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The Harvey County Independent
220 Main St.
Halstead, KS 67056

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 This Week's Issue:



Fire Danger High As Drought Settles In

Posted 3/26/2015

By Pilar Martin

Grass fire danger is a real threat this time of year and has already caused a fatality in the county and damage to property. 

Grasses, weeds, and stubble from fields can go up in flames in an instant. A Halstead-area man was killed when a brush fire got out of control his month. Also in March, a shed with a classic car inside burned when a field fire re-ignited south of Hesston.

Sunday, Halstead firefighters responded to a two-acre field fire that got close to train tracks.

Many people think if there is rain or moisture, fire danger is not a problem, but what’s above the ground that burns. Dead grass from winter can burn even when the ground is muddy.

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

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Art Fair To Coincide With Old Settlers This Year

Posted 3/26/2015

By Frederick Bader


HALSTEAD – The Halstead City Council met Monday night in an unusually lengthy meeting to look over some of last year’s accomplishments and to look forward to some new developments this year, including new streets at Cedar Meadows and a move for the Arts and Crafts Fair.

Mary Lee McDonald addressed the council next to drop the biggest news of the night: The Arts and Crafts Fair will be held in conjunction with Old Settlers this year, instead of in its usual October time slot.

“As an artist myself, I know what a hard time October is to prepare for a festival like this,” McDonald said. “There are a lot of festivals around that time, and you’re also getting ready for the winter holidays. There’s less conflict in the summer, and we’re guaranteed foot traffic if we hold it during Old Settlers.”

The festival will be held on the grounds of the Halstead Museum and Depot. McDonald asked the council for permission to block off First Street from Main to Spruce during the festival, a request that was approved. 

To read the rest of this story, see this week's print edition.

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Graves Dug Up Near Newton

Posted 3/26/2015

By Frederick Bader

NEWTON – Two graves were partially dug up recently at the Missionary Church Cemetery at the 1100 block of NE 12th. The digger did not get deep enough to reach a casket at either grave.

The Harvey County Sheriff’s Office became aware of the incident on March 16 and believes that it may have occurred that weekend.

Sheriff T. Walton said that what he knows of what happened is only speculation based on the evidence left at the scene. “Someone had gotten in and attempted to dig into one particular grave, but didn’t go too far down,” Walton said. “Either they realized they were at the wrong grave or for some other reason, they moved over and made a better attempt at another grave. They got down about three feet that time.”

Walton said that the digging was not likely to be the work of an animal. Since the ground was firm, undisturbed and grassy, it would take a concentrated effort to get that far down. “They weren’t just taking a shovel, digging the dirt up and putting it to the side, though,” Walton said. “It was like they were digging in a frenzy, throwing the dirt at pretty impressive distances from where they were digging. It’s very odd.”

Since the area is wide-open and has no designated parking, the culprit would have to have parked along the road and walked quite a distance out in the open, which may indicate that the incident occurred during the night.

Walton said he had no idea what would possess a person to dig into a grave like that. “The only thing I can think of is that they might think there’s jewelry or something inside the grave,” Walton said. “Disturbing a grave is a crime, but it’s really more about the morality of the thing. It just strikes me as a really rotten thing to do.”

To add to the strangeness of the incident, Wichita Police reported a casket found on the side of the road at the 3800 block of N. Seneca on March 19. The handles on the side of the casket had been removed and the lid had been opened. There was no body in the casket. The two incidents are most likely unrelated.

If you have information about the Newton incident, call the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office at 316-284-6960. If you have any information about the Wichita incident, contact the Wichita Police Department at 316-268-4195.

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Drivers Still Speeding Through Burrton

Posted 3/26/2015

By Frederick Bader


BURRTON – Perhaps one of the most frequently repeated frustrations among Burrton city officials is the refusal of traffic to slow down within the city limits. However, with 110 tickets issued just in January and nearly as many in February, nothing seems to be changing.

There is actually once change, according to Police Chief Dave Becker, though it is not a positive one – the speeds are actually getting higher. “Mostly it’s not really local people, it’s the out-of-state people who aren’t paying attention to the speed limit,” Becker said. “Last week we got a guy going west and then got him again going east on the same day.”

Becker says that the Burrton Police are not trying to be sneaky, and that they are actually very lenient with many drivers. He even freely gives away the location where the cars are usually stationed.

“We wait until people get to Colorado Street,” Becker said. “That’s the third speed limit sign, and that’s where we’re giving out our tickets. Usually we only ticket for 10 miles per hour or more over the limit; otherwise it’s just a warning, especially if it’s a big truck that can’t change speed as easily as a smaller car.”

To read the rest of this story, see this week's print edition.

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