Kansas Municipal News

Clay County considers change to NRP program

The county’s Neighborhood Revitalization (NRP) program is up for renewal at the end of the year, and county commissioners are considering a change to make “more of an incentive” rather a reward for new developments.
County Appraiser/Zoning Administrator Steven McAnally presented the change that he is recommending to commissioners of Commissioner’s in the NRP Plan for Clay County, according to Monday’s minutes.

(Read more: Clay Center Dispatch On-Line – news,news/)


Marion asks for access to clear drainage jam

When it rains, it pours, and the overgrown, debris-clogged drainage basin east of the Country Inn Motel that runs behind Eastmoor Addition can’t adequately handle the flow.
And the city can’t do anything about it, city administrator Roger Holter told Marion city council Monday, because there is no easement to allow access behind nine residences along the east side of the basin.
“The city has 250 feet of right of way, which is where our storm drain system drains from the north side of Main, and it also pulls water from Carlson’s and Aunt Bee’s. All of that water drains into it,” Holter said. “Over the years, the construction of the Sports and Aquatics Center, the drainage from the elementary school, and water we’ve routed from development, we’ve forced an appreciable amount of additional drainage through there.”

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)


Marion County to spiff up courthouse

A bent flagpole, an unwieldy trek for handicap visitors, a parking lot entrance that scrapes vehicles, two-tone pink walls with fading paint — the Marion county courthouse has seen better days.
At its end-of-the-month meeting Tuesday, the county commission took steps to remedy some of the building’s ailments.
County clerk Tina Spencer said an insurance claim would net $3,150 for the courthouse flagpole, which was bent southeasterly at an angle of approximately 30 degrees by storms that passed through the county during Labor Day weekend.

The county also accepted bids totaling $2,500 for refurbishing inside the courthouse.

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)


‘Keep it local’

Within days of the announcement that Wal-Mart would be building a Neighborhood Market store in Hillsboro, Marion Economic Development Director Terry Jones had launched a “Keep It Local Marion” social media page.
Jones was very clear, however, that the timing of the group’s creation was not indicative of its cause.
“First thing I want to say is, this is not an anti-Wal-Mart campaign,” he said. “When I interviewed for this job way back, one of the things I mentioned I wanted to do was start a shop-local campaign.”
The campaign, which has since changed the name of its Facebook page to “Keep It Local Marion Co.,” is intended to involve consumers and business owners to educate the community on the perks of buying local.

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)


Peabody discusses nuisance abatement for unsightly properties

Peabody City Attorney Bob Lane reviewed city ordinances involving mowing violations and nuisance properties Monday night to give city council members some guidance on establishing community regulations and enforcing them.
… The ordinance allows for abatement of the problem, Lane said, and the city can once again send in city employees to clean up the property, haul away the accumulated debris, and bill the owner. However, the city has been reluctant to pursue this solution because of the number of hours that employees would spend doing the cleanup instead of their regular jobs.
Lane told the council the ordinances are in place to serve the good of the community, but they are not designed to be punitive.

(Read more: PEABODY Gazette-Bulletin)


Kansas Attorney General Opinion 2014-14: Open carry of firearms; transporting loaded firearms in vehicles

Synopsis: Effective July 1, 2014, a law-abiding person may openly carry a rifle, shotgun or other long gun without violating state or municipal laws. However, a person may not openly carry any firearm into a building that is lawfully posted as prohibiting open carry. || Under Kansas law, a person may transport a loaded firearm in a vehicle, regardless of whether the person is licensed to carry a concealed handgun, and regardless of whether the loaded firearm is stored in a container or transported in plain view. Effective July 1, 2014, a city or county may not enforce local laws regulating the transportation of a firearm in a vehicle. || Federal law prohibits a person not licensed to carry a concealed handgun from possessing or transporting a loaded firearm in a school zone, except on private property. However, a Kansas concealed carry licensee may not carry a concealed handgun into any school building posted as prohibiting concealed carry.

(Read more: Kansas Attorney General Opinion 2014-14)


Amazon closing distribution plant near Coffeyville

Amazon.com plans to close a distribution center in southeast Kansas in February, but it isn’t clear how many employees the move will affect.

Coffeyville Chamber of Commerce executive director Stacia Meek said Wednesday that Amazon informed her of the closure in an email Tuesday evening.

The Seattle-based online retailer did not immediately return email and phone messages seeking comment.

(Read more: LJWorld.com stories)


Phillips County officials seek new hospital

The facility is in need of a shot in the arm, stat.

That’s the way Phillips County Hospital CEO David Engel sees the situation. And after multiple meetings with members of the county located along the Kansas-Nebraska border, Engel is pleased with the plan county voters will decide on during the general election Nov. 4.

