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Atchison remembers the tragedy of George Johnson
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After 151 years, the Atchison community is finally remembering and acknowledging the horrific murder that was the lynching of George Johnson.

Members and leaders of the Atchison community gathered at Sixth and Santa Fe on Friday night for a memorial walk ending under the Fifth Street Viaduct, the same path a mob took Johnson in his final hours before he was lynched in 1870.

Dr. Josh Wolf had been a spearhead in getting this type of remembrance and recognition for Johnson since presenting his research at Benedictine College faculty colloquium in March of 2017.

“It’s something I’ve been dreaming of the last four years since I presented my research at Benedictine College four years ago that we should find some way to commemorate George Johnson so that we don’t forget about this event,” Wolf said.

Members of the community started to take notice of Wolf’s desire after he spoke at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in 2019.

“All these different community organizations started reaching out asking ‘How can we make this happen’,” Wolf said. “This is such a beautiful event and such a great moment of community.”

Atchison Mayor Abby Bartlett said Wolf has been able to help bring about unity for the city through revisiting one of the darkest moments in its past.

“Dr. Wolf did a fabulous job of bringing a very ugly part of history to light and making this a very beautiful moment to remember,” Bartlett said. “I think many folks got behind this because they could see the importance of it.”

Atchison United and president Sean Crittendon also played a big part in organizing the event.

Crittendon said he is hopeful that acknowledging the injustices of the past will allow for a better tomorrow.

“Equal justice is important in the past, present and in the future,” Crittendon said. “Events like this really highlight injustices in the past and we hope that in the future we don’t won’t run into any incidents like this.”

The event was also part of the nationwide Community Remembrance Project, organized by the Equal Justice Initiative of Montgomery, Alabama. A crucial aspect of the Remembrance Project is the Community Soil Collection, that gathers soil from lynching sites across the United States.

The community members in attendance of the event gathered soil from four separate locations during the walk for two different jars with one going to the Legacy Museum in Montgomery and the other to the Kansas History Room of the Atchison Public Library.

Prayers were also said at each of the four stops made through the walk.

Crittendon credited the team Atchison United has and the other members of the community for helping bring the event to life.

“We have an awesome team with members who are just highly invested in the community and that makes a difference,” Crittendon said. “Something like this takes the greater part of a year to pull off and this is a very special moment.”

Atchison has been ripe with social change and growth with decisions such as the renaming of the Atchison High School mascot and renaming of division street to Unity Street in the past year.

“It’s been a really great time for recognition, understanding and growth as a community in Atchison the past year,” Wolf said.

On June 19 there will be co-unveilings of the Community Remembrance Project national historical marker for George Johnson and the sculpture “Reflections” by Kansas City artist David Breneman. The event begins at 7 P.M. on the 400 block of Commercial Street.

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Atchison Community Fireworks moves ahead to Saturday, July 3 at Warnock Lake
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Mark your calendars for the Atchison Community Fireworks Fourth of July one day earlier than normal this year.

The annual event will be Saturday, July 3 at Warnock Lake.

Co-organizer Dave Hundley said this year’s celebration will mark the 69th year for the Atchison Lions Club Community Fireworks display.

Like in past years the fireworks show will begin after sunset at the Warnock Lake grounds.

Paul Kelley, of Power Sound DJ Service will provide the music from 8 p.m. to the end of the fireworks display.

Unlike recent years there will be more aerial displays to light up the sky and less water and ground features due to the impact the coronavirus has had on shipments to distribution centers of the products.

Like in past years the Lions are seeking donations to fund the fireworks. The fundraising is currently ongoing.

Contributions should be made payable to Atchison Lions and can be dropped off or mailed to Hundley Insurance Office, 1401 Main Street, Atchison, KS, 66002.

Donors who contribute $250 or more will have the opportunity to have their photograph submitted to the Atchison Globe for publication.

Event –goers are urged to bring their lawn chairs and/or blankets. Come out and enjoy the fireworks and the Independence Day holiday Saturday, July 3 at Warnock Lake.

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AACF announces 'All Aboard Atchison' Match Day fundraising event
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There are $55,000 in matching grant funds being offered to fund holders of the Atchison Area Community Foundation (AACF) at the first annual “All Aboard Atchison” Match Day Event to be held on Friday, Aug. 13 at the Atchison Event Center from 4 to 6 pm.

