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Tough motherWith Stroller Strong Moms, Hannah Cerson hopes to build mothers up
With Stroller Strong Moms, Hannah Conser hopes to build mothers up

Raising three kids is hard enough, so raising them with a deployed husband is even that more challenging.

But Hannah Conser, 26, has never been one to back off from challenges, so she started a local chapter of Stroller Strong Moms, a national program that brings mothers together to work out, socialize and support each other.

“It’s really nice because we have moms come who are athletes, but we also have moms who have maybe never worked out in their lives,” Conser said. “We get them exposure to these hard things, and we help them realize that just because they’re mothers now doesn’t mean what’s important has to stop. We don’t have to sacrifice our fitness journeys or give up our happiness when we become moms. We can still train, we can still race, and we can also be great moms at the same time.”

As part of the program, Conser leads the mothers through various exercises all around City Park each morning, jogging in a caravan of strollers. Throughout the workouts, Conser gets the mothers’ attention with a “Hey, mamas!” and encourages them to work through the dripping July heat, interspersing minutes of workout with minutes of breaks so that the mothers can check on their children in strollers.

Ingrid Tripple, a military mother who just arrived to Fort Riley earlier this month but has known Conser since they met in Alaska a few years ago, said Conser has been an exemplary friend and workout instructor.

“Hannah always does an amazing job of pushing all of us to our limits,” Tripple said. “She has so much knowledge about fitness and health.”

Conser, a lifelong athlete, first joined the program when her husband was stationed in Alaska.

“When I became a mom, I lost my groove, I didn’t like running by myself, and I just wasn’t motivated,” Conser said. “This group really challenged me, and I even participated in Run Across Georgia (a 260-mile relay race across the state) with my husband. I know I never would have trained for that without this group.”

When they relocated to Fort Benning in Georgia, she was asked to become an instructor, and when her family moved to Fort Riley in April, she knew she had to start a chapter here.

“I got involved with Stroller Strong Moms when my oldest son was just a few months old, so he’s known nothing different,” Conser said. “When we moved here and I brought them to this park, I was thinking about opening Stroller Strong Moms here, and my son asked me, ‘Is this where Stroller Strong Moms is going to be?’ That’s when I knew.”

Across the nation, Stroller Strong Moms has become a household name in military households, Conser said.

“We’ve had a lot of moms from the Army community, but there are also a lot of moms who have lived here in Manhattan their whole life,” Conser said. “One mom told me that Manhattan has needed this their whole life, and they’re so glad it’s finally here. It’s affirming for me to know that this is where I’m supposed to be and this is what I’m supposed to be doing, serving the Manhattan community.”

She hopes to work with the Stroller Strong Moms group at Fort Leavenworth, she said, and get groups of mothers to train to compete in local races. Beyond the workouts and training, the group will also host special activities for the mothers and their kids to socialize.

“This group not only has a strong impact on me, but on other moms and on their kids,” Conser said. “Kids are great imitators, so we might as well give them something great to imitate. My kids ask to play Strong Moms at home, and they love it. They start doing burpees and doing races on their own.”

Conser said she encourages all mothers, regardless of previous athletic experience, to try the group out.

“Motherhood can be very lonely, so I encourage moms to come and give us a try because more than anything, we support each other through our workout goals, our motherhood goals and our life goals,” Conser said.

“As human beings, we were created for community, and we aren’t meant to walk through life alone. This is an important community for mothers to be supported for who they are as mothers and realize that being a mother doesn’t have to stop you from accomplishing your goals.”


Area
Former Marshall County clerk charged with misusing public funds

The Kansas Attorney General’s office last week charged the former Marshall County clerk for misusing public funds.

The office filed the charge against Sonya Stohs, 44, of Marysville in Marshall County District Court on July 16.

The complaint alleges that from May 2013 to April 2019, Stohs used funds belonging to the county to pay for various personal items amounting to more than $100,000.

Stohs surrendered to law enforcement officials Wednesday at the Marshall County Jail, entering her first appearance in court that afternoon.

Stohs resigned from her position as county clerk June 18.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service investigated the case.


Area
Junction City woman ordered to repay $3,800 for Medicaid fraud

A Pottawatomie County District Court judge ordered a Junction City woman to repay more than $3,800 to the Kansas Medicaid Program in connection with her fraud conviction.

