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September 7, 2017 
Harvey County IndependentSeptember 7, 2017 Harvey County Independent

Former Halstead Resident Escapes Hurricane's Devastation

Posted 9/7/2017

By Jared JanzenTHIS photo was taken last Sunday, Aug. 27, from JP Morgan Chase Tower in downtown Houston where former Halstead resident Kim Hall works. THIS photo was taken last Sunday, Aug. 27, from JP Morgan Chase Tower in downtown Houston where former Halstead resident Kim Hall works.

HOUSTON, Texas—Nearly two weeks ago Hurricane Harvey struck devastation to parts of Texas and Louisiana, killing at least 39 people and causing more than one million to evacuate their homes. 

One of the people in the path of the hurricane was former Halstead resident Kim Hall, who now lives in Houston. Hall was fortunate that her part of the city was not severely impacted by the storm.

“The sun is shining today,” Hall said last Friday, about a week after the brunt of the storm. “It kind of feels back to normal, but it definitely is not back to normal for a lot of people.”

Hall lived in Halstead since 1993 but moved to Houston in May. She still has family here. She lives in Midtown Houston, south of downtown, and she said her area wasn’t badly hit by the hurricane.

“I’m lucky, I don’t have any drama to tell,” she said.

Hall started preparing for the storm Thursday evening, Aug. 25. She had to wait 30 minutes to fill up with gas, and shelves were nearly bare at the grocery store from so many others stocking up.

Rain started off and on Friday and continued through Saturday. The hardest hit came that night, and Hall woke up Sunday morning to two feet of water outside her apartment. These waters had receded by Sunday afternoon. After that, a steady, light rain continued through Tuesday.

This was Hall’s first hurricane, but she said her experience wasn’t much worse than other storms she’s been through.

“I’m used to Kansas thunderstorms and tornadoes,” she said. “This one didn’t have the great, rolling clouds, just gray skies and lots rain.”

Hall was really fortunate, she said, not to experience the devastation felt by so many others in the region. While many lost their homes, possessions, pets or even loved ones, she escaped with nothing other than a few days’ inconvenience.

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Matlack And Robinson Join Burrton Teaching Staff

Posted 9/7/2017

MARANDA Matlack and Rachael Robinson are two of the new teachers at Burrton this year.MARANDA Matlack and Rachael Robinson are two of the new teachers at Burrton this year.By Pilar Martin

BURRTON—Maranda Matlack has returned to Burrton schools this year. She taught third grade in Burrton for five years and left teaching to become a mom.

“Now that Luke is 4 and Ty is 3, I decided to come back to work,” she said. “I really missed teaching.”

Matlack is a classroom reduction specialist and ended up in the fifth grade this year. “I will go to whatever grade needs help,” she said. She has noticed a few differences between third and fifth graders.

“Well, they are bigger for one thing. I have really noticed fifth graders are much more independent,” Matlack added.

Teaching hasn’t changed that much since she started. “Before we were focused on Kansas standards, now it is common core. With common core teaching, every school in every state is supposed to teach the same curriculum at each grade level. That way, if a child move from one state to another, they should be able to pick right up with the same coursework,” she said.

New special education teacher Rachael Robinson has really changed her classroom environment. “I taught life skills at Campus High School in Haysville,” Robinson said.

Robinson and her husband Greg moved to Burrton a couple of years ago. Greg is a middle school math teacher at Burrton.

Rachael has been commuting back and forth daily to Haysville.

“First Greg got a job here, and then a house we wanted came on the market,” she said. “This year a job opened up here in Burrton to I jumped on it.” Now her commute is minutes a day instead of hours.

“I have never been in a small school. With fewer students, I can do more with each student. I just piggyback on what the teachers are teaching in the classroom,” Robinson said.

Robinson likes what she sees at Burrton. “There are projects, like the outdoor gardens where all the classes get involved with each other. It is wonderful to see. We didn’t do that in Haysville,” she said.

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West Nile Virus Season Is Hear; Area May Be At Risk

Posted 9/7/2017

By Pilar Martin

HARVEY COUNTY—You may think with summer nearly over, the threat of mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses are nothing to worry about.

However, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) released a report last week showing the West Nile Virus has been detected in Sedgwick and Reno counties. Only four counties in the state perform mosquito surveillance. So it is not known if the disease is present in mosquitoes here.