Phillips County Hospital, located in Phillipsburg, is seeking a $25.9 million, 30-year bond to build a new facility.

An aging infrastructure, coupled with ADA regulations and safety concerns, are a few of the reasons why the hospital is looking to build new.

(Read more: The Hays Daily News)


Several police departments in Kansas to receive hiring grants

Two Wichita-area law enforcement agencies will receive hiring grants aimed at creating or protecting community policing jobs.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services announced Tuesday that Bel Aire and Derby’s police departments are among six Kansas agencies awarded a total of $704,755.

Bel Aire’s department will get $114,971, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom.

Derby is slated to receive $125,000.

The other Kansas grants were: Cherryvale Police Department, $95,645; City of Iola, $119,139; Kansas State University, $125,000; and Osawatomie Department of Public Safety, $125,000.

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


Group suggests Reno County join export initiative to boost business

Reno County is part of a proposed 10-county region targeted for a new export initiative of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition and the Brookings Institute.

“What we do in economic development is increase businesses exporting products,” said Tim Chase, president of the Wichita organization. “If we sell outside the region, we bring new money in. Retail can then take advantage of the larger pie. We can’t impact the slicing of the pie; that is market-driven, but we can impact those who export.”

His agency has conducted a number of export seminars, working to connect sellers with buyers in Germany, China and Spain.

The first step regionally is to identify resources and potential export clusters.

The first step locally, Chase said, is to organize, to “reach out and look for stakeholders through the 10-county region; to identify people who are passionate about how to improve, what to do for the future.

It doesn’t have to be chamber-led, though it should have a role, he said. It also needs to involve local government, higher education and the private sector.

(Read more: The Hutchinson News)


Chanute’s fiber plan hits a few hurdles at work session

City of Chanute

A few obstacles to the city of Chanute’s plans for a $15 million fiber network to bring high-speed internet to homes and businesses were revealed at a Monday night City Commission work session. Discussion of these issues caused the length of the meeting to extend to well over two hours, leading to expressions of frustration from a few commissioners. Kevin Berthot even said the fiber plans were right back to where they were two years ago.
The first point of contention over the plan in Monday night’s discussion came when City Attorney David Brake revealed to commissioners the existence of Kansas State law 12-834, which was written in the 1920s. The law seems to imply that projects built with borrowed funds in the form of revenue bonds might require direct approval from an electoral majority of city voters.
In discussing this with commissioners, Brake admitted that the definition of what a utility is might be very broad. The issue has been brought to the Kansas Corporation Commission to make the ultimate decision on whether or not this statute would apply to municipal fiber plans.

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


Shawnee County considers $200K in raises for classified, unclassified staff

Another 300 Shawnee County employees could be getting raises next year.

The Shawnee County Commission on Thursday will consider approving a one-step increase for each of its roughly 300 classified and unclassified employees, who tend to be supervisors and professional staff, according to a memorandum from human resources director Jon Thummel.

The move is estimated to cost the county about $200,000, he said.

(Read more: News)


Butler County gun range proposal shot down

A proposal for an outdoor gun range in western Butler County was shot down during a county commission meeting on Tuesday.

Today, numerous residents came to the Butler County Commission to speak out against the idea of a $2 million dollar range, capable of accommodating hundreds of customers a week.

The area is near SW 80th street and SW Diamond Road. Even though efforts were made to abate sound and pollution concerns, the business owner admits it wouldn’t please everyone.

(Read more: KAKE – HomePage – Headlines)


New grand jury petition circulating on landfill

The Cherokee County Community Action Group is not backing off on efforts to make sure a landfill which was proposed by the Galena City Council near Riverton does not come to fruition.
At a meeting Sunday at the Riverton High School Auditorium, the group made clear it is moving forward with a petition to seat a grand jury to investigate alleged corruption and Kansas Open Meetings Act violations.
In July the Galena City Council bought land for the proposed landfill $1 from Brian Jordan and Roger Hines, with the caveat the City would annex the land, and award a non-competitive bid contract to develop and operate a landfill to Jordan and Hines of Jordan Disposal

(Read more: Cherokee Co. News-Advocate – news,news/)


Many Johnson County citiesare giving rental properties more scrutiny

Driving through Johnson County you sometimes see it: a picture perfect home next to a house with peeling paint, an overgrown lawn and perhaps an inoperable car or two.

Statistically speaking, there’s a good chance the second house is a rental home.

Single-family rental homes have twice as many code infractions as non-rental homes, according to findings in Mission’s housing inventory.

