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By Josephine May

The Hiawatha High School Hawkettes Dance Team performs at halftime of the boys game against Sabetha Tuesday night. Pictured are members of the Hawkettes (l-r): Brenna Diller, Kate Madsen, Kaysi Overdick, Cassidy Gantt and Maggie Saul. For game coverage see page 8 of today’s paper.

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Limited edition 'Challenge Coin' offered in memory of Deputy Todd Widman

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department is commemorating the service of Brown County Deputy Todd Widman with a limited edition Challenge Coin.

Sheriff John Merchant said that March 1, 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the night that Deputy Widman gave his life in the line of duty for the citizens of Brown County. Deputy Widman was shot and killed by a teenage run away from New York that he had given a ride to in his patrol vehicle.

“In honor and remembrance of Deputy Widman’s sacrifice, we have created a limited edition run of 150 challenge coins that will be made available to the public for a minimum donation of $25 per coin,” Sheriff Merchant said.

Sheriff Merchant said that 100% of the proceeds collected will be used to fund the “Deputy Todd Widman Memorial Scholarship,” which will be awarded to a 2020 Brown County high school graduating senior, payable to the college of their choice.

“In the fall of 2019, a letter was sent to President Trump informing him of Todd’s sacrifice as well as a challenge coin,” he said. (See attached letter from President Trump)

Scholarship applications will be sent to the schools later this month. Anyone wishing to donate to the scholarship fund may contact Cynthia Linck at the Brown County Sheriff’s office Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at (785) 742-7125.

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Hiawatha teacher receives Horizon Award

A Hiawatha teacher is among 32 first-year educators from Kansas who are being recognized for their outstanding teaching skills through the 2020 Kansas Horizon Award program.

The 2020 Kansas Horizon Award recipients were announced Jan. 7 by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). Among them was Hiawatha Elementary School instructor Scotti Twombly Hanf, second grade instructor who started with USD 415 with the 2018-19 academic year.

Hanf is a graduate of Doniphan West High School and graduated from Kansas State University in May 2018. She started with USD 415 Hiawatha schools in the fall of 2018 and said she is very honored to receive the award.

“During my first year of teaching I had amazing people supporting me and helping me along the way,” she said.” I couldn’t have asked for a better first year teaching experience than the one I received from everyone at USD 415!”

Principal Paul Carver said he is excited by the honor for Mrs. Hanf.The Kansas Horizon Award program identifies and recognizes representatives of excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state. The mission of the program is to recognize exemplary first-year teachers who perform in a way that distinguishes them as outstanding.

The Kansas State Department of Education appoints regional selection committees responsible for reviewing the nomination forms and selecting four elementary classroom teachers and four secondary classroom teachers per region for a total of 32 teachers.

Carver said the possible 32 teachers, four elementary classroom teachers and four secondary classroom teachers from each region will be individually recognized during a luncheon at the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network (KEEN) conference in Topeka on Feb. 14, 2020. Also, they will be invited to participate as special guests in the two-day KEEN conference.

“We are blessed to have many great educators in our school and excited to recognize the talents and hard work that Mrs. Hanf shows daily,” Carver said.

Superintendent Lonnie Moser said it’s always exciting to have one of Hiawatha’s deserving professionals receive statewide recognition.

“She is certainly deserving and USD 415 is fortunate to have her as a colleague,” Moser said.

The Kansas Horizon Award program, sponsored by KSDE, allows all school districts in the state an opportunity to nominate one elementary and one secondary teacher for the award. To be eligible for the award, teachers must have successfully completed their first year of teaching and have performed in such a way as to distinguish themselves as outstanding.

The program is a regional competition with four regions corresponding to the state’s U.S. congressional districts. Four elementary and four secondary classroom teachers may be selected for the award from each region.

Recipients of the 2020 Kansas Horizon Award were notified of their selection by Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson.

“We are fortunate to have such quality teachers in classrooms across Kansas,” Watson said. “I want to congratulate these first-year educators. It is because of them that we move closer to our vision of leading the world in the success of each student.”

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No relief from Missouri River flooding

There likely will be no relief from flooding on the Missouri River this coming year, as the prediction for runoff will be the ninth highest in recorded history.

This comes after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the amount of runoff in 2019 came extremely close to breaking the record set in 2011.

John Remus, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management office for the Northwestern Division of the Corps, shared the news during a press conference Tuesday.

