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Halstead, KS 67056
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August 25, 2016
Harvey County Independent
August 25, 2016 Harvey County Independent

Hatfield And Former Police Chief Arrested

Posted 8/25/2016

J.R. HatfieldJ.R. HatfieldNEWTON — Halstead City Manager J.R. Hatfield was arrested Monday morning on a felony charge of perjury.

Former police chief Steven C. Lewis was arrested in Stevens County with a felony charge of misuse of public funds and two counts of misdemeanor theft.

The Harvey County Sheriff’s Department arrested Hatfield at about 10 a.m. at Halstead City Hall, according to Sheriff T. Walton. The arrests of both men came at the conclusion of a nine-month inquisition led by County Attorney David Yoder.

Hatfield, who has been city manager since 2003, allegedly committed perjury on or about Dec. 8, according to the complaint.

"The charges stem from actions taken while he was in an official capacity as city manager of Halstead," Yoder said during a 3 p.m. press conference Tuesday.Steven LewisSteven Lewis

Yoder said the perjury charge was not related to statements Hatfield made to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, which began its investigation into activities at Halstead Police Department at Yoder's request in late November.

"That has to do with documentation," Yoder said. "I will go that far."

Hatfield was released at 12:55 p.m. after posting $2,500 bond in cash. Three Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents, an employee of Kansas Commission on Peace Officers' Standards and Training, former police officer Jennifer Motes and Police Chief Josh Orem are listed as witnesses for the state.

Lewis, who retired as police chief last December, allegedly authorized the use of city funds to purchase ammunition for use by private individuals, according to the complaint. The felony charge alleges the purchase of more than $1,000 worth of ammunition between May and October 2011. Yoder said the amount of money involved in the allegation was "not much over the threshold" of $1,000.

The two misdemeanor theft charges against Lewis are related to the purchase of ammunition on or about June 11, 2012, and on or about April 30, 2013. Lewis was released after posting $3,000 bond. State witnesses against him include two KBI agents; Nick Holzrichter and Lonnie Martin; and Boyse [sic] Moses, with BVAC, an ammunition supplier.

Yoder said the investigation was prompted by multiple people reporting "abnormalities" in Halstead to his office. He said he relied on "one particular source" at the city of Halstead. He also noted that Halstead officers have been cooperative and have communicated regularly with his office.

"I filed what I believe I can take to a jury," he said.

Yoder said he couldn't say whether more charges might be forthcoming, but the investigation is ongoing. During a phone call with KBI Senior Special Agent Chris Bumgarner this morning, he learned of three additional reports that had not yet been completed.

"There may be some follow-up my office may be looking at," Yoder said. "I don't anticipate any other persons being charged."

Yoder confirmed that the three additional reports had to do with Lewis and Hatfield.

"I think those are follow-up reports to matters we've already been looking at," he added.

Yoder also said it was a fair assumption that the two cases were related.

Halstead City Council put Hatfield on paid administrative Monday evening after meeting in closed session to discuss personnel. Hatfield did not attend the meeting.

 

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Homeowners OK, 4 Pets Killed In Fire

Posted 8/25/2016

BENTLEY—A house fire near Bentley early in the morning of Aug. 18 destroyed the home and took the lives of four pets, but both people living there made it outside OK.

The house was located less than a mile directly north of Bentley along 117th Street. The fire started at about 5 a.m. in the kitchen.

RONNIE and Roberta Larson’s home near Bentley caught fire early Thursday morning. Both made it out okay but four pets were killed by the smoke. RONNIE and Roberta Larson’s home near Bentley caught fire early Thursday morning. Both made it out okay but four pets were killed by the smoke.

The homeowners, Ronnie and Roberta Larson, were both home and asleep at the time. A smoke detector woke them and they made it outside safely.

A neighbor said he called 911 at 5:05 a.m. after the Larsons knocked on his door. He said about 30 minutes passed before fire crews arrived. Crews that responded included Andale, Maize, Halstead and Park City.

Both of the Larsons were taken by ambulance to St. Francis Hospital in Wichita for smoke inhalation and released shortly after.

Three dogs and a parrot in the home died from smoke inhalation.

The couple’s son, Ronnie Larson Jr., said that the loss of these pets would be the hardest part for his mother.

He guessed the cause might have been have been an exhaust fan above the stove, but he didn’t know why it would have waited so long before catching fire if it had been left on.

Ronnie Jr. also said that the home was a total loss.

“I don’t think there’s much left that we can salvage,” he said. “Even all of my mom’s pictures on the walls are gone. I think we might be able to salvage some of it.”

To read more, please see this week's print edition.

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Halstead Place Evacuated For Gas Leak

Posted 8/25/2016

EVACUATED residents await the all-clear to return inside. EVACUATED residents await the all-clear to return inside. HALSTEAD Last Friday afternoon, the staff members at Halstead Place complained of a gas smell. Georgina Lowe contacted Halstead City office to check for a possible leak.

Staff quickly evacuated all residents to outside of the building. Halstead Fire, EMS and City Maintenance were deployed to the site.

EMS Director Anderson Lowe said the evacuation went really well.  “It was good we had just practiced,” Lowe said, referring to an evacuation drill last month.

With the heat of the afternoon and not a lot of shade, Fire and EMS helped transport over a dozen residents to Halstead Health and Rehab so the residents could wait in comfort.

A gas leak was repaired and residents were returned to Halstead Place just before 6:30 p.m

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