Author: Gardner News

Rate increase more than anticipated

Edgerton recently voted to increase billable sewer rates from $2 to $3.29 per gallon, based on a rate study with an independent consultant. The increase should not affect Gardner customers, according to Gonzalo Garcia, utility director. In the March 2017 settlement agreement with Gardner, the cities agreed to use Raftelis Financial Consultants as an independent rate consultant to conduct a wholesale sewer rate study. In Sept. 2016, the Edgerton council had threatened to sue Gardner over a disputed sewer bill of about $80,000. After negotiations, the rate of $2 per 1,000 gallons was set until the study was complete. Garcia said the new rate was higher than anticipated by Gardner officials. “The city received a bill for October with the new rate on Nov. 9, 2017,” said Garcia. “We were expecting a rate of around $2.31 per 1000 gallons.” City staff has reviewed the rate study done by Edgerton and has requested additional information, he said. The wholesale rate study has now been completed. The report from Raftelis recommends increasing the wholesale sewer rate to $3.29 per 1,000 gallons. The report concludes that overall billable flows are 64 percent lower than what was projected 5 years ago in the Springstead report. Volume from the intermodal facility are 90 percent less than what was previously projected. Flow from the city of Gardner is 59 percent less than was projected. The...

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Planning commission recommends no amendment of sign code

Rick Poppitz Special to The Gardner News At their Nov. 28 meeting, Gardner Planning Commission considered two residential subdivision development projects and whether or not there is a need to amend Gardner code that regulates wall signs in residential districts. Sign Standards – the Royals sign Two items regarding text amendments to the Land Development Code were the final items on the agenda, presented late in the meeting. The first item was a re-evaluation of Gardner Land Development Code (LDC), Section 17.10 Sign Standards regarding signs in residential neighborhoods. The review came as direction from city council following the Aug.7 council meeting. Residents who had been notified that the sign mounted on their deck was in violation of city code appeared at that meeting to protest. At that meeting staff advised that the sign was a violation under both the old and current code. Council put the cease and desist notification on pause and directed staff to review the code and present a recommendation to the Planning Commission. Kelly Drake-Woodward, chief planner, gave the staff presentation. Drake-Woodward said the difficulty with sign standards is that it’s “really subjective.” The review finds that Gardner code is consistent with and typical of other jurisdictions. Staff recommended some minor language changes to the code’s definition of the word sign, but recommended no changes to the provisions in Article 17.10 pertaining to wall...

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USD 231 Briefs

Honor Band Recently, USD 231 students students auditioned for, and won a spot in the Northeast KMEA Honor Band, Choir and Orchestra. The students will be performing on Dec. 2. Band Samantha Marcotte, Bass Clarinet; Chloe Howard, Trumpet; Spencer Strickling, Trombone; Tom Fabing, Percussion Choir Olivia Schultz, Emily Moore, Riley Buck, Larissa Weidler Civic engagement To meet the goal of Civic Engagement at Trail Ridge Middle School, the student council created a mini fund-raiser called ‘Hats for Harvey’. One of the StuCo members had relatives affected by the hurricane and contacted the principal at the Texas community’s elementary school. TRMS staff and students wore hats and donated to the fund-raiser during an early release day. In just a few short hours, the students raised $131 to send to the Bauerschlag Elementary School in League City, Texas to purchase school supplies. “I believe in empowering our middle school students to make a difference and think beyond the walls of our school. I am very proud of them,” said John Martin, principal. GEHS choir director honored Kelli Baker, GEHS choir director, was recently honored with the Kansas University Outstanding Music Educator Award from the Kansas Music Educators Association. The Kansas Music Educators Association established the Outstanding Music Educator Award to honor members of the music education community who have made a significant contribution to the growth of music in Kansas’ schools....

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I-35 interchange improvement begins

Trent Cochran, GEHS junior, was recognized at the Dec. 4 Gardner City Council meeting for outstanding athletic achievements in 6A Boys Cross Country . Chris Morrow, mayor, congratulated Cochran and read a proclamation that also recognized Mia Tokavich, GEHS junior, for achievements in 6A Girls Golf. Staff photo by Rick Popptiz Rick Poppitz Special to The Gardner News At the Dec. 4 meeting, Gardner City Council heard public comment on crosswalk safety, considered two service contract recommendations, an ordinance to amend the 2017 Budget, an agreement for design of improvements to the I-35 and Gardner Road interchange and a...

