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Ending COVID one lemonade stand at a time

A group of Hiawatha kids are working to end COVID-19 one lemonade stand at a time.

Katie and Ben Kettler said their son, Declan, along with several of his neighborhood friends sponsored a lemonade stand recently to raise money to benefit the hospital.

Other neighborhood kids Aiya, MIla and Halle McPeak, along with Lena Delaney, Kellen Boye and Jordan Nichols even had a “COVID Parade” on their bicycles around the neighborhood earlier this month — holding signs that said “End COVID.”

“They have been very active in our neighborhoods,” Katie Kettler said, noting that even though the kids are younger they still seem to understand the ramifications of the COVID-19 coronavirus. “Making sure they don’t go inside other’s houses to respect the social distancing. For young kids they have been very award the impact this is having on people.”

Kettler said that without any urging, the kids came up with the idea to raise money to help end COVID. They raised $105.96 and on Wednesday this week presented the money to Hiawatha Community Hospital providers Dr. Julie Rosa’, Dr. Jessica Jarvis, Danielle Jagels, APRN and Jodi Twombly, PA-C.

Dr. Julie Rosa’ said she felt the gesture was very sweet.

“I love the heart behind it,” she said.

The money will go toward the “fight to end COVID” she said, whether purchasing some PPE supplies that could include masks or fit other needs.

Dr. Rosa’ said she feels youth in general have become very aware of the impact the coronavirus has had on society and how it potentially could change everyone’s lives and way we view socialization.

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Ford Raptor supported by generous donations

Brown County Sheriff John Merchant said the Ford Raptor the department has in the patrol fleet is a way to connect with youth.

He said there have been many questions concerning the vehicle. One of his officers wanted to increase awareness in teen drivers concerning reckless driving and felt this would be a good connecting point.

Sheriff Merchant said both Hiawatha and Horton High schools supported this program and Sgt Guilliams was able to present a class at the Hiawatha High School before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Once the restrictions are lifted, he will resume interacting with our teenagers on the consequences of reckless driving,” Sheriff Merchant said. “I am very conservative with tax dollars so in order for this program to come to reality, donations had to be raised to offset the cost of what we would normally pay for a patrol vehicle.”

With the donations and support that was raised, the county portion was around $15,000 — less than half the cost of what patrol vehicles usually cost, Sheriff Merchant said.

“USDSA, Hero Fund, Carl’s Body Shop, Hiawatha Ford, HD Repair, KTSRO and the Rodney and Sandy Paden family donated over $35,000 in cash or services to bring this very worthwhile program to a reality,” Sheriff Merchant said. “Everyone who donated to this program agreed that more intervention was needed in educating teen drivers and this is a pilot program that Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office is very excited about and donated to. If you have seen the vehicle, the sponsors are located on the bottom portion on the sides of the truck. Without their generous support, this program would not have been made possible.”

Sheriff Merchant said when his department trades in the vehicle, there will be a great deal of equity towards the price of a patrol vehicle — which a regular patrol vehicle is $30,000 unequipped approximately.

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County lifts COVID restrictions

The Brown County Commissioners voted 2-1 Monday morning to lift all COVID-related restrictions in the county. Commissioner Richard Lehmkuhl was the nay vote.

The vote came after discussion where the commissioners heard concerns from several residents and reports from County Health Officer Chastity Schumann who stated area counties were starting to reopen.

Schumann said Brown County numbers were low and proposed that the county lift all restrictions and let businesses handle their own restrictions. For the past several months, counties fell under the guidelines of the state restrictions until two weeks ago when Governor Laura Kelly lifted those and let local governments impose their own restrictions on their counties and cities.

Brown County had followed along with the governor’s proposed phase plan, which allowed businesses to open with some restrictions in place for social distancing to keep the virus from spreading.

Commissioner Lehmkuhl expressed concern at reopening too early and noted that the number of positive cases increased from 9 to 13 on Friday, which reflects a 40 percent increase. He asked the other commissioners to consider keeping the restrictions in place for one more week.

Local residents were on hand to express their concerns about reopening the county. Kendra Heinen agreed there is much unknown about COVID-19, but asked the commissioners to leave it up to the individual and business owners to monitor themselves. Heinen spoke about the schools opening in the fall, and suggested if there were more places opening now, more normalcy would begin. Heinen encouraged the commission to vote to open the county.

Jessica Gigstad, was present to support Heinen and discussed legislation for small businesses. Another Brown County resident, Christy Woods stated the numbers overall from the total population was a small number.

Schumann told the commissioners that the hospital is still testing as many people as they had before.

