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Seniors recognized at Friday night's gridiron season opener

Friday night’s season gridiron opener for the Hiawatha Red Hawks was special in more ways than one.

It signified a victory not only on the field but also because the school was able to host a football game — something many were skeptical would happen this fall after the entire spring season was canceled. In addition, the Red Hawks brought home a 23-0 win over the Troy Trojans to make the evening even more memorable.

Another memorable moment came prior to the game, when seniors were recognized, along with their parents. While this is typically held at the last home game of the season, this year the seniors were recognized at the first game. Wearing masks — which is stadium protocol unless able to social distance — seniors were escorted onto the track by their parents.

Because like the rest of 2020 in a world dealing with COVID-19, the future of normal events such as football games are a little unknown week to week. Quarantine protocol has already led to cancellations at many other local schools and so they are scheduling those special events — such as Senior Nights and Homecomings — as early as possible to try and get them in the books.

Volleyball Senior Night is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 22 — which is the next home game. This week’s first home game against Nemaha Central was postponed to Oct. 1 due to the quarantine of Nemaha’s volleyball team.

Public hearings set for derelict properties

The Hiawatha City Commission met on Monday evening, and the group approved a resolution setting public hearings for seven properties in Hiawatha that have been deemed uninhabitable by City Code Enforcement.

The Public Hearings from the properties at 300 South 10th St., 505 Miami St., 315 Oregon St., 802 Delaware St., 813 Miami St., 903 Shawnee St. and 302 South 8th St. are set for the City Commission meeting on Oct. 19.

City Attorney Andy Delaney informed the commission that Public Hearings for 12 other properties will also be held the same night. Those properties have been flagged by Code Enforcement, but do not fall below minimum housing guidelines and do not face immediate condemnation or demolition.

The Commission voted to approve the demolition application of Robert and Cherie Herlinger for 400 North 7th St., as well as to opt out of the social security deferral for 2020, and updated job descriptions for Assistant City Clerk and Office Assistant.

In other business, the Commission approved the Consent Agenda, which included payments for the sewer flow testing to Olsson Associates in the amounts of $99,516.04, $6,324.88 and $2,036.40.

County looks into repairs on four bridges

The Brown County Commission voted Tuesday morning to have BG Consultants look at four deteriorating bridges in the county.

The commissioners reviewed a list of inspections on several bridges in the county. The inspection was completed earlier in the spring, and Commissioner Richard Lehmkuhl said some of the most concerning ones at the time of the inspection had actually deteriorated more due spring and summer rains.

Commissioner Lehmkuhl said he felt they needed to have at least four inspected again before something happens to them. One in his district — on 220th near Nighthawk — is of major concern as it gets a lot of harvest traffic.He said if they didn’t focus on these problem bridges, it could lead to road closures.

“If we lose a bridge, we will have a whole lot more to deal with than just a repair,” Commissioner Lehmkuhl said. “I think this will get us through this year’s harvest, but we really need to have it looked at.”

Commissioner Dwight Kruse said one in his district is on the top of the priority list and he agreed it had some problems. Another bridge in his district is currently getting replaced — near Wetmore north on 110th near the juncture of Acorn.

The commissioners agreed the first four bridges on the list would be inspected again by BG Consultants at a cost of $1,200 — with $900 coming from Commissioner Lehmkuhl’s district funds and $300 from Commissioner Kruse’s district funds.

The commissioners also heard from Reserve resident Alvin Simon, who told them of a fire at his residence in 2017 due to trees in the power lines. He said he has been battling the utility company — Atchison-Brown Rural Electric — and insurance companies over a settlement.

Simon had filed suit against the company, but a judgement was denied and he has since filed an appeal. Five buildings on his property were destroyed, causing more than $35,000 in damage. Simon said the insurance company for the utility company declared it was an act of God and also said that Simon had not allowed the utility company on his property to trim the trees.

Simon told the commissioners that he had never been approached by the company to trim his trees and was told there was an easement to allow utilities to trim regardless of what a landowner says.

The commissioners told Simon the county did not have an easement, but agreed there was a right-of-way by law for utilities to access power lines and perform other duties, such as trimming trees from the power lines.

They advised Simon to contact the county attorney for further information, as he could not find any easements on file with local title companies.

