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Heads in the clouds

A local group not only shares a love for the sky and airplanes; it also shares the hobby with young people.

The Flint Hills Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association in Junction City allows youth to discover aviation and work on airplanes.

President Jeremy Gorman said there are many different ways that youth get involved with the program, one of which is through the Young Eagles program.

“That’s where we bring the kids in here, and we have them work on aircraft in conjunction with us,” Gorman siad.

Right now, the club has three different aircraft they can work on, with another one hopefully coming in January.

One of the planes the group is working on is a certified plane, so a certified A&P mechanic is watching over their work. The plane will be completely put together when they finish up and are ready to fly. Most of the planes the group works on can only work on to a certain point until they sell it.

When kids first show up for the program, they generally go on a plane ride with an adult group member.

“We’ll do a preflight inspection with them where we explain quite a bit out how it works, then we’ll take them out, and we’ll fly them,” Gorman said.

Gorman said they turn the control over to the kids at some point during their flight and start teaching them how to fly before they start the program

On Saturday, the weather was cold and windy, so only a few high school-aged kids showed up. Gorman said that 12-25 kids often show up depending on the time of year.

Dominick Perea, 18, of Chapman, his dad was in the military for 20 years, then retired and worked at the legion in Chapman. Perea said a man at the legion gave him a card with info about EAA, and he fell in love.

Perea’s plan is to join the U.S Air Force and fly with them and continue his family’s military career.

“I’d be the first officer in my family if I do. That’s kind of like my whole big plan,” Perea said. “Afterwards, I want to become an aerospace engineer. I want to NASA’s and Lockheed Martin’s teams. But mostly, I just want to fly in the airforce.

Perea also received a $10,000 scholarship to begin working on his pilot’s license.

Jordan Westover has been coming to the program for six years, he started in middle school. Westover is more interested in the mechanical parts of the plane. On one of the planes they are working on, he helped with the tires, brake disks and helped rivet the plane.

“I’ve always liked to build stuff and take things apart; mechanical things is what interests me,” Westover said.

Westover said airplanes are more of a hobby for him and he likes what he does now.

“I’d like to get my private license, with experimental aircraft, you can work on it like if it was your own car,” Westover said.

The next project the program intends to build is quicksilver sport 2S which they will be able to fly.

Joshua Haselton, 17, said he likes to fly and build planes. He wants to become a commercial airline pilot. He is working on his private pilot license. He has completed 17 of 40 hours and expects to finish in March. Right now, he has been flying in a Cessna 150.

Gorman said the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation and the Don Dodge Foundation are funding sources that allow the program to function.

Johnathan Pope, 18, received a scholarship last year and is working on his pilot’s license. Pope said he was interested in aviation back home in Georgia, but there wasn’t much. When he moved to Kansas, he wanted to get plugged into aviation, so he joined the program.

Pope is a part of a program called civil air patrol. He said it’s the auxiliary of the Air Force; it’s a cadet program that he said is like JROTC.

“We do search and rescue, we do disaster relief, and we get kids interested in aviation and the military,” Pope said. “It teaches kids alot about leadership programs or leadership qualities. Right now, Pope is the cadet commander for the civil air force.

Pope plans to join the air national guard, get his four-year degree and then fly cardo jets.

1st Division returns home to Chicago for Veterans Day

CHICAGO — U.S. soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division were distinguished guests in a historic Veterans Day Commemoration Ceremony at Soldier Field on Friday.

To honor this day, soldiers currently serving in America’s oldest active duty Division attended the event to commemorate the long history between the unit and the city of Chicago.

“Veterans Day is a day when we recognize those who have served honorably in uniform and pay tribute to the sacrifices they have made for this country,” said acting 1st Infantry Division Command Sgt. Maj. Albert Serrano. “Ceremonies like this not only bond 1st ID Soldiers past and present but celebrate those who have served in uniform.”

1st ID and Chicago have a long and deeply rooted connected history. Cantigny Park, the former estate of Col. Robert R. McCormick, is home to the First Division Museum, an institution dedicated to the history of the “Big Red One.” For more than 60 years, the park has provided fascinating insights about America’s 1st Division past and present.

“Veterans Day recognizes those who have served honorably in uniform,” said Brig. Gen. Rodney Boyd, Assistant Adjutant General for the Illinois National Guard. “Think about all the veterans who set aside their differences to be part of the military team”

Over three dozen Soldiers from the Division, each branch of the United States military, and local civic leaders took part in the ceremony, which took place in front of “American Doughboy” by Ernest Moore Viquesney. Doughboy was an informal term for a member of the United States Army or Marine Corps, primarily used to refer to members of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I.

