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New Junction City High School ribbon-cutting held on Saturday

The brand-new Junction City High School has been officially christened.

USD 475 officials held a ribbon cutting for the 437,000-square-foot facility on Saturday afternoon after four years of planning and construction and more than a month after it opened with a crowd of several hundred people in attendance.

“Today we have a facility that stands as a flagship for Junction City,” said USD 475 School Board President Dr. Anwar Khoury. “It allows our students to receive a top-notch, 21st century education in a 21st century building but it also allows growth, creativity and collaboration to flourish for many years to come.”

The $132 million building is organized into four different academies including the Freshman Success Academy (FSA), the Science, Engineering and Heath Academy (SEH), the Business, Public Safety and Hospitality Academy (BESH) and the Fine Arts and Human Services Academy (FAHS).

“This is the envy of every military installation across the Army, without a doubt,” Fort Riley Garrison Commander Colonel William McKannay said.

Kansas Sen. Tom Hawk and U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall spoke at the event along with Executive Director of the Kansas Department of Commerce Retired Lieutenant General Perry Wiggins.

Building principal Merrier Jackson indicated that the new high school is the largest in square-footage in the state of Kansas.

After the ribbon cutting, guests were invited to participate in student-led tours of the school.

“These kids are going to find solutions for problems we have now and future problems we can’t even imagine the solutions for standing here,” Jackson said addressing the crowd. “And it will be because of your commitment to (the students).”

Junction City's first Oktoberfest "exceeds expectations"
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Junction City hosted their first Oktoberfest celebration on Friday and Saturday and by all accounts, it was a big success.

An estimated 4000 people flocked to downtown Friday evening and another 1000 to 2000 came out Saturday afternoon for beer, food and entertainment.

“It exceeded out expectations,” Matt Hoover, one of the volunteers who helped put on the event said. “We were pleasantly surprised with the amount of people who came out. It was a great turnout on Friday and while it was a little lighter on Saturday, we probably would’ve had even more if we went on into the evening.”

The event was organized and spearheaded by Matt’s dad Justin Hoover as part of the Junction City Main Street downtown revitalization project.

There were several live bands and dancers throughout both days to go along with plenty of beer and food to go around.

With the success of the event, Oktoberfest will be back next year and Hoover hopes to have even more food and craft venders to make the event even larger.

“This is a sustainable event,” Hoover said. “We know the community is interested in a downtown Oktoberfest in Junction City. We’ll be able to show sponsors and vendors how popular this was in its first year and hopefully they’ll be able to help us continue to grow in the years to come.”

USD 475 to continue masking

USD 475’s Board of Education voted on Monday to continue the requirement for all students, staff and visitors to wear masks regardless of their vaccination status.

The continuation of the mandate includes all district facilities and district vehicles, including school buses.

The masking requirement will stay in effect until April 4, 2022 when the board will reevaluate and reassess the guidelines as necessary.

Junction City Area Retired School Personnel honor former members

Junction City Area Retired School Personnel (JCARSP) met at the Zion United Church of Christ on Friday, October 8 at 10:30 AM. The purpose of the JCARSP is to provide an organizational framework through which retired school personnel can continue a life of service to fellow members, their active colleagues, and the community.

Joe and Sheila Markley updated the group on upcoming events at the C.L. Hoover Opera House and Detective Al Babcock with the Junction City Police Department told the group about the role of local law enforcement agencies who work with a program titled Shop With A Cop.

Margaret Kilpatrick installed the new officers of the JCARSP who included: Dr. Ferrell Miller, President; Vice President/Chaplain, Louise Jahnke; Recording Secretary, Linda Holzer; Corresponding Secretary, Sharon Sharpe and Treasurer, Sheila Ritchie. The officers will serve until May of 2022.

Dr. Miller presided over the rest of the meeting by inviting members to tour the new Junction City High School on Friday, October 15 from 10:00 AM until 11:15.

A Memorial Service for JCARSP Lost But Not Forgotten was conducted by Louise Jahnke. Those remembered included: Richard “Dick” Polgreen; Elsie N. Blanka; Ben Bennett; Maxine Margaret Horner Marston; Charles Volland; Wanda Bea Devin McRae and Joanne Cora Wood Ehlers McKenna.

JCARSP Scholarship winners were announced and then included: A $500.00 scholarship from JCARSP to Emily Stanphill; the Grace Burkhead Memorial Scholarship of $500.00 to Nathan Green; the Harley and Elsie Blanka Scholarship for $1,000 to Makayla Powell.

The next meeting of the JCARSP will be December 10 beginning at 12:00 Noon with a light lunch catered by JC BBQ/Grill; a program about the St. Francis “Christmas Is For Kids” and entertainment by the JCHS JC Singers. Members will be asked to bring caps and gloves for youth at the Early Childhood Center.

Victim in Sunday night shooting identified

Geary County Sheriff’s Office had identified 22-year-old Enfinnity Latania Hayes of Fort Riley as the victim in Sunday night’s shooting at the Milford State Park Group Shelter.

Hayes and her husband were approached by the suspect who attempted to rob them by gunpoint. The suspect shot the victim and then fled the scene. Hayes was driven to Geary County Community Hospital by her husband where she was pronounced dead.

The suspect, which has not been identified, has been described as a 6-foot-1 or taller male dressed all in back.

If anyone has any information, they can Sheriff’s Office at 785-238-2261 or dispatch at 785-762-5912.

Total Covid-19 cases in Geary County continue to decrease while vaccination rates increase

There are currently 29 known active cases of COVID-19 in Geary County, according to the Geary County Health Department.

Four new cases of the delta variant have been identified by the health department, raising the total to 142.

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

The health department’s unofficial death count rose one to 38.

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 unchanged from last week.

The health department lists the county as having experienced 2509 cases of COVID-19 and 2453 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 4,625 cases of the virus since the pandemic began.

This difference of 2,116 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 a few 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 and Geary County ranks third in the state in vaccination rate.

The KDHE now lists 450.1 per 1,000 people aged 12 and above have had at least one dose of the vaccine in Geary County — a total of about 10,828.

According to the KDHE, 9,127 people are fully-vaccinated against the virus in Geary County — 379.4 per 1,000 people.

The KDHE also tracks cases in each individual individual school districts. Currently, there are 20 presumed student cases with a presumed student incidence rate of 3 per 1000 students which is a big step down from last week.

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

According to the most recent update from the hospital, there are 3 COVID-19 patients in the ICU and one of them is currently on a ventilator. There are four COVID-19 patients hospitalized at GCH at this time, and all but one are unvaccinated.

In total, GCH is serving 13 patients at this time, including those who are there for COVID-19-related treatments and those who are in the hospital for other reasons.