Crawford Co. Mental Health Director retiring

PITTSBURG, Kans. — A 35-year legacy will soon be coming to an end in Southeast Kansas.

Dr. Michael Ehling has announced his retirement. He’s the executive administrator of the Crawford County Mental Health Center. He started there in 1987 as one of the first home-based family therapists in Kansas, around the beginning of mental health reform in the state. He went on to help develop a system of psychosocial care services and training for case management workers. His work would continue to influence mental health services across the state.

“It was a big challenge, but it was also a lot of fun in terms of being kind of a pioneer or starting the process and seeing it take root and now it permeates all that we do in all the Community Mental Health Centers in the state of Kansas,” said Dr. Ehling.

Ehling plans to retire on November 1st.

In the meantime, he hopes to continue to help with the development of a new addiction treatment center and crisis stabilization unit through the center.

One of his first goals post-retirement — he wants to hike the Camino de Santiago in Europe.


Pittsburg company expansion celebrates ribbon cutting

PITTSBURG, Kans. — Block22 was established back in 2018 as a way to foster business in Pittsburg, and facilitate growth throughout the city and, Wednesday, it saw that goal come to fruition.

“We bought this building in June of last year as an empty shell, with all kinds of possibilities. Just last month we moved in and made this home and we’re excited to welcome the community in,” said Brandee Johnson, Limelight Marketing Owner & President.

Wednesday afternoon was monumental for Limelight marketing as it welcomed the Pittsburg community into its new home on broadway.

“We’ve grown a lot in the last eight years starting with two employees and we’re now a team of 25 to 30 employees, both here in our local Pittsburg office and across the United States,” added Johnson.

A big accomplishment for the Pittsburg community. Four years ago, Block22 was established to help develop businesses throughout the city, like Limelight.

“The number one example, they went first. They were in Block22 right when it opened. So they started in that area, they grew, they got too big for it, and what you see now is they’ve moved on to a downtown building of their own,” said Daron Hall, Pittsburg City Manager.

“I think when we moved into Block22 we were about a team of eight and as we left we were a team of 28,” said Johnson.

Thanks in part to the businesses Limelight met during its time at Block22.

“We had the opportunity to work side by side with a software development company that we then acquired in 2021, and that has really expanded Limelight and our capabilities,” said Johnson.

Which has allowed Limelight to make it on Inc. 5000.

“This is a shortlist of the fastest growing private companies in the United States based on revenue growth, so it’s a key achievement we feel very proud of and one that I give credit to my team for,” she added.


Pittsburg area companies prep for Corporate Challenge event

PITTSBURG, Kans. — An annual tradition kicked off Monday night in Pittsburg.

The “Corporate Challenge” brings teams from companies across Crawford County together for friendly competition. Teams are divided into two divisions, 100 or more employees, and 99 or fewer employees, all competing in games like golf, ax-throwing, and trivia while supporting local Pittsburg businesses.

“Community involvement is kind of the biggest thing. We want everybody in the community to come out and enjoy and have fun. And then just kind of build on it, get them out, get them active, and just be part of the community as a whole,” said Kelsey Lawler, Pittsburg Parks & Recreation Athletics Manager.

Games will be held every day this week and wrap up on Sunday.


Grove man wanted for enticing kids to his Corvette with candy

Kirk William Owen – Photo provided by Crawford County Sheriff’s Office

CRAWFORD COUNTY, Kans. — Authorities have identified and began their search for a man reportedly seen offering candy to kids and asking for their home address in Crawford County.

Following multiple reports, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office have identified the man as Kirk William Owen, of Grove, Oklahoma.

In the first incident reported on the afternoon of July 31st, Owen drove up to several minors in a Cherokee, Kansas park in his white Corvette while wearing just underwear and a shirt. Owen first showed the kids his car and gave large bags of candy, promising more if they would provide their home address.

Owen said he would later show up at their house and “rev his engine” so they would know he’s outside and visit him for more candy. One of the children did give him their address, however, Owen would leave the area shortly after.

The second incident was reported just Wednesday around 9:30 AM with Owen driving the same vehicle. A neighbor spotted Owen as he was driving by the same children’s home in Cherokee and stopped him. After confronting him, Owen sped off and has not been seen since.

Owen’s white Corvette

Anyone with information on Owen’s whereabouts are asked to call the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office at 620-724-8274.


First openly gay drag racer to unveil Pride car in Topeka

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Travis Shumake, the first openly gay professional drag racer, will make his racing debut in a pride-themed dragster at Heartland Motorsports Park at the NHRA Nationals Aug. 12-14.

The car features a bison and Pride Kansas on the side, with a geometric rainbow hood and matching parachutes.

“Just like the city of Topeka, the sport of NHRA drag racing is an unexpectedly welcoming and diverse place,” Shumake said. “Making my national event debut in Topeka sends a clear message that cities and sports with traditionally conservative reputations shouldn’t be overlooked as leaders in diversity. I couldn’t have picked a better debut sponsor. We are both trying to provide representations, resources, and hope to underrepresented groups.”

