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Cruisin' for Seniors

Hiawathans came out in full force Saturday night for a Cruise Night to honor seniors.

First and Oregon streets were lined with cars, many decked out in honor of graduating seniors. This past weekend was to have been the regular graduation weekend, but COVID-19 pushed those back and now Hiawatha is scheduled to have graduation June 28.

However, the community wanted to recognize those graduating seniors. Cars with student names were seen, decorated with balloons and streamers. Greg Lock and Quentin Overdick went all out to honor their seniors, as they created a huge banner to hang from the back of a semi tractor for graduating cousin seniors Kaysi Overdick and Blake Gormley.

Rainbow Communications offered free popcorn and Deb’s Images was taking photos of seniors with friends and family. Many seniors were dressed in cap and gown for the event and seen visiting with friends and celebrating.

Karla’s Diaper Closet had a donation table set up at the Carpet Plus parking lot and raised more than $900 in diapers and more than $400 in cash.

Reschke/Wilson Farms also set up a station at the Carpet Plus parking lot to hand out free refreshments to the cruisers and KNZA 103.9 played cruise music.


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City nixes pool, baseball for summer

The decision was made at a highly-anticipated meeting of the Hiawatha City Commission Monday night to formally close the pool for the entire summer and ban organized baseball games at city-owned fields.

The call came down after a tentative schedule to re-open summer activities was released at the last city meeting, which was then derailed by a delay in the state’s re-opening plan, as well as summer activity guidelines from the CDC and the Kansas Parks and Recreation Association.

City Parks and Recreation Director Stacy Jasper asked the commission for a clear picture and decision Monday night, in order for her to communicate to the community what this summer will look like. She said plans were already underway for many recreation teams and they needed to know what the city’s stance was.

The daunting sanitization regimen required for pools, as well as the limited hours and reservation-only openings meant that the city would be required to hire more staff for a fraction of the hours, were the determining factors in the city’s decision to close the aquatic park for the year. Commissioners Toni Hull and Becky Shamburg both stated their remorse in making the decision, but felt that the cost and effort, as well as the risk, were not worth the limited access the city would have to the facilities.

Shamburg, who serves as director of Brown County Special Education, said she is a huge advocate of athletics and recreation, but that as an educator, she is concerned about keeping virus risks low over the summer in an effort to get back to school by August.

“I don’t think it’s worth the risk,” she said.

The ruling on baseball games came from a similar place. The cleaning, as well as the guidelines that would need to be imposed for practices and games came into play, as well as the risk causing a delay to school in August and the desire to come to a final decision to give closure one way or another were at the heart of the commission’s decision. With the governor’s Phase 1.5 came a delay in gathering-size increases, which could throw off the ability to hold practices and games.

All parks, playgrounds, shelters, batting cages and ball fields will be open to the public once the state reaches Phase 2 — which is currently set for June 1 unless otherwise pushed back by the state. Teams will be allowed to practice at city facilities once that hallmark comes, but Hiawatha Parks and Rec will not schedule practices, and signs will go up in all city parks stating to “use at your own risk,” as facilities will not be sanitized against COVID-19. The Fisher Center will also be open at Phase 2. Bathrooms at any city facility will remain closed until the state reaches Phase 4, not set to occur until June 29 if everything goes as planned.

Jasper clarified after the meeting on a post on the Hiawatha Parks and Recreation Facebook page that the commission’s decision does not mean that local teams must forfeit their seasons, as they can still practice and attend away games if they so choose, but reiterating that the city will not be responsible for sanitizing at scheduled practice times, just during normal work hours.


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Longtime Hiawatha business leader and farmer passes away at 98

Warner Pape Jr.

Longtime Hiawatha business leader and farmer Warner Pape Jr. passed away on May 18 at the age of 98.

According to his obituary, Pape was born in Hiawatha in 1921 and attended Heckler Grade School, which was located on the Pape farm, and then Hiawatha High School — graduating in 1939. He attended Kansas State University, then returned home to farm in 1940, marrying Charlene Ellis in December of that year. They recently celebrated 79 years of marriage.

Pape served on many committees and boards in the community, including serving as director of Morrill and Janes Bank for 24 years and 10 years as Chairman of the Board. In addition, he served as president of the Robinson Coop, was on the Rainbow Telephone Coop for 24 years — 14 as present, the Hiawatha Economic Development board. One of his greatest achievements was his devotion of 75 years to the Free Masonry, along with being a member of the Shriners.

His wife, of Hiawatha, survives, along with two sons, Jerry and Alan, with one son, Warner “Ron” passing before his father. Other survivors include a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, many other relatives and friends.

Friends may call at Chapel Oaks Funeral Home from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.For complete service information go to www.chapeloaksfuneralhome.com.


