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Young hoopsters learn skills early with Hiawatha Youth Basketball League

Sixty-four teams, involving approximately 600 kids, are in action for the Hiawatha Youth Basketball League this winter.

The league involves teams from second through sixth grades and games are played at the Hiawatha High School and Hiawatha Middle School, along with the National Guard Armory every Saturday through January and most of February.

Organizer Jodi Twombly said this is the eighth year for the league, which brings in teams from 13 different towns in Brown, Nemaha, Jackson, Doniphan and Richardson, Neb., counties. With parents, grandparents and friends tagging along to watch their special player, this brings a lot of activity and people to Hiawatha every Saturday for two months.

Twombly said that current co-organizers are Kylee Reschke and Jeff Moore, but there have been others along the way, including Dr. Pete Rosa’ — one of the founders of the league.

Organizing the league is quite a task, with 32 games played every Saturday on four different courts. Twombly said she usually schedules around 10 to 12 referees, including a couple of high school players. In addition, there are several community groups and school groups who do concessions each week as fundraisers. The Hiawatha coaches all serve as gym monitors each week.

There is a small gate fee — $2 per adults, and those, along with leftover team fees, are donated every year.

“Last year we donated $11,500 to USD 415-Hiawatha to purchase the new middle school scoreboards and remodel the training room at the high school,” she said.

“It is a great opportunity for local youth to enjoy the game of basketball, stay physically active, and learn the importance of teamwork,” she said. “We start the league at 2nd grade so they can start learning the rules of the game, basic ball handling skills, and proper shooting technique at a younger age. We play the younger kids on 8.5 foot goals to help with teaching those skills.”

The league begins the first Saturday of January and continues through most of February, with 2nd and 3rd grade tournaments set for Feb. 15, and our 4th, 5th, and 6th grade tournaments will be Feb. 22.

For more photos of some recent games, check out today’s Page 12.

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District Judge John Weingart to sit with Supreme Court Jan. 30

TOPEKA — District Judge John Weingart of the 22nd Judicial District has been appointed to sit with the Kansas Supreme Court to hear oral arguments on the court’s Jan. 30 docket.

After hearing oral arguments, Weingart was to join Supreme Court justices in their deliberations and decision drafting.

“The Supreme Court looks forward to Judge Weingart hearing cases with us. He will read the case materials, prepare for oral argument, and deliberate with the court on its decisions,” said Chief Justice Marla Luckert. “We thank Judge Weingart for helping us, especially because we know he already has a significant caseload in district court to handle.”

Weingart has been a district court judge since 2001. The 22nd Judicial District is composed of Brown, Doniphan, Marshall and Nemaha counties.

“It is indeed an honor and privilege to serve the Supreme Court,” Weingart said.

Before being elected a judge, Weingart had a private law practice in Hiawatha for 24 years. He is a graduate of Washburn University School of Law, and a past president of the Northeast Kansas and Brown County Bar Association, and of the Kansas School Attorneys Association.

The case Weingart was scheduled to hear Jan. 30 is:

Appeal No. 118,941: State of Kansas v. Christopher Shawn Pattillo

Shawnee County: (Criminal Appeal) Pattillo, 16, was prosecuted as an adult and convicted of aiding another to commit first-degree murder and other crimes in the gang-related, drive-by shooting of Brian Miller. De’Angelo Martinez was a co-defendant. Two witnesses said Martinez was the shooter and Pattillo was driving the vehicle. The court sentenced Pattillo to a hard-25 life sentence and consecutive terms of incarceration for the additional convictions. Issues on appeal are whether: 1) the aggravated assault served as an inherently dangerous felony for application of the felony murder rule; 2) Pattillo can be convicted of endangering a child if the State did not present any evidence Pattillo knew a child was in the house; 3) there was sufficient evidence to support Pattillo’s conviction for discharge of a firearm; 4) the State proved causation for felony murder; 5) the jury instructions on felony murder were correct on causation; 6) Pattillo’s convictions were multiplicitous; 7) Pattillo’s punishment was duplicative; 8) the jury instructions on great bodily harm were correct; and 9) the district court erred in failing to instruct on the lesser crimes of criminal discharge of a firearm and endangering a child.

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Memorial Auditorium gets facelift with new stage curtains

The stage at Memorial Auditorium recently received a facelift with new stage curtains.

The Brown County Historical Society contracted with A to Z Theatrical Company, a theatrical company based out of Kansas City, to complete the project — which cost $39,000 for two sets of curtains and new rigging.

