Meaning of crosses disputed

Register Reporter

The history behind a group of crosses — recently pulled down at the Allen County Community College Farm north of Iola — took center stage at the ACCC Board of Trustees meeting Thursday.
Allen County Commissioner Gary McIntosh told the Register the crosses marked graves from folks who died at what used to be Allen County Farm, a home for indigents through the early 1960s.
However, research by ACCC President John Masterson and Trustee Larry Manes indicated the crosses, indeed, are simply a memorial to those who died at the farm.
“There’s no documentation of anyone ever being buried at the Allen County Farm,” Manes said, recounting a conversation he had with local historian Clyde Toland.
Manes also visited with Iolan Ken Gilpin, who helped maintain the crosses while he was a youth involved with Boy Scouts.
“They all realized the crosses were not a cemetery,” Manes said.
Long-time ACCC employee Bob Barclay pointed out that the crosses had been relocated years ago after old U.S. 169 was widened there.
“If there are any graves in the area, they’re probably beneath the road,” he said.
Still, not everyone is convinced the crosses are simply a memorial.
Masterson said he received a phone call earlier this week from a man who claims his great-grandfather is buried there.
And Trustee Neal Barclay recalled an old legend shared by area youngsters that the crosses marked grave sites for deceased nursing home residents who had no family to account for their burials.
“That was just a myth,” Neal Barclay said.
In any event, the college is in no hurry to begin digging around the area to see if they find any graves, the trustees agreed.
College officials hope the county will resume maintenance of the crosses if they are put back up.

TRUSTEES WERE briefed on progress of cleanup at a pond on the east edge of the college property.
Property lines from neighboring landowners dissect the pond.
The college agreed to spend up to $8,000 to assist the neighboring landowners eager to clear out brush and trees from the area to make the park more attractive.
A recent rainy spell has put a halt to the project, Masterson noted.
Steve Troxel, ACCC’s vice president of finance and operations, expressed his dismay “at the mess they have right now.”
Trustees said they would be eager to see the pond’s appearance after the project is complete.
Ideally, getting rid of the trees and reinforcing the pond dam will make the area easier to mow and maintain, Masterson said.

IT TOOK all of a few days to go from “starting the school year” to “being already entrenched in the school year,” said Bob Reavis, dean for outreach education.
Reavis, Vice President for Academic Affairs John Marshall and Dean of Student Affairs Randy Weber each voiced similar opinions that the start of the 2009-10 academic year went off smoothly.
Almost too smoothly, Marshall said.
“I’ve been a little surprised at how low-key our add/drop period went,” Marshall said, where students for whatever reason drop out of a class and seek out another in its stead.
“The schedules seemed to be solid from the start,” Marshall said. “Perhaps it was good advising.”
Weber said that enrollment remains well above the previous school year in all three of ACCC’s service areas: the Iola campus, its outreach center in Burlingame and online courses.
Over-crowding at the college dorms has been alleviated somewhat, Weber said.
“We’re no longer in the hotel business,” where students are forced to stay at a local motel because there’s no room elsewhere, Weber said, although 10 dorm rooms still house three students instead of two.
Weber will provide trustees with a full analysis of the college’s fall enrollment at their Oct. 8 meeting.
Joyce Fields, the college’s dean of instruction, pointed to another pleasing schedule quirk. The first day of classes Aug. 18 featured 100 percent attendance.
“There always seemed to be some student who couldn’t get to class on the first day,” Fields said. “That didn’t happen this year.”
There was one potential glitch that turned out harmless, Weber said, after he was contacted by a student who potentially was afflicted with the H1N1, or swine flu, virus.
Notices were sent to students and ACCC faculty about the potential case, Weber said. The college later was notified that the student tested negative for H1N1.
In any case, the college is encouraging students to guard against potentially spreading the virus by washing their hands frequently and staying home if they have a fever or other flu symptoms.

LOREN KORTE, former college trustee with Personal Service Insurance, briefed the board on the college’s insurance programs, detailing premiums for property, general liability, vehicles, crime and fidelity, worker’s compensation, commercial, inland marine, its athletic and activity programs and a linebacker policy.

RYAN Bilderback, director of Title III programs, is changing his hats at the end of the month. Trustees announced they were terminating Bilderback’s contract on Sept. 30, when the current Title III grant expires.
Bilderback will return to work the next day as ACCC’s director of adult education and external development.
Trustees also terminated the contract of Constanci Garay, director of ACCC’s Hispanic Center. Grant funding for Garay’s position also expires Sept. 30.