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K-State police arrest Fort Riley man for rape

K-State police arrested a Fort Riley man on rape and other related charges early Sunday morning.

Officers arrested Jason Christian Seifert, 23, on charges of rape, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated battery. He is confined at the Riley County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

K-State police received a report of an “active situation” at 2:55 a.m. Sunday on the west side of campus along the Denison Avenue corridor.

Officers made contact with the victim and took her to Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan.

While officers were still in the area, Seifert returned to the scene and police arrested him. Police determined neither Seifert nor the victim have any affiliation with K-State.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and no further information is available.

Courtesy photo from U.S. Army  

Maj. Harold C. Lopez, an engineer with the 1st Infantry Division Forward, provides a speech during a Hispanic Heritage Month Observance on Tuesday in Poznan, Poland.

Eastside and Westside Markets to close

A longtime local fruit and vegetable market is closing after decades of service in the Manhattan community.

Eastside and Westside markets will close in November, retiring owner Terry Olson, 65, told The Mercury on Monday. She’d given thought to closing the businesses for some time.

But given the desire of the trust of the late Velma L. Kuhn to sell the Eastside Market property and the increasingly difficult logistics of obtaining product as a small retailer, she said the timing finally felt right when she made the decision last week.

“Independent retailers, small retailers like myself, in the produce business over time have found it increasingly challenging to find good produce to ship in to us,” Olson said. “It’s extremely difficult with trucking as well. We get peaches throughout the summer from California, and because of new regulations, it’s just a lot tougher to get those peaches. It’s a nail-biting process.”

Eastside Market’s history dates to the 1940s, when Edith and Bill Bush of St. George operated the produce stand. The McKeeman family then ran the business in the 1970s before Olson, an employee at the market, bought the business in 1976.

The Westside Market ran out of the former Dog ‘n Suds Building from 1979 to 1980 before its current building was built in 1981 at about the same time as the Manhattan Holidome (now Four Points by Sheraton), Olson said.

Since announcing the closure Monday, Olson said she’s been humbled by the community’s response.

“It’s been an overwhelming hug and congratulations,” Olson said. “It’s so humbling to see the affection this community has for our little business. It’s a testament to the dedication of our employees who have cultivated such a bond with our customers.”

In any case, Olson said she’s still set on closing the store.

“It’s the right time to do it, I’m completely convinced,” Olson said. “It’s better to go out on a high note, when I still have my health, than to work at something that’s beyond my capacity. I’m still working like a teenager, and I’m not.”

Her husband, Mike, retired 13 years ago, and Olson said it was about time for her to join him.

“The thing I’m going to miss most is the same things my customers will miss — shopping at my own store, shopping for produce,” Olson said. “I hate letting down my local customers, but I firmly believe that when a void happens, the market fills it.

“Bigger than my shopping, though, I hate disappointing my very dedicated staff,” Olson continued. “They’ve bought into this place as much as me, and they worry about it like I do. These were career people, and I cultivated such a high quality staff.

“As time went by, I felt like since I’d achieved financial success, I kept going because I didn’t want to interrupt the careers of my staff, and I was working for them. I told them last week, and they’ve kept the secret that long. That’s loyalty.”

Olson said that in retirement, she’ll look to spend more time with her children and grandchildren, who all still live within an hour’s drive of Manhattan. She holds the state record in the 1-mile run for women between 60 and 64, and she said she wants to keep that record in the 65-70 age bracket.

“I’m an adventurer, and I have a lot of things left to do,” Olson said. “A few years ago, someone gave me a book called ‘1000 Places to Go Before You Die.’ I’m going to start checking them off of the list.”

The stores’ last day of business is Nov. 23, Olson said, to give customers time to use any unexpired gift cards.

Robinson rape trial ends in hung jury

The trial of a Manhattan man accused of rape and other charges ended in a hung jury Friday.

Dexter Robinson, 27, was charged with rape, two counts of aggravated criminal sodomy, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery and two counts of aggravated burglary.

The jury found him not guilty of aggravated burglary and robbery.

However, the jury could not come to a unanimous decision of a guilty or not guilty verdict on the other charges, leading to a mistrial.

The charges stem from a July 13, 2018, incident in which a woman said a man she didn’t recognize made her enter her friend’s apartment, asked for money and raped her. The woman testified Thursday that she did not resist the man because she feared for her life.

Robinson said during questioning Thursday that he had briefly met the woman before the incident. He did not deny that it was his DNA found on evidence collected around the scene and on the woman. He said that she had sex with him in exchange for Xanax, a sedative prescribed to treat anxiety.

The case will be set for a retrial on the rape, aggravated criminal sodomy and aggravated kidnapping charges.

OUR NEIGHBORS | Community a focal point for Acme Gift store manager

Combining creativity and her adoration for Manhattan makes for a perfect occupation for April Wagnon, 52.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s the best job ever. I get to listen to people laugh all day long. … And I get to make flowers. I get to play with flowers. I’ve got a pretty good gig.”

She’s the store manager at Acme Gift, at 1227 Moro St., which is a speciality gift store selling coasters, apparel, and other trinkets and items.

Because of this, Wagnon is able to tap into her creative outlets daily with making special gifts, like flower bouquets and cards.

Wagnon began her job after her significant other, Brad Benco, had an impromptu interview one day with Diane Meredith, Acme Gift owner.

“For years she’s been saying, ‘Come apply, come apply,’” Wagnon said. “I thought she was just being nice.”

Wagnon has been in her position for the past three years.

She left her hometown of Great Bend to study cultural anthropology at Kansas State University in 1991, but did not graduate.

She got married and had two daughters, and later divorced. But, she loved the community so much that she decided to stay and raise her daughters.

She started making jewelry to save money on gifts during this time.

She specializes in trade beads, which refers to decorative glass beads used as a form of currency between the 16th and 20th centuries, in her Red Yard Originals business.

“Some are just a couple hundred, but they’re what I like,” she said.

In her jewelry making, she uses natural stones and no chemicals. Wagnon said she likes to support cottage industry, which are businesses run by people out of their homes.

Since she started as Acme store manager, Wagnon has collaborated with the public and other businesses in Manhattan.

“We work hard, we play hard,” Wagnon said. “We do it together, and we’ve got a real family. We really do have a real family feel. We really do have each other’s backs, and we care about what happens to not just one store; we have our eye on the big picture, all of us.”

She loves being a local and enjoys experiencing the farmers market, Aggieville, downtown and the USD 383 school system, among other aspects.

“Just the caring. I love that the city is embracing the LGBTQ community,” Wagnon said. “I love that we’re active politically.”

In addition to serving customers, Wagnon does things for her employees. This past weekend, Wagnon made what she called “master tonic,” an immune system-boosting drink.

She said the tonic would help keep her staff healthy.

“Once that’s fermented, I’m going to pass it out at work. It’ll keep my staff healthy and my labor budget healthy,” she said with a laugh.

Laura Rouw, Acme employee, said Wagnon is “unapologetically herself.”

Rouw said she enjoys working with Wagnon, and thinks of her as a mentor.

“I love April. She’s one of my favorite people,” Rouw said.

Rouw said Wagnon would do anything for her employees.

When Wagnon is not making jewelry or working, she enjoys reading and spending time with her two daughters, Grace, 17, and Jillian, 15.

“I chose to spend as much [time] as I can with them,” she said.