Augusta Department of Public Safety History
Some of the information contained herein contains excerpts from “Augusta Kansas 1868-1990,” authored by Augusta native Burl Allison, Jr. and from the Augusta Daily Gazette. Mr. Allison and previous Editor Carter Zerbe allowed us to use the information from these sources in this project.
July 2, 2014 - Public Safety Officer Derek Highbarger was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Sergeant Highbarger was assigned to supervise one of the four patrol crews.
June 13, 2014 - Augusta Public Safety Officers investigated the death of two local men. The deaths were reported as not suspicious. The Butler County Times-Gazette posted this story http://www.butlercountytimesgazette.com/article/20140613/NEWS/140619563.
February 17, 2014 - Augusta Public Safety Communications Specialist Marcus Windholz was recognized at the Augusta City Council Meeting for his handling of a murder-suicide call on February 6th. The Butler County Times-Gazette posted this story http://www.butlercountytimesgazette.com/article/20140220/NEWS/140229936.
February 6, 2014 - Augusta Public Safety Officers responded to a shooting in the 1200 block of Helen. Officers found a male and a female deceased inside the residence from an apparent murder-suicide. The Butler County Times-Gazette posted this story http://www.butlercountytimesgazette.com/article/20140207/NEWS/140209461
January 29, 2014 - The Elk River Wind Farm presented a check for $2500 to the Augusta Department of Public Safety in gratitude for the assistance of police canine "Rico" in capturing a suspect who had stolen thousands of dollars in material from the wind farm in October of 2013. The Butler County Times-Gazette posted this story http://www.butlercountytimesgazette.com/article/20140128/NEWS/140129325
January 18, 2014 - Augusta Public Safety Officers seized approximately 1.5 ounces of methamphetamines during a traffic stop. Police canine "Rico" assisted on the seizure. The Butler County Times-Gazette posted this story http://www.butlercountytimesgazette.com/article/20140121/NEWS/140129909
January 18, 2014 - Volunteer Firefighter Craig Brown was awarded the 2014 Volunteer of the Year award. Also, Volunteer Firefighter Kip Richardson and Les Johnston were awarded 15-year awards and Volunteer Firefighter James Frame was recognized for 10-years of service.
December 3, 2013 - The third and final suspect in a federal drug and gun possession case has pleaded guilty to her role in the crimes. Shannon Pickett, 35, and Dustin Blackston, 25, both pleaded guilty to charges last month. Rachel Aguirre pleaded guilty recently to a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a user of controlled substances. These charges were the result of an investigation by Augusta Public Safety Officers conducted in December of 2012. http://www.butlercountytimesgazette.com/article/20131107/NEWS/131109554
November 4, 2013 - Captain Bruce Relph, Sergeant Chad McCluskey and Public Safety Officer Derek Highbarger were awarded the Life Saving award for their efforts and response to a call of a subject in cardiac arrest on October 30, 2013. http://www.butlercountytimesgazette.com/article/20131107/NEWS/131109554
October 4, 2013 - The Augusta Safety Department just received another tool to help keep residents safer. A $19,000 Kansas Department of Transportation grant was matched with 10 percent of the purchase price from local funds to purchase a radar trailer. The solar-powered trailer monitors speeds and can let motorists know when they need to slow down without an officer being required to operate the unit. http://www.butlercountytimesgazette.com/article/20131004/NEWS/131009491
September 18, 2013 - Augusta Department of Safety emergency personnel responded to a predawn fire at the Space Station Storage facility in the 1100 block of Ohio St. Upon arrival the fire fighters found the office engulfed in flames and they continue to fight fire and heavy smoke in the adjacent storage units. The fire appears to be contained in the one section of units. Cause and origin of the fire is unknown at this time. http://www.butlercountytimesgazette.com/article/20130918/NEWS/130919274
September 2, 2013 - Augusta Public Safety Officers assisted Butler County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Lawrence who was shot during a traffic stop at Highway 54 and Santa Fe Lake Road. Deputy Lawrence was conducting a traffic stop when one of the occupants of the vehicle pulled a gun and shot Lawrence. Lawrence received only a minor injury and Augusta Officers were first on scene to help Lawrence. Jan Tracy Kilbourne was ultimately arrested and charged in the case. The Butler County Times-Gazette posted this story http://www.butlercountytimesgazette.com/article/20130902/NEWS/130909987
June 5, 2013 - Public Safety Officer Quinten Shoopman was injured following a traffic accident during the pursuit of an auto theft suspect from Oklahoma. Shoopman was not seriously injured and the suspect was taken into custody the same morning.
May 17, 2013 - City Manager Bill Keefer, the City Manager for Augusta since 1997, resigned to take a job in Grove, Oklahoma.
January 21, 2013 – Volunteer Fire Lieutenant Brian Smart was named Volunteer Firefighter of the Year for 2012 and Volunteer Firefighter James Frame was awarded a certificate of appreciation for his work on the activities committee.
September 25, 2012 – Augusta firefighters responded to 5828 SW Ohio St. around 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon to a fire that accidentally started on the deck behind the home belonging to Walter Storrer. The fire was under control in about 20 minutes and resulted in extensive damage. Lieutenant Tim Follis suffered a heart attack at the scene and was transported to Kansas Medical Center, where a cardiac cath procedure was performed and the removal of a blood clot. He was expected to be moved from the Intensive Care Unit today. Augusta Chief Tyler Brewer reported on Follis' condition and that the family would appreciate the community's prayers and well wishes for a speedy recovery.
June 16, 2012 - Sergeant Chris Scheuber escaped serious injuries early Saturday morning when strong winds broke a very large tree limb, causing it to fall on him. Chief Tyler Brewer reported Monday morning that Sgt. Scheuber and Safety Officer Derrick Brown had answered a report of curfew violators in the 100 block of E. 12th. While the officers were standing in the street speaking with the youths, they heard a loud crack and a limb, approximately 20 feet in length and three feet in diameter, dropped on a squad car’s hood and Scheuber. The force on the car’s hood was so strong, that it causes substantial damage to side panels and fender. Sgt. Scheuber was transported to the hospital with an injured arm. X-rays showed that the arm was not broken.
Chief Brewer advised, “He was inches from being killed -- if it had been just two inches closer.”
