Author: dthompson

Council meeting devolves into argument

Danedri Thompson [email protected] The Gardner City Council didn’t close in quite the traditional fashion on June 20. Instead, three council members left the meeting as an argument broke out between the mayor and one council member. “That’s bull——,” Mayor Dave Drovetta told council member Larry Fotovich. By the end of the argument, Drovetta stood inches from Fotovich near his council seat. A discussion about employee health benefits lead to the heated exchange. And specifically, an analogy Fotovich used to reason why many city employees select HMOs, a healthplan with additional costs to the city, rather than High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) with Health Savings Accounts. Fotovich explained if the city were running a restaurant and offered to buy diners a bottle of wine and then offered them a $100 bottle and a $20 bottle, the diners would choose the $100 bottle. The HDHP is like the $20 bottle of wine. That wine might taste just as good as the $100 bottle, but most diners wouldn’t know, because they’d take the higher priced bottle. The analogy upset city human resources manager Mary Bush. “I’m offended,” she said in a shaky voice. She said she deals with the employees everyday, and that limiting their health care options to only high deductible health plans would have a dramatic effect on the employees. Council member Fotovich responded that he’s trying to find ways...

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GEHS class of 1976 to reunite

Members of the Gardner Edgerton High School class of 1976 will reunite next weekend. The class graduated from GEHS more than 35 years ago this year. The weekend-long reunion will kick off with a dinner on June 25 at 6 p.m. at The Lodge in Baldwin City. For more information, contact Linda Jensen at...

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Middle School students take top prize in magazine competition

Hard work paid off for members of Christine Hecke and Debra Sim’s Spring Hill Middle School seventh-grade class The students earned first place in their grade level for their writing, design, subject matter, and photography in the My Kansas! Competition. The competition is a state-wide program that challenges fifth graders and up to create a magazine full of stories, pictures, unique to their communities. Hecke and Sim’s students compiled information about Spring Hill-area history and included stories about the tragic tornado that hit the area in 1957, Jeremiah McCanse – a former slave turned Spring Hill-community-pillar, Lone Elm Park...

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OPINION: Washington needs to cut spending, reduce debt

Sen. Jerry Moran R-Kansas Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor released a dismal update on the state of our nation’s economy. Not only did the national unemployment rate rise to 9.1 percent, but the number of Americans looking for work increased to 14 million. The current economic policies are not working. In fact, they are working against us – creating an environment of uncertainty and hampering job growth in America. As I tour businesses in Kansas, business owners will say to me, “What next? What harmful thing is Washington, DC, going to do next that puts me out of business?” When the message coming from Washington is more taxes, more regulation and more intrusion into the free market, it’s no wonder businesses are not hiring new workers. Instead of creating barriers to job growth, Congress and the Administration must create an environment where businesses can grow and start hiring again – and that starts by pursuing a number of pro-growth policies. First, Congress must reign in government regulations. Rather than hiring new employees, businesses are spending money on complying with unreasonable regulations and mandates – from the EPA’s efforts to regulate carbon, to the costly mandates imposed by the new health care law. According to the Small Business Administration, our nation’s smallest businesses, those with less than 20 employees, spend 36 percent more per employee than larger firms to...

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State officials seem to want healthcare reform both ways

Rep. Charlotte O’Hara, 27th District R-Stilwell Ah, early January 2011 the Republicans ride into Topeka on a vote that swept the Democrats out and placed them (the Republicans) in charge of government in the State of Kansas! One of the prime targets for the Republicans moving into power was to derail the enactment of the dreaded Affordable Care Act aka Obama Care. Hitting the road running by January 19th our State Attorney General, Derrick Schmidt, won the approval from a federal judge in Florida to join the group of states challenging the constitutionality of Obama Care. Kansas Attorney General, Derrick Schmidt stated, “Kansas is now among the majority of states challenging this unprecedented federal power grab. We will be part of this historic decision that will define the relationship between the federal government, the states and individual citizens for years to come.” Fast forward to June 1, 2011. Gov. Sam Brownback signs into law the Kansas Health Freedom Act that passed the Senate on a vote of 38 to 1 and the House on a vote of 107 to14. This act states, “A resident of this state has the right to purchase health insurance or refuse purchase health insurance. The government shall not interfere with a resident’s right to purchase health insurance or with a resident’s right to refuse to purchase health insurance. The government shall not enact a...

