American Legion Riders led the crowd in saluting the Flag to start the 4th of July Parade in downtown Hardtner.

The Pistol Packin\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' Mamas raised over $15,000 in the \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"Relay for Life\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\" held in Medicine Lodge to help in cancer research.

UP IN SMOKE- Kiowa firefighters put out a hay bale on fire Sunday morning near D&W Automotive at 7th and Hardtner Streets. There was lots and lots of smoke but little damage.

Monty Thompson Foundation Golf Outing was a Big Success!


Kiowa Preparing to Hold 77th Annual Labor Day Celebration


Fun, food, games and lots, lots more are in store as the Kiowa Chamber of Commerce finalizes plans for its 77th annual Labor Day Celebration. There are activities all weekend long, including several Kiowa and South Barber high school class reunions.

Car Show Sunday

The annual Kiowa Car Show will be held all day Sunday, Sept. 4, at Progress Park. Gates open at 8:00 a.m. and registration to show your car or truck is $15.00. There is no admission for the public.

There will be door prizes, food, and great music all day long.

The popular Burn Out Competition will be held that afternoon at the intersection of 8th and Miller Streets, just a block south of downtown. For more information on the Car Show contact Clint Stewart (620-213-1834) or April Stewart (620-825-6252).

There is also a volleyball tournament and other events scheduled for the weekend.

Monday Starts With 5K

The hugely popular Labor Day 5K Run and Fun Run, sponsored by the First State Bank, kicks off Monday’s activities beginning at 8:00 a.m. in front of the Community Building. The one-mile Fun Run will be held first followed by the 5K Run, which seems to get bigger and bigger. Last year there were 352 runners.

Awards will be presented immediately following the race in the Community Building.

Activities at the Park

A busy day at Progess Park begins at 8:00 a.m. with coffee and homemade rolls offered by the Kiowa Historical Society. The society will also have its popular Attic Treasures booth open with all kinds of items for sale. Proceeds go to help projects throughout the year.

The games at the park get underway at 11:00 a.m. with Cakewalk and Bingo sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. All you good cooks out there are encouraged to bring a cake to donated to the Cakewalk event. Just bring them to the park Labor Day.

The games will take a break at 12 Noon as the Free Ham & Bean Feed will feed the hungry crowd. The “beaners” will be cooking all day, so be sure and tell them thanks for their hard work.

At 2:00 p.m., the Chamber of Commerce Kid’s Games get underway, and the popular “Family Feud” event is back for another performance on the park stage.

Watch next week’s newspaper for a complete list of Labor Day Weekend activities.


MEDICINE LODGE, KANSAS James Dakota Griffin, 23, of Hardtner, Kansas appeared in Barber County District Court on August 10, 2016. Griffin was found guilty of three (3) illegal narcotics violations, including Distribution or Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, Distribution or Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, and Unlawful Possession of Certain Drug Precursors and Drug Paraphernalia.

District Judge Frank Meisenheimer sentenced Griffin to serve seventy-four (74) months in prison for his crimes. Griffin was not granted probation. After Griffin completes his prison sentence, he will be on Post-Release Supervision for thirty-six (36) months and will be required to register with the Sheriff’s Office as a Registered Offender for fifteen (15) years.

This case represents the largest seizure of illegal narcotics on record in Barber County, Kansas. Sheriff Justin Rugg commented, “The deputies and I are very proud of the fact that these large amounts of marijuana and meth did not make it on to the streets of Barber County.” The investigation was conducted by the Barber County Sheriff’s Office with assistance provided by the Alva Police Department. The criminal case was prosecuted by Barber County Attorney Gaten Wood.

Helmley Honored by National Weather Service for 20 Years as Local Observer

Mike Helmley


Mike Helmley, pictured above at left, cooperative weather observer for Kiowa KS, was presented with a 20 year length of service award on Wednesday, August 3rd, by Jesse Lee, Observing Program Leader for the National Weather Service in Dodge City. Jeff Hutton, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, was also in attendance.

The Kiowa station was started in November of 1891. There was a long break from 1895 until 1938 when there were no observations. The station was started up again in 1938 by Adolph Meixner.

Mr. Helmley took over the station from the City of Kiowa in 1996 and has been recording temperature, precipitation and snowfall data since that time.

The National Weather Service’s Cooperative Weather Observer Program has given scientists and researchers continuous observational data since the program’s inception more than a century ago. Today, around 10,000 volunteer observers participate in the nationwide program to provide daily reports on temperature, precipitation and other weather factors such as snow depth, river levels and soil temperature.

