Kansas Municipal News


Waterline work depends on your side of the street

Crews for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are working on connecting homes in a West Wichita neighborhood to city waterlines after officials found chemicals in well water in the area.

The state will pay for the installation for the homes on the East side of Byron but just a few yards away the homes on the West side will have to foot the bill if they want to connect to city lines.

Homeowners like Ola Harvey say they’re happy to get hooked up for free but they feel bad for their neighbors across the street.

(Read more: KWCH Top Stories)

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Reno County crews lacking water rescue equipment

After heavy rains moved across Kansas over the weekend, and more severe weather in the forecast, Reno County authorities are on high alert.

Randy Henderson, Sheriff, warned people in the area to be extra cautious because of the lack of water rescue capabilities in the county. Firefighters in Hutchinson said they are very limited on their resources.

“Honestly we’re pretty limited in what we can do with the equipment that we have,” Hutchinson Fire Captain Breck Heller said. “Most of what we do is shore-based.” Shore-based means rescue crews have to have an area on land they can use as an anchor spot. They park some sort of vehicle and can then attach rescuers’ life jackets to the vehicle. That way, the rescuers do not get swept up in the fast-moving water.

But looking at the Hutchinson Fire Department’s equipment, they said it clearly doesn’t cover everything they need. …

(Read more: KWCH Top Stories)

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Shawnee City Council supports creating sewer district to spur economic growth

A plan to spur economic growth by creating a contract sewer district for nearly 26 acres west of Home Depot is headed to Johnson County commissioners for final approval.

The Shawnee City Council voted 6-2 Monday night to request creation of a sewer district, which will service eight tracts of land near the southwest corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Maurer Road.

For years the area has been targeted for commercial development as the other three corners have all been developed.

In 2007, Best Buy officials inquired about the area, but quickly abandoned pursuit upon learning about the area’s lack of sewer service.

City officials say developers are discouraged about the area’s lack of sewers because of the time it takes to develop and then build, which can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months.

(Read more: The Dispatch stories)

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Court says KU Hospital on hook for injured hip, not Wabaunsee County

The University of Kansas Hospital must pick up the $140,000 tab to treat the injuries of a man who broke his hip after jumping out of a window at a county jail, the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled.

KU Hospital tried to bill Wabaunsee County for the $140,000 it cost to treat Contreras, but the Supreme Court said the county is responsible only for medical bills of inmates or people being held in the county’s custody.

The hospital argued that it provided a service to the county by treating Contreras, and thus the county should pay for that service.

The court said the service was provided to Contreras, not the county. And because Contreras was not legally in the county’s custody at the time of the incident, the county had no obligation to pay.

(Read more: BasehorInfo.com stories)

Read the court’s opinion in University of Kansas Hosp. Auth. v. Board of Wabaunsee County Comm’rs.

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Pittsburg may require prescriptions for popular cold medicine

Pittsburg is not an island. But right now, it seems to be on an island when it comes to the sale of pseudoephedrine over the counter. Joplin, Springfield, Branson, Chanute, Parsons, Girard, Arma, Iola, Baxter Springs, Galena, Columbus, Fort Scott and all of Cherokee County have passed resolutions requiring prescriptions to buy the allergy medicine.
It’s with that in mind that Pittsburg Police Chief Mendy Hulvey came before Pittsburg city commissioner in a special session on Tuesday before the regularly scheduled meeting.
Pseudoephedrine, commonly sold as Sudafed and other allergy drugs, is also an “essential precursor” to making methamphetamine.

(Read more: The Morning Sun)

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Rose Hill hires Austin Gilley as city administrator

Austin Gilley has accepted the position of city administrator for Rose Hill. He will begin Aug. 11.
Gilley has been city administrator of Medicine Lodge four years and was city administrator in Oberlin for two years before that. He has a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in public science from the University of Oklahoma.
“He’s got that small-town feel to him and small-town values and we liked a lot of things that he’s done in Medicine Lodge,” said Mayor Jason Jones.

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

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Plea for fireworks in city fizzles

Two Vietnam veterans came before the Hays City Commission in its Thursday meeting at city hall wanting to know why the city’s ban on fireworks couldn’t be lifted after the recent rains.

…Darrell Loreg…wanted to know why a fireworks show was being allowed as part of the Wild West Festival, but individual citizens couldn’t shoot off fireworks.

“On the issue of the Wild West Festival, that is a controlled event, where you have rural as well as city fire trucks in place,” Commissioner Eber Phelps said. “It’s in a controlled and secure area, where these fireworks are discharged.”

