PHS students recycle to give back

PITTSBURG, Kans. — Students at one Southeast Kansas school are showing off their green thumbs today.

Today was the first harvest of produce from the school’s new shipping container farm.

Not only is this giving students a hands-on approach to their education, but it’s also providing a resource for the high school as a whole.

“It’s our farm to our table. It doesn’t get more local than on our premises here at PHS,” said Monica Smetana, PHS Kitchen Manager.

Today Pittsburg High School is seeing the fruits of their labor, or should we say vegetables.

“This is a converted shipping container that is used to grow produce,” said Aubry Ross, PHS Science Teacher.

Thanks to a partnership with Leafy Green Farms, this is allowing the students of PHS to get hands-on training for one of the latest advancements in agriculture, like the students in Aubry Ross’ botany class.

“We focus on plant science. We do a lot of home horticulture, so this is going to tie directly into that class,” said Ross.

The greens are then transported throughout the school, including Anthony Fischer’s Culinary program.

“You take the average bag of lettuce that comes in through production lines, it’s 14 to 21 days old before it even sees the customer. This, it’s hours old. Grown by the students. People have a bigger appreciation for stuff when they can follow it from seed all the way to their plate. Farm to table is a big trend right now, and this is taking farm to table to a whole new level,” said Fischer.

Eventually, the greens will come full circle, being grown by the students of Pittsburg, for the students of Pittsburg.

“We are actually growing this produce, mainly to supply our cafeteria with fresh, hyper-local, nutritiously dense food,” said Ross.

“It allows the children to taste different types and sorts of lettuces and herbs that we will serve daily at the salad bar,” said Smentana.

“So this container farm is just that, it’s technology partnered with traditional farming to create a product that’s usable everywhere,” said Fischer.

The school has several ideas in the works and Ross hopes this will eventually expand to the middle school as well.

But if anyone is really hoping to get a taste of the produce, they won’t have to wait too long. There are plans to start selling it at the Pittsburg Farmers Market in the coming months.


KS Sen. Moran stops by to discuss federal investments for Pittsburg & PPD

PITTSBURG, Kans. — An area city says thanks to their federal lawmaker for coming up with some funding for an important infrastructure project.

Kansas U.S. Senator Jerry Moran was the guest speaker at the Beard-Shanks Law Enforcement Center in Pittsburg.

Moran was able to secure $3 million for the building of a new wastewater treatment plant that will eventually replace the current one, which is already 50 years old.

While that doesn’t cover the entire cost of the new facility, Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall says it will certainly help.

Moran was also able to come up with $235,000 for the city’s police department so they can upgrade their tasers and virtual reality training system.


“That will train them to be more skilled in use of force tactics or de-escalation tactics and just ultimately, it will make our officers better-trained individuals to better serve the needs of our community,” said Brent Narges, Pittsburg Police Chief.

“He’s putting in $3 million from his earmark. There’s another million coming, and I think we’ve got the state’s in for about five or six so you know, we’re up to almost $10 million which is 25% of the cost so we’re very lucky,” said Daron Hall, Pittsburg City Manager.

Hall says the city hopes to break ground on the new wastewater facility sometime in 2024.


Pittsburg event brings international attention

PITTSBURG, Kans. — You may never have heard of investment casting, but we all use products made with that process every day.

The Kansas Technology Center on the campus of Pittsburg State is serving as the location of the 20th annual Investment Casting Institute Certification Program.
PSU engineering technology professor Russ Rosmait says the event draws people from all over the U.S. and even as far away as Mexico.

He says visitors come to learn more about the process of building investment casting molds. There are several good examples of items on campus made from the process.

“The gorilla that’s behind the stadium, that was made by investment casting, the statues that are all over campus. Some people have artwork that is investment cast, that is the typical art side of it. The other side that people don’t necessarily see is when you fly in a plane. The jet engine turbine blades, those are all investment cast,” said Russ Rosmait, PSU Engineering Tech Professor

He says hip and knee implants are also good examples of the process, as are many automotive component parts and even tools and golf clubs.

The event continues into next week.


Pittsburg Veteran receives Congressional Gold Medal

PITTSBURG, Kans. — It’s one of the deadliest battles of World War II that you may never have heard of, but two area men who were part of it finally received their just-do for playing a crucial role in it.

Soldiers with the U.S. Army weren’t just fighting the Japanese in the southeast Asian country of Burma, they were also battling Mother Nature in the form of a snake-infested and disease-riddled jungle.

