Category Archives: News

Barber County Man Sentenced to More Than 19 Years in Prison for Child Sex Crimes

MEDICINE LODGE – (September 26, 2017) – A Barber County man was sentenced today to more than 19 years in prison for sex crimes against a child, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

Robert E. Livi Pruitt, 26, pleaded guilty in July to one count of attempted rape, one count of aggravated intimidation of a victim and one count of contributing to a child’s misconduct. Judge Francis Meisenheimer sentenced Pruitt to 231 months to be served in the Kansas Department of Corrections. The sentence is to run consecutive to the Jessica’s Law life sentence Pruitt is currently serving.

The crimes were committed in May 2012, before his Jessica’s Law conviction. The charges stemmed from an investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Assistant Attorney General Lyndzie Carter of Schmidt’s office prosecuted the case.

Council Continues Work on Water System Grant, Passes Ordinances, Employee Handbook Changes


THE CITY’S planned water system replacement project and ordinances topped the agenda of the Kiowa City Council Monday evening, September 11, as it met in regular session. All board members were present- Bill Watson, R.L. Simpson, Russ Molz, Tom Wells and Brian Hill- along with Mayor Brandon Farney.

Public Meeting

Prior to the regular council meeting, a public meeting was held as part of the city’s process to hopefully receive funding from USDA to help replace the water system in Kiowa, especially the 14 miles of piping from Kiowa to the city owned wells near Sharon.

City administrator Lou Leone explained that the grant being sought is for Phase I of the project, which would replace the 14 miles of water line along to the north water tower and improved water lines in the north half of the city. He said if the federal funding is received, there would not be a need for a water rate increase.

A couple of council members, however, felt that the projected $107,000 yearly payments for the city’s part of the project was just too much for a small town to handle – until they were reminded that the city at present spends around $70,000 a year just to maintain the pipeline along TriCity Road to Sharon. The city “can absorb the $107,000,” the city administrator said.

The city’s water pipes are also very clogged and corroded, and he showed the council examples. If Phase I of the project is approved and completed, Mr. Leone said USDA is encouraging the city to continue into Phase II, which would complete the loop of water lines around the city, replace old, clogged lines, and link both the north and south water towers. This would improve water pressure throughout the town as well as possibly help businesses and residents with their fire insurance coverage rates.

Ordinances Approved

Council adjourned the public meeting and began the regular session with approval of the agenda, previous minutes and bills for payment.

Next on the agenda was Ordinance No. 445, which involves how the city would respond to a water shortage or emergency situation. It was approved unanimously.

Ordinance No. 446 was also approved, which relates to insurance payments and ensuring home and business owners who have insurance use it to cover costs of cleaning up after a fire, storm, or other calamity or reimburse the city if it is forced to step in, such as was the case with the old bowling alley building. It updates the present city ordinance concerning the issue bringing it up to current standards.

A third proposed ordinance which would prohibit residents from parking their vehicles in their yards, particularly their front yards, was quickly rejected by council members.

Councilman Russ Molz noted that the city already has ordinances on the books to deal with some of these issues, but he said they aren’t being enforced. “We don’t enforce the ones we have now,” he said. “If we’re not going to enforce them why have them?” he added.

Surveyor for 12th Street

Council next approved hiring a surveyor to redraw the property lines along 12th Street. In 1895, the city allowed a railroad to be constructed along 12th Street and part of 11th Street by the Missouri-Pacific Railroad. It was abandoned in 1999 with the property reverting back to the city.

The property lines were never updated and has hampered the city’s desire to construct drainage ditches along the original 12th Street to help with drainage in the city. It will also aid property owners along the street to determine the exact boundaries of their properties.

Cost for the surveyor was quoted at $7,000.

Employee Handbook Changes

Council approved changes to the Employee Handbook, including changing the overtime rule from anything over 8 hours per day to over 40 hours per week. Changes were also approved to the sick time policy and the use of purchase order numbers. The changes go into effect October 1.

In a related item, council approved the purchase of software that would change the punch card system city employees now use to an electronic system of tracking employee hours. Cost is $3,140 for software and training plus a $300 per year fee.

Software to help track purchase orders was also approved at an initial cost of $1,600 plus a $200 annual fee.

Police Report

Council discussed two new patch designs proposed for police department uniforms and allowed Police Chief Steven Johnson to select his favorite. Cost is $2.67 per patch.

Chief Johnson also presented council with a letter discussing finances and noted that he and his family feel “blessed” that they are living in Kiowa and are very happy here.

