Kansas Municipal News


Douglas County considers jail expansion

Douglas County officials are considering ways to expand the county jail.

“We are starting to see the numbers of inmates go up and their needs are changing, so we have started looking at what we need to do to improve our facility,” Sheriff Ken McGovern said.

When the $22 million, 196-bed facility opened in September 1999, officials thought that by 2010, based on inmate projections, an expansion would be needed

But for several years, the inmate population lagged behind those projections.

Now, however, the population is starting to increase again, especially within certain categories, which causes space management problems. For example, the building was originally designed to hold 24 female inmates at any one time.

(Read more: LJWorld.com stories: News)

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Group to apply for grant to house immigrant children in Newton

A Newton group will apply for a grant which would allow it to house immigrant children on its campus. EmberHope President & CEO Shelley Duncan said her organization would meet today’s deadline for a federal grant.

EmberHope’s application sparked a special meeting of the Newton City Commission Friday. The organization wanted a letter of support from the commission. All but one speaker voiced their opposition to the plan. Commissioners voted to take no action on the request.

(Read more: KAKE – HomePage – Headlines)

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City of Kingman talks about downtown building safety following collapse

A week after the collapse of a building in downtown Kingman, they’ve started to clean up the mess.

If you talk to most residents in Kingman they’ll tell you that many of the downtown businesses are in disrepair. After two separate incidents residents say something needs to be done to avoid another disaster. The city says they realize these concerns and have started looking at ways to revive downtown.

Back in the day, many will say, downtown Kingman was thriving. Connie Mertens said, “it used to be a totally buzzing city. there wasn’t anything you didn’t or couldn’t get in Kingman.”
Now, downtown has a few operational businesses. Many of these buildings sit vacant, following apart. Mertens said, “our two and three story buildings are depleting really bad.”

(Read more: KAKE – HomePage – Headlines)

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New era takes off at Hays airport

SkyWest Airlines arrived 19 minutes early Friday for its debut at Hays Regional Airport.

Timeliness will be appreciated by area travelers in the wake of Great Lakes Airlines’ tenure. The former carrier’s cancellations and delays rate reached 61 percent before they ended their service early in March.

Almost as if silencing the criticism aimed at the airport for the struggles, a hush fell over the crowd in the terminal as the 50-passenger jet taxied away from the building. Vehicles were pulled over on the side of Old U.S. Highway 40 to see the new era take off.

The facility buzzed with excitement as travelers checked in and local leaders from across the community mingled. Although the airport’s previous carrier was mentioned often, the future was in everyone’s mind as they speculated how SkyWest would restore the airport and regain the travelers it lost.

(Read more: The Hays Daily News)

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Newspaper Editorial: The Wellington City Manager job search should be a combination of privacy and transparency

The Wellington City Council … is starting the city manager hiring search…
There is no doubt when conducting a thorough interview, private information will need to be shared. I’m sure the council members have the right to discuss who is best suited for the job without a public audience.

However, that doesn’t mean everything has to be conducted in secret. There are certain aspects of the job interview process the public should be included. The number of candidates who are getting interviewed is one. I would go as far as the council publicly submitting a list of names of the top candidates who are vying for the job. Why? Because it would squelch speculation and rumors and provide historical documentation to the job search process.

(Read more: Sumner NewsCow)

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Petition gets Salina fluoride question on ballot

Voters in central Kansas will decide in November whether to allow their community to continue adding fluoride to the local water supply after a petition received enough signatures to bring the issue to a vote.

The Salina Journal reports Saline County Clerk Don Merriman confirmed Thursday there were enough verified signatures to put the question of whether to rescind Salina’s water fluoridation ordinance on the ballot.

The petition was presented by Salina Cares, an organization concerned about the risks of fluoride in the public water supply. Supporters say the issue isn’t as much about whether fluoride in the water is healthy as it is about giving residents the freedom to choose what substances they put into their bodies.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle: News Updates)

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Pratt County weighs mandatory electronics recycling

Officials in a south-central Kansas county are considering whether to require mandatory recycling of old computers and other electronic devices.

The County Commission this week discussed whether residents should have to take so-called “e-waste” to the county’s recycling center, as an alternative to expanding the landfill.

Pratt County residents already have the option of leaving electronics at the recycling center without charge.

Commissioners noted that it’s more convenient for residents to haul all items to the landfill.

But Commissioner Gina Borho says even if there’s never 100 percent compliance with a recycling rule, it’s still worth trying.