Twins Johnie and Michael Baima played a crucial backup role with U.S. Special Forces trying to disrupt enemy supply lines and communications in what was known as Merrill’s Marauders.

And as they’d done their whole life, they did it together.

“We even slept in the same foxhole together, he slept there and I slept there,” said Johnie Baima, Congressional Gold Medal Recipient.

So how did these two brothers end up staying together during the war? Well, a family member says a Southeast Kansas judge intentionally stapled their applications together so they would always stay together.

Military practice at that time was to separate siblings so no family would suffer multiple deaths in the same theater of war.

Senator Jerry Moran personally handed a newly minted Congressional Gold Medal to Johnie, as well as his brother’s family.

“I think it was a great ceremony. I think it was a great honor to be here to see the gold medal given to John, my uncle. I wish my dad was here, he’s been gone right about a year ago today, so wish he would have been here for it,” said Michael Baima, Louie Baima’s Son.

In fact, Louie passed away the same day both families learned about the medal.

“The the story of the Baima brothers, the twin’s service in the Pacific, is an amazing one of struggle and being heroes, and we need, the country needs to see that there are people willing to do things that are more important than just themselves,” said Senator Moran.

Of the 3000 men who volunteered as Merrill’s Marauders, only 200 survived.

The medals were awarded at the PSU Veterans Memorial.


PSU program upgrades prepare students for future of fitness management

PITTSBURG, Kans. — Jobs in the exercise science industry continue to grow at one of the fastest rates in the country.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is a trend that could continue into 2028. This growth has motivated a similar development at Pittsburg State University.

“There’s never been a bigger interest in sports, and sports performance as a whole. The field has just exploded,” said Dr. David Boffey, PSU Asst. Professor of Exercise Science

Over the past year, Dr. David Boffey has helped expand the capabilities of the Health, Human Performance and Recreation Department at Pitt State.

“Starting this fall 2022, we’re going to have an emphasis in human performance and strength and conditioning, and we’re also going to have a separate emphasis in clinical and pre-professional,” said Boffey.

The department will also see two new courses in exercise science along with several new upgrades to the Human Performance Lab.

“We have a full several barbell wracks, we have Olympic lifting plates, we have a wide range of barbells and dumbells. What we did was we outfit an existing lab we have, and now we have a true human performance lab, where we’re going to use a lot of that technology I talked about to measure actual students during class and analyze the data in class,” said Boffey.

And not just with students inside the department, but in different programs. Already, they’ve helped students in the PSU R.O.T.C. prepare for their Army Physical Fitness Test.

“They have to pass this fitness test on campus each semester to get their scholarship benefits and then continue to progress towards commissioning once they graduate. Once they graduate and go to the real army it’s a requirement every six months, every year to pass that fitness test or else you don’t meet the requirements to be in the army,” said Josh Shay, PSU ROTC Scholarships & Enrollment Officer.

Eventually, Dr. Boffey hopes to expand students experience to athletic programs across campus.

“We’re going to be working with the football strength and conditioning staff and actually measuring their athletes at different times of the year, and then ultimately working with other athletic departments, and give them that experience and give them the time it takes to learn how to use all these tools in the classroom,” said Boffey.


Jefferson Highway Association rolls into town with its Parade of Cars


Pittsburg, KS — Love classic cars and want something fun to do this weekend? Then you won’t want to miss this Parade of Cars event rolling into Pittsburg, KS! The event is on June 4th and rolls through towns such as Pittsburg, Arma, and Franklin! It’ll be fun for the whole family.


Other 4-state events:

Old Mining Town Days Committee stops by to talk Old Mining Days


PSU construction student gives back

PITTSBURG, Kans. — People throughout Southeast Kansas are coming together to restore and protect a piece of history.

“Nobody really wanted to see it gone but nobody knew what was going to happen,” said Lemuel Sheppard, Former Carver League President.

Since the 1940’s, the Carver League building acted as a meeting place for the black community in Southeast Kansas. But over the years the building fell into disrepair.

“It just would break your heart, anyone who’s been around Pittsburg for a long time, older than me, would drive by and look at that building ‘wow the Carver League,’ and we always wondered what was going to happen to it,” said Sheppard.

Eventually an effort began to preserve and restore the building to its former glory.

“Little by little it got some attention and some members of the community stepped in saying ‘Hey let’s save this building,” said Sheppard.

One of those members was Zachary Bures, who took the restoration on as his senior project at Pittsburg State University.

