The metal sculptures of M.T Liggett at Mullenville have long been a favorite attraction on the way to Dodge City.

Many folks don\'t take the time to stop and really look at them, so here are a few pictures.

His artwork has long been recognized as some of most unique folk art in the nation and is now under the protection of a trust.

If he were still alive in today\'s political climate, just think of the new artwork he would come up with!


Nice soaking rains Sunday night, Monday morning help diminish wildfire threat

Firefighters from Kiowa, Hazelton and Elwood Township, Alfalfa County, OK and Harper County battled a large grass fire Friday afternoon east of Kiowa. The blaze was brought under control later that evening. Thanks to all those fire units that helped! A nice rain Sunday night into Monday morning soaked most of Southcentral Kansas diminishing the threat of wildfires for the time being. The moisture should also help the wheat crop that has survived the drought so far.

Chieftains Take 3rd at State!

The South Barber Chieftain ended their season with an impressive 74-41 blowout over defending state champion Sharon Springs-Wallace County to bring home 3rd place honors at the Class 1A, Div. II State Basketball Tournament played at Dodge City last weekend. See this week’s newspaper for story and photos. 

South Barber Homecoming Royalty

Homecoming Royalty (left to right) in back are Emilio Perez, Eric Reimer, Dakota Vickers, Trae Rathgeber, Eric Paozin and Neal Gugelmeyer. Seated are Nora Gugelmeyer, Malayna McKitrick, Glenna Williams, Queen Kylee Wright, Kaleigh Velasquez and Haylie Drake. Kindergarten helpers in front are Carter Murrow, BaiLea Swonger, Mckenna Brattin and Julian Gutierrez.

City Council Fires Police Chief

In a late Monday night meeting, following lengthy executive sessions, the Kiowa City Council voted to terminate Police Chief Steven Johnson with cause. Council rejected an offer from Chief Johnson to resign prior to the firing. According to City Administrator Lou Leone, council offered a severance package to Chief Johnson, subject to his agreement to certain terms, due to his family’s medical situation. Watch next week for more on this story.

South Barber Homecoming Friday

QUEEN CANDIDATES- Kaylee Wright, Kaleigh Velasquez and Glenna Williams


South Barber celebrates 2018 Basketball Homecoming this Friday, Feb. 9, when they host the Central Christian Cougars and Lady Cougars.

Junior varsity games begin around 4:15 followed by the varsity girls and boys. Crowning of the Homecoming Queen will take place at halftime of the boy’s varsity contest.

Three seniors have been selected to serve as candidates for Homecoming Queen.

KALEIGH VELASQUEZ is the daughter of Johnny and Raquel Velasquez. She is senior class secretary, secretary and treasurer of the National Honor Society and has received scholastic honor pins and listed on the honor roll lists.

Kaleigh likes drawing, sports, exercising and traveling. Her classes this year include Band, English IV, American Government, Culinary Arts, Pre-Calculus and General Psychology. She has also earned All-League honorable mention honors in volleyball.

She attends Driftwood Christian Church and participates in youth groups at the United Methodist Church in Kiowa and First Baptist Church in Cherokee, OK.

She plans to attend Butler County Community College after graduation and later Wichita State University majoring in athletic training.

GLENNA WILLIAMS is the daughter of Nadia Williams and Ronnie McKitrick. She participates in Drama Class and is a member of the Turner Youth organization. She has also participated in vocal groups all four years of high school, and is the reigning Miss South Barber.

Glenna’s favorite things are to “hang out” with family and friends and ride horses. Classes this year include Web Design, English IV, American Government, Baking and Pastry I, Drama, Math and Career and Community Connections. She plans to attend college after graduation.

KYLEE WRIGHT is the daughter of Allen and Kristin Sciara. She has participated in the school play and attends Grace Bible Fellowship. Her hobbies include puzzles, coloring and helping her Mom at home.

Classes include Informal Math, English IV, Drama, Life Science, Government and Community Based Training.

