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Spays for Strays focused on tackling cat problem in Junction City

Tarkara Hawkins was driving one day near the intersection of West 4th and Garfield Street one day and noticed something odd: a collection of over 20 stay cats walking around.

Hawkins, a former Junction City Animal Shelter employee, had known about Junction City’s issues with stray cats for a while but that did it. She wanted to do something to help and thus, Spays for Strays was born.

“The idea was to try and trap and neuter as many stray cats as we can,” Hawkins said. “If they can’t reproduce, eventually the stray number will decrease.”

Areas like Sheridan Elementary School, Grant Avenue and East Third Street were also brought up by Hawkins as places in town with a high volume of stray cats.

According to the organization’s Facebook page: On average, a cat can have three litters of kittens per year with four kittens per litter. Female cats can reproduce basically throughout their entire life meaning they can have kittens for 12-15 years. That means one female cat could possibly have 180 kittens in a lifetime.

So Hawkins and some friends have started to set humane traps for the strays, taking them in and then helping them rehabilitate from diseases like ringworm or injuries sustained out in the wild and eventually will set up appointments to get them spayed.

Hawkins hopes that after the strays are spayed, she might be able to find homes for them but understands that some will have to go back on street.

The first group of strays is already rehabilitating at Hawkins’ home and she hopes to get them spayed sometime in October.

Spays for Strays is open to help from the outside community.

“We have an account at Town and Country Veterinary Clinic and any one can call and put money on it and those funds will go to the surgeries and vaccinations for the strays,” Hawkins said.

People can also donate cat traps or get ahold of the organization Friends with Animals which is also helping Spays for Strays financially with their mission.

Those interested can visit the Spays for Strays Facebook page for more information and regular updates on their current batch of soon-to-be-spayed strays.

Milford Lake exhibiting Warning levels of blue-green algae

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) have issued several public health advisories for Kansas lakes due to blue-green algae.

Milford Lake Zones B and C are on Warning level due to very high toxin levels in samples collected 8/30/2021. These toxins can be absorbed by ingestion, inhalation of aerosols and even skin contact. Children and dogs are more susceptible to toxin exposure. Blue-green algae blooms are unpredictable, and conditions can change quickly. All lake visitors should use caution and remain vigilant. The Milford State Park Splash Pad offers a safe recreation option for lake visitors throughout the season.

Active Advisories


Altamont City Lake “Idle Hour” — North Lake, Labette County

Colwich City Lake, Sedgwick County (new)

Gathering Pond at Milford, Geary County

Harvey County East Lake, Harvey County

Hodgeman Co SFL, Hodgeman County

Jerry Ivey Pond, Saline County

Lake Afton, Sedgwick County

Marion County Lake, Marion County

Marion Reservoir, Marion County

Melvern Outlet Pond, Osage County

Melvern Outlet Swim Pond, Osage County

Milford Lake Zones A, B and C, Geary/Dickinson/Clay Counties (Zone A upgraded Sept. 10)

Neosho Co SFL, Neosho County

South Lake, Johnson County


Altamont City Lake “Idle Hour” — Main Lake, Labette County

Big Eleven Lake, Wyandotte County

Buhler City Lake, Reno County

Cheney Lake, Reno County (new)

Ford County Lake, Ford County

Lake Jeanette, Leavenworth County

Pony Creek Lake, Brown County

Riverwalk Landing Pond, Geary County

Roses Lake, Johnson County (new)

Webster Reservoir, Rooks County

Advisories Lifted 9/10/21

Big Hill Lake, Labette County

Brown Co SFL, Brown County

Parsons Lake, Neosho County

A Warning status indicates that conditions are unsafe for human and pet exposure. Contact with the waterbody should be avoided.

When a warning is issued, KDHE recommends the following precautions be taken:

- Lake water is not safe to drink for pets or livestock.

- Lake water, regardless of blue-green algae status, should never be consumed by humans.

- Water contact should be avoided.

- Fish may be eaten if they are rinsed with clean water and only the fillet portion is consumed, while all other parts are discarded.

- Do not allow pets to eat dried algae.

- If lake water contacts skin, wash with clean water as soon as possible.

- Avoid areas of visible algae accumulation.

A Watch status means that blue-green algae have been detected and a harmful algal bloom is present or likely to develop. People are encouraged to avoid areas of algae accumulation and keep pets and livestock away from the water.

During the watch status, KDHE recommends the following precautions be taken:

- Signage will be posted at all public access locations.

- Water may be unsafe for humans/animals.

- Avoid areas of algae accumulation and do not let people/pets eat dried algae or drink contaminated water.

- Swimming, wading, skiing and jet skiing are discouraged near visible blooms.

- Boating and fishing are safe. However, inhalation of the spray may affect some individuals. Avoid direct contact with water, and wash with clean water after any contact.

- Clean fish well with potable water and eat fillet portion only.

KDHE investigates publicly-accessible bodies of water for blue-green algae when the agency receives reports of potential algae blooms in Kansas lakes. Based on credible field observation and sampling results, KDHE reports on potentially harmful conditions.

If you observe a scum or paint-like surface on the water, small floating blue-green clumps or filaments in the water, or if the water is an opaque green, avoid contact and keep pets away. These are indications that a harmful bloom may be present. Pet owners should be aware that animals that swim in or drink water affected by a harmful algal bloom or eat dried algae along the shore may become seriously ill or die.