“We did a complete top to bottom renovation. We had to come in a stabilize the structure. We had to do $20,000 worth of block work, we tore out the old slab and put a new slab in, new plumbing, completely new electrical system,” said Bures. “We added a patio and a sidewalk, new doors, new windows.”

Since August, he’s worked with subcontractors and trade partners to transform the building into what we see today, helping drive further community involvement.

“Looking at the project saying ‘Hey! You guys have really done a lot of work on this project. Wow! This has really changed from what it used to be. Oh, I remember back in the day,’ or we had other individuals come in and say, ‘Can we help with the project?’ We had individuals out here helping us trim trees and cut shrubbery,” said Bures.

Soon the building will stand as a museum to the Carver League and its impact on the community.

“It’s exciting to see it because it doesn’t look like a different building, it looks like the building that it was in 1940. A brand new Carver League,” said Sheppard.


Four State Farm Show in full swing

PITTSBURG, Kans. — This weekend the Four States Farm show has taken over the Plaster Center at Pittsburg State University.

“It’s pretty important because you’re seeing a lot of stuff here that you’re not seeing every day somewhere else,” said George Siegismund, Rockville Farmer & Rancher.

Farmers and ranchers from across the region are making their way to Pittsburg for the 47th Four States Farm Show.

“We have about 800 booths this year. We’re certainly up indoors this year, we have about 500 booths indoors and we have about 300 booths outdoors,” said Lance Markley, Four States Farm Show Manager.

For many of those farmers and ranchers, the show is a massive resource, displaying the latest developments in the field.

“It’s a place to showcase the latest trends and agriculture products and services,” Markley added.

“We kind of see people here and talk and see what they’re doing and see stuff like this and we get an idea of what we should be doing,” said George Siegismund, Rockville Farmer & Rancher.

Including how to tackle the biggest issue facing companies and farmers alike.

“Supply, that’s what’s kind of been a big problem, like when you need stuff you can’t always get it, and usually right about now the prices of stuff is going up pretty crazy. We’ve reassessed what we needed and we kind of just got what we absolutely have to have,” added Siegismund.

Now several companies have changed how they operate amid global supply chain issues.

“Some of them have orders for down the road a little bit. Yes, supply chain is a factor, but a lot of them are doing their best to supply to their customers at this point,” said Markley.

The Four States Farm show wraps up at three o’clock Sunday afternoon.


Kiddieland Amusement Park officially opens

PITTSBURG, Kans. — It was scheduled to open last Friday, but weather pushed things back a week. Today, the official opening day of the season for the Kiddieland Amusement Park in Pittsburg.

Kindergarteners from St. Mary’s Elementary were the first ones to embrace the fun today as part of their end of the school year celebration. That fun also included the debut of the park’s newest attraction — a vintage carousel donated by Rigg’s Chiropractic.

“In this community it is huge and if you go to the Facebook page, I think it’s called ‘I remember when in Pittsburg.’ A lot of people are sharing their memories for the last 50 to 75 years of Kiddieland and three or four generations of families coming here,” said Donna Landrith, St. Mary’s Elementary Kindergarten Teacher.

Kiddieland will be open every day of the week with the exception of Mondays — but hours differ.

You can check out the schedule and learn more about the facility by following this link here.


Non-traditional student to graduate after years of hard work

PITTSBURG, Kans. — As students across the Four States are preparing to graduate, many are reflecting on their journey’s through education.

As she’s helping the students at Countryside Christian School prepare to cross the stage, pre-school teacher Leeann Kershner is getting ready to do the same.

“When we were putting their hats on and making sure they were right and their tassels were right, I thought ‘Wow, it’s going to be me tomorrow, but as an adult,” said LeeAnn Kershner, PSU Class of 2022.

Kershner’s journey at Pittsburg State University didn’t start until 2016. Her husband Mike had gone back to school to finish a degree from 25 years ago and after hearing what it was like, Leeann decided to take a chance.

“I thought it was very not like the school that I had been to previously in high school and I thought ‘You know what, I can do this. My husband was great, he helped me, if I needed to study or homework, he made sure that he made time in his schedule with work and his own school so that I could do that,” she said. “The first A that I got I was extremely excited, and it was a Gen Ed and I thought I put in so much hardwork, like hardwork, my heart and my blood and my sweat and my tears and to see that come back an A I thought ‘I did that’. It was big, it was huge and I thought I can do this.”


And she did do it. On Saturday Leeann will get her degree and become the first generation in her family to do so.

“If you have a great support system, you can do it. It’s a lot of hard work and sacrifice on myself, my children, my husband, but it’s worth it,” Leeann said.