Administrator’s Report

Lou Leone reported that paperwork for the USDA grant for a backup generator for the Community Building is completed and RSI has been notified to begin installing the Generac generator.

He also said that installation of the city’s second generator is scheduled to be completed this week. He said there would need to be one early morning power outage to hook up the new generator to the electric system.

Staff is consulting with the city’s insurance appraiser concerning the Swimming Pool damage and whether it should try to repair the existing pool house building or tear it down and build a new one. A grant application has also been submitted to South Central Community Foundation for $5,000 in an effort to seek more funding help for the project.

The city’s email addresses have all been changed over the toe “” extension, and the new water truck has been delivered to the Water Department.

Mr. Leone said that staff has been in contact with U.S. Congressman Ron Estes and State Senator Larry Alley to request a review of the city’s request for help with cleanup expenses after the two devastating windstorm the city experienced in late June and early August.

The city has made arrangements with the City of Pratt and the Heart of America group to provide a building inspector from time to time as needed.

FEMA will be updating the city’s floodplain maps in the next three years, he reported, Mr. Leone also gave a storm damage update and said that an additional 15-19 poles on the city’s newly acquired power line heading north are down. Plans are being developed to replace them with a better grade of poles hopefully before the end of the month.

He also gave an update for the public as to why the city needs a second generator (the present single generator won’t handle the entire city power needs and requires “rolling blackouts” to provide partial service to customers), and he also apologized to residents for any inconveniences they have endured due to power outages caused by the recent storms, which has delayed getting the second generator installed and running.

In other action, council:

  • Approved a request from the assistant water operator to be moved from part-time to full-time status.
  • Approved an updated contract for engineering services with BG Consultants after changes requested by the city were made. The engineering services are related to the proposed water line project and the city would not be liable for the $40,000+ cost if it does not receive the USDA grant or decides not to proceed with the project. The city should receive final word on the grant application in January, 2018.
  • Passed a resolution for payroll deduction.
  • Reviewed department head reports and approved purchase of a grapple hook to help with picking up large items such as tree limbs, etc.
  • Belatedly approved the annual “Burn Out” event held over Labor Day weekend
  • Approved a proclamation declaring the week of October 8 through October 14 as “Fire Prevention Week”.
  • Heard an update from city attorney Laurel McClellan on the former bowling alley property, who reported that the property should come up for sale soon. The city then can bid to purchase the property, or if someone else wins the bid those funds could be then claimed by the city to help pay the estimated $39,000 it cost the city to tear the building down.

In final action, council held an executive session to discuss employee evaluations.

Kiowa/Hardtner Methodist Churches Welcome Reverend Margaret Johnson


On July 1 the Kiowa and Hardtner United Methodist Churches welcomed the Reverend Margaret Johnson as their new pastor. She was introduced to life in Barber County by the wind storm and power outage of June 30 and experienced first-hand the great community spirit here as people pulled together to clean up. She also participated in an encore performance on August 5 and 6!

Pastor Margaret was born and raised in Wichita, Ks. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Kansas and later obtained a master’s degree in adult education from K-State. After graduating from KU, she worked for more than 25 years as an executive staff member with the Girl Scout Council in south central Kansas where she held a number of positions including camp director, membership director, coordinator of program services, training director, and assistant executive director. One highlight was taking a group of high school girls to Europe. During this time she was also growing in her faith as a Christian and became actively involved in her church serving as lay person, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday school, chairing committees, and participating in a variety of mission and ministry activities.

After leaving the Girl Scouts, she took a position at her church as Director of Lay Ministries. Within the first six months, she realized God was calling her into ministry as a pastor. She continued working full-time at her church in Wichita while also attending Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Ok. She graduated with a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained as an Elder in the United Methodist Church. She has served as a pastor in Columbus, Ks and Parsons, Ks.

“I look forward to learning more about the community and getting to know the people here,” stated Pastor Margaret. “The traditions and culture may be different in each place I serve, but the deep desire for a fulfilling relationship with God, who loves us unconditionally, is universal. We rely on the church to be a place where we receive support and encouragement during those rough patches in life. I pray that the good news of Jesus Christ will be a beacon of hope for all who live here.”

KDH Names John Chiaffitelli, D.O., as Chief of Staff

Dr. John Chiaffitelli, left, has been named the new Chief of Staff at Kiowa District Healthcare. He is pictured with current staff members Mindy Kobbeman, P.A.,, center, and Melissa Stroh, P.A.

KIOWA DISTRICT Healthcare has named John Chiaffitelli, D.O., as the new Chief of Staff.

