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OUR NEIGHBORS | Fishermen thrive on nationally recognized KSU team

Drew Easterday and Will Andrie have formed a bond and a sense of camaraderie through fishing.

Along with their teammates, they spend many of their Saturdays at a lake, enjoying one another’s company, all while participating in one of their favorite activities.

The roommates are members of the Kansas State University fishing team, a nationally recognized, 40-plus member club team.

Easterday, a senior from Overland Park, and Andrie, a junior from Waco, Texas, are both studying marketing at K-State while serving as treasurer and vice president of the fishing team, respectively.

“Camaraderie is great, but also you get the opportunity to take an officer position in a club affiliated with the university so that looks great of course on your resume,” Andrie said.

After deciding to go to K-State, Easterday joined the fishing program because he wanted to get back into the sport. He said he enjoyed participating in tournaments during his middle school years.

He met a friend, Cole Miller, with whom he had fished in middle school. Miller eventually became his team partner and is roommates with Easterday and Andrie.

Andrie said he wanted to attend K-State because of its renowned fishing program, where he has flourished.

Andrie and Zach Vielhauer won the 2018 Bassmaster Classic College Bracket in South Carolina.

In addition, Andrie and Gaige Blanton placed ninth out of 200 teams at the Bassmaster College National Championship this year. They competed at Tennessee’s Lake Chickamuaga. Andrie and his partner also finished seventh out of 250 teams at Bull Shoals in Arkansas.

To qualify to fish at national events in the spring, pairs compete against each other during fall tournaments. The top three teams from K-State get to fish at national tournaments.

K-State competes against teams such as Alabama, Michigan and Clemson.

Easterday participated in a few national tournaments as well.

The team is in the swing of the fall season. They had a tournament at Wilson Lake in central Kansas this past weekend.

Members practice in other lakes across the state, too, including Milford and Perry lakes.

They arrive at the lake around 7 a.m. and fish for bass. The team fishes on eight or nine boats until 3 p.m.

“We just have the craziest, like fun times,” Easterday said. “Like whenever we go to these tournaments, it’s just a fun time, like lots of laughs, just hanging around, talking fishing and talking outdoors.”

At the end of the day, the team weighs the fish. The five biggest fish from each team are counted to determine the winning teams, Andrie said.

“They mark your weight, and of course, the heaviest weight wins,” Andrie said.

Before joining the collegiate team, both fishermen learned the craft from their fathers, beginning when they were children.

“My dad just took me one day,” Easterday said. “Was super young. From the minute I started, I loved it. I don’t know. It’s just something about it; it’s like can’t even explain when you go out fishing ... (I) just love it.”

As a kid, seeing his first bobber sink into the water lit a fire for Andrie.

“It was just excitement, and until this day, that fire has still not gone out,” he said. “It’s just, you want to learn more, how to catch more fish.”

Easterday also works for K-State Athletics in the licensing department. But, other than that, Easterday said he sleeps, breathes and eats fishing.

He said he likes to talk about and watch videos about fishing.

Andrie and Easterday are also football fanatics. They love to tailgate and catch the Wildcats on Saturdays when they aren’t fishing.

They also enjoy watching NFL football on Sundays; Easterday specifically cheers on the Chiefs, while Andrie is a Cowboys fan since his grandpa played for them.

In the future, both Easterday and Andrie want to stay active in fishing on some level; Andrie wants to fish professionally after college.

“I really wanted to have a career possibly to do it professionally,” he said. “And in this day and age, college fishing now is the gateway to the pros.”

Easterday hopes to work with a marketing firm locally, but he said he’ll also continue to fish.

I WONDER | Why don't road construction crews work at night?

Q: Why don’t road construction crews do their work at night instead of in the middle of the day when traffic gets congested? In places like Chicago, road work is done in the night time to avoid that kind of problem.

A: There are a few reasons: overtime pay, safety concerns and difficulty in receiving supplies.

City engineer Brian Johnson said a lot of Manhattan’s road construction is contract work, which means that if crews work at night, a contractor would have to pay overtime.

“That contractor would be paying their crews overtime as would we,” Johnson said. “We’d be paying them overtime to work in the middle of the night or a shift differential to work those night hours, so you’re probably going to add 10% to 15% to the cost of a project. We do about $4 million of road work a year.”

