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Amanda Arnold students perform poetry

Some of Amanda Arnold Elementary’s fourth-grade students bared their souls for parents and friends to hear at the seventh-annual poetry jam at Bluestem Bistro Thursday.

Teacher Todd Spreer said the class had been working on poetry for a few weeks, and he likes giving his students a chance to show off what they’ve learned.

Students wrote on a range of topics, including Spider-Man, death, friendship and happiness.

Gion Chemmannur wrote about revenge, urging people not to let it “get to your mind” or it could turn someone insane. Alayah Powell wrote about a trip to the circus. Sophia Hoeme wrote a poem about friendship, saying that friends “are there for you, always.” She emphasized that friends are there when “you broke up with your first boyfriend or girlfriend. You hear that, Mom?”

She said afterward she liked learning about poetry and wants to keep learning about it, but she liked performing it more.

“It was really fun. I really enjoyed getting to perform,” she said. “I was a little nervous. I’ve never performed in front of a crowd this big for poetry before.”

About 40 people attended the poetry jam.

Spreer said he starts by teaching students in baby steps.

“They learn about things with more structure first, like haikus and acrostic poems,” Spreer said. “It makes them feel safe because there’s a sort of recipe with those.”

He said after learning some examples, he tells them to write their emotions and what’s important to them.

As for the jam itself, he said it’s all student led.

“I give the presenters a script, but it’s a guideline that I tell to make it their own,” he said. “I just do that to make sure we’re thanking the right people, but it’s still their own personality shining through.”

Spreer said he was a bit surprised by some of the topics, including that so many students wrote about death and darkness.

“It was very heavy throughout. You never know what the tone’s going to be,” he said. “I try and expose them to a lot of poets and authors, and it’s what inspires them to make something organically. … They put their heart on paper.”

Savannah Harvey wrote that sorrow that comes after death can be like “parasites into your heart and aphids crawling in the veins.” She also wrote about the diversity of books, how “some are like sun rays and others put dread in your head.”

Twenty-five students performed, serving as emcees, bongo drummers and poets:

• Stuart Andela

• Silas Beheler

• Natalie Blanck

• Haley Caycedo

• Solveig Chase

•Gyan Chemmannur

•Jeremias Ciampitti

•Kayla Cramer

•Luna FloresKlemick

• Savannah Harvey

•Romen Heidel

• Sophia Hoeme

• Bryce Hutchinson

•Brock Kelly

• Phoenix Lewis

• Eleanor Linck

• Cole Pfeifley

• Alayah Powell

• Tristan Schrock

• Aaron Scudder

• Nathan Smith

• Ainsley Stitt

• McKenyzie Streussnig

• Maci Topham

• Julius Walker

City, county debate RCPD budget share

A proposal for the county to solely fund Riley County Police Department’s budget was shot down Thursday at a meeting with officials from the city of Manhattan and Riley and Pottawatomie counties.

City commissioner Wynn Butler suggested passing a joint resolution that would change the way the city and county share funding of RCPD.

A 1998 Kansas statute states that the city of Manhattan levies property taxes at a rate that funds 80% of RCPD’s budget, while the county does the same to fund the other 20%. The figures were proportionate to the amount of residents in each area that benefit from RCPD’s services.

Riley County is unique in Kansas as it has a consolidated law enforcement agency with the city of Manhattan, and is governed by a board comprised of city and county commissioners, the county attorney and appointed citizens.

The statute says the city and county can determine each year through a joint resolution how to divide the funding. If the entities do not do so, the previous funding formula will continue.

Butler said because of the way that statute is set up, city residents pay more than their share of taxes.

“It’s a problem in that county residents are not really paying their fair share for the county police department because when you’re a city resident, you’re paying 100%,” Butler said. “You pay county taxes and you pay city taxes.”

Butler said he would ideally like the county to solely fund RCPD, much like the health department.

Riley County Commission chairman Ron Wells disputed the idea and said the county already pays for several projects and services that benefit the city.

