Voters will choose between five candidates for four open seats on the Manhattan-Ogden School Board this November.
Joseph Dasenbrock and Brandy Santos filed prior to the noon Monday deadline on Friday and Monday morning, respectively.
Dasenbrock, manager of research and direct marketing at Champion Teamwear, said he believes his “unique perspectives” will be an advantage to him if he is elected, especially when dealing with the bond projects, which include building a new elementary school and expanding Manhattan High School.
“I’ve worn a hard hat, I’ve worn a suit, I’ve gone to trade school and a standard university,” he said. “I have an understanding from the boots and in my education side for managing the bond issue.”
Dasenbrock, who’s lived here since 2012, said he felt it was part of his civic duty to run for an elected position.
“We’ve lived in the community for a long time and it’s treated us, me and my wife, pretty well,” he said.
Santos, a stay-at-home mom, said her family moved to Manhattan in November and she was inspired to run after experiencing difficulties getting her children enrolled.
“We had difficulty getting into the school they were zoned for because of overcrowding,” she said. “When I asked how long that had been going on, I was told a while. I wanted to be proactive, so families can be sure to get into the school they’re zoned for so they don’t have to worry about busing.”
Santos said buildings were her main concern, both for overcrowding and maintenance of the facilities.
“I see a lot of the temporary buildings around,” she said. “I would like to see schools be safe for students to get a good education.”
Curt Herrman, current board president, current board member Darell Edie, and Kristin Brighton, co-founder of New Boston Creative, previously filed.
Herrman has been on the board 12 years, and Edie has been for eight years. Both said as a reason for running again that they wanted to see the bond projects through.
Brighton said one of the reasons she is running is to help figure out the best way to recruit and retain teachers, as well as modernizing secondary courses.
Current board members Leah Fliter and Dave Colburn did not file to run again.
Fliter said last week that it was an honor to serve the school district, but she felt it was time to let someone else run.
“I thought it’s time to give someone else in the community a chance to step up,” she said. “Someone else might be interested and we have a good team in place now.”
Fliter has served since 2011.
When his term is completed, Colburn will be the second longest-serving board member since 1965 when the district was established.
Colburn has served since July 2003, which would place him at 16-and-a-half years at the end of his term.
Barbara Whitee served 17-and-a-half years from 1975 to 1993.
Bob Newsome from 1971 to 1987 and Joleen Hill from 1987 to 2003 each served 16 years.
Colburn could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Thirty years at any institution brings a sense of family, and Chuck Hendricks said he felt proud to be the school’s “grandpa” this past year as Marlatt Elementary’s only male teacher.
Hendricks has been a sixth-grade teacher at the school for most of those years, but his duties were shuffled around and he taught fifth grade this past school year.
“There were some male student interns around, but I’m the grandpa here,” Hendricks said. “I’ve also been here the longest, so people know to come to me for anything they need, like boxes or rubbing alcohol or things like that.”
In addition to teaching fifth grade, Hendricks also taught math this past year at Marlatt. Usually, though, he teaches social studies and science.
“I like social studies and science because I like history and current events,” Hendricks said. “But math is enjoyable too because it’s real definite. It’s either wrong or it’s right, but there’s different ways of getting the right answer though.
“I enjoy reading myself, but I don’t feel like I’d be a very good language arts teacher,” Hendricks continued. “The good thing is we have other teachers who are great at that, and I enjoy watching them teach kids how to read.”
He considers himself very much a community man, having grown up on a farm just outside of Wamego, where he also attended middle and high school.
“I could say I’m a farmboy, but Manhattan is my home area,” Hendricks said.
Teaching runs in Hendricks’ family — his mother was a teacher at Northview Elementary for 34 years, and his wife, Kaye, retired from Amanda Arnold Elementary last year after having taught for 32 years.
His first degree was a bachelor’s in family and child development from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and his bachelor’s in education and master’s in curriculum development from K-State came later.
“I did go to school at K-State, so I do like to claim it as my alma mater,” Hendricks said. “But I can say, ‘Go Big Red’ quietly in the hallways. My dad was never impressed with three degrees anyway. He said, ‘Thermometers have degrees, and you know what doctors do with those.’”
On a typical morning, Hendricks gets to the school at about 7:45 a.m. and grades papers until kids start to arrive at school. He gets his classroom ready, where a mish-mash of posters and objects — some of them from his students — adorn the walls and counters. They’re artifacts Hendricks has picked up from a 30-year teaching career. A box of ant lions is the latest addition from the class’s “lion hunting” trip.
After school, Hendricks has pulled driveway duty for years, guiding 400 kids to safety through the after-school traffic. During the winter sports season, Hendricks also coaches wrestling at Anthony Middle School.
Thirty years of teaching adds up to a lot of students, and Hendricks said it’s hard to go around town without seeing a former student. He’s had several students whose parents he also taught, as well as younger siblings of former students.