Brewer reports that Sgt. Scheuber is currently on light duty and the squad car is out of commission.
February 21, 2012 - The Augusta Department of Public Safety will soon have two new Chevy Tahoes in their fleet. The addition was approved Tuesday night after a 5-2 vote with Councilors Mike Huddleston and Sue Jones voting against the purchase. Jones had been vocal about her belief that adding only one new vehicle to the police department this year would be sufficient. When the budget was approved, $50,000 was appropriated for the two new vehicles – which is in line with the council’s plan to keep the vehicles in good working order by replacing them every 3-4 years. Jones had argued to have only $25,000 in the budget and add only one car this year to free up funds for other projects. Neither Jones nor Huddleston made a comment during Tuesday’s meeting. The council considered bids for different vehicles. Two of them were on display Tuesday night for the governing body to inspect before the meeting. A State Highway Patrol Dodge Charger and a Wichita Police Department Chevy Tahoe were made available. The Tahoes cost about $4,500 more than the Charger. That difference in price led Councilor Matt Childers to ask why Chief Tyler Brewer had recommended the Tahoes. “I noticed that the county had just purchased five Dodge Chargers,” Childers said. “How are our needs different?” Brewer said the differences are in how the department operates. Augusta is a generalist department. His officers carry forensic equipment, a rifle, and even fire gear in their vehicles. The smaller Charger didn’t have enough room to accommodate all of this equipment efficiently. Also, the smaller Charger would have been difficult to transfer prisoners in. Brewer provided fuel economy estimates for the two vehicles and in city driving conditions, both provide similar efficiency – 16 mph for the Charger and 15 for the Tahoe. The total price after trade-ins for the two Tahoes is $46,472. They will be ordered this week.
January 21, 2012 – Volunteer Fire Captain Ron Pressnell was awarded 2011 Volunteer Firefighter of the Year at the annual Volunteer awards banquet and dinner.
December 6, 2011 - Augusta Department of Public Safety officers took two people into custody in connection with the murder of Loyce Cody, a 69-year-old resident of Augusta. Cody was found deceased in her house at 1605 Sunset Drive on December 5, 2011.
November 21, 2011 – “Rico,” the newest member of the Augusta Department of Public Safety and the department’s fourth police canine returned from training and started his career with the department.
May 6, 2011 - Public Safety Officer Linden Blank graduated the 212th class of the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. Officer Blank will begin his field training program and complete his training so he can be released on his own in the near future.
April 27, 2011 - From the Augusta Daily Gazette: A four-footed canine officer for the Augusta Department of Public Safety (ADPS) is expected to be on duty in the fall of this year. Fundraising has been underway since the death of former drug dog Basco earlier this year. He was partnered with ADPS Safety Sergeant Chad McCluskey. Training costs for a new dog and handler has been reported in the range of $12,000 to $15,000.Around 50 percent of this cost can reportedly be covered by grant funding and asset forfeiture funds. Fundraising for the remainder has been underway for the past couple months. Sgt. McCluskey has secured numerous donations to cover expenses but he won’t be able to be paired with Basco’s successor until after he completes training classes.
March 17, 2011 - After years of preparation, the new Butler County 800 MHz radio system is up and running and ADPS officers starting using the new system. The new radio system gives more options for interoperability between agencies, as well as a more reliable network for emergency services to operate.
March 8, 2011 - From the Augusta Daily Gazette, "Our Yesterday's" section: 50 YEARS AGO, 1961 Augusta, the first city in Kansas to integrate police and fire units into a single department of safety, was beginning to show better protection for the tax dollar, according to G.J. Boyd, City Manager. 10 YEARS AGO, 2001 Members of the Augusta City Council toured the new city Safety Department located at the new city-county center at Augusta and Ohio Streets.
February 10, 2011 - The Augusta Department of Public Safety police service canine, "Basco," passed away. Sergeant Chad McCluskey was the handler for "Basco" and the team worked tirelessly for the preceding 8 years to protect the community.
January 19, 2011 - Fire Division Sergeant Timothy Follis was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. Lieutenant Follis remained assigned to the Fire Division.
January 19, 2011 - Volunteer Fire Captain LeRoy Hall retired after 33-years of service to the department and the community. Captain Hall was recognized at the annual Fire Awards Banquet.
October 5, 2010 - Four men from Wichita were found dead at Santa Fe Lake. Following the investigation by Safety Officers, it was found the four had died of carbon monoxide poisoning after falling asleep in their van.
May, 2010 - The Augusta Department of Public Safety took delivery of a new Sutphen Aerial Platform truck, identified as "AP1." The truck was in the works for years and replaced a 1972 Engine that was the second out truck for the department. The truck came with a price tag of approximately $750,000.00.
May 20, 2010 - Another life was lost at the old "Osage Street bridge" low head dam. The teen died after he attempted to ride a kayak across the dam. Safety officials again warned residents to stay away from the area as the dam is very dangerous and has resulted in many lives lost.
May 17, 2010 - Public water rescue forces were working along the Walnut River Monday night. Two area men kayaking on the Walnut River ran into trouble at the low water bridge beyond the dike at the foot of Osage Street Monday night. Joe Vincello, 20, was rescued with a rope and taken to a Wichita hospital apparently suffering hypothermia. He had been holding the hand of Dustin R. Tolbert, 19, when he was pulled from the water. Tolbert was not found and rescuers were searching at the river site today. Safety Chief Tyler Brewer said the department received a call about the kayakers around 9 p.m. Local safety officers. Sheriff’s officers and emergency medical personnel were dispatched to the scene beyond the city dike around 9 p.m.
January 20, 2010 - The newest Augusta Department of Public Safety reserve police officers were sworn in at an awards dinner. The new reserves were the first of the revised reserve program after the department had not had police reserves for many years. The new reserves included Reserve Commander Kevin Unrein, reserve police officers Mike Nelson, Philip Gehlen, Benjamin Moore and Scott Greene. The reserve unit coordinator was Sergeant Jeremy Johnston.
January, 2010 - The Augusta Department of Public Safety acquired a used ambulance from Butler County. The unit, named "Rescue 26," was placed in service as a command and specialty rescue vehicle. The unit will serve as support on confined space rescues, dive rescues, and other calls as needed.
