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New highway signs were unveiled commemorating the historic native Barnes Brothers at a ceremony yesterday afternoon at the Circleville Community Center in Circleville (Jackson County).
The new signs designate a 3-mile stretch of K-79 in Jackson County as the Barnes Brothers Memorial Highway.
In 2011-12, a class of Royal Valley Middle School 7th Grade students guided by their History Teacher Nathan McAlister spearheaded the idea and then diligently worked through the Kansas legislative process to obtain needed approval for the new Barnes Brothers Memorial Highway signing project. This was not only a lesson in Kansas history but as well a hands-on experience in the Kansas legislative process.
The students’ project, which began during the 2010-11 school year, involved researching two very famous brothers from Jackson County, Virgil and Jesse Barnes, natives of Circleville who played major league baseball from 1919 to 1929 and from 1915 to 1927, respectively. These two native Kansas brothers also served their country in World War I. During their research the students discovered via a call to the Baseball Hall of Fame that brother Jesse Barnes was a member of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. In their later careers, Virgil Barnes became a portrait artist and Jesse Barnes a police officer.
The students first went to the Circleville City Council to obtain their approval before proceeding with the legislation. The students then wrote the legislation needed for the memorial signing approval. Letters covering the various signing subject matters were then sent to former Kansas Rep. Trent LeDoux with a request to support and push forward their legislation. Rep. LeDoux took up the torch and introduced the legislation in the House. Rep. LeDoux and seven Royal Valley Middle School students volunteered to testify in support of the bill. The legislation passed and on March 26, 2012, Governor Sam Brownback signed H. B. 2612 into law.
The students then worked diligently with the community to raise the $2,820 needed to produce the two signs. The two new signs were produced in early 2013 and will be installed later today on K-79. The signs will be located near the junctions at K-16 and County Road 254 on K-79 in Jackson County.