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Wise Men Still Seek Him

Are you a Wise Man or Woman? Do you still seek Him?

Anyone driving by the rural Brown County home of Van and Vi Koelliker can see the beautiful Nativity scene. This Nativity is about 60 feet long and the peak of the stable and palm tree reach 8 feet tall, while the tallest king is 7 feet tall.

Vi Koelliker said she purchased the first pieces — Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and the Stable — in 2003 while living in Great Bend. Each year when the company had sales, she purchased more pieces. She made the sign “WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM” from plastic squares that fit together, punching the lights into holes to form the letters.

Koelliker said that for many years she just had one camel with the three kings. In 2011 she married Van and brought the Nativity to their country home in Brown County. In 2013, she said the company closed its doors and so she purchased another kneeling camel and a standing camel, so each king has his own camel to ride!

With weather issues and age, bulbs get dim and burn out. This year when the Koellikers started setting up the Nativity, seven of the 14 pieces had dead bulbs and strings of lights.

“Over the years I have replaced all the bulbs at least twice,” she said. “This year we replaced around 1000 bulbs. It is definitely a work of love. It is our way of trying to show the TRUE meaning of Christmas – JESUS, EMMANUEL, GOD WITH US.”

The Koellikers live on a farm at 2629 Thrasher Rd., Robinson, about 12 miles from Hiawatha. A GPS or phone app will help visitors find it, for a nice drive into the country.

”And lo, the star which they saw in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy;....and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts: gold and frankincense and myrrh.” ~ Matthew 2: 9-11


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Weekend of holiday events bring in the crowds

We are two weeks from Christmas and there are still time to participate in some hometown Christmas events.

Don’t miss out on the Hiawatha Chamber and Visitor Bureau’s Shop Local campaign, which runs through Dec. 21. The winning tickets will get $700 and $400 to spend at those participating businesses.

The HCVB still has ornaments and cards — featuring Santa flying over the Clock Tower, by Katherine Miller — available. Contact the office at 742-7136 for information.

It was a fun-packed weekend in Hiawatha as several holiday events kept local residents and visitors busy on Saturday.

First off — starting at 9 a.m. — around 70 kids and their parents stopped by the Hiawatha Fisher Center for the Candy Cane Hunt and Breakfast With Santa — a joint event sponsored by the Hiawatha Parks and Recreation and the Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau.

Age groups were broken into several time slots to hunt for Santa’s lost candy canes on the lawn outside. It was a chilly morning, so once they found their candy canes, the families came back inside to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, pick up some hot cocoa and breakfast goodies and get photos with various holiday blow ups set up in the Fisher Center gym. The HCVB wanted to thank McDonalds for donating juice and milk for the event!

Following the Candy Cane adventures was a new event this year — the Reindeer Run at 11:30 a.m. on the walking trail by the Fisher Center. Four participants braved the frigid temperatures Saturday morning to wear reindeer antlers and run the short mile-ish fun run, sponsored by HP&R.

At noon, the sound of deep brass instruments could be heard coming from inside of the Brown County Courthouse. It was the 26th Annual TUBACHRISTMAS! This is the 26th annual event, started by Jerry Speidel and Kevin Pennel, draws euphonium players from near and far and a large crowd to fill the courthouse foyer and enjoy the Christmas music.

A small crowd enjoyed an afternoon of Christmas nostalgia with a movie at the Memorial Auditorium at 2 p.m. Thanks to Jeremy Stover for donating the popcorn machine and popcorn! Lynn Allen, Director/Curactor of the Historical Society said they hope to make “Movies at the Museum” a quarterly event in 2020 so watch for more information!

The Hiawatha Area Arts and Theatre Society capped the Hometown Holiday events in Hiawatha with the annual Music of Christmas program that evening. This free event featured the sounds and talents of musicians and dancers in Northeast Kansas that kicked off with Christmas caroling in the lobby before the event started.

Christmas is next week and the HCVB is still in the midst of its Shop Local, which runs through Saturday, Dec. 21. Don’t miss out on your chance to win $700 or $400 by shopping at one of these participating businesses: Just For You, Kex Rx, Mainstreet Flower Shoppe, Tice Health Mart, HCH Gift Shop, Wright’s Eclectibles, Bling on the Nails/Mainstreet Salon, Sarah Kathryn’s, Deb’s Images, Jr’s Place and Kooser’s General Store.

