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Hiawatha’s maples show their grand color as fall closes in | A tribute to T.H. Korthanke

Hiawatha’s beautiful maples have a rich history that makes the fall splendor of the town even more intriguing.

Hiawatha has long been known for it’s beautiful maples — first planted so many decades ago by Theodore H. Korthanke. He lived from 1860 to 1941 and was considered one of the founding fathers of Hiawatha — certainly the founding father of the maple trees found nearly on every block.

As the story goes:

“In 1918, T. H. Korthanke and his wife moved to 200 Miami Street in Hiawatha from a farm northeast of Hiawatha. On the corner of their yard was a stately hard maple tree which was admired by all who saw it in its full fall splendor. From that one tree, Mr. Korthanke was inspired to take seeds and plant them on a vacant lot north of his home. As the seedlings took root, he shared them with anyone who would agree to care for them. Mr. Korthanke died in 1941 before the trees reached maturity, but he indeed left Hiawatha with it’s legacy of the ‘City of Beautiful Maples.’”

What Mr. Korthanke envisioned so very long ago — indeed a full century — has blossomed into full fruition, so to speak. These maples draw visitors from near and far to view their glorious colors of gold, orange and red. A walk around Hiawatha this time of year is truly an inspirational experience — a blessing of nature — no matter what your age.

Mr. Korthanke’s very first maple tree still stands — at his former home of 200 Miami Street, which is currently owned by Connie Bent. About a year or more ago, local contractors were replacing sidewalks along that area and made sure to reroute the sidewalk around the “Granddaddy” maple tree.

Looking back through the Hiawatha World archives, a poem about Hiawatha that a Horton woman found in her family memorabilia was shared several years ago. Iva K. Jacobsen of rural Horton, grew up in Hiawatha. Her father, William Berry, was a police officer in town from 1952-1972.

During one of her father’s patrols in autumn of 1961, he came across a visitor from Ralston, Neb. This man later wrote a poem and sent it to her father. The letter was dated Nov. 9, 1961 and the poem itself has a date of Oct. 22, 1961 on the bottom.

Hiawatha’s Maple Trees

“Near the shore of gitchee gumee

Better known as “The Missouri”

In the North-east part of Kansas

Grew a Village on the prairie

Grew a Town called Hiawatha

Where the fathers in their wisdom

Planted, by their homes, the Maple

Planted many, many Maples.

Here in Spring the robins nested —

Built their nests in shady Maples.

And the boys and girls did likewise —

In these Maples they built houses.

Here they played, and here they listened

To the breezes from the prairie —

To the robins, talking, scolding.

Townsfolk called the robins — “chickens”

Called them — “Hiawatha’s chickens” —

(As they strolled beneath the Maples

‘Neath the cool and shady Maples)

Came the glory of October,

Then — the Maples changed their color

Changed their green to red and orange.

(Not just one or two — but thousands)

Till the whole town blazed in glory!

Every shade of red and yellow

Mixed with green — No artist’s paint brush

Could create a scene of beauty —

As did nature — there in Kansas!

In the years, long past the Redmen

Built their camp fires and their wigwams.

Today — Hiawatha’s wigwams

Are named “Redmon”; — also “Redman.”

So the fame of all this beauty

All the blazing streets of color

Reached the ears of other Redmen —

(Gladstone E. and Dorothy Redman)

In the little town of Ralston

West of Omaha, Nebraska.

They, too, heard about the Maples

Heard of Hiawatha’s Maples.

So they drove to Hiawatha

Where they marveled at the beauty —

Of the Maples in full color.

And they called the fathers “blessed”

Citizens of Hiawatha.”

— October 22, 1961

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HP&R announces fall events

While COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on public events for 2020, some organizations aren’t letting the pesky coronavirus keep them down and out.

The Hiawatha Parks and Recreation is still throwing out some fun fall events, with a few modifications, and postponed the favorite Terror on the Trail and trunk or treat to be cautious and in line with Kansas Department of Health and Environment guidelines.

HP&R Director Stacy Jasper and her crew put together some fun programs for the community to take part in this fall. Last month she unleashed her Step Challenge programs and have seen quite a success.

Looking at October, which is Hiawatha’s prime month of celebration in keeping with a tradition that is 106 years old, HP&R events are sure to spook out your month!

Pumpkin Palooza To Go: This fun event is back with a few changes this year from 1-2:30 p.m. at the Fisher Center gym. Sign up for a Palooza take-home kit, full of crats, pumpkin decorations and pre-packaged treats. During pick up, your family will walk through the family friendly HP&R Monster Maze and get some fun spooky photos taken — only available to families signed up. There is a cost of $10 per kit. This event requires pre-registration by Wednesday, Oct. 21. Face coverings are mandatory for this event. Social distancing and contactless kit pick up will be in place.

The Great Pumpkin Mile Relay and Fun Run: Set for 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31 at the middle school track, this year’s event will be a little different due to COVID restrictions.

“What better way to start your Halloween festivities than with a fun, family friendly race?”

This year’s event features two races, a mile fun run or a mile team fun run of 2-4 people. The Mile Fun Run consists of carrying an HP&R pumpkin for four laps around the track. The mile Team Relays consist of either two people running a total of two laps or four people running each lap.

There is a cost of $10 per participant and everyone takes home a pumpkin, a finisher medal and lots of treats. The fun runs are for all ages. Individual and team costumes are encouraged.

