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Services set for Ian Miller

Services for a 16-year-old, who died in a car accident early Sunday, have been set for Friday at the First Baptist Church of Hiawatha.

Ian Marcus Miller, 16, of Hiawatha died early Sunday, Nov. 17 as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident about a mile west of Hiawatha at U.S. 36 and Horned Owl Road.

Miller was one of five teenagers in a Toyota Corolla that crashed around 12 o’clock Sunday morning. Three others — Andrew Kreek, Gabe Corbett and Nevaeh Dismang — remain hospitalized at KU Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, and another — Andrew Woods — was treated at Hiawatha Community Hospital for minor injuries and released. (See accompanying story for more details on accident.)

Ian Miller is the son of Craig Miller and Teresa Yearns and lived in Hiawatha most of his life, attending Hiawatha schools, except from February 2016 to February 2018 when he lived in Queen City, Missouri, attending Schuyler County High School.

Ian Miller is survived by both of his parents, a sister Sadie, a brother Truman, grandparents, aunts and uncles and many other family members and a great multitude of friends.

According to the obituary on Chapel Oaks Funeral Home’s website, Ian was a junior at Hiawatha High School, involved in forensics and track and field. He was a member of the youth group at First Baptist Church and also a member of Boy Scouts. His plans were to enlist in the U.S. Marines on his next birthday,

Family members describe him as intelligent, witty, mischievous and charismatic and said he was loved by many, with a zest for life. He was kind and thoughtful and prided himself on being a loyal friend and a hard worker.

Services for Ian Miller have been set — visitation at the Chapel Oaks Funeral Home, 124 S. Seventh St., Hiawatha, will start at 10 a.m. Thursday morning and the family will be gathered from 5-8 p.m. that evening to greet friends.

Funeral services will be held at noon on Friday, Nov. 22, at the First Baptist Church, 210 Lodge Road, Hiawatha. Tony French will officiate.

Contributions to the Ian Miller Memorial Fund may be left in care of the funeral home. Find his full obituary at www.chapeloaksfuneralhome.com.

In the wake of this tragedy, the family and the community work to heal. Friends and family have left numerous flowers and a metal heart at the site of the crash and gather there to visit and pray. Counselors have been available at the school this week, for students and staff to talk to. The First Presbyterian Church offered a prayer service Tuesday night and a Community Prayer Service was set for Wednesday evening at the Memorial Auditorium. The First Baptist Church youth group — which Ian was a member of — had a special “Remember Ian” night Wednesday, for all high school students to come and share their memories.

Family members have posted regularly on social media to keep the community updated on Dismang, Kreek and Corbett. Follow Kreek’s progress at “Andrew Kreek’s road to recovery” on Facebook.

Community members also have made efforts to help the families of the teens involved in the accident through fundraisers. Lottie’s Restaurant — where Ian Miller and Andrew Kreek worked — is selling T-shirts to raise money. Pizza Hut is pledging 15 percent of all sales on Monday, Nov. 25 to the families of the teenagers involved. Friends and families have established accounts at www.gofundme.com and also through Facebook.

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It's beginning to look like Christmas in Hiawatha

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Hiawatha!

The leaves have fallen, the new Christmas lights were installed downtown just this week by city crews and groups such as the Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau are busy planning holiday events.

First off is welcoming Santa Claus to town on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 30!

Christmas Lighting/Santa Comes to Town: The annual turning on of the downtown Christmas lights is set for 6 o’clock sharp on Saturday, Nov. 30 in downtown Hiawatha. Santa will arrive via fire truck to the Brown County Historical Society’s Memorial Auditorium, where he will greet children inside of the foyer of the museum.

Join Santa and the JR. Masters of Ceremony – nominated by members of the community and voted on by Chamber members – in turning on Hiawatha’s spectacular downtown lights. Take a photo with Santa, warm up with some hot cocoa and grab a candy cane before you leave.