“The forecasted 2020 upper basin runoff is ... 36.3 million acre feet, which if realized would be the ninth highest runoff in 122 years of record keeping,” Remus said.

St. Joseph had approximately 82.6 million acre-feet of water passing through the Missouri River in 2019, according to provisional numbers provided by the U.S. Geological Survey Central Midwest Water Science Center.

To put that amount into perspective, that’s nearly enough to fill the state of Missouri with 2 feet of water.

The Corps plans to release 30,000 cubic feet of water per second from Gavins Point Dam in January and February. Remus said in March they plan to step up releases.

“Last week, ice conditions in North Dakota required a small temporary reduction in Garrison Dam releases,” Remus said. “This is an example of how ice limits the ability to evacuate water in the winter.”

Besides the devastation flooding has caused to property along the Missouri River in 2019, there also have been negative economic impacts to communities in Northwest Missouri.

Flooding caused the closure of Interstate 29 for a good portion of the year, which hurt towns like Rock Port, Missouri.

Besides the obvious impacts to tourism, the closure added commute times to residents who work outside the city. For some, a normal drive time of 10 minutes to work turned into a two and a half hour detour navigating different bridges to Nebraska.

Lay enters plea in burglary, rape and theft cases

A 20-year-old Willis man has entered pleas on burglary, rape and additional charges in Brown County District Court.

Brown County Attorney Kevin Hill said Anthony “AJ” Lay appeared in court on Thursday, Jan. 2 and entered pleas to three different cases.

Lay was formally charged Jan. 9, 2018 in connection with an alleged rape of an individual over the age of 18, as investigated by the Hiawatha Police Department.

Lay was also arrested in January in Hiawatha on burglary and theft charges relating to a break-in in Atchison County and charges of possession of stolen property in addition to other charges in Brown County.

He was accused of allegedly burglarizing Armstrong Tires in rural Muscotah in Atchison County several times, allegedly using a fake name to possess tire orders, then failing to pick them up. It’s alleged Lay broke into the business at least six times since early December and the amount placed on stolen items is around $8,000. Brown County authorities had received tips about Lay allegedly selling stolen goods — which led to a joint investigation between the two counties.

Hill said Lay pled no contest to felony criminal possession of a firearm, a level 8 non person felony. He said the stolen property charges filed in the Brown County case arose out of property stolen in Atchison County.

“Since he was convicted of stealing the same property in the Atchison County case, we could not proceed with those charges in Brown County, thus leaving the criminal possession of firearm as the remaining charge,” Hill said.

In the second case, Lay pled no contest to felony aggravated sexual battery, for which Hill said the sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of between 114 and 128 months in prison without probation. Lay will also be required to register as a sex offender for 25 years upon release from prison.

Hill stated that the plea was entered after consultation with and the blessing of the victim, her family and law enforcement who worked the case as the conviction should result in a lengthy prison sentence and registration as a sex offender for 25 years after release from prison without the necessity of the victim having to re-live the offense by testifying at the jury trial set in February.

In the final case, Lay pled no contest to several counts Count I – Felony Fleeing to Elude a Police Officer, a level 9 person felony; Count II — Circumvention of Ignition Interlock Device, a class A non-person misdemeanor; Count III — No Insurance, a class B non-person misdemeanor; Count IV — Improper Registration, an unclassified misdemeanor; Count V — Speeding, a traffic infraction; and Count VI — Failure to Activate and Use Turn Signal, a traffic infraction.

Lay’s bond was revoked and he was remanded to the Brown County Jail to await his sentencing on March 23, 2020.

HFED sets Annual Meeting at Klinefelter Farm

The Hiawatha Foundation for Economic Development is planning it’s annual meeting and dinner at Klinefelter Farm.

The 2019 event will be on Thursday, Jan. 16 with social hour starting at 6 p.m., followed by a prime rib dinner catered by The Bibber BBQ and the meeting. Special speaker this year will be Highland Community College President Deborah Fox is the speaker.

Invitations have been sent out to current HFED members and RSVPs are asked for by no later than Jan. 9 by mail or to 785-740-4333 or email hfedoffice1@gmail.com. Contact the HFED office if interested in attending or becoming a member of this group to promote economic development.

Membership dues paid by Jan. 3 include one paid meal ticket and additional tickets are available for $30 each.

Contact the above email or phone number for information about the meeting or if interested in joining HFED.