Lynn Allen, executive director/curator, said the project is only partially funded with $13,000 raised so far from private donors, including a $10,000 donation from Jere and Patty Bruning. Allen said the Hiawatha Area Arts and Theatre Society (HAATS) — which uses the auditorium for its productions — is making a large donation, but still another $20,000 is needed to help defray the costs.

Allen said she is excited about the new curtains — a patriotic blue was selected for the back curtains.

“This was built in memory of our veterans, so I wanted something with patriotic colors,” she said.

The front curtains are cabernet — a deep, rich red — and the middle paisley curtains were not replaced. Allen said she was not able to find any curtain available with a pattern — they were all solid colors — and the Historical Society wanted to keep with the paisley pattern for now since that set of curtains were not damaged, but do need a good cleaning.

The riggings for all three sets of curtains were also replaced, Allen said.

Memorial Auditorium is the setting for not only HAATS productions, but for other community events — such as dance and tumbling recitals. This past year, the Historical Society collaborated with the Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau for a few events at the museum — including the Christmas light event with Santa in December and Paranormal Night at the Museum as part of the Chamber’s Frolic activities. Every year, the Miss Mary Children’s Costume contest is also held there as part of the Halloween Frolic activities.

Allen said she hopes to collaborate with HCVB even more this coming year and wants to plan regular movie nights at the museum, along with other special events.

“It has such potential and history,” Allen said. “We really want it to become a place for community use.”

She hopes to get a few of these on the calendar to help raise funds to defray the costs of the curtains and promised more information would be coming.

Anyone wanting to donate to the curtain project can send a donation to the Brown County Historical Society, 611 Utah St., or contact Allen at 742-3330 or by email at bchsdirect@gmail.com.

HCVB Annual Dinner set for Feb. 6 at Klinefelter Barn

The Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau will be celebrating a year of success and growth at its 2020 Annual Meeting and Dinner on Thursday, Feb. 6 at Klinefelter Barn.

The event will kick off at 6 p.m. with a social hour with an open bar and a wine tasting, which will also include acoustic music provided by Josh May and Ian Bender of Hiawatha. This will be followed by a catered dinner of chicken and brisket, by Bibber BBQ.

Following dinner will be a presentation on the Big Kansas Road Trip — slated to hit Brown County May 7-10, along with a look at 2019 with the Chamber.

The night’s events will conclude with the announcement and presentation of the Business of the Year, Organization of the Year and Volunteer of the Year — as voted on by the Chamber members.

This is also a chance to promote becoming a member of the HCVB — which is offered to businesses, organizations and even individuals at various levels. A new membership or membership renewal includes one free meal at the Chamber dinner. Chamber members receive a variety of benefits, including priority as a vendor, discounted merchandise, promotion on the Chamber’s social media and website and much more.

Highland College’s Klinefelter Barn is located at 1740 230th St, Hiawatha. On new Highway 36, take the Mulberry Road exit, go back north over the highway and head east about a mile on 230th. Another access is taking Iowa Street east to Mallard Road, turn south and follow the curve onto 230th for about 2 miles east.

Contact the HCVB Administrator Sarah Kleopfer to learn more about becoming a Chamber member or to RSVP for the dinner by Friday, Jan. 31 at (785) 742-7136 or by email at hiawathachamber@rainbowtel.net.

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Spiker files for Brown County Treasurer

The Brown County Clerk’s office has announced a new filing for this fall’s election.

Betty (BJ) Spiker has filed for the Brown County Treasurer position. Spiker is currently a Deputy in the Treasurer’s office. Cheryl Lippold will not be running again.

In other filings, Hiawatha Police Cpt. Dennis Entrikin has filed for the position of Brown County Sheriff, currently held by John Merchant.

Other county positions that will be up for re-election include District Judge District 2 Division 2 — held by Judge John Weingart, Register of Deeds — held by Nellie Brockhoff, County Clerk — held by Melissa Gormley, County Attorney — held by Kevin Hill and County Commissioners for District 2 (Keith Olsen) and District 3 (Dwight Kruse).

There will also be various city positions on the ballot this year — which is a presidential election year as well — but the County Clerk’s office said municipalities have until May 1 to verify those.

The Primary Election is Aug. 4, 2020, and the General Election is Nov. 3, 2020. Filing deadline is June 1, 2020.

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Highland faces racial row, civil rights investigation

JOPLIN, Mo. — A black former football player for Highland Community College in Northeast Kansas is raising concerns about race relations on the campus in Highland.

