COVID-19 Cases Rising

According to Butler County Health Department Director, Jamie Downs, COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise and local resources are beyond capacity.  Officials are requesting citizens to follow guidelines to help combat further increases.

Individuals, ages five years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination. Those who have received notification of a positive COVID-19 test, please isolate for 5-10 days. 

Persons who have tested positive are asked to inform those they have been in recent contact with and instruct them to quarantine for 5-10 days. 

Those living in a home with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, should quarantine for another 5-10 days once the positive person is released from isolation.

Individuals who have been notified they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, should quarantine for 5-10 days. Please follow the updated Isolation and Quarantine guidance issued by the CDC and KDHE. 

Individuals experiencing symptoms are requested to consult with their health care provider for evaluation and to determine if testing is recommended.

“For general COVID-19 questions, please contact 211,” said Downs.

She advises citizens to be aware that services at the Butler County Health Department may be limited during this time.

“Remember to stay at home when you are sick, wash hands, wear masks, social distance and get vaccinated and boosted,” said Downs.

“The steps we take as a community are for our community,” said Downs. “The only ones to benefit are ourselves.” 

Mica Hunter named new Bradford Memorial Library Director

Mica Hunter is continuing to share her love of books with El Dorado through a new role at Bradford Memorial Library. Hunter recently was announced as the new Library Director.

Hunter has worked at the Library for 11 years. She said she didn’t start with a goal of being director, but when the opportunity came up, it was something she wanted to do. 

All of her library experience has been at Bradford. 

“My predecessor, Kristi Jacobs, was a great mentor and boss to me for 11 years,” Hunter said. “Over the years, she let me experience all types of public library work. I have primarily been the Public Services Librarian, in which I held programs and tried to promote the library, as well as working hands-on with the patrons and the collections.”

Hunter, who grew up in Augusta, didn’t start out on a path for library science. She originally graduated from Wichita State University with a Bachelor’s Degree with an emphasis in psychology. She also was married that year, and moved to Dodge City for nine years, where her husband, Adam, coached. During that time she had three daughters, and when they moved back to Butler County, she was a stay-at-home mom. It was then she decided to pursue a degree in library science. She completed that goal through the School of Library and Information Management (SLIM) at Emporia State University. By the time she had graduated from SLIM, she was working part-time at Bradford Library. She has continued her career at Bradford since that time.

“One thing I have learned over the last 11 years is that you really can’t predict what’s going to happen in the library and fully anticipate community needs,” Hunter said. “We try to plan for the future, but it’s important to be flexible because you just never know. I believe it’s important for libraries to meet people where they are and try to provide what we can. Sometimes it’s figuring out how to accommodate people struggling with homelessness in our community. Sometimes it’s making sure that our collection represents all sides of current issues. Our mission is to be a neutral but welcoming place where people can come to find the resources for what they want to learn. To maintain that at this point in time can be a balancing act, so I am trying to take it as a personal challenge.”

Looking to the future, Hunter would like to see the Library have more of an online community and social media presence so people are aware of what they have to offer. 

“We have a lot of resources; we just need to keep trying to get them into the hands that need them,” she said. 

One thing the Library is currently participating in is a program with seven other libraries in the area, KanShare, where they closely share collections. They also have chosen an area-wide book to read with themed programs. That book is Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Bradford’s portion will be a free ballroom dance class to go with their chosen story, Cinderella. Hunter said everyone is welcome to attend the class given by local pastor Mik King at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 at the Civic Center. 

Other activities at the Library include a monthly book club for adults, as well as children’s library programming year-round. 

Hunter is excited for what the future holds for the library.

“I think of the library as a place for people who are looking to find something,” she said. “Whether that is access to a computer to apply for jobs, some light reading or movies for entertainment, more in-depth research or a place to touch base with familiar faces, we try to make those things easily accessible. It’s truly a place where people from all walks of life can find something to enrich their lives.”

For more information about the Library, please visit

Thankful Thursday

There’s much to be thankful about in downtown El Dorado, and downtown merchants as well as out of district pop up businesses want everyone to know about it.

Artist Vicki Cooper with her pop-up shop in Great Beginnings.

Therefore, on the first Thursday of each month through October, the downtown district is decorated with large sandwich boards and balloons announcing “Thankful Thursday.”

Sandwich boards and balloons decorated the downtown district.

With extended hours, special discounts and exclusive offers, there’s something for everyone to be thankful for.

Coach Al and a friend playing Cornhole in front of Kelly’s ETC.

This month the beautiful, sunny weather provided a perfect backdrop for shoppers as they strolled through downtown.

Shoppers were treated to walking tacos, provided by Trunk2Treasure.

Shoppers were treated to walking tacos, provided by Trunk2Treasure and vendors like Christina Starr Kreations held a drawing for a free candy bouquet.

TCG Services Chaplin Wade Graber shared information about the Kindness Matters campaign.

Wade Graber and Mike Ward with TCG Services greeted people with the “Kindness Matters” campaign. In a partnership with USD490, they want to encourage citizens to take the kindness pledge and help create a summer of kindness.

The next Thankful Thursday will be July 1st.

Severe Weather Awareness Week 2021

March 1st through March 5th

Despite the recent historic cold snap, spring will eventually arrive and with it will come our next severe weather season. In preparation for that, the National Weather Service (NWS) has declared the week of March 1st through March 5th as “Severe Weather Awareness Week” in Kansas. 

