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HHS gears up for Winter Homecoming

With Winter Homecoming right around the corner, Hiawatha High School students and staff are gearing up for a week of competition and fun, beginning on Monday, with Spirit Week and ending with the Winter Homecoming Dance on Friday — Valentine’s Day.

Throughout the week, HHS students will work to earn spirit points for their respective grades. Points can be earned through participation in Spirit Days, attendance at events during the week, and each grade’s performance in the Winter Olympics. The annual Spirit Week tradition at HHS begins with each day assigned a theme. Students and faculty take this opportunity and dress to impress in accordance with each day’s theme. This year’s themes are as follows: Monday: Tye Dye Day, Tuesday: Denim Day, Wednesday: Twin Day, Thursday: Big City vs Small Town Day, and Friday will be Red and Blue Day.

On Thursday, the Roundhouse will host the indoor Winter Olympics. These games give students from all grades a chance to compete with each other and earn even more points for their respective grades. This year, games include Tug o’ War, the Alligator Game (teams of one boy and one girl compete to grab the most objects on scooters), the Inchworm Game (one team member works to guide their partner, in a sleeping bag, through an obstacle course), and Musical Chairs.

The much-anticipated basketball games will commence on Friday, the 14th. Both boys and girls freshman, JV, and varsity basketball teams will duke it out on the court against the Royal Valley Panthers throughout the evening. The final game of the evening, the boys varsity, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Hiawatha High School gym.

While the basketball teams are competing on the court, the Winter Homecoming Court will also be competing for the crown. This year’s court consists of senior boys Jace Grubb, Sage Meyer and Parker Winters and senior girls Madison Gilbert, Emme Leupold and Maggie Saul. Meyer and Winters make up two integral parts of the varsity boys basketball team and Grubb is a prominent member of the FBLA and the boys baseball team in spring.

“I look forward to Homecoming Week every year. It involves a lot of people and it’ll be a lot of fun,” commented Meyer.

Not to be outshone, the senior girls are all avid members of the student body and each hold an office in the HHS Student Council. In the fall, Saul and Leupold are well known faces on the volleyball court and Madison can be found running various cross country races.

Saul, a co-captain of the HHS Dance team as well, commented on how it felt to be nominated.

“When I got nominated, I was so excited!” she said. “Being a part of Homecoming is super special and I feel honored to be a part of it.”

As Winter Homecoming draws closer, the community is encouraged to come out and support their Hiawatha High School students in this seasonal showcase of competition and sportsmanship.

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Lil' Dancers

The Hiawatha High School Dance Team sponsored it’s Kiddie Dance Clinic Friday night.

This is an annual fundraising event for the HHS Hawkettes, who work with elementary school students for a couple of dances that are performed at a home basketball game.

Students are asked to arrive at the school’s auditorium by 6 p.m., where they receive a T-Shirt and work on dances as they get ready for the big performance, which is at halftime of the boys varsity game.

The young dancers are all smiles as they perform before a crowded roundhouse, filled with fans and parents.

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City approves new handicapped parking spaces

The Hiawatha City Commission met Monday evening and revisited a discussion from the previous meeting regarding a downtown disabled parking space request.

A downtown physical therapy business had requested new spaces in front of their office on Oregon Street, which led the city to look into the need for new spaces throughout the downtown area. After looking further into the situation since the last meeting, an updated request was given to the Commission for Monday’s meeting, outlining 16 new handicapped parking spaces, which was approved by all commissioners.

Jacquie Kerl was present from the Hiawatha Hospital to give a monthly update, noting a March 21 fundraising event and that the hospital has been interviewing providers. Kerl also updated the commission on the potential of the Medicaid Expansion Bill, which would impact the hospital by $481,667.

In other business:

The commission approved a request to file paperwork for a loan with the Kansas Department of Health for the ongoing flow study project, and also approved a bid of $6,840 from Bachelor Controls for three computers for the Law Enforcement Center and one for City Hall. The bid was about $2,000 higher up front for the computers than the lowest received, but because Bachelor Controls handles the city’s IT services, it will end up cheaper after installation costs and set up fees. The group also approved the transfer of 2019 Capital Funds into the Capital Improvement Fund, agreed to hire Brad Siebenmorgen as Parks Maintenance Operator III at a wage of $18.60 per hour, and to solicit bids to remodel the kitchen in the Fisher Center.

