Author: Gardner News

School board to discuss boundary options once bond is approved

Modular classrooms were installed at Moonlight Elementary to ease overcrowding. Staff photo by Mark Taylor Danedri Thompson [email protected] Some redistricting will be necessary in the Gardner Edgerton School District whether voters approve or reject a $72 million bond issue next January. However, Leann Northway, USD 231 communications director, said school officials have yet to discuss what new boundaries will look like if voters approve a bond issue to build a new elementary school and a new middle school. “Once the bond is approved, we’ll discuss where we will pull children from to fill the new schools,” she said. “You can’t put the cart before the horse. We can’t get into that until we know we have something