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4-H members model outfits, take crowns at fashion revue

Strutting and posing across a stage Thursday night at Manhattan Town Center, Riley County youth donned outfits they’d assembled and created during the annual 4-H fashion revue.

From a handmade pair of overalls crafted from old jeans to an expertly crafted romper ensemble fit for casual and formal occasions alike, members had the chance to show off some of their work ahead of the Riley County Fair, which officially kicks off Thursday.

The clothing and textiles project served as a way for area youth to learn and hone their sewing and clothing construction skills, as well as help them understand how to put together budget-friendly, flattering outfits.

Near the end of the show, members were awarded for their presentation after being judged earlier in the day. Megan Dougherty, a Riley County Extension agent who helped organize the event, said the project helps kids become more conscious of their buying choices and for some in the construction phase, it may lead to future careers.

“The kids are super excited,” Dougherty said. “They’ve worked all year long on these projects and they get to finally get up and show not only judges, but their family, friends and the general population what they’ve been working so hard on. They show a lot of pride and joy in what they’ve made, and they’ve put a lot of work into it.”

The 2019 Riley County Fair Royalty were also crowned at the end of the show, naming Jonathan Hoepner, 17, and Kristina Powell, 18, as some of the next leaders of 4-H.

As royalty, some of their duties will include promoting 4-H, presenting ribbons at the animal shows at the fair, serving as youth representatives for the County Fair Board and helping club members become their own leaders.

Hoepner said receiving the honor felt like a good end to his 10 years in 4-H after it had developed him into a leader with communication and citizenship skills.

Hoepner said he submitted 13 projects in total to fair contests, one of which is a Mindstorm NXT, a programmable LEGO robot, in the robotics category.

“I challenge myself to do something different every year, something harder,” he said.

“This year I have it playing card games with whoever’s using it. It’s been hard but it’s coming along.”

Powell, a 12-year 4-H member, said through the organization, she has opened up and made valuable connections, and becoming a part of fair royalty solidified her experience.

“It feels amazing (because) ever since I was little, I looked up to fair royalty,” she said.

“I’d look at their pictures on the walls of Pottorf (Hall) and I just wanted to be them someday. They inspired me to try.”

Powell said she looks forward to showing off her three steers in the market beef contest.

“I’ve been showing ever since I was a cloverbud,” she said. “I started with bucket calves and I was super small. I’ve been involved in it forever and I love doing it.”

Brock Burgman, 14, of Leonardville, trains his quarter horse at Wells Arena in Manhattan on Thursday. Burgman prepares for competition in the Riley County 4-H Horse Exhibits and Show at Wells Arena on Saturday.

County has a squatter in its parking lot, and it’s having trouble getting rid of him

For months now, a man has been living in a black ’90s Cadillac in a Riley County parking lot in downtown Manhattan, and officials have had little luck removing him from the lot.

At the county commission meeting Thursday, county counselor Clancy Holeman presented the commissioners with a plan to change the county’s parking lot resolution to prohibit citizens from living or camping in any county-owned parking lot. He said the amendment would give the county teeth in getting the man to move.

“That’s what’s driving the need to change, but it’s designed to be a protection for all county owned lots, not just against this one vehicle,” Holeman said.

The man, reached for comment Friday morning, declined to give his name but said he first moved to the parking lot north of the county office building after a spat with the Riley County Police Department. In the months he’s been living out of the car, the man said RCPD and county officials have been pestering him. When asked if the car runs, he said, “It can, from time to time,” and that he plans to move the car next week.

But Holeman said that’s been an empty promise he’s made several times. He said officials have indeed contacted him, but those contacts have been part of efforts to help him find another place to live and to find a job.

The county can’t simply tow the man’s car away, either. Holeman said the county is narrowly limited in how it can enforce its codes, and towing isn’t one of the listed penalties.

“Basically all we’re left with is going for an injunction in district court, which could end up with a contempt violation and potential jail time, or in the code for the enforcement of county resolutions, there’s the potential for jail time, too,” Holeman said. “But it doesn’t have to be jail time under either option. That’d be up to the judge.”

The county would make every effort to make sure whatever process the county creates is legally sound and protects individual rights, Holeman said. Presumably, people living out of their cars would qualify for court-appointed counsel in the face of potential criminal prosecution, he said.

“All we’re trying to do is make sure the lot is free for its intended purpose: it’s a public owned lot,” Holeman said. “It’s not a place where you’re supposed to live or camp. And I think the lot has some health concerns as well.”

The commissioners said it was time to finally deal with the issue.

“I hate the fact that that thing has been sitting there for months,” commissioner John Ford said. “It should have just taken a phone call to get resolved. We’re doing the right thing and doing it the right way.”