Dr. Chiaffitelli “Dr. C” is a Board-Certified Internal Medicine Physician. He joins KDH from his private practice in Edmond, Oklahoma. He received his Doctorate from Oklahoma State University of Osteopathic Medicine in 1995. Dr. Chiaffitelli completed his residency at University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.

Dr. Chiaffitelli is a member of several prestigious organizations including American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, American Society of Internal Medicine, and Oklahoma Osteopathic Association.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Dr. Chiaffitelli to our team,” said KDH CEO Margaret Grismer. “Dr. Chiaffitelli’s years of experience in Long-Term Acute Care (LTAC) facilities will provide the medical leadership needed to expand our Swing-Bed program.”

Dr. Chiaffitelli started his new position on August 1st and he will be in clinic every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.


Suspected Tornado Rips Through Kiowa

Roof of swimming pool was ripped off and tossed across the street.

Football bleachers were blown across the field to the visitors side.


Kiowa has had its share of storms this year, beginning on Christmas Day with a severe wind event followed just a month ago, June 30, by an even stronger wind storm that did considerable damage throughout the area.

But nothing prepared the community for the storm that hit Saturday evening just around supper time. Witnesses report seeing as many as three funnel clouds dipping from the clouds, and the damage would seem to back up the belief that at least one of those funnels ripped across the northern part of the community.

The storm hit just around 6:00 p.m. with severe winds, torrential rains and hail. But suddenly, towards the end of the storm, the winds became stronger and shifted directions, and tore through town.

While just about every resident and business had damage, the worst was in the northern half of town where windows were blown out, buildings crushed by trees and roofs ripped off of homes.

The Kiowa Swimming Pool had its roof ripped off and dumped west across the street in the front yard of the Jerry Darger residence. South Barber High School had an air condition unit torn from the roof, and the large grandstand at the high school football field, which had just been completely renovated just a couple of years ago, was torn from the ground, concrete anchor posts and all, and thrown east across the field ending up on the visitor’s side.

Downtown businesses also took a big hit. Large windows were blown out at Kiowa Locker, Bogner, Inc., the antique store and others, while siding was torn off the Thurman Harvesting building and the Southern Baptist Church. Roofs and siding were also ripped off other buildings, particularly in the north part of town. With the heavy rains, street flooding was also a problem for a short time with city crews working diligently to clear sewer drains to let the water escape.

Electric power was lost during the storm, and when the extent of the damage to poles and lines was realized, City Administrator Lou Leone put out a call for mutual aid from area towns for electric crews and equipment.

The response was tremendous. Crews started arriving Saturday night and worked throughout the night. Sunday, many more streamed into Kiowa from all over Kansas and Oklahoma. Dozens of poles had to be replaced not only in town, but outside as well, and electric service lines reattached to homes and businesses. Their efforts paid off as Kiowa’s power came back on at 1:00 a.m. Monday morning.

The community once again really came together to help everyone get through the storm’s aftermath. The electric work was coordinated out of the ambulance shed, where a generator kept power going, while volunteers met at the Community Building and were recruited to go around town and help residents where they could.

Sandwiches were served at noon to any residents or workers that wanted a meal, and at suppertime, hamburgers and hot dogs cooked at the Hometown Market were served to anyone that was hungry.

The state’s Emergency Management unit was contacted and was expected to arrived in Kiowa sometime Monday to survey the damage and give an assessment of the cause of the damage.

Needless to say, a big Thank You goes out to all the city workers and electric crews who came through big in getting Kiowa back on its feet. And an even bigger thanks to the residents who came together in a time of need to help each other through what many say is the worst storm they have ever witnessed in our community.

The clean-up will continues for several more days and weeks.

An old quilt from Kiowa that was found by an Alva man while cleaning out his father’s house was donated to the Kiowa Historical Museum last week. Rod Murrow said he came upon the quilt and quickly realized that it was from the Kiowa CSW Club and had a date of 1940. He did some research on what old Kiowa News editions from the 1940’s he could find online and found the club mentioned a few times, but didn’t know what the initials “CSW” stood for. Rod called The Kiowa News with the request to donate the quilt, which is in excellent condition, and was put in touch with Buford Cloyd from the Historical Society. Friday morning Rod and his wife, Carolyn, drove from Alva to the Kiowa Historical Museum to donate the quilt. Pictured above (left to right) are historical society members Marsha Michel, Darlene Cloyd, Buford Cloyd and Nita Birdwell along with Carolyn and Rod Murrow. There are names on the individual quilt blocks with names, many familiar, of former club members who together made the quilt. The Historical Society invites anyone with information on the CSW Club to contact them.

