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November 26th, 2020

3 27 20 coronavirus in kansas graphicELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Medical experts are continuing to monitor the coronavirus situation and update the public on developments. Along with questions on curing the virus, a lot of research is also continuing as far as what the virus actually is. 

“COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2),” the CDC information noted. “The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir. Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Person-to-person spread was subsequently reported outside Hubei and in countries outside China, including in the United States. Some international destinations now have ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19, as do some parts of the United States. Community spread means some people have been infected and it is not known how or where they became exposed. Learn more about the spread of this newly emerged coronavirus.”

MANHATTAN, Kan. —   The Secretary of Agriculture has issued an order to waive enforcement of a specific fuel restriction to help fuel retailers with continuity of business and prevent potential future shortages. 

city of liberal logoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


The Liberal City Commission hosted its first meeting under new regulations concerning the coronavirus Tuesday evening. 

The dominant topic of the meeting was commission discussion of the comprehensive insurance program renewal with Al Shank Insurance. The renewal will last from April 1, 2020 to April 1, 2021. Al Shank gave the necessary information via phone.

“Our total proposed renewal premium from 2020 to 2021 is $682,971, and as you can see in your packet, your expiring premium, which is what you’re paying this year for the existing coverage which will run out April 1, is $651,287,” Shank said. “But also understand, if you’ll read the first renewal note, there have been some significant additions made for coverages during the policy year like  the City Recreation Center, a new radio tower, $400,000 in new Motorola equipment, and then we added the buildings at 415 N. Pennsylvania and 1401 E. Pine Street, as well as other coverage changes during the year like the purchase of the street sweepers and things like that. So if you take those items specifically in that renewal note, and how those affected your expiring premium, there’s not very much difference between your renewal premium we would propose for the new policy year starting April 1 and what you’re currently paying. Also, in the past 14 years, the City has received $937,844 in EMC dividends, and while dividends are not guaranteed, you have received one every year for the past 14. In the past five years, the annual dividend average has been $94,144.”

“I think it’s pretty fantastic the numbers are only rising by that amount given all our new additions, so I think everything looks great,” Liberal Vice Mayor Taylor Harden said. 

seward logoROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


Last week, Seward County issued a press release stating access to certain county buildings would be limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monday, those limitations were part of a resolution passed by county commissioners, along with increased authority for emergency purchases and to authorize Administrator April Warden to promulgate, adopt and enforce emergency employment policies.

The resolution was passed unanimously at a special meeting Monday morning, and Commission Chairman Nathan McCaffrey said it formalizes the limited access and purchasing policies for the county.

Before reviewing what the resolution contains, McCaffrey updated the public on local efforts concerning coronavirus.

“We do have the emergency operations center up and running,” he said. “It’s fully staffed. We’ve got what’s called the designated incident command team that helps to oversee it.”

Emergency Management Director Greg Standard and EMS Director John Ralston are working out of that EOC, and McCaffrey said administrative support personnel have been assigned to the center.

“The health department has also been there,” he said. “We’ve taken the unique step of actually appointing a public information officer to handle the information side of that. That’s Eli Svaty.”

ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


The Liberal City Commission will be hosting its first meeting during the coronavirus situation this evening starting at 5:30. 

Up first for the commission will be discussion of the comprehensive insurance program renewal through Al Shank Insurance, Inc. 

“This presentation is designed to give an overview of the insurance coverages provided for the City of Liberal,” the agenda information noted. “It is meant only as a  general understanding of your insurance coverages and should not be construed as a legal interpretation of the insurance policies that are provided. The City has made some significant additions during the policy year including the City Recreation Center, a new radio tower, $400,000 in new Motorola equipment, the addition of 415 N. Pennsylvania and 1401 E. Pine Street, as well as other coverage changes during the year. The total annual additional premium included for these noted changes is $32,385. In the past 14 years, the City has received $937,844 in EMC dividends, and while dividends are not guaranteed, you have received one every year for the past 14. In the past five years, the annual dividend average has been $94,144.”

The next item on the commission’s agenda is discussion of Ordinance No. 4538, which concerns a second amendment to the KDHE Kansas Public Water Supply Loan Fund. 

sccc logo 2017Seward County Community College


Seward County Community College resumed its spring semester classes through an online format.

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit and state and local government announced restrictions on gatherings and activities, SCCC decided a virtual environment offered the best way to proceed.