Shumake, a second-generation racer, follows in the footsteps of his father Tripp Shumake, a nationally renowned Funny Car racer who also competed in the NHRA.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Travis to Topeka in August for his national debut,” Topeka Mayor Mike Padilla said. “Topeka is committed to being an inclusive and welcoming community, which has been demonstrated in our recent Human Rights Commission Municipal Equality Index score, in which we received the highest score in the state, tying only with Overland Park. As a city, we continue to increase our efforts on the score, ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table in everything we do.”

An unveiling of the car will take place on Aug. 10, 2022, at the Rainbow Crosswalk in the North Topeka Arts and Entertainment District (NOTO).

The dragster is a 24-foot, 4,000-horsepower, nitromethane-burning rocket.

Visit Topeka and Pride Kansas have announced their sponsorship of the car.


Pittsburg hosts Special Olympics Kansas bowling competition

PITTSBURG, Kans. — People have been able to get out and enjoy their summers for the first time in a while and now, some local athletes are getting their time to shine.

“It gives these athletes a place to be and a place to be celebrated,” said Erin Fletcher, Special Olympics Kansas Brands & Development Director.

Athletes from across Southeast Kansas are making their way to Pittsburg this week for the Special Olympics Kansas Adult Regional Bowling Competition at Holiday Lanes.

“We’ve got a variety of adults from around the area that are coming and competing with bowling, and it’s the first time we’ve been able to do this since the pandemic,” said Fletcher.

“We haven’t been going here for a long time. I’ve been having fun, and I’ve been able to do something that we’ve wanted to do in this whole wide world,” said Tyson Wiemers, Athlete.

Over 100 athletes like Wiemers were joined by the coaches and volunteers from across the community.

“We have at least five different groups of volunteers that are here today, and we have everything from area businesses, to our volunteer groups from Kiwanis, to Pittsburg Area Young Professionals, to the Chamber of Commerce,” said Fletcher.

One of those volunteer groups includes local law enforcement like the Pittsburg Police Department who are no strangers to working with Special Olympics Kansas.

“They’re here to help hand out medals and celebrate our athletes. They work with the Law Enforcement Torch Run which is the biggest fundraising group for not just Kansas, but for all of Special Olympics,” said Fletcher.

“We enjoy doing what we do. We enjoy raising money for Special Olympics athletes and we enjoy coming to their events, so that’s the biggest part of it. We can raise the money, we can do all the events, but when we get to come here and hand out medals. That’s the best part of it,” said Lt. Chris Moore, Pittsburg Police Department.


Kansas to match Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program investments

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced on Friday that the Kansas Children’s Cabinet will begin matching investments made by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) programs.

The DPIL is a nonprofit organization that mails over 1.8 million age-appropriate books each month to registered children from birth to age five. Dolly Parton’s mission is to create a lifelong love of reading in children and inspire them to dream. This flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation has gifted 184 million free books to children in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and Australia.

“We know that one of the most important factors for early childhood learning and development is an early introduction to books and being read to at home,” said Kelly. “Kansas community organizations currently connect more than 42,500 children with the gift of books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library each month. This new funding will enable the program to reach even more Kansas children.”

The Kansas Children’s Cabinet has been working on expanding access to the DPIL since September of 2021. Since every family must be signed up through a local community program, enlisting nonprofits is essential. The program has seen an increase from 82 to 98 programs and added coverage in 65 additional zip codes. Kansas now has coverage across 91 counties out of 105. This funding is to help cultivate even more local community programs.

“As a father, I know the joy that comes from reading with your child,” said State Representative Troy Waymaster. “Shortly after our son was born, we enrolled him in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. All children in the state of Kansas should have the ability to participate in this program as well. I am committed to helping ensure that all children in the state of Kansas, from ages zero to five, will have this opportunity.” 

The additional funding from the Kansas Children’s Cabinet is made possible by a line item to add $500,000 to the Children’s Initiative Fund included in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which the legislature passed.

To learn more about the DPIL, check availability in your area, and/or register a child, click here.


Miner’s Hall Museum ends tourism week with the Big Kansas Roadtrip

FRANKLIN, KS — In a small, quaint town right outside Arma, KS — there sits a museum that’s a hidden treasure. If you need a hint as to which one we’re talking about then we recommend you give it a visit. It’s the Miner’s Hall Museum that swang by the studio to help kick off the end of national tourism week. It also is a part of the Big Kansas Roadtrip. Earlier this week, we covered the road trip that’s highlighting three counties in our area — Crawford, Bourbon, and Cherokee. Now, it’s our turn to highlight one of the stops along the way. Here’s some more information on the museum itself:

  • Located at: 701 S Broadway St., Franklin, KS 66735
  • Phone number: 620-347-4220
  • Open Monday through Saturday — 10 am to 4 pm.


Big Kansas Roadtrip:

Reveal of the Big Kansas Roadtrip


Carona Train Depot:

Larry Spahn rolls into the KOAM studio to talk about the Heart of the Heartland museum.



Reveal of the Big Kansas Roadtrip

Crawford Co., KS — The Big Kansas Roadtrip is coming to the 4-states. Not only is it coming to Crawford county, but Cherokee and Bourbon as well!


  • May the 5th through the 8th.
  • For more information click this link.
  • Multiple attractions, events, and restaurants are featured in this road trip including — Chicken Annie’s, Mary’s, and Big Brutus located in Crawford county. The color guide located on the site has everything you need to see along the way. The guide can be found here.