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Diggin' Up Okies in Ottawa County
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Cherokee County KS GenWeb
Tom and Carolyn Ward are currently responsible for Cherokee County.
Cherokee Co. KS
100 S. Tennessee
PO Box 33
Columbus, KS 66725-0033
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Mon, Jul 27, 2009 4:24 PM
Mon, Jul 27, 2009 4:32 PM
Wed, Jul 29, 2009 10:05 AM
Washington County sheriff's deputies say 21-year-old Amanda Kay Shelby of Baxter, Kan., is wanted on a felony charge of
filing a false police report.
An affidavit for an arrest warrant says Shelby told deputies she watched a man shoot another man twice during a drug deal and that she helped dump the
body in Beaver Lake.
Deputies searched the home where the homicide reportedly occurred and arrested the resident on drug-related charges - but say they found no evidence of
The man Shelby accused of murder denies shooting anyone and passed a polygraph test administered by the Sheriff's Office.
Information from: Northwest Arkansas Times, http://www.nwanews.com/times/
BY SCOTT F. DAVIS Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2009
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A Kansas woman is wanted for giving police an apparently bogus report that she witnessed a drug-related murder and helped the killer dump the body in
Amanda Kay Shelby, 21, of Baxter, Kan., faces an arrest warrant filed Friday on felony charges of filing a false police
Shelby is accused on July 17 of telling Washington County sheriff 's deputies that she and a man traveled to a residence on War Eagle Blacktop
Road to collect drugs and money.
She told deputies she witnessed the man shoot an unknown white male twice in the chest and that the victim fell dead on the floor, according to the
affidavit for arrest warrant.
She also said the shooter and she returned six hours later to dispose of the body. She told deputies she helped tie the victim's hands and feet
together and attached cement blocks.
She said they used a wheelbarrow to load the body into the vehicle and traveled to Beaver Lake, where they boarded a boat and sunk the body, according
to the affidavit.
Deputies executed a search warrant at the War Eagle Blacktop Road residence and arrested the resident on drug-related charges but found no evidence of
a homicide, according to the report.
The man Shelby accused of murder denied shooting anyone and passed a polygraph test administered by the Sheriff's Office.
BY SCOTT F. DAVIS Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 in Northwest Arkansas Times
Note: This bunch of newspapers are going to paid subscription for online reading also.
Wed, Jul 29, 2009 4:20 PM
Thu, Jul 30, 2009 8:08 AM
TREECE, Kan. | This is the town that no longer wants to be. It looks with a jealous eye to the south - just across the street - toward the town that is
fast becoming no more.
Both Treece and Picher, Okla., sit atop an irregular and cavernous collection of voids left from a century of zinc and lead mining.
The two hamlets both have seen unusual and unhealthy levels of lead show up in the blood of their residents, raising the specter of cognitive and
developmental disorders in their young children.
And because the mining took place in often haphazard fashion, the ground has a tendency to collapse on itself.
"I joke to my kids that if they hear a rumbling sound they should run out back," said Pam Pruitt, Treece's city clerk and one of its 100
or so lonesome residents.
The town has passed a resolution calling for a buyout, and found a maddening unfairness in the federal government's unwillingness to do for Kansans
what it's done for Oklahomans.
For decades, Treece and Picher were simply Picher, Okla. Then in the early 1900s, surveyors redrew the state line, and Picher's northern edge became
Treece, Kan. The distinction, say people in Treece, was one that mattered for voting and taxes and such, but not in terms of which way tainted dust blows
or sullied water flows.
The mining died out about 1970, leaving small mountains of toxic tailings with no regard to state or city boundaries. Today, both Picher and Treece are
part of the Tar Creek Superfund site - a $60 million-plus environmental clean-up chore. And on both sides of the state line, the federal government is
scraping away acres of contaminated soil and preparing to move giant dunes of "chat," or heavy metal-tainted mine waste.
Between the threat of more cave-ins and ongoing contamination, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency essentially declared Picher a lost cause and
decided to move the residents to safer ground.
That was in EPA Region 6.
The turf across the street in Treece falls to EPA Region 7, where officials insist most of the environmental threat was removed when everybody's
lawn was scraped and hauled away. The prospect of cave-ins, they say, simply isn't an environmental problem on which the law gives them the power to
"It's obvious that in Region 7 we believe that the use of Superfund (dollars) to conduct buyouts and relocations is not permitted by federal
law," said Chris Whitley at the EPA office in Kansas City, Kan. "It does not provide authority to fund relocations, period."
