Kansas Municipal News


OP residents concerned with new neighbor: fire department squad house

The Overland Park Fire Department’s new squad house is a house. The department got a special permit from the city to turn the home into a station.
The area they will move into, near Indian Creek Drive and Reeds Road, is a residential community and people living nearby aren’t sure about their new neighbor.

The last time firefighters were across the street from John Waldrop’s home, they were putting out a deadly fire in January. Now the fire department is moving across the street.

“I know that fire departments are usually pretty loud,” said Waldrop, who lives on Reeds Road.

(Read more: KCTV)

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Hays City Commission recognizes city administrators

At Thursday’s Hays City Commission meeting, Mayor Henry Schwaller signed a proclamation recognizing professional city management at state, national, global and local levels noting “the citizens of Hays have been fortunate to benefit from professional management, ethical integrity, and sound fiscal practices because of (the city council-manager form of government).”

Several cities across the world are signing similar proclamations to recognize city managers and to celebrate the International City/Council Management Association’s 100-year anniversary.

(Read more: Hays Post)

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Casino devaluation raises concerns for Mulvane officials

The Kansas Star Casino debuted in Mulvane only a matter of years ago, but the value of the casino has decreased in a short period of time.

Officials said that while the casino valuation is down, the sky isn’t falling in Mulvane. Even though that means that money flowing into the city will be down quite a bit over the next three years.

Kent Hixson, City Manager of Mulvane, explains that a $10 million shortfall in tax revenues in real money, that means an actual cash shortfall of about $700,000 for the budget year 2015.

“And when we got the numbers from the county that they had dropped it $17 million, that’s a $10 million difference from what you’d budgeted for,” said Hixson. “That was quite a shock.”

(Read more: KSN-TV)

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Ellinwood hotel to be revitalized to its 1920s glory

The town of Ellinwood, just east of Great Bend, is known for its underground tunnels built back in the 1920’s.

Now, a man is working to refurbish an old hotel above some of those tunnels to preserve the history.

Chris McCord was born and raised in Ellinwood. He knew the heritage of the underground city, filled with a speakeasy and brothel back in the 20s.

“Growing up I remember always looking up from the stoplight and wondering what it looked like from up here so now it’s kind of neat to be on the opposite of that spectrum,” said McCord.

Now, after growing up admiring the Old Wolf Hotel, he’s getting a chance to restore it, after purchasing it last May.

(Read more: KSN-TV)

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Lawrence wins grant to build trail along Kansas River

Lawrence City Hall has won a major grant to build an approximately half-mile long trail between Constant Park near Sixth and Tennessee streets and Burcham Park near Second and Indiana streets.

“Basically the trail has been there for a long time, but it has just been a dirt walking path,” said Mark Hecker, the city’s assistant director of parks and recreation. “This will allow us to make it much nicer. It will attract a lot more users after we are done.”

The city was awarded a $53,000 grant from the private Sunflower Foundation. The city will spend an equal amount of money to complete the project.

(Read more: LJWorld.com staff writers: Stories by Chad Lawhorn)

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Judge sides with city of Prairie Village, Tutera in Mission Chateau case

Johnson County judge Thomas Sutherland on Friday issued his ruling in the case brought against the city of Prairie Village by a group of homeowners who claimed they were disenfranchised when the city council approved the Tutera Group’s 350,000 square foot Mission Chateau senior living community by a simple majority in January, finding that the city had followed proper procedure in determining whether a protest petition that would have triggered a supermajority requirement for the vote was valid and that the plaintiff’s claims didn’t merit corrective action.

(Read more: Prairie Village Post)

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Economic development funding an issue in Kingman County

City commissioners reallocated $50,000 from the Kingman County Economic Development Council, Inc., to further its own economic projects.

In a 3-1-1 vote Thursday evening the commission decided not to make its yearly contribution to the economic development group for 2015, and instead have it operate on the $123,000 reserves currently in its budget. Additionally, the commission reserved the right to re-evaluate the situation after the first of the year and provide funds for specific projects should the commission choose to do so.

The Economic Development Council is funded as a joint venture between the city and county. Both groups contribute $50,000 a year to fund the organization for a total contribution of $100,000 every year. According to the bylaws of the council, it is made up of three members appointed by the county, three by the city and one by the six council members. Neither the city nor the county is legally obligated to fund the council.

At the meeting several commissioners were critical of the eco-devo council and its director, Daniel Shea, for not producing visible results within the city limits.

(Read more: The Hutchinson News)

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Franklin County hires administrator

The Franklin County Board of commissioners announced Thursday Jon Holmes, the current city administrator for Odessa, Missouri, has accepted the position of county administrator, according to a news release. He is expected to assume the position Oct. 1, according to the release.

