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Together We Are Hiawatha

The Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau just unveiled a new Together We Are Hiawatha T-shirt and postcards to benefit local businesses.

Community members were able to vote on the color of the shirt and the winning color is a darker teal with a unity symbol on the front – hands in the form of a heart reaching out to cradle downtown Hiawatha.

The postcards also have the same design – created by local artist Kate Miller.

“I was thrilled to help out the Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau on a design to bring solidarity to our town during COVID-19,” said Miller. “Hands as hearts imagery isn’t a new thing, but when this image idea popped into my head there was something I needed to do. You see, these are MY hands.”

Miller said she grew up in Hiawatha, spending her K-12 education here.

“I fell in love with art in this town,” she said. “I returned home from college and now work in this town. This is my home and I love it.”

Miller said she is very proud of how Hiawathans have handled the pandemic.

“I have always stood a little taller when I talk about my hometown, so using my hands as the model was important to me when I made this image,” she said. “Because it’s the people who grow up, work and live in a town that make it the great place it is.”

“Together we are Hiawatha and together we will get through this.”

T-shirts and postcards are now available to order and all proceeds will go back to the Chamber to help out it’s business members during these trying times.

T-shirts are Youth-XL for $15 each and 2X-5X are $18 each. Postcards are 10 for $5. Go to the link: https://tinyurl.com/TogetherWeAreHiawatha to order or contact the Chamber at 742-7136, email hiawathachamber@rainbowtel.net with any questions. The form can also be used to make a donation to the fund to help local businesses.


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Scope of summer recreation in Hiawatha set for renewed discussion at Monday's city meeting

Summer recreation will be a discussion item on the agenda at Monday’s Hiawatha City Commission meeting.

The Hiawatha Parks and Recreation had earlier this month released a timeline for opening up ball fields, parks and the pool with dates set for team practices to begin June 1, games allowed as of June 15 and the Aquatic Center to open June 15.

Based on this outline — which at the time HP&R Director Stacy Jasper said was fluid and could potentially change, depending on how the state directives concerning the COVID-19 pandemic could change. Also, Gov. Laura Kelly gave counties and municipalities the authority to enforce stricter regulations than as outlined in her 4-phase plan to reopen Kansas.

Plans are being made across all of Hiawatha’s baseball leagues to move forward with the summer seasons. The scope of this could change based on any action taken at Monday’s Hiawatha City Commission meeting — or it could stay the same.

Stay tuned for more information — but in the meantime, leagues have been making plans to launch into summer ball.

Hiawatha Youth Baseball and Softball leagues have been eyeing their return and how their seasons will look, and making plans to open the year on the tentative June 1 date for return to practices.

The new college-league Bravos squad has jumped fully into their plans to kick-start their season as per the City’s tentative schedule as well — with games set to start June 15, with Hiawatha and Sabetha as home fields. The schedule for this could change as league officials reported Wednesday that Topeka and Junction City could have field availability issues.

Hiawatha’s American Legion Baseball program released the following statement on Wednesday morning:

“Hiawatha American Legion baseball season will move forward this summer without the endorsement of the Kansas American Legion and the National American Legion Headquarters, which have withdrawn their support of American Legion baseball for the summer of 2002. What this means to our local youth is that we will still attempt to play organized baseball this summer with surrounding Northeast Kansas League teams. The only exception is, there will be no affiliation to any American Legion local, state or national organization.”

Sign-up for 18-and-under and 16-and-under teams will take place on Tuesday, May 19 from 6-8 p.m. at Paul Rockey Field at Noble Park. Parents and players are encouraged to attend to discuss any concerns they may have for the upcoming season. There will be a $40 fee to cover team shirts and insurance. Any questions or anyone unable to make the meeting on Tuesday can contact Curt Weldon at (785) 741-0305.

However, some league officials were contacted later in the day on Wednesday by Hiawatha city officials, letting them know to hold off on any formal plans, as changes to summer activity plans may be coming at Monday evening’s City Commission meeting. The scope of social distancing and disinfecting measures necessary to return to regular sports actions will likely be at the heart of Monday’s discussion.


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Juvenile charged with involuntary manslaughter in November fatality accident

The Brown County Attorney reported Tuesday that charges of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence have been filed against a 17-year-old Hiawatha male in connection with a fatality accident in November.

Brown County Attorney Kevin Hill issued a press release Tuesday that stated his office received investigative reports from the Kansas Highway Patrol’s office on April 29 in connection with the single fatality accident that occurred late the night of Nov. 16 at the juncture of Horned Owl Road and U.S. 36. The accident involved five Hiawatha teens, including 16-year-old Ian Miller, who died as a result of his injuries. Three others — including driver Andrew Kreek, of Hiawatha — and passengers Gabriel Corbett, and Naveigh Dismang, were hospitalized with critical injuries and remained in rehabilitative care for several weeks. One, Andrew Woods, 19, was treated and released at a local hospital.

Hill said that after additional law enforcement paperwork was requested and received on May 6, a juvenile complaint was filed in the District Court of Brown County on Friday, May 8 against Kreek of Hiawatha, who was 17 years old at the time of the offense. He is charged with five complaints, including involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence, a level 4 person felony; three counts of reckless aggravated battery, a level 5 person felony, and speeding.

“The investigation of the collision by the Kansas Highway Patrol included the assistance of the Brown County Attorney’s Office in the preparation of a search warrant that was executed in November for digital evidence from the motor vehicle’s event data recorder showing speed and other operational information of the vehicle in the five seconds preceding impact as well as a search warrant for the blood of Mr. Kreek to determine blood alcohol content within three hours of the rollover,” according to Hill’s press release.

