College offers grads one free year

05/12/2007 1:01 AM

01/24/2008 5:15 PM

The 25 seniors from Greensburg High School will get to attend Barton County Community College at no cost for the first year, if they want.

The college foundation will cover housing, tuition, fees and books for the first year for Greensburg's new graduates, minus the financial aid the student receives.

Darnell Holopirek, executive director of Barton's institutional advancement, said Friday that she believed some Greensburg parents may not be able to pay for their child's college education next year because they will also be rebuilding homes and businesses.

High school graduation ceremonies begin at 11 a.m. May 19 at the Greensburg Golf Course, said Greg Soelter, Ulysses, chairman of the Rotary committee in charge of the event. The Kansas and Oklahoma District 56-90 Rotary Clubs are providing tents, tables, chairs, a sound system and food.

"We are setting up for 1,500 people. Normally they have about 500 to 600 people attend ceremonies," Soelter said.

Rotary clubs from around the nation are donating gifts for the seniors, including dictionaries, T-shirts and graduation gowns, Soelter said.

"Some of the kids have found their gowns. We're getting more rounded up," he said. "We are pulling bricks from the old school and using those to decorate around the stage."

-- Beccy Tanner

Hot shots are in town to help the helpers

For smoke jumpers, disaster is a living.

But in Greensburg, they're seeing something a little different than the wildfires they typically battle.

The U.S. Forest Service has set up a support base camp in Greensburg. They've put up tents, yurts, hot shower stations and catering trailers to help emergency personnel, volunteers and city officials.

"We're helping under a national response plan that allows FEMA to come to federal agencies for assistance," said public information officer Mike Ferris, who makes his home in Portland, Ore.

Ferris has seen a lot in his decades of working for an agency that goes in to places most people are evacuating.

"But I've never seen anything like this," he said of Greensburg.

Crews are providing two hot meals a day and a sack lunch for anyone working the scene, such as police officers, troopers, volunteers and paramedics. Yurts -- canvas-covered structures similar to tents -- are set up to sleep six people each. Americorps workers have been big customers, Ferris said.

The Forest Service got to Greensburg on Monday.

"We're committed to being here," Ferris said. "We were told to plan on 30 days."

-- Deb Gruver

Information for Greensburg residents

The Kansas Emergency Management office released this information Friday for residents of the Greensburg area:

 Call the United Way at 211 to request help removing debris.

 Power is being restored to the area around City Park in the Northeast portion of the city -- east of Sycamore to the city limits and from Ohio south to Grant. Use caution around power lines. If you witness any arcing power lines immediately dial 911 or contact the nearest emergency worker.

 Because of recovery efforts, Greenburg's streets are congested. Please use caution and pay attention to pedestrians, all terrain vehicles, heavy trucks and construction equipment.

 Residents with spoiled food items are asked to put the food in trash bags along the curb. Any food items could pose a health hazard if not disposed of in this manner.

 Separate hazardous material debris such as large appliances, air conditioners and refrigerators and leave them at the curb for removal. Also batteries, paint, pesticides aerosol cans, propane cylinders and compress gas cylinders should be separated from other debris. No burning is permitted in Greensburg.

 Kiowa County has established temporary offices at Mullinville High School which will house the county treasurer, register of deeds, county appraiser and county clerk's office. They will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 Lost and found items can be turned in or picked up at the temporary City Hall, southeast of the Kiowa County Courthouse.

 The Kiowa County Health Department is offering free tetanus shots from 9 to noon today, north of the Kiowa County Courthouse.

 Residents and businesses in Greensburg may register for a free post office box at the Pratt Post Office.

 The Kansas National Guard, Kansas Department of Transportation and contractors hauled nearly 1,100 dump truck loads of debris to the Kiowa County landfill Thursday, about 430 loads Wednesday and 150 loads Tuesday.

 If severe weather moves into the Greensburg area, it will be evacuated.

 The Kansas National Guard's Expeditionary Medical Support System mobile hospital, which was expected Friday, was delayed and is expected to be in Greensburg at 9 a.m. today on U.S. 54 across from the Greensburg John Deere dealership. Training for local medical staff who will use the system will begin early next week. It's expected to open by the end of next week.

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