The group also approved a $6,000 request to install a second concrete pad at Bruning park for batting cages, as well as a request to donate one family pool pass to the Brown County Extension Office for their upcoming Spotlight Auction.

The commission also agreed to move the next meeting to Tuesday, Feb. 18 to accommodate President’s Day. City Administrator Mike Nichols informed the commission that ALICE training had been scheduled for city employees on March 6. He requested that City Hall close that afternoon, which was approved, and also for commission members to participate in the training.

Members of the Brown County Historical Society were on hand to discuss a tabled discussion of a gifting agreement with the city for three antique fire trucks. The trucks are already stored by the Historical Society, and the agreement, which was approved, will allow them to maintain and improve the vehicles, while still allowing the city to use them for events and have the right to retain them should ownership pass from BCHS.

The Commission passed the Consent Agenda, which included an appropriation of $79,212.31, utility refunds of $203.14 and a payment to BT & Co. for Professional Services in the amount of $9,150 for the 2019 audit.

Commission offers support for possible fire district

Hiawatha’s interim Fire Chief, Gene Atland, was present at Monday night’s meeting of the Hiawatha City Commission, seeking support for a potential reorganization of the department.

The change from a fire department to a fire district would move the groups funding and governance out from under the city’s scope.

Atland said that no final decision has been made on creating a district, but came to the commission to be sure that they had the blessing of the group before moving forward.

“We’re not trying to bail out on the city,” he said, but stated that unresolved issues with the city have led to a desire to be more autonomous. In November, the City Commission had terminated Chief Ryan Shockley from the position, with no word as to why. Members of the fire department had approached the city in open session to ask for his reinstatement, but the city’s only action had been to appoint Atland as interim chief.

Mayor Bill Collins said that the city is here to support the department if they wish to make the move.

City Attorney Andy Delaney said that the department could ask the Brown County Commission to bring a resolution forming the fire district, which would include the Hiawatha and Padonia Townships, or could bring a petition to the county.

With the City Commission on board, it was voted for Delaney to bring back a Resolution of Intent stating that the city supports the formation of the fire department. Collins also agreed with Atland that assistance would be available for the paperwork and process should the decision be made to move forward.

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School making improvements on elementary parking lot

Winter has been a little rough on the Hiawatha Elementary School parking lot.

Out of the three main school facilities, the elementary lot is the only one that is not chip and sealed or asphalt. Purchased from a residential area in the past few years, the lot was graveled, which has worked out OK until the freezing rain in recent weeks that caused the lot to ice over.

Last week’s warmer weather led to thawing and the parking lot turned into a mud pit. Coordinator Matt Cluck said typically gravel lots aren’t salted when it snows or ices because it will create a “swamp,” as it thaws subsoil out and water has no where to go because under what thawed, the ground is still frozen.

Cluck said one storm caused an accumulation of about an inch and half of ice, causing issues with safety for parents and staff members parking on it, so they had to salt it.

By late week, the parking lot was indeed a muddy swamp and some parents and patrons reached out to district officials. On Friday, Superintendent Lonnie Moser and HES Principal Paul Carver issued a letter to patrons, letting them know they were looking for a solution and advising in the meantime to park in the bus lane for pick-up, as long as it didn’t impede bus traffic.

The School Board met Friday morning in a special meeting to discuss a short-term solution, as the lot is slated to be chip and sealed this summer, along with concrete islands added for parking.

Superintendent Lonnie Moser said the board approved an amount, not to exceed $15,000, for material and labor to make improvements to the HES main parking lot as a temporary solution to get through the remainder of the school year.

Cluck said the district contracted Kyle Knudson to dig out the sink holds and put in 18 inches of rock in those holes, then drag the remainder of the lot in an attempt to dry it out. He said additional rock will be added in any muddy areas that show back up once the lot drys out.

At the November meeting, the board approved using Brown County to chip and seal the drive and parking lot at the Hiawatha Elementary School at an estimated cost of $23,021. In addition, the board voted to approve the bid of $34,600 from AHRS for curbs and islands for the parking lot to better define parking spaces. The project is slated to be completed in summer 2020 as part of the Capital Outlay summer projects.