December 22, 2009 - Captain Bruce Relph, Sergeant Chad McCluskey and Safety Officer Derek Highbarger were given the life saving award after their efforts to revive a local female on November 23, 2009. According to Butler County EMS Captain Samantha Byers, "if the officers had not acted in the manner in which they did, the patient would not have survived."
December 2, 2009 - Acting on a tip, four illegal gambling devices were confiscated from the Oak Tree Bar & Grill in downtown Augusta Wednesday night by law enforcement officers. Augusta Safety Chief Tyler Brewer reports that charges are being sought against one or more individuals in connection with this incident.
November 16, 2009 - The Augusta City Council approved the purchase of a new Aerial Platform Fire Engine from Sutphen, at a cost of $773,795. The truck was ordered to replace the second out fire engine, a 1972 Fire Engine.
October 20, 2009 - The Augusta City Council approved the purchase and implementation of TASER's for the Augusta Department of Safety officers. The TASER was one of the newest inventions in Law Enforcement and was considered a critical tool for law enforcement.
October 13, 2009 - Augusta Police Officers responded to a shooting in the 900 block of Wirth Street. Officers found that a 14-year-old female had been shot in the head during an underage drinking party. The suspect later pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to prison.
October 9, 2009 - Augusta police investigated a fatal shooting of a teenage girl this weekend. Fourteen-year-old Andrea Young, a freshman at Augusta High School, was shot in the head at a West Augusta residence, 935 Wirth Street, Friday night. Twenty-five-year-old Morgan Jarvi was booked into the Butler County Detention Center at El Dorado for involuntary manslaughter and hosting an underage drinking party. Officers were called to a residence around 10:30 p.m. Friday. Public Safety Chief Tyler Brewer said the girl was dead when officers arrived. She had been shot once with a handgun. "When they approached the house, they were greeted by quite a few young people leaving the residence," said Brewer. “We know that he had been brandishing two weapons during the evening," Brewer added. "One of those was pistol. We believe that was the pistol that went off and struck our victim." "The mix of firearms, underage drinking, and kids isn't a good mix," Brewer said. Twenty to 30 youth were reportedly at the Friday night party.
November, 2009 - Butler County residents approved a 1-cent Sales Tax to fund the new 800 MHz radio system for the County.
September 10, 2009 - A memorandum of agreement was signed between the Augusta Department of Public Safety and Butler County to move forward with the new $12.9 million 800 MHz radio system.
August 11, 2009 - Augusta Department of Public Safety personnel responded to Santa Fe Lake for the report of a missing 4-year-old. Within minutes of arrival, the 4-year-old was located in the water by Sergeant Tim Follis, who is on the department dive team. The 4-year-old was transported to a Wichita hospital where he was pronounced deceased.
July 20, 2009 - The Augusta Volunteer Fire Department marked a century (100 years) of service to the community on July 20, 2009. The volunteer fire unit was started on July 20, 1909 and has been a critical part of the ADPS family. Click here to view a group picture of personnel, both active and retired, who have been part of the volunteer fire unit.
July 13, 2009 - School Resource Officer Brian Smith received the Kansas School Resource Officer of the Year award. Smith was chosen out of all the SRO's throughout Kansas as the outstanding SRO in the State.
June 2, 2009 - The Augusta Municipal Court was moved from City Hall to the Safety Building, located on north Ohio. The court clerk had moved to the department and the move of the Municipal Court was to ease the transition.
May 27, 2009 - The Augusta Department of Public Safety approved an agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation, and Butler County, to operate communications on the new 800 MHz radio system. The system is part of a national effort for interoperability, which would allow more communication between agencies in case of a disaster.
March 5, 2009 - Sergeant Chad McCluskey, Sergeant Michael Stueven and Safety Officer Timothy Weber were awarded the life saving award after assisting a local citizen in cardiac arrest during January of 2009. The officers efforts lead to the victim making a recovery and returning home from the hospital.
November 8, 2008 - Sergeant Chris Scheuber was recognized for 10-years of service to the community.
July 3, 2008 - Volunteer Fire Captain Ron Reavis retired after giving more than 33 years to the community.
February 22, 2008 - Augusta Fire Units responded to the report of a mobile home fire at 1201 Money. When crews arrived, the structure was fully involved and once the fire was under control, crews found an adult male and a juvenile male had died in the fire.
January 21, 2008 - Volunteer Fire Captain LeRoy Hall was named Volunteer Firefighter of the Year for 2007 and he was recognized for 30 years of service. In addition, Volunteer Fire Captain Jim Hall was also recognized for 30 years of service.
January 18, 2008 - Safety Officer Bob Brautman was named the new School Resource Officer at the Augusta High School. SRO Brautman boasts a 14-year law enforcement career, with the last five being with the Augusta Department of Public Safety.
January 12, 2008 - The department responded to a train derailment east of the city on Belmont. The responders found three trains had struck one another and were comingled. The incident required a several day response and was noted as a "once in a career" train derailment.
December 4, 2007 - Safety Officers Jerry Ballinger, Drew Reed, Tim Weber and Communications Supervisor Lance Hilton were recognized for 10 years of service to the community.
August, 2007 - The Augusta Department of Public Safety gave up their historical brown/tan uniforms for new navy blue uniforms. The change was well received by all personnel and the new uniforms will be easier and cheaper to obtain.
July 25, 2007 - Augusta Police personnel responded to the 500 block of North Taylor in El Dorado to assist with a standoff involving an individual who had shot a Butler County Sheriff's Deputy. The deputy received a minor injury to his foot and the suspect shot himself.
May 24, 2007 - Augusta Rescue personnel responded to the report of a juvenile male caught in the low-head dam south of the City along the old "Osage Street bridge." When units arrived, they found a 14-year-old male clinging to life. Safety Chief Tyler Brewer dove into river and rescued the male. Safety Chief Brewer was later recognized with a life saving award from the Kansas Chiefs of Police.
November 22, 2006 - Sergeant Jeremy Johnston was recognized for 10-years of service to the community at a local city council meeting.
May 9, 2006 - Safety Officer Derek Highbarger graduated the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Academy and began his field training process.