… I think you may be laboring under a false perception,” Commissioner Kent Steward said. “It’s true we’ve had a lot of rain. We are not out of the drought.”

Steward also was concerned if the fireworks ban was lifted, the public could think the drought was over and not conserve water.

“It really concerns me that we would be sending a confusing message if we lifted the ban,” Steward said.

(Read more: The Hays Daily News)

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Wellington Residents Complain About Water

Some residents in Wellington say they’ve noticed a big change in the quality of their water…
Chaylin Baumgartner says it’s a problem she’s noticed in recent weeks. She won’t let her children drink anything from the tap.

City leaders say the problem is connected to the water turning in the lake. Interim city manager Shane Shields says the water is still safe to drink, and is being treated.

Because Wellington has been flushing the system to fix the problem, five water mains have broken this week. Shields says that releases some of the deposits in the line and causes the rusty, dirty water.

To help assure the best quality of water, Shields said Wellington tests it every day.

(Read more: KAKE – HomePage – Headlines)

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Finance director, assistant city manager leaving Lawrence City Hall

A pair of top level administrators are leaving Lawrence City Hall.

Ed Mullins, the city’s finance director, is retiring on Oct. 1, and Assistant City Manager Cynthia Wagner is leaving July 11 to become the city administrator for De Soto, City Manager David Corliss announced.

…Corliss said the city will seek to fill [Mullin's] position by the end of the summer in order to facilitate a smooth transition.

Corliss announced that Casey Toomay, who has served as the city’s budget manager, has been promoted to an assistant city manager. Corliss also announced Brandon McGuire has been hired to fill the position of assistant to the city manager.

(Read more: LJWorld.com stories: News)

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New gun law takes effect July 1st

After passing both the Kansas House and Senate in April, a bill voiding local gun restrictions will take effect next Tuesday, July 1st.

It will allow gun owners to openly carry guns in various public places by making the laws dealing with guns more uniform across the state.

District 81 Representative Jim Howell pushed to have House Bill 2578 passed.

His hope was that with a uniform law, that it would become more clear and what gun owners in the state could do.

“That’s really the genesis of this bill, trying to create clarity in our state, so whatever the laws are going to be in our state, lets make them uniform across the state,” said Howell.

The law will allow those who choose to bear arms to openly carry a gun anywhere, unless a building has a sign posted saying guns aren’t allowed.

Private businesses also have the right to keep guns out of their establishments.

(Read more: KSN-TV)

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Nearly $3,000 water bill seemed like a “joke”

An Andover man is floored when he opens his water bill and finds out he owes nearly $3,000. 

The bill came for the month of February 2014 and said Matthew Agan owed $2,782.61 for using 195,000 gallons of water. It shows in January, he only used 7,500 gallons of water and a year ago only 2,250.

"The most likely cause of a large water bill is some sort of a leak in the plumbing system or malfunctioning device like a toilet," said Joe Pajor, Director of Wichita Public Works and Utilities. "You need to think of water leaks like that of termites. Termites do more damage than hurricanes and tornadoes because they’re going all the time."


He said at that time the customer needs to find out what is causing the large reading. If it’s a leak, they need to get it fixed and provide documentation to the water department that it has been repaired.
“Once they do that we can give them an adjustment to the bill,” said Pajor.

(Read more: KWCH Top Stories)

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St. John no longer Saint John with USPS

It’s the type of victory that might be called one small step for federal government, one giant leap for the tiny town of St. John.

The 1,200 residents of the Stafford County town can now officially spell their hometown St John. Without the period.

And that’s because there are no periods in the United States Postal Service database.


An online petition started this past weekend by St. John High School alumni asked the Postal Service to change its current listing for the town — Saint John — to the correct abbreviated version. The town is named for former Kansas governor John P. St. John.

“It is not perfect, but it is better than S-A-I-N-T,” said Jim Ronen, a longtime resident of St. John whose family roots stretch back to the county’s formation.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle: News)

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Council brainstorms goals for Marion

Liberally citing from a self-help book for business leaders, Administrator Roger Holter led Marion City Council members on a two-hour consciousness-raising and goal-setting journey Friday night to kick off their weekend budget retreat.
Holter urged members to reject the idea that analyzing situations, then looking for solutions was the best way to lead.
“See and feel change and visualize the future,” Holter said. “You need a vision to change even if it is not clear how to do it. We’ve got to get the pioneer spirit: what is possible instead of what is probable.”
Among the goals mentioned were enhancing the city’s business park, across from its industrial park, so it will stop traffic along U.S. 56.
Another vision, nearer the junction with U.S. 77, would be for a combination fuel station, hotel, and restaurant — probably a truck stop — which Holter said “would not hurt existing businesses because people are not stopping in town anyway.”
Councilman Chad Adkins wants a lumberyard, which Holter said could make Marion a regional center for building trades.

