Author: Gardner News

State DUI rankings: Kansas ranks #10

In an effort to keep Americans safer on the roads this year, BackgroundChecks.org researched state DUI rankings. The report was released on March 9, 2017. BackgroundChecks.org used a combination of CDC, Department of Transportation data, and local state data, to create a comprehensive score for each state. Kansas was ranked #10 as one of ten best states, having the least problems with DUI and drunk driving. The 10 states with the least DUI Problems are: New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey, Utah, Rhode Island, Virginia, Indiana, Washington, and Kansas. The top 10 states with DUI problems in America are Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, South Carolina, Mississippi, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Maine. “The fact that over 10,000 people a year die from DUI related accidents is a travesty,” said Trent Wilson, co-author of the research. “We hope this research will open some eyes and make people think twice before drinking and driving.” DUIs were on the rise in 2016, according to data released late last year by the CDC and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. BackgroundChecks.org is an organization devoted to public safety, online privacy, home security, and open government. Their technology tools and resources are used by hundreds of thousands of users each to month. As part of their commitment to public safety, they constantly conduct new research to shed insight on issues that affect the public welfare....

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OUR VIEW: Tomfoolery reigns at Gardner council meeting

Where do we start? There are so many problems with Resolution 1963 it’s hard to find a beginning. The resolution, introduced and approved without an opportunity for public review – it wasn’t on the city’s March 6 published agenda – leaves a lot to be desired. Apparently drafted – by who is unknown – to deal with an appeal process for city employees, it “appeared” after the council emerged from a closed door session under attorney client privilege to discuss non-elected personnel. Public business should be done in public; not in secret. The resolution, distributed by Steve Shute, council president, was approved 4-1, with Kristina Harrison, councilmember, the “nay” vote. The Gardner News has made a formal complaint that the resolution appears to have been prepared in closed session. Executive session to discuss personnel is a valid exemption, but only for specific personnel. It is not to be used to develop general policy or procedures. The resolution does not appear to be retroactive to prior employee evaluations; does not establish how the council – who do not have oversight of day to day operations – are to judge a complaint; and does not mention how to handle bonuses that may be tied to an evaluation. There is also no mention of how the procedure will affect the city administrator, who is the acting head of personnel, and whose contract...

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Season comes to a close for Lady Blazer basketball team

Kynli Nelson sets the defense for the Lady Blazers in the sub state title game against Olathe South. The Blazers lost 35-31 and ended the season with a 17-5 record and third place finish in the East Kansas league. Photo courtesy of Shonda Burger A 35-31 6A sub-state loss to Olathe South brought the season to a close for Coach Justin Mayer and his Lady Blazer basketball team. Mayer guided his group to a 17-5 overall record, 7-2 in the rugged East Kansas League. The season ending loss failed to overshadow a 13 point scoring effort by Skylar Washington....

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DOV launches wait line management system

The Kansas Division of Vehicles new wait line management system Q-Flow launches Friday in seven of the state’s busiest offices. Customers visiting the Topeka, Wichita, Andover, Derby, Manhattan, Olathe and Mission driver licensing offices will be able to get in line by a computer, the division’s mobile app or mobile phone before arriving at the office or once they arrive. If they sign in remotely, customers will receive an update for when they need to arrive at the office to secure their spot. Once at the office, ticket numbers will be announced in Spanish and English and displayed on a monitor. “Wait line management is one of our most popular services. We listened to our customers’ feedback, and this new system addresses the issue of wait time fluctuations. We expect that once you get in line and receive an estimated wait time it will remain consistent,” said Lisqa Kaspar, director of vehicles. The division switched vendors in part to help provide more accurate wait time forecasting. Customers can download the division’s mobile app KS Vehicles Connect for free on their Apple, Android or Windows device. With it, they can get in line using Q-Flow, find a driver licensing office or take a practice written...

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Paddlefish season opened March 15; conditions must be right

Anglers are eager for warm weather and time on the water, and one of the hallmarks of spring fishing is the opening of the paddlefish snagging season. But hold on, it’s not as easy as showing up on opening day. While there are several rivers in southeast Kansas where paddlefish snagging is allowed, conditions must be right for paddlefish to be present. The Kansas paddlefish season open March 15–May 15 during the annual spring spawning run. Paddlefish may be taken in posted areas inside Chetopa and Burlington city parks on the Neosho River; on the Neosho River at Iola,...

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Controlled prairie burn planned on Cedar Niles

As part of prairie management efforts, Johnson County Park & Recreation District officials plan to conduct a controlled burn on the morning of Thursday, April 9, at a 60-acre prairie remnant located within the 900-acre Cedar Niles future park site west of Olathe. The burn is expected to begin about 9 a.m. near 26980 West 127th Street, located just east of 127th and Moonlight within the Cedar Niles future park site. Plans for this controlled burn are highly weather dependent and are affected by a number of factors including relative humidity, wind speed and direction, fuel moisture and air temperature. Prior to settlement, much of America’s great plains were kept to a prairie ecosystem primarily by fires that were started naturally by lightning. These fires raced across the prairies and killed most trees. After settlement, fires were suppressed, and trees and other woody plants invaded what were formerly grasslands. Even though most of the above-ground parts of the plants burn, prairie plants are not killed by fire because they store food in their massive root systems. Experts believe prescribed fire as a management tool has many benefits to the prairie, including producing plants that flower more, produce more seed, and are more robust; lengthening the growing season for native plants and shortening it for invading weeds; stimulating microbial activity in the soil through the nutrients in ash; formation of...

