, or any day for that matter, the same without you. Our community lost a great man.”

In addition to Sandy, Callahan’s children Karl Callahan, Tony Whitlock and Heather Callahan, 10 grandchildren, two brothers and three sisters also survive him.

Becker-Dyer-Stanton Funeral Home directors are handling the arrangements. Condolences and remembrances can be left online at www.beckerdyer.com. Memorials are suggested to St. Louis Church or Atchison County Emergency Medical Services in the care of the funeral home.

City approves bonds and strikes down solid waste budgets
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The Atchison City Commission approved the acceptance of the sale of general obligation bonds and general obligation temporary notes for approximately $8.5 million at its June 21 meeting.

“That will lead to a total savings of $728,000 just to refinance the 2014 general bonds with an interest rate on the temporary note of just .356%,” Director of Administrative Services Joe Warren said. “It’s almost essentially free money or at least the closest you could get.”

This is the second time in seven months that the city has used historically low interest rates to save money through the refinancing of debt. Combined with a similar GO bond issuance in December, the city will save more than $1.383 million in interest.

The commissioners also unanimously chose not to approve the 2022 Atchison County Joint Communications and Solid Waste budgets, citing concern for existing fund balances, lack of transparency in sales tax fund accounting and proposed spending of sales tax funds on expenses not related to Joint Communications or Solid Waste.

Commissioners also approved a resolution accepting nearly $1.6 million in ARPA funds over the next two years. The money will need to be spent by 2024.

Following the meeting, commissioners adjourned to a budget workshop to discuss capital improvement and equipment replacement plans for 2022 to 2026.