Judge Jeff Elder sentenced Elizabeth Joyce, 22, on Thursday, ordering her to repay about $3,870 and serve 12 months of probation with an underlying six-month prison sentence. Joyce pleaded guilty in May to making a false claim to the Medicaid program and theft.

An investigation by the Kansas Attorney General’s Medicaid and Abuse Division revealed Joyce claimed she was providing personal care attendant home-based services to her mother, Terry Sherrick, when she was clocked in and working for other employers.

The crimes occurred between October 2015 and July 2016.


News
K-State hosts international Fulbright students for crash course in American life

Over the next month, 39 of some of the world’s most promising graduate students will call Manhattan home with one goal in mind: to learn what it’s like to live in the United States.

The crash course in America is part of the Fulbright English for Graduate Studies program. K-State is one of a handful of universities across the nation selected by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Cultural Affairs to facilitate the program, where international Fulbright students learn about U.S. culture, norms, laws, and the education system before heading to their universities of study.

The students typically come with a high level of English proficiency already, but they’ll also brush up on their English skills over the next three weeks.

“It helps K-State fulfill its mission to support global education by supporting Fulbrighters who come here and Fulbrighters who go abroad,” said Mary Wood, director of K-State’s English Language Program. “For the university itself, Fulbright itself is a very prestigious program, and to be selected by them to host students is a very high honor. These students are incredibly bright and motivated. They’re stars in their countries, and they’ll be even bigger stars when they return.”

Most of the students arrived in Manhattan Saturday, Wood said, and on Sunday night, the English Language Program hosted a potluck for the students. While the students will stay in K-State housing and eat most of their meals at the university, the students also met host families who they will visit Sunday evenings for dinners at their houses.

Agnes Chikan, ELP short program coordinator, said she hopes the students get a good taste not only of American cuisine, but in the variety that exists in American family life. She said the program would not be possible without the support of generous families.

“It just goes to show the good heart of the citizens here,” Chikan said.

Edwin Morales, a Fulbright scholar from Guatemala who will go to Texas A&M’s economics department this fall, said he’s been impressed with the hospitality he’s seen in just the few short days he’s been here. While he’s visited the U.S. in the past, he hadn’t been to Kansas yet.

“(The Fulbright program) seemed like a great opportunity to learn about culture, and it seemed like a great personal challenge for myself,” Morales said.

“I want to learn as much as I can to learn about not only American culture but other cultures as well. And better my English, of course.”

While they’re here, the group will visit museums, watch movies, go to Arts in the Park, visit a bison ranch and the Konza Prairie.

Wood said she hopes the group forms bonds they’ll maintain even when they go off to their respective universities.

“This gives them a chance to get their feet on the ground, so that once they get to their universities, they know they can rely on the networks they’ve built here,” Wood said.


News
County commissioners discuss balance sheet, investments

Riley County Treasurer Shilo Heger reported during the commission meeting on Monday that county revenue and investments were on track through the month of June.

As of the end of June, the county brought in 8.56% more than expected in sales tax, Heger reported, but nothing else in the balance sheet stands out specifically.

“Everything is still flat comparing to last year to this year,” Heger said.

The county had 10.13% more in sales tax receipts than budgeted at this time last year.

Big Lakes Development Center President Lori Feldkamp provided an update about the center to the commissioners as well. The center’s senior staff is preparing the 2020 strategic plan, Feldkamp said.

Riley County EMS and Ambulance Director David Adams reported in his update to commissioners that the department received 407 calls for service during June.

Additionally, he said an active violence training involving various departments earlier this month at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School was a success.

“It was a fantastic training,” Adams said. “We’re really happy with how it went.”

In preparation for the upcoming school year, the department is also hosting a school supply drive for students in need. Collection sites will be at Target in Manhattan as well as the Dollar Generals in Ogden and Riley, Adams said.

County Extension Director Gary Fike and Kansas State University Research and Extension Agent Greg McClure provided updates about the 2019 Riley County Fair to the commissioners during the meeting. The fair ends July 29.

Public Works Director and county engineer Leon Hobson updated the commission about projects the department has been working on the last couple of weeks, including construction of pens and cleaning at the fairgrounds.

Riley County Counselor Clancy Holeman updated the commission on pending county projects during his report as well.

At the end of the meeting, the commissioners entered into executive session for a few minutes for the purpose of consultation with Holeman to discuss potential litigation, but they took no action or votes following the session, commissioner John Ford said.