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Governor Kelly moves Kansas into modified Phase 2 on May 22

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly will sign Executive Order 20-34, which moves Kansas into Phase 2 of “Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas.” Phase 2, effective Friday, May 22, will be modified to include data-driven restrictions necessary to prevent community transmission of COVID-19.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, all of my administration’s decision-making regarding our reopening efforts has been driven by data – not dates,” Kelly said. “Because of the great work Kansans and businesses have done to keep others safe, data now indicate we are seeing a more consistent decline in hospitalizations, COVID-19-related deaths and a consistent decrease in disease spread. This puts our state in a position to safely move into a modified version of Phase 2.

“I would like to be clear – moving forward in Kansas’ reopening plan does not mean that COVID-19 no longer threatens our communities. Modifying Phase 2 to keep some restrictions allows us to reopen Kansas’ economy as quickly and safely as possible, while exercising necessary caution to keep Kansans healthy.”

Key changes to Phase 2:

Mass gatherings of more than 15 individuals will be prohibited;

All businesses and activities slated to open during Phase 2 will be allowed, with the exception of bars, night clubs and swimming pools. These will be moved to Phase 3;

Businesses and activities that will be allowed to open in Phase 2 include:

Recreational organized sports facilities, tournaments and practices will be allowed to begin on Friday, May 22, and must adhere to social distancing requirements and follow Parks and Recs guidelines, which can be found on covid.ks.gov;

Community Centers will be allowed to open, except for indoor and outdoor swimming pools;

Indoor leisure spaces such as arcades, trampoline parks, theaters, museums and bowling allies will be allowed to open on May 22;

State-owned-and-operated casinos will be allowed to open once their re-opening plan has been approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment;

In-person group exercise classes will be allowed to begin with groups of no more than 15 at a time. Locker rooms remain closed except for restroom facilities;

Everything opened in Phase 1 and Phase 1.5 remains open pursuant to the restrictions outlined in Executive Order 20-34.

Phase 2 will last until Sunday, June 7, assuming the current trends continue. Phase 3 is expected to begin on Monday, June 8, with mass gatherings of more than 45 individuals prohibited.

Under Phase 2, 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 curbside and carryout services;

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

Fairs, festivals, carnivals, parades;

Swimming pools (other than backyard pools);

Summer camps (with the exception of licensed childcare facilities).

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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A Memorial Day message

(Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Comm. Weldon’s speech planned for annual Memorial Day services this year. However, due to the pandemic, those services have been canceled.)

Every crisis has new heroes. During the 9/11 attacks, they were the first responders running into burning and crumbling buildings as others ran out. Now, during the Coronavirus pandemic, the most visible heroes are the health care professionals, who are saving others and risking their own lives while doing so.

These heroes have much in common with the people that we honor today – America’s fallen veterans. They are men and women who have sacrificed their own lives so others could live. They are both elite and ordinary. They are elite in the sense of character. Giving your life so others could live is the ultimate definition of selfless.

They are ordinary in the fact that they represent the diverse fabric of our country. They are rich and poor, black and white, male and female. They come from every ethnicity and background. In short, they looked like anyone of us.

Approximately one million men and women of the U.S. military have lost their lives in defense of our nation since the founding of this great Republic.

Not all have died from enemy fire. Some have died from diseases that have too often festered around war zones. Often times, deaths from disease and accidents outnumbered casualties caused by enemy weapons.

During the Spanish American War, 60 soldiers of the all-black 24th Infantry Regiment volunteered to serve as nurses. Thirty-six of them would later die of yellow fever or malaria.

A generation later, the flu would kill nearly 16,000 U.S. soldiers in France during World War I. Another 30,000 American service members died in stateside camps. These men and women could have isolated safely in their homes. But they knew they had an important job to do. A mission to accomplish. They were all on a mission to serve.

Even when the enemy is an invisible virus or a microscopic germ, the sacrifices made are just as meaningful. The U.S. military has already lost service members to COVID-19.

This Memorial Day as we continue to honor those who fell for us in battle, let’s also pause to remember those who have also sacrificed their lives while serving others. May God bless them and may God bless you for remembering them here today.


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Legion installing flags at cemetery; annual Memorial Day services canceled

The Homer White Post 66 American Legion has made some announcements concerning Memorial Day activities.

The Legion will be installing flags over the weekend. Because of social distancing, local youth will not be helping this year.

Installation will begin at Hiawatha Cemetery at 8 a.m. with Legion and Scouts and Mt. Hope at 8:45 a.m. with Legion and 4-H Club.

On Monday, flags will be taken down, starting at 4. Volunteers are welcome however the Legion reminds everyone to practice social distancing and keep groups of 10 at least 6 feet away from each other.

Post 66 Curt Weldon said the Post has made the difficult decision during this COVID-19 pandemic to cancel the annual Memorial Day Services for this year. He said the cancellation comes as a result of concern for public health and safety of our citizens, along with social distancing guidelines.

“Prayers for the safety of all our citizens and hope that our community continues to work together during this unprecedented time,” he said. “I would also encourage our community to honor our fallen service members this Memorial Day by laying flowers independently at monuments or flying the flag at half-staff to support the memories of veterans lost.”