Kansas Municipal News


Roeland Park & NLC Announce Free Prescription Discount Card

Roeland Park is re-launching a program to help provide residents with some relief from the high cost of prescription medications. Through the program — sponsored by the National League of Cities (NLC) — the city is making free prescription discount cards available to city residents. The discount cards offer city residents an average of 23 percent savings off the retail price of prescription medications.
The NLC Prescription Discount Card can be used by all residents of Roeland Park and has no restrictions based on a resident’s age, income level, or existing health coverage. The card can be used at local pharmacies around the city, as well as at more than 60,000 participating retail pharmacies across the country.
“Given the current economic climate, where many people need to watch what they spend, we are happy to partner with the National League of Cities to make this prescription discount card available to our residents,” said City Administrator Aaron Otto. “This card helps residents who are completely uninsured, as well as residents who have insurance, but have specific medications that are not covered by their insurance.”
Residents can obtain a free NLC Prescription Discount Card in a number of ways. They can print them from the Internet at www.caremark.com/nlc or can pickup a card at Cedar Roe Library, 5120 Cedar Street; the Roeland Park Community Center, 4850 Rosewood Drive; or Roeland Park City Hall, 4600 W. 51st Street. Residents can also use www.caremark.com/nlc to locate the nearest participating pharmacy or call toll-free at 1.888.620.1749 for assistance with the program. Residents could experience significant savings on prescription medications not covered by health plans.

(Read more: City of Roeland Park | City of Roeland Park)

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Well-trained Neosho County Appraiser in center of conflict with Ash Grove

Neosho County Appraiser David Thornton never expects to be well-liked. His job is to calculate the value of property for tax purposes, and taxmen never fare very well in popularity contests. So, it doesn’t surprise him when citizens criticize him or county commissioners publicly express frustration at their lack of ability to fire him. He ultimately sees his unpopularity with some local residents and politicians as a sign that he is doing his job.

Thornton’s current position put him at the center of the battle between Ash Grove and Neosho County. The Ash Grove cement plant in Chanute is one of the county’s biggest employers, with 137 people working at the facility. It is also a key part of the county’s economy, saying in a press release that its operations help to create 1,088 local jobs.
When Ash Grove modernized its Chanute facility in 2001, the cement company was given a 10-year tax abatement. Thornton went on a tour of the facility grounds when this abatement was about to run out, looking at the property and the equipment that was on it. He said this made him feel very unqualified to assess its value.

(Read more: The Chanute Tribune – news,news/)

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A closer look at Community Improvement Districts

Aaron White (Executive Director of the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development) explains CID’s in a recent newspaper column:

The Community Improvement District (CID) program was passed by state legislation in 2009. The CID program is designed as a tool to help finance public and private development. This includes public infrastructure, such as public streets, curb and gutter, public utilities, etc., as well as private buildings: renovations, new construction, additions, etc. Communities all over Kansas (Salina, Hutchinson, Emporia, Garden City, Topeka, Lawrence, K.C. Metro, Wichita, etc.) are using this program to develop new retail space or to renovate old, outdated space. The program was designed and intended for this express purpose.

The financing takes the form of an additional sales tax, or special assessment on property tax. The sales tax only applies within the proposed district, and can be a maximum of 2% for a maximum of 22 years.

(Read more: Hays Post)

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City sending educational mailer on Wichita’s proposed sales tax

Citing misinformation about the proposed 1-cent sales tax for Wichita, city officials have decided to send out an educational mailer.

Opponents to the tax question, which is on the Nov. 4 ballot, have said the city doesn’t have a plan for how it would use the revenue.

“The city does have a plan,” Mayor Carl Brewer said Monday during a news conference.

He said the plan is in response to needs cited by the community, including at public meetings and through surveys.

(Read more: The Wichita Eagle & Kansas.com)

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Butler County to use e-recording for Register of Deeds

In an effort to cut down on time and postage costs, Register of Deeds Marcia McCoy presented some exciting news to the Butler County Commissioners Tuesday morning.
“We are going to move on with e-recording,” said McCoy. “We’re actually pretty excited about the whole process because it has a lot of advantages. The really awesome thing is that the customers, mainly being banks and lending institutions, will be able to instantly submit their documents using Simplifile.”
Simplifile is a third-party Web site that will allow customers to submit forms and documents directly to the county for review. Upon review, the county will be able to send the documents directly back to the customer that same day.