Satellites, high-speed computers, mathematical models and other technological breakthroughs have brought great benefits to the nation in terms of better forecasts and warnings. But without the century-long accumulation of accurate weather observations taken by dedicated volunteer observers, scientists could not begin to adequately describe the climate of the United States.

Students, Teachers Back to School Next Week; Business Teacher Hired


With the start of school just around the corner (August 25th), the U.S.D. 255 Board of Education met on Monday, August 8, to make final preparations, including hiring teachers and approving the 2017 budget for publication. Board members present were Deb Helfrich, Mariah Doherty, Mike Myers, Melissa Simpson and Mark Pollock, along with board president Steve Allen. Also present were grade principal Eric Stoddard, 7-12 principal Brent Shaffer and superintendent Dr. Andi Williams.

Boys Ranch Report

After approval of the agenda, previous minutes and bills for payment, the board heard from Michael Simpson, president of Freedom Gates Boys Ranch in Hazelton. Mr. Simpson informed the board that the boys ranch is becoming a “licensed” facility and hopes to be operating under the new regulations by October 1.

During the past few years, Freedom Gates Boys Ranch has been operating as a foster child operation, which meant that they really had no control over how long the boys at the ranch stayed. Moving from foster children to private placement will mean that boys coming to the ranch will spend a minimum of 18 months at the facility, giving them at least a couple of years in the local school system.

Mr. Simpson gave much praise to the local school system, especially 7-12 principal Brent Shaffer, for how well they have accepted the boys, with the goal of getting a high school diploma and moving on to college or trade school. He said as Freedom Gates moves into its new licensing phase, it should eventually result in more students attending South Barber schools.

Pl Group Final Master Plan

Dana Dunn with P1 Group gave the board a quick overview of the “final master plan” for renovations at the high school, noting the suggestion that the board look at the proposal over a five-year period.

Mr. Dunn said most of the improvements in the plan could come under the term of “deferred maintenance” including such items as new heating and air conditioning, lighting, carpet, new freezer for the high school kitchen, etc. He added that new plumbing fixtures were a “must” as they had long outlived their usefulness.

He also said that storm shelters recommended for both the high school and grade school building did not have be FEMA certified, which would reduce the costs. He also suggested that plans for a covered walkway between the high school and junior high buildings be turned into a storm shelter instead, allowing it to serve both needs.

Another items of urgent importance was the rotting gas line on the high school roof. In working on the project, however, Mr. Dunn said it was discovered that the gas meter to the high school was located 1,024 feet south of the high school building, with the district currently responsible for maintenance of the pipe from the meter to the building.

Mr. Dunn said in negotiations with Kansas Gas Service, the first figure for moving the meter up to the high school building was “in six figures”, but said they eventually came down to a cost of $8,000 for the project. Moving the meter must be done before the urgent work needed on the gas pipes on the high school roof, he said.

In comparison, Mr. Dunn pointed out that the 3 or 4 million dollars over five years does not compare to the estimated price of a new high school building, which would run around $19.6 million, he said. Financing was briefly discussed, with Mr. Dunn saying that the district looked to be a prime candidate for an “Energy Performance Contract” which would allow the district to pay off the costs with the savings from reduced utility costs following the improvements. Presently, the district is just a couple of years away from paying off the bonds for the remodeling done at the elementary school using a portion of its Capital Improvement funds each year.

Budget Notes

Dr. Andi Williams gave an update on the 2017 budget draft, which was published in last week’s Kiowa News. The budget increase is needed to keep district funds stable due to a loss in valuation from $62.7 million last year down to 39.5 million this year due to the large drop in oil and gas valuation.

Dr. Williams noted that the district has been granted $219,000 from the state in “extraordinary needs funds”, but the money slated to be used for this need has been “swept” by Governor Brownback into the general fund to help with the state’s severe budget shortfall. She said it will be included in the budget so it can be used if the funds are eventually released.

Seventeen teachers attended the Camp EdGE update, and the public is invited to “like” the school district on Facebook “South Barber USD 255”.

New teacher in-service is Friday, August 19, district in-service is Monday, Aug. 22 and building in-service is Wednesday, August 24. First day of school for students is Thursday, August 25.