January, 2006 - Officer Bob Brautman is assigned as the ADPS D.A.R.E. officer. Brautman attended a two-week instructor’s class and began teaching on January 31. The position was previously held by Officer Brian Smith, who was moved to the Augusta Middle School Resource Officer spot upon the promotion of Sergeant Chris Scheuber on August 1, 2005.
January, 2006 - ADPS continues to enhance and improve equipment with the purchase of five new "third generation L.E.D. lightbars" for emergency vehicles. The light bars are the latest technology and provide the best protection available for personnel.
December, 2005 - Chief Tyler Brewer presented the idea of changing the patrol car fleet to a black and white color scheme. The idea was quickly made a reality and the entire patrol fleet was painted to match the new graphics and looks. Funds spent to complete the project came from donations.
August 1, 2005 - School Resource Officer Chris Scheuber is promoted to the rank of Sergeant and assigned to the Patrol Division. As a patrol sergeant, Sgt. Scheuber will be responsible for one of the department’s four patrol crews.
July 13, 2005 - Once again, ADPS is at the top of the technology wave. During July, we installed and implemented a new Computer Aided Dispatch (C.A.D.) and Records Management Software (R.M.S.). A few bugs needed to be worked out, but all in all we are quickly moving up the ladder with regards to technology. On July 13, the department made the switch to the automated system. With few problems, which can be expected, the system is working and officers learned to use it relatively quickly.
March 2, 2005 – Lt. Bruce Relph was promoted to rank of Captain. Captain Relph will head the Special Services Division consisting of the criminal investigations unit, the community relations unit, and other units within the Division.
November 2004 - The Department is on the cutting edge with 9-1-1 services that give GPS coordinates for cellular phones and addresses for calls made from a regular telephone.
October 20, 2003 - The Department of Public Safety purchased a new Police Service Canine, "Basco." The third canine that the City owned, "Basco" was purchased entirely with donated funds at a cost of $9200.00. "Basco" and handler Sgt. Chad McCluskey came back from training and began work on the streets as the new team. “Rosie”, the previous canine, retired at the age of 7 years.
May 9, 2003 - Augusta finds itself battling floodwaters again. The front page of the Augusta Gazette reads, "TOO MUCH WHITEWATER!" referring to the Whitewater River west of the community, which caused the problems. The waters crept into the Meadowview Acres area again, but no major damage was reported.
February 1, 2003 - K. Tyler Brewer was appointed as the new Director of Safety. Brewer's law enforcement background includes retiring from the Wichita Police Department with rank of Major. He also served as the Chief of Police for the Jefferson City, MO police department prior to coming to Augusta.
January 17, 2003 - Chief David Pate retires after 10 years of service with the Department of Public Safety. Chief Pate remained in the community and took up a teaching position part time.
March 27, 2002 - The first homicide in nearly ten years occurs at a local business. The victim was shot and killed in the store. Once again, the Augusta Department of Public Safety was successful in appending the suspect within minutes of the shooting.
2001 - The Department was awarded a grant for a second School Resource Officer, to be placed in the Augusta Middle School. Officer Chris Scheuber was selected as the SRO for this position.
April 2001 - The Augusta Department of Public Safety moved into a new facility at 2100 N. Ohio. The building was constructed by Butler County to house Butler County EMS, the Butler County Health Department, and the Department of Public Safety. It was a huge improvement for the Department.
July 1, 2000 - Lt. Butch Haag retired. Haag spent 28 years with the Department of Public Safety and retired as the Lt. over the Fire Division.
April 20, 2000 - A new fire engine is delivered to the Augusta Department of Public Safety. The engine, designated "Engine #1" cost approximately $200,000.00 and replaced a forty year old first out engine.
1999 - Augusta received a grant that allowed for the placement of an officer in the Augusta High School as a School Resource Officer. Officer Andy Hall was chosen for this task.
October 31, 1998 - Augusta falls victim to massive flooding. This time, everything south of 7th Street, west of Walnut, and north to Summit is under water. Officers with the Department of Public Safety worked day in and day out to maintain order, save as much property as possible, and help with safety of the citizens. As a precautionary measure, all department equipment was relocated due to the rising water. Luckily the waters did not get into City Hall or the Station. The damage caused by the flood, which covered three counties in south central Kansas, quickly climbed over $37.8 million. This flood ended the Meadowview Acres addition problems as the houses were bought out. The flood was noted as a "100 year flood."
July 16, 1998 - Augusta Officers assisted Butler County Sheriff's Deputies with an officer involved shooting southwest of Augusta. A sheriff's deputy stopped to help a couple of men with a broken down car. One suspect fled, and began firing at the officer. The suspect was shot and wounded. It was found that the pair had been involved in a burglary of the Augusta Historical Museum.
1998 - The second police service canine, "Rosie," was placed in service. "Rosie," a Chocolate Lab, was trained in Narcotics detection and tracking/trailing. "Rosie" was obtained by funds from the Butler County Drug Task Force and purchased from T.A.S.K. in Texas. "Rosie" was in service for 5 years before being retired.
May 1997 - The Department received approval from the Butler County Commissioners to purchase a new rescue truck. The truck was a one-ton crew cab diesel, and replaced a 1970's model pickup. The truck is used for vehicle extrication and other rescues, as well as support on larger fires.
January 1997 - The "Adopt-A-Cop" program was initiated. The program is a way for local youth to get to know officers on a more personal level and not when dealing with bad situations. The program sends officers into the schools during lunch and recess breaks. The officers eat lunch with the students, and then spend the rest of the lunch hour at recess with the students.
1996 - The Augusta Department of Public Safety logged 1,686 criminal offense reports through the year of 1996 by the patrol division. Arrests cleared 668 of those. The two big cases of the year included a cross burning in the yard of a local resident during June and a traffic fatality during September. Arrests in both cases were made and resulted in charges of violation of civil rights and manslaughter respectively.
The fire division recorded 432 alarms throughout the year. Of the calls, 164 alarms in the City of Augusta, and 202 in the Fire District. The other 66 were mutual aid assignments to surrounding agencies. One fire related fatality occurred in the Fire District. Average response times were listed at 4 minutes within the City and ten minutes in the Fire District. An average of 10.6 firefighters would be on scene on City fires and 11.4 firefighters on rural scenes.