Surveillance is done from mid-May through October.

Skip Cowan with the Harvey County Health Department said those four counties have labs of their own. “We don’t have a lab here. That is a separate funding source,” Cowan said.

Cowan’s department is notified if it is determined a person contracted West Nile in Harvey County.

“It’s hard to establish exactly where someone is bit,” Cowan said. “People travel so much. If a blood sample tests positive, our department will be notified.”

West Nile is contracted by bites from the culex mosquito. The mosquito season is late summer and early fall, until the first hard freeze. There are no vaccinations to prevent getting West Nile.

According to the KDHE website, the entire state is in high risk for those culex mosquitoes right now.  The best thing you can do is use preventative measures for you and your family.

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Editorial: Be Glad We Had Bubba In Houston

Posted 9/7/2017

By Robb ReevesRobb Reeves,
Independent PublisherRobb Reeves, Independent Publisher

The camera quickly found him.

He was a bigger man, a little overweight, with a full beard and wearing camouflage. We saw him on our TV screens standing in thigh-deep water in the rain. We saw him drive his fishing boat down a freeway, carry people in his arms, and sometimes he just stared at his beleaguered city.

Bubba was the first responder in Houston and thank God he was there. Bubba shows up. He has been showing up to weddings, work, funerals, birthdays, and football games most of his life. He is the guy you borrow a socket wrench from when you can’t find yours.

When tragedies the size of Hurricane Harvey happen, the government, no matter how much bigger we make it year after year, is too small to help. When the water overwhelmed the nation’s fourth largest city, leaders cried for assistance and Bubba came.

Bubba didn’t plan for this day. He was supposed to be at the plant, working first shift. Yet his boat was ready and he launched into waters that carried snakes, fire ants, millions of bacteria and submerged cars. No one told him to go. No one offered Bubba money. He just did what he could.

We saw Bubba haul hundreds of people out of Houston’s high waters. This wasn’t a Coast Guard operation. It was just Bubba and his cousins and his mortgaged boat churning above Houston concrete on what has to be the weirdest day in Bubba’s life.

When the boat was under throttle and flying down Houston streets, the Bubbas grinned a little. As kids they dreamed of doing this.

Bubba did a few interviews when the cameras came up to him. But he didn’t say much, and never really does. He isn’t sure he trusts the media and any time spent talking to a reporter means less time on the water.

Bubba wondered about his own family. Were his kids dry? Was his wife scared? She told him not to do this but Bubba needed to get out of the house.

Bubba wonders when he will get to eat Houston’s fantastic Mexican food on a normal Friday night and drink a cold beer. When he starts to think about what all has happened this week, he gets a little overwhelmed and looks for another family to pick up. What he does after the flood is too much to think about today. In a county of 4.6 million people, he just keeps picking up people he doesn’t know and putting them in his boat. The people clustered in the boat are drenched, cold and clinging to trash bags of belongings.

The last 10 years have been tough for Bubba. The people he doesn’t understand want to take away his job. He is being outsourced to China, India or replaced by Silicon Valley robots. Bubba doesn’t know how to stop the tide of change coming at him that is much stronger than Harvey.

He is the guy the manager asks to come in early when a machine is broken at the factory. He is the guy we ordered to pull the trigger in Iraq.

When he goes in to buy a new four-wheeler, Bubba is reminded that his credit score isn’t what it used to be. Even if he could get the four-wheeler he wants, there aren’t places to ride it anymore and little time. His life is more about working at the plant and hoping his wife can string together a series of payments every month. In fact, he might be behind a month on the boat payment.

When the waters of Harvey recede, Bubba’s same old problems will be there plus new ones he can’t think about right now.

Bubba can drive an airboat as good as anyone. He can read water, service an outboard motor, and catch a limit of catfish. But the world doesn’t place much value on those things anymore.

Bubba is disappearing. He notices his son is more interested in staring at his phone than repairing the riding lawnmower. Bubba wonders how much longer he can keep paying for his F-150, the four-wheeler and a boat.

But for a few days in Houston, we needed Bubba and his boat and his skills.

Don’t praise FEMA, the governor, the president or the mayor.

Just be glad we had Bubba.

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