One of his former students is even a kindergarten teacher at the school, and Hendricks said he likes to tease her every now and then. And in the spring, he helped chaperone the high school prom, since his daughter is a junior on the prom committee.
“There were a lot of juniors and seniors I know from sports or from Marlatt, and it was fun to see all these people dressed up,” he said. “They asked me, ‘Mr. Hendricks, what are you doing here? I thought you were a fifth-grade teacher.’ Well yes, I am, but I was keeping an eye on them. I would have to ask them their names, since they were all dressed up and I couldn’t tell who they were.”
He regularly receives invitations to weddings, graduations and other events of that nature from former students, and he said that kids remember him because he had built a reputation as a tough teacher over the years.
“I had two rules in my class: listen and obey,” Hendricks said. “It’s not because I’m the all-knowing authority, it’s just because you need to be able to listen and obey and be able to pay attention and hear what the directions are. Some of the kids would tell me that I was always really tough on them, and thank you.”
But alongside the rules, Hendricks said he’s always tried to have fun with his students.
“I do puns, and I sing to the kids,” Hendricks said, singing a short line about tests. “The kids roll their eyes and tell me not to sing, but they remember things like that.”
After one year of teaching fifth grade, Hendricks will be back teaching sixth grade next year.
“It was a challenge for me to go down and teach fifth grade since I was at sixth for so long,” Hendricks said. “It was a challenge to get them to mature, since they were pretty much big fourth-graders. They were very immature at the start, but they’ve done a fantastic job of maturing through the year. Was it due to me? Hopefully a little bit. Hopefully I helped them to love learning.”
Reflecting on his teaching tenure, he said that the best part of his job was working alongside phenomenal teachers, and the most important thing he taught was how to learn.
“I love the fact that I was able to touch lives,” Hendricks said. “There’s so much information out there, I can’t teach the kids everything they need to know. But I can teach them how to learn and how to find the information. I can teach them how to love going out and looking and trying to figure things out.”
A love of learning is something Hendricks himself has embraced every day these past 30 years, he said. Much of the learning he’s done lately is from his coworkers and other role model teachers he’s picked up over years.
“I know I’m not the best teacher out there, but I have so many role models I try to emulate,” he said. “I’m still learning myself. I want kids to understand you can learn things all the time.”
Eight candidates are in the running for three Manhattan City Commission spots in November.
Rich Vargo, Riley County clerk, said an eighth candidate, Maureen Sheahan, had joined the race before the noon deadline Monday.
Sheahan manages a research laboratory in K-State’s Department of Biochemistry and has lived and worked in the Manhattan area for 40 years. She said she had contemplated running for a long time.
“I’ve lived here a long time and benefited from all the great things Manhattan has given me, so I thought I’d try to give back,” Sheahan said.
Sheahan’s campaign includes equity for citizens through the city’s policies, including through the Riley County Police Department, the city’s taxing system and economic development initiatives.
“The way that we handle some things creates inequities in the way people are dealt with or the resources they have access to or the jobs they have access to,” Sheahan said. “Those things cascade through the system, and I would like to do what I can to level the playing field for people. I would just like to see Manhattan forward, providing as many good opportunities for as many individuals as possible, and not put undue burdens on any class of citizens.”
This is Sheahan’s first time running for public office.
Sheahan joins Aaron Estabrook, Kaleb James, commissioner Linda Morse, Mark Hatesohl, Vincent Tracey, Sarah Siders and Mary Renee Shirk in the race. The other incumbents, Mayor Mike Dodson and commissioner Jerred McKee, said they would not seek re-election.
Estabrook is a business and community liaison at Flint Hills Job Corps. He is a former USD 383 School Board member, serving from 2013 to 2018.
James is a senior business analyst for Maximus. He previously ran for the commission in 2015 and 2017.
Morse is a retired registrar from K-State’s distance education program, and she is a current commissioner. She was elected to a four-year term in 2015.
Hatesohl is a chiropractor and former commissioner and mayor. He was originally voted into office in 2003 and 2005 and lost a 2009 re-election campaign.
Tracey is an information technology specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a U.S. Army retiree. He previously ran for commission in 2009.
Siders owns a private therapy practice at Andrews and Associates Counseling. This is her first time running for public office.
Shirk is a comedian and performer in the community. This is her first time running for public office.
The top two vote-getters in the race will be elected to four-year terms, while the third-place candidate receives a two-year term.
There won’t be a primary.
After officials lifted an evacuation advisory on the Northview community Sunday, some residents started moving back, and others who stayed behind began their normal routines.
But with Tuttle Creek Lake still just one strong rainstorm from potentially overtopping, residents in the area know they’re in for a stressful summer.
The lake continues to decrease, with an elevation of 1,133.95 feet above sea level Tuesday morning. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is keeping releases at 30,000 cubic feet per second through the outlet tubes, and Brian McNulty, project operations manager for the Corps at Tuttle, said the lake is projected to reach 1,128 feet by mid- to late-next week, depending on rainfall.