That’s an increase of about $600,000 a year, Johnson said.

Also, it is more dangerous for crews to work at night because drivers may not see workers, cones or other equipment, Johnson said.

“Even though there is less traffic, the traffic that is out is certainly more dangerous because it’s dark,” he said.

The last reason, Johnson said, is that it is hard for crews to receive materials and supplies, such as lumber and steel, late in the night.

“You’re not going to get all that stuff after 5 or 6 o’clock at night,” Johnson said. “You’re not going to get it in the middle of the night. So there’s all sorts of logistics issues to working in the middle of the night, not to mention just the safety.”

To submit a question, send by email to questions@themercury.com, or by regular mail to Questions, P.O. Box 787 Manhattan, KS 66505.

Pott County switches to former payroll vendor

Pottawatomie County has reverted to its former payroll vendor just a few months after making a change.

County commissioners Monday approved the switch back to ADP Payroll Solutions after learning county staff had encountered numerous problems with its new vendor, NEOGOV.

Since the county made the change this spring, NEOGOV has been unable to keep promises and has been slow to respond to issues, Human Resources Director Crystal Malchose told commissioners.

Almost every county department head has been dissatisfied with the new system, Malchose said, adding that there had been incorrect processing and that some county employees had even “disappeared” from the system.

“It’s very frustrating. It’s difficult,” Malchose said.

Part of the problem, Malchose said, was that Pott County was the first client to be on NEOGOV’s new “cloud” platform, a fact which wasn’t revealed when the county signed on with the company at an initial cost of $50,000.

“I just don’t think that Pottawatomie County should be their guinea pig,” Malchose said.

According to Malchose, ADP has agreed to waive its up-front fee of $8,200 since the county had been a client since 1996.

It has also agreed to try to remedy a service issue which prompted the vendor change in the first place — adding more than 200 employees when Pott County took over the ambulance service late last year.

“It sounds to me like the quicker we get on this the better off we’re going to be,” said Commissioner Pat Weixelman, noting that NEOGOV should reimburse at least some of the initial fee if it expected a recommendation from the county.

Commissioner Dee McKee agreed. “Their misrepresentation of what they could do was significant,” she said.

In other business Monday:

• Dr. Joel Hutchins, Holton, told commissioners he would resign as district coroner in January.

Hutchins has served as coroner of the Second Judicial District (Pottawatomie, Wabaunsee, Jefferson and Jackson counties) since 1986.

As district coroner, Hutchins works with funeral homes, pathologists, doctors’ groups and deputy coroners throughout the district. Finding a replacement, he said, may be a challenge.

“It’s very difficult to find someone to go out in the middle of the night to pronounce someone dead,” Hutchins said. “There may be someone who wants to do that, but most doctors don’t want to pull call duty at night, and it’s never been a lucrative process. I’ve always done it as a civic duty.”

As the largest county in the district, Pott County is responsible for finding Hutchins’ replacement and has always paid his $8,000 annual stipend.

Commissioners thanked Hutchins for his 33 years of service as district coroner.

• Counselor John Watt advised the commission it would probably not be financially beneficial to join a class action lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the Stamford, Conn., firm that has filed for bankruptcy in a litigation settlement over the opioid crisis.

Watt said every city and county in the country has likely been notified of the bankruptcy and proposed settlement.

“Would it be worth your while? My gut tells me no,” Watt told commissioners. In order to join the lawsuit, the county would have to pay a portion of the legal fees with no promise of financial gain, he said.

“It’d be better to put (the money) on the craps table,” Weixelman said.

• The commission approved agreements with the Kansas Department of Transportation regarding replacement of a bridge on Parallel Road in the northeast portion of the county.

One agreement concurs with KDOT’s awarding the project to Ebert Construction, Wamego, which submitted a low bid of $733,200.

The other agrees to paying 20% ($147,000) of the construction cost and $43,000 for county inspection, 80% of which is reimbursable.

• The commission approved a temporary construction easement agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for improvements to Dyer Road east of Tuttle Creek Dam.

The improvements, funded through KDOT’s High Risk Road Program, will widen shoulders and improve sight distance on Dyer Road north of the Little Grill Restaurant, according to Peter Clark, public works director.

