PAOLA - Following the death of his grandfather Bob, who had served his country in the U.S. Air Force, Ben Matney of Osawatomie could not find a U.S. flag display that was made in America.
“When my grandfather passed away, we were trying to find a nice flag display box to put his flag in and couldn’t find one,” he said. “We were not going to put an American flag in a box made in China. I thought making some nice American flag display boxes would be a great project.”
Matney, a member of Osawatomie Boy Scout Troop 106, decided to make 60 display boxes for American flags for the families of veterans for his Eagle Scout project.
He still has to do some paperwork to complete and make his presentation to the Boys Scouts Board of Review before becoming an Eagle Scout.
He has been working on the project for two years, donating them to the Paola American Legion Post 156. Matney started the project in September of 2018 and just finished his 60th display box this past June.
Matney presented two more of the boxes to the post during a meeting Monday, Aug. 10.
He was joined by fellow scouts, leaders and families from the Osawatomie Boy Scout Troop 106.
Time and care was put into each and every display box, Matney said. That is why the project such a time consuming one.
“I am not going to give a family something I wouldn’t display in my home,” he said. “I am proud of every single display box.”
Matney has been in the Boy Scouts for eight years with a total of 14 years in scouting. Ben is the son of Kim and Mike Matney of Osawatomie.
SPRING HILL — A national true crime podcast is featuring a Spring Hill murder case that has remained unsolved for more than 20 years.
Fifteen-year-old Tawnya Knight disappeared in December 1996 while hanging out with friends, and her body was found in a field by a farmer six months later.
Knight’s case is the latest to be featured on the Cold Case Chronicles podcast, which can be found online at www.coldcasechronicles.com.
The serialized podcast has been split into three parts so far, with the third part being released Sunday, Aug. 30.
Producer Ronnie Coursey said the podcast began about a year and a half ago by a group of women, one being his wife, who are dedicated to researching and reporting on cold cases across the country.
Coursey is using his Central State Studios podcast group to produce and distribute the episodes. The podcast first focused on crimes in the Indiana area, but it has since branched out into other cases throughout the country.
Coursey said the ladies learned about the Tawnya Knight case from someone who was distributing the case information during a national true crime conference.
The podcast encourages anyone with information about the 1996 death of Tawnya Knight to contact the Spring Hill Police Department at (913) 592-2700 and the Cold Case Chronicles team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring Hill Police Chief Cindy Henson said the cold case investigation is being led by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.
It’s not the first local unsolved murder case to draw national attention. In July, the mysterious death of Alonzo Brooks was featured on an episode of the new Unsolved Mysteries series on Netflix.
Brooks’ body was found by family members in a creek in La Cygne on May 1, 2004, about a month after he went missing after attending a party at a farmhouse.
Former Paola resident Josh Pratt, who graduated from Paola High School in 2002, has also been researching the Brooks case for a documentary and podcast. Interested people can follow Pratt’s work at alonzobrooks.com, where there is also a forum giving people an opportunity to discuss the case.
Coursey said the true crime genre is growing in popularity, particularly for women between the ages of 25 and 55.
Henson said that while an influx of unsubstantiated tips can tax the resources of a police department, shedding new light on a cold case can also generate new leads for detectives that can help them solve the case.
LOUISBURG - A sign of Boy Scout Reid Justesen’s commitment to Scouting and the community is visible at Lewis-Young Park northwest of Louisburg.
Reid, a member of Louisburg Troop 101, has repaired and reinstalled a memorial sign at Eagle hiking trail in the park. The sign, installed in the late 1990s, is dedicated to the late Bob Finch, a civic leader who was an avid proponent of Scouting and the soccer program at Lewis-Young. The sign also recognizes the achievements of Eagle Scouts from Troop 101.
“He (Finch) was an outstanding member of the community, and he passed away (at an early age) unfortunately,” Reid said.
The sign was knocked over by a mower and remained in disrepair for some time, said Reid, a junior at Louisburg High School. The 16-year-old made the task of repairing and reestablishing the sign at the trail his Eagle project. The Eagle is the highest rank that can be obtained in the Boy Scouts, and only 4 percent of scouts reach that lofty achievement.
Reid completed his Eagle project in late June and received his Eagle on July 22.
“I was given the idea for the project and went forward with it and constructed it,” Reid said. “I put a flower berm around the sign to protect it from being knocked over by a mower again.”
Reid said the project was about a year in the making but came together quickly once the materials were in place.
“After I had all the materials and got everything approved, it took about three days (to complete),” he said.
Reid thanked Louisburg resident Gary Bauer, who made the original sign, for his help, as well as his family and others who assisted with the project. Reid said he also benefited from the encouragement he received from his family, particularly his father Tony Justesen, to finish the project.
“There are other Eagle Scouts in my family — a few cousins,” Reid said. “My dad was in scouting for a while but never made it to Eagle. He kept pushing me to make it.”
Reid, an LHS football player who is active in Civil Air Patrol and likes Scout camping trips, talked about the moment the accomplishment really sank in.
“Seeing the sign in its completion after all the time getting everything together and just being able to take a step back and look at it was the most rewarding part,” he said. “People have told me they think it looks great.”