Holmes obtained a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University Nebraska at Omaha, the release said. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, the release said.

(Read more: The Ottawa Herald)

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Topeka Council logs 56 hours of executive sessions in 13 years

In the past 13 years, the Topeka City Council has been behind closed doors one minute to every three spent in executive session by the Shawnee County Commission — almost 56 hours compared with 170 hours at the county.

However, the city doesn’t have records of executive sessions taken in work sessions from 2001 through 2007 — a violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

The state’s open meetings act requires bodies covered by the act to maintain records of executive sessions, including the vote and justification for closing the meeting.

(Read more: News)

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10-year plan lays out future for downtown Shawnee

A new “Downtown Action Plan” for the next 10 years, agreed to by the Shawnee Downtown Partnership, includes goals like transforming Neiman Road into a walkable, three-lane road.

The new action plan follows the same format of the previous downtown plan originally approved in 2003 but with new goals that are “both general in nature and achievable,” said city Planning Director Paul Chaffee. The City Council will vote to approve the action plan at a later date.

The first goal, Chaffee said, is to transform Nieman Road and the adjacent properties into a walkable road. The action plan states that the city will complete a “Right of Way Allocation Study” for Nieman Road, pursue reconstruction of Nieman Road, discuss potential reinvestment with owners of underutilized properties, create walkable sidewalks, identify potential transit stops and discuss potential to relocate utility poles.

(Read more: The Dispatch stories)

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Proposed economic development strategy puts more focus on startup companies, local food

Growing startup businesses and growing fruits and vegetables are both part of the proposed economic development strategy being put forward by the Lawrence chamber of commerce.

The latest draft of the economic development strategy has added a goal of creating a regional food hub that could serve as a sort of wholesale distribution center for locally grown produce. The plan envisions the hub serving both Douglas County and the entire Kansas City metro area.

“It is clearly something that would develop some jobs and be true economic development,” said County Administrator Craig Weinaug, who envisions the county playing a major role in the planning of a food hub. “It would be a development very much in line with the values of the community.”

(Read more: LJWorld.com staff writers: Stories by Chad Lawhorn)

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Revived marquees and movie theaters brighten life in Kansas towns

In towns across Kansas, once-dark neon lights again beckon.

Movie theaters once shuttered are being refurbished by community volunteers, their long-dim marquees flickering to life.

In Stafford, a town of nearly 1,000 people about 85 miles northwest of Wichita, the Ritz is the city’s symbol of hope. The theater had been vacant for at least a decade before a community group took it over in 1990.

“In our community, the bowling alley was bought by an individual and eventually closed. There is no roller skating rink,” said Deana Eisenhour, office clerk for the city of Stafford. “This is all we have to offer the community in terms of entertainment.”
Across Kansas, community-owned theaters are popping up – in Tribune, Larned, Marysville, St. Francis, Coldwater, Pretty Prairie and other places.

(Read more: Breaking News, Sports, Weather & More | The Wichita Eagle & Kansas.com)

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Lenexa receives top national award for communication

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The City of Lenexa was recognized with four awards for excellence, including the conference’s top overall award in communications at the national City-County Communications and Marketing Association annual conference held September 3-5 in Minneapolis, Minn.

The City of Lenexa was honored with the conference’s top overall award, the President’s Award, for its web-based Snow Headquarters project. The President’s Award is presented annually to a single entry that demonstrates dramatic results and raises the bar in communications and marketing in local government. Over 600 entries were submitted from across the country in this year’s Savvy Awards competition.

City staff worked together to implement the Snow Headquarters site, www.Lenexa.com/snow, for the 2013-14 snow season. The Snow Headquarters provides residents with timely snow removal information including the city’s snow removal plan, frequently asked questions and how to report a missed street. Animated graphics showing the answers to common snow questions are some of the most popular areas of the site.

The Snow Headquarters site makes it easier for residents to find snow-related information in a timely and accessible manner. The site drew thousands of hits during the 2013-14 snow season and city staff received fewer snow-related calls.

“What an organized and effective approach to solving Lenexa’s snow communications!” said the judges. “It is a comprehensive example of a successful marketing campaign.”

The City of Lenexa also received a first-place Savvy Award for the Snow Headquarters, a first-place Savvy Award for the Year in Review publication and a third-place Award of Excellence for the graphic art in the 2013 Year in Review.

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Follow your dreams to Carbondale’s fall festival

At Carbondale, they’re already dreaming of fall colors, cool days, street dances, and sidewalk pumpkins. And it’s because Friday and Saturday, Sept. 12-13 will be the Carbondale Fall Celebration 2014, with the theme of “Follow your dreams!”