Jingle & Mingle: from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, join the Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau at it’s 801 Oregon Street office for an open house as part of the downtown Jingle and Mingle. Stop by for a visit, refreshments and decorate a Christmas ornament.

Participating businesses in addition to the Chamber include Deb’s Images, Heartland Realty/ Pure Romance by Sheila, Hiawatha Community Hospital Gift Shop, Hiawatha Chamber & Visitors Bureau, Just For You Jewelry & Gifts, Mainstreet Flower Shoppe, Medical Wellness Center of Hiawatha, Prairie Hen, Sarah Kathryn’s Gifts, Wrights Eclectibles, A Store of Serendipity, The Shirt Shack & Apparel and Tice Health Mart.

Candy Cane Hunt and Breakfast With Santa: The HCVB is teaming up with the city Hiawatha Parks & Recreation this year for a special jolly event on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Fisher Center gym.

Join in searching for Santa’s lost candy canes. This is a free community event for toddlers to fourth graders. Groups will meet at the Fisher Center at the following times:

9 a.m. — Toddler/preschool ages

9:30 a.m. — Kindergarten-1st grade

10 a.m. — 2nd-4th grade

10:30 a.m. — Special Needs Toddler-4th Grade

After each hunt, families are welcome to join Santa in the gym for breakfast and photos. The hunts will take place by the walking trail by the Fisher Center.

Holiday Homes Tour: Join the HCVB for the annual Holiday Homes Tour on Saturday, Dec. 14, featuring 5-6 locations – yet to be announced. The times are from noon to 4 p.m. Mark your calendar and watch for more information as we introduce the homes on this year’s tour.

Hiawatha Holiday Greeting Cards/Ornaments: New this year is the Hiawatha Holiday Greeting Card, which the Hiawatha Chamber is selling at it’s office. Both the card and the ornament feature Santa and his reindeer flying over our clock tower downtown and is designed by local artist Katherine “Kate” Miller. The greeting cards, which measure 4x5.5 inches are being sold for $1.99 a card of 20 for $20. Ornaments are available for pre-order for $20 by Dec. 3. Contact the Chamber office at 742-7136 or by email at hiawathachamber@rainbowtel.net to order.

Shop Local: The annual Shop Local campaign has kicked off and includes 11 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.

The Shop Local campaign runs through Dec. 21 and there will be two prizes – 1st-$700 and 2nd-$400 to be spent at any one of those participating businesses. Earn tickets by shopping at this businesses. Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30) and Jingle Mingle (Dec. 5) will be double ticket days for all participating businesses.

Great Holiday Light Fight: Sign up your home for the Hiawatha Light Fight to show your Christmas spirit and help create those memories! Sign your home or business up at this link ( https://tinyurl.com/HiawathaLightFight ) by Dec. 15 to be eligible to win this years light fight!

Help us bring people to town and enjoy the holiday season.

Find out about all of the HCVB events on social media platforms or call 742-7136 or email hiawathachamber@rainbowtel.net for more information.

City Commission parts ways with Fire Chief

The Hiawatha City Commission met on Monday evening, and after extending an Executive Session twice to discuss non-elected personnel matters, voted unanimously to terminate Fire Chief Ryan Shockley and appoint Assistant Fire Chief Gene Atland as the Acting Fire Chief until a permanent appointment can be made.

No reason was given for the termination.

Reached for comment on Tuesday, City Administrator Mike Nichols said, “The Commission decided they wanted to go in a different direction,” and noted that Shockley is still a member of the Fire Department.

The commission also voted to pass an ordinance to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes in public places and places of employment. Mayor Bill Collins said he introduced the idea a while back and the entire commission was on board from the beginning. Collins cited recent reports that vaping may be even more harmful that cigarette smoking. City Attorney Andy Delaney noted that the ordinance is very similar to the Kansas Clean Air Act, but covers vaping where the act does not.

In other business:

The commission approved a bid from Kimmi Saw Mill for the sale of cottonwood trees at Hansbury Springs and a payment of $349,531.93 to AHRS for the Citywide Street Sales Tax Project.