LOUISBURG - Becoming an Eagle Scout is no easy feat — only 4 percent of Boy Scouts rise to the highest rank.
As one of the final steps to reach Eagle, a Scout must complete a pre-approved project. And in the case of a 15-year-old Louisburg Scout, the work had to be completed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic
“I renovated both of the signs in front of the American Legion Post 250 here in Louisburg,” Cooper Anglin said.
He also renovated the Legion post’s mailbox, which people use to put flags in that need to be retired.
“Probably the most challenging was the fact that we did it in the middle of the whole pandemic,” Cooper said. “After we took the signs down and after we did the fundraiser, that’s when the whole lockdown started, so painting the sign and refurbishing it was basically done by me and my dad (Kerry Anglin). We couldn’t have a whole team of Scouts there to help us, but we still got it done.”
Another challenge was finding all the necessary materials to refurbish signs that were decades old, Cooper said.
“We had all the tools we needed but ordering the paint and stuff for all the signs was pretty difficult because a lot of the stuff was pretty obscure, and we had to find it online which took a long time,” Cooper said.
Cooper, a sophomore at Louisburg High School, said parts came from all over.
“The paint and nuts and bolts were the only things we could get in the store,” Cooper said. “The new fiberglass panels we put on the lighted sign, we had to go on some random website (to order) — same with all the letters and stickers that we put on the sign.”
The project was a year in the making, said Cooper, a member of Louisburg Troop 101.
“We’ve had the idea to do it since last June, so it’s been about a year. We talked with the Legion about it in September, so I guess it’s been kind of official since then,” Cooper said. “But I didn’t actually start working on it until this February, so the project took about four months.”
Cooper said obtaining his Eagle has been a goal since he got into scouting. He joined the Cub Scouts in first grade and moved up to the Boy Scouts in fifth grade.
“I’ve just kind of always been told that it’s one of the best things you can do when I was young,” Cooper said. “My brother (Carter) got his Eagle about three years ago. And my dad always talked about how he never got his Eagle when he was in Scouts, so that motivated me even more.”
Cooper said having an older brother that is an Eagle Scout was a great resource.
“My brother gave me a lot of advice,” Cooper said. “He told me about a lot of stuff on my Eagle project that I would need to do. He helped me a lot throughout the way.”
Cooper can now call himself an Eagle Scout too. He received the honor on July 22.
Cooper said part of the satisfaction in completing the project was seeing the reaction from Legion members.
“All the Legion people that were there — we had them all come out when we finished it — and they all loved it,” Cooper said. “I’m glad I could help them.”
LOUISBURG — The Louisburg USD 416 budget for the 2020-2021 school year includes a double-digit drop in the property tax mill levy.
The Louisburg school board voted Monday, Aug. 24, to approve a budget that cuts the district’s overall mill levy from 64.861 mills to 45.469 mills. The drastic reduction is due to retirement of Rockville Elementary construction bonds.
With retirement of the Rockville debt, the bond and interest portion of district’s budget dropped from 21.5 mills in 2019-2020 to 2 mills for the current year. If voters approve the proposed $24 million bond election Nov. 3, the bond and interest mill rate would be 9.75 mills for the 2021-2022 year.
A property owner’s annual tax bill for the bond fund on a $200,000 home at 21.532 mills was $495.24 in 2019-2020. At 2 mills in the new budget for 2020-2021, that tax bill drops to $46. If the bond election is approved, a mill levy of 9.75 mills would be $224.25 in the 2021-2022 year.
A district chart shows that bond and interest mill rates for the other Frontier League schools, as well as Gardner and Blue Valley, are higher than 9.75 mills. The other districts’ mill rates average 17.320 mills, with the highest Eudora at 27.973 mills and the lowest Paola at 10.79 mills.
At its Aug. 10 meeting, the Louisburg USD 416 school board trimmed portions of a $34.5 million bond issue that failed to gain support in the Aug. 5 primary election and voted 7-0 to present the bond proposal to district voters on a smaller scale at $24 million.
Board members eliminated the second question of the two-part proposal which called for construction of a new four-field, baseball/softball complex on school property. The board’s move cut $6.9 million from the overall proposal.
The board worked well into the evening to go through line items for each building. Items like roofs, HVAC systems, enhanced safety measures and other infrastructure needs remain in the proposal, but the board agreed to trim another $3.6 million from the lists.
Superintendent Brian Biermann and board members said they are hopeful the bond will pass to address needs they say are critical to maintaining the type of facilities and educational opportunities for students that the community has come to expect.
Dr. Biermann also pointed out interest rates, currently at historic lows of 1.5 to 2 percent, likely would still be that low in November. He’s hopeful the community will see the potential savings represented by these low interest rates and the favorable bids that experts in the design and construction field have said the district could expect from contractors and subcontractors eager to return to work after losing business due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In discussing the failed bond attempt in the Aug. 5 primary, board member Rob Vohs expressed disappointment the community could not see the potential cost savings for the district and the chance to help students. He said if the district has to piecemeal these improvements it will cost district taxpayers more in the long run.