While it might be a little hard to dream while listening to roaring yard machines, a lawn mower demolition derby is the kickoff event Friday night at 7:30. Lawn mower drivers, spectators and everyone else are then invited downtown for a dee-jayed street dance.

After dreaming all night of the ELM biscuits and gravy breakfast, which begins at 7 a.m.; Carbondale will wake up Saturday for a brisk 5k run or walk, depending on how many calories might need be lost before the cake walk begins.

(Read more: Osage County Online | Osage County News)

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Stone-arch bridges: Cowley County jewels

With 16 stone-arch bridges to view in Cowley County, local explorers and visitors from afar can spend a day traveling the back roads. Many have claimed Cowley County as the stone-arch capital of the world, making the bridges the gem of Cowley County. Scattered across the county along gravel roads, the century-old bridges fascinate the longtime residents of Cowley, bridge lovers from across the globe and young bridge hunters as well.
A self-guided tour of the bridges highlights 16 stone-arch bridges constructed between 1890 and 1917.

(Read more: The Winfield Daily Courier – news,news/)

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Shawnee’s City Ride program ridership increasing

Shawnee’s City Ride program has seen increasing ridership in its seven years of existence, and the city is looking to put more money toward the transportation program.

According to numbers provided by Deputy City Manager Vicki Charlesworth, the program had 4,369 riders in 2013, up from 2,317 in 2012 and much higher than in the program’s first year of 2007 when just 1,654 rides were taken.

The City Ride program stared as a bus service in cooperation with Johnson County Transit in 2007 for senior citizens and people with disabilities. At first, the program operated just two days per week. The current program runs seven days per week with the help of a partnership with 10/10 taxi and provides rides 24 hours per day.

Riders can purchase up to 10 vouchers per month for the taxi at City Hall or the Shawnee Civic Centre and have access to anywhere in the city for the price of the voucher.

(Read more: The Dispatch stories)

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Emporia commission continues recycling talks

This time next year, the Emporia City Commission hopes to have a city curbside recycling program running. Last week, the city approved bids for recycling polycarts and solid waste carts. The city will purchase two solid waste trucks, one to be used for recycling, for a total of about $407,000.
The 8,112, 96-gallon recycling polycarts will cost about $440,000. Assistant City Manager Jim Witt said the total bids are $70,000 under the budgeted amount.

(Read more: Emporia Gazette – news,government/)

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Walmart plans first location in Hillsboro, a Neighborhood Market

Walmart is opening a Neighborhood Market in Hillsboro in spring 2015.

But local grocers are concerned about the impact the store will have on the local economy.

Dale Franz and his wife, Melanie, own Dale’s Supermarket in Hillsboro. The store was started by Franz’s father in 1959.

“We haven’t been able to figure out how to fight the big empire,” Franz said. “For a town our size, there’s not enough money around to support five places selling groceries.”

(Read more: Breaking News, Sports, Weather & More | The Wichita Eagle & Kansas.com)

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Andover Council not to allow painting on curbs

After a lengthy discussion on whether or not to allow painting on curbs in the City of Andover, the Council ultimately decided to not take any new action and thereby not allow address numbers to be painted on curbs.
There is currently not an ordinance specific to prohibiting painting on curbs, but the activity would fall under defacing of public property.
Council Members were divided on the subject. Motions to allow painting on curbs and disallow the activity were both discussed.

(Read more: butlercountytimesgazette.com)

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Governor Sam Brownback orders flags to be flown at half-staff in recognition of Patriot Day

Governor Sam Brownback today ordered flags to be flown at half-staff from sun-up to sundown on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014 in observance of Patriot Day.

By a joint resolution approved Dec. 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), Congress designated Sept. 11 of each year as Patriot Day, and by Public Law 111-13, approved April 21, 2009, requested the observance of Sept. 11 as an annually recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance.

“On Sept. 11, we honor the memories of the men, women and children who perished that day,” said Governor Brownback. “We remember their families and friends. And we remember the courage of our first responders who rushed forward in the face of extreme danger to rescue those who needed help. I urge all Kansans to take a moment today to pray for those we lost, their families and friends and to remember the bravery of first responders across the nation.”

Patriot Day is an annual observance to remember those who were injured or died during the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

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$10 million contest to help revitalize rural towns

A communications company and a satellite TV network are teaming up to offer $10 million in prize money to dozens of rural communities to help stimulate growth and revitalization in 27 states, including Nevada.

Officials for Frontier Communications and DISH Network announced the America’s Best Communities campaign in Minden on Wednesday. The goal is to inspire new energy and investment in rural America.