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Johnson County names interim county manager

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners today named Penny Postoak Ferguson as interim county manager, effective Jan. 1, 2018. The appointment by the commission was unanimous in a vote following an executive session Dec. 7. Postoak Ferguson has served as deputy county manager since 2012 when she was promoted from assistant county manager. ““I’’ve worked with Ms. Postoak Ferguson at the city level as well as in her current position as deputy county manager and I have every confidence that she will be able to bring the continuity and leadership that will maintain our community as a great place to live, work and raise a family,”” said Chairman Ed Eilert.”“In addition to her demonstrated talent, she is very well-respected within her profession. I look forward to the important work that must be accomplished and she has my full support.”” The vote followed a public comment period in which many employees and members of the public spoke in support of County Manager Hannes Zacharias. By majority vote, the original decision not to renew Zacharias’ contract after Dec. 31, 2017, was upheld. ““Many of us have had the pleasure and honor of working with Mr. Zacharias and we want to thank him for the work he has done for our county the past 16 years,”” Eilert said. “”Staying true to the Athenian Oath, Hannes is truly leaving our county a...

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KHP personnel assisted 1,058 holiday motorists

The Kansas Highway Patrol is released its Thanksgiving Weekend Holiday Activity Report. The reporting period for the holiday weekend ran from Nov. 22 – 29. Four fatal crashes were worked during this reporting period, which killed six people (Fatal crashes were in Barber, Sedgwick, Riley, and Jackson counties). Two of these crashes were alcohol-related. To view the KHP crashlogs: www.kansas.gov/khp-crashlogs/. Information in the table is compared to data from 2015 and 2016 for the same reporting...

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BOCC doesn’t renew contract for manager

By a majority vote of the Board of County Commissioners, the commission decided not to renew the contract for County Manager Hannes Zacharias. The 4-3 vote was taken following his annual review in executive session Nov. 30, 2017. The action was not unanimous, but was supported by four of the seven commissioners. Those who voted not to renew the contract were commissioners Michael Ashcraft, Mike Brown, Steve Klika and Jason Osterhaus.  Chairman Ed Eilert and Jim Allen and Ron Shaffer voted against the motion to not renew the contract. “The vote does not reflect in any negative way on the moral, ethical or professional character of Mr. Zacharias,”said Eilert. ”Mr. Zacharias is a true professional and will continue to carry out his responsibilities as county manager through Dec. 31.” Zacharias first joined the county in 2001 an assistant county manager and was promoted to deputy county manager in 2005 before becoming county manager in Aug. 2009. The following is a public statement issued by Eilert: “It is with great disappointment that I am writing to inform our county staff that the Board of County Commissioners voted today 4-3 not to extend the contract of County Manager Hannes Zacharias. To provide the 30-day notice, as required in his contract, his service as county manager will end effective Dec. 31, 2017. “As I stated prior to and following the vote, I...

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Residents voice traffic concerns regarding Tuscan Farms

From Jan. 1, 2017 till Nov. 3, 2017 the Gardner Police made 577 traffic stops in the shaded area.  The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department made an additional 692 traffic stops in that same time frame and area. The planning commission recently approved a subdivision Photo courtesy of Gardner Police Department Rick Poppitz Special to The Gardner News Several adjacent property owners attended the Nov. 28 planning commission meeting to discuss traffic concerns with the proposed Tuscan Farms development just south of Nike Elementary School. As approved, the development would eventually result in construction of 256 residential units on 82 acres on the west...

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Groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for ‘Project School’

On Monday, Dec. 11, at 10 a.m., Gardner and the Gardner Chamber of Commerce will host a groundbreaking ceremony for Excelligence Learning Corporation, the 646,400-sq. ft. facility housing manufacturing, distribution and call center operations that was first introduced to the public as “Project School.” Excelligence Learning Corporation, headquartered in Monterey, Calif., is a leader in the childhood education industry, providing learning tools and solutions to early childhood and elementary teachers and parents. Excelligence offers these amenities through three main divisions: supplies, equipment and services. The groundbreaking ceremony will take place on the building site located at the Midwest Commerce Center, 17001 Mercury St., across from the Coleman building. The project’s anticipated completion date is December 2018. For more information, contact Larry Powell, business and economic development director at [email protected] or...