In other business:

Don Pounds, Brown County Emergency Manager, spoke with the commission concerning funding for the Sheriff’s Office to activate Sac & Fox Tribe Storm Sirens. The current sirens are activated by radio transmission by a Sac & Fox Officer. Acting Chief Mike McDonald requested Brown County Sheriff’s Office be equipped to activate the sirens. Pounds stated Sheriff Merchant was agreeable to the situation. Midwest Mobile Radio quoted a total of $3,493.05 for parts, material, and labor. Commissioner Kruse asked if Sac & Fox would be sharing the cost. Pounds stated that the request was for Brown County to pay the cost. Commissioner Lehmkuhl requested Pounds to find out how many sirens the Sheriff’s Office currently activates. Commissioner Olsen would like to find out if Sac & Fox would help pay the cost.

Motion by Keith Olsen to extend the employment of the health nurse, Mary Oswald until January 1, 2021. Seconded by Richard Lehmkuhl. Motion carried.

Brown County Attorney Kevin Hill, and Brown County Clerk Melissa Gormley, spoke with the commission in regards to Presidential Memorandum concerning the deferment of social security tax for employees. Motion by Keith Olsen to exempt Brown County from the executive order regarding applicable tax including FICA. Seconded by Richard Lehmkuhl. Motion carried.

Brown County Road and Bridge Secretary, Julie Liberty, reviewed end of month reports. Liberty also reviewed the Federal Fund Exchange that she turned in to the state. Liberty updated the commission on the rental of the excavator and she received another quote from Barry Tractor.

Motion by Keith Olsen to approve Road and Bridge Permit 20-05 for JBN Telephone Company to bury a fiber optic cable from the west side US Hwy 75 going east on the south side of 140th Rd for 862 feet then bore 140th to the north to serve 392 140th Rd. Seconded by Richard Lehmkuhl. Motion carried.

Motion by Keith Olsen to accept Resolution 2020-17, extending the COVID Public Health Emergency Resolution for a period of 60 days. Seconded by Richard Lehmkuhl. Motion carried.

The commission discussed membership with Heartland Works and will review at the beginning of 2021 as new commissioners come on. The commissioner voted to not have anyone serving on the board at this time.

Don Pounds stated that he had an email from the state on SPARK. SPARK funding was approved with only a couple questions about the libraries and the meat packing plants.

Brown County Road and Bridge Secretary, Julie Liberty requested a 10 minute executive session. Motion by Keith Olsen for a 10 minute executive session on non-elected personnel with the three Commissioners and Julie Liberty present to discuss personnel matters of non-elected personnel with executive session necessary to protect privacy interests. Seconded by Richard Lehmkuhl. Closed 9:36 a.m. Opened 9:46 a.m. No binding action was taken.

Brown County Clerk, Melissa Gormley, reported on KDOL fraud activity. One employee was on the KDOL list last week, and it was reported immediately to the employee, Sheriff John Merchant, and KDOL.

Citizens share animal control concerns with City Commission

At Monday’s Hiawatha City Commission meeting, several concerned community members took advantage of the newly reinstated Public Comments portion of the agenda to address concerns over the city’s animal control ordinances.

Beth Spiker spoke first, reading a letter to the commission detailing her experience with a pit bull that had attacked her dog in her yard. Spicer stated that she had problems with the response from the Hiawatha Police Department, and waited 10 days to be notified that the dog had been removed from the city. She also stated that she contacted the PD on 14 separate occasions in trying to resolve her concerns.

Elaine Moore was present to discuss the same dog, claiming the animal attempted to attack her son in her own yard before he was intercepted by her own dog. Both citizens said the owner of the dog had been made aware that it was getting out of the fenced in area in which it was kept. Moore said that she had called dispatch to request an officer to be sent, but never heard back and no officer ever showed up.

City Attorney Andy Delaney spoke in regards to Spiker’s claim, stating that there is a court case pending related to the animal attack, but also sharing that he did not believe the timeline given was entirely accurate. Delaney also noted that the dog has been removed from the city and would not be allowed back.