(Read more: butlercountytimesgazette.com)

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Beautiful Baldwin City weather contibutes to successful Maple Leaf Festival

At mid-afternoon Sunday, a shopped-out Mary MacIntosh was sitting on an Eighth Street curb, waiting for a second wind before attacking the Maple Leaf Festival.

The Sedalia, Mo., woman said it was her first visit to Baldwin City and the festival she’d never heard of until last week.

“I’m surprised I’ve never heard of it because it’s so big,” she said. “My daughter and I attend the Junior League Holiday Mart in Kansas City every year. One of my daughter’s friends has a booth here and insisted we come. I was hesitant because I’d was exhausted from shopping in Kansas City all week, but I’m glad I did. This is a perfect place for this. I’m very impressed.”

(Read more: BaldwinCity.com stories)

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Group starts new pot petition in Wichita

The first petition failed to get enough signatures, now a group hoping to decriminalize marijuana is Wichita is trying again. But the new proposal has a few changes.

The wording is different to help avoid any legal challenges, which was an issue during the first attempt. Plus the ordinance itself will have different consequences.

"There are a few changes, one it’s a $50 fine rather than a $25 fine," said Esau Freeman with Marijuana Reform Initiative-Wichita.

(Read more: KWCH)

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World Series brings dollars to Kansas

It’s an exciting time to be a Kansas City Royal’s fan, but even if you’re not you still may have something to cheer about.

"We’ll have a lot of new dollars in the Kansas economy from people from Missouri and Nebraska and San Francisco and other fans across the US," said Jeremy Hill, Director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University. "If they come and stay on the Kansas side, we have new tax dollars being generated here, so being a state that’s on a border has a lot of value. Our hotels on the Kansas side will likely fill up."

(Read more: KWCH)

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Topeka public works achieves three-peat

A team of the city’s public works department employees brought home the Snow Rodeo team competition trophy for the third year in a row from the Mid-America American Public Works Association Snow and Equipment Expo held Oct. 6-10 near Olathe.

The Snow Rodeo is a weeklong competition comprised of smaller competitions that put different public works department teams up against each other. Each team tries to outperform the rest in completing types of tasks they face in their field.

(Read more: News)

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Windsong ‘pocket neighborhood’ in South Hutch tests new use of space

Home builder Kevin Bleything recently completed construction of a four-unit “pocket neighborhood” in South Hutchinson that he calls an experiment in nontraditional use of space.

Windsong, as he calls it, consists of four single-family homes branching off a common driveway in the 200 block of East Second Avenue.

“I call it age-in-place housing,” Bleything said. “You could move in here when you are 40 to 50 years old and age in it and not have to find a place later without stairs. It’s all-ground level. There are no impediments.”

“This is kind of an experiment,” he said. “I talked to the city of South Hutchinson when I started it. I’d sure like to do a couple of projects like this in Hutchinson. I think this is a pretty good example of sometimes you can utilize space in a nontraditional fashion.”

Building four houses at once provided some economies of scale, and the nontraditional use of space saved some money on land costs. Bleything said that as a result, renters will get standalone single-family houses and privacy at a duplex price.

(Read more: The Hutchinson News – news/local state news,news/local state news/)

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Horton gaining momentum in revitalization process

Nine months ago, the residents of this small northeast Kansas community embarked on a journey to revitalize the downtown area.

People gather at 9 a.m. most Saturdays to pick up trash, clear brush, repaint historical properties and tear down dilapidated buildings.

Now — in another big step — the community is beginning a costly but necessary step to enhance the city’s streets and curbs in the downtown area in order to attract new businesses, said Horton Mayor Tim Lentz.

“Our vision is not only that we change the look of our town to attract new businesses and people, but to also preserve our history and rekindle a sense of pride in the community,” Lentz said in a news release.

(Read more: News)

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Wellington to offer city manager contract to Roy Eckert

logo-cityWellington

The city council will vote Tuesday evening on a resolution approving an employment agreement with Roy Eckert, a former county manager at Montrose, Colo., to become the Wellington City Manager for an annual salary of $100,000.

