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The Harvey County Independent
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Halstead, KS 67056

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Community Foundation Introduces New Funds

Posted 8/17/2017

HALSTEAD—The Halstead Community Foundation has had a busy summer and is pleased to announce the addition of three new funds to benefit our community and schools.

The first, the USD 440 Endowment Fund, will be used to support the students, faculty and general district needs of USD 440.

“In the past, alumni have often contacted the district looking for ways to give back to the school that gave so much to them,” Superintendent Tom Alstrom said. “This fund will allow for an easy way to do that.”

A committee for the endowment fund will look at ways to enhance the school system, and together with the school board will fulfill needs or assist with projects otherwise not possible because of budget constraints.

The second, established with the Halstead Alumni Association, is the USD 440 Alumni Scholarship Fund. This scholarship aims to celebrate the tradition that many families share of having multiple generations of Dragons. Recipients must be graduating seniors who are the descendants of USD 440 Alumni, and they will have the opportunity to apply for this beginning in the spring.

Lastly, along with the family of Rex Fleetwood, the community foundation is proud to announce the Fleetwood Scholarship.  Fleetwood was a 1969 graduate of Halstead High School who loved debate class and math.  The Fleetwood family believes strongly in the support of education and that anyone should have a chance to take the next step, whether in college or trade school. 

In setting up the fund, Donna, Rex's wife, shared that even as he traveled around the world for business and pleasure, he never forgot his roots in Kansas and Halstead.  Rex’s sister, Ann Cuevas, said, “The family established this scholarship fund to give back to the community that helped us be successful in our own lives.” 

Look for the Halstead Community Foundation at the Halstead Alumni Banquet on Saturday, Aug. 12, as well as at Riverside Park on Sunday, Aug. 13 when it will present this year’s grant recipients. To stay up to date on all the exciting opportunities from the Halstead Community Foundation, “like” us on Facebook.

For questions on these or any of our other funds, contact JaLayna Carmichael at 316-680-6271 or

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Young Mother, Child Murdered In Newton

Posted 8/10/2017

NEWTON Police investigate the scene at 15 Roanoke Court where a mother and daughter were murdered Tuesday. Police arrested their suspect later that day in Taylor, Texas. NEWTON Police investigate the scene at 15 Roanoke Court where a mother and daughter were murdered Tuesday. Police arrested their suspect later that day in Taylor, Texas. NEWTON—A mother and daughter were murdered in a double homicide on the north edge of Newton earlier this week. Newton Police received a report of two deceased individuals inside a duplex at 15 Roanoke Court at about 11 a.m. Tuesday by an acquaintance of the victim. 

The victims were identified as 24-year-old Alyssa Runyon and her 4-year-old daughter, Zaylynn Paz, according to Newton Police Chief Eric Murphy.

Murphy said the child had been stabbed and the mother had been strangled. Both were found in bedrooms. The time of death had not been determined.

The suspect, Keith Lane Hawkins, 19, was arrested in Taylor, Texas at 5:25 p.m. Tuesday.

Murphy said the suspect was in a relationship with the mother but was not the father of child. He said the suspect had a record with the Newton Police. The suspect had used the victim’s vehicle to flee to Texas.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of two of our residents,” Murphy said. “The officers of the Newton Police Department worked tirelessly with the cooperation of other law enforcement agencies to apprehend the person believed to be responsible for these horrible acts.”

Murphy said both victims lived at the house on Roanoke Court and that he was unaware at that time of anyone else living there.

To continue reading, please see this week's print edition.

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Kellers To Be Crowned Old Settlers Royalty

Posted 8/10/2017

By Pilar Martin

HALSTEAD— Bob and Charlotte Keller will be crowned King and Queen of Old Settlers this year.

Charlotte said they were very surprised to be chosen for the honor. Their young next-door neighbor, Felix Farmer, came over with a drawing of red and green stick figures with jewels on them.

“He asked, ‘Will you?’” Charlotte said.

