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Ask Hutch: Why does the city allow prairie dogs in Hutch? And the Red Kettle campaign has started

We’ve cooked Pronto Pups, ran carnival rides and sold African baskets to name a few of the quests Kathy Hanks and I have been on together in our time at The News.

On Tuesday, Kathy and I will embark on another adventure – as Salvation Army bell ringers.

The army’s Red Kettle Campaign kicked off Wednesday, said local Lt. Marisa McCluer. It will help The Salvation Army provide food, shelter and social services to those in need throughout the year.

Kathy and I will be putting in money when we take our shift, which is from 10 a.m. to noon at Hutchinson’s Walgreens. And here’s our challenge: Bring $5, $10 or whatever you can spare and come see us.

We might even serenade you with an off-pitch tune of “Jingle Bells.”

You can also find us live on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/hutchinsonnews.

Now, to our questions. I received a kind letter from a loyal Ask Hutch reader just before Thanksgiving. He/she had three questions and said it was OK if I couldn’t answer all of them. “I just had to ask someone about them.”

Q: Where can I take barely used (like new) children’s clothing to donate – where is the need the greatest?

McCluer with The Salvation Army shed some light on this question.

The Salvation Army’s Thrift Store on South Main Street is always in need of good children’s clothing.

“All the money from the store goes directly back to serving the clients we see day in, day out,” she said. “The store is actually supporting the community.”

She added that First Call for Help also gives vouchers that can be used at Fair Price Clothing, a store operated by all the United Methodist churches in Reno County.

You can take donations there, as well – 15 W. Ave. B in downtown Hutchinson.

Fellow Ask Hutch cohort Hanks said her church – Grace Episcopal Church on North Main Street – has a clothes closet for those who need it. Several other churches also offer free clothing and take donations.

Q: Are any nursing homes doing “secret angels” or anything where people can buy small things they need as a Christmas gift?

Yes, there are!

Home Instead Senior Care here in Hutch is having its annual drive for seniors.

Owner Cindy Miller said that while many seniors enjoy being able to live independently, the holidays can be a difficult time for those who are unable to spend them with friends or loved ones.

The “Be a Santa to a Senior” drive began Nov. 8. Participating locations will have senior trees on display through Dec. 13. The trees are decorated with paper ornaments featuring seniors’ first names and their desired gifts. Holiday shoppers can choose an ornament, buy the requested gift and return it to the store with the ornament attached.

There’s no need to worry about wrapping — community volunteers and program partners will wrap and deliver the gifts to local seniors in time for Christmas.

Miller said trees could be found at The Medicine Shoppe, 1401 N. Main St., and First Bank Kansas, 1600 E. 17th Ave. 

“Research suggests that feelings of loneliness can have a real effect on both mental and physical health. The holidays are a prime time for many people to feel lonely, and that may be especially true for seniors who cannot travel from their homes or have lost their support network,” said Miller. “With ‘Be a Santa to a Senior,’ we are able to bring them some comfort through a thoughtful gift that they might not otherwise receive, but, more importantly, by delivering them with a warm, friendly face and kind words reminding them that their community cares about them.”

Other partners that help with gift collection and distribution include Mennonite Friendship Communities, Eagle Communications, Boys Girls Clubs of Hutchinson, and Boy Scout Troop 306. For more information about the program, visit www.beasantatoasenior.com or call (620) 662-5556. 

And finally,

Q: What is the deal with the prairie dog infestation by Lowe’s, Walmart, Home Depot? How long have they been in the Hutchinson area? We have only lived here three years and can’t believe the city is allowing them to go on uncontrolled. Having seen the damage they cause to land and areas around roads, it’s hard to believe no one notices them. If they were rat colonies, would they be allowed to go near public, highly populated areas? That’s not a fair comparison, but you get the drift.

I called Mary Clark, the superintendant of Dillon Nature Center, to see if she had any history of prairie dogs in Hutchinson.

She noted there was a dog town at Yaggy Plantation that spanned 100 acres. An old slide in her files shows C.C. Hutchinson’s first land company business in the early 1870s. A prairie dog is in the foreground of the photo.

Prairie dogs are native to this area and often move in where the grass is overgrazed, according to Kansas State University. They can carry disease, but the chances of it spreading to humans is slim.

According to K-State, while a few cases of human illness from prairie dogs occur in the western United States each year, there have not been any recent cases of humans contracting it in Kansas.

I’ve seen plenty of people stop and admire the prairie dogs. But I’ve never seen anyone wandering through their village.

City Manager John Deardoff relayed this answer to Kathy Hanks last week when I was out in a cotton field.

“It’s the property owner’s responsibility to take care of the prairie dogs,” he said. “New construction has moved out some. It’s not a city issue unless it’s on our property, then we will address it.”

In 2014, a group flushed soapy water down into the burrows where Rib Crib and Buffalo Wild Wings are now located. Those prairie dogs were relocated to a ranch in Barber County.

Clark said one thing she notices as the prairie dog numbers around Hutchinson diminish – fewer burrowing owls in that area.

Article source: http://www.ottawaherald.com/news/20171127/ask-hutch-why-does-city-allow-prairie-dogs-in-hutch-and-red-kettle-campaign-has-started

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