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Council changes policy with no public input

With no public transparency, the Gardner City Council emerged from a closed door executive session March 6, added a resolution revising personnel policies and approved it. The resolution was apparently prepared without review or knowledge of city staff, including Alan Abramowitz, human resources director, and it did not appear on the city’s published agenda for public review. After executive session, held under attorney client privilege to discuss non elected personnel, Steve Shute, council president, handed out copies of an already-prepared Resolution 1963, amending personnel policies and procedures. General policy revisions and discussion should be conducted in public session, although...

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Gardner plants ‘seeds,’ reaps harvest

About 100 attended Gardner’s annual state of the city address, delivered by Chris Morrow, mayor on March 8 at the New Century Fieldhouse. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz Rick Poppitz Special to The Gardner News About 100 people were present to hear Chris Morrow, mayor, deliver Gardner’s 2017 State of the City address at New Century Fieldhouse on March 10. Doors opened at 11:30 a.m., lunch was served at noon. Guests included patrons, city council members, and elected county and state officials. Rick George, pastor of New Life Community church, gave the Invocation and Benediction. Steve Hines, chair of...

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Annual flowers recommended for Kansas

After years of sometimes-harsh tests, the winners have emerged: Kansas State University has unveiled its latest list of recommended annual flowers, including a sweet treat for hummingbirds and a vine that sports purple foliage with contrasting, bright-pink flowers. The new Prairie Star Flower list includes plants that have been tested for two consecutive years in Kansas and flourished, even with the state’s sometimes temperamental climate. “Try Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire’ and watch the hummingbirds flock to your patio or garden,” said Robin Ruether, Prairie Star program coordinator based at the K-State Olathe Horticulture Research and Extension Center. “The tubular orange flowers are a favorite nectar source for the birds and pollinators, plus the plants thrive in hot, humid conditions and need little care besides water and fertilizer.” Plant breeders from around the world send seeds or rooted cuttings to Ruether as part of the flower trial program overseen by Cheryl Boyer, K-State extension specialist. After getting an early-spring start in greenhouses, the young plants are transplanted outdoors when the weather warms. They’re evaluated throughout the growing season and ultimately judged on their vigor, flowers and foliage. Another plant, the Coleus ‘FlameThrower Spiced Curry’ made a strong showing over the last two years, Ruether said. The foliage plant’s chartreuse leaves have an eye-catching reddish color on the undersides that provide a unique visual display when the wind is blowing. “Sweet potato vine...

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Grass fires consume record number of acres

Kansas has set a new record, one it never hoped to see and never hopes to surpass. As of March 8, more than 502,000 acres have burned in Clark County (351,000-400,000 acres) and Comanche County (approximately 151,000 acres), making it the most widespread single fire on record for the state. For comparison, the Anderson Creek fire of 2016 burned some 312,427 acres in Barber and Comanche Counties. Since March 4, large grassfires have been reported in 23 counties, consuming more than 650,000 acres in all and the figure is still climbing. Although most of the fires have been contained, fires are still burning in Clark, Comanche, Ellis, Reno and Rooks Counties. Governor Sam Brownback declared a state of disaster emergency at 7:21 p.m. March 5 to expedite state emergency response assistance to affected counties. The Kansas Division of Emergency Management activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka and has staffed it 24/7 to coordinate state response...

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Lady Blazers begin track season April 1

Veteran Coach Larry Ward has been busy preparing his squad for the April 1 relays at Shawnee Mission South. Ward enters his 28th season with a talented team led by seniors Cortlyn Tryon, Cassidy Androff and Heather Culbertson. “We have six state medalist returning and look forward to an exciting season,” said Ward. “Tryon will lead the sprinters. She won State medals in the 200 and 400 meter open races. “ Androff, who’s already signed with Wichita State, was a state shot put medalist and has a 101 feet inches to her credit. Culbertson will once again provide javelin points. She was a state medalist with a throw of 122 feet 2 inches. The other three state medalist were on the 800 meter relay team. That group consisted of Kelby Wilson, Alysssa Farrens and Larissa Weidler. Other top sprinters include Amy Kamtio, Roshea Daniels, Alisha Smartt, Tanae Watkins, Esmeralda Quintana, Taylor Carpenter and Malynn...

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Mustang track season practice underway

Wheatridge Middle School coaches Conner Langehr and Michelle Gailliez welcomed 65 kids to pre-season practice March 6 in preparation for an April 4 opener at Ottawa. Top eighth grade returners are Sabrina Dulku (high jump), Mallory Boden (long distance), Ashlyn Bell (long distance) and Ashton Keith (thrower). Assistant coaches are Rowdy Susnik (throwers), Carolyn Wallace (high jump), Wesley Slavens...