A spokeswoman for the college — which has an overwhelming white majority among its student population of roughly 3,200, but has seen a significantly larger minority of black students attend in recent years — disputes the accusations.

Loren Young, who today attends and plays football for Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri, said that in 2017, during the roughly 11 months he attended school at Highland, he was involved in incidents with local authorities, including on-campus security. The problem is bad enough, Young said, that he advises black students who remain on campus to do what they can to avoid drawing official attention to themselves at all times.

"So just keep your heads up, be honest, and just try to stay out of their way," Young said. "Because, if they feel like you're stepping on their toes or if they feel like you're doing something wrong, they (are) going to put their all into getting you in trouble."

At the same time Young is speaking out about his experiences, the Kansas NAACP is looking into a series of complaints from other current and former students alleging that their civil rights have been violated. Young said he hasn't yet made a report to the NAACP.

The college spokeswoman said that HCC considers the complaints to the NAACP to be primarily inspired by an "absolutely incorrect and unfounded outcry of racism." Young, however, emphasized that he has been convinced for some time that Highland isn't a good place for black students to attend; when the opportunity to transfer arose, he didn't hesitate.

"I loved playing in Highland," he said. "I just didn't love the people."

Highland President Deborah Fox, in a written statement, said the college has received no specific information as to the complaints made to the NAACP. Darrell Pope of Hutchinson, a member of the NAACP Kansas Legal Intervention Committee, declined to discuss those specifics, aside from the number and general nature of the cases he has received.

The college said Wednesday that it is cooperating with the inquiry. It cited the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as a current obstacle and said the college can't disclose student records without release forms from those affected.

"It is difficult to speak to allegations when given no context of events, limited information on the circumstances and without knowing who was involved, all while being subject to federal and state privacy laws," Fox said. “The college hopes to be provided the student FERPA release forms and statements of claims quickly in order to address the issues the NAACP is calling to our attention.”

Not from around here

Young said he felt upon arrival in Highland that, as a black man, he was not as welcome on campus as he should have been. Over time, Young reached his own conclusion that, as he sees it, campus leaders are determined to coerce most black students into transferring. In particular, he said the college targeted black student athletes who don't hail from Northeast Kansas.

"That's basically what they're trying to do to Highland," Young said. "They want to take all the minorities out and replace them."

Young said that athletic leadership, which included former Head Coach Aaron Arnold, and AD Tyler Nordman, affirmed Young's belief that black students are wise to tread lightly.

Arnold, who has since entered the private sector, declined to comment. Voicemails left with Nordman, who now works for another college, received no reply.

Young, an Atlanta native, ultimately spent five days in the Doniphan County Jail, and paid more than $800 in fines. All of this trouble, Young said, is linked with traffic infractions and on-campus violations that Young asserts to have been contrived on the basis of his race.

Searches, tickets, tows

When Highland's Jayhawk Conference changed its rules in 2016 to allow schools to recruit more out-of-state athletes, the black student population increased significantly; Young said the larger number of black students around campus became apparent in the middle of his two semesters of study. Simmering tensions on campus worsened at that time, according to Young.

He recalls instances in which he would awaken in the middle of the night to a disturbance and discover authorities searching his vehicle without his permission and without any cause that was explained to him. He said he believes support from the community has been lacking.

"I feel like it's just a smack in the face," Young said. "Cause like, 'Ya'll can support us, ya'll been supporting us in what we've been doing. Even the community, ya'll have been coming out to the games ... So, what's the issue now? (You've had) black players with dreadlocks and wicks (before), so it has to be something new ... It's just shocking, to be honest."

The college spokeswoman said that any student who finds themselves subject to academic discipline or other punitive measures has the right to appeal. Otherwise, the college said, it is not aware of specific "discrimination claims."

According to Kenya Cox, president of the Kansas NAACP, based in the Wichita area, and NAACP investigator Pope of Hutchinson, at least six well-documented complaints of civil rights violations on campus have been received from Kansas constituents in recent weeks.

Pope added that he has been made aware that other units of the NAACP have received a larger number of documented complaints, primarily from parents of students from out of state who attended HCC. Cox said that the Kansas NAACP intended to hold a conference call on Thursday with stakeholders in the organization's establishment for addressing civil rights violations.

Within a few weeks, Pope said, the NAACP will decide how the organization should proceed in addressing the HCC complaints. Pope, who is not an attorney, but regularly confers with NAACP counsel, said a lawsuit is "always a possibility."

"It's not entirely clear in terms of what direction we're going to go with what we've got," Pope said. "In the next few weeks, we'll develop a specific way forward."