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USD 409 makes masks optional
  • Updated

The facemask requirement becomes an option before the end of the school week in USD 409 facilities. The decision was made by a unanimous vote as of the regular school board meeting Tuesday night at Atchison Middle School.

Dr. Renee Nugent, Superintendent of Atchison Public Schools, recommended the masks become optional as soon after the language updates are made to the existing COVID Policy procedures documents. The weekly reporting of positive cases will continue, and if there are upward trends of positive cases mask-wearing will be strongly encouraged to resume for that particular building. Persons subject to the “Test to Stay” protocol are subject to mask requirements.

The mask option target date is Thursday, Feb. 17. To read the updates click on or go to the district’s Facebook page.

Before the action was taken some board members offered explanations about why the mask requirement was in effect as long until this point in the school year.

Vice-president Diane Liebsch said while the COVID cases were monitored there were spikes in positive cases, and the board members agreed there was a need to be diligent about mask-wearing and the COVID protocols.

Board Member Sally Berger reasoned she and none of her colleagues have wanted to wear their masks, but it’s part of our pledge to provide the safest environment possible for students, and that is why we’ve done what we did, Berger said.

“It’s because of masks we were able to keep doors open,” Berger said. “Our goal was to provide the best learning environment for our students, and we have done that.”

Board members reached out to the building administrators they all agreed with easing the mask requirement.

Principal Lacey Warren, Atchison High School voiced her opinion. Warren said the basketball court will be very full during the upcoming weekend for the Royal Courts Dance.

“I am sure the kids will love to be able to have a dance without a mask,” Warren said.

Prior to the board members’ discussion, public comments were heard from Allison Marschean, Dana Stevens, Sara Wilder, and Chris Rush, who all expressed opposition to the mask mandates in place.

During the public comment session, Board President Carrie Sowers advised that board members would discuss the issue as an agenda item later in the meeting.

Board members excused themselves from public sessions to discuss matters of non-elected personnel that included employee performance in executive session with Board Attorney Larry Mears and each of the administrators as called into the privileged session. Mears exited 24 minutes later. Board members extended the session another 15 minutes. Board members took action to discuss matters of nonelected personnel during an executive session until 8 p.m. After the public session resumed, board members:

Accepted resignations from Kay Allen, RN, Atchison Elementary School, and District Mechanic, Scott Gauger, Service Center, both effective Jan. 28; Becky Walker, secretary/bookkeeper, AHS, Carol Smith, RN, Board of Education, Food Service Director, Patty Gaul, BOE, and Custodian Scott Hitchens, AHS, all for purposes of retirement on Thursday, June 30; D. Edward Crouse, AHS Social Studies Teacher, Jerry McColley, AMS and Central School physical education teacher, both for purposes of retirement, and Success Seminar Teacher Amanda Davis, AMS, all effective at the end of the school year; Assistant Track Coach Sterling Jackson, effective Feb. 10.

Recommended for employment for the 2022-23 schoolyear: Art Teacher Jenna Lynn Marie Permenter, AES, effective Friday, July 1; and Shandrika Collier-Ward as 10-month secretary at AMS, became effective Feb. 14.

Approved the following transfers: Steve Watkins to In-School Suspension at AHS, effective Friday, July 1 from physical education and health teacher; Audra Berry from 10-month to the 12-month secretary at AMS, became effective Jan. 18; and Taylor Funk from English teacher to Social Studies teacher, effective Friday, July 1 at Atchison High School.

Approved supplementals: Rachael Baumgartner—Assistant Track Coach at AMS; and Head Track Coach Gabriel Younger, Assistant Track Coach Mary Ambuul, and Assistant Track Coach Payton Nigus at AHS.

Extended Administrator/Director Contracts for the 2022-23 school year: AMD Principal Chad Bilderback, Curriculum Director Jacqueline Coleman, AES Associate Principal Andrea Coppinger, Central School Principal LaTisha Downing, AHS Assistant Principal Lindsey Hansen, Special Education Director Nichole Honeywell, Business Manager Lori Lanter, AES Associate Principal Andrew Lillie; AMS Assistant Principal/ Activities Director Tyler Lueckenoff, Assistant Food Service Director Sharla Miller, Technology Education Director Donna Noll, AES Head Principal Lisa Pierce, Maintenance Director Jay Robinson, AHS Head Principal Lacy Warren, and AHS Assistant Principal/Activities Director Mark Felvus.

