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Opinion............................3 Community.....................4-5 Obituaries.........................6 Classifieds.........................7

The Gardner
Covering Southwest Johnson County!
Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012

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Survey shows Gardner mayoral race this spring likely to be a tight one
Poll conducted in early December by Kansans for State and Local Reform PAC
Danedri Thompson A three-person mayoral race likely favors Mayor Dave Drovetta, but in a two-man race between Chris Morrow and Drovetta, it could be a very close race. That’s the word from a Dec.6 -7 poll of likely Gardner voters. The poll was conducted by a political action committee, Kansans for State and Local Reform. The survey revealed that 28 percent of likely voters would cast ballots for Drovetta while 25 percent would cast ballots for council member Chris Morrow in a two-way race. The results are well within the margin of error of 8.9 percent. More than 45 percent of those polled were undecided in the race. In a three-way race between Drovetta, Morrow and council member Kristina Harrison, Drovetta would win 24 percent of the votes; Morrow would receive 19 percent and Harrison would receive 14 percent of the ballots according to the survey. Nearly 45 percent of likely voters are undecided in a race between the three. To date, only Morrow has announced his intention to run for the mayoral seat in Gardner. Harrison said in an email to the Gardner News that she has no plans to run for Mayor. Both Morrow and Drovetta can find positive things to take away from the poll, Benjamin Hodge, chairman of Kansans for State and Local Reform, said. More than 94 percent of those polled recognize the name “Dave Drovetta” and 42 percent view him favorably, with 34 percent viewing him unfavorably. See SURVEY, page 8



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The city of Gardner awarded winners in a Christmas lighting contest last week. The winners recieved a holiday sign for their yard. Doris Kessler’s display on Park Street (left) was deemed the “Most Creative Display.” The interior of her home is also decorated with holiday flair. Below, she watches lights twinkle on her Christmas tree. Other award winners pictured inside on page 7. Videos of the winning entries are online at
Photos courtesy of Rick Poppitz/


Dick Hickock, who spent part of his youth in Edgerton, shows off his tattoos while in prison. He was hung in 1965 for killing a Kansas family. Florida authorities suspect he may have killed a family in Florida in 1959. File photo

Remains of infamous Edgerton man unearthed
Danedri Thompson The body of an Edgerton man and his accomplice are out of the ground and headed to a Kansas forensics lab. Although they’ve been dead and buried for almost 50 years, Dick Hickock, formerly of Edgerton, and Perry Smith are today the primary suspects in a 1959 murder case in Florida. Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents executed a search warrant to exhume the remains of Hickock and Smith on Dec. 18. The pair was executed and laid to rest in a Lansing, Kan., cemetery in 1965. The Sarasota County (Fla.) Sheriff ’s Office hopes the items removed from coffins last week can be used to link Hickock and Smith to the murders of a Florida family 53 years ago. The duo hanged on April 14, 1965 for the murders of Herb and Bonnie Clutter and their two children, Nancy and Kenyon. The Clutter murders, made notorious by Truman Capote’s book, “In Cold Blood,” bare an eerie resemblance to those of the Walker family of Osprey, Fla. Like the Clutter family, the four members of the Walker family were killed in their farm home on Dec. 19, 1959. Christine Walker, 24, was raped and shot. Her husband Cliff, 25, and their three-year-old son Jimmie was also shot. Their daughter Debbie, 23 months, was shot and drowned. The Clutter family was killed in their farm home in November of that same year, and one month later, Smith and Hickock were on the run from authorities. Eyewitness accounts place the pair in Florida at the time of the Walker family slayings. Hickock once called Edgerton home, and long-time residents there recalled him as a petty thief. The Hickock family moved to Edgerton in 1945. Ray Braun, former Edgerton resident now deceased recalled that Edgerton townspeople always knew Hickock was a con-man. Braun told the Gardner News in 2010 that Hickock, “robbed everything in town.” “He was the most polite boy to his mother. His mother never drove and he’d drive her into town, to the grocery store, and See REMAINS, page 8

County approves renovations for King Louie
Danedri Thompson King Louie, the former bowling alley and skating rink now owned by Johnson County, is getting a bit of a face lift. During a Dec. 13 board meeting, Johnson County commissioners approved a $915,000 contract for repairs to the building, located at 8788 Metcalf Avenue. Joe Waters, county director of facilities, said the repairs will include asbestos abatement, demolition of some partitions and finishes, activation of utilities and fire protection system, establishment of minimal lighting and conditioning of the space and securing the building exterior. Commissioners will be asked to approve a second contract for partial roof replace-

I think this is a good alternative and it’s saving money in the long run. It’s a win-win-win.

ment at a future meeting. The county recently purchased the King Louie facility with plans to re-located the county museum there. The purchase was not without controversy.