Fatality Accident Tuesday Afternoon in Hazelton

Kiowa ambulance crew and many others help at the accident scene.

A Hazelton man died Tuesday, July 25, after colliding with a semi truck in Hazelton. Allen B. Babb, 59, died at Kiowa District Hospital after being rushed by ambulance from the scene of the accident. According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, Babb was traveling southwest on K2 highway at approximately 2:10 p.m. and made a left turn towards 1st Avenue in Hazelton when he collided with a 2002 Peterbilt truck driven by William L. Pelzl , 68, of Medicine Lodge  which was traveling northeast on K2 highway. According to the report, Mr. Pelzl was unable to avoid the collision and both vehicles came to rest northeast of the intersection. He was not injured in the accident.

Both drivers were wearing safety restraints, the report said.

Welcome to the Barber County Fair!


The 97th annual Barber County Fair will feature something for everybody in the family as it gets underway this week. The fair will be held Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 27-30, at the fair grounds in Hardtner.

Fair activities actually got underway last week with the 4-H Fashion Revue and 4-H Perishable Foods Judging, both held at Medicine Lodge, and the Dog Show held Saturday, July 22, at Hardtner.

The annual Fair clean-up will be held Tuesday, July 25, at 6:00 p.m.

Thursday kicks off a weekend of activities with the annual Hamburger Feed at 6:00 p.m. The Open Class and 4-H Buildings will be open for early entries from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., and the Merchants Building will be open for setup from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

The 4-H Horse Show will be held Thursday at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, July 28, begins early with entries and exhibits being entered and judged. The 4-H Food Sale will be held at 10:00 a.m. at the 4-H Building. Bucket Calf showing will start at 2:00 p.m. and the Pee Wee, 4-H and FFA Sheep Showing and Judging begins at 3:00 p.m. Goat judging will kick off at 4:00 p.m.

S&S Amusements will have their carnival rides set up Friday and Saturday afternoon and evening.

The first evening of the Barber County Rodeo gets underway Friday night at 8:00 p.m. featuring the toughest contestants from Kansas and Oklahoma both nights. JC Rodeo Company is providing the stock and Ty Allison from Alva will be the “funny man”.

There will be $1,000 added per event, including Lady Breakaway, and a Kid’s Money Scramble will be held both Friday and Saturday night.

An ATV Barrel Race will also be held both nights for contestants ages 14 (with parent’s consent) and older. An entry fee of $30 will be charged with eight entries allowed each night. Friday night will be dirt bikes and 4-wheelers on Saturday night. It will be a tournament style contest with winner takes all. Call 620-825-6130 to enter.

Following the Rodeo on Saturday night, a concert will be presented by William Clark Green. Admission is free with a rodeo ticket.

A busy Saturday begins at 8:00 a.m. with swine judging and showmanship, and the FCS Scavenger Hunt will also get underway at 10:00 a.m. The Pedal Tractor Pull starts at 11:30 a.m. followed by the 4-H and Open Pet Show at 12:30 p.m. and Poultry and Rabbit Judging at 1:00 p.m.

Beef and Dairy Cattle will also be shown and judged in the afternoon. The final night of the Rodeo will start at 8:00 p.m. followed by the concert.

Sunday’s activities begin with Cowboy Church at 10:00 a.m. and all buildings will be open for final viewing of exhibits. Presentation of Open Class Building Special Awards will be held at 3:00 p.m. followed by a Free Watermelon Feed sponsored by Corona Hoch and Farm Bureau Financial Services.

The 4-H and FFA Premium Sale gets going at 4:00 p.m. All entries will be released at 5:30 p.m. as the fair comes to a close.

County Fair Events Kick Off This Week


Barber County Extension Agent

THE 2017 Barber County Fair will kick off with the Fashion Revue on July 21 at 7:00 P.M. at the Community Bible Fellowship Church in Medicine Lodge. Everybody is welcome to come see the styles that girls and boys are constructing and purchasing today. This fashion show will include 39 outfits modeled by 4-H members age 7 to 18. Several of these outfits were constructed by the 4-H members themselves.

During the Fashion Show, 4-H Members will perform talent acts that showcase their musical skills. A special addition this year will be a brief presentation from Bianca Lewis from the Sunflower 4-H Club. She recently attended Citizenship Washington Focus which is a 2 week trip to Washington D.C. on a bus.

Results from the Perishable Foods Contest will be announced at the end of the Fashion Show. The Perishable Foods Contest is for recipes made by 4-H Members that must be served hot or cold. This contest is held before the Fair so that items can be judged at the appropriate temperatures.