In other action, the board:

  • Approved the cost of second helpings at $1.00 for the elementary school and $1.25 for the 7-12 building.
  • Appointed Deb Helfrich as Governmental Relations Network Alternate.
  • Approved Ben E. Keith as milk supplier and primary food service vendor for the school district for the 2016-2017 school year. Dr. Williams said they will provide milk six cents per carton cheaper then the current vendor, and she said the district hopes to save as much as $18,000 or more on food services.
  • Approved Pam Malone as high school business teacher, replacing Jeff Lantz. She comes to South Barber from Moundridge and has four years experience as business teacher.
  • Accepted the resignation of Karen Lambert as high school cook.
  • Voted to approved Kaley Stoner as kitchen cook.
  • Approved Jerydth Twymann as Online Program Facilitator, replacing Veda Holt.
  • Approved the resignation of Roy Henson as assistant high school football coach.
  • Accepted a $25,000 donation from the Verda Diel estate to be used for scholarships as instructed in her will.
  • Approved selling excess computer towers and monitors at a cost of $100 each. Teachers will be allowed first chance as a purchase with any extra being offered to the public.•
  • Was reminded by Principal Stoddard that the Elementary School will have an Open House on Wednesday, August 24, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. He said students can bring their supplies to school and meet their teachers.

Kansas Corporation Commission expands area subject to saltwater injection limits

Topeka – Today the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) approved an order that puts additional limits on the amount of saltwater that oil producers may inject into the Arbuckle formation in south central Kansas.

In March 2015, the Commission’s original order limited injection in five areas of concern in parts of Harper and Sumner counties.  The reduced volume coincided with a reduction of 2.5 magnitude or larger earthquakes; however, data has shown an increase in smaller earthquakes outside of those areas.

As a result, today’s order puts a 16,000 barrel per day injection limit on the 2016 Specified Area which includes Harper and Sumner counties as well as parts of Kingman, Sedgewick and Barber counties . The 8,000 barrels per day limit on the 2015 Specified Area targeted in the original order remains in effect.  KCC staff will monitor the seismic activity in the area and report back to the Commission in the spring of 2017.KCC Commissioner Shari Feist Albrecht dissented in the order. The order, dissenting opinion, and maps of the relevant areas can be viewed at:

Barber County Primary Election Results



Lonnie Small 731

Justin Rugg 328

James C. Stevenson 181

Christina Ricke 57


Bill Smith 256

Charles E. Achenbach 114


Garrett Lohmann 204

Gilbert Colborn 117


Darlene Joseph 245

Karen McClellan 141

Tom Fortune 182


Gary L. Balding 24

Ralph Dick 19


Paul Harbaugh 442


Gaten T. Wood 1044


Debbie Wesley 1142


Betty Jo Swayden 1154


Sheri J. Weeks 1178

August 2 Election Will Focus on Sheriff’s Race


Barber County voters go to the polls next Tuesday, August 2, for the Kansas Primary Election, which will select candidates for the General Election ballot in November.

And while most primary races in the county are uncontested, the race for Sheriff and County Commissioner from District 3 do have candidates for voters to choose from.

Sheriff candidates are Christina Ricke, James Stevenson, Lonnie Small and incumbent Justin Rugg. All four visited with the public in Kiowa at a forum held Tuesday, July 19, at the Community Building. A good crowd of interested citizens attended the forum, which was sponsored by the Kiowa Chamber of Commerce.

Candidates for Sheriff were the only candidates on the speaking schedule, but the crowd did get to hear from County Commissioner Bill Smith of Hardtner, who gave the crowd an overview of the many issues facing the county, including continued low valuations in the oil and gas industry, which has traditionally made up a big part of Barber County’s tax revenues.

He did praise, however, the completion of the new Courthouse Annex complex located just east of the present courthouse. He said it proved it worth right after opening when it served as command headquarters for the county, state and many, many other fire crews that fought the Anderson Creek Wildfire in March of this year.

Commissioner Smith got a few chuckles when he said he would keep his talk non-political and even introduced Charles Achenbach, who was sitting in the crowd and who is also running for the District 3 commissioner’s job.

The Sheriff candidates then took the podium.

Christina Ricke grew up on a farm near Sharon and presently lives in Medicine Lodge with her son, Grant, and works for the City of Medicine Lodge.

She feels her experience in working with city codes and regulations, time management, and especially her experience working with every day citizens makes her a good candidate for an office dedicated to serving the public.

Although she doesn’t have a law enforcement background, Ms. Ricke said she is confident that she will have no problem learning and implementing regulations pertaining to law enforcement and wants “to make certain that everybody in Barber County is treated equally and honestly under the law.”

James Stevenson, who resides on a farmstead near Hazelton with his wife, Joann. A native of Derby, KS, Mr. Stevenson first worked and retired from the Wichita Police Department, then went to work for the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, retiring as a senior crime scene investigator.