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

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Franklin County close to hiring administrator

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners approved Wednesday to approach Jon A Holmes of Odessa, Missouri, to fill the vacant county administrator position.

Holmes currently is the city administrator for the municipal government of Odessa, Missouri…. The board chose to approve approaching Holmes to fill the position after discussing the matter in an executive session at the Franklin County Board of Commissioners’ regular Wednesday meeting.

(Read more: The Ottawa Herald)

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City of Olathe receives communication awards

The City of Olathe received several awards at the City and County Communications and Marketing Association’s Annual Savvy Awards ceremony, held September 4 at the Music Box Theater in Minneapolis. The City received a Silver Circle Award in the Digital-Mobile category for the Olathe Trash Day mobile app and received a Silver Circle Award in the Promotional Video category for the Olathe Trash Day promotional video.

(Read more: City of Olathe Recent News)

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Marysville votes to save train depot

The chances of a historic northeast Kansas train depot avoiding the wrecking ball are looking better.

The Manhattan Mercury reports that the Marysville City Council voted this week to approve the purchase of the depot from Union Pacific for $151,000. The railroad company also agreed to pay for the removal of the building’s exterior asbestos and lead paint, up to a maximum of $177,000.

(Read more: Hays Post)

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Lawrence wants more questions answered on $1M loan guarantee for Internet project

Lawrence needs faster Internet service.

City commissioners were able to agree on that point Tuesday night, but they couldn’t agree on whether the city should provide a $1 million loan guarantee to help a local company launch a pilot project to improve Internet speeds in the city.

Commissioners at their weekly meeting delayed taking any action on a set of financial incentives for Wicked Broadband’s proposed pilot project that would bring gigabit Internet service to about 1,200 households in downtown, East Lawrence and a few other areas of the city.

(Read more: LJWorld.com stories: News)

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Kansas officials consider numerous cities for $5M transportation facility

Kansas transportation officials are considering several cities as possible sites for facilities that would load and unload products brought by trucks onto trains.
Transportation Secretary Mike King said the proposal will require six to eight months of further study to determine the size of a facility, which would cost about $5 million. He said the state has funding available for two transloading facilities.
King and other members of Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration were in Salina Tuesday to talk to city officials privately about the project, which would serve businesses and industries within a 45- to 50-mile radius.
Other cities under consideration are Abilene, Attica, Coffeyville, Colby, Columbus, Concordia, Dodge City, Garden City, Gardner, Hutchinson, McPherson, Marysville, Newton, Pittsburg, Scandia, Wellington, Wichita and Winfield…

(Read more: News)

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Garden City to receive TIGER Grant for Southwest Chief Improvement Project

The United States Department of Transportation has notified the United States Senate that the City of Garden City will receive a TIGER Grant of $12,469,963 for the Southwest Chief Improvement Project.The Southwest Chief provides critical passenger transportation for rural communities in Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. In 2011, communities in those three states began working to address the infrastructure needs of the route. According to the communities, the TIGER funds represent a key component of the funding program and will be used to preserve passenger service along the route.

(Read more: Garden City, KS – News Flash)

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Donations for street signs sought

Drive down any county road for a few miles, and it’s likely there will be a corner without street signs.
County commissioners decided Monday to try a program from Harvey County where residents can pay for signs the county will put on their corners.
Commissioner Randy Dallke first proposed the idea in August.
Under the plan, a resident would pay $100 for the two signs to top off a pole provided by the county, and the county would install them.
“It’s figured on a corner with two signs and two brackets, without the post,” road and bridge worker Jesse Smith said.
“I think it’s a good idea, it kind of helps out the county,” road and bridge superintendent Randy Crawford said.
“For a sign on your corner, it’s a pretty good deal,” Dallke said.

(Read more: HILLSBORO Star-Journal)

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Liquor by drink effort stalls in Clay County

A campaign to allow a vote on serving liquor by the drink in a north-central Kansas county has fallen short again.

…Clay County is among 13 of the state’s 105 counties that don’t allow restaurants to serve liquor by the drink.

Proponents have turned in three petitions to put the question to Clay County voters. The first two fell short of the necessary 290 signatures. The third had 316 signatures, but County Clerk Kayla Wang recently rejected it because 147 names had to be rejected for technical reasons.

(Read more: Hays Post)

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Topeka city official: We’re bailing out ourselves, not Heartland Park

An official with the city of Topeka told local business owners Tuesday that buying Heartland Park wouldn’t “bail out” the track’s owner, but would save money for the city.

Doug Gerber, director of administrative and financial services for the city, spoke at the Topeka Independent Business Association’s monthly luncheon about the city’s proposal to buy Heartland Park and expand the sales tax district that will pay off prior and new bonds related to the track.

(Read more: News)

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