He said that assisting the Kansas Highway Patrol in the investigation was the Brown County Sheriff’s Office. Also assisting those agencies was the Hiawatha Police Department. A date for the first appearance on the juvenile charges is pending.

Also in connection with the November 2019 accident, charges were filed against Kyle White, 26, of rural Hiawatha on charges of unlawfully hosting minors and eight counts of furnishing alcoholic liquor to a minor. Hill said White’s arraignment has been postponed until June due to the closure of the courts for the COVID-19 pandemic.


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School board accepts resignation of Dr. Pete Rosa'; moves forward to fill his position

The Hiawatha USD 415 School Board officially accepted the resignation of board member Dr. Pete Rosa’ at it’s regular board meeting Monday night and made the official moves toward filling his position for the remainder of the year.

The School Board met via Zoom conference Monday night and board members expressed their appreciation to Dr. Rosa’, also noting that it was unfortunate they couldn’t do so in person. Due to the governor’s four-phase plan for reopening the state, the school board meeting for this month was still set up via Zoom conference, as it was for April.

Dr. Rosa’ announced in March he would be stepping down from the board following the May 11 board meeting. Dr. Rosa’ stated the decision came as he and his wife plan to move into the next chapter of their lives. During Monday’s meeting, Dr. Rosa’ told the other board members that his 15 years serving on the board had been met with many challenging and interesting events, along with a lot of changes within the school district, but the “school has done well by my family.”

The board discussed protocol for filling Dr. Rosa’s position, which is set to expire in January 2021, and were advised the position needed to be advertised and could be filled no sooner than 15 days after publication of a notice in the newspaper.

In an official motion, the board voted to accept Dr. Rosa’s resignation — with Dr. Rosa’ abstaining from the vote — and advertise his position to ask for letters of interest and a short bio from interested persons be sent to the School Board office by June 1. Candidates will be interviewed in public session at the June 8 board meeting.


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Governor Kelly adds a new phase to 'Ad Astra' plan

Thursday afternoon, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order 20-32, which establishes a new phase to the “Ad Astra: Plan to Reopen Kansas.”

The new “1.5” Phase, effective May 18, continues reopening efforts while preserving some data-driven restrictions necessary to prevent community transmission of COVID-19.

“The good news is that hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths continue to decline, enabling us to move forward with our efforts to safely reopen Kansas,” said Kelly. “Unfortunately, the daily rate of disease spread has not shown the downward trajectory necessary to move fully into Phase 2. I said from the beginning that public safety must remain the top priority, which means that our reopening efforts must be driven by data, not dates. Phase 1.5 will continue our transition, but with necessary caution.”

Key Phase 1.5 highlights:

Mass gatherings of more than 10 individuals continue to be prohibited;

Nail salons, barber shops, hair salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlors and other personal service businesses where close contact cannot be avoided may open, but only for pre-scheduled appointments or online check-in;

Fitness centers and health clubs may open, but in-person group classes may not occur and locker rooms must be closed except as necessary to use restroom facilities.

In-person commencement or graduation ceremonies may occur with no more than 10 individuals in a room, gymnasium, or facility at one time as long as 6-foot social distancing is maintained. Outdoor drive-through graduation ceremonies during which no more than 10 individuals are in the same area outside of their vehicles at a time (i.e. school administration, graduate, family members, etc.) are allowed.

Under Phase 1.5, the following, unless they are repurposed for use in an essential function under the Kansas Essential Function Framework, shall remain CLOSED to the public:

Bars and night clubs, excluding already operating curbside and carryout services;

Non-tribal Casinos;

Theaters, museums, and other indoor leisure spaces (trampoline parks, arcades, etc.);

Community centers;

Outdoor and indoor large entertainment venues with capacity of 2,000 or more;

Fairs, festivals, carnivals, parades;

Swimming pools (other than backyard pools);

Organized sports facilities, sports tournaments, sports games, and sports practices; and Summer camps.

The Governor will evaluate the state’s disease spread, testing rates, death rates, hospitalizations, ability of state and local public health authorities to contain outbreaks and conduct contact tracing, and personal protective equipment availability when determining if the state should move to the next “Phase.” Regardless of phase, the State Health Officer retains the authority to impose additional public health interventions in any area that contains an emergent and significant public health risk.

Throughout all phases, Kansans should continue to adhere to hygiene and social distancing protocols, including:

Washing hands frequently, while avoiding contact with one’s face;

Remaining home when sick or running a fever;

Following isolation and quarantine orders issued by state or local health officers;

Wearing a cloth face mask when in public;

Working remotely, if possible.

Kelly’s “Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas,” is available in full at covid.ks.gov, in addition to industry-specific guidance for Kansas businesses.


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Brown County sees 3 positive cases

Brown County announced Thursday two more positive COVID-19 coronavirus cases, according to a press release from the NEK Multi-County Health Department.

According to the press release, the individuals are in isolation and following the recommendations of health officials. The Brown County Health Department has begun work on identifying contacts of the individuals.

“We continue to recommend that persons that have symptoms associated with a respiratory illness stay home and CALL your medical provider if your symptoms require medical attention and make sure you or your medical provider notify the Brown County Health Department if COVID 19 testing is done or if you are advised to quarantine.”

The NEK Multi-County Health Department officials say its office continues to collaborate with health care providers in the community.

For accurate COVID-1 information, please go to:

Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) COVID-19: www.govstatus.egov.com/coronavirus

Center for Disease Control (CDC) www.cdc.gov/coronavirus2019-nCoV/index.html

NEK Multi-County Health Department Brown: www.nekmulticounty.org.