Mr. Stevenson said the biggest problem with the current Sheriff’s Office is that they haven’t been trained to investigate crime scenes properly, and he feels his extensive experience in that area would be a big asset to the job.

Justin Rugg, the current Sheriff, is a lifelong resident of the Hazelton area and resides there with his wife, Dooli, who worked at Kiowa District Hospital, and their two children, Emily and Logan.

Sheriff Rugg is finishing his first term in the office and has spent all of his 12 years of law enforcement with the Sheriff’s Department.

Mr. Rugg noted that during his past four years in office, arrests have gone up from 398 to 488 and traffic stops are up from 1,452 to 3,299, which, he said, means they are “getting more bad guys off the streets”.

He has initiated other improvements in the department, such as body cameras for deputies. He said his department is always ready to serve the public honestly and fairly and said he can stand on his record as Sheriff the past four years.

Lonnie Small is a Medicine Lodge resident and was formerly Undersheriff for Barber County. He presently works for Barber County Public Works. His wife, Colleen, has worked 18 years for the Kansas Dept. of Transportation.

They have two grown children- Brittany, husband Jordan and son Parker of Dodge City, and son Josh and wife Chelsea and their children Caeden and Madisyn of Medicine Lodge.

Mr. Small, who also worked several years for the Medicine Lodge Police Dept., said he wants to bring back “honesty, integrity and a common sense approach” to the Sheriff’s Office. He said he feels the rural areas of the county have been underserved and vows to increase patrols in those areas if elected. He also said he will work with county commissioners to be a good steward of tax dollars and will always be open to the public he hopes to serve as Sheriff.

ALSO ON the August 2 ballot are two county commission races. In District 3, which covers much of the west part of Barber County including Hardtner, incumbent Bill Smith is facing a challenge from Charles Achenbach. Both candidates are from Hardtner.

In District 2, Paul Harbaugh of Kiowa is running unopposed.

Incumbents for County Clerk, County Treasurer, Register of Deeds and County Attorney are all running unopposed.

Elections will also be held for state and federal representatives and senators and township offices.

Voters in the Kiowa-Hardtner-Hazelton area will cast ballots from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Kiowa Community Building. Residents in the Medicine Lodge area will vote at the new Courthouse Annex.

Election results will be posted Tuesday night on our website “” as soon as received from the County Election Office.

Verda Diel Leaves Lasting Legacy with Scholarships

Dr. Andi Williams, left, accepts $25,000 check from Carl Helfrich, executor of Verda Diel estate.

Dr. Andi Williams, left, accepts $25,000 check from Carl Helfrich, executor of Verda Diel estate.

Verda Diel had a love for education. That makes it no surprise, then, that she left in her will a little gift for the students at South Barber High School. Last week, local CPA Carl Helfrich, who is executor of Verda’s estate, presented a check for $25,000 to U.S.D. 255 Superintendent Dr. Andi Williams to be used for scholarships for graduating seniors. According to Verda’s instructions, the bequest is to be distributed by the Superintendent to students who demonstrate financial need. The funds are to be used at the rate of $5,000 per year until the entire $25,000, plus interest, has been distributed to students. Dr. Williams extended her thanks for the generous gift that will help many students in the future with their desire for a college education.


BOE Reorganizes for New School Year


It was time to reorganize for the new year at the U.S.D. 255 Board of Education meeting on Monday, July 11. The meeting was held at 6:00 p.m. in the District Office.

Board members present were Dooli Rugg, Deb Helfrich, Melissa Simpson, Mike Miller and Mariah Doherty, along with board president Steve Allen. Also present were Superintendent Dr. Andi Williams, 7-12 Principal Brent Shaffer and PreK-6 principal Eric Stoddard.

First action of the meeting was organizing for the 2016-2017 school year. Steve Allen was re-elected as President and Mark Pollock as vice-president. Julie Johnson was then appointed and approved as Board Clerk, Luke MacKinney as Deputy Clerk and Walter Fry as Board Treasurer.

Moving into the regular meeting, the board approved the agenda and previous minutes and approved current bills totaling $258,032.48.

Principal Shaffer gave a short report for the high school and junior high and noted that Drivers Education is completed with 14 students participating. He said that the schedule will be finalized when all positions are filled, and enrollment is coming up soon.

If a foreign language instructor is not found, students may have to take language classes online, he reported.

FFA officers attended leadership camp, basketball camp was held July 11-13, and summer weights continue through the end of the month.

Board member Melissa Simpson reported on a summer food program that is being used in Medicine Lodge. It is funded through the government for any child up to age 18, and the board agreed to look into the program.