Anybody interested in exhibiting at the Fair can get an exhibitor number by calling the Extension Office at 886-3971. Entry cards are available at the Extension Office or can be picked up when entering at the Fair either on July 27th between 6 P.M. and 8 P.M. or July 28th between 7:30 A.M. and 11:00 A.M.


City Council Talks Electricity, Welcomes New Clerk, Passes Ordinances at July Meeting

Kiowa’s second electric generator was installed last week.


The Kiowa City Council discussed electricity and passed ordinances at it’s June 10 monthly meeting. Council members present were Bill Watson, Tom Wells, R.L. Simpson, Russ Molz and Brian Hill. In the absence of Mayor Brandon Farney, board president Watson conducted the meeting.

After approval of the agenda, previous minutes and bills for payment, council heard a budget report from City Administrator Lou Leone. He said that the finances are “doing good” with nearly all funds at or slightly below the 50% level midway through the budget year.

Patrol Car Donated

Council next gave a big “thank you” to Jeff Bryan, owner of Bryan Chevrolet-Buick of Kiowa, for the donation of a 2011 Chevrolet Impala for use as a patrol vehicle by the Police Department. The vehicle has 73,000 miles on it and had previously been used as a parol car by the Hays Police Department. It will be outfitted with new lights and decals and replace the present patrol car, which will be used for the reserve unit.

New Clerk Welcomed

Kiowa’s new city clerk, Trisha Brewer, was welcomed by the council. Board president Bill Watson declined to appoint her as City Clerk, however, as he felt that was the duty of the mayor. Mrs. Brewer was appointed, however, to serve as the city’s KMEA No. 2 director.

In a related item, both she and another recently hired employee, John Duvall, were approved to be put on the city’s insurance policy as of July first, without the normal 90 day waiting period.

Special Request

Council heard a special request from a citizens concerning tree roots in their sewer line leading to their residence. While sympathetic, council noted that service lines to private property was the owner’s responsibility, not that of the city. They stressed, however, that they welcomed citizens to relay their concerns on any city issue with council members or the city office staff.

Water Plan Complete

The city administrator advised council that the Water Conservation Plan for 2017 has been completed and has been sent to the Kansas Rural Water Assn. for approval. The plan needs to be updated every year, he noted.

Ordinances Approved

Next on the agenda was yearly approval of the Uniform Public Offense Code and Standard Traffic Ordinance, which were passed as Ordinances No. 442 and 443. They are published elsewhere in this week’s newspaper.

Staff Reports

Police Chief Steven Johnson reported an a credit card scam by an out-of-state source that has been reported in town and advised citizens to be wary of any phone requests for credit or any other personal information.

The city superintendent report noted that several poles were purchased from Southern Pioneer Electric when the wind storm struck on June 30, and that the city will now keep poles of several sizes on hand for future use. Councilman Wells gave the city crew a “job well done” on its work to get power lines back up and running and limbs cleaned up throughout town following the storm.

Council also approved plans for chip and seal of several streets throughout town later this summer.

Lou Leone noted in his report that the city has received a grant of $13,300 to help purchase a diesel generator for use at the Community Building in times of emergency. Total cost of the generator with hookups is $24,000.

He also said the new generator is arriving this week. The control room building is also set to arrive soon and when installed between the two generators will allow control of either or both of the units, which will double the city’s ability to provide its own electricity when needed.

Mr. Leone reported on the KMEA Conference he recently attended and said that the group has offered to sponsor the city’s membership in the KMU. Council voted to join KMU and spread costs of the membership out over the budget year.

The city administrator noted that it was KMEA who he contacted to have power crews sent for mutual aid when the city’s power lines were damaged. He said their main question was “how many do you need?” and he acknowledged how much those out of town crews helped restore the city’s electricity.

Upgrades to the electric grid were also discussed, especially an automatic reclosure system that would automatically close the breaker on a circuit when it is interrupted by a bird or squirrel in the system. It would then reopen when possible. It would save the city considerable overtime expenses for crews to come out and do the work.

Staff has contacted Southern Pioneer Electric to take the “next steps” regarding connecting the city to their transmission line. It was also reported that since Southern Pioneer is connected to poles along 14th Street that were damaged in the wind storm, the company will pay one-third of the costs to restore those poles.

City Attorney Laurel McClellan noted in his report that Mr. Paul Tilley had missed his date to file an appeal in his legal case, but action is moving along on another case involving costs associated with the demolition of the old bowling alley building. Mr. McClellan said they should have an opinion from the judge in the case on August 9.

After more discussion, council held a short executive session at the request of Councilman Watson, then adjourned.