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The Harvey County Independent
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Halstead, KS 67056

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2016 Archived News for Harvey County Independent

Hospital Auction Canceled After Taxes Paid

Posted 4/29/2016

By Frederick Bader and Blake Spurney

HALSTEAD –The auction for the Halstead Hospital building scheduled for Wednesday was cancelled after the current owner, Azzy Reckess, brought in payment for the back taxes owed on the hospital building and associated properties. 

Harvey County Treasurer Becky Fields confirmed to the Independent Friday that Jeremy Schrag, Reckess’ attorney, remitted a cashier’s check from a Connecticut bank for $672,765.44, enough to cover back taxes on the Halstead Hospital building and other properties owned by Reckess' company, AZP Realty. The check, signed by Reckess’ wife Paula, was presented to the county late Thursday afternoon.

On Monday, county administrator John Waltner confirmed that the check had cleared and would cover all of the back taxes and penalties that were in the tax foreclosure sale. 

Waltner said the $672,765.44 will be distributed among three local entities from which the taxes were delinquent: USD 440, the City of Halstead, and Harvey County. Each governing body will receive roughly a third of the total. “It provides additional revenue, there’s no question,” Waltner said. Approximately $155,000 of that total was due to penalties and interest, according to county counselor Greg Nye.

In an interview with the Independent, Reckess confirmed that he had paid off the taxes and that he had plans for the building in the future. “I always have plans for the properties,” Reckess said. He declined to comment on what those plans are.

To read more, see this week's print edition.

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Mushroom Hunters Combing County For Fantastic Fungus

Posted 4/29/2016

By Pilar Martin

If you ask where to find Morel mushrooms from local hunters, do not expect to get an answer. Hunters for the tasty fungi belong to a secret society of sorts.

They will not tell you where to find morels. And forget about them actually taking you to find them.

Most local hunters have gained permission to go onto private property around the county or have land of their own where they look for morels.

At this time of year, hunters wait for the ground to warm, and of course moisture and warmer temperatures are needed for the mushrooms to grow. They can be found in wooded areas where some sun penetrates through the trees, but not too much sun.

Each hunter has their own ideas about the best place to find them. Some look for certain trees and swear by elms or oaks. Other hunters look for deadfall of any kind where decaying wood leads to the fungus growing. Some prefer hunting in the evening, others in the morning.

Most local Morel hunters have learned how to hunt the mushrooms through family members. It seems to be a generational thing, where current adult hunters learned the basics from grandparents and even great-grandparents. These same hunters take their children out now, passing their knowledge onto the next generation.

To read more, see this week's print edition.

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Attorney Seeking More Information In KBI Investigation

Posted 4/29/2016


NEWTON — Harvey County Attorney David Yoder said he needed a little more information before moving forward with his investigation into activities at Halstead City Hall.

“A couple of things have arisen that I need to go back and check into, so there’s more to be done,” he said Monday.

Yoder said he would have the Kansas Bureau of Investigation obtain the additional information he was seeking. He declined to specify what that information might entail.

Yoder began a prosecutorial inquisition of Halstead Police Department in November. He has since confirmed that the investigation has extended beyond the police department. Steve Lewis retired as police chief late last year.

Yoder would not say whether the continuation of the investigation meant that charges were imminent.

“Let’s just say, we need to get more details,” he said.

The Kansas Attorney General’s office previously declined Yoder’s request for a special prosecutor to handle the case. Yoder has said his office wouldn’t prosecute a case due to a conflict of interest. He hasn’t yet referred the matter to another lawyer.

He did say that he had a working relationship with a couple of other county attorneys, all of whom do conflict work for each other. He said he would contact one of them to see if he wanted to get involved.

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