The happy hour event will have appetizers with a cash bar and is open to the entire Atchison community. Bring your check book and your generosity as we support and celebrate the dozens of local causes and non-profits that are part of the Atchison Area Community Foundation.

The $55,000 in matching grant funds are available to provide a 50% match for funds raised by participating fundholders. A $500 contribution to your favorite charity will be supplemented with $250 grant from AACF for a net contribution of $750. Matching funds are first come, first serve and max out at $4,000 in match provided per organization.

For example, Jane Doe makes a $1,000 donation to the United Way, $1,000 will go to the United Way AACF fund and the United Way will also receive a $500 match from AACF. If Jane Doe makes a $10,000 donation to the United Way, the matching grant from AACF will be $4,000, which is the max award.

If all matching funds are utilized $165,000 will have been raised for the benefit of the participating organizations. The major sponsors of the All Aboard Atchison Match Day are the Courtney S. Turner Charitable Trust, the Adair / Exchange Bank Foundation, Blish-Mize Co., the Guy I. Bromley Trust, the Pratt Foundation, and MGP Ingredients.

More information can be found on the event website, www.allaboardatchison.com.

In 2019 the Atchison Area Community Foundation was established to enrich the lives of the people in our community through philanthropy. We are a source of funding for local nonprofits and public entities. We are committed to building philanthropy and connecting people who care with causes that matter. AACF is an associate of the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation.

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AFD Captain officially hangs up the hose
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Long-time Captain, Leroy “Lee” Kipple, hung up the hose after 35 years of service with the Atchison Fire Department.

Lee began his career with the AFD in 1986, moving to Atchison from the Prairie View, KS area, with his wife Sharon and son Curtis. Lee promoted through the ranks making it to Captain in 1996. He also brought with him vast mechanical experience which earned him the position of Department Mechanic until his promotion to officer where he has continued to oversee the maintenance and other mechanics. Lee also obtained his certification as an electrician during his career which also benefited the department with in-house repairs.

“Lee has been a huge asset for the department with his mechanical skills & knowledge, performing maintenance on the fire trucks and equipment here” Fire Chief Pat Weishaar said. Lee is looking forward to a well-earned retirement where he is planning on taking it easy but continuing his long-time side interest as an electrician.

“Working at the Atchison Fire Department has been a very diverse, interesting, and rewarding career” Kipple said. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with a lot of individuals throughout my time here. The firefighters, EMTs, and Officers who trained me prepared me for what they knew I would experience. I would like to thank them for sharing their knowledge with me. I would also like to thank the individuals I have worked with daily for their contribution in making my time here memorable. And thank you to the public for their support to the Atchison Fire Department and what we do.”

Kipple was the guest of honor at a retirement reception June 11 in the conference room at Atchison City Hall.

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Central School sells, mascot name lingering
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Atchison Public School leaders did accept one of two bids for the Central School facility, but finalization remains pending until later like the decision concerning a new mascot.

Board members unanimously accepted one of two bids received concerning the purchase the Central School Facility.

Larry Mears, the Board’s attorney explained to board members they also had the right to reject the bids. Of the two submitted offers there was only one representative of the bidders, the Pomeroy Development LLC group was present. The Pomeroy group submitted the highest bid — $40,000 along with a development plan laying out the group’s intent to renovate the facility into apartments.

The other bidder did not submit any plans concerning the future of the building.

Mears also explained to the board if they decided to accept the offer to sell, the next step would be to negotiate the terms of sale with the successful bidder.

Board Member Stefanie Durkin said she felt comfortable enough to make a decision and emphasized that all board members had previously indicated they all wanted to know the potential buyers’ plans for the building.

Board Member Brandi Ross questioned Mears if there would be any issues with parking.

Mears and Board President Carrie Sowers agreed that would be unlikely because there is a large existing parking lot behind the building.

It was determined Sowers, Superintendent Renee Scott and representatives from Mear’s office would negotiate the terms of the sale contract. After the discussion Vice-President Diane Liebsch made the motion to accept the $40,000 bid from Pomeroy Development LLC to buy Central School. Board members unanimously voted to accept the bid and finalization is pending contingent on the negotiations of the contract.