So that leaves the folks of Treece to watch Picher - the place they turned to for gas, for groceries, for a post office, for a few restaurants, for
church, for fire and ambulance service - disappear while they remain stuck in homes they can't sell. The only business in Treece reconditions truck
tires. You can't buy so much as a Coke or a candy bar here.
The average adult income barely tops $10,000 a year, made by commuting to Pittsburg, Kan.; Miami, Okla.; or Joplin, Mo.
With Picher gone, there's almost no reason to stay, except that it's so hard to leave. The houses simply can't be sold. Banks refuse to make
home loans in Treece because of the threat of cave-ins - a calamity for which no insurance exists.
In the meantime, ongoing excavation just outside town and the moving of chat piles kicks up a talcum-like dust that Linda and Robert Toney say leaves
them with dry coughs, their small dogs with skin sores and that forces them to clean their house several times a week.
"It's miserable here," Robert Toney said. He's moving to eastern Missouri to be near a son, but said the new sense of isolation
that's coming with the disappearance of Picher probably would have prompted him to move anyway.
The irony, say some such as state Rep. Doug Gatewood, is that buying out the town would be relatively cheap. Even when homes could be sold in Treece,
prices rarely topped $30,000. Now, the state estimates that putting everybody in comparable homes in nearby towns outside the mining district would cost
about $3.35 million.
"The government moved out all the amenities when it decided to shut down Picher," Gatewood said. "Why not finish the job?"
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts has pushed the EPA to do just that, suggesting it put part of up to $25 million in economic stimulus money allocated for the
Superfund clean-up toward moving people to a place that isn't doomed.
"What we're doing now is like putting a fancy Oriental rug over a hole in the floor," the senator said. "You've still got a
problem for the people who are left in Treece. … I can't think of a better use for the money than moving them."
While they remain, families worry about what sort of place they're living in. In 1997, hazardous lead levels were found in one in four children in
Picher. Tests weren't done in Treece, but a few miles north and farther from the giant slag piles, problematic lead levels were found in one in 10
Today, parents talk about the difficulty of keeping children out of the inviting ponds left from mining sink holes. The clear water that makes those
pools look so refreshing - partly because high acid level makes it difficult for the usual algae to take hold - can be deceiving. Swimmers can often emerge
with skin turned red not by sunburn, but by mild burns delivered by the contaminated water. And the currents that run from the floor of a pond once sucked
a swimmer underground. His body came up in another hole blocks away.
"It's as dangerous as it is tempting," said Dennis Johnston, who lives on the outskirts of Treece. "It's hard to keep the kids
The town sits on a simple grid befitting the griddle-flat landscape where Kansas meets Oklahoma. From Columbus Avenue west to Kansas Avenue, from Mound
Street south to State Line Road, lots are roomy and often empty. The buildings that remain range from falling down to meticulously tended, from rusting
trailers, to shacks swallowed by weeds.
As for Picher, the last of its residents will be relocated by this fall. It's true that Picher appeared to have been more thoroughly contaminated by
the mining than Treece. Mounds of mine tailings around Picher are estimated at up to 60 million tons, as opposed to maybe 8 million tons in Treece.
But as Gatewood, the state representative puts it, the winds that blow mostly from the southwest "don't recognize the state line." The two
towns, in fact, make up a single community. As early as last year, some children in Treece went to school in Picher. After all, it was within walking
But government agencies pay close attention to borders. As then-chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma
landed funds from the Superfund the Lead Impacted Communities Relocations Assistance Trust and a study from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers focused
tightly on his side of the state line.
The EPA, meanwhile, notes that the cleanup in Cherokee County, Kan., is just 10 years from completion. The work in and around Picher, the agency noted
in a letter to Roberts, will go on for decades.
"But the town," said Gatewood, "is dying now."
Fri, Jul 31, 2009 5:01 PM
Tue, Aug 4, 2009 8:37 PM
Thu, Aug 6, 2009 8:58 AM
Fri, Aug 7, 2009 10:54 AM
By Roger McKinney
COLUMBUS, Kan. - Three weeks have gone by since the July 16 traffic accident that killed 13-year-old
Taylor Kemp immediately and several days later claimed the life of her mother, Teresa Kemp, 41.