Read more: Marion County Record.

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Fort Riley area could lose 40K people, $800M from Army restructuring

A U.S. Army report released Thursday says Fort Riley faces a possible reduction of 16,000 base employees, leading to area losses of 40,000 people and more than $800 million in income, but a base spokesman says the forecast is premature…As long as Fort Riley troops and resources continue to be deployed, he said, the bulk of the base’s 20,000 soldier and civilian jobs would stay put…The study is part of an effort to curb defense spending in the aftermath of wars in the Middle East. Fiscal restraints, the report says, indicate the Army must reduce forces from a war-time high of 570,000 to at least 450,000, and possibly as low as 420,000. Figures for Fort Riley and other bases anticipate the most drastic reduction, leading to “significant socioeconomic impacts.”

(Read more: News)

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Johnson County Ranked One Of The ‘Easiest’ Places To Live In U.S.

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Johnson County, Kan., is one of the easiest places to live in the United States, according to a new study by The New York Times.

The New York Times ranked counties based on six criteria: education, unemployment rate, median household income, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity rate.

Based on the metrics, Johnson County ranks 11th out of 3,135 counties in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The ranking stands in stark contrast to Wyandotte County, Kan., just north of Johnson County, which ranks in the bottom third at 2,361.

Read more: KCUR and the New York Times.

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Edwardsville EMS prepared for service launch next week

One word could sum up the last two months at the Edwardsville Fire Department: Training.

Training exercises have been nonstop practically since May 5, the first day that Christina Akins, EMS supervisor, was on the job, as the department prepares to launch its own ambulance service Tuesday.

The 40 part-time and volunteer EMTs and paramedics that will make up the city’s EMS staff each had an extensive patient care skills check-off list, learned how to use every single item on the ambulance, and took part in air ambulance training with LifeNet and a radio class to get proficient with devices, using a new digital radio that was put in place countywide on Sunday — just to name a few things.

(Read more: BonnerSprings.com stories)

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New law (allowing district judge to conduct jury trials on municipal court appeals) pressuring Kansas county to expand courthouse

The need for a new courtroom for Saline County District Court isn’t new nor is it good news for Saline County commissioners.
But Todd Heitschmidt, court administrator, told commissioners Tuesday that it became more immediate because of legislation that becomes effective July 1 that is expected to result in more jury trials.
The new law allows District Magistrate Judge Mary Thrower to conduct jury trials on municipal court appeals. Currently, appeals are heard only before the judge.
Heitschmidt said there are several options for providing a courtroom, including moving files from a storage room into the former juvenile detention center and using the storage room as a courtroom, or moving the county attorney’s office into the file storage area and using the county attorney’s office as a courtroom.

(Read more: Salina Journal)

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Shawnee County approves petition process for right-of-way change

A viewing to return a private right-of-way back to Tecumseh Township has been set for the morning of July 24.

The Shawnee County Commission on Thursday approved the petition process, which includes publishing notices June 30 and July 7 and holding a viewing.

A group of Tecumseh residents, primarily members of the Lake Jivaro Club, filed the petition. A letter from the club indicates members recently discovered two culverts on S.E. 37th near Arrowhead Drive became private property in 1962. Today, at least seven property owners technically are trespassing as they attempt to get to their homes.

The group is asking the commission to “rededicate” the rights-of-way on that stretch of S.E. 37th Street back to the township, so they can be maintained as a public right-of-way.

(Read more: News)

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Marion ponders bleak financial future

Budget Year One for Marion’s reconstituted City Council, disdaining past approaches that Mayor Todd Heitschmidt labeled “reactionary,” began with an unprecedented 13-hour work session this past weekend that included visions for both a bright future and a very dim present.
Actively considered by the four council members present were sizeable increases in bills for electric, water, sewer, and trash service — plus a property tax increase, a hiring freeze, and cuts in payments to such things as Chingawassa Days, the Chamber of Commerce, the library, and the Recreation Commission.
With $800,000 in reserves exhausted, a $18,718 shortfall in property tax collections this year and an additional $10,000 reduction in property tax revenue expected next year, council members are considering every “revenue enhancement” possible.