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EDITORIAL: Brownback makes wise decision to cut arts funding

We’re continually shocked at the Kansans (and outsiders) complaining about Gov. Sam Brownback’s line item veto that slashed funding for the Kansas Arts Commission in the 2012 budget. In 2011, the state funneled $1.5 million to arts organizations like the Kansas City Performing Music and Arts Association, Arts in Prison and the Kansas City Symphony. Many of the funds came complete from organizations like the National Endowment of the Arts, which match state funds. When money is abundant, we see no reason not to throw financial support to the arts, although we would argue whether “art” is the responsibility of the public rather than private sector. However, when times are tight, it is ludicrous to spend even the smallest amount on things like the arts. To use an old cliché, we have bigger fish to fry. Those fish include a brewing and continual fight between the state legislature and Kansas schools who continue to dither over what amount of state funding is “suitable” to educate kids in the state. They include a waiting list of children with special needs who will continue to await funding despite Brownback’s veto of arts commission funding. As legislators battled to create a balanced budget, projected 2012 shortfalls loomed. Every month a new report states the obvious – the state of Kansas is broke. And now, state officials are choosing between necessities and wants....

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Scouts to plant tree to remember Kade Meyer

Amy Cunningham [email protected] In his seven short years, Kade Meyer made quite an impression on his classmates at Madison Elementary School. That’s why Girl Scout Troop 3140 plans to honor the student’s memory by planting a tree in his honor at the school this coming Saturday. Meyer was struck and killed by an SUV while leaving school in early September. “The girls were trying to come up with a (service) project that needed to be done,” said troop leaded Becky Savage whose daughter attended school with Meyer. She said because of the relationship that many of the troop members...

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Citizens pleased with services according to city survey

Danedri Thompson [email protected] The general public is satisfied with the services the city of Gardner provides, according to preliminary results of the 2011 DirectionFinder survey. “Your community has always had good services here, and expectations are high,” Karen Falk, project manager for the Etc. Institute, told city council members during a work session June 13. The institute mailed surveys to a random selection of citizens polling their level of satisfaction with a variety of city services. To date, 571 have been returned. The city last conducted a similar survey in 2009. Residents generally feel safe within the city as the police department received high satisfaction levels. So did the city’s parks department. The survey revealed concerns citizens have with the quality of new development in the community, how well the city is planning for growth, and what they’re charged for utilities and taxes. Falk cautioned council members not to dwell too much on those dissatisfied with charges and costs. “Anything that’s addressed to finances, this is mirrored in the nation,” Falk said. “That’s what’s happening in the rest of the country.” Although most survey questions were not specific – respondents were asked instead to rate their level of satisfaction on a scale of one through five – the 2011 questionnaire did include a few specific questions. For example, one question asked “What is the maximum increases in taxes you...

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EDITORIAL: DA opinion strengthens Open Meetings law

This is good news. Clicking “reply to all” to an email can constitute a violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act. The word comes from the Shawnee County District Attorney who determined that a member of the Kansas State Board of Education technically violated KOMA when responding “reply to all” to an email sent from the board’s attorney to members. Public officials are sure to bemoan the latest KOMA violation saying it hinders a board’s ability to conduct business efficiently. And while we do agree that replying to a mass email is often times the most efficient way to transmit information, we worry that public bodies are beginning to do much of their critical research behind closed doors. They do this in a variety of ways. For example, a board member asks a question that staff is unable to answer during an open meeting. The staff member promises to relay the information to the entire body via email at a later time. While doing so shortens the length of meetings, it also takes much of the crucial research process out of view of the public. Of course, the curious can request access to those emails, but many of those open records requests are met with a fee and other hardships. As much as possible, research gathering and information should be done in wide view of the public. Courtesy of...

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Gardner Police Reports May 29 through June 5

5/29/2011 600 Blk S Oakcrest Cir Animal Control 183rd & Center Suspicious Activity 900 Blk E Main DUI 900 Blk E Main Alarm Call 500 Blk S Plum Creek Animal Control 100 Blk N Pear Animal Control 600 Blk E Mockingbird Vehicle Lockout 1700 Blk E Santa Fe Suspicious Activity 700 Blk S Meadowbrook Animal Control 800 Blk E Main Ambulance Call 175th & I-35 Traffic Complaint 400 Blk S Stonecreek Property Recovered 29600 Blk W 184th Traffic Complaint 29900 Blk W 191st Traffic Complaint 800 Blk S Woodson Traffic Complaint 400 Blk E Main Citizen Assist 17000 Blk S Mercury Ambulance Call 200 Blk S Bedford Ambulance Call 175th & I-35 Citizen Assist 1000 Blk E Cimarron Tr Theft Under $1000 1000 Blk E Pumpkin Ridge Disturbance – Noise 900 Blk E Cimarron Tr Suspicious Activity 100 Blk W Kansas Criminal Trespass 14000 Blk S Moonlight CDP Under $1000 5/30/2011 800 Blk S Woodson Ct Disturbance – Noise 29100 Blk W 186th Disturbance – Noise 100 Blk E Main Alarm Call 400 Blk W Main 911 Hang Up 100 Blk S Pine Animal Control 28900 Blk W 186th Abandoned Vehicle 900 Blk E Buffalo Tr Disturbance – Domestic 800 Blk E Saddlewood Citizen Assist 32500 Blk W 174th Terr Suspicious Activity Warren & Center Possess Narcotics Center & Pawnee Vehicle Accident – Injury Center & Pawnee FIC 400...

