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Mary Bell Studios | Andee Rettele

Andee Rettele with Mary Bell Studios gave permission for use of her photo of Hiawatha Police Cpt. Dennis Entrikin saluting the procession Friday through Hiawatha following the funeral of Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Branden Leupold, who passed away on June 5. Services were held at the home of his parents, John and Megan Leupold, just outside of Hiawatha where military and KHP honors were provided. Flags were also displayed through downtown Hiawatha and a large flag installed on City Hall (pictured) for the somber occasion in a salute to Officer Leupold, who had been a KHP trooper for three years and was an officer in the Kansas National Guard. A native of Hiawatha, Officer Leupold graduated from Hiawatha High School with the Class of 2013.

Honoring Officer Branden Leupold

Extra caution needed on Kansas roads during harvest

It’s a busy time for farmers in Kansas with harvest underway and hay season in full swing. The Kansas Highway Patrol would like to remind motorists to use caution and patience when traveling around farm trucks, tractors, combines and other implements.

“As the busy farming season is underway, each traveler in Kansas needs to be more aware of increased farm implement and truck traffic,” said Lieutenant Adam Winters, KHP Public Information Officer. “In Kansas, we have many trucks exiting and entering the roadways at any given time. Traveling around these vehicles requires extra caution.”

Most farm equipment is not designed to travel at highway speeds and may only travel 15-25 mph. Farm equipment is often wider than the lane of traffic so extra room should be allowed when sharing the road. Caution should be practiced on all roads, but especially on busy rural roads with unmarked intersections.

Tips to keep in mind:

Don’t assume the farmer knows you are there.

Most farmers regularly check for vehicles behind them, however, most of their time must be spent looking ahead to stay on the road and watch for oncoming traffic. Implements are very loud, hindering their ability to hear your vehicle.

Pass with extreme caution.

Don’t pass unless you can see clearly ahead of both your vehicle and the equipment you are passing. If there are curves or hills blocking your view, wait until you can clearly see the area you are passing. You should not pass in a designated “No Passing Zone,” even if you are stuck behind a farm vehicle. Do not pass if you are within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevated structure, or tunnel.

When a farm vehicle pulls to the right side of the road, it does not mean it is turning right or allowing you to pass.

Due to the size of some farm equipment, the farmer must execute wide left turns so allow it plenty of room and time to turn. Be alert to see if they might be turning into a driveway or field.

Be patient.

Don’t assume that a farmer can move aside to let you pass. Shoulders may be soft, wet or steep, which can cause the farm vehicle to tip or the shoulder may not support the weight of a heavy farm vehicle. They understand you are being delayed and will move over at the first safe location available.

Think of the slow-moving vehicle emblem as a warning to adjust your speed.

Immediately slow down when you see the slow-moving vehicle emblem. While the emblems are visible from a long distance, it is difficult to judge the speed at which you are closing in on the vehicle, especially at night.

Pay attention.

When not focused solely on the road, motorists increase their chances of a collision, especially if you should come upon a slow-moving farm vehicle.

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Local 4th of July festivities

The Hiawatha City Commission has set the dates for 4th of July activities this year.

The city’s fireworks display will take place on Friday, July 3, while the Hiawatha Lake will be open from the 2nd through the 5th for personal fireworks to be set off. The nights of the 2nd and 5th the lake will be open until 10 p.m. while lake will be open for use until midnight on the 3rd and 4th. The Hiawatha fireworks is also sponsored by the Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau.

Horton is going all out for the 4th again this year. Opening the day will be a Fireman’s Breakfast Fundraiser at the Horton Fire Station from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., with the annual Youth Fishing Derby to be held at the Little Lake from 8 to 10. The evening kicks off at 6 p.m. with the 2nd annual Boat Parade on Mission Lake. The John Harris Band will provide the evening’s entertainment at Hickory Point from 7 p.m. to 9, with the fireworks show closing out the evening over Mission Lake at dusk. The city does urge all community members and visitors to follow social distancing and safety protocols.

Highland has canceled some of its normal 4th of July activities, but will still hold the parade and fireworks show. The parade will begin at 10 a.m., with registration from 8:45 to 9:15 in the high school parking lot. The fireworks show will be held at the HCC practice football field with an estimated start time of 9:30. City officials recommend social distancing and face masks at both activities.

According to the Sabetha Chamber of Commerce website, the city’s fireworks display will be held at 10 p.m. on July 3 by the Sabetha Fire Department.

At this point, both Everest and Robinson have announced that all 4th of July activities have been canceled for the year.

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Commission approves next phase for re-opening facilities

At Monday night’s Hiawatha City Commission meeting, the city’s policymakers discussed the near future of city facilities as the town continues to re-open from the Coronavirus pandemic shutdown.

City Clerk Tish Sims stated that after discussions with staff and administrators that the preference at City Hall is to move toward re-opening, with limitations. The Commission voted to approve Sims’s request, which includes social distancing requirements, one-way foot traffic lanes and keeping the museum and public restrooms closed, and will go into effect on June 16th. The 7th Street door will be unlocked and the exit will be at the Oregon Street exit. There will also be a sign-in sheet for potential contact tracing.

The Police Department and Parks and Recreation Department both requested to continue welcoming the public on an appointment-only basis. HPR Director Stacy Jasper said that the schedule is starting to pick up, and would like to continue to serve groups for scheduled events, but continue to hold off on allowing unscheduled visitors. Jasper also noted that gathering sizes will not be limited at events that are pre-scheduled, but that there will be a waiver listed on the rental agreement for the Fisher Center. The Commission approved both departments’ request to continue at their current phase for the time being.

In a separate matter, the Commission voted to open the public restrooms at Bruning and Noble Parks. With practices and scrimmages going on nightly, there was discussion of bringing in a portable restrooms, but it was decided that the health risk was less with a permanent restroom. The Commission stressed (and will post signs) that use of the restrooms will be at the risk of the user.

Former Hiawatha business owner 'Pete' Mendez passes away

Former Hiawatha business owner Frank “Pete” Mendez, Jr., 89, of Hiawatha, died early Tuesday morning, June 16, at Maple Heights Nursing Home in Hiawatha.

Mendez was born March 18, 1931 in Hiawatha, the son of Francisco and Trinidad Pantoja Mendez and was a lifelong resident of Hiawatha. He grew up here where he attended school and worked for the Missouri Pacific Rail Road for 22 years before operating his own trash and tree service for 22 years before retiring.

Funeral Service will be held 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 20, at Chapel Oaks Funeral Home in Hiawatha. For full obituary go to