“As a show of support for this public outreach campaign, the Butler County Board of Commissioners has also proclaimed that as ‘Severe Weather Awareness Week’ in the county,” said Keri Korthals, Director of Butler County Emergency Management. 

As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, a Statewide Tornado Drill will be conducted on Tuesday, March 2nd at 10:00 a.m.  On the morning of March 2nd, many jurisdictions will sound their storm sirens, and the NWS will trigger a test of the NOAA Weather Alert Radios. 

“Whether you can actually hear an alert activation or not, everyone is encouraged to take the opportunity to practice tornado sheltering during that time period,” said Korthals.

“To keep safe from COVID-19, though, you may need to make some adjustments, especially if your shelter location serves a large number of people.” Korthals said. “In order to participate in the drill but still follow public health recommendations, like social distancing guidance, you may want to simply shelter-in-place or talk through your sheltering steps with family or co-workers.”   

The NWS has put together an informational packet about Kansas’ severe weather statistics and events. That packet can be downloaded by visiting the Butler County website and clicking on the packet link:

  Last year, the pandemic caused the National Weather Service to cancel their “Storm Fury on the Plains” public education events which are also known as “Storm Spotter Classes.”

This year they are still unable to offer in-person classes; however, they have set up a series of virtual training events. 

To register for one of their web-based Storm Fury classes, visit the NWS website:  

Individuals who shelter from storms in a populated space such as a community storm shelter, may be concerned about acquiring COVID-19 if they go to that shelter.  Both the Kansas Division of Emergency Management (KDEM) and our office advocate addressing the most life-threatening problem first.  

During a dangerous storm, it is more important to get people out of the path of that storm than to keep them separated to prevent disease spread. Choosing not to shelter, or selecting an inadequate shelter, could result in storm-related injuries or deaths.  

“If you do go to a community shelter, try to space yourself out from people outside your household, if the shelter is large enough,” said Korthals.  “Also, wear a mask while in the shelter and make use of any available hand sanitizer.”

Brandon Leach Named Construction Technology Lead Instructor at Butler Community College

El Dorado, Kan. – An exciting new program is coming to Butler Community College this August – Construction Technology. The program is in the new Manufacturing Engineering & Construction Technology building, just south of the newly renovated 5000 building in Andover on East 13thStreet.  

In January, Brandon Leach was named lead faculty for the Construction Technology program.

Brandon Leach, lead faculty for Construction Technology at Butler Community College.

In addition to teaching Construction Technology courses, Leach will be responsible for curriculum development, collaborating and partnering with high school technical education faculty and counselors, and creating and sustaining partnerships with four-year colleges as well as business and industry.

After receiving his Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Drafting from Cowley Community College, Leach spent a year working for a custom furniture maker before moving on to Nies Homes, where he worked for many years doing all their drafting and design. When the housing market crashed in 2008, Leach was moved to a contract role, which led him to start his own drafting and design business that he still operates today.   

Leach went on to further his education and received a bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Philosophy and a Master of Arts in Teaching Instruction and Curriculum from Wichita State University.   

In addition to running his own drafting and design business, Leach has been teaching at the high school level for the past seven years, the last three at El Dorado High School. Leach believes the Construction Technology program will fill a much-needed deficit in local skilled trades education.   

“The Wichita area has been lacking a good construction program,” said Leach. “Most of the education in the area focuses on manufacturing and aircraft, but we forget all those people need houses and buildings to put their businesses in. The construction trades have been kind of struggling in the area, so this program will hopefully help builders in the area have more educated and well-trained employees.” 

Leach has seen first-hand the need for skilled workers in the construction industry. Having just finished building his own home, Leach recognized that his subcontractors across the board – from masons to electricians to plumbers – were struggling to find good, trained workers. He is happy to be working with industry leaders to create a program that will produce the skilled employees needed to fill that void.   

“I have my own connections, primarily in the residential industry over the last 25 years, but also companies like Conco Construction and Wildcat Construction have played a central role in developing this curriculum with Butler Community College,” says Leach. 

The Construction Technology program is supported by local industry leaders like Eby Construction, Conco Construction, Wildcat Construction and Beran Concrete. Butler was approached by industry to develop a curriculum that could meet the needs for skilled labor. The 62-credit hour Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree also includes a summer internship. The program will provide a breadth of knowledge across various areas of the construction industry and will prepare students to enter the workforce immediately or transfer to a Pitt State University’s four-year degree program in Construction Management.  

Although the program launches in August with its construction courses, students can start earlier by taking any required general education courses which are offered in the spring or summer.  

In addition, Rose Hill High School is completing a building to house a Construction Technology pathway through Butler’s Early College Academy. The program will train high school students for the industry as juniors and seniors and prepare them to graduate with their associate of applied science degree the same time they graduate high school.  

Leach feels strongly that technology and two-year degrees are a great option in pursuing a lifelong career.   

“I brag that my little two-year associates degree I got in 1996 is still what pays my bills today. My business is built off that associates degree. Granted, I went and got further education, but that two-year degree set my life on the course I’m on now.”   

With his background in both construction and education, Leach will bring a wealth of knowledge to the program as well as his optimism about the future of the industry. 

Says Leach, “Working with high school students, I definitely see a lot of kids that want to work with their hands and create something and make something. I’m encouraged about the next generation.”