Charges have yet to be filed in connection with the crash, but Cherokee County Attorney John Bullard has said he will file charges
against Kaston Hudgins. Hudgins was driving a Nissan Maxima that struck the rear of the Pontiac Vibe driven by Teresa Kemp, according to
The accident happened at a four-way stop at the intersection of highways 69, 400 and 171, south of Pittsburg. Hudgins reportedly
was fleeing a patrol car driven by a Cherokee County sheriff's deputy. Sheriff David Groves has said Hudgins fled in the vehicle after the deputy attempted
a traffic stop near Crestline. The sheriff has declined to reveal the reason for the attempted traffic stop, but he said the deputy initiated and continued the
chase because the deputy thought Hudgins represented a danger to the public if he didn't pursue. Groves also has declined to specify that danger, saying he
was following the advice of the county attorney.
Teresa Kemp was a teacher at Riverton Middle School, and Taylor Kemp was a student at the school. They lived in Pittsburg.
Kansas Highway Patrol Capt. Rick Wilson said some reports related to the investigation are not complete.
"It's kind of a slow process," Wilson said. He said that among the reports that are still out is a toxicology report,
which will determine whether Hudgins was intoxicated. He said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation is conducting the evaluation at its lab. The results usually
take six to eight weeks to obtain, but Wilson said the patrol is hoping for a faster turnaround.
He said a crash reconstruction report also is not complete.
"The county attorney wants the investigation to be complete when he gets it," Wilson said. "We'll give him
everything in one package."
Bullard on Thursday said he cannot file charges without evidence, and he doesn't have any evidence until the patrol finishes
"They're keeping in touch with me," he said. "I'm satisfied they're doing their jobs and doing them
Groves said that when the accident happened, the deputy involved was scheduled to have three days off, but he has had no other
leave associated with the accident. He said the deputy performed according to department policy.
Hudgins, 22, of Galena, has been charged in Newton County, Mo., with felony vehicle tampering. He is accused of taking the vehicle
involved in the crash without the owner's permission. A probable-cause statement says the vehicle's owner, Ashley Kelley, said she
told Hudgins not to drive the vehicle because he was intoxicated.
Kelley married Hudgins on July 22, according to records on file with the Jasper County, Mo., recorder's office. The
marriage license was filed July 27.
Newton County Prosecutor Jacob Skouby said Thursday that he was trying to reach Kelley to determine if she intends to testify
He said in a July 28 phone conversation that he could not force her to testify if she invoked spousal privilege. He said there may
be other ways to introduce evidence if that happens.
"In a property crime, if the victim doesn't want to proceed, I usually dismiss the case," Skouby said last month.
"Because of what happened in Kansas, we might be looking at it differently."
Out on bond
Kaston Hudgins is free from custody on $20,000 bond in his Newton County case. His initial court appearance is scheduled for Monday in Newton County Circuit
Tue, Aug 11, 2009 9:56 AM
Tue, Aug 11, 2009 4:11 PM
Robertson, 28, of Tillman, S.C., jumped from the south side of the Highway 66 bridge around 11 p.m. Saturday while being questioned
by a deputy with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department. The deputy was investigating a report of a man walking down the middle of the highway, causing a
hazard to himself and motorists.
When Robertson started to run toward the side of the bridge, Sheriff David Groves said Deputy Shane Gibson fired a stun gun at
Robertson to try to prevent him from jumping. Groves said he thought only one dart from the stun gun penetrated Robertson's skin, so it didn't work.
Robertson then jumped into the river.
The preliminary autopsy report said no Taser dart penetrations were identified and no darts were found in his clothing or on his
The autopsy identified a "large cystic space" filled with fluid on his brain, at the base of his frontal lobe. Groves
said Tuesday that may help explain Robertson's unusual behavior.
His urine tested negative for alcohol and for drugs that are commonly abused.
Wed, Aug 12, 2009 2:57 PM
Thu, Aug 13, 2009 6:31 PM
Thu, Aug 13, 2009 11:24 PM
Globe/Roger Nomer Cherokee County Attorney John Bullard (left) and Sheriff David Groves on Thursday talk
about first-degree murder charges being filed in connection with a traffic crash that took the lives of a Pittsburg mother and daughter. The man whose
vehicle slammed into that of the fatality victims was being pursued by a deputy sheriff at the time.
COLUMBUS, Kan. - A Galena man is facing charges including first-degree murder in connection with a July 16 vehicle crash that
resulted in the deaths of a Pittsburg woman and her daughter.
Kaston Hudgins, 22, on Thursday was in the Cherokee County Jail. His bond was set at $2 million. Cherokee County
Sheriff David Groves, and five others from his department and the Kansas Highway Patrol arrested Hudgins at 6:46 a.m. Thursday at his home at 1512 Galena Ave.
Groves said the arrest was without incident.