Policy Updates

The board next approved Kansas Assn. of School Board policy updates covering several items including: Requisitions; Security and Safety; Memorials, Funerals, and Naming of District Facilities; Emergency Safety Interventions; Staff-Student Relations; Use of Tobacco Products and Nicotine Deliver Devices; Family and Medical Leave Act Plan; Additional Duty; Student Privacy Policy; Truancy; Tobacco and Nicotine Delivery Devices for Students; Weapons (airguns); Reporting to Law Enforcement; Health Screenings; Concealed Observations.

The board next voted to:

  • Approved monthly meeting date as the second Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the District Office at 512 Main Street. In the event of a Monday holiday, the meeting will be held the next day, Tuesday, at same time and place.
  • Approved the 1,116 hour school year, which is currently used.
  • Approved the Peoples Bank and First State Bank as official depositories for district funds. Checking accounts are at the First State Bank and interest accounts at the Peoples Bank. Andi Williams, Julie Johnson and Luke MacKinney will have approved signatures for the Petty Cash and Centennial Account funds while authorized signatures for the District funds accounts are the board treasurer, board president and board clerk.
  • Approved petty cash limits of $800 for the Central Office, $500 for PreK-6, and $1,500 for 7-12 building. Principal Shaffer was approved to administer the high school activity fund and Eric Stoddard the elementary activity fund.
  • Approved textbook and workbook rental fees. PreK through 6th Grade workbooks are $25 and 1st through 6th textbooks are $25. Both workbooks and textbooks for Grades 7-12 are $30 each.
  • Approved student fees. Student Activity Tickets are $30 and Adult Activity Tickets are $40. Family (immediate) Activity Tickets are $100.
  • Approved meal prices. Breakfast costs will be $1.90 for Elementary, $2.10 for Grades 7-12 and $3.20 for Adults. Lunch prices will be $2.60 for Elementary, $2,85 for Grades 7-12 and $3.70 for Adults. All prices reflect a 10-cent increase over last year.
  • Approved the board clerk to pay bills early when necessary.
  • Approved the mileage reimbursement rate of 54-cents per mile.
  • Approved district personnel to destroy old records as per state statutes.
  • Approved all board action which established policy during the previous year and approved the KASB Board Policy book as policy.
  • Approved Steve Allen as SCK-SEC representative.
  • Approved Deb Helfrich as Governmental Relations Network representative.
  • Appointed: Superintendent as federal programs representative and compliance officer; Principals as truancy officers for their respective buildings; Julie Johnson as Food Service representative; Superintendent as free and reduced meal appeals hearing officer; Julie Johnson as KPERS representative; Kansas Assn. of School Boards as school attorney; Superintendent as coordinator for homeless students; The Kiowa News as official district newspaper; Busby, Smith & Ford as district auditor; Superintendent as communications manager, purchasing agent and custodian of records.

Items for board review included the Notice of Non-Discrimination, which will be published, competitive bidding guidelines, 2016-2017 calendar, procedures for requesting public records, Capital Outlay resolution (present resolution is still in effect), immunization guidelines, record retention guidelines, home rule resolution (giving board the authority to interpret policy) and review of scheduled insurances.

In final action, the board held a couple of short executive sessions and were asked to take into consideration changing school board members to At-Large positions instead of the present district election system.

Board members will hold a Strategic Planning Workshop on July 20 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the District Office.

Update to City Council Story

Updating information for the Kiowa City Council story in the July 13 issue of The Kiowa News:

Council voted unanimously to approved the “burn out” competition to be held at the corner of 7th and Miller Street as part of the Labor Day festivities.

Council felt a mill levy increase of nearly 8 mills was too much and instructed City Administrator Lou Leone to rework the figures to keep the mill levy increase as small as reasonably possible. Council will hold a special meeting on July 25 at 8:00 p.m. to again review the budget and finalize it for publication.

Council was also informed that the recent electric issues apparently burned out a bulb in the projector at the Chief Theater. Technicians were scheduled to be in Kiowa on Wednesday to replace the bulb, which costs $1,000, and do other service work if needed. If the work and bulb replacement is not covered by city insurance, it will be paid for by taxpayers. The city owns the building and equipment of the local theatre and pays to keep it all functioning, including some fees associated with running the theater business. The actual business of “The Chief Theater” , however, is owned by a local businessman, who is not charged a fee by the city for using the building and equipment. The city does not have any written agreement with the businessman to cover use of the equipment and building, who is responsible for insurance coverage, etc.