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Doniphan beating jury trial finds Atchison man guilty
  • Updated

TROY – A jury delivered a guilty verdict to a 33-year-old Atchison man on Wednesday in Doniphan County District Court for murder in the second degree in connection with the death of Jason Pantle in September of 2019.

Matthew Cole Scherer was convicted before noon Feb. 16 after a 12-person jury panel deliberated after hearing closing arguments earlier in the morning, according to a court official.

The trial commenced Monday, Feb. 14 after the jury selection, testimony was heard and continued throughout Tuesday in Doniphan County Court.

Murder in the second-degree, unintentional but reckless, a felony offense, is punishable up to a maximum of 25 years in a Kansas Department of Corrections facility, according to the Kansas Sentencing grid. The minimum sentence is 10 years.

Sentencing for Scherer is scheduled for Monday, March 28 in Doniphan County Court.

After the trial and announcement of the verdict, Scherer was taken to the Doniphan County Jail where is held without bond according to the Doniphan County Sheriff’s Office Inmate Booking Sheet.

Scherer is the third of the three men convicted for the death of Jason Pantle, 42, of Cummings. Pantle was severely beaten at a party on Sept. 22, 2019, at Doniphan. Pantle succumbed to serious head wounds on Sept. 28, 2019, at a University of Kansas Medical Center.

Scherer and his co-defendants, Scott A. Vandeloo and Brian A. Spilman Jr., both of Atchison, were all arrested on Sept. 25, 2019, for aggravated battery. The charges were upgraded to murder in the second degree following Pantle’s death.

A jury found Spilman guilty of involuntary manslaughter in October of 2021. Vandeloo entered a no contest plea to involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter is a lesser offense. After their respective convictions and sentencings, they are serving their sentences.

According to the Spilman is incarcerated at the El Dorado Correctional Facility-RDU. His earliest possible release date is April 25, 2023; Vandeloo is serving his sentence at Norton Correctional Facility-Central awaiting his earliest possible release date of Sept. 27, 2023.

Weekend fire injures Atchison firefighter
  • Updated

An Atchison firefighter injured in response to an early Saturday morning structure fire that heavily damaged a residence has been released to full work status as of late Tuesday afternoon.

Atchison Fire Chief Patrick Weishaar reported in a press release to the Atchison Globe that a fellow firefighter managed to pull the injured colleague to safety during an interior attack to battle flames that engulfed a residence at 927 Mound Street. Atchison County EMS ambulance responders initially treated the injured firefighter before being transported to Amberwell Atchison for emergency care.

The firefighter’s work accident occurred after Atchison Fire Department crews were dispatched to a 12:50 a.m. report on Feb. 12 that a house was on fire in the 900 block of Mound Street where flames and black smoke were inside the residence.

Weishaar said after the crews arrived they found the rear of the structure fully involved in the fire. The crews were able to bring the fire under control, but the one-story, single-family residence sustained heavy damage.

The resident had managed to safely escape. The Atchison Salvation Army was on the scene to assist refreshing First Responders and offered assistance to the fire victim.

AFD personnel rescued a family pet, Weishaar said. EMS treated the pet at the fire scene. Weishaar said as of Tuesday he was unaware of the pet’s condition in the aftermath of the fire.

The AFD crews remained throughout the day at the fire scene to salvage contents and monitor the structure. The AFD investigator arrived at the scene to begin the investigation.

American Pickers coming to Atchison
  • Updated

The History Channel’s hit show American Pickers is coming to Atchison, Kansas this April! Locals with private collections will have the opportunity to represent the rich history of Atchison to the rest of the nation.

Producers are asking for individuals in the area that are in possession of large, private collections of antiques and other items with interesting histories to contact American Pickers.

No stores, flea markets, museums, or other public collections will be considered.

For your chance to be considered for the show reach out to the show by email: or by phone, (646) 493-2184. Include your full name, city/state, contact information, and a short description of your collection.

Please apply by Friday, March 4th.