Hudgins on July 16 allegedly was driving a 1997 Nissan Maxima that was being pursued by a Cherokee County Sheriff's Department
patrol car. The Maxima struck the rear of a Pontiac Vibe driven by Teresa Kemp, of Pittsburg, at an intersection south of Pittsburg. Her
daughter, 13-year-old Taylor Kemp, was her passenger and died at the scene. Teresa Kemp died July 22 in a Joplin, Mo., hospital.
Teresa Kemp was a teacher at Riverton Middle School, and Taylor Kemp was a student at the middle school.
Hudgins was hospitalized immediately after the accident.
Cherokee County Attorney John Bullard filed the charges Wednesday in Cherokee County District Court.
The first-degree murder counts don't refer to premeditated murder but instead relate to deaths that happen during the
commission of another serious felony. The charge is commonly referred to as "felony murder." Another charge against Hudgins, felony attempting to
elude police by engaging in reckless driving, is one of the charges that qualifies as a dangerous felony.
Hudgins also is charged with felony possession of stolen property. He allegedly took the Maxima belonging to his girlfriend, Ashley
Kelley, from the parking lot at Freeman Hospital West in Joplin without her permission. The two have since married.
Hudgins is charged in Newton County, Mo., with felony vehicle tampering in connection with the taking of the car. Newton County
Prosecutor Jacob Skouby on Thursday said he hadn't yet heard from the alleged victim about whether she plans to testify against the man who is now her
Misdemeanor charges and traffic infractions filed against Hudgins in Cherokee County are driving under the influence of alcohol,
reckless driving, two counts of failure to yield at a stop sign, driving at night without headlights, failure to drive in a single lane and speeding.
The stop sign violations allegedly happened at the intersection of highways 69 Alternate and 160, at Crestline, and at highways 400
and 69 Alternate.
Groves has said the deputy who initiated the pursuit initially attempted to stop the Hudgins vehicle at Crestline.
Groves and Bullard during a news conference Thursday continued to withhold the specific reason or reasons for the initial attempt
to make the traffic stop. They also declined to identify the deputy who attempted the stop and initiated the pursuit when Hudgins allegedly fled in the
Groves previously had said that the deputy was operating under department policy in initiating and continuing the pursuit. He did
say that the deputy was not aware that the car had been reported stolen.
He said the deputy couldn't have known that deaths would result from the pursuit.
The sheriff said the deputy thought the greater danger to the public would be if Hudgins were allowed to continue without being
pursued, but Groves has consistently declined to specify what that reasoning might have involved. Immediately after the accident, Groves said he had been
advised by Bullard not to disclose that information.
Under Kansas law, probable-cause affidavits that are filed in support of charges against a person are not public record.
Bullard said he was waiting to receive all the reports from the Kansas Highway Patrol before filing charges.
"I've been receiving information all along," Bullard said. "I got what we call a final copy yesterday
Bullard and Groves revealed little during Thursday's news conference. Bullard also declined to disclose Hudgins'
blood-alcohol level, which may be the basis for the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.
"I don't mean to be rude about this, but I'll let you know as this progresses, I probably won't make any
comments," Bullard said.
An initial court appearance for Kaston Hudgins is set for 1 p.m. Monday in Cherokee County District Court.
Thursday, July 16: At 8:15 p.m., Kaston Hudgins allegedly drove away from the parking lot at Freeman Hospital West in Joplin in a
1997 Nissan Maxima without the permission of the owner, girlfriend Ashley Kelley. According to a Missouri probable-cause affidavit, Kelley told Hudgins not to
drive the vehicle because he was intoxicated.
About 9:30 p.m., a deputy with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department attempted to stop the vehicle near Crestline. Hudgins
reportedly fled in the vehicle, and the deputy initiated a pursuit.
At 9:35 p.m., the vehicle that was being pursued struck the rear of a vehicle driven by Teresa Kemp, 41, of Pittsburg, at the
intersection of highways 69, 400 and 171, south of Pittsburg. Her passenger, daughter Taylor Kemp, 13, of Pittsburg died at the scene. Teresa Kemp and Hudgins
were taken by helicopter to St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin. Teresa Kemp remained in critical condition while in the hospital.
Saturday, July 18: Hudgins was arrested by Joplin police when he was released from the hospital.
Monday, July 20: Hudgins was charged in Newton County with felony vehicle tampering, alleging that he took his girlfriend's car
without her permission. He was freed that day after posting $20,000 bond.
Wednesday, July 22: Teresa Kemp died at St. John's Regional Medical Center.
Hudgins married Ashley Kelley.
Saturday, July 25: Funeral services were conducted for Teresa Kemp and Taylor Kemp at Riverton High School.