Pets & Pumpkins Pet Photo Contest: This is a new event for HP&R and is similar to the event previously hosted by Miss Bella. Email two photos of your pet — one before to verify and one “in costume” to sjasper@cityofhiawatha.org and don’t forget to add some fun props and a festive background. All entries must be received by Friday, Oct. 23 by 5 p.m. Facebook voting will start the week of Halloween and end on the 30th, with winners announced on Halloween. Prizes awarded to the top three most liked photos.

Fang-Tastic Foodie Challenge: Mummies in a Blanket — Frankenstein Toast — Eyeballs & Spaghetti — HP&R wants to see everyone’s creepy culinary creations. Participants can post a photo of a spine-chilling snack, a devilish dish or an eerie entree and don’t forget to tag Hiawatha Parks & Recreation using the hashtag #hprfangtasticfoodie.

Monster Makeup Challenge: Post photos of your creative Halloween artwork of clowns, zombies, witches and more. Tag Hiawatha Parks & Recreation using hashtag #HPRMONSTERMAKEUP.

Call the HP&R at 742-7176 for more information on any of these programs.

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Flushing out 2020 with this Red Hawk fundraiser

The Red Hawks Booster Club is giving local residents a chance to “Flush Out 2020” with a new fundraiser.

A few traveling toilets can be seen sitting in the front yards of local residents. This is courtesy of their friends or Red Hawk family who paid to have the brightly painted toilets placed there. Some unlucky people may end up with KU or K-State toilet sitting in their yards.

A person can let the toilet sit around for a while to beautify their yards along with the colorful leaves falling from the trees, or pay to have it removed and then sent to someone else’s yard.

Either way, it’s their choice, but all of the money goes to a good cause — the Red Hawks Booster Club. Money raised from fundraisers goes to purchase uniforms, equipment and other things to benefit the students.

Call or text 547-5193 to join in on the fun to “Flush out 2020” and help the Booster Club raise some bucks for our Red Hawks!

By Josephine May

Hiawatha’s 2020 Homecoming Queen Kate Madsen and King Alex Rockey were crowned prior to Friday’s game against Holton.

> For additional photos see today’s B section.

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School officials continue to address issues with track

The Hiawatha School District continues to look for answers with issues of bubbles forming on the new high school track.

In recent meetings, the Hiawatha School Board learned there were bubbles that formed in the surface of the track, which was built in the summer of 2018 at a cost of approximately $900,000. The company that laid the surface of the track — Beynon — has told the district that bubbles occurred due to water drainage from the hill on the visitors side. However, there are bubbles that have appeared in other locations, away from this area.

Beynon has said it will fix the bubbles, but only if the district fixes any drainage issues they perceive seems to be the problem.

At last month’s regular board meeting, District Maintenance Director Chris Morey told the board that he met with PJ Aller of Aller LLC, the contractor who performed the dirt work prior to the concrete work and laying of the surface of new track. Aller told Morey that during construction, a curbing from the old track was moved due to disrepair. Aller LLL connected underground drains, but there was no place to reinstall curbing with the new track — a joint decision between the district, Aller and Beynon.

Morey said that the dirt work had been completed to allow for proper drainage, however heavy rains caused some of that to break down prior to the track being laid. He said Aller said there were two options — to regrade the hill and drill in the grass, rather than reseeding it as normal — to allow for better drainage. Another option — which Aller said was the better option was to regrade the hill, reseed and drill the grass and install water drain boxes. The options would range in cost from $25,000 potentially up to $50,000.

Beynon said they will only honor any warranty work to fix the bubbles if the district completes drainage upgrades first.

Morey brought bids from Aller LLC and Knudson Construction to Monday night’s board meeting for their possible consideration. Aller LLC’s bid came in at $39,500 and Knudson’s at $30,500 to install six 12-inch drains that connect underground, complete the dirt work and seed grass. Aller’s projected date to complete the work was this coming winter and Knudson could get to it within the next 30 days. The length of time for the project is one week.

Board member John Wright said he was concerned the district was throwing money away on this project and noted that bubbles had occurred in the track in other locations — not just near this area where there is a possible drainage issue.

Superintendent Lonnie Moser said that Beynon has stated they will not complete any warranty work until this perceived drainage issue is resolved. The track has a 10 year warranty.

Board member Jeff Brockhoff asked if the work was completed by this winter on the drainage issue, could Beynon fix the bubbles in the track in time for track practice to start the first of March. Morey said that Beynon had indicated they could get to the work by March or April.

The board asked Becky Shamburg, who coaches track and cross country, whether she thought the track was usable as is for practice and she noted that one particular area could cause an athlete to trip and risk injury.

Board member Ian Schuetz said he felt that Beynon was trying to pass the blame.

“There are bubbles throughout and I don’t feel that is all just moisture,” Schuetz said. “I don’t buy it’s responsible for bubbles throughout.”

There was some discussion to re-evaluate the project for a potential lower price.

Wright said he felt the project had been rushed in the first place — that Beynon had rushed to get the track in and he wanted to take some extra time to consider all options before spending money on this repair. However, Moser pointed out they may not have time if they wait until the October board meeting if they are considering reletting bids. The typical process is 2-3 weeks and contractors could pick up other jobs before then. That could push any potential drainage work into December, depending on weather. If winter weather wouldn’t cooperate, this could push the final repair further out in the spring.

Board member Amy Kopp suggested contacting Matt Sprick with the Soil Conservation office to examine the area and make a determination if drainage is the real culprit. She said that’s his specialty and they may find that 12-inch drains aren’t required and be able to save some money on the overall project and still satisfy the needs to complete drainage work.

After amending motions made to seek new bids, it was the general consensus of the board to table any decisions until after contacting and getting an opinion from Sprick before moving forward. The matter is set to be discussed at the next board meeting at 7 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 26.