• Last modified 197 days ago (Dec. 28, 2023)


Marion County RECORD

Hillsboro Star-Journal — PEABODY Gazette-Bulletin


staff photo by phyllis zorn

Peabody Township Library librarian Rodger Charles stands in front of shelves in the library’s adult section that are now stocked in a way to make them easier on the eyes.

New look for oldest library

Staff writer

After being essentially closed since late September for major renovation and structural repair, Peabody Township Library will reopen Tuesday with a fresh, clean look and set up for the future.

Librarian Rodger Charles said the $150,000 renovation was financed in part with $61,500 in grant money. The library also hopes to get a tax credit grant that will allow it to sell tax credits to recoup most or remaining expenses.

Changes greet patrons before even entering the library. A new set of front steps on the west side leads to a porch with a mosaic open book at the entry and benches on either side.

Lighting is recessed into the steps

The original steps were pressing against the building and caused damage to the basement.

Inside the door, library patrons are greeted with new carpet; freshly restored and painted walls; clean, shiny light fixtures that no longer spark when bulbs are replaced; and shelves no longer jammed from one side to the other with books.

The most remarkable changes are to the library’s Ann Potter Room in the basement.

Old suspended ceiling panels have been removed, allowing the tops of wooden window frames to be seen. A clean, fresh drywall ceiling now graces the room instead of a cracked plaster ceiling hidden by the suspended ceiling. New wiring and light fixtures replaced the old.

Light fixtures in the room are reminiscent of the 1920s but controlled by a dimmer.

“While we had the ceiling down, I had them put in data cabling,” Charles said.

The data cabling serves not only computers but also will serve holographic projectors when they are ready for common use.

A door that led to a storage area was enlarged and moved to the west, and a smart panel that was on the north side of the room now hangs on the right.

A stairway leading from the main floor to the basement turned out to have beautiful wood under old carpet. All traces of the carpet were removed and the wood refinished to expose the warmth of the wood.

Other than on stairs to the basement, new carpet was laid throughout the library.

Walls throughout the library have been patched and freshly painted.

Swinging entrance doors were re-hung so the doors no longer sticks when halfway open.

Floors were redone to remove uneven surfaces.

Although the project began in September and the front doors and basement were closed, patrons still could enter by the building’s north door.

Charles said the work hit a fever pitch in November when contractors moved upstairs to the main floor.

“We’ve limped through this process,” Charles said.

People wanting specific books and materials “haven’t been told no, but sometimes we’ve said, ‘It might take a while. Let me get your number,’ ” Charles said.

Although Charles credits his library board and community volunteers with the progress of the work, he admits he’s tired.

He’s glad for the help and people working to make the library and community better.

The library is technologically ahead of other libraries of its size.

The original library was donated by in 1874, he said. The original building still stands as a museum east of the Carnegie library built in 1914.

Peabody Township Library was the first free library in the state.

“Not the first library, but the first free library,” Charles said.

After all the exhausting work, after reopening the doors Tuesday, after having the library inspected by the State Historical Society, Charles has plans for the next new thing at the library.

In 2024, the library will begin having story times for children.

Canton woman sues teen driver, father

Staff writer

A Canton woman who claims she was seriously injured when a teen driving on a farm permit rear-ended her pickup is suing the teen and the father who allowed the teen to drive the car.

Denise R. Taylor, Canton, was stopped Dec. 6, 2022, in her 2000 Ford Ranger waiting to turn from US-56 onto Orchard Dr. at Hillsboro when her pickup was struck from the rear by a 2010 Toyota Corolla driven by Nora M. Hein, then 15, rural Hillsboro.

Both vehicles were totaled.

Taylor was taken to Hillsboro Community Hospital after the wreck.

Officer Chris Mercer reported that inattentive driving caused the wreck, but he did not issue any citations.

Taylor filed a petition Oct. 11 in Marion County District Court seeking more than $75,000 from Hein and her father, Kerry Hein, who owned the pickup Hein was driving at the time.