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2017 property tax statements due by Dec. 20

The Johnson County Treasury and Financial Management department has begun mailing 202,674 real estate and 19,915 personal property tax statements to taxpayers. The first-half real estate and personal property taxes are due on or before Wednesday, Dec. 20, and second-half taxes are due on or before Thursday, May 10, 2018. The real estate tax statement contains a comparison between this year’s and last year’s tax breakdown. If the taxes are paid by the mortgage company, the statement will say “THIS IS NOT A TAX BILL” at the bottom of the statement. For taxpayers who pay statements directly, there will be a return payment stub at the bottom of the statement. Taxpayers have several convenient options to pay their taxes: Online — Through our website, jocogov.org<https://www.jocogov.org/, tax payments may be submitted electronically using the eCheck option for $1 per transaction or by credit card (Visa, MasterCard and Discover) for a 2.4 percent service fee per transaction. By mail —Taxpayers can mail a check along with the payment stub to P.O. Box 2902, Shawnee Mission, 66201. In person — Taxpayers can make a payment at the office location, 111 S. Cherry St., Suite 1500 in Olathe. Forms of payment accepted at our office include cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, or Discover card (payment by credit and debit card includes an additional 2.4 percent service fee). Taxpayers may go online<https://www.jocogov.org/dept/treasury-and-financial-management/home> to view an...

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Holiday Lights social outing offered in Dec.

Enjoy the spirit of the season on an outing to the Country Club Plaza being offered twice in mid-December by the 50 Plus Department of the Johnson County Park & Recreation District. Holiday Lights is the name of this social outing. Participants can take time to shop with friends, enjoy the holiday decorations, and even enjoy a meal if they’d like! After some free time at the plaza, the group will take a driving tour of local holiday light displays. This outing is offered once on Wednesday, Dec. 13, and again on Monday, Dec. 18. Each session will begin  at 4 p.m. and will return about 10 p.m. the same day. The cost for one six-hour outing, including transportation, is $15 per person. The Dec. 13 session will have pick-up locations at the Spring Hill Community Center, 613 Race St, Spring Hill, Edgerton City Hall, 404 E Nelson St, Edgerton, at the Gardner Senior Building, 128 E Park, Gardner, and at the New Century Fieldhouse, 551 New Century Parkway, near Gardner. Be sure to register for this session by Dec. 6, and specify your pickup location at the time of registration. The Dec. 18 session will depart from Antioch Park, 6501 Antioch, Merriam. Please register for this session by 12/11. For more information or to register, call (913)...

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Muyskens completes professional development program

Kent Muyskens, USD 231, has successfully completed the STEM Innovator® professional development program through the University of Iowa’s Jacobson Institute and is now prepared to infuse innovation and entrepreneurship into his STEM classroom. This certification means Muyskens may now offer to high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn University of Iowa college credit. Muyskens is a chemistry teacher at GEHS. In addition, the KC STEM Alliance, hosted by the University of Missouri system at UMKC, presented to Muyskens and Gardner Edgerton High School Team GEEK (Gardner Education Electric Kiwis) a grant in the amount of $350. STEM Innovator® engages students in solving authentic, community-driven, real-world problems by working in teams. Along the way, STEM Innovator® students explore multiple careers and gain skills to become college and career ready. Students of a certified STEM Innovator® teacher may submit a portfolio of innovation design work and sit for a rigorous comprehensive exam created to University of Iowa Colleges of Engineering and Business standards. Students who demonstrate college-level competency will pass, earning the college credits. The program is ideal for students who have a passion to innovate, invent or solve problems. STEM Innovator® helps support students in the pursuit of STEM careers and gives them the know-how to take achievements in STEM to market. The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that STEM jobs will grow 17 percent by 2018 — nearly double the growth...

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Sports Potpourri

Mac Stevenson KU’s basketball team improved their record to 7-0 with the 86-70 win over Syracuse last Saturday. Point guard Devonté Graham saved the Jayhawks with one of his best games, scoring 35 points and hitting seven of 13 three-point shots. Lagerald Vick played very well, scoring 20 points with eight rebounds and seven assists. The rest of the Jayhawks were average at best. Kansas has the potential to be one of the four or five best teams in the nation, but that’s dependent on whether or not forward Billy Preston becomes eligible. And having recruit Silvio De Sosa (6-9, 245) join the team at the semester break would be icing on the cake. Without Preston, KU will be limited as to how far they can go. That brings us to a number of questions: What in the world is going on with the basketball eligibility issue of KU’s freshman forward Billy Preston (6-10, 240)? Is the NCAA involved? Is it KU’s administration that is doing the investigating or whatever it is that’s being done? Is this just something that Preston did or are others outside the university involved? Is it the car that Preston has been driving that’s causing concern, or are there other issues? This is similar to the Cheick Diallo situation two years ago when the NCAA wouldn’t make a decision on his eligibility within a...

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Breakfast with Santa

Santa poses for a family photo with Gardner kids Owen, 11, Ella 9, Quinn, 6, and Reed, 7, at Nike Elementary on Dec. 2 at a Breakfast with Santa event. Staff photo by Rick...

