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Johnny Kaw statue's new plaza opens to the public

Johnny Kaw is ready to share his story.

Officials on Friday afternoon dedicated the new plaza at the foot of the Johnny Kaw statue in Manhattan’s City Park. City commissioners, other local leaders and residents gathered to celebrate Kansas’ mythical son.

“This will cement for Manhattan how lucky we are to have an icon like this,” said Mayor Mike Dodson at the ceremony.

The project cost nearly $300,000 and was funded entirely through private donations and companies that donated labor and materials. It was the first upgrade to the statue since it was build in 1966. It includes a new platform designed like a sunflower around Johnny Kaw, steps leading up to the platform and educational plaques about Kaw’s creation and some of his legends.

George Filinger, a K-State horticulture professor, created the legend of Johnny Kaw in 1955 to celebrate the Manhattan centennial. The Manhattan Mercury printed the initial stories of Johnny Kaw during the centennial.

The dedication event included comments by Dodson, city commissioner Wynn Butler, founder of Friends of Johnny Kaw and former mayor Ed Klimek, a reading of some of the Kaw stories, a look-alike contest and cookies decorated like Johnny’s pancakes.

Zach Lee, 7, was the winner (and lone entry) in the look-alike contest.

“It was surprising I was the only one,” he said.

He said his mom, Megan, helped him put together his costume of red pants, a red shirt, a yellow shirt cut into a vest and a homemade belt buckle like the statue’s.

Lee said he borrowed toys from his brother for Johnny’s farming equipment.

“She wanted to do it, and I wanted to do it,” he said.

Klimek said seeing the plaza completed was a testament to Manhattan’s ability to come together and pitch in for a community project. The Friends of Johnny Kaw led the fundraising effort.

“I never doubted we would be successful in funding this because I know that’s what this community is all about,” he said.

Klimek said the upgrade, particularly the plaques that recount Johnny’s story, are a way to help connect to what Klimek called an “iconic figure for Manhattan.”

“People can learn about who Johnny Kaw is and who put that all together, so they know the history and legacy of Johnny Kaw,” he said.

MFD responds to fire at duplex

Manhattan Fire Department officials reported no injuries after a fire in a duplex at 928 Thurston St. Friday afternoon.

MFD dispatched crews around 12:44 p.m. Friday to the building, which had smoke coming out of it. They found that the kitchen had been on fire but that flames were nearly extinguished.

Firefighters ventilated the house and ensured nothing else was on fire. A total of 17 firefighters responded on six fire apparatus.

The owner is listed as Rahim Borhani of Manhattan, who believed the structure was vacant.

Firefighters are still investigating the cause of the fire, and the financial loss has not been determined.

City to view Fort Riley noise impact notice

Manhattan city commissioners on Tuesday will discuss a proposed process for notifying people about the noise from activities at Fort Riley.

The work session begins at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. There will be no vote at this meeting.

The Notice of Potential Noise Impacts (NOPNI) would provide information to neighbors of Fort Riley about possible level of noise from weapons and/or explosives at the base.

Developing this notice was one of the recommended actions from the updated Flint Hills/Fort Riley Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) that the Flint Hills Regional Council completed in 2017 in partnership with Fort Riley and the surrounding communities and counties.

Riley County Planning and Development and Manhattan’s Community Development departments coordinated this notice with assistance from the Riley County Register of Deeds.

The notice would notify people to look up their property on the Riley County website at gis.rileycountyks.gov in order to identify the specific zone. Generally speaking, the notice boundaries in Riley County will include Riley, Ogden and western Manhattan.

Zone II levels range from 62 to 70 decibels while Zone III can exceed 70 decibels, according to the notice. The Land Use Planning Zone (LUPZ) area noise impacts range between 57-62 decibels. Ogden and western Manhattan falls into the LUPZ area while most of Riley is within Zone II.

For future residents living in the Fort Riley noise disclosure boundary in Manhattan, Ogden or Riley, the seller or realtor isn’t required to give a heads up about potential noise impacts.

Instead, the notice is available on the deed of a plot or home, according to officials.

Officials have tentatively scheduled the mayor’s signing of the notice in November.

There are no other items on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.

MHS selects homecoming king, queen

The Manhattan High School student body selected its homecoming king and queen.

Seniors Will Bannister and Kira Schartz were announced as king and queen Friday night during halftime of the MHS football game against Seaman at Bishop Stadium.

Bannister is the student body vice president, as well as a member of the debate and forensics teams.

Schartz is a member of girls tennis and soccer teams, as well as a member of MHS Tribe, a spirit club.