“Our decision was guided by Seward’s commitment to the health and safety of our community, and the growing need to take preventive measures to assist in this unprecedented public health crisis,” SCCC President Ken Trzaska said. “We understand these changes are disruptive so please be assured that our team stands ready to support students however we can.”

With the decision to continue the spring semester, instructors have been hard at work to modify course work into a virtual format – whether it is video conferencing, chat, podcast or some other electronic delivery.

There have also been discussions of how to proceed with labs and classes that require in-person interaction. Those situations will be handled on a course-by-course situation.

According to Luke Dowell, dean of instruction at SCCC, faculty have concentrated on email contact with students to let them know what is going on with their classes and how to proceed. Students can also log in to Canvas – SCCC’s academic portal – to get course information.

Dowell preached patience as most students and instructors are venturing into fairly uncharted waters. While SCCC already offers some online courses and others that are hybrids, most are not.

national beef logoEARL WATT • Leader & Times


The Department of Homeland Security has designated 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose “assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”

National Beef is included as a Tier 1 critical infrastructure industry, and while the nation wrestles with controlling the coronavirus outbreak, it won’t have to worry about food shortages at the same time.

“We take this special responsibility incredibly seriously,” National Beef CEO Tim Klein stated in a release Monday. “With humility and sober recognition of the challenge at hand, we are committed to providing an uninterrupted supply of beef products to our customers and American consumers.”

The virus threat has created a new set of challenges for emergency personnel across the nation, and it has also caused companies like National Beef to review their operations.

“There’s no blueprint for navigating such an uncertain situation,” Klein stated. “However, we are taking every precaution and being extremely vigilant in our plants, offices and our entire operations to follow the guidance of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local health authorities and the World Health Organization to keep our employees and your families safe and healthy.”

L&T staff report


Seward County Emergency Management Director Greg Standard issued a release stating the Seward County Emergency Operations Center is now operations.

The location of the EOC is 1411 W. 15th Street.

According to the release, “Seward County Emergency Management has organized and staffed our local EOC. This group is comprised of local emergency response teams, local healthcare providers, public healthcare providers, and other local officials who are working to ensure the safety of the residents of Seward County.”

The release also stated that the Emergency Operations team for Seward County is expected to meet daily to monitor the changing COVID-19 situation on a local, state, national, and international level. The monitoring is expected to include twice-daily conference calls with county emergency operations centers from around the state, state departments, and other industry experts. 

carter school board 3 23 20Dr. Todd Carter briefly talks to the USD 480 school board during one of the action items on the board’s agenda Monday evening. Discussion during the meeting focused heavily on making sure students throughout the district are still taken care of despite not attending school in the buildings due to the coronavirus. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


School districts throughout Kansas and the rest of the country are having to adjust to a new normal after the announcement from Gov. Laura Kelly to shut down all K-12 school buildings for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to concerns with the coronavirus pandemic situation. 

During its most recent meeting Monday evening, the USD 480 school board passed a pair of measures to help students and teachers as the situation continues, beginning with a resolution to suspend graduation requirements for the Class of 2020, which was unanimously approved. The resolution itself states “Be it resolved that all credit requirements above and beyond those minimum required credits set by the Kansas State Department of Education, which are contained in Board of Education Policy IHF, adopted in 1997 (revised 2016), be suspended for the graduating class of 2020. Students must meet all standards set out in K.A.R. 91-31-35, unless otherwise modified by the Kansas State Board of Education or the Kansas State Department of Education, to qualify for graduation in May 2020.”

“Dr. Watson wanted a resolution adopted to temporarily suspend graduation requirements currently in place throughout the state,” USD 480 Superintendent Renae Hickert said. “And this is something that included input from teachers and counselors and so many other school professionals because we want our students to finish, so we’d like to see this resolution passed. We’ve been looking at the transcripts of the senior class and there are some of them who are technically already done and won’t have any problems as far as this situation. And as long as the basic requirements are met with math and English and those core classes, those students will be fine and won’t have to be worried about that. These are definitely odd times for us for sure.”

“Is there way we could also give these students some sort of ACT prep? Because I know that’s the next step for a lot of students, and they obviously won’t be able to go through that with everything that’s going on,” Board President Alan Brown said, to which Hickert said some things are being looked into with that.

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