City Administrator Mike Nichols also gave an update on the street projects, noting that 4th and 6th Streets are nearly completed, which will bring the total of completed work to 32 blocks, with the project set for completion next August. Streets Superintendent Nic Siebenmorgen also addressed the completed work, informing the commission and cautioning citizens that the Street Department will be going light on ice melt on new concrete streets this winter to prevent premature aging and damage.

City Clerk Tish Sims read a proclamation declaring Nov. 30 as Small Business Saturday. The proclamation noted that Black Friday favors big box retailers and Cyber Monday benefits larger online retailers, while the Saturday between offers community members the opportunity to support the local businesses that are the backbone of small communities.

Siebenmorgen informed the commission that the city’s street sweeper caught fire and will need to be replaced. With an insurance claim underway, Siebenmorgen is looking for a rental to help clear the streets of leaves.

Nichols let the commission know that he is looking into the price of leasing or leasing-to-buy an excavator, as the city’s Public Works crews are trying to complete more work in-house, without paying outside contractors. Nichols also told the commission that he is looking into the numbers on hiring a City Mechanic, which could streamline the city’s machine and vehicle maintenance and save money.

Nichols also asked the commission their stance on annexation, as the last round the city completed was in 2007. Mayor Collins said he is strongly favor and asked Nichols to return with more information soon.

The commission approved the Consent Agenda, which included the following: an appropriation of $56,499.23, utility refunds of $351.61, a payment to Morrill Public Library of $2,606.20 and a payment to Berberich Trahan & Co. of $7,650.00.

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Hospital sales tax defeated by 2 votes

The half-cent sales tax question to benefit the Hiawatha Community Hospital on the Nov. 5 ballot was defeated by 2 votes.

That became official after canvassing 40 provisional ballots by the Brown County Commission Monday morning revealed the final count: No-1,285 to Yes-1,283 to a packed room that included Hiawatha and Horton city officials, along with representatives from Hiawatha Community Hospital. Assisting with the vote canvassing were County Clerk Melissa Gormley, Deputy Clerk Dawn Boyles and Brown County Attorney Kevin Hill, who advised the commissioners on state statutes for reasons to dismiss a provisional ballot.

On election night, Tuesday, Nov. 5, the final tally after counting all 18 precincts was 1267 No and 1264 yes votes. That Friday, an additional 7 mail-in ballots were counted, which brought the vote to No-1,270 to Yes-1,268 votes.

After reviewing the 40 provisional ballots, 10 of them were dismissed due to reasons of no registration and no photo ID. Two ballots were hand counted — both yes votes — due to marks on the ballot. As the commissioners reviewed the remainder of the ballots, they were accepted for reasons according to state statute — such as a change of address within the county. Another voter had to provide a photo ID before Monday’s canvassing.

This is the second time voters have cast their ballots on this countywide tax. In May, the same question was brought to voters in a special election. It was defeated by 29 votes at that time.

A half-cent sales tax could generate $750,000 to $800,000 in annual revenue countywide. Hospital officials say they need up to double that amount yearly to catch up on equipment and facility upgrades.

While the outcome wasn’t what HCH officials were hoping for, they plan to move forward in continuing to offer the best service they can.

“While the outcome of the vote was not what we hoped for, it is important for the communities we serve to understand that the outcome does not change our mission or our vision,” said CEO John Broberg. “Hiawatha Community Hospital is here to serve this region the best we can in whatever capacity we can, now and in the future. We want to be a uniting force in this region. As we have shared throughout this campaign, our operations continue to improve.”

Broberg said the hospital is focusing on fundraising as they are currently doing our annual appeal for donations through the Foundation. For the first time, the Foundation is also hosting a New Year’s Eve event to raise additional funds.

“What is plan B? Right now, it is asking our team to focus on what we do best — provide compassionate care and focus on recruitment and retention of physicians, midlevels and staff,” he said.