For information on blue-green algae and reporting potential harmful algal blooms, please visit www.kdheks.gov/algae-illness/index.htm.

City to sell Spin City building

City commissioners decided to sell the Spin City building at 915 S Washington Street at their commission meeting on Tuesday.

The skating rink, which is owned by the city and is the only such establishment in the state not under private ownership, has been closed since March of 2020 due to COVID-19.

Currently, the building is in a state of disrepair needing major repairs for the roof and new carpeting among other smaller fixes that would be estimated to cost the city $150,000 before rehiring staff to run the rink.

Currently the building’s value is listed at $463,110.

City manager Allen Dinkel brought up that the city had been running Spin City at a loss but stated that wasn’t necessarily an issue, comparing the rink to a city pool.

While commissioners expressed their dismay that officially closing the rink and selling off the building would eliminate an entertainment option for young families in the community, they went ahead and instructed Dinkel to put out an request for proposal for prospective relators who’d like to market the building.

The commission also voted to give city employees a bonus as an appreciation stipend for employee’s efforts during the pandemic.

All employees who are on the payroll as of last Tuesday will receive the bonus. Full-time employees will be receiving a one-time $500 while part-time will receive $250.

The commission is scheduled to meet again Sept. 21.

Geary County reports eight new delta variant cases of Covid-19 in last week

There are currently 117 known active cases of COVID-19 in Geary County, according to the Geary County Health Department.

Eight new cases of the delta variant have been identified by the health department to bring the total to 132 but a total of 16 new cases of COVID-19 were identified last week, much smaller than the week before.

The health department also listed a total of 29 new recoveries from the virus.

The health department’s unofficial death count rose by one since last week to 36.

There have been a total of 20 known breakthrough cases of COVID-19 — cases where someone who was vaccinated contracted the virus nonetheless — in Geary County which is one higher than last week.

The health department lists the county as having experienced 2352 cases of COVID-19 and 2210 recoveries in total since the virus first arrived in the community in spring 2020.

The Kansas Department of Health and the Environment lists the community as having had more cases of the virus than the health department does.

The KDHE lists Geary County as having had a total of 4,426 cases of the virus since the pandemic began.

This difference of 2,074 is accounted for by numbers from the Geary County side of Fort Riley according to the health department. Fort Riley does not report its numbers directly to the health department, but does report its numbers to the KDHE.

While Geary County lags behind many other Kansas counties in terms of vaccination, the number of Geary County residents that have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has gone up.

The KDHE now lists 427.9 per 1,000 people aged 12 and above have had at least one dose of the vaccine in Geary County — a total of about 10,293.

According to the KDHE, 8,445 people are fully-vaccinated against the virus in Geary County — 351.1 per 1,000 people.

Geary Community Hospital routinely releases its COVID-19-related numbers to the public.

According to the most recent update from the hospital, there is one COVID-19 patient in the ICU and they are currently on a ventilator. There are three COVID-19 patients hospitalized at GCH at this time, one who is vaccinated and two who are not.

In total, GCH is serving 12 inpatients at this time, including those who are there for COVID-19-related treatments and those who are in the hospital for other reasons.

EOC work meeting set-up after PBC voices displeasure with county

The Geary County Public Buildings Commission read a prepared statement at last week’s county commission meeting on Tuesday expressing concern that county commissioners were trying to stall progress on the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that is slated to be built in the basement of the Geary County Office building at 200 East 8th Street.

The EOC has been a point of contention for the commission and concerns have been expressed with both the cost and the proposed location.

“This is not the time to do this and this is not the place because it’s going to cause other issues,” county commission chair Trish Giordano said.

The commission expressed concern with their storage capacity as well as their financial bandwidth to pay for both the EOC and renovations to the courthouse.

However, a contract was signed with Schultz Construction for the project last year which puts the commission in a tough spot.

“I’m not for it,” commissioner Alex Tyson said. “I understand there’s a contract and if we have to abide by that contact then that’s where I sit. But you guys can hear it from me, I will not vote to use county funds on the courthouse project. That’s where I stand, I’m not going to argue.”

Pat Collins, a former emergency manager from Manhattan, spoke in favor of the EOC during the meeting:

“Having someplace where we can immediately get together and coordinate that disaster makes all of the difference,” Collins said. “I don’t have any idea where you get the money and I don’t have a dog in this fight. But I would say if you’re going to have a place for coordination it needs to be big enough to handle the situation and it should be in your county-owned building. I’ve done it in a city-owned building and you never have the access to do things that you need to do.”

The commissioned scheduled a work meeting to discuss the issue further with the PBC and other involved parties for Monday afternoon. The meeting took place after press time of this paper.

Herington police cheif resigns after being served by KBI

The Herington police chief has resigned after he and the assistant police chief were served summonses following an investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation the KBI said in a release on Thursday.

On Wednesday, police chief John V. Matula, 36, was ordered to appear in Dickinson County District Court for alleged criminal damage to property and criminal trespass along with assistant chief Curtis M. Tyra, 43, who was served for alleged criminal trespass.

The suspected misdemeanors are believed to have occurred on May 18 relating to Matula and Tyra forcing entry into a residence without a search warrant.

This comes a year and a half after a Herington police officer resigned after claiming a McDonald’s employee in Junction City gave him a receipt with an explicative and then the word “pig” written on it. The former officer, William Darling, later admitted that he wrote the words on the receipt himself and then lied about it, sparking a viral controversy.

The investigation is ongoing.