Kylee plans to attend Sharon Life Skills Center to continue her education.

The queen candidates will be escorted by senior members of the basketball team and senior class.


Serving as attendants from the freshman class will be Nora Gugelmeyer and Emilio Perez and from the sophomore class, Malayna McKitrick and Eric Reimer. Junior class attendants are Haylie Drake and Neal Gugelmeyer.

Kindergarten helpers are BaiLea Swonger, daughter of Matthew and Jessica Swonger; Mckenna Brattin, daughter of Charlie and Nikki Brattin; Carter Murrow, son of Derek and Sarah Murrow; and Julian Gutierrez, son of Kelsie Eck and Ben Rose.

Students are also celebrating special themed days this week. Tuesday is “Make Yourself at Home” (wear PJ’s), Wednesday is “Homies Day” (dress to match your friends), Thursday is “Home Away From Home Day” (dress in tourist attire), and Friday is “There’s No Place Like Home Day” (wear black & gold).

Barber County Conservation District Annual Meeting Jan. 20 in Kiowa

The public is invited to attend the Barber County Conservation District 68th Annual Meeting on Saturday, January 20 at the Kiowa Community Building. A catered meal, courtesy of the Barber County banks, will be served at 6:00 P.M.

After dinner, there will be a short business meeting including an annual report of district activities and financial actions since the 2017 annual meeting. An election of two board supervisors will be conducted as the terms of Calvin Boyd and Georgi Dawson are expiring.

The 2017 Bankers Conservation Awards will be presented to Robert and Lois Lenkner for soil quality. The Grasslands Award will be presented to Keith and Eva Yearout for improvement and management of their grasslands.

The top three conservation poster contest winners in each age group will receive prizes for their entries. South Barber K-6 winners include Easton Molz, Jancey Goodno, Janda Goodno, Lauryn Cropp, Grace Leone, Aydan Bryan, and Arrington Allen. Great job kids!

Dinner reservations are due by noon on Monday, January 15, so be sure to make yours as soon as possible by calling the conservation office at 620-886-5311, ext. 3


City Approves Budget Amendment, Discusses New Panhandling Ordinance


Kiowa’s City Council held a public meeting on Monday evening, December 18, to amend the 2017 budget, putting more money in the electric department fund to help cover the enormous expenses caused by three severe wind storms this past year.

All council members were present – Bill Watson, R.L. Simpson, Russ Molz, Brian Hill and Tom Wells – along with Mayor Brandon Farney.

Storms Cause Need for Funds

Mayor Farney opened the public hearing on the budget amendment with City Administrator Lou Leone explaining the need for the extra funds.

The budget, he explained, needs about $110,000 to $120,000 to meet all expenses and bills to the end of the year. The budget amendment calls for $353,000 to be put into the electric fund, with that money coming from city reserves.

Mr. Leone said that the large amount being requested from the reserve fund “may seem like overkill”, but he wanted to make sure there was enough to cover any unforeseen expenses before the end of the budget year on December 31. Also included are the latest electric charges from KMEA.

Any funds not spent, he noted, would go right back into the city’s reserve fund, which totals approximately $784,000.

Kiowa’s electric expenses began last Christmas day when a strong windstorm toppled several utility poles between Kiowa and the Burlington, OK substation. Things only got worse with another severe windstorm on June 30 and an even worse storm on August 5th. Just one of those storms, Mr. Leone said, cost the city $45,000.

Councilman Hill asked if the city’s reserve funds were invested, and was informed that the money is put in certificates of deposit at local banks. Mr. Leone said there are limits as to how city funds can be invested.

With no further discussion, Mayor Farney closed the public meeting and council opened its special session. First items on the agenda was to approve a cereal malt beverage license for the Plum Thickett Inn.

Council next discussed its “panhandling” ordinance it passed at the last council meeting. The city administrator reported that a Topeka panhandling ordinance was deemed in court to be a violation of freedom of speech, and a recent Wichita ordinance against panhandling is currently being watched to see if any legal challenges arise.