Police Chief John Defore discussed the calls to dispatch, stating that no calls or messages from Moore had been received by the HPD, according to the department call logs. Defore asked which department the citizen called, and determined that the calls had been placed to the county dispatch, rather than directly to the PD. Defore said that he could not determine what happened with the call at that juncture as county dispatch is not under his purview.

Jennifer Garcia was next to speak to the commission, discussing calls she had made to the PD regarding dogs left outside without adequate shelter during the winter and crated in the summer. Chief Defore pointed out that the police could not seize someone’s animal unless the situation fell within very strict guidelines set by the state. He said that pictures are taken and analyzed by local veterinarians for every call.

Garcia cited Atchison’s tethering laws as an example of guidelines that would give officers more discretion in determining the proper outcome in these situations.

City officials said they would look into the concerns of the residents.

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HCVB makes plans for 106th Annual Halloween Frolic

The 106th Annual Hiawatha Halloween Frolic is on!

The Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau board met Wednesday night and made plans to move forward with the Halloween Frolic — although this year might look a bit different.

The Halloween Frolic has been a tradition in Hiawatha since the first year of 1914 when founder Elizabeth Krebs threw together a small parade and Halloween party for the town’s children to keep them busy and from vandalizing her flower gardens.

Since then, the Frolic has grown into a town tradition that is actually the oldest running Halloween Frolic and Parade in the nation.

HCVB President Kate Miller said she wants the public to be aware that while some protocol is being put in place to ensure the safety of the Hiawatha residents, that 2020 Halloween is happening.

This year will go down in the books as yet another Frolic, complete with a parade and many other events that turn Hiawatha into a Halloween town. However, the HCVB board made decisions this week that while they are moving forward on plans for this year’s Halloween Frolic, some changes will be made to keep social distancing in mind with the safety of Hiawatha’s citizens as top priority due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

First and foremost, the evening Grand Parade will still happen at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31. However, all residents are encouraged to participate — and congregating and watching from downtown is being discouraged at this time as is the norm. That doesn’t mean that some people won’t want to park along the parade route to see the many vehicles decorated for Halloween.

The parade will be an all inclusive invitation to residents to decorate their vehicles and also any floats for Halloween and parade on the normal cruise routes of Oregon and First Street in Hiawatha. No registration will be required.

According to HCVB, who checked with the Hiawatha Police, floats are allowed as long as they have working lights and are not excessively large. It is encouraged to keep floats on Oregon Street, circling up to Red Hawk Drive and turning around in an area that is not on First Street — which is also U.S. 73 Highway. HCVB cautions that streets will not be blocked off.

This year’s theme is “Rock’n Around the Pumpkin Patch” and vehicles are encouraged to be decorated along those lines, with music and flashing lights as well.

There will be a Queen pageant and crowning, however it may be done virtually — with a crowning videoed and aired on the HCVB Facebook page, along with Rainbow Communications. More information will be announced as the event draws closer.

HCVB board members agreed to cancel the Afternoon Kiddie Parade and the annual Miss Mary Costume Contest will also be performed virtually — in order to promote social distancing and safety with the Coronavirus in mind. More information will be released as the event gets closer, but residents wanting to enter the Miss Mary Contest can do so by submitting photos and videos of their costumed kids the week prior to Halloween. The entries will be judged by a panel and winners announced throughout the day on Halloween day!

Last year, the HCVB collaborated with the Brown County Historical Society for Cemetery Tours, which featured actors and lots of history concerning Mt. Hope and Hiawatha Cemeteries. This year, the HCVB is still planning Cemetery Tours, but will be offering those virtually as well. More information will be forthcoming on the HCVB’s Halloween Frolic page.

In addition, other events will continue as normal — pumpkin decorating and poster contests for kids, the logo contest, a Halloween photo contest, house decorating contest and much more including Window Painting for individuals only this year. In addition, the HCVB will be seeking nominations for the Grand Marshal. The Halloween logos will be voted on virtually on the HCVB Frolic social media pages and the winning logos will be made into T-shirts available for purchase.

Final approval on trick or treat nights — which will be “at your own risk” — will be sought from the Hiawatha City Commission on Sept. 21 and the HCVB will release more information following that meeting.

More information will be released soon on the HCVB Halloween Frolic page on Facebook and Instagram, or contact the Chamber office at 742-7136 or hiawathachamber@rainbowtel.net for more information.