• The commission asked Clark to take traffic counts on McDonald and Little Noxie roads south of Havensville in Lincoln Township.

There are bridges on each of the roads scheduled for replacement in 2020, and the commission is considering an option of realigning the roadway to eliminate one of the bridges from the county’s inventory.

“I think it’s a wash today, but it could be a savings 100 years from now when you don’t have to replace both bridges again,” said Commission Chairman Travis Altenhofen.

Clark agreed that eliminating one bridge from the inventory would likely be the best fiscal option over the long run.

The commission will consider the options after receiving traffic counts on the roadways.

Nickolas Oatley / Staff photo by Nickolas Oatley  

Skip Mondero, 3, explores the Zoo In You: The Human Microbiome exhibit Tuesday morning at the Flint Hills Discovery Center.

USDA names former K-State professor director of NBAF


The $1.25 billion National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility now has a permanent director.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday morning that it has hired Alfonso Clavijo to helm the national research and diagnostic facility.

“Dr. Clavijo brings with him a wealth of technical knowledge in the diagnosis of transboundary, emerging and zoonotic diseases,” said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. “As NBAF’s first permanent director, his extensive leadership experience will be a great asset in helping NBAF achieve its vision of being a national asset that protects U.S. agriculture and consumers through cutting-edge research, diagnostics, training, and development of vaccines and other countermeasures.”

Clavijo will start Oct. 13 and oversee the facility’s transition from construction, scheduled for completion in 2021, to full operation in 2023. He will also oversee the facility as it transitions from Department of Homeland Security management to USDA.

Clavijo previously served as laboratory executive director of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s National Centres for Animal Disease. In that position, he oversaw the administration of diagnostic services, related technology development, and research to detect and prevent diseases that can pass from animals to humans, particularly when those diseases cross international borders.

His experience also includes management of biosafety level 2 through 4 facilities that contained scientific study of pathogens that cause foreign animal diseases, including foot-and-mouth, African swine fever, classical swine fever and bird flu.

NBAF will be a biosafety level 4 facility with plans to handle a variety of pathogens including foot-and-mouth disease.

Clavijo previously held other leadership or advisory positions at Texas A&M University, the Pan American Health Organization and National University in Bogota, Colombia.

Clavijo was also a professor in the department of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine during the 2015-16 school year.

Clavijo earned a doctorate in veterinary microbiology/virology from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, in 1995 and a doctorate in veterinary medicine from National University in Bogota.

Once completed, the 580,000-square-foot facility on the north end of K-State’s campus is projected to create about 350 permanent laboratory jobs and generate a $3.5 billion impact in its first 20 years of service.

“This facility is instrumental in protecting our livestock, our economy, and our food security,” U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said in a statement. “I am excited to welcome Dr. Clavijo to Manhattan as he begins his tenure with the USDA and leadership of the nation’s premier agriculture research facility.”

RCPD arrests student, investigates false Snapchat threat at Manhattan High

Riley County police on Monday arrested a student at Manhattan High School West for his alleged involvement in a fight.

Officers arrested Charles Jones, 16, of Manhattan on offenses of disorderly conduct and battery. Police responded to a physical altercation at the school around 12:10 p.m. and arrested Jones at 12:45 p.m.

No other students have been arrested.

Around 12:30 p.m., officials briefly placed the school under “secure campus mode,” meaning no one could enter or leave the building during that time.

Police released Jones to his parents after being processed for the charges.

The incident is unrelated to another ongoing investigation into an apparently false threat at MHS, according to RCPD and Manhattan-Ogden school district officials.

MHS Principal Michael Dorst said Monday morning that school officials had become aware of a report of a threat made on Snapchat, but upon investigation, found that report was false and there had been no threat.

“When we and RCPD looked into the post and the validity of the post, everything about the post was false,” Dorst said.

Dorst declined to give any further information, citing the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act. He said Riley County police and high school and district officials are now investigating the source of the post and who produced it.

Last month, Riley County police officers arrested two Manhattan High students after they had allegedly threatened two other students with a gun in a Snapchat video.

The teenagers were charged with counts of aggravated criminal threat and criminal use of a weapon.