Council did not want to ban panhandling entirely as that would keep the ladies from “selling their poppies” or fire departments from “passing the boot” for fund raisers by non-profit groups and other charitable organization. Councilman Simpson suggested that the city administrator keep informed on the issue, but “with no more issues than we have with this” locally that council take a “wait and see” position for now.

While on the subject, Councilman Wells noted that there was “panhandling” occurring on a Facebook page that is used by some in the community for a variety of purposes. He said at least two posts he had seen were of people “begging for money”.

Councilman Simpson added that the South Barber Ministerial Alliance is holding a meeting on January 8 at noon at the Kiowa Senior Center to discuss the issue if helping those in need. He suggested that a council member might want to attend.

With no other items to discuss, council adjourned the meeting.

City Discusses Building Needs, Updates Peddler’s Ordinance


THE KIOWA City Council discussed building proposals and took care of several year end items at its regular meeting on December 11. Council members present were Bill Watson, R.L. Simpson, Brian Hill, Russ Molz and Tom Wells, along with Mayor Brandon Farney, who was conducting his final full meeting as mayor.

After approval of the agenda and previous minutes, council got a budget update as the end of the year nears. City administrator Lou Leone said that overall the city is under budget for the year, with the exception of the electric fund, which took a hit this year after the two severe wind storms and other issues.

That fund will be brought into compliance on Monday, Dec. 18, when council holds a special meeting for a public hearing on a budget amendment to increase funding for the electric department. The money will come from the city’s reserve fund, and any money not used will go back into that fund.

Building Options Discussed

Council next heard a presentation by Kirk Jurgensen and Michael Frimel from WDM Architects of Wichita, who had been asked by the city to present options on remodeling the present city building, remodeling another building for the city office, or building a new city office facility.

Options included remodeling the present City Hall at an estimated cost of $142,000-$210,000, or add an addition onto the City Hall at a cost of $213,150-$274,050.

The next option was to build a new City Hall on vacant downtown property at an estimated cost of $990,000-$1,350,000. The third option was to remodel the former John Deere building (now Thurman Harvesting) at an estimated cost of $1,872,635-$2,753,875, which would allow for the consolidation of all city functions in one building.

Mr. Jurgensen noted that the prices are a “worst case scenario” and the city could “tweak” the proposals as needed. Council noted that all of the remodeling work wouldn’t have to be done all at once. The building issue came to the forefront after an inspection of the city office building found a leaking roof that had led to mold problems and issues with insulation. The city roof has now been repaired to hopefully solve the leaking problem for the time being.

Council took the proposals under advisement.

Ordinances Passed

Council next passed Ordinance No. 447 which rezones a property in the northeast portion of town from half commercial and half residential to all residential. The propane business that had been located on the property is no longer there and the home is in the process of being purchased by a local resident, who requested the zoning change.

Council also passed Ordinance No. 448, which updates the Peddler Permit ordinance. The new ordinance extends background checks for peddler permits and makes other modifications. Non-profit and certain other groups will still be exempt from the ordinance. The permit forms can be downloaded from the city’s website. The entire ordinance is published elsewhere in this issue.

Public Sale of Property

City attorney Laurel McClellan informed council that a Sheriff’s Sale has been scheduled for January 11, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at the County Courthouse in Medicine Lodge for the old bowling alley property. The city has a lien against the property for approx. $39,000 to cover expenses of tearing the building down a few years ago.

CMB Licenses Approved

Council voted to renew cereal malt beverage licenses for Dovie’s Bar, Homer’s Wine and Spirits, The Sideline and The Corner Stop. An application from the Plum Thickett Inn and Bar was expected to be acted on at the Dec. 18 special meeting.

Other Issues Discussed

Council was informed by the city administrator that the electric crew is putting insulation on bare wires at the top of transformers throughout the city in an effort to keep birds and squirrels from coming into contact with the wires and shorting out the transformers. The fix is just a few dollars per transformers and could help eliminate some of the power outages.