Read more: Marion County Record.

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Old maps may be only of their kind

William Meysing has been a history buff since he was old enough to ride a bike, and since his grandpa told him stories of pioneers who settled in Marion County.
So when he sent out several letters three decades ago, asking for historic information about the area, he was shocked at the history he received back.
“I was surprised to receive a manila envelope back with two maps, already yellowed and 60 years old, folded and enclosed,” he said.
An employee from the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad sent the maps of Marion Centre (now Marion) from 1878 and 1887 with a note enclosed saying, “We don’t have any use for these old papers, and we were going to throw them away, so you might as well have them.”

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)

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Lawrence commission keeps knife ban, in spite of state preemption

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The Lawrence City Commission on Tuesday refused to repeal an ordinance that prohibits carrying concealed knives …

The city’s knife ordinance will be unenforceable starting next week when a new state law that specifically allows concealed carry of knives takes effect. Commissioners said they thought the law approved by the Kansas Legislature will make the public less safe and they didn’t want any part of facilitating it.

Commissioner Terry Riordan, a physician, said he remembered operating on a young man stabbed in the neck who later died from his wounds. “I don’t think we should acquiesce to bad laws,” Riordan said.

City attorneys had recommended the commission repeal the ordinance, saying having it on the books could lead to some confusion. Either way, however, on July 1, the local ordinance will be pre-empted by the state law.

(Read more: LJWorld.com stories: News)

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Dog park rumors run off leash in Derby

Dog parks are becoming more popular all across the United States.
While Derby doesn’t currently have one, the idea is being tossed around, along with rumors on where the park will be and what it will entail. Robert Mendoza, director of public works, says hold the leash, there are no plans yet.
“We are probably talking 2016 or 2017 before we even know what we are going to do,” said Mendoza. “We have talked about a dog park, but we have three other parks to design and build first.”

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

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Lecompton to celebrate its history with food, games, music and history

There was a time, in the 19th century, when Lecompton was an important place on the map. Since then it may have faded from most atlases and become a quiet town of fewer than 1,000 residents, that doesn’t mean it can’t throw a big party. The annual Territorial Days festival kicks off in Lecompton Friday in celebration of the town’s history as the former Kansas Territory capital and the scene of a slave state controversy discussed in the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

(Read more: LJWorld.com stories: Local news)

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Three months later, speakers continue to line up over Roeland Park anti-discrimination ordinance

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In the months since Roeland Park’s anti-discrimination ordinance was introduced, the city council has been inundated with comments from the public at its meetings. Not surprisingly, those comments have been on both sides of the issue and have included a number of people who do not live in Roeland Park.
The significant issue in the proposed ordinance is making sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes and outlawing discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

The sheer numbers of people lining up to speak has not diminished. At the last council meeting, nearly 30 people spoke to the council with almost all of the comments related to the ordinance. A community forum on the issue earlier also drew large numbers. Some of the speakers are repeats, showing up to talk at nearly every meeting, but a few new presenters also come on board at almost every meeting.

(Read more: Prairie Village Post)

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Marion County gives 8.7 percent pay raises

Marion County Commission approved a new pay plan Monday that will raise 56 employees’ wages an average of 8.7 percent — but the approval is contingent on department heads’ confirmation that the changes will not put them over budget for 2014.
The commission approved the changes after an hour in closed session. Commissioner Randy Dallke voted against the new pay plan.
“The plan is a fair plan,” Dallke said Tuesday.
He said he has wanted a new pay plan, but doesn’t want to raise taxes to do it.

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)

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5 questions with Jennifer Keller (community marketing director for Derby)

Jennifer Keller, community marketing director for Derby, said she was pleased enough to attend the Wichita American Marketing Association banquet last week as a finalist for Marketer of the Year.

“I don’t know who nominated me, but it was nice to be nominated by my peers.”

Then, she won.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Keller said.

“To win an award like that is pretty special.”

(Read more: Wichita Eagle: Business Updates)

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City of Topeka to start offering domestic partnership registry Monday

Topeka couples starting Monday will be able to register domestic partnerships with the city of Topeka.

Suzie Gilbert, director of communications and marketing for the city, said Wednesday that Topekans will be able to get their names listed on the registry beginning Monday at 8 a.m.

Inclusion on the registry is open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Each couple seeking to get its names on the registry must pay a one-time fee of $50.

The Topeka City Council approved a resolution May 20 creating the registry, which will be subject to the Kansas Open Records Act.

(Read more: News)

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