December 22, 1994 - Augusta and other area firefighters battled a blaze in the old Lunger Furniture building located along the city's east side. The three-alarm fire was believed to be arson. Firefighters were on scene all night after the initial response at approximately 12:30 a.m.
October 1994 - Augusta becomes the first community in Butler County to have enhanced 9-1-1. The switch was thrown allowing 9-1-1 dispatchers to immediately see the number, address, and name assigned to that address when the 9-1-1 phone rings.
July 1, 1994 - A hefty windstorm struck the community and surrounding area. Several trees in the Cemetery were destroyed; US 54 west of the city had the westbound lanes closed due to power lines laying like toothpicks along the roadway. Department personnel responded to several calls of damage and persons trapped, and worked through the weekend to clean up the damage.
March 4, 1994 - Firemen responded to a grass fire south of Augusta. Before the fire was extinguished, it burned one of the grass fire trucks at the scene. The dryness of the year created very dangerous conditions.
February 18, 1994 - Augusta Fire Fighters assisted Andover Fire Fighters with a grass fire that charred 1500 acres. Illegal burning was the apparent cause of the fire. Firefighters battled the blaze for three days.
1993 - The Augusta Department of Public Safety patrol division logged nearly 1,600 criminal offense reports throughout the year. 299 Arrests were made during the year. The Fire Division recorded 275 alarms throughout the year.
Highlights from 1993 included the arrest of a man suspected in kidnapping a local juvenile. The child was found unharmed five hours after being reported missing. The suspect, a male from Texas, was arrested and formerly charged less than 45 days later.
Also in 1993, the department moves forward adding UHF radio equipment. The equipment replaced out dated "low band" equipment that would not reach outside of a close proximity to the station.
January 11, 1993 - A new Director was selected to head the Department of Public Safety. Chief David Pate came to the department as the head of the organization. Pate, who came from the Wichita area, replaced Chief Shaffer who resigned in 1992. Pate had retired from the Wichita Police Department as a Captain.
October 20, 1992 - A clerk at a local gas station was shot and killed during a robbery. The suspect was appended within hours and the case was cleared. Augusta officers have a long history of successfully clearing high profile cases quickly.
September 16, 1992 - Chief Steve Shaffer, Director of Safety, resigned after 18 years of service with the Department. Deputy Director Richard Pressnell was named as interim chief.
June 22, 1992 - The City Council approved a 3-mil increase in the levy. This money would be used to fund the Butler County Drug Task Force.
March 20, 1992 - Augusta officers investigate an attempt murder / suicide in the downtown business district. The incident was a result of an ongoing domestic problem between a male and female. The male died, the female survived.
September 26, 1991 - Firefighters battled a blaze at the Homestead Inn on West 7th Street. The fire was caused by a faulty ventilator fan in the backroom office and did $7000.00 worth of damage. One firefighter was injured when his foot got caught in the rungs of the aerial ladder truck.
September 4, 1991 - Sgt. Jean Russell, Communications Chief, passed away after serving the Department since 1974.
July 10, 1986 - The Department of Public Safety added a concrete ramp leading to the entrance of the building for use by handicapped patrons.
March 18, 1986 - Another disastrous flood strikes the Meadowview Acres addition. Residents looked for ways to solve the problem, however the U.S. Corp of Engineers projected the cost to fix the problem at $1,200,000.00. It was not cost effective and would not be.
1986 - Augusta acquired a German Shepherd, named "Rikki," that was used as the first police service canine in the city. "Rikki" was retired in the 1991 due to prostate cancer and hip Dysphasia.
November 15, 1984 - Officer Charles McCluer, of the Department of Public Safety, had been the top of his class in the Police Academy in Hutchinson. McCluer was the first Augusta officer to reach such distinction.
October 11, 1985 - Yes, another flood. This time, Meadowview Acres addition was covered with four feet of water in only two hours.
January 17, 1984 - Jerry Harrison, a volunteer firefighter of forty years, was recognized for his service.
December 23, 1983 - 422 State Street falls victim to another disastrous fire. Again, the weather was sub- zero and bitter. Pipes had frozen and in trying to thaw them, something flammable had ignited. In only a few short minutes, the entire building was a blaze. The fire spread quickly and the job of fighting it was anything by easy. Sixty firefighters and fifteen trucks were in place at one time, however they managed to keep the fire from destroying the whole block. The Egg Roll Palace was destroyed, T.W. Productions gallery, at 420 State, was badly damaged, as was Lo Vellette's China and Gifts at 418 State.
Due to the weather, the water shot at the building by firefighters quickly froze and created a layer of ice on the outside of the building. The building was labeled the "Ice Palace" and had spectators from around the area out too see what had happened. Nine men fighting the fire were injured and damage to equipment climbed to over $10,000.00. Loss was estimated at $100,000.00 to the building and contents.
November 1982 - Police Judge Cal Purdin died while presiding in court.
April 5, 1982 - A fire was reported at the First Lady Coiffure in the Northstar Shopping Center at Belmont and Ohio. While the fire was being battled, Cecil's Jewelry was broken into and burglarized. Arson was suspected in the fire at the Northstar Shopping Center, and it was believed to be a diversion for the burglary. On October 22, 1982, a suspect was arrested and charged with both crimes. April 27, 1983 he plead guilty.
October 10, 1981 - 9-1-1 services become part of life in Augusta. Initially the 9-1-1 lines were not traced and were part of an administrative phone set up.
July 1981 - A pistol range is created along the southeastern part of the city. The range is mostly used by the Department of Public Safety. In the spring of 1981 Chief Shaffer suggested setting guidelines for the use of the range.
June 15, 1981 - The 400 block of Osage had vanished overnight. A fire had claimed the buildings that housed eight business establishments. The fire took Gardner Plumbing, Republic Steel, Augusta Lumber, Heist Maintenance, Bee Gee Roofing, El Dorado Times-Augusta Office, Sharp Construction, and Reese Painting. Arson was suspected in the blaze that injured 11 firefighters. The fire also damaged a home north of the site by embers blowing in the strong winds.
October 7, 1980 - The City Council approved a $45,411.00 addition to the fire station, which was located behind City Hall at the corner of 6th and School Streets. The addition would add garage space and height.