“Our town and the rural community around Halstead are very special to us,” Charlotte and Bob said. “We are honored to be the 2017 Old Settler’s King aBOB and Charlotte Keller will represent Halstead as the 2017 Old Settlers King and Queen. BOB and Charlotte Keller will represent Halstead as the 2017 Old Settlers King and Queen. nd Queen.”

Charlotte Malone grew up on a farm between Copeland and Plains in western Kansas. She came to Halstead for nurses’ training at Halstead Hospital.  Bob (Robert) Keller is a lifelong resident of the Halstead area.

The couple met in 1955 when Bob was back home for the weekend while stationed in Salina with the Air Force, where he served as a ground crew chief for the B47. While with the Air Force, Bob said he saw more of the world than most people ever do.

The two were on a drive through Riverside Park when he proposed.

The couple married in 1957, 60 years ago. They’ve spent 50 of those years farming.

“After growing up on a farm, I said I would never marry a farmer,” Charlotte said, laughing.

Bob and Charlotte farmed wheat, milo and alfalfa and raised sheep. Between Bob and his father, they managed 750 ewes. They farmed ground and pastured sheep around the Halstead area.

When his parents decided to retire from farming, Bob and Charlotte moved to Bob’s childhood home on North Hertzler Road, about four miles north of Halstead. Bob attended kindergarten through eighth grade at the Pleasant Valley District 47 School. He then attended Halstead High School where he was a four-sport athlete.

Bob and Charlotte raised two children, Kevin and Kendra. They said they were very involved with their children’s activities and said their children would describe them as good parents, caring and hardworking.

“We think our children are awesome. They have grown into considerate, loving adults, who have a good work ethic,” Charlotte and Bob said.

To continue reading and for stories about the other Old Settlers award recipients, please see this week's print edition.

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Children's Books Coming To Bentley Mailboxes

Posted 8/10/2017

By Jared Janzen

BENTLEY—Youngsters in the Bentley area will soon have a reason to get excited about checking their family’s mailbox. Children five and under living in the Bentley ZIP code (67016) are now eligible to sign up for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, which mails a new book to kids once a month.

The program is available thanks to a grant from the Central Kansas Community Foundation Kids FUNd applied for by Marcia Mueller, third-grade teacher at Bentley Primary School.

“I’m super excited that families will have the opportunity to receive free books,” Mueller said. “Data has shown amazing results for the children that have participated in the program when it comes to their literacy skills once they reach school age.”

The program had previously been available to children in Harvey County, but with the Halstead-Bentley school district stretching across two counties, this left out many families residing in Bentley.

According to Mueller, 42 children with Halstead addresses are currently enrolled.

She said an estimated 54 children in the Bentley area could benefit from the program, based on data from the Sedgwick County United Way.

“I want all of our Halstead/Bentley families that have children under the age of five to have the opportunity to participate in this wonderful program,” Mueller said.

The Imagination Library mails books to more than a million children every month in more than 1,600 communities across the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom, according to the Imagination Library website.

Mueller learned about the program through her experiences as USD 440’s Kansas Teacher of the Year nominee during the previous school year. This honor included touring other school districts to gain new ideas, and the Imagination Library is one of numerous ideas she decided to pursue. So far she’s also received a $1,000 grant from Wolf Creek to start coding and robotics at Bentley Primary School.

Halstead-Bentley Superintendent Tom Alstrom said he hopes receiving a book in the mail each month will encourage kids to sit down with their parents and enjoy the stories together. Instituting this program for Bentley students was all thanks to Mueller, he said.

“Marcia has done all the legwork,” he said. “I can’t take any credit.”

Alstrom said the district would like to better promote the Imagination Library program as the new school year gets underway so more parents know of the available opportunity. He added that he would speak with the school board about possibly subsidizing the program. The program’s availability will continue until the grant funds are used up.

Families in Sedgwick County that would like to register their child or children for the program can do so online at Families in Harvey County must register with a paper form that will be available during back-to-school conferences at the primary school and middle school. Any questions about registering for the program may be directed to Mueller at

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