Old bridge gets new life


Transport of a 63-foot iron bridge through Iola had motorists doing double-takes Thursday evening.

The bridge, built in 1909 over Owl Creek three miles west of Humboldt, will become part of a new exercise trail at the south edge of Iola. Bids will be taken by Allen County to build a new bridge over the creek in early June.

Thrive Allen County won a $100,000 Healthy Living Grant from the Kansas Health Foundation to develop the Lehigh Portland Rail Trail. This new trail system, an adjunct but not connected directly to the Southwind Rail Trail, will have walking and biking trails, as well as mountain bike trails and related amenities that are rare in this part of Kansas, said David Toland, Thrive executive director.

The bridge, 16½ feet wide, was moved from its moorings early Thursday. Workers from Unruh House Moving, Moundridge, slid the bridge slowly over huge I-beams onto the road north of the creek and atop four timber columns. Dollies were placed under the south end and a moving truck eased under the front.

By early evening the bridge started its 14-mile journey, along county roads, U.S. 54 and then South State Street, to near Allen County shops west of the old Lehigh Cement plant.

The Lehigh trail will be built on land owned by Iola Industries, Inc., through an easement granted Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc., which owns Southwind Rail Trail. Southwind runs south from Iola to Humboldt atop the old Santa Fe Railroad right of way.

Toland pointed out the new trail pays homage to Allen County’s industrial past and specifically to the Lehigh Portland Cement Company, which purchased Iola Portland Cement in 1917 and operated a major plant in Iola until 1970.

The trail will begin next to Elm Creek Park South on South Washington Avenue and travel east along the south side of Elm Creek to the north side of Elks Lake, once Lehigh’s quarry. From there it will continue east and connect to 1600 Street (South Kentucky Street).

The surface will be about 12 feet wide and constructed of crushed limestone.

Start date of construction has yet to be determined.

Toland noted Thrive is one of 22 grantees in Kansas to receive Healthy Living grant funding, and was selected based in part on the progress that had been made in the county the past six years in developing facilities to increase the prevalence of physical activity among residents. He said Allen County’s health ranking had improved by 15 points since 2010, driven in large measure driven and nurtured by Thrive and its partners.

The new trail will be free to use and open to the public year round.

Thrive arranged a few weeks ago with Allen County commissioners to acquire and move the bridge, which resulted in anticipated savings in the construction contract, since the company that wins the bid won’t be obligated to remove it.


Special events allow enrollment

Next Monday is the last day of open enrollment for Marketplace health insurance coverage. Open enrollment is the window of time in which any person can enroll for coverage in the Marketplace. Once open enrollment closes it will not stop enrollment altogether. People can still... [More]

Two weeks left for open enrollment to healthcare’s Marketplace

With less than two weeks remaining in the Marketplace’s open enrollment period it is a good time to look at the penalties for not obtaining insurance coverage and what exemptions are available to avoid those penalties. The Marketplace’s first open enrollment period... [More]

Kansas’ poor left out of Obamacare

The best part of working as a volunteer helping Kansans enroll for health insurance is when a neighbor gets affordable coverage. Often they come in uncertain if this is something they want any part of, or not. Some have health problems that they have put off dealing with. Others... [More]


Moran swim bus, library top wants

MORAN — Thrive Allen County is making its way to each community in the area to learn more about their upcoming projects and concerns. Monday night was Moran’s chance to shine. Moran Thrive hosted the meeting at its community center. The city’s biggest project... [More]

Personal responsibility key to ACA

One core concept at the heart of the Health Insurance Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is that everyone should contribute to the best of their ability for their own healthcare. Low- and moderate-income consumers are eligible for subsidies to... [More]


Refitting costs a concern in Gas

GAS — Kenny Baker posed the question that brought to a head a Thrive Allen County community conversation here Tuesday night. “No one knows what it’s going to cost” to refit the old Gas School so it might be used in any number of ways to benefit the community,... [More]

More Thrive



    Planting seeds

    Ashley Dixon didn’t see a lot of community activism as she grew up in Parsons. But while she attended colleges in New York and Nashville, Dixon involved herself in numerous causes: Diversity training, workers’ rights, immigration and anti-racism efforts. Now, as... [More]


    Best in show

    Katie Bauer, a senior at Iola High School, took “Best of Show” honors for her drawing, “Casual Elegance,” at the 31st annual High School Art Competition Friday, April 13, at Labette Community College. Bauer used colored pencil, pen and charcoal for this... [More]

    Democrat hopefuls to appear at forum

    The Allen County Democratic Party will host a public forum featuring six of the eight Democratic candidates for Kansas governor. The event kicks off Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the John Silas Bass North Community Hall at 505 N. Buckeye St. However, the public is invited for free, pre-event... [More]

    LaHarpe City Hall searched

    LAHARPE — A search for illegal drugs in LaHarpe City Hall and elsewhere in town came up empty, although dogs “hit” on the smell that led officers to believe drugs may have been present at some point. The search was ordered Thursday afternoon at the request of... [More]

    Aging with Attitude

    Local senior citizens will learn about topics from health and finances to tourism and romance at the “Aging With Attitude” regional expo Friday, April 27. The event, which returns to Iola for the second year, targets senior citizens but others who want to learn more... [More]


    School libraries get boost from PTO fundraisers

    A shrinking library budget for USD 257 caught the eye of Iola Parent Teacher Organization members. The budget for the district’s elementary schools went from $9,464 last year to $3,200 in 2017-18, noted Holly Jerome, a PTO member. “There were multiple books, supplies... [More]

    Mildred in focus Saturday

    MILDRED — The Allen County Historical Society spring meeting will take attendees to the Mildred Store Saturday. Owners Regena and Loren Lance will discuss Mildred’s history, its impact on Allen County and the surrounding area. Several photos and other historic artifacts... [More]

    More News


    Sports Briefs

    — Humboldt Middle School track competed in Yates Center Tuesday.  Five Cubs walked away with first place finishes including seventh-graders Carsyn Haviland in the 75-meter hurdles (14.56) and eighth- graders Kirstyn Murrow in the 3200 (15:26), Laken Hunter in the shot... [More]


    Pony track competes at Anderson County quad

    The Iola Middle School track and field team competed at a quad meet in Garnett Tuesday versus Wellsville, Central Heights and Anderson County. The Iola seventh-grade girls finished seventh while the eighth-grade girls and the seventh- and eighth-grade boys finished third. For... [More]


    UNFAZED: Mustangs grab fourth and fifth-straight wins in emphatic fashion at Osawatomie

    Last season — even at their most successful — the Iola baseball team struggled to score runs. The pitching was always there but if the Mustangs had to make up for more than a couple of runs, Iola players, coaches and fans got pretty nervous. The 2018 Mustangs do not... [More]


    Fillies let mistakes compound in losses at Osawatomie

    The Iola softball team progressed in some areas Tuesday night while being swept at Osawatomie. The Fillies hit the ball better and played one decently clean game defensively but still made far too many errors losing game one 11-6 and game two 21-6. Iola drops to 1-7 and 1-3... [More]

    More Sports

    Chronicles of Allen County Subscribe or Renew