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

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El Dorado to discuss dangerous animal ordinance

Some potential changes to the City of El Dorado’s animal ordinance could affect more than pit bull owners if approved by the City Commission.
The City Commission began looking at the ordinance a few months ago and requested staff to put together some changes and bring them back to the commission. Staff completed that work and will be presenting the information to the Commission Monday evening.
“They didn’t want to repeal the ordinance, but they wanted to have strict guidelines for dangerous animals,” said Brad Meyer, public works director. “What we did is we went through and picked and chose some of the decent ones.”
They looked at a number of ordinances, finding several that had good ordinances that don’t flat-out prohibit pit bulls.

(Read more: butlercountytimesgazette.com)

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Plans for Walmart Express in Baldwin City tabled after protests

Wal-Mart Inc. has dropped plans to build a Walmart Express at a Baldwin City site that spurred community protests last month.

Although the announcement of the decision left the door open for the retail giant to explore another site in the city, it ended any further city consideration of the site on U.S. Highway 56 between Eisenhower Avenue and Washington Street.

The announcement came 17 days after the Baldwin City Planning Commission tabled a site plan for a Walmart Express on the property between Eisenhower Avenue and Washington Street pending a traffic study and a Baldwin City Council review of the site plan’s compatibility with the city’s comprehensive plan.

(Read more: LJWorld.com stories: News)

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Newton votes against issuing letter of support for housing illegal immigrant children at Youthville

The Newton City Commission voted 4-0 Friday against issuing a letter of support to a local nonprofit that wants to house immigrant children who enter the country unaccompanied.

EmberHope, a nonprofit faith-based agency, has applied for a federal grant to house children at its Youthville facility in Newton, according to Newton spokeswoman Erin McDaniel. It was seeking a letter of support from the city as part of its application process.

The vote followed an hour-long meeting in which 13 people spoke, with only one person in support of the letter. The special meeting drew an overflow crowd of about 90 people at Newton City Hall.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle: News)

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SEC Enforcement Division Modifies Municipalities Disclosure Initiative

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced modifications to its Enforcement Division’s Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation (MCDC) Initiative that will provide greater opportunity for smaller municipal securities underwriter firms and municipal issuers to take advantage of the initiative. 

To allow issuers and obligors more time to complete their reporting requirements, the division has extended the deadline to self-report potential violations from September 10, 2014 to December 1, 2014.  The deadline for underwriters remains unchanged at September 10, 2014.  With respect to underwriters, the division has determined that to implement a tiered approach to civil penalties based on the size of the firm would encourage smaller underwriters to participate in the initiative.

Since announcing the initiative, the division has learned that some municipal underwriters and issuers have experienced difficulties in identifying potential violations for periods when filings were made in the Nationally Recognized Municipal Securities Information Repository (NRMSIR) system, which pre-dated the Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) system.  The division recognizes that parties may use reasonably available sources of information to make good faith efforts to identify potential violations but may not be able to identify certain violations during the period of the initiative due to the limitations of the pre-EMMA NRMSIR system.  If violations are identified by the division after the expiration of the initiative, the division will consider reasonable, good faith, and documented efforts in deciding whether to recommend enforcement action and, to the extent enforcement action is recommended, in determining relief. 

Questions regarding the initiative may be directed to Larry Kleeman at larry@citycode.com or call 316.685.5911.

(Read more: Press Releases)

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Abilene loses a treasure when fire destroys historic Great Plains Theatre

On the morning of July 23, Maggie Hoffman expressed optimism to her staff.

The new executive director of the Great Plains Theatre had been on the job for two months. Progress had been made paying off the theater’s building loan; there had been a recent uptick in tickets sold.

“Everyone knows we had financial difficulty in the past,” Hoffman said this week.

“We were getting on track, and things were going really well. I even made a comment: ‘Guys, I think we are really making progress.’ Our assistant director knocked on wood.”

Less than 10 hours later, Hoffman stood on the lawn watching fire gut the Great Plains Theatre building.

The building, a renovated Gothic Romanesque limestone church that had ties to the beginnings of Abilene, was destroyed along with its contents.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle: News Updates)

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DUI driver’s suit against city, county dismissed

A federal judge this week threw out a Missouri man’s lawsuit alleging official misconduct by the city of Topeka and Shawnee County.

The allegations were linked to a case in which Sean Buchanan — of Orrick in Ray County in northwest Missouri — had been convicted here of driving under the influence.