In addition, check the HCVB Facebook for more information on the Holiday Light Fight and voting on your favorite holiday light displays!


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HCH plans New Year's Eve event

The Hiawatha Community Hospital Foundation has announced its plans for a New Year’s Eve bash to help with fundraising efforts at the hospital.

The event will be New Year’s Eve — from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31 at the Fisher Center.

Local residents are invited to come ring in the New Year with a night of fun and entertainment featuring Dawna the Dancing DJ. Dawna is known for being a fun and interactive entertainer who is known for her engagement with the audience. A $25 entry fee provides access to entertainment, games, and snacks throughout the evening. Drinks will be available for purchase.

Please contact Del Elfner at (785) 742-2101 or Cassey Whalen at (785) 742-6229 to RSVP and pre-pay or you may simply pay at the door the night of the event. All proceeds will be used to fund a new call light system within the hospital. Hospital officials say a reliable call light system is important, as it allows patients to press a button from their hospital room that will alert the nursing staff that the patient is in need of assistance. The current call light system is at end of life and is in need of being replaced.

The Hiawatha Community Hospital Foundation has a legacy of sponsoring various fundraising events to aide in the replacement or upgrading of equipment and facilities at the Hiawatha Community Hospital. As a non-profit 501©3 entity, all donations made to the Foundation are tax deductible to donors. The Foundation can provide appropriate documentation for your donations upon request.

Hospital officials gave a few examples of the ways that donations through the Foundation have helped patients continue to receive high quality care at Hiawatha Community Hospital.

At the Summer 2019 golf tournament, proceeds were used on a rapid plasma thawing unit for the laboratory. In the event if a trauma or critical patient, this piece of equipment will thaw plasma in 15 minutes versus the 40 minutes that the old equipment required. Proceeds from this tournament also went towards a new centrifuge for the laboratory, which decreased specimen processing time for critical specimens. These purchases allow staff to more quickly and efficiently treat patients during a time when every minute counts.

At the Spring 2019 event, proceeds were used to purchase a new Affinity 4 birthing bed and bili-blanket. With the increase in deliveries that the Hiawatha Community Hospital has been seeing, particularly with the closure of other surrounding OB units in recent years, the additional birthing bed has been helpful to be able to safely deliver more babies at one time when the need arises. The bili-blanket was a purchase that was used the very first day it arrived! This is a special lighted blanket that is used to wrap jaundice babies that are struggling with liver function. Historically, Hiawatha Community Hospital would have to borrow a blanket from a neighboring hospital, if it was available. If it was not available, babies would have to be transferred to another hospital to receive the care they needed. This has been a great addition to be able to keep moms and babies local.

These are just a few examples of the recent ways the Hiawatha Community Hospital Foundation has aided with the capital equipment needs of the hospital. The hospital has a capital equipment needs list totaling $4.5 million for the next 3 years.

If someone is unable to attend the event, but wants to make a donation, those can be sent to the hospital at 300 Utah St., Hiawatha, KS 66434.

“Thank you for your continued support of our Hiawatha Community Hospital. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and yours!”


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Commission votes to seek bids on equipment

A recent decision to have city crews perform more of the larger jobs the city needs done, rather than hire out those jobs to contractors, has sparked the Hiawatha City Commission to seek out the equipment needed to keep those tasks in house.

At their regular meeting on Monday evening, the commission voted to award the bid for an excavator lease to Victor L. Philips in the amount of $18,887.67, to be paid annually for a term of seven years. The commission also voted to seek bids for a semi, flatbed trailer, end dump and shoring boxes, as well as small pickup, and a replacement bucket truck for the Water Department.

The commission heard from Mark Bachamp of Olsson Associates regarding a potential flow study of Hiawatha’s sewer systems. Bachamp suggested placing seven flow meters in the sewer system in town and testing for sixty days, which will help determine where excess rain water and runoff is entering the system and would take place starting in April. The Commission voted to enter into an agreement with Olsson Associates for the study, which will cost $310,000, and will help to prepare the city for upcoming license renewals, which will require updates and improvements. The group also voted to seek bids for CCTV cameras which will be part of the test, as well as to apply for a loan for the amount from the state.