A decision about choosing a new mascot is tabled for about 30 days, or until the July business meeting, board members agreed after hearing the findings, results and recommendations from the Mascot Committee, and four public comments from audience members.

Atchison High School Principal Lacy Warren communicated in an email to the Globe that as a result of the first survey it was indicated most of the 780 responses represented about 74 percent of the people wanted the unified color scheme as red and yellow. Although the three rounds survey results were close for a K-12 mascot or one for grades sixth-12th- grades, the committee decided a K-12 mascot would be more unifying.

The survey results presented to board members were representative of student groups from the three schools, Alumni, Parent, Staff and Community Member.

There were 1,147 responses for the mascot names under consideration of Phoenix, Bison, Red Storm and Eagles. Of these groups, five out of the seven represented showed favor to Phoenix mascot from the field of the other leading contenders including Bison, Red Storm and Eagles.

The first survey was sent out in April. Committee members commenced meeting on May 18 and have since met two additional times since. They made their final recommendation at the third meeting.

Four persons came forward to voice their public comment about the mascot:

A USD 409 Board of Education Candidate Chuck Tilton, thanked board members for their hard work on the mascot issue. He urged them to slow down on the decision because it is a big decision to make. Tilton said he is passionate about Trailblazers which was a suggestion under consideration for a potential mascot name to forward to the board as one of the recommendations. Trailblazers symbolize purpose, hope and vision, Tilton said. Choosing the mascot should be an exciting time and the community should get more involved.

Vivian Mercer said she came in hope to changes board members’ minds about changing the Redmen Mascot, and from her research via internet Redmen was associated with patriotism and Liberty.

Erin Wolf, has a background in education and is employed at Maur Hill-Mount Academy. She thanked the board for their decision to change the mascot, and is excited to get the community behind it.

Bobby Krick shared his belief that the process is a waste of time and that the mascot should not be changed. Social media has gone wild, he said.

Board members agreed they had set a target to decide the mascot for July in effort to start implementation by the start of the new schoolyear.

In other matters, Board members also:

Heard an AHS Campus Cupboard update from Sarah Tschauder. Tschauder said that the Cupboard opened to ensure AHS students have food for themselves and families throughout the weekends within the past two and a half years. The initiative started with a base from donation UMB and food provided through the Second Harvest Food Bank. Throughout the years donations and contributions have increased about 90 percent. In December before Christmas more than 40 boxes of food was delivered to AHS families in need. Donations have expanded from food items to prom dresses, and gloves for winter warmth. The Cupboard is shut down for the summer in effort to re-organize and prepare the new schoolyear. The National Honor Society members are also involved in the project.

Heard a report from Dr. Matt Ramsey on the status of an application concerning grant funding from the Juvenile Justice Authority. The outcome of the application is pending, but Ramsey indicated it is about the same amount of money applied for as in previous years to address and monitor truancy.

Approved on second reading the handbooks for each of the facilities, certified and classified staff, and safety, effective for the 2010-20 school year. This also includes the inaugural Administrators’ Handbook.

Board members went behind closed doors in the presence of Mears and Superintendent Renee Scott to discuss employees and employee performances for a 15-minute executive session. After the public session resumed they unanimously voted take the following actions regarding personnel:

Accepted the following resignations from: Cody McCarty second-grade teacher at Atchison Elementary School; Alex Supple – English teacher and department chair, and soccer coaching positions at AHS and AMS; Amanda Riley – AHS business teacher; Kathy Hines – SIT Coordinator at AHS; Jaime Tate – sixth-grade social studies teacher and team leader at AMS; Jamie Johnson – pre-kindergarten teacher at AES; and Gale Grable – third-grade special education teacher at AES.

Recommended for employment: Nina Hewitt –first-grade teacher and Kay Allen RN, both at AES; Rebecca Cronander – English teacher and Ann Hutchinson – business teacher, both at AHS.

Approved the following transfers for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year: Melissa Nigus from English teacher to special education teacher, and Sara Bland from English teacher to counselor, both at AHS; Eliot Smith from AES fifth-grade teacher to sixth-grade social studies teacher at AMS; and Nichole Honeywell – from special education coordinator to director of special education.