Commissioner Keith Olsen made a motion to lift all restrictions starting at 3 p.m. on Monday. Commissioner Dwight Kruse seconded — the vote was 2-1 with Commissioner Lehmkuhl voting no.

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Services set for Friday for KHP officer

Services are set for Friday morning for a local Kansas Highway Patrol officer who is a native of Hiawatha.

KHP Officer Branden T. Leupold, 25, passed away on June 5. He attended Hiawatha schools, graduating with the Class of 2013.

Local survivors include his parents, John and Megan Leupold and he also is survived by a sister Rylee, brother Camron and fiancé Adrianne Darnell, along with many other family members and friends.

Leupold graduated from Kansas State University, was an officer in the Kansas National Guard and was a Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper, K143, stationed in the area of Leavenworth County.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Friday, June 12 at the Leupold’s pond (1341 Sugar Tree Lane, Hiawatha, KS 66434). Please park at Bruning Park (2100 Apache St). Bus transportation will be provided starting at 8:30 a.m.

There will be a celebration of life lunch immediately following the service at the Hiawatha Armory (108 N 1st St.)

For the complete obituary, go to

A GoFundMe has been set up to benefit the family, please visit:

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Plane crashes during take-off north of Hiawatha, no injuries reported

A 24-year-old Cummings man escaped injury when the plane he was flying failed to take off successfully and crashed in a field at the Hiawatha Municipal Airport on Monday.

According to a Kansas Highway Patrol report, Colton J. Callaway was driving a 1997 AT-502B airplane at 3:25 p.m. Monday, taking off northbound from the airport, located 1/2 mile north of Hiawatha just south of 260th Street on U.S. 73 Highway, when it failed to take off successfully and crashed sitting upright in a field just north of the runway.

According to the KHP report, Callaway was not injured.

Hiawatha School moves forward on graduation; tables new board member after tied vote

The Hiawatha School Board made decisions this week to finalize graduation plans and also came to a stalemate on a vote to fill the board position vacated by Dr. Pete Rosa’.

The School Board met Monday night at the Hiawatha Middle School library and the meeting was also aired on Zoom conference in the commons area or available on home networks.

The board discussed upcoming graduation for the high school, which has been moved to 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 28. Board members, Superintendent Lonnie Moser and Principal Lori Fordyce discussed specifics of allowing a crowd at graduation.

Although the county had ceased all COVID-19 restrictions, the school still wanted to proceed with caution and there was discussion of allowing each graduate to bring a specific number of people to keep the count within reason.

The board met Thursday morning in a special session to cast the final vote on how to move forward and decided that graduation would be inside the school gymnasium and each graduate would be allowed 10 tickets for guests to attend the ceremony. School officials recommend people try to maintain social distancing, as is still recommended by the NEK Multi-County Health Department, and wear masks or not attend if that person has health issues. As always, if someone is experiencing symptoms of illness they are asked not to attend.

Also at Monday night’s meeting, the board interviewed candidates Andrea Groth and Jacque Herl, who have applied to fill the position left by Dr. Pete Rosa’, who resigned effective last month. Board members asked each candidate a variety of questions, some personal information and mainly what their main focus would be to be on the board.

Following the interviews, the board voted on the candidates and came to a 3-3 tie.

Board members felt this was a good problem to have — both were great candidates was the general consensus, however it was unfortunate they had to choose one.

After more discussion, board members wanted some time to think on their vote and not act rashly, so the matter was tabled until the July board meeting.

In other business:

The board welcomed guest Hiawatha Police Chief John Defore, who informed them that the department, along with school district, had been awarded the COPS Grant for $125,000 over a 4-year period. The purpose of the grant is to fund a school resource officer, with the grant covering 75 percent of the costs and the school and city splitting the remaining 25 percent at varying amounts each year.

The board was excited about bringing a school resource officer on board and Chief Defore said he would include them in the hiring process for this position. The board voted to accept the grant, with the stipulation that if something occurred — such as this year — to shut down school for a full quarter, then the portion of the school’s funding responsibility would be pro-rated.

The School Board approved Taher Food Service as the food service vendor for all schools.

The board voted to authorize the close of the 2019-20 fiscal school year and along with it approved all annual appointments.

Following an Executive Session on personnel, the board voted to give Moser permission to hire any positions — certified and non-certified — that have not been filled. This included the HHS Counselor, fourth grade teacher and Director of Facilities.

The board held officer elections and Tom Simmer was voted in as president and Ian Schuetz as vice president. This takes effect July 1.