The city still needs 170 LMI (low to moderate income) surveys to be filled out and returned so the city can proceed with grant applications for replacing the water line from Hazelton to the city wells near Sharon. The first round of grants has already passed, with Councilman Wells noting that the city most likely lost $1.2 million in funding for the project because the surveys have not been returned by residents.

Mr. Leone said that there is still funding available in the next round of applications, and council is asking all residents to please help your community by filling out a survey. No names are associated with the surveys and they are completely confidential and used only for grant application purposes.

If you have questions or need a survey form or help filling it out, please contact the City Office. It only takes a couple of minutes but could make a big impact on the future of the city’s water system.

Councilman Simpson next brought up a proposal to do away with term limits for council and mayor positions. Many, if not most, small communities don’t have term limits due in part to the difficulty of finding qualified individuals to run for office. Presently, Kiowa limits council and mayor offices to just two consecutive terms. The city administrator said he will bring a draft term limit ordinance to council at a future meeting for further discussion.

Councilman Wells next suggested that council consider having more than one meeting a month as there are several issues he felt didn’t get enough discussion with just one meeting.

Council also voted to give employees the day after Christmas (Dec. 26) and the day after New Year’s (Jan. 2) off with pay. The City Office will be closed those days.

In final action, council held two executive sessions for employee evaluations. After the first session, council voted to approve employee pay raises as proposed by the city administrator. After the second session, council voted to approved a pay increase for the city administrator as proposed by the mayor.

Update on “Big Kansas Road Trip” May 3-6 in Barber, Surround Counties

The Kansas Sampler Foundation has been offering folks a taste of what there is to see, do, hear, taste, buy, and learn in Kansas. The Kansas Sampler Festival first started in 1991 and became a project of the Kansas Sampler Foundation in 1993. They started to take the Festival on the Road in 1998 and it has done so until now. However, 2017 will be the last year of the Sampler Festival.

Replacing the Kansas Sampler Festival will be the Big Kansas Road Trip. The Road Trip will be held the first full weekend in May in 2018. The showcase counties will be Barber, Comanche, and Kiowa. The goal is to get people hooked on exploring Kansas in a way that will help sustain communities, find out what the showcase counties are about, and see what they have to offer.

There has already been quite a bit of planning that has happened with individuals involved in this venture. It has been estimated that there will be 1000 – 2000 people participating in this event. This will allow for very substantial foot traffic through our county and our businesses. While it isn’t a necessity to plan something on a large scale during this time, the ball is firmly in the community’s court as to how they want to proceed with the event. With so much foot traffic, it will definitely allow for these days to be big ticket days for local businesses. Allowing individuals to experience small town life at it’s finest is the first priority however, it can be very beneficial to businesses within these counties in terms of sales and revenue. There will likely be many more organization meeting within counties to prepare for this event and any such meetings will be publicized for public involvement. You can also keep updated through their Facebook page: Barber County Big Kansas Road Trip. Let’s give these travelers something to talk about and a reason to come back to visit our wonderful county!


City Renews Contracts, Hears Reports at November Meeting


Kiowa’s City Council met Monday, November 6, for its monthly meeting and set a burn period, renewed contracts and service agreements, and acted on several other items. Council members present were Bill Watson, R.L. Simpson, Russ Molz, Brian Hill and Tom Wells. In the absence of Mayor Brandon Farney, council present Watson opened the meeting.

After approval of the agenda, previous minutes and bills for payment, council first heard from resident Ernie Godley, who had a problem with water running off the county/city fire station building on 7th Street washing out the gravel he has put in his driveway. He would like the water drained out to the street if possible. Council acknowledged the problem, but since the building is owned by the county they don’t have the authority to make any changes. It was decided to contact the county commission on the matter for their help and hopefully take some action next month.