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Kids camp weird science style

Amy Cunningham [email protected] Students in the United States have consistently scored lower than their international peers in science and math, but programs like Camp Invention, held last week at Spring Hill Elementary School, may help children in that district excel in those subjects. According to Darcy Sly, Spring Hill Elementary School instructional coach, this is the fifth year the district has partnered with Invent Now Kids to host a session of the nationally-acclaimed program. Participants who range from grades one through six spend five days engaging in activities to reinforce what they’ve learned in their classrooms during the school...

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Moonlight project continues

Danedri Thompson [email protected] The at-grade railroad crossing at the intersection of Moonlight Road and Main Street has improved, city engineer Celia Duran told council members during a work session on June 13. “It’s better than it was, but it’s still not great,” Duran said. City officials will be working with BNSF, the company that owns the rail, and closed the Moonlight and Main intersection last week for upgrades, in the hopes of securing even smoother travel for vehicles at the crossing. Improvements to the intersection are an ongoing project that included a city undertaking to widen lanes and create turn lanes. Initially scheduled for completion in November 2010, the project continues. Amino Brothers, general contractor for the project, filed a request for additional funding when a KCPL duct bank wasn’t relocated adequately. The city is in the process of filing for liquidated damages against the contractor due to the moving target for completion. Duran explained that because the Kansas Department of Transportation funded a portion of the project, the highway department selected general contractor Amino Brothers. A mediation process to resolve the additional funding created by delays is ongoing. “They’re going to say we delayed their project,” Duran said. “But we think we’ve already made our case.” After three mediation sessions with KDOT, the contractor and the city, the issue still isn’t resolved. However, KDOT requested that the road...

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EDITORIAL: Whatever Starling decides he'll have support of GE community

The decision before local sports hero Bubba Starling should be an easy one as he stands on the precipice of a multi-million dollar baseball contract. But we don’t envy the decision before the young standout and his family. It’s easy for the objective observer to say, take the money. There’s also a risk of injury in college football that could damage an athlete’s future career opportunities. College will always be an option in the future. But forgoing college to play in the big leagues also seems like an abandonment of youth. And that would be difficult. As Starling’s former high school friends prepare to embark on the journeys of college and building a future, they’ll face the great unknown. There’s mystery and drama in that path and loads of personal growth as they leave home, struggle to live on rice and beans while determining what they want to be when they grow up. They are rights of passage we would’ve been reluctant to give up. For now, we hope Starling spends the summer doing what most recent high school grad are – hanging with his high school friends, who will soon enough be flung around the state and country and enjoying the sunshine. By all accounts, Starling is a great kid who comes from a nice family – a true local hero who offers his time and skills to...

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OPINION: Sophie's Choice: earn less money or take Obamacare

Danedri Thompson [email protected] There may be a case to be made for earning less money. But that medicine for avoiding the Obamacare mandate on health insurance is a bitter pill to swallow for hardworking Americans. Neal Kumar Kaytal, President Obama’s solicitor general, defended the health care law’s individual mandate last week in a federal appeals court. He intoned that Americans could avoid the mandate by choosing to earn less money. Kaytal was asked if he could name one Supreme Court case that considered the same questions as the one posed by the mandate – a question of whether Congress has the right to use the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause to force Americans to purchase something. Kaytal’s answer: Not exactly. He told Sixth District Justices that while the Supreme Court had never directly confronted the question, a 1964 civil rights case used the Commerce Clause to ban discrimination in private businesses like hotels and restaurants. A justice responded that those businesses had the choice to shutter their businesses, but individuals wouldn’t have such a choice under the healthcare law. “If we’re going to play that game, I think that game can be played here as well, because after all, the minimum coverage provision only kicks in after people have earned a minimum amount of income,” Kaytal said. “So it’s a penalty on earning a certain amount of income and self...

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Strange weather phenomenon downs trees in Gardner

Danedri Thompson [email protected] Area residents experienced a fairly rare meteorological event around on June 10. A heat burst struck the area spiking temperatures, dropping the dew point and sending dramatic wind gusts through neighborhoods in southwest Johnson County around midnight. Evan Bookbinder, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather service, said it’s a weather phenomenon area residents can expect to experience once or twice in their lifetimes. “In parts of Oklahoma, Nebraska and western Kansas, maybe more often, but in the Kansas City area, they’re not very common,” he said. “It’s pretty rare but not unheard of.” When a...