Eckert has worked in city and county management for almost 35 years and served as city manager in Missouri, Georgia, and Alabama as well as borough manager for Ketchikan Gateway in Alaska. He abruptly resigned as the Montrose county manager in May after serving 16 months.

(Read more: Sumner NewsCow)

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Academics question KASB report on school finance

School funding and student outcomes are not only linked, they are also strongly correlated, according to a study published this week by Kansas’ school board association. But three prominent academics in education and economics research question the value of the association’s analysis.

On Monday, the Kansas Association of School Boards unveiled one of its most in-depth analyses to date of K-12 spending and student performance. …

The conclusion, says Ted Carter, author of the report, is that K-12 funding is a strong predictor of student achievement. …

Two leading voices in the debate on school finance and its relationship to student outcomes, meanwhile, also say the association’s study falls short, but a wide body of academic research, they argue, does offer insight into the question at hand.

“A lot of people have spent years — decades — on trying to understand whether just providing more money would lead to higher achievement,” said Eric Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University who testified for the state in the Kansas cases.

Hanushek called the association’s study “marketing” that “takes a very simplistic view of the differences among states.”

He argues academics largely agree that how you spend money is much more important than how much you spend.

Moreover, research points to teacher quality as the main school-related factor that influences student outcomes, and indicates this factor isn’t linked to funding.

(Read more: News)

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Derby officers pedal patrol on new, two wheels

When the weather is nice, some Derby police officers leave their cars behind and hit the streets on two wheels. Now those officers have two shiny new bicycles for their pedal patrol, thanks to a $2,500 grant from the Derby Community Foundation.
“Bike patrol is an important vehicle to have as far as law enforcement is concerned,” said Chief Robert Lee, Derby Police Department. “Officers are more approachable on bikes and that allows for more citizen contact with the officers.”
Lee says his officers have been keeping the streets safe on bikes for over 10 years.

(Read more: DerbyInformer.com – news,news/)

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Former Auburn city clerk sentenced to one year imprisonment

A federal judge on Friday sentenced the former Auburn clerk to 12 months and one day of imprisonment.

Alice Riley, 61, also was ordered to pay to the city of Auburn full restitution in the amount of $189,594.05 and one year of supervised release after her imprisonment.

Riley was ordered to self-surrender on Jan. 1, 2015 — so she can have some time to pull things together and get through the holiday season, said Chief Judge J. Thomas Marten.

Riley in July pleaded guilty to a federal embezzlement charge.

(Read more: News)

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Wichita is catching up with the food truck ‘movement’

Tom Stolz, director of the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department, said that Wichita City Manager Bob Layton has requested work on an ordinance that would address food trucks specifically.

The trucks now must operate under old ordinances put into effect before the food truck trend arrived, so the truckers must follow rules that were designed to regulate someone who, for example, wanted to set up on a corner and sell Elvis paintings, Stolz said.

Those ordinances don’t work any more, and the city knows it, he said.

Stolz has had meetings with several food truck operators and is working on crafting an ordinance that would allow food trucks back into the central business district and set up other specific regulations that work for the truckers and for nearby businesses that might be concerned about competition.

(Read more: The Wichita Eagle & Kansas.com)

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Small KS communities have unique Ebola concerns

While Kansas hospitals are preparing for a possible Ebola case, smaller communities face a unique set of obstacles.

Thursday, several Kansas counties met with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment via a teleconference call to talk about concerns and issues they face.

One concern is what happens if several health care employees are exposed to the virus and need to be quarantined for several days.

“We listened to a concern from a hospital, I believe in western Kansas, that only had four full time nurses on staff,” said Butler County Manager Will Johnson. “Should a patient coming down I-70 or I-35 stop in one of our rural hospitals and the hospital has to put people in isolation, there’s going to have to be a reasonable effort to help with services.”

(Read more: Top Stories)

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Shawnee Co. Counselor At Odds With City Over Heartland Park Petition

Shawnee Co. Counselor Rich Eckert is at odds with Topeka city leaders over the validity of a petition forcing a vote on the city’s proposed purchase of Heartland Park.