In other election news, the city quarter-cent sales tax for recreation did pass and final vote on that was Yes-523 to No-412. As that sales tax was replacing the current post lantern tax that falls off in March, the city sales tax will remain at 9 percent when the recreation tax goes into effect in April.

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Hiawatha teen regains consciousness four days after fatality accident

A Hiawatha teen who has remained unconscious since a fatality accident Sunday morning, has now regained consciousness.

“Andrew is awake” according to a report by his mother in “Andrew Kreek’s road to recovery” Facebook page. Andrew O. Kreek, 17, of Hiawatha, was the driver in the early morning Sunday crash at U.S. 36 and Horned Owl Road — just a mile west of Hiawatha — that involved five teenagers from Hiawatha. Ian Miller, a 16-year-old junior at Hiawatha High School, was killed in the accident.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported that Kreek was driving a 2010 Toyota Corolla at a high rate of speed northbound on Horned Owl Road and experienced a loss of control at the wheel. The initial KHP report did not verify which direction the vehicle was headed, but Sheriff John Merchant confirmed Kreek was driving northbound on Horned Owl Road as he approached U.S. 36.

The Highway Patrol said the Corolla is believed to have exited the roadway into the left ditch, at a point where the path of the road abruptly veers to the right. The car went airborne, rotating in the air above U.S. Highway 36, before landing on its top in a ditch against an embankment on the opposite side of the highway, which is the north ditch.

A passenger in the vehicle, Ian Miller, 16, of Hiawatha was pronounced dead at the scene. Other passengers, Gabriel Corbett, 18, and Nevaeh Dismang, 15, along with Kreek — all of Hiawatha — all were flown by medical helicopter from the scene to the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City. First responders transported Andrew T. Woods, 19, to Hiawatha Community Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries; he was later released. According to the Highway Patrol, of the five occupants, only Woods had been wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

Family members of Kreek and Corbett have posted medical updates on social media about their conditions, to keep the concerned community informed. Corbett’s family has announced he underwent a five-hour surgery to pin his hip and femur, has multiple other injuries including a broken elbow and a break in his hand and should expect a long recovery, with a transfer to a rehab hospital possible in the future. Kreek has a brain injury and has remained unconscious and sedated on a ventilator, with minor responses to stimuli until Wednesday night when he woke up.

Kreek’s mother, Linda Scroggins, reported on the open Facebook page that was created to keep friends, family and the community updated on him that Kreek was no longer sedated and breathing on his own. She said that doctors ask only family visit him for the time being as he continues to recover.

Family members of Dismang shared Monday on social media that she had sustained several broken bones and two fractures to her spine and remained at KU Medical Center at that time. Reportedly, she has been released from the hospital.

In the wake of the accident and Miller’s death, Hiawatha Public Schools USD 415 canceled a school play, “The Trials of Robin Hood,” that had been scheduled for Sunday afternoon and opened the doors to the high school that evening for counseling. School resumed as normal on Monday, but counselors remained available for students and staff.

Miller, Kreek and Dismang were all current students at Hiawatha High School and Corbett and Woods graduated from HHS in 2019.

“The entire USD 415 Family is deeply saddened by the death of one of our students,” a district representative said in a social media announcement. “We ask for your prayers and thoughts for the family of Ian Miller, and for the other victims of the tragedy. Our staff is working to ensure all of our students have access to support during this difficult time.”

Sheriff John Merchant expressed sorrow at the event and wanted to thank the first responders and emergency personnel who responded to the accident.

“Our emergency responders have a very difficult job and always go above and beyond to make it to the scenes and render aid, without complaint,” he said. “Regardless of the time of day, weather conditions or amount of time it takes to complete in our rural community, we are truly blessed to have these dedicated volunteers responding.”

Services for Ian Miller have been set for noon Friday at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center, 210 Lodge Rd., Hiawatha. See www.chapeloaksfuneralhome.com for a full obituary.

GoFundMe accounts have been set up for each of the families as well as a Facebook fund for Kreek. They can be found at www.gofundme.com.