Monday, Aug. 10: Hudgins had an initial court appearance on the Newton County charge.
Wednesday, Aug. 12: Hudgins was charged in Cherokee County District Court with two counts of felony murder, and other counts
including fleeing police and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Thursday, Aug. 13: Hudgins was arrested in Galena. His bond was set at $2 million.
Thu, Aug 13, 2009 11:29 PM
By Wally Kennedy
TREECE, Kan. - U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback, and U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, all from Kansas, announced Thursday that the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will send three top officials to Treece on Aug. 20 to look at contamination and cave-in issues in the former mining
At a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing last month, Roberts invited EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to visit the area. Jackson
will send three key officials: Mathystet Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response; Bob Sussman, senior policy
counsel to the administrator; and William Rice, acting Region 7 administrator.
Details of the visit are still being hammered out, but the tour will include the towns of Treece and Picher, Okla. Roberts and
Jenkins will be joined by state Rep. Doug Gatewood, of Columbus. An invitation has been sent to Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson or his designee.
"I am pleased Administrator Jackson is sending key decision makers to observe for themselves, the unique and dangerous
conditions residents of Treece face on a daily basis," Roberts said in a statement. "Once you visit this town, and compare it with Picher, you can
better understand the frustration of residents.
"Once the EPA sees firsthand the long-term damage and safety concerns facing the people of Treece, hopefully they will agree
that more assistance is critically needed beyond clean up. I am glad the EPA has agreed to come visit Treece. This is good progress and we will continue to
work on this for the people of Treece."
Jenkins, in the statement, said: "The EPA has acknowledged that Treece needs assistance with a commitment to invest in
cleanup, but a cleanup alone is not sufficient. I am glad the agency has agreed to visit to see for itself the irreparable damage mining has done to this
"This is a positive step forward in our efforts to help the residents of Treece, but it does not resolve the problem. I will
continue working with Sen. Roberts and Sen. Brownback to help the folks of Treece relocate."
At issue is the use of stimulus funds to address topsoil cleanup in Cherokee County. Roberts, Brownback and Jenkins have called for
a longer-term solution for residents: a $3.5 million federal buyout of the town similar to the buyout that EPA Region 6 helped bring about for residents of
Picher, which is less than a mile from Treece. Treece is within the jurisdiction of EPA Region 7, based in Kansas City, Kan.
The bulk of Picher's residents have been bought out and relocated at a cost of more than $60 million in state and federal funds
because of concerns about cave-in potential, which also is a concern in Treece.
Treece, population 100, is located in Cherokee County. The county has 115 square miles of former mining sites dating to the early 1900s. At one time, it was
among the richest lead and zinc ore areas in the world. Mining operations in Cherokee County stopped in 1970, leaving mountains of contaminated milling waste
Fri, Aug 14, 2009 12:05 AM
Fri, Aug 14, 2009 9:42 AM
Cherokee County Attorney John Bullard and Sheriff David Groves, almost a month after a car chase that left a mother and her
daughter dead, are still refusing to release the specific reason or reasons for an initial traffic stop.
One of the reasons they can keep that information from the public is because Kansas is the only state in the country that
doesn't unseal probable-cause affidavits that would allow the public to read the details of the investigative work used to justify an arrest.
Kaston Hudgins, 22, of Galena, faces charges including first-degree murder in the July 16 vehicle crash that
resulted in the deaths of a Pittsburg mother and her daughter.
Hudgins allegedly was driving a 1997 Nissan Maxima being pursued by a Cherokee County Sheriff's Department patrol car. The
Maxima struck the rear of a Pontiac Vibe driven by Teresa Kemp, of Pittsburg, at an intersection south of Pittsburg. Her daughter, 13-year-old
Taylor Kemp, was her passenger and died at the scene. Teresa Kemp died in a Joplin hospital on July 22.
But details about what precipitated the chase are being kept secret from the public.
The Kansas Press Association is pushing for a change in Kansas law that would require the affidavits be open.
Doug Anstaett, KPA executive director, in an interview with Editor and Publisher said: "This isn't Cuba. This isn't
North Korea. We believe the information needs to be scrutinized and out there for the public."
In the meantime, we think Cherokee County officials need to tell the public the full story about this tragedy.
Fri, Aug 14, 2009 8:08 PM
Fri, Aug 14, 2009 8:16 PM
Mon, Aug 17, 2009 1:55 PM
Cherokee Co. KS Genealogical-Historical Society
100 S. Tennessee
PO Box 33
Columbus, KS 66725-0033
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