Holeman said he would consult with county prosecutors and RCPD to make sure they’re comfortable with enforcing the changed parking resolution. Any amendment to county parking regulations must have airtight, narrow legal language, and once Holeman finalizes a draft, he said he’ll return to the commission for final approval.

School notebook: District names new executive director of teaching and learning

Paula Hough has been tapped as Manhattan-Ogden’s next executive director of teaching and learning.

Hough was picked from four finalists and is currently the director of curriculum and instruction at USD 336 in Holton. She previously served as an English teacher in Kansas City, Kansas, and at schools in Minnesota.

Hough holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Argosy University and a master’s degree in leadership from Pittsburg State University. She is working on completing a master’s degree in district leadership at Emporia State University.

Her first day on the job is July 26.

Central enrollment opens Thursday

Parents enrolling students in the USD 383 school district have been able to enroll students online since Monday, but in-person, central enrollment is 7 a.m.-7 p.m. next Thursday and Friday at Manhattan High’s west campus.

The FIT Closet will also distribute school supplies to qualified students at central enrollment Friday, but parents will have to complete the enrollment process before receiving school supplies, as FIT Closet staff will verify that students qualify for the district’s free or reduced lunch program.

Parents will also have to fill out a FIT Closet registration form to receive supplies, but that form allows them to shop at the FIT Closet for the entire school year.

USD 383 teachers will see 6.5% raise

Negotiations have wrapped up between Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 administration and its chapter of the National Education Association, and under a tentative agreement, teachers will see a 6.5% raise in total compensation packages.

The contract also includes a $1,750 increase in base teacher salary to $41,000, and the district will continue to cover teachers’ health insurance premiums.

“I was pleased with what we were able to do this year to benefit our teachers and the district. The state came through with funding, and we are investing that right back into our people,” Eric Reid, assistant superintendent, said. “The level of teamwork and problem solving demonstrated by the Association and Board was impressive. We were able to discuss some mutually concerning issues and work toward solutions. I truly appreciate the Association representatives for their efforts to look at the district, and I am thankful we had better financial options to consider than in recent years.”

Although the district and the teachers reached the tentative agreement, both groups still need to formally ratify the contract.

K-State student leadership pushing for fall break

K-State’s student body president and vice president want to break up the fall semester with a mid-semester break.

Among the Kansas Board of Regents’ six state universities, only K-State and Fort Hays State University students go to classes continuously through Thanksgiving week, when students have the entire week off. Students at other universities typically have a two-day break in the middle of October but have to go to classes on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

K-State student body president Jansen Penny said he and vice president Ali Karamali pushed and voted for the calendar change in the university’s calendar committee. That measure passed in a split 3-2 vote and now goes to the university’s faculty senate.

Changes wouldn’t take place until fall 2022, but efforts are underway now because the Board of Regents is now allowing its universities to have two fewer teaching days. Among faculty, the topic has been controversial, since some faculty are hesitant toward a major change in semester scheduling and loss of class time, Penny said.

Penny said he’d like the university to start a fall break to help students’ mental health.

“The time between Labor Day and Thanksgiving break is long,” Penny said. “Students never have an opportunity to go home or step back from school and around that time is when so many of the campus resources, like Counseling Services and the Office of Student Life, are flooded with students seeking help. A two-day break will be a mental break for students in the longest stretch of classes during the year.”

Penny said he and Karamali will work with the rest of the student government to get feedback and gauge support for the measure once the semester starts in August.

NEA starting

teacher recognition program

Manhattan-Ogden’s chapter of the National Educator program is teaming up with the Alms Group to fund $500 awards for district teachers.

Manhattan-Ogden NEA president Erin Meyer-Gambrel said there are several awards and recognitions teachers receive, but personal, no-strings-attached financial awards can mean the world to teachers who struggle. Meyer-Gambrel was a recipient of a similar award herself at a former school district, and she wanted to bring a financial award program like that one to Manhattan.

Students, parents and fellow teachers will be able to use an online nomination form to nominate teachers.

The form will require two different sponsors to write words of affirmation for the teacher, and Meyer-Gambrel said she envisions an award process where the winning teachers receive the awards Publishers Clearinghouse-style.

The nomination process should go live in September, Meyer-Gambrel said, with the hope that the group gives the first award in October.

Awards will be made monthly during the school year.

Flood warning announced for Big Blue River

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Big Blue River until further notice. Currently, the river is at 19.53 feet, with the flood level stage beginning at 19 feet.

Although minor flooding is anticipated, officials have not issued any evacuations as flooding is not expected to affect neighborhoods.

In an effort to lower water levels, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is releasing water from Tuttle Creek Lake at a rate of 25,000 cfs.

The lake was at 1,124.36 feet Friday morning. Water releases are expected to be ongoing in the next few weeks, with officials hoping to lower the level to 1,105 feet.

Officials advise people to stay off of the water at this time.