In other business:

Also approved at the meeting was an ordinance establishing salaries and compensation of City employees and officials for 2020, a resolution waving GAAP requirements, a payment to AHRS of $42,948.88, a bid from Tiffany Hasenohr for $200 for a decommissioned police department computer, and an ordinance putting the quarter percent sales tax that was voted in at last month’s elections in place for General Recreational Purposes.

Parks and Recreation Director Stacy Jasper presented the HP&R Volunteer of the Year award to Jeff Moore. (See accompanying story)

City Administrator Mike Nichols informed the commission that HFED had purchased six properties at the recent tax auction, with one property in need of demolition. The group would like help from the city in tearing down the house on Oregon Street. Mayor Collins also noted that another individual had approached him with a similar request. The commission was in general consensus that with the city purchasing an excavator and other equipment in the near future, that it would make some sense to help perform the work in order to keep the town looking nice, with dump fees and other costs to be decided later going to the property owner.

City Clerk Tish Sims requested permission to close City Hall at noon on Dec. 31st in order to close out the City’s books for the year, which was approved.

The commission also approved the Consent Agenda, which included the following: an appropriation of $42,462.48, utility refunds of $209.38, payments to BG Consultants of $882.70 and $1,661.00, a payment to the Kansas Department of Revenue for $1,226.52, payments to the Kansas State Treasurer of $41,448.66 and $31,069.98 and approval of a Cereal Malt Beverage License for the Dew Drop Inn.


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HP&R announces Jeff Moore as "Volunteer of the Year"

HP&R Director

As I’ve been wrapping up 2019 and reflecting on the past year’s programs and events, thinking back to what made each one successful, the obvious factor is VOLUNTEERS.

Through the course of 2019, HP&R hosted 38 events and programs for our community, up 11 activities from 2018’s 27. And NONE of them would have been successful without people stepping up, lending a helping hand to set-up, supervise, clean-up, some offering their time on the weekends and evenings and early mornings...ALL of them making the events POSSIBLE.

Full disclosure, when I presented this award earlier this evening during a Commission Meeting, my voice cracked about 6 times and tears came down twice.

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”

There is no truer statement that could more perfectly describe this year’s HP&R Volunteer of the Year. In fact, on January 6th, 2019 during the first day of Triple Threat Basketball Camp where he was helping coach, I already knew that he’d be receiving this award ... because 11 months ago, this person had already been volunteering his time to so much more than just Hiawatha Parks and Recreation.

Beginning in the summer of 2018, he volunteered his time to help coach the HHS boys basketball team through their summer leagues when they, at the time, did not yet have a high school coach. He opened the gym for them to get in shots whenever they wanted that summer. From there, he established his own brand of basketball, a side gig he called Hiawatha Basketball Training, where he volunteered his time on weekends, evenings and early mornings, opening up whatever gym was available to train anyone from elementary to high school age with basketball skills and drills.

In 2019, he began volunteering for all HP&R basketball camps and clinics. He started helping me supervise our Adult Open Gym league on Sunday nights. And when us HHS coaches could not work with our players during select times through the school year because of KSHSAA rules, he COULD, and he DID. He trained whoever and whenever.

The guy LOVES basketball; he simply cannot get enough of it and could not be any more invested in helping our youth have all the opportunities possible to get better. He coaches his 2nd grade son’s team in our local youth league on top of all this as well.

The guy LOVES Hiawatha; he sends me texts at all times of the day about new ideas. “Hey, what do you think about this?” and “What if we could do this?” He donates time and money and participates in all things HP&R. This past weekend, he was 1 of 4 people who not only braved the cold, but as an adult man, put on a pair of bedazzled reindeer antlers so he could jog a mile in the 1st Annual Reindeer Run.

For all the heart and passion and energy and time away from his family that he has so graciously given to our community, I’d like to announce that Jeff Moore has been recognized as HP&R’s 2019 Volunteer of the Year.