July 8, 1980 - A greenhouse owned by Charles Ray burned. Fireworks were believed to be the cause. 1980 quickly became an especially taxing year on local fire fighters. It was dry, and numerous grass fires kept crews working around the clock.
July 17, 1979 - A fire completely destroyed the Moyle Building, located at 607 State Street.
June 9, 1979 - Once again, Augusta falls victim to flooding. Lunger's Furniture, on the east side of the City, had four to five inches of water in the store. Mobil refinery had reopened from the previous closing and again had three to four feet of water throughout the plant. Another set back, yet ten days later the refinery was back up and running. People in the Meadowview Acres addition also felt the effects of the flood and had water in a number of homes in this area. Due to the work of men and boys sandbagging the dike, most of the water was kept out of the city. Six hundred were evacuated, and two million dollars in damages was listed.
As a direct result of this flood, the Council elects to raise the height of the dike system by two to three feet, at a cost of $18,000 to $20,000 in July of 1979.
March 2, 1979 - Headlines in the Augusta Gazette read “A.D.P.S Among State’s Most Progressive Departments”, with A.D.P.S. standing for Augusta Department of Public Safety.
1979 - For the past ten years, vandalism at Garvin Park had been a continuing problem. The latest incident resulted in a roofed picnic shelter being destroyed. Some roads were being altered and fencing was placed in strategic areas. The vandalism slowed, but continued.
September 30, 1978 - The first Police Chaplain program was initiated with the Department of Public Safety.
January 29, 1977 - Lehr's Restaurant, located at 212 W. 7th, was completely destroyed by fire. The damage estimate was $400,000.00. The blaze started in an overheated attic furnace in the southwest corner of the building. Again, firefighters had to contend with sub-zero weather and units were called from El Dorado and Sedgwick County to assist. Although much effort was spent fighting the fire, the building was a total loss.
August 20, 1975 - The City of Augusta received a recognition award. The City had not experienced a traffic fatality in ten years.
April 10, 1975 - The first Bugs Bunny Club was organized. The project was that of Director of Safety Steve Shaffer. The purpose was stated as "encouraging young people to get involved in what the police department is doing."
April 1, 1975 - A blaze destroyed a mobile home owned by Shane Phillips in the Whitewater Mobile Home Park on West 7th.
On the same day a house at 1215 Custer Lane, owned by D. E. Alky, burned with a loss of $10,800.00.
March 28, 1975 - The second fire occurred at the Albatross Restaurant located at 515 State Street. Cost of the blaze was estimated at $70,000.00.
March 18, 1975 - The first of four devastating fires occurred. The fire was at the Tumbleweed Motel, which was owned by Mr. And Mrs. John Kraft. The Motel, located just east of Augusta, burned to the ground.
January 25, 1975 - Forty Two Reserve police officers were in attendance at a police school that met twice a week for thirteen weeks.
July 17, 1974 - A drought was keeping firemen busy. Fires in dry pastures were testing the firemen and keeping them on their toes.
March 1974 - Steve Shaffer was now the Director of the Augusta Safety Department. Shaffer developed the popular "Bugs Bunny Club," which is still popular among local youth today!
January 1974 - Joe and Luzelle Peterman's home on Bobbie Street exploded and burned. The cause was a buildup of natural gas. Luzelle was hospitalized briefly.
October 10, 1973 - Sandbaggers again came out in force to keep the city safe from floodwaters. This time, their efforts paid off! The city was spared. The city manager, John Mercer, praised the School district for releasing forty high school boys to help. Mercer claimed, "Without them we probably never would have got the job done!"
February 4, 1973 - A fire destroyed the Coburn industries structure, a business that built mobile homes. The fire was believed to be arson and the loss was between $400,000 and $500,000. In addition, the security guard for the plant lost his life.
July 17, 1971 - A special meeting of the City Council dealt with a sharp increase in destructive vandalism. The Mayor and the City Council called for stiff enforcement to curb the problem. Officers on third shift were asked to be especially vigilant in their patrols.
1967 - During a cookout, sparks from the fire set dry grass ablaze. The grass fire reached a barn and set it on fire as well. Before the blaze could be contained, a $25,000 fire truck was destroyed.
September 1966 - Dense smoke from a grass fire that firemen were fighting was a cause in a fire truck accident. A fire truck ran into a jeep driven by Ed Pressnell. Pressnell was pinned in the jeep and his leg injured.
1966 - A fire destroyed the laundry business owned by Chet Crooks; only a year after a flood ravaged the business. Crooks continued his business in the dry cleaning shop next door.
1965 - Another flood strikes Augusta. Water was 10 feet deep in the refinery along the south end of the City. The Mobile Plant would close because of this damage.
1962 - John Watkins was the new head of the Safety Department.
1961 - The City had a new fire truck ready for use, the cost $10,000. Eugene Otti, 45, Captain of the Safety Department died of a heart attack. The new fire truck was dedicated to his memory.
1960 - The Safety Department, combining Police and Fire Departments, was established. Initially there were some complaints, even some petitions. After smoothing things out, there was easier going and the Safety Department concept is still utilized today.
January, 1952 - City Manager R.J. Hayes announced that the new year would see Augusta having a full-time fire department, separated from the police department. The fire chief and two firemen would be paid from a “fire fund” and they would work regular shifts.
1950's - A. E. "Bud" Pressnell had died from a heart ailment. Pressnell was the Fire Chief.
June 23, 1951 - Augusta was pelted by a hailstorm. There was well over a million dollars worth of damage. Santa Fe Railway tracks were washed out, sixteen hundred windowpanes were knocked out in Augusta's school buildings, and the new Catholic Church lost all the windows on the north side.
May 1, 1951 - Augusta experienced another flood. The fire station whistle was blown and every boy and man went to help sandbag the openings in the dike.
July 1950 - The City Council decided to purchase two-way radios for the Police Department. Prior to this purchase, two bare light bulbs were hung on 501 and 502 State Street. There were wires run to the Police Department and the desk Sergeant would flip a switch and turn on the lights when something came up that required the officers to contact the station.
1950 - The Mar-Mac restaurant was severely vandalized. The club was located on West 7th Street and the suspects were caught. The boys involved were twelve years old, thirteen years old, and fifteen years old. They were sentenced to the Boys' Industrial School in Topeka, and then paroled under the court’s jurisdiction until they reached the age of 21.