Mission is one of many Johnson County cities using a rental inspection program to gain leverage with landlords and enforce property maintenance codes. Many cities require landlords to register rental property and have exterior inspections.

(Read more: Joco 913 News | The Kansas City Star & KansasCity.com)


McPherson to extend housing incentives

The McPherson City Commission plans to extend the New Construction Housing Incentive Program for another year. NCHIP was enacted by the commission in June 2013. The program offers a rebate on city property taxes, as well as a $2,000 one-time payment to the closing agent on behalf of the new homeowner to help cover closing costs and tax rebates during a four-year period.
In order to qualify, a home must be a newly-built, single-family home unoccupied or rented for more than 24 months by the original builder. The home must be in a platted development within city limits, and all taxes must be paid and up to date. The required paperwork must be submitted at least 10 days prior to closing.

(Read more: mcphersonsentinel.com)


McPherson to consider yard-parking ordinance

In two-weeks, the McPherson City Commission will vote on an ordinance dealing with parking on lawns.
A section in the ordinance will address what types of driveways are acceptable for extended periods of parking. If adopted, section 82-109 will stipulate that a driveway must be made of gravel, asphalt, asphalt millings or concrete in order to be used for parking. If gravel is used, a concrete or asphalt entryway must lead into the driveway from the curb inlet to the street to reduce washout into the street. Driveways made of dirt will not be in accordance with the new ordinance.

(Read more: mcphersonsentinel.com)


Home on the Range cabin to be re-dedicated this weekend in Smith County

This weekend marks the re-dedication of the Home on the Range cabin in Smith County and a celebration marking the 142nd anniversary of Brewster Higley building a cabin on the banks of Beaver Creek.

Higley penned the words to what would eventually become one of the most famous cowboy folk songs in the world and the official state song of Kansas.

Three years ago, the Higley cabin was crumbling and in desperate need of repair. As Kansas celebrated its 150th anniversary of statehood in 2011, a grassroots effort formed to renovate the cabin, which in 1973 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle & Kansas.com)


Newest Mission task force will take a look at bringing people, business to Johnson Drive after construction ends

Mission will have a second task force this year focused on the revival of Johnson Drive. A city task force on Johnson Drive parking is scheduled to present its findings to the full city council this week while another task force could start in October to look at how to maximize business in Mission’s downtown.

This will be the third task force formed in Mission this year. Another group just getting started is looking at marketing possibilities for the Sylvester Powell Community Center with an eye toward possible reduction of the subsidy that the city provides.

(Read more: Prairie Village Post)


Locals discuss potential SW KS highway projects with KDOT officials

Local officials and citizens weighed in Monday on projects they would like to see the Kansas Department of Transportation perform preliminary engineering work on in the southwest district, when funding becomes available.

Every two years, KDOT conducts local consultations to seek regional input regarding transportation needs. …
Projects in the southwest district discussed on Monday were those that rose to the top during the selection process in the 2010 and 2012 consultations, but did not get selected for construction or preliminary engineering work. Those projects include: expansion of U.S. Highway 50 from Kearny County to Cimarron; expansion of U.S. Highway 54 from the Cimarron River Bridge to Kiowa County; addition of passing lanes on U.S. Highway 83 from the Oklahoma state line to Kansas Highway 4; Kansas Highway 156 modernization from Jetmore to Hanston; and two-lane reconstruction of Kansas Highway 34 in Clark County.

Read more: Garden City Telegram.


Neosho County decides against state insurance plan

Employees of Neosho County will not be covered by a state health insurance plan. That was the decision reached by the Neosho County Board of Commissioners at a special meeting on Monday morning in the county Health Department office in downtown Chanute.
Instead, the commission will be hearing proposals from private insurance providers and comparing costs of those plans. It was predicted at this meeting that a decision will be reached on the county’s future insurance provider on the third Friday commission meeting in October.
Health care for the county’s employees is currently covered by a plan from United, but both commissioners and employees have expressed dissatisfaction with that company’s prescription drug benefit.

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


Butler County gun range draws fire from neighbors

A proposed outdoor gun range in Butler County is drawing fire from neighbors fighting to have it stopped. The site is nearly 80 acres of land on a rock quarry between Augusta and Andover. The site is near 80th and Diamond Rd. just outside of Augusta.

The Butler County Planning Commission approved the request for a conditional use permit to operate an outdoor gun range by a 4 to 1 vote last week. The next step is a vote by butler county commissioners Tuesday. It’s the final hurdle before construction can begin, but a group of frustrated homeowners wants to stop the project in its tracks.

This former rock quarry has been abandoned for more than 40 years.