Taylor claims Hein failed to stop, yield, keep a proper lookout, take evasive action, give warning, or pass in a bypass lane, and was traveling at an unsafe speed.

She seeks more than $75,000 for several injuries including a traumatic brain injury and bleeding in the space around the brain, disability, pain and suffering, loss of income, medical expenses past and future, and property damage.

She claims the injury may have aggravated a pre-existing condition.

Longtime couple looks back at ministry

Staff writer

Bob and Judy Priest are looking both forward and backward as they contemplate the next phase of their lives.

Their beloved house on Lakeshore Dr. with its lovely view of the lake has become too much to keep up with.

Marion first was home to the Priests when Bob was assigned to Eastmoor United Methodist Church in the 1970s and 1980s.

At that time, they lived behind the church.

After being assigned to a series of other churches, Bob was assigned to Peabody United Methodist Church in 1992.

The couple always loved the county lake and in 1993 bought a house that has been their home more than two decades . They didn’t move in until after much work to make it what they envisioned.

Six years later, the same year both retired, they moved into the house at the lake.

Bob was a Methodist minister before the couple married in 1961 in Wichita. Judy went into ministry at age 52, after their children were raised.

They served churches in Arlington, Burns, Cassoday, Furley, Glasco, Greenwich, Iuka, Marion, Peabody, Smith Center, St. John, Pratt County, and Wichita.

Their family includes Miriam Newman of Rose Hill and Stephen Priest and Rachel Priest of the Kansas City area and grandchildren.


Robbie Reidy stands next to a Santa inflatable that dwarfs his two-story house.


staff photo by phyllis zorn

Bob and Judy Priest stand in the living room of their Marion County Lake home.

Colossal Santa
brings joy to many

Dec. 27, 2023 — Page 3


Charles sits on a bench on the library porch now adorned with a mosaic open book as part of a major library renovation project.

Staff writer

An inflatable Santa Claus who stands 40 feet tall, ordered on a whim, brings joy to its owner and the denizens of people who drive past to see it.

Robbie Reidy, who lives south of Hope, was searching online for a snowman inflatable to put in his yard when an ad for the ginormous Santa popped up.

He decided to order the huge Santa instead of a snowman.

“Go big or go home,” Reidy said. “We ordered it and it showed up four or five days later.”

The transit time was brief considering the Santa was made in China.

After putting Santa up with help from relatives, Reidy gets joy out of seeing so many people stop to take photos and chat with him about the spectacular sight.

“You can see him for about a mile around,” Reidy said. “I’m sitting on a little creek, so you have to be up a little high to see him.”

The Santa dwarfs his two-story house. People want to know about it, Reidy said.

“I’m having enjoyment seeing people enjoy it,” Reidy said.

This year is the first time in many he has decorated outside his house, Reidy said.

While he enjoys the attention Santa gets, Reidy said he really didn’t expect word to spread so fast on social media and bring so many visitors.

“I didn’t think it was going to be quite that big,” he said.

Although he plans to leave Santa up until after the first of the year, he’s not sure what to do next Christmas season.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do to top it,” he said. “Once you entertain the public, you got to keep going.”

All OK after quarry wreck

A county-owned dump truck driven by Troy Schmidt collided at 11:15 a.m. Friday with another vehicle at the entrance to a rock quarry owned by Harshman Construction on US-50 east of Florence, but no injuries were reported.

No accident report has been made available by Kansas Highway Patrol, which investigated the crash.

43 sex abuse counts filed

A Canton man arrested last week was charged Dec. 18 with 44 counts of child sex crimes in two different cases.

In one case, Matthew W. Dudte, 51, was charged with rape of a child younger than 14. In the other case, Dudte is charged with rape, 17 counts of aggravated criminal sodomy, 15 counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child younger than 14, two counts of criminal sodomy of a child between ages 14 and 16, five counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, aggravated incest with a child between ages 14 and 18, aggravated endangering a child, incest, and aggravated indecent liberties with a child between ages 14 and 16.

According to court documents, the alleged crimes took place between July 10, 2009 and December 29, 2022.

Last modified Dec. 28, 2023