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Johnson County Parks and Recreation celebrate Women’s History Month 

Submitted photo Celebrating the rich history of American women and girls during Women’s History Month is the goal of a special event planned in late March at the Ernie Miller Nature Center. Daring American Women is the name of this event, which will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, at the Ernie Miller Nature Center, at 909 N. Kansas 7 Highway, Olathe. This event is for all ages, but children must be accompanied by an adult and one adult chaperone per group of five children is required. Participants are encouraged to bring their favorite...

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Ground breaking

Photo courtesy of Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce The Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce hosted a ground breaking ceremony for a new 7,200 sq ft. event space on the northeast corner of 191st Street and 169 Hwy in Spring Hill, on March 8, 2017. The event center, expected to be completed in early summer, will primarily serve as a rentable space available to the community for weddings, parties and community events. The building will also be home to Firework Mania Superstore, a Black Cat Certified Retailer, during the designated time for fireworks sales (June 27t through July 5. Pictured at the...

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GEHS Spring theater schedule provided 

The Gardner Edgerton High School Theater Department has announced its 2017 spring performances, along with a unique opportunity for youngsters on April 22. “And Then There Were None” In this classic mystery comedy by Agatha Christie, ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, one stranger is found murdered. The tension escalates as the survivors realize the killer is not only among them, but is preparing to strike again. Directed by Jeff Lady, the play runs April 12, 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 “Leaving Iowa” The critically-acclaimed play, “Leaving Iowa,” by Tim Clue and Spike Manton is a hilarious, family-friendly comedy that is a toast to the idealism and character of parents from the “greatest generation,” and a little roast of their dedication to the family road trip. Directed by GEHS senior Faith Garrie and presented by GEHS Repertory Theater, the performance runs April 19, 20 and 21 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5. “A Princess Tea Party” Youngsters will have the opportunity to spend the day enjoying tea and learning all about what it is like to be a princess. Youngsters will come dressed in their favorite princess costume and have their picture taken with...

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Gardner Planning Commission holds meeting at Senior Center

Larry Powell (far left), business & economic development director, answers a commission member’s question about city code at the Feb. 28 meeting of the Gardner Planning Commission. The meeting was held at the Senior Center due to an interior improvement project underway at city hall. Photo courtesy of Rick...

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Gardner planning commission recommends rezoning for DQ

Rick Poppitz Special to The Gardner News The Feb. 28 meeting of the planning commission was held at the Gardner Senior Center located at 128 E. Park Street, due to audio-visual technology upgrades currently being installed in city hall council chambers. The commission separately considered rezoning requests for two properties. Dairy Queen A request to rezone four lots in order to make way for a new Dairy Queen restaurant that will be located at 518 East Main Street was considered. A car wash is now at that location. Next door to the east is Reece Nichols Realty, which is...

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Late in the game free throws lift Lady Blazers past Blue Valley

Kailey Burger (10) sets the defense in action against Blue Valley Southwest. Burger was one of three seniors helping the Lady Blazers to a 17-5 record and runner up honors in the 6A Blue Valley West sub state. The team lost to Olathe South 35-31 in the sub state final. Photo courtesy of Shonda Burger Skylar Washington sank two clutch free throws with 39 seconds remaining in the game lifting the Lady Blazers to a 34-31 first round 6A Sub-State win over Blue Valley last week. A last second three pointer shot by Blue Valley went awry, and GEHS...

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OUR VIEW: PC approves DQ

Many thanks to members of the Gardner Planning Commission who have blended into a cohesive, decisive team these past few years. While the city council has been the subject of several recent editorials due to their dysfunctional ability to put petty politics and personality above the public’s best interest, the planning commission has been quietly moving the city forward with good economic development decisions. Most recently, the commission approved site plans for a proposed Dairy Queen Grill and Chill and Hampton Inn. The commission- and city staff – have found the middle ground between administering code, the public good and bringing business to town. Thank you for showing us what good governance is all...

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Council approves police vest purchase; debates ‘experts’ presentation

Rick Poppitz Special to The Gardner News Due to a new audio visual system being installed in the council chamber at city hall, the city council meeting on March 6 took place at the Gardner Senior Center Council updates Chris Morrow, mayor, began council updates by talking about the city’s goal of building a new ‘justice center’ that would serve as police headquarters and municipal court. Morrow stated that each year that passes the cost of building goes up. If construction were done in 2018 the cost would be close to $12 million. Morrow mentioned that Gardner would receive about $4.8 million from the new Johnson County sales tax increase and also funds from this year’s increase in county property tax valuations. “I think we’re in a very good position to carefully consider whether or not now is a good time to move on something we’ve been contemplating for four years and moving towards for each of those four years,”said Morrow. Lee Moore, council member, questioned the appearance of law enforcement experts at a recent work session. “We went through seven months without having a work session that we asked for and all agreed to have, in anticipation of these ‘so-called’ experts that were going to come talk to us about this. We had four experts, and one of those was paid. I’m not sure how that works,” said...

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