July 18, 1949 - The Augusta Theatre was badly damaged by fire. No cause was given for the fire, but it apparently started in the storage room next to the projection booth. The fire was stubborn, and was still being fought the next morning. The director of safety at the refinery provided gas masks, as noxious fumes made it difficult to fight the fire. A movie was being shown to near one hundred people when the fire was noticed, however everyone stayed calm and left the theater in an orderly and quiet manner.
December 27, 1948 - A building fire at 514 State created extensive damage to the building and the contents. A Firestone store occupied the first floor and most of the merchandise was destroyed causing approximately $20,000 damage. Water flooded into the basement of the Prairie State Bank, located next door, destroying records and equipment. Dr. Haage's office on the second floor suffered the most damage at $40,000. Twenty firemen, working in near zero weather, managed to contain the fire to the one building.
September 25, 1948 - A couple of teenagers from Wichita hitched a ride to Augusta. When it got dark they realized they could not get a ride back, and decided to steal a car along the north edge of the city. The would-be thieves were not very good and made quite a bit of noise. Bob Puckett caught the pair and marched them to the Police Station. They were later taken to the Butler County jail in El Dorado.
The following night, at almost the same time, police caught a second would be bandit. The person was trying to break into the house of Mayme Kibbey, who lived on 7th Street where the overpass begins now (only a block north of the Puckett home). Mayme heard the burglar and called her neighbor and the police. Mayme's neighbor held the burglar at bay until police arrived. The suspect was taken into custody and found to be from El Dorado.
1946 - The house of W.H. Cady burned. Mr. Cady (the owner of the Augusta Journal) was at home when the fire occurred, and perished in the fire. He was 86 years old.
Also noted in 1946, one of Augusta's most active and useful groups included the Volunteer Firemen. A report dated January 16, 1947 noted that Neil Jones was president of the group. Frank Bennington was fire chief and Charles Rawlings was his assistant. The volunteers had fought six business-building fires, four residential fires, fourteen grass fires, one garage fire, three chicken house fires, five car fires, and two trash fires over the previous year. The rural fire truck had helped six townships at different times including three residential fires, one garage fire, two barn fires, one shed fire, two tractor fires, twenty one prairie fires, and three trash fires. The volunteers still play a vital role in the safety of the community and surrounding fire district today.
January 18, 1943 - A massive fire destroyed four Augusta businesses. The fire, mysterious in origin, destroyed the Augusta Journal, the Quality Shoe Store, the Pantree Grocery Store, and the Nu-Way Café.
The Pantree, was one Augusta's most successful grocery stores; the Nu-Way Café was located at 527 State; the Augusta Journal (which was located at 6th and State) was revived, and the Quality Shoe Store never reopened.
January 3, 1939 - A fire demolished the Long-Bell lumberyard to the tune of $75,000. The business was located on the east side of the 600 block of State Street. The official cause of the fire was listed as several barrels of turpentine and other combustibles exploding. The day before, the temperature had been 65 degrees, the hottest January day on record to that point.
November 10, 1936 - The Schoeb building was destroyed by fire with an estimated loss of $125,000. The building was built in the early 1920's at the southeast corner of 7th and State.
July 18, 1936 - A funeral was held for Fire Chief G. C. Clem.
July 14, 1930 - The Bisango Building, located at 406 State, burned. Also damaged in the blaze was the C.O. Varner building to the north and the two-story A.P. Bales building to the South. Damage was estimated at $50,000.
July 13, 1924 - A tornado struck the City of Augusta. Damage was estimated at one million dollars. The storm devastated the community.
1924 - A Flood took the city by surprise. The area south of 5th Street was under water! A rescue was initiated and one of the boats involved was capsized, throwing it occupants into the cold waters. Their boat went one way, and they were carried to an area behind what is now the Middle School in the 900 block of State. They grabbed the goal posts and started yelling for help. Another rescuer heard them and saved them.
The flood did claim one life. One man had gone into a building along the Santa Fe Railway Tracks. When the water came up higher than he thought it would, he decided to try to swim out. The current was running too strong, and it swept him away. He drowned. Damage was extensive and the need for a dike came to the attention of the community.
April 18, 1924 - Around 12:45 a.m. Officer Steven Jenkins was patrolling the downtown area when he noticed a subject inside the gas station at the northeast corner of 4th and State Streets. A shootout ensued. Jenkins was shot, and the suspect was killed by Jenkins. Jenkins died a week later of complications. This was Augusta's first documented officer killed in the line of duty .
1917 - The City Council began the process to buy the City of Augusta's first fire truck. On January 6, 1917 the mayor broke a tie among the council and instructed the city clerk to purchase a Reo fire truck. The truck cost was $1875.00.
October 17, 1916 - Ordinance #288 was passed banning loitering and lewd and lascivious conduct.
October 5, 1916 - Enforcement of ordinance #274, as it had been done over the past several months, came to an abrupt halt. On that evening, W. R. Peal, a prominent Augustan (who was later treasurer of Butler County) came riding a horse down State Street. Mr. Peal had a long pole in one hand that had a lantern with a bright red globe hanging on the end of the pole. Inside, the flame flickered illuminating the red globe. The significance of the light was obvious to everyone. People along the curbs and sidewalks clapped and hooted, mocking the marshal, who was patrolling the street looking for non-burning taillights. The marshal and his men arrest Mr. Peal and took him to jail.
This did not go over well with the citizens of Augusta. A mob, six hundred or so in size, of angry citizens quickly formed. Marshal Crowe jumped on a car and shouted at the crowd to disperse. No one listened. He drew his pistol and fired several shots over their heads. The crowd was not affected and a brickbat came sailing through the air, hitting Crowe in the in the head and knocking him unconscious. He fell from the car and three or four men from the crowd started beating and kicking Crowe. Others rushed in and warded off the attackers. They then hurriedly moved the officer away from the scene. The mob, however, was not finished….