U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren noted in the ruling made Wednesday that Buchanan alleged police and prosecutors engaged in an elaborate conspiracy that violated his Constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial.

(Read more: News)

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Auburn seeking more than $200,000 in civil suit filed against former city clerk

he city of Auburn is seeking more than $200,000 in a civil lawsuit filed against a former city clerk who pleaded guilty to a federal embezzlement charge.

Alice Riley, 61, entered her guilty plea Tuesday to the federal charge before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary Sebelius. Her sentencing is set for 10 a.m. Oct. 17 before Chief Judge Thomas Marten.

Riley on Tuesday also was served by the city in the separate civil lawsuit.

The civil petition, filed July 23 in Shawnee County District Court, includes counts of breach of fiducial duty, fraud and embezzlement, conversion and/or larceny.

The city of Auburn is asking for $196,000, representing the amount stolen and reimbursement in excess of $20,000 for the cost of investigation to determine the amount of the theft.

(Read more: News)

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Andover changes rules of vehicles ‘for sale’ on private property

In spite of some disagreement and following considerable discussion, the Andover City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday evening prohibiting the display of vehicles marked “for sale” on private property without permission of the property owner.
Police Chief Mike Keller explained that, prior to this ordinance, property owners had no recourse when vehicles were parked on private property with “for sale” signs. A property owner would need to have a vehicle towed at the property owner’s expense.
Council Member Byron Stout asked if the Police Department currently gets many complaints from property owners. Keller answered the Police Department does not. However, he speculated perhaps there aren’t many complains since there is nothing the Police Department could do, prior to this ordinance.

(Read more: butlercountytimesgazette.com)

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County Attorney discusses spring city election; seeks Attorney General opinion

Neosho County Attorney Linus Thuston informed the Chanute City Commission at Monday’s meeting that four city commission seats will be up for grabs in the spring election. Generally it’s just three but because of the appointment after a resignation, four seats will be voted on.

Seats occupied by Mayor Greg Woodyard, Vice Mayor Martha McCoy and former Mayor Kevin Berthot will be included in the at large election. It is unclear at this point whether Commissioner Jim Chappell’s seat will be included in the at large election or will have to be separated on the spring ballot.
Thuston is awaiting opinions from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to clear up the issue.
Chappell was appointed to complete the first two years of Tim Erickson’s seat on Nov. 25. Chappell was appointed to his seat by votes from Woodyard, Tim Egner and Berthot. Erickson received the most votes in the April 2013 election. Including the fourth seat on the spring ballot maintains the correct election cycle, Neosho County Clerk Randal Neely said.

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

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Commerce announces more than $550,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding (Council Grove, Dodge City and Plainville)

The Kansas Department of Commerce announced today that three communities have received grants through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The funds, which total $554,649, have been awarded under the commercial rehabilitation category of CDBG funding.

The CDBG program allows the Department to distribute federal funds to Kansas cities and counties to improve their communities. To receive funds, a project must benefit low- and moderate-income individuals, remove or prevent slum or blight condition, or eliminate an urgent need created by a disaster when local funds are unavailable.

CDBG commercial rehabilitation funding helps cities improve the quality of their downtown commercial districts by assisting private property owners with the rehabilitation of blighted buildings. The intended outcome of the investment of grant funds in key buildings is to reverse the cycle of blight and encourage adjacent property owners to improve their buildings.

The following communities have received CDBG commercial rehabilitation funding:

• The city of Council Grove has been awarded $114,000 to make improvements to the Hays House restaurant. The work will include foundation stabilization, roof replacement, exterior walls repair, upper deck and front entry repair and an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant ramp. The renovations will allow the restaurant to continue to operate in Council Grove. The Hays House will provide $38,000 in private matching funds.

• The city of Dodge City has been awarded $190,649 to stabilize and repair the Old Dodge City Municipal Building that was built in 1929 and is listed on the National Register. The work will include tuck pointing the brick walls, roof repair and the removal of asbestos. The building will house the Boot Hill Distillery. The funds will be matched with $63,560 of private funds.

• The city of Plainville has been awarded $250,000 to improve a building located in downtown Plainville. The work will include exterior wall stabilization, roof replacement and electrical upgrades. The owners will provide $83,333 in private matching funds.