After a week of emergency preparations when the lake came within inches of 1,136 feet — the point at which officials would consider using the dam’s emergency spillway gates and putting the area at risk for flooding — residents in the area said the decreasing lake level was a relief, but they are still on edge.
Heath Welch lives right on the edge of the flood zone. He’s a member of the Greater Northview Action Team, and the neighborhood has been frantic, he said. Throughout the past week, he said he’s worked his regular 8-5 job only to go home and continue on flood-related work until bedtime.
“For the people in the more affected areas, it’s been exhausting,” Welch said. “I’ve been trying to help all of my neighbors to move stuff to higher ground or on blocks if they don’t have anywhere else to put it.”
With the evacuation advisory lifted, things have calmed down a bit, and Welch said the past week was a good run-through in case the area is actually evacuated later this summer.
“When the lake was so high and the inflow was higher than the outflow, there were so many people panicking,” Welch said. “But there was so much camaraderie in the neighborhood. Everyone was waving at each other and learning each others’ names. It kind of reminded me of what it was like after 9/11. We’re all in the same boat and working together as a team.”
That sense of community will be critical moving through the summer, Welch said.
“Now we just have this hanging over our head all summer, that we never know when a good rain is going to hit Nebraska and end up flowing into our lake and putting us in a bad situation quick again,” Welch said. “That could easily happen in one night’s rain, if Nebraska got a serious amount.”
City commissioner Linda Morse was also on alert this past week, as she lives in one of the affected neighborhoods.
“It’s been stressful, to certain degrees,” Morse said. “For me, it was unsettling. I live in the same house as I did in 1993, and my house did not flood then. So I was a little bit more relaxed this time and I decided not to move everything out of the house with the expectation that it would not be a very higher flood than in 1993.”
Even though she did not expect her house to flood, she packed some of her bags to be ready to go with as few as two-hours notice. Morse said she expects her neighbors’ lives to be “on hold” for the rest of the summer.
From an elected official’s standpoint, Morse said the flood zone has to be an issue for the entire community. With fewer years between floods in the city’s recorded history, the city should look into additional policies to protect the existing flood zone area and deter further development.
“What physically can we do?” Morse said. “That takes a community decision. Not just one commissioner. It’s an issue that transcends a lot of commissions over a lot of years. … Everyone in this community has an interest in the local economy and the individuals who are caught up in this. Even those people who live on a hill should be concerned about this issue for the community as a whole.”
Morse pointed out that while flooding remains a concern for the rest of the summer, every day that goes by is a relief for some residents waiting for flood insurance to kick in.
“The neighbor next to me was waiting, holding their breath, for June 1, when their flood insurance would go into effect that day,” Morse said. “They met the deadline. I think there are other people in that 30-day period who are holding their breath, so if nothing else, this long period of the water dropping is helping more people.”
On Monday afternoon, neighborhood residents Genita and Richard Silva enlisted the help of their grandchildren to unload some of their possessions back into their home on Harvey Street. When the evacuation advisory went out last week, they moved across town into their grandson’s house.
Genita said she was glad to be back, especially since her husband has Alzheimer’s and was starting to become anxious away from his home.
“It’s been hard,” Genita said, “but we’re back. And that’s what matters.”
As the family put things back in the house, they walked through the garage, where the couple had brought up all of their basement possessions. Like other families, Genita said she would keep things above ground through the summer, at least while the lake is still high. In any case, she said a silver lining is that the flooding potential has helped her declutter some of the stuff in her home.
“This has been a mess, but we’ll get it back together eventually,” Genita said.
Longtime car dealer Dick Edwards, 83, died Sunday.
Edwards started selling cars and trucks on May 13, 1963, the same day his daughter, Tanice, was born, according to a bio on the Dick Edwards Auto Plaza website.
“What a better way to inform your wife you quit your job and started a new career as a car salesman than as she lay there with her new baby,” the bio says.
Dick and his wife, Janice, moved to Manhattan with their three daughters in 1981 to open up Dick Edwards Ford after relocating from Augusta, Kansas.
Edwards opened his Junction City location on Grant Avenue in 1988. He later relocated into a new facility on the corner of I-70 and U.S. 77 in Junction City in 2013.
Edwards sold his Manhattan dealership in 2016 to Orr Auto Group, a Texas-based company, which is now named Flint Hills Auto.
Krystal Baldwin, who has worked as a sales consultant at the dealership for nearly a year but has known the family for years, said Edwards had a knack for selling cars and could even sell a new car within hours.
“I admired that man and his talent,” Baldwin said. “He had a long journey of life, and he built an empire of success with his family.”
Even in his later years, Baldwin said, Edwards still came around the dealership and met people.
“He truly enjoyed visiting with customers,” she said.
A Celebration of Life Service will be at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the St. Thomas More Catholic Church 2900 Kimball Ave.
Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home is handling arrangements. The full obituary will run later in The Mercury.