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Cat Show

The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) is a non-profit organization that maintains the largest registry of pedigreed cats and licenses approximately 400 competitive shows each season worldwide. On Nov. 25, the CFA (cfa.org) held cat shows in the UK, Spain, China, Indonesia and in the 4-H Building at Johnson County Fairgrounds in Gardner, Kansas. Staff photos by Rick Poppitz The event filled the building with exhibitors of pedigreed cats from all over the USA. One hundred fifty one cats were entered and judged for trophies and awards. The local CFA event, Frontier Feline Fanciers, has two more shows coming in...

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City water exceeds EPA requirements

Water samples analyzed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) showed that Gardner’s water supply met all Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) requirements. Every three years, KDHE is required to test cities’ drinking water for lead and copper to ensure they meet state and federal standards. KDHE evaluated 30 drinking water samples that were obtained throughout the city. Levels above 0.015 mg/L for lead and 1.3mg/L for copper would require corrective action. Gardner’s levels for lead were .002 and .181 for copper, significantly lower than required. “The city’s staff at Hillsdale Water Treatment Facility takes pride in providing its citizens with safe and great tasting drinking water,” said Gonzalo Garcia, utility director. “Because of their efforts to regularly test and improve the water supply, the city continues to exceed federal and state standards for water quality.” For more information about the city’s water quality requirements, visit...

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Gardner to host annual citizens academy

Starting Jan. 25, 2018, the Gardner will hold its fourth Gardner You! Citizen Academy class. Gardner You! is an interactive civic and public information program that focuses on educating residents and business owners about the city’s governmental processes. The class, which will be hosted by department directors and staff, will meet Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at city hall. Session topics include finance and budget, business and economic development, city programs, and boards and commissions. The academy also involves a tour of city facilities on April 6, and a graduation ceremony on April 12. The academy is...

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CERI releases economic index report

Unemployment in Johnson County stands at 2.9 percent, according to the most recent data analysis released by the County Economic Research Institute (CERI). According to their November, 2017 analysis, Johnson County’s September unemployment rate was 2.9 percent, down from a high of 4.3 percent in 2012. Over the past 5 years, the average unemployment rate has been 3.6 percent. House sales are also up. Homes sold by realtors in September, 2017 was 925, which brings the year to date total to 8,700. Average homes sold in September the last five years was 853, with the high being 1,000 in 2016 and the low of 667 in 2012. Total taxable retail sales year-to-date thru August 2017 was $9,040,197,000, an increase of 2.4 percent over the same period last year. More than 5,301 articles of incorporation had been filed thru October, 2017, up from an average of 4.731 over the past five years. This tops the 2016 filings of...

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Thanksgiving has passed, so have some others

Joan Dorsey Contributing columnist Well Thanksgiving is done. Last week was filled with people making preperations and going to vist family or expecting family and friends. Busy, busy time of year. A couple of people passed last week, on the national level. Back in 1969 a young man with a winning smile and a nice voice became a staple in many living rooms and even some posters on walls. David Cassidy was the son of Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones. He starred along with others in the Partridge Family on tv. He had an all American look, and could have been a friend of your brothers, or the guy who sat in the class with you at school. Being an impressionable junior high student in 1969, I thought he was swell. He was a good guy. He was acting on tv with his step mom. Clean cut all American.I was sad to learn earlier this year he had dementia. I know the rock and roll lifestyle can lead to many addictions and problems. I remembered him as a role model in those early times. He passed and his voice will not be forgotten. Another person died last week. He also flashed upon the scene in 1969. Charles Manson . He was the head of the Manson Family. They were a group of quasi hippies living in the desert in...

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Developer withdraws construction plans; lawsuit against BOCC continues

Rick Poppitz Special to The Gardner News On July 6, 2017, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners’ (BOCC) voted to approve a development application for Lineage Logistics LLC to build a 411,000 square foot cold storage facility at New Century. On Nov. 1, Lineage Logistics announced that they would no longer pursue the development. The company statement said “…unforeseen changes to our customers supply chain and logistics needs have, for now, prompted us to withdraw our plans.” A group of neighboring property owners had objected to the development, citing numerous concerns, including safety concerns, property devaluation and the process of approval. The group claims the BOCC was not responsive to hearing their concerns. Later the group filed a lawsuit against the BOCC – Jensen, et al. v BOCC of Johnson County, Kansas Case No. 17 CV 04410. The group began an ongoing campaign to inform the public of their concerns. They distributed thousands of yard signs, held their own weekly public meetings, put up a website and individuals appeared at many BOCC, Gardner and Olathe city council meetings in August, September and October to voice their concerns. KC metro news media picked up on the story, and it was featured on several TV and KC Star news stories. Public support grew substantially, and a number of local and state elected officials issued statements of support for the group’s...

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