Mop Contract Dropped

A proposal by Nicole Perez, who is contracted by the city to clean the Community Building, could save the city a little money. The city currently has a contract with Uline to provide mops and supplies as needed to the building at a cost of $744 per year. Eliminating the contract and purchasing mops and supplies itself, the city could save around $300, it was estimated. Council voted to not renew the Uline contract when it expires and purchase supplies as needed.

No Beer Cans, Please!

City administrator Lou Leone gave an overview of the budget as the end of the year nears and said overall it is below budget. The Electric Fund is the one exception due to the costs of last summer’s storms and other projects going on. A budget amendment might be required, he said, to bring that fund up to requirements before the end of the year.

The sewer cleaning project was also discussed and Mr. Leone noted that the cleaning crew found one section of sewer pipes clogged with Coors beer cans. Council had a few chuckles about the situation (one said he was a Bud Light drinker so it wasn’t him), but realize that it can become a serious situation and asks residents to please not put items down the sewer that could permanently clog it up.

City Office Needs Work

David Moreland with American Metropolitan Environmental, Inc. next visited with council concerning an inspection he had conducted of the city building, which was originally constructed in 1929. Water has leaked in from the roof causing mold in the upper ceiling tiles, which have also caused problems in the drop ceiling now in the building. Fiberglass from old insulation was also detected. Mr. Moreland also said the west wall of the building needs repairs and the windows on that side need to be replaced or sealed up. He noted that the contaminates in the air might or might not be a health problem to employees and the public, depending on how their immune system reacts.

Discussion then turned to what other improvements the city building might need, such as updated wiring, inside remodeling, etc. Council decided to take first things first and talk to a roofer to get the leaks stopped before undertaking major improvements inside.

Burn Period Set

Council voted to authorize a burn period inside the City of Kiowa through November 22. Citizens are reminded not to burn in street gutters or on windy days.

Contracts Approved

Next on the agenda were several annual contracts and other items for council to consider.

The city administrator first received council approval for the Kiowa Chamber of Commerce to decorate and light Centennial Park downtown and also the Island Park.

The contract for the annual city audit with Busby, Ford & Reimer was approved. The fee of $9,350.00 for 2017 reflects no increase for the new contract.

The renewal of a contract with Data Tech was also approved at a cost of $5,094.40. This is for software and licensing costs for the city’s billing software.

Movie Theater Expenses

Council next heard a report on the movie theater’s projection system. The projector is five years old and out of warranty, the city administrator explained. A recent failure of a needed part in the projector is costing the city $8.000.00. Sonic, the company that presently maintains the theater equipment, offered to replace the part at no cost (with the exception of over $500 travel expenses) if the city renews the warranty for two years at a cost of $4,444.00.

Council accepted that agreement, then were asked to renew the movie theater’s security agreement with Sonic to provide a firewall for the theater’s computer system to protect downloads. (The city pays for the internet service for the theater). Council also approved that agreement for $269.55. Council was reminded that these agreements are in addition to the monthly fee the city already pays Sonic for a service agreement contract.

Lou Leone said that while the two year warranty agreement will buy the city some time, the projection system is five years old and with one part failing, others will most likely follow. He said the city needs to be thinking about replacing the projection system at some point in the future, at an estimated cost of over $65,000.00. One councilman noted that the old projection system lasted over 40 years.

In other action, council:

  • Gave approval for City Clerk Trish Brewer to attend City Clerk’s School.
  • Was informed that the final draft plat for 12th Street is completed and the approximately 12 property owners along the east side of the street will be contacted by letter providing information on next steps to take if they wish to claim the additional property they are eligible for.
  • Approved $600.00 for an application with the Dept. of Water Resources to extend the city’s existing water rights for another five years. The rights include the wells near Sharon and also the rights around the south water tank and the well northeast of town, which may have good enough quality water to be of use again for a potable water source, the city administrator said.
  • Was presented the Police Report from Chief Steven Johnson. He said a live disaster drill, held primarily for the hospital personnel, went very well.

See last week’s paper for the administrator’s report.