County Chair Ed Eilert explained some of the history behind the $2.5 million purchase of the building during the meeting. About 10 years ago, Eilert See COUNTY, page 8



The Gardner News, Dec. 26, 2012

Remains of infamous Edgerton man unearthed
From REMAINS, page 1 (he) always opened the car door for her. He was happy and friendly, but you knew he was a con man.” Authorities at the exhumation did not say what they removed from the pairs’ coffins. Investigators told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune they have an unidentified palm print from the home of the Florida murder victims and semen they hope will be a DNA match to Hickock’s or Smith’s remains. It will be weeks before they are able to determine a match. Corbin H. Crable contributed to this story.

An undated picture shows King Louie in Overland Park in its hey-day. The former skating rink and bowling alley was purchased by the county. Commissioners approved funding to shore-up the structure. It will eventually house a county museum. Photo courtesy
of Johnson County

County approves renovations for King Louie
From COUNTY, page 1 said a county study determined there was a need for a new museum building. Later, when the museum flooded in 2007, county officials decided not to spend additional money on that structure in Shawnee. In 2009, museum officials requested $30 million to build a new museum. Commissioners said no and suggested museum officials begin looking for existing property that could be purchased instead. King Louie was singled out as a possibility, but the price – at $3.5 million – was deemed too high. However, when the price dropped to $2.5 million, county officials offered $2 million to secure the building. “Following due diligence, an additional $50,000 price reduction was identified and agreed upon,” Eilert said. The contract commissioners approved on Dec. 13 does not ready the building for occupancy. Waters estimated it would cost more than $4 million to make the building “white box” ready. He estimated it would require an additional $4 million to move the existing museum into the space. “We purchased property with the idea that there was more space there than the museum needs,” Eilert said. Other county services may also one day use the space at King Louie. Commissioner Michael Ashcraft voted against the contract to upgrade the building. “What I’m struggling with a little bit is the assessment of our need to acquire new property,” Ashcraft said. “…Is this the best use of that our existing resources?” He said the master facility study a decade ago that suggested the county purchase additional property was based on assumptions of what future growth would be. “We are down over 500 employees or will be by 2014,” Ashcraft said. Commissioner Calvin Hayden, who represents Gardner and Edgerton on the board, said the King Louie purchase for the museum cost the county less than one-third of what the museum requested. If there is room to spare in the King Louie building, he said it could eventually pay for itself. Additionally, he said the county is planning to sell some of its old properties. “That’s got to knock a million off the tab at least,” Hayden said. “I think this is a good alternative and it’s saving the taxpayers money in the long run. It’s a win-win-win.” In other business, commissioners: • approved the renewal of a variety of liability insurance policies for $1.2 million. • approved a $4.7 million contract with Grimm Construction Company to construct solids dewatering improvement project at the Douglas L. Smith Middle Basin Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Survey shows Gardner mayoral race this...
From SURVEY, page 1 Morrow is also well known, but less polarizing than Drovetta, according to the poll. More than 42 percent of those polled view Morrow favorably while only 8 percent view him unfavorably. The poll also asked voters their thoughts on local taxes. Of likely Gardner voters polled, 70 percent believe property taxes are too high. Noon on Jan. 22 is the deadline to file to run for the office. If there are more than four candidates, the primary election will be Feb. 26. The general election is April 2. Kansans for State and Local Reform was formed in 2009 and focuses mainly on ussies like taxes, property rights, school choice and open government. Its website is

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Snow briefly blankets area, closes schools
Danedri Thompson Three-inches of snow blanketed the area on Dec. 20, shuttering classes in Gardner Edgerton and Spring Hill School Districts and keeping law enforcement officers and snow plows busy. The first winter storm of the season dumped between two-to-three inches of snow just in time for Christmas break. The storm also created challenges for commuters. Ilena Spalding, public information officer for the Gardner Police Department, said calls for motorist assists started around 4 a.m. last Thursday. Officers logged more than a dozen assists between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. “Luckily, we only had one injury accident,” Spalding said. The accident at U.S. 56 Highway and Cedar Niles Road resulted in minor injuries and slowed traffic briefly during the morning commute. Spalding said the number of calls and slide-offs on Gardner roads were about typical for an early season snow storm. Once drivers get used to driving on snow-packed roads later in the season, the number of slide-offs and calls for officer assists typically slows, she said. The threat of winter weather kept road and ice crews busy as well. Gardner Public Works, Edgerton Public Works, Kansas Department of Transportation and Johnson County Public Works crews are responsible for clearing many of the roads in and around Gardner and Edgerton. In Gardner, city workers put an emphasis on clearing main thoroughfares, bridges and on-traffic routes to schools first. Those streets, along with collector and industrial commercial streets are continuously plowed during snowfall. One exception, however, is 56 Highway or Main Street. KDOT plows that street as well as highways and ramps to Interstate 35. City officials estimate that it takes between eight and 12 hours to salt city streets and another 24-36 hours to plow the city for one snow cycle. Snow fall tapered off in the southwestern part of Johnson County between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. By noon, most roads appeared passable.


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