(Read more: Kansas Department of Commerce, KS – News Flash)

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Courthouse is going nowhere

Responding to constituent concerns they claimed resulted from a Marion County Record headline July 23, county commissioners reaffirmed Monday that the county courthouse will remain in Marion.
“I need to straighten something out,” Commissioner Dan Holub said. “When you guys were talking about the courthouse, you were not talking about moving the courthouse of the city of Marion, right?”
Commission Chair Roger Fleming and Commissioner Randy Dallke said Holub was correct.
Turning to a Record reporter, Holub said, “That’s what your headline indicated, and that’s how people read it and took it, and it’s bothered me for days now,” Holub said.
In fact, what the Record article reported was that Dallke had said the courthouse “is nothing but a pit,” that the road and bridge department and transfer station should be moved out of Marion, and that the health department should vacate the historic Bowron building and move to a new building to be constructed by the courthouse.

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)

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Galena City Council trashes movement on landfill until 2015

“We’re sorry.”
With those two words from Galena Mayor Dale Oglesby and adoption of five proposals he brought before the Galena City Council, the proposed landfill on land annexed by the city is dead.
At a special meeting of the Council, Oglesby read a prepared statement in which he admitted that he and the Council had proceeded with “zeal” on anything that would benefit Galena or Cherokee County. He cited the city’s orthopedic clinic and hospital, improvements to the city’s downtown area and job creation. But Oglesby acknowledged that a communication breakdown occurred in the process.

“I offer my apology as mayor of Galena for my part in our failure to include Riverton area residents in a matter of such importance,” he said. “I ask for your forgiveness and pledge to work together on issues that affect us all.
“I firmly believe if we put this debate to rest and pull together, our best days truly are before us.”

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

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Salina fluoride petition clears

Voters in Salina will get a say whether fluoride should be added to the city’s water supply.

The group “Salina Cares” organized a petition drive, collecting more than 2,000 signatures needed to get the issue on the November ballot. The group said they believe fluoride is dangerous, and shouldn’t be in the water.

City leaders approved adding fluoride to the water supply in 1968.

The Saline County clerk verified the signatures. The petition cleared Wednesday.

(Read more: KWCH Top Stories)

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Objections don’t stop development

A mystery business that may begin selling pharmaceuticals, groceries, and fuel in Hillsboro is causing a stir countywide.
Despite repeated protests from some businesses, Hillsboro City Council approved a contract for a national mystery business for the second time Tuesday.
The business, which has not yet been named, but is rumored to sell fuel, groceries, and pharmaceuticals will be developed in Hillsboro industrial park near Dollar General by Hawkins Edwards, Inc.
Hillsboro Economic Development Director Clint Seibel said he did not solicit the business, but it wasn’t his job to turn it away.
“We generally don’t recruit business we don’t need,” he said. “We recruit business to fill a niche, and it’s my job to see that businesses can get space and assist businesses that want to come in.”
Owners of local businesses that might be impacted have spoken against the project.

(Read more: HILLSBORO Star-Journal)

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Brown water? How bad it is depends on the city

Brown water plagues Marion and Peabody residents, but Hillsboro doesn’t get the same number of complaints.
How quickly the three cities are replacing their nearly 100-year-old cast-iron waterlines with PVC pipe is one reason.
But so, too, may be a difference in how the cities deal with pipes suspected of being encrusted with mineral deposits.
Marion and Peabody both flush their lines at fire hydrants. Hillsboro doesn’t.
And Hillsboro water supervisor Morgan Marler says this may be one of the reasons Hillsboro gets fewer complaints.
Cast-iron pipes often contain several inches of brown rust mineral deposits, Marler says.
Even though treated water now is balanced to avoid such buildups, modern treatment can’t get rid of buildup that happened years ago.

(Read more: HILLSBORO Star-Journal)

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Residents unhappy county didn’t notify them of impending decision

Connie David says the Shawnee County Commission should have at least notified her and her husband, Pepper David, before considering a decision that affects their driveway.

Commissioners Bob Archer, Kevin Cook and Shelly Buhler voted 3-0 Monday to waive a county requirement that Thomas Schmar, who owns property adjoining the land where the Davids live at 4534 S.W. Auburn Road, provide access to his property through its own street frontage.

The move essentially enables Schmar to access his land using a permanent easement he holds on a driveway that runs through the Davids’ property, said county public works director Tom Vlach.

Connie David said Wednesday she wondered how the county could justify granting or changing easement rights provided to a second party, who did not own the Davids’ land, without first notifying the couple.

(Read more: News)

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Lawsuit against Mission, police officers in Catrina Engle case dismissed voluntarily; terms being kept secret

The multi-million dollar lawsuit against the City of Mission over a March 2013 incident at the Mission post office on Broadmoor has been ended, but the terms of the agreement that led to its dismissal are being kept secret.