“That’s been the statute for many years,” Wells said. “The majority of people probably don’t realize the majority of the expenses and work in the city that we do. Plus we do all the buildings, all the infrastructure, all the HVAC replacement, elevators. ... Currently we’re spending millions and millions of dollars on radio infrastructure for RCPD, the city, EMS, rural fire, for everybody.”

Riley County commissioner Marvin Rodriguez said the current formula will remain the same.

Staff photo by Matt Lunsford  

Susan Brabec paints her barn quilt design during the activity time at Manhattan Public Library on Thursday.

CITY NOTEBOOK | Corps to hold meeting about Tuttle Creek Lake

Officials plan to provide information to the public next week concerning elevated Tuttle Creek Lake water level.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is holding a public meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Manhattan Fire Station headquarters at 2000 Denison Ave. in the first floor meeting hall.

As of Friday, lake elevation sits at 1,123.72 feet, about 48.72 feet above its normal pool. It’s the third highest level the lake has seen, and water fills about 67% of the flood pool.

The lake is currently 12.28 feet away from 1,136 feet, which is the level at which officials said they would open the emergency spillway gates as they did in 1993.

At the meeting, officials will present a brief summary of conditions, a description of how the Corps manages the system, the impacts on recreation and people, expected water releases and overall outlook.

This also will be a time for attendees to ask questions for officials to answer.

Party forms

It’s not too late to register your block for party in honor of Manhattan Day on June 1.

This year will be the 19th-annual Manhattan Day, which occurs on the first weekend in June to honor of the founding of Manhattan. In 1855, two groups of settlers came together to form Manhattan.

The event is celebrated with neighborhood gatherings throughout the city.

The Mercury is a Manhattan Day sponsor along with Dillons and Hy-Vee, who will provide hot dogs, hot dog buns and hamburger buns.

If you want free hot dogs or buns for your block party, email The Mercury’s publisher Ned Seaton at

Neighborhoods can also block off their streets through a block party application.

The city of Manhattan requires residents to submit block party applications at least seven days in advance of the event.

The application form can be found online at


The building at 712 N. Manhattan Ave. will have another restaurant.

Gyroville, a Mediterranean-inspired, build-your-own-plate restaurant, will open at that location this summer. The restaurant is pronounced like the word looks rather than the Greek pronunciation.

Vish Nadig, who owns the building, will be the owner and operator of the restaurant.

Nadig previously operated Dancing Ganesha at 712 N. Manhattan Ave. until it closed Memorial Day 2018. Later that year, The Wall, a Mexican buffet, opened in September and closed in November.

Gyroville has 10 locations open in the United States, including one in Topeka, and one in Ecuador.


As one restaurant comes to Manhattan, another restaurant has left.

Cowboy Chicken announced Tuesday that it has permanently closed the local restaurant.

The fast casual rotisserie chicken restaurant opened in fall 2017 near Target in the Seth Child Commons shopping area.

Sales down

Manhattan’s sales tax revenue decreased 8 percent in April compared to April 2018.

The city had $789,030 in sales tax revenue, according to the April sales tax report from the state, which reflects revenue distributed from February sales.

This is a decrease of $69,087 from April 2018’s sales tax revenue of $858,117.

Through April, the city has generated $3.66 million, an increase of $26,014 or 0.7% from the $3.64 million generated during the same period in 2018.

The revenue came in $80,009 under budget in April.

Overall, the city has received $47,327 in additional sales tax revenue compared to the budget.

MHS student dies, cause of death under investigation

A student at Manhattan High School has died, according to Manhattan High School Principal Greg Hoyt.

The Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Office received a report of a deceased person in the 4000 block of Taneil Drive in Manhattan shortly after 6 a.m. Friday.

Hoyt said police notified the school of the death around 7 a.m. and administrators began the process of notifying people on Friday morning.

The sheriff's office said it is investigating the death but do not suspect foul play nor believe there is a danger to the public.

Officials have not released the identity of the student.