“Veterans Day is our sacred opportunity to remember and thank veterans of past and present for proudly serving our country,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “As we honor their bravery and sacrifice, we must demonstrate our gratitude to veterans and their families by ensuring they come home to a city that cares for them and fights for their happiness and prosperity in return.”

The Division marked its return to the city amid some elements deployed forward to areas of Eastern Europe, supporting the United States European Command Enhanced deterrence initiative.

“I’m extremely proud to be a part of this division and would like to thank the city of Chicago for hosting us today,” said U.S. Army Capt. Chase Antony. “As someone who grew up here, it’s heart-warming to witness this while also seeing Soldiers from across the Division take part in this ceremony is such a monumental and special occasion for me.”

For active duty and veterans alike, this ceremony reflected the service and sacrifice of those who continue to support and serve the nation.

Giordano keeps commission seat, Butler wins in 68th

Incumbent Trish Giordano beat out Republican contender Brad Roether Nov. 8 for Geary County Commission District 1.

Giordano, and independent, came away with 1,532 votes, or 54%, while Roether had 1,301, or 46%. That race had 13 write-ins.

Those totals are according to the final totals from the Geary County clerk’s office.

“Public service is in my blood, and I love this community. I am extremely proud of the all the accomplishments this current commission has completed in such a short time,” Giordano previously told The Union. “Now that we have a finance director position and a solid plan for our hospital, things should calm down for the commission to work on policy and planning.”

Meanwhile, in the race for the 68th District of the Kansas House of Representatives, Republican Nathan Butler won with 1,319, or 69% of the vote. Democrat Michael Seymour II got 585, with 31% of the vote.

“My priority is to be educated on political processes and issues so that I can make educated decisions,” Butler previously told The Union. “Additionally, I plan to be the voice for my constituents in the 68th District.”

The House District 65 race was uncontested; Republican Jeff Underhill won that race with 95% of the vote.

In statewide races, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly beat Republican Derek Schmidt to keep her office. Kelly and her lietenant, David Toland, had 51% of the vote in Geary County, with 3,013 votes. Schmidt and his running mate, Katie Sawyer, had 45% of the votes, or 2,695.

Meanwhile, in another state race that received a lot of attention, Republican Kris Kobach won attorney general over Democrat Chris Mann. Kobach took 53% of the vote in Geary County, while Mann had 47%.

In national office on last week’s ballot, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican, kept his seat over Democrat Mark Holland. Moran took 63% of the vote in Geary County, while Holland took 33%.

For U.S. House District 2, Republican Jake LaTurner beat Democrat Patrick Schmidt. In Geary County, LaTurner had 59% of the vote while Schmidt had 41%.

Two constitutional amendments also were on the ballot.

Out of 18,257 registered voters in the county, 5,962 voted. That means a voter turnout of about 33%.

RCPD investigates check theft worth over $4,000

The Riley County Police Department is investigating a theft by deception after someone cashed more than $4,000 in checks.

RCPD officers responded to the theft at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday in the 1300 block of Pierre Street in Manhattan.

A 39-year-old man reported an unknown person stole his checkbook and cashed five checks over a two-week time span. RCPD also identified Community First National Bank as a victim.

The estimated total loss is about $4,550.

Anybody with information on this crime or others can contact RCPD or the Manhattan Riley County Crime Stoppers at 785-539-7777.

USD 475 receives grant to support literacy at detention facility

A $3,000 grant will help young people in juvenile detention learn to read.

Geary County USD 475 recently received a $3,000 grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to support its student literacy initiative at the North Central Kansas Regional Juvenile Detention Facility in Junction City.

The grant is primarily being used to expand the book selection of the facility’s library to better meet the diverse needs of the students. The library is overseen by USD 475.

“The importance of libraries in juvenile detention centers cannot be overemphasized,” said Donna Shell, an instructor at the facility. “Books keep students mentally occupied and entertained instead of staring at concrete walls and making trouble.”

According to Shell, the link between literacy and juvenile incarceration is heavily documented. Regular testing at the facility has shown that most of the students in its Secure Care Center have reading deficits, some at four or more levels below their grade.

“Due to factors that cause the students to miss school — whether incarceration, skipping classes, or running away — their education is continually interrupted, and this magnifies the factors contributing to their high-risk status,” said Cathy Rankin, another instructor at the facility.

“Thanks to Dollar General, we can do a better job of addressing these issues in our facility,” said Shell. “The students love new books, and it is wonderful to see them getting excited and talking about the new selections this grant provides.”

“Having a wide variety of books keeps them reading and, in turn, increasing their reading levels,” Rankin said.

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation provides grant funding to support literacy and education initiatives serving individuals of all ages. The Foundation funds nonprofit organizations, schools and libraries within a 15-mile radius of Dollar General stores in the states in which they operate.