Catrina Engle had sued the city, then police chief John Simmons and officers Timothy Gift and Michelle Pierce, asking for $1.75 million in compensatory damages and $1.75 in punitive damages. The suit was dismissed voluntarily in late June by both sides with each party paying its own attorney’s fees. The city was represented by attorneys for its insurance company.

(Read more: Prairie Village Post)

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Zoning plan draws realtors in Hays

Approximately 30 realtors and developers gathered Monday in Hays City Hall to learn about the process set to overhaul the city’s zoning and subdivision regulations.

Some dissent was shared at the meeting.

Errol G. Wuertz Sr., owner of Heartland Realty of Hays LLC, addressed the planning commissioners with a two-page list of concerns he and others had about the proposed ideas.

Banning pole signs outside the Interstate 70 corridor, requiring landscaping or fences to block outdoor storage areas and mandating drought resistant shade trees in certain size parking lots were among the targeted issues.

(Read more: The Hays Daily News RSS)

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Saline County Commission petition verified, expansion added to ballot

Saline County voters officially have a new issue to decide on this November and it could change the makeup of their county commission. They have the option to vote to expand the commission from three to five people.

The county clerk’s office approved a petition turned in earlier this month, which needed 1647 signatures. Petition organizers say they hope the additional commissioners will give a broader base to work from and keep people from being bullied from within the commission.

The approval means the question will be on the ballot in November. Organizers say they are glad to give voters the choice.

(Read more: KWCH Top Stories)

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Edwardsville sales tax turnout questionable

Former Edwardsville Mayor Heinz Rogers admits he didn’t like the idea of a special sales tax to fund city projects at all.

“In the previous years that this has been on the ballot for the city, I have not voted positively because I was not in favor of a sales tax increase,” he said. “… When I was first asked to be on the city’s (sales tax) task force, I said ‘You probably don’t want me, because I haven’t been an advocate for it.’”

But Rogers joined the task force because the city wanted the members to reflect a variety of opinions on sales taxes. After learning about the city’s needs and realizing that Edwardsville had the lowest sales tax rate in the area because every city surrounding Edwardsville used special sales taxes, he changed his mind…

(Read more: BonnerSprings.com stories)

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Health Department Proposes Codes For Geary County Pools

Pools throughout Geary County could receive new safety standards.

The Environmental Health Department sought approval of a code draft on Monday from the Geary County Commission.

A pool code for public and semi-public pools was proposed in order to prevent potential public health issues and enforce minimum safety standards.

“We looked around and the only communities that had some kind of a swimming pool code were Wichita, Lawrence, and that’s it,” said Geary County Commissioner Ben Bennett. “So we thought maybe it was a good idea, especially with the transient things that we have going on here in Geary County.”

(Read more: WIBW – HomePage – Headlines)

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Topeka pays construction firm $29,238 settlement

Topeka’s city government has paid $29,238 to Topeka-based Graybeal Construction Co. to resolve a lawsuit it filed last year regarding a street project, city communications and marketing director Suzie Gilbert confirmed Tuesday.

Gilbert said Graybeal Construction, city engineer Shawn Bruns and city manager Jim Colson approved the payment pursuant to the fourth change order made to the city’s contract with Graybeal for the project.

Assistant city attorney Seth Lowry responded Tuesday regarding why the decision wasn’t covered by a city policy that requires city council approval to pay settlements of more than $10,000.

Lowry said that during negotiations that continued after the suit was filed, the city and Graybeal agreed on the $29,238 amount for the fourth change order.

He added: “That change order was executed in compliance with the terms established in the contract between Graybeal and the City. The 4th change order essentially rendered Graybeal’s lawsuit moot, and thus, Graybeal filed its motion requesting that the court dismiss its lawsuit.”

(Read more: News)

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Johnson County is getting older, not slowing down

Johnson County as a whole is getting older. Its 65-plus population made up 10.9 percent in 2010 and already 12.2 percent in 2013, according to the U.S. Census.

Although similar statistics aren’t kept for the oldest-old, growth in that age group is expected to mirror the 60-plus residents, said Daniel Goodman, director of the Johnson County Area Agency on Aging.

The total Johnson County population is expected to increase 57 percent from 2010 to 2040, but the 60-plus group will more than double in that time frame. They will make up about 24.2 percent of the county’s population in 2040, according to the Johnson County Commission on Aging.

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

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