Jesse Hancock of the Wichita Gun Club says it’s an ideal place for a shooting range.

(Read more: KSN-TV)


Some Newton buildings evacuated after bomb threat

Newton police have reopened downtown buildings that were closed and evacuated after a suspicious device was found near a community corrections office.

Police received a bomb threat to the corrections center Monday morning and evacuated nearby buildings, including Newton City Hall. A suspicious package was found outside the building.

The Wichita bomb squad was called and a robot dismantled the package, which included a bottle of fluid, a timer and electrical wires.

(Read more: News)


Hospitals generate millions for local economy

McPherson Hospital officials explained the quality of life and economic effects of a proposed half cent sales tax to benefit McPherson Hospitals at a meeting with community members Tuesday.
The hospital has embarked on a three-phase renovation. The first phase will cost about $5 million and is being paid for through private donations. The second phase is estimated to cost $14 million and would be paid in part through a half-cent countywide sales tax, which is on the November ballot.

Gary Hess, a volunteer on the philanthropic campaign, talked about the economic importance of the hospital.
A strong health care system can attract and maintain businesses and industry, attract retirees, create jobs and provide other economic benefits.

(Read more: mcphersonsentinel.com)


Bike patrol trained on the streets

Even though he serves as the Lyons County undersheriff, John Koelsch saw some familiar faces when he returned to Hays recently to teach a bike patrol class.

Of course, Koelsch said he was the “first instructor in the state 20 years ago.”

He’s no longer the only one in the state now, but he was brought back to Hays recently to teach a week-long class on bicycle safety and patrol to members of the Hays and Fort Hays State University police departments.

The patrol, Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler said, already is seeing action on a regular basis and likely will help officers patrol the community during the upcoming Oktoberfest celebration.

(Read more: The Hays Daily News)


Scott City’s Whimmydiddle Festival draws people from multiple states


Saturday marked the 42nd year of Scott City’s Whimmydiddle Festival. …
The festival began at the Scott City Courthouse but moved to Patton Park on 12th and Main Street a couple of years later.

…many of the vendors come from all over the country.

“We’ve had some from Wyoming, Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska,” said Tammy Wackerla, member of the Alpha Omega, a chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha Sorority that run the annual event.

Michelle Ruth, another member of Alpha Omega, said the event also draws shoppers from surrounding states.

“This is probably one of the biggest craft shows in the state of Kansas,” Ruth said.

Read more: Garden City Telegram.


Cawker City’s ball of twine is declared world’s largest

The Atlantic magazine declares Kansas’ twine ball really is world’s largest. …
…last month, Cawker City’s ball of twine made national news. The Atlantic magazine sent a team in August to measure and evaluate the four balls of twine in the United States that claim to be the world’s largest ball of twine.

Is Cawker City’s ball of twine the world’s largest?

According to the Atlantic, the twine ball measures 41.42 feet in circumference, 8.06 feet in diameter and 10.83 feet in height – and it’s growing.

The Atlantic declared the Cawker City ball the winner, writing “after all the controversy, what these measurements indicate is that the slow but continuous work of the community in Cawker City may have finally allowed it to achieve supremacy.”

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


Officials: Wichita zoo will have third largest elephant exhibit in country

Sedgwick County Zoo officials say they will house the third largest elephant exhibit in the country once a recently funded renovation is completed.

Construction on the 5-acre exhibit will begin next month and be complete in May 2016. Officials say it’s a necessary move to comply with upcoming regulations by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. They plan to eventually house five African elephants in the exhibit, which will be the first in the country to offer boat rides.

(Read more: News)


Officials: Equipping all Wichita police with body cameras a challenging project

The Wichita Police Department says it is committed to the mayor’s directive of equipping all street officers – about 450 – with body cameras.

But it is a complicated project that will take more time than some people want, and it will require serious money, Deputy Chief John Speer said Friday. An early estimate is up to $1.5 million.

“This is something that we will have to do in pieces,” Speer said.

Because of variables including body camera supply-and-demand and officer training, there is no timetable so far for completing the project. City Manager Robert Layton said Friday evening that he hopes to have a timetable within the next 30 days.

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


Fire department’s new facility offers firefighters real-world training

A new $500,000 training facility at the Topeka Fire Department’s headquarters will give firefighters an opportunity to train in real-world fire scenarios, said Fire Marshal Michael Martin.

“We are excited to see it go up,” Martin said.

The structure is made of gauged steel and sits just a few feet from the department’s training tower at 324 S.E. Jefferson.

Construction of the training facility started in July, said Jack Collie, division chief of training. It should be 95 percent complete by the end of this week.

(Read more: News)