Arkansas City residents Josh and Paisley Howerton were honored at Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting.

The Howertons, along with their two young daughters, have been spending time this year in local parks, picking up trash and disposing of it properly.


The award given to the family is the Good Neighbor Award, which has not been given out for four years in Ark City. It was given upon a unanimous recommendation of the Beautification and Tree Advisory Board.

While Josh Howerton and one of their daughters were unable to attend the meeting, Paisley Howerton was in attendance with another daughter.

“You’ll make her day because she really wanted to meet the mayor,” Paisley Howerton said to Mayor Duane Oestmann of her daughter, Ophelia.

“Well, I’m sure glad to meet you,” Oestmann said. “Make sure you go back to your class and tell them you met the mayor, okay?”

The Howertons began their efforts to clean up local parks in February.

“There was quite a bit of trash, and we decided we’d go home to get lunch and supplies, and go back to pick up trash,” Paisley Howerton said on her Facebook page in February.

A simple walk through Walnut Park inspired them to do a bit of community service work.

“During my walks, I have realized that people have no respect for our public facilities and leave them littered with trash,” Josh Howerton said on Facebook.

“I started carrying bags and fill two to three of them on each of my short 15-20 minute walks. … It’s amazing how much trash can be picked up in as little as 30 minutes of your time and it makes a huge difference.”

AAA Traffic Safety Award

The Arkansas City Police Department was awarded with the AAA Traffic Safety Platinum Award during Tuesday night’s meeting.

AAA’s Shawn Stewart presented the award to Police Chief Dan Ward and several other officers, including Capt. Mark McCaslin, Lt. Chris Arnett, and Officers Wade Hammond and Jeremy Samson.

“Tonight marks the sixth year that ACPD will be receiving a AAA Traffic Safety Award,” Stewart said.

The Platinum Award is the highest award available through AAA. Prior to this year, ACPD had received the next level of award, the Gold Award, six years in a row — one of only two public safety departments in Kansas to do so.

“The police department is being recognized this year for its seven years of vital participation in the USD 470 SAFE teen seat belt usage program with Ark City High School, for enforcing the department policy requiring all employees to wear a seat belt (and) for their community education efforts — like the bicycle rodeo, the community safety fair, DARE Camp, educational pamphlets, safety tips on Facebook and their rollover crash demonstration efforts,” Stewart said.

Among other qualifications for this award are the department’s bicycle and K-9 units.

“Child passenger safety belt usage has risen from 70 to 88 percent in five years,” Stewart said. “Teen seat belt usage has risen from 50 percent to 86 percent and adult seat belt usage has risen from 73 to 85 percent in the same time period.”

In the last four years, there has been only one fatality accident within the city limits of Ark City.

Speedway Pizza

The commission meeting also was paid a visit by Russell Graves, owner of Speedway Pizza.

Speedway Pizza is in the running to be named the readers choice Best Local Eatery by KANSAS! Magazine.

“The citizens of Arkansas City helped raise me. … Thank you, Ark City,” Graves said.

He wants Speedway to win so Arkansas City as a whole can be recognized. “It’s not just Speedway Pizza, and it’s not just Russell Graves,” Graves said.

“Sounds good to me,” Oestmann said.

Graves also brought three pizzas for those in attendance to enjoy while at the meeting.

Those who wish to vote for Speedway Pizza can do so by visiting

In other business, the commission:

  • recognized and congratulated Abby Garcia, Arkansas City’s Outstanding Young Student Award scholarship recipient for 2016-17.
  • proclaimed May as National Foster Care Month in Arkansas City.
  • proclaimed May 7-13 as Public Service Recognition Week in Arkansas City.
  • proclaim May 7-14 as National Music Week in Arkansas City.
  • proclaimed May 15-21 as National Police Week and May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day in Arkansas City.
  • heard a financial update from South Central Kansas Medical Center Chief Financial Officer Holly Harper.
  • unanimously approved the consent agenda.
  • voted 4-1, with Commissioner Dan Jurkovich casting the dissenting vote, to approve a resolution revising the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan in effect until Dec. 31, 2020. The new plan tightens the revitalization districts, puts a cap on the commercial rebate and expands the multifamily housing rebate.
  • voted unanimously to table Oestmann’s appointments to various city advisory boards.
  • heard updates on the Wilson Park Master Plan and the May 12 Star Wars doubleheader at the park.
  • held a five-minute executive session to discuss confidential data relating to financial affairs or trade secrets of corporations, partnerships, trusts and individual proprietorships, as well as preliminary discussions relating to the acquisition of real property, regarding property at Goff Industrial Park.