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EDITORIAL: Blazers to play in East St. Louis classic

It’s a coup that the Gardner Edgerton High School football team will travel to East St. Louis to play in a regionally televised game. It’s exciting for the fans, and it’s another notch in the community’s belt. We look forward to watching this exciting match-up. There will be more for GEHS students to experience at such an event. The East St. Louis City of Champions Classic was designed to give inner city athletes the opportunity to shine, and it’s nice that our suburban school gets to share in that spotlight. It also presents an opportunity for our students to see a different culture – that of an inner city, large high school. And we cherish that local kids will get a chance to see life beyond the suburbs. That said, we have significant concerns that the community at-large and school officials seem to be placing a higher priority in securing televised football games than in other areas like academics and the arts. We recognize that may not be a beast of the school’s making. People are interested and entertained by our stellar football team and athletes. But we worry the bright lights and recognition in this one area creates a vacuum for the same things in other areas. As we cheer the successes of our football team next season, let’s take extra care to consider the students involved in...

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Edgerton to host 39th annual Frontier Days celebration

Amy Cunningham [email protected] The 39th annual Edgerton Frontier Days celebration will run for two days, June 17 and 18 in downtown Edgerton. The theme for this year’s event, “Returning to our Routes,” is a play on words organizers hope will link the town’s past as a stop on the Santa Fe railroad during the early part of the 19th century with the present construction of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Intermodal Logistics Park. “We’re kind of back to our roots. We started as a railroad town and we’re going to finish as a railroad town and we’re OK with...

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Roger Neil Russell

Roger Neil Russell 77, of Spring Hill, Kan. died May 27, 2011 at his home. He was born February 20, 1934 in Bonita, Kan. He was a 1952 graduate of St. John’s Memorial High School in Olathe and attended Ottawa University. Roger served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. Roger was a hairdresser for 54 years and currently worked at New Reflections Hair Salon in Olathe, Kan. In 1957, he graduated from Hays Hairdressing School and worked in Roeland Park, Mission, and Olathe where he owned his own business, Roger’s Hairstyling Salon for many years. He was an elder and charter member at New Hope Presbyterian Church in America, Olathe. He was active in Bible Study Fellowship; a member of the Morning Grange, and worked with the Johnson County Fair and 4-H. He had a passion for gardening, growing and arranging flowers. He and his wife Lois had a Craft Floral business for over twenty years. He was preceded in death by an infant son, Stephen; brothers William, Jim, Don; sister, Chery; and parents, George C. and Evelyn Russell. Survivors include his wife, Lois Russell, of the home; children: Randy Russell and wife Kristy, of Gardner; and Carol Lang and husband David, of Olathe; grandchildren: Hannah, Emily, Sarah, Elijah and Leah Russell, and Elizabeth Lang. Funeral services were held May 31 at New Hope Presbyterian Church...

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Madeline Iona Herman

Madeline Iona Herman, age 8 years, 10 months and 14 days, of Gardner, died May 31, 2011 at the Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. Madeline was born July 17, 2002 in Merriam, Kan. She was the youngest of three children born to Carl Max “Sonny” Herman III and Shera Jean (Smith) Herman. Maddie attended the Moonlight Elementary School in Gardner. She was known for her smile, makeup artist, hair cutter, lover of pets, dancer, singer and song make upper, chicken eater, hair picker and other special things. She was preceded in death by her maternal and paternal grandfathers, Wendell Smith and Carl Max Herman Jr. She is survived by her parents Carl and Shera Herman, of the home; 14 year old sister, Erin Alison Herman and her 11 year old brother, Dakota Artemus Herman, both of the home; maternal grandmother, Sandra J. Smith of Gardner; paternal grandmother Charolette F. Herman of Morgan Hill, Calif.; paternal step grandmother Carolyn Herman of Shawnee, Kan.; Aunts, Sonja Smith of Gardner and Michelle Bendau of Shawnee, Kan.; Uncle, Wesley Smith of Clermont, Fla.; many other relatives and friends. Funeral was held June 6, 2011 at the Eddy-Birchard Funeral Home in Osawatomie, Kan., followed by burial in the Parker Cemetery, Parker, Kan. Memorials to Special Olympics. Contributions can be made to the Gardner National Bank: Madeline Memorial...

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Failure to buckle up a primary offense during 'Click It or Ticket'

Mark Taylor [email protected] Gardner police stopped 66 vehicles during last week’s Memorial Day “Click It or Ticket” campaign aimed at primary seatbelt enforcement as mandated by a recent state law. The new law makes failure to wear a seatbelt a primary offense. That means police can stop motorists for no reason other than not wearing a seatbelt. Previously, seatbelt offenses were considered secondary, and drivers could only be ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt after they were stopped for a primary violation such as speeding or running a stop sign. Ilena Spalding, public information officer for the Gardner Police...

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