Someone suggested that they tear down the calaboose (jail). A majority seemed to have agreed and with sledgehammers and crowbars in hand, the group went to the jail. They pounded and pried on the walls and doors until the doors came crashing down. They freed all the prisoners, Mr. Peal included. Once all were freed, a march to the mayor's house ensued, demanding the discharge of the entire police force. The mayor was not home and could not be found. Nor could any of the policemen. All had gone into hiding.
John West, who was eleven years old at the time, reported that one of the policemen spent that night under his bed. John's father was the city street commissioner at the time, and may have been one to come to the aid of Crowe. None of the police officers ever showed up in Augusta again.
An official from Topeka was sent by the Governor to fix things. They wanted to nip the possibility of any recurrence of this type of events. Martial law was considered, however as it turned out, the officials' presence proved to be sufficient as a deterrent.
The official recommended that Butler County increase the size of its law enforcement body. Two days later, the owner of Robinson's Grocery was arrested. Obviously, someone stepped up to be the new marshal. And by the way, the charge for the owner…..no taillights on his auto!
April 9, 1916 - Ordinance #274 was passed. This ordinance had to do with automobiles driving on the streets of Augusta. The speed limit was set at 15-mph. When turning a corner, speed was to be reduced to 8-mph. Also, there were barrels placed in the middle of each intersection. When making a left turn, drivers were to go around the barrel in the intersection. "Good and sufficient brakes" were a requirement. "A suitable bell, horn or other signal" was to be sounded fifty feet prior to any intersection. One half hour after sunset and one half hour before sunrise, one or more lamps showing white light "visible within a reasonable distance from the direction toward such vehicle is proceeding and a red light visible from the reverse direction" were required.
Interesting events were caused by the enforcement of this ordinance. To follow this story, you must remember that the streets were mostly dirt during this time. With traffic the streets became extremely bumpy, which proved to be especially hard on taillights (a requirement per ordinance #274). The marshal at the time, Crowe, and his three policemen (one of them being Crowe's brother) were especially vigilant when it came to enforcement of this ordinance. The fine for violation of this ordinance was $16.85, and it was common knowledge that $6.85 of the fine went to the arresting officer. What an incentive!
May 28, 1915 - Detective Ray Cunningham, of the Railroad Police, was shot during a fight with three men illegally riding on a train. The fight actually occurred in Beaumont, east of Augusta. Cunningham and two other detectives were checking the transients on the train in Beaumont when one of them shot Cunningham. The train continued to Augusta, carrying Cunningham’s body, and then stopped. Cunningham, and the boxcar he was aboard, were removed from the train. The suspects were apprehended later.
April 7, 1911 - The City Council excused the volunteer firemen from paying the "poll tax." At the time every male in the community had to pay a tax regardless of whether he owned property or not. To be exempted from this tax, as the firemen were, was an honor.
September 6, 1909 - New pumps at the city waterworks had been installed. There was 8 feet of water in the tank and all water mains were filled. Once this was done, the firemen hooked a hose to the hydrant at Fifth and State to test the water pressure. When the hydrant was opened, the stream of water went over the top of the three-story building on the northwest corner of Fifth and State. This showed that the pressure was adequate. Not long after this, there was a house fire and the firemen got an opportunity to show off their skills. A wheel came off the hose cart and there were some wrinkles in the hose. Even with this taken into account, the blaze was extinguished and kept from spreading to other structures. This is rather remarkable considering the volunteer's had not even had a drill yet.
July 20, 1909 - The Augusta Volunteer Fire Department was formed. Charles Donaldson had been elected fire chief, with Carl Buck as Captain of group number one and Otis Robinson as Captain of group number two. Buck was assisted by Charles Holmes, and Orville Long was Robinson's assistant.
April 6, 1900 - The Frisco safe had been blown open and an undisclosed amount of cash was missing. The City Marshal was instructed to be more diligent in enforcing the curfew. In addition, the gate to the cemetery was ordered locked at nightfall, following some unwelcome episodes.
Also during the first few months of 1900, Timothy Sexton (Editor of the Gazette) wrote this about fire prevention efforts, "If some of the Augusta people who think this town needs a fire engine would watch the worthlessness of El Dorado's fire company at every fire in that town. They might change their minds as to the benefits derived from an engine here, a much smaller town."
May 16, 1898 - The marshal had been instructed to "vigorously push the collection of dog taxes," after a problem with dogs resurfaced. A month later he was given the authority, almost a command, to kill off the dogs on which taxes had not been paid.
At the same time the council passed a resolution asking citizens to "desist from feeding tramps." Citizens were asked to direct the hoboes to the City Marshal, "who will feed them in exchange for work upon the streets of Augusta."
July 10, 1896 - The Council ordered the marshal to fill mud holes on State Street after complaints. Also in 1896, just before Christmas, the calaboose (jail) was moved to the southwest corner of the park (which was located in the 500 block of School behind what is now City Hall). Ordinance #133 was passed forbidding the riding of bicycles on city sidewalks.
July 1894 - Merchants of the community had decided to work together and hire Art Koons to work nights for security after the council eliminated the City Marshal position. A burglary ring had been reportedly operating in the area, and Augustan's wanted to ensure the city did not have these visitors. Fearful that the burglars may show up in Augusta, the Council changed their mind and hired two night watchmen to help Art Koons.
In addition, the Council had purchased twenty streetlights, presumably that this would help deter would be criminals. These lights were gasoline fueled, as there was no electricity or natural gas at the time. In addition to the lights, a 100-gallon gasoline tank was ordered, as was a stepladder and a car "for use of the marshal for filling street lamps."
November 20, 1890 - William Treweeke was employed as City Marshal and "night watch." His salary was fifteen dollars per month. One of Treweeke's duties was to capture dogs that were running loose. For each one caught, the reward was fifteen cents. A little later, John Anderson and J. M. Johnson were appointed as "special police to patrol the residence part of the city during the nighttime." No mention of pay has been found, however this apparently did not work well.
Within three months, the office of City Marshal was disposed with all together. Instead, "it was agreed to employ a man to work on the streets five hours per day, one to six p.m., such person to qualify and act as city marshal." The pay for this position was seventy-five cents a day. The marshal was also now authorized to shoot dogs running at large to try to resolve the problem.
August 18, 1890 - Augusta City Council Chambers and all records of proceedings prior to that date were destroyed by fire. Augusta did not have a formal fire department or safety department at the time.