On Wednesday, Topeka City Manager Jim Colson and the city’s attorney Chad Sublet said a review by a Kansas City law firm found several reasons the petition does not meet requirements and will ask a judge to rule on the issue.

But, in a statement released on Thursday, Eckert said his office reviewed the forms … and concluded they did comply with statutory requirements.

(Read more: WIBW – HomePage – Headlines)

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Jury awards nearly $1 million to fired McPherson officer

A federal jury has awarded nearly $1 million in wages and damages to a former McPherson police officer who was fired after being found asleep on duty.

Jurors found the city of McPherson discriminated against Matthew B. Michaels on account of a disability of sleep apnea.

A court judgment filed Wednesday orders the city to pay $921,657 — plus interest, court costs and attorney’s fees. That amount includes back and future wages as well as damages for pain and suffering.

Attorney Ray Simmons said in an email Thursday that Michaels is pleased to get a "name-clearing hearing" in federal court where a jury rendered a verdict in his favor.

McPherson City Attorney Jeff Houston said the city planned to ask the judge to overturn the verdict and, failing that, planned to appeal.

(Read more: Top Stories)

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Documents show city, county discussed Heartland Park petition’s validity for weeks

Topeka City Attorney Chad Sublet and Shawnee County Counselor Rich Eckert exchanged emails for four weeks discussing potential defects with a petition seeking a vote on whether the city government should purchase Heartland Park Topeka.

The Capital-Journal used a Kansas Open Records Act request on Thursday to acquire the documents from the city.

In one, Eckert wrote of petition drive organizer Chris Imming, “Let’s hope he doesn’t get enough sigs in the first place.”

(Read more: News)

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Hillsboro to get Wal-Mart; Lindsborg loses out

A decision has been made to build a Wal-Mart in Hillsboro, perhaps over a local store in Lindsborg.
Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated announced that a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market would be built at 605 Orchard Drive and is expected to be open for business in spring 2015.
“It’s an honor for our city that a national corporation would see that we are large enough to be able to support their business,” Mayor of Hillsboro Delores Dalke said.

It was rumored earlier this summer that Wal-Mart was trying to decide between Hillsboro and Lindsborg for the location of the market. …
The engineer and real-estate brokers were all subject to a confidentiality agreement they had signed, said Lindsborg city administrator Greg DuMars.
“The feelings in Lindsborg were somewhat split,” DuMars said. “Some supported having a local Wal-Mart for the convenience of it, and others felt it could be the worst thing for the community. They felt it could damage the pharmacy, grocery store and downtown businesses.”

(Read more: mcphersonsentinel.com)

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USD 438 Skyline considers hiring bus company

With state budget predictions leaning towards a deficit next year, Skyline is taking a proactive approach and looking for major ways to cut expenses.
“We have ridden budget cuts as much as we can. We have to think differently how to spend our money,” said USD 438 Superintendent Mike Sanders at the Board of Education meeting Monday.
Sanders said the district needs to look at everything under the sun because he wants to minimize the risk of any possible cuts reaching the classroom.
To the end, the administration is looking at outsourcing food service and bus service.

(Read more: pratttribune.com)

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Shawnee County preparing for possibility of Ebola

Shawnee County is preparing for the possibility of Ebola and “becomes more ready with every day that goes by,” county health officer Gianfranco Pezzino told commissioners Thursday.

Pezzino, who was out of state, spoke over speaker phone at that morning’s meeting of the county’s Board of Health, which consists of Commissioners Bob Archer, Kevin Cook and Shelly Buhler.

Pezzino told commissioners any cases of Ebola that may develop here would be disruptive “but we’d be as ready as we could be under the circumstances.”

(Read more: News)

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Douglas County, mining company agree on new quarry regulations; neighbors still frustrated

The Douglas County Commission approved new restrictions on the operations of the Hamm-Buchheim Quarry by Clinton Lake, but nearby residents didn’t necessarily leave Wednesday’s meeting with a smile.

The new regulations stipulate operating hours, appropriate times for blasting and require the installation of fences and a new vehicle access point to the quarry, among other specifications.

