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Volunteers decorated the lobby at C.L. Hoover Opera House for the holiday season on Monday. Opera House volunteers gathered and transformed the lobby into a Christmas dream, complete with nutcrackers, stockings, and a big beautiful tree!

Fort Riley soldiers arrive in Europe

Fort Riley soldiers continue to arrive in Europe as the 1st Infantry Division held a ceremony to commemorate the move.

The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, held a unit colors casing ceremony last week at King Field House. This is an Army tradition that symbolizes a unit’s deployment to another location.

About 4,000 soldiers in a series of flights are heading to Europe for a nine-month rotation to support NATO allies and partners.

“Next month the brigade will start another chapter in our European history,” Col. Bryan Harris, the commander of the 2nd ABCT, said at the ceremony. “The team is prepared to go anywhere and accomplish any mission.”

The U.S. Army announced in September that the 2nd ABCT will replace the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, to support the United States’ commitment to Operation Atlantic Resolve.

The purpose of the mission is to build readiness, increase interoperability and enhance relationships with militaries throughout Europe, according to the Army.

2nd ABCT, known as “Dagger Brigade,” is a maneuver brigade combat team that was first constituted on May 24, 1917. The brigade has participated in multiple conflicts to include World War I, Vietnam, Operation Iraqi Freedom and more.

KC woman dies in head-on crash on I-70

A Kansas City woman died Saturday night in a head-on crash with a semi on Interstate Highway 70 near Junction City, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

The crash happened at 10:20 p.m. Saturday at mile marker 311, 13 miles east of Junction City.

A 2017 Chevy Colorado was driving west on I-70, when the driver, Saeu Suluvale, 34, of Kansas City, Missouri, crossed the median into the eastbound lane. Her vehicle hit a 2022 Freightliner semi tractor-trailer driven by Timothy Wiley, 47, or Middleburg, Florida, that was going east.

Suluvale died at the scene. Wiley was taken to Geary Community Hospital for minor injuries, as was his passenger, Gregory Moniz, 52. Suluvale and Wiley were wearing seatbelts, according to reports.

Ogden Elementary's annual Literacy Night features books, hissing cockroach

Ogden Elementary students and families had the opportunity to interact with animals ranging from Rocco the therapy dog to a hissing cockroach at the school’s Literacy Night Tuesday.

More than 200 people came to Ogden Elementary for the event, which was themed “Wild About Reading.” Students and their families could walk through and check out points of interest set up throughout the school. Volunteers led read-aloud sessions during the evening, and kids took home a free book of their choice via a “book walk” activity. They also could get their faces painted, make bookmarks, or play some literacy games like alphabet hopscotch.

One of the more popular attractions was an ornate box turtle, the state reptile of Kansas, and a hissing cockroach brought by the Manhattan Sunset Zoo for children to touch. Seven-year-old Mya Stephens, a 2nd-grader, was less than enthusiastic about petting the roach, but she tried it.

“I preferred the turtle over the cockroach,” Stephens said. “I didn’t really like the cockroach that much.”

Ogden Elementary reading specialist and MTSS coordinator Leslie Payne said about 200 people also came to literacy night last year, but the turnout has been smaller the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, she said students could get a free “walking taco” in the cafeteria, as well as a complimentary snow cone from Kona Ice. A walking taco consists of a bag of chips — Payne said the school used Doritos this year — cut open, and then filled with taco meat, beans, lettuce and salsa. The end result is a portable meal that’s easy for children to carry.

Even though Tuesday evening was cold, with temperatures around 30 degrees, the Kona Ice snow cone truck parked outside the school saw heavy traffic. Payne said she learned from some of her students this spring that they’d never had a Kona Ice snow cone.

“We decided to that again for them,” Payne said, “because that was something a lot of the kids hadn’t really experienced, and I was surprised.”

Payne brought Rocco, the school’s therapy dog, to greet kids and parents as they walked through the front door of the school.

Rocco, who has been Ogden’s therapy dog for nine years, was the recipient of multiple belly rubs Tuesday evening.

Payne said events like Literacy Night are important for making positive connections among children, parents, teachers and the larger school community.

“I feel reading is the basis or number one predictor of school success,” Payne said. “If you’re promoting reading, you’re promoting all school success. There’s reading in math, in science, in social studies, so I feel like that should be a primary goal of every school, to promote reading.”

Stephens said she enjoyed the event, and she couldn’t wait to get her first snow cone. She also was excited about getting her face painted.

She said she felt it was better for kids to start reading “earlier than later.”

“That way, kids don’t have to work ‘hard hard,’ they can just start reading and then some books will be easy for them,” Stephens said.

Former Junction City resident sentenced to 51.6 years in prison

A Riley County judge has sentenced David Lee Gollahon to 51.6 years in prison for kidnapping and strangling a woman.

Riley County judge Kendra Lewison on Thursday sentenced David Lee Gollahon, 60, a former Junction City resident, for the kidnapping and strangling of Debra Ring in December 2017. The sentencing was delayed because of Gollahon challenging his criminal history.

A jury found Gollahon guilty of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and attempted robbery in late October 2021. Gollahon entered Scenic Valley Inn at 610 Scenic Drive, encountered Ring, threw her to the ground, straddled her, and began to choke her. He threatened to kill her if she didn’t stop screaming. The owner of Scenic Valley Inn, Diana Nickel, was in a locked bedroom and was able to call the police. Gollahon fled the scene but was arrested later that night. Gollahon paid his $500,000 bond and left Kansas before his trial.

Gollahon is currently serving a 12-year federal prison sentence after being arrested in 2019 in Baltimore. The Riley County Attorney’s office brought Gollahon back to face his charges in Riley County.

According to court documents, Gollahon filed a motion for a new trial but the state denied it, deeming it a fair trial with no errors made.

Lewison sentenced Gollahon to 620 months in prison to be served consecutive to his federal prison sentence.