Eleven members of the public attended Wednesday’s meeting, and those who addressed the room expressed appreciation for the new regulations. But once again they voiced their concerns over dust, noise, road safety and other issues.

(Read more: LJWorld.com stories: News)

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Marion County can’t pay `going rate’ for EMS director

Marion County either can’t afford a qualified EMS director, or it hasn’t found the right one. Few of the applicants, there were upward of 20, meet the level of qualifications the county seeks. One qualified candidate offered to take the position for a salary that was approximately $25,000 more than the previous full-time EMS director, Steve Smith.
“At this point we don’t feel like we can afford what we’d like to have. That’s what’s making the search difficult for us,” Commission Chairman Roger Fleming said.
Search efforts have ramped up in the past week, with the commission conducting several face-to-face interviews with applicants.

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)

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Property maintenance probes, violations way up in Hutchinson

Investigations were few and far between when the International Property Maintenance Code went into effect in July 2011 because the City Council initially adopted the code with the understanding that enforcement would be based only upon citizen complaints.

However, in June 2013, the council authorized the city’s Inspection Department to initiate its own investigations of the 500 “worst-of-the-worst” houses on a list put together initially based on data from the Reno County appraiser.

Since then, Little said, he has inspected 269 houses on the “worst-of-the-worst” list, although he doesn’t like that designation because sometimes houses on the list aren’t among those he’d consider the worst.

All told, Little has conducted 432 property maintenance investigations this year, compared with 163 through September 2013.

Those investigations have resulted in 151 letters seeking corrective action or citations, compared with 56 last year.

(Read more: The Hutchinson News – news/local state news,news/local state news/)

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Marion to lease airport space

Marion Airport could see an increase in occupancy soon, as Marion City Council approved a lease agreement that will be used as a template for private individuals looking to use space to store planes.
The agreement was brought to light by a new business interest. A man from Ulysses wants to start a permanent agricultural spraying operation, which would be based at the airport. The operator, whose name was not made public because an official agreement has not yet been reached, would operate from March until October. The man previously had temporary spray operations in the area from April to mid-May in 2013.
“It would be a great addition to our airport to have a new hangar out there,” Marion Airport Board Chairman Jim Braden told council Monday. “Maybe bring a little more activity in, because I think that’s how some of the grants are awarded, by the amount of flights.”

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)

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Derby Ranked Safest City Around

Two independent organizations recently rated the safety of cities in Kansas and found Derby to be the safest in the Wichita metro area. In August 2014, Movoto Real Estate ranked Derby as the 4th safest while Safe Choice Security News ranked Derby as at the 11th safest city in Kansas. Learn more about the rankings at www.derbyweb.com/awards.

View Derby’s crime trends from the first half of 2014 at www.derbyweb.com/CrimeMaps. These are generally updated twice a year.

(Read more: Derby, KS – News Flash)

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Marion will spend more to keep more locally

In light of a new countywide shop-local push spearheaded by the city of Marion, namely its economic development director Terry Jones, Marion City Council turned an otherwise-nominal purchase into a statement.
The city considered two bids Monday on a project to update the logos on Marion’s billboard advertisements: one a $2,176 offer from Knox Signs and Graphics in Topeka, the other a $3,159 bid from Western Associates in Marion. The council decided, upon recommendation from Jones and without much argument, to accept the local candidate’s bid for $983 more.

Jones cited a study to council that suggests 65 percent of money spent locally will stay local. Jones said the city would retain approximately $2,053 within its local economy if this holds true; compared with saving $983 by choosing a lower bid, the higher bid was actually preferable for the local economy. Jones also pointed out the sales tax would stay in the city and county rather than go to Topeka.

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)

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Edwardsville prioritizes unsafe building process as budget allows

The Edwardsville City Council … has attempted to address three unsafe buildings so far this year, but city staff noted that if the property owners aren’t able or willing to repair the buildings and the city is forced to condemn them, razing the structures could be a costly endeavor. The city’s budget would not allow the city to raze several buildings in one year.

Given a long list of buildings that meet the criteria to be determined unfit for human use or habitation, the staff asked the council to consider how it would prioritize which buildings would be addressed first, from health and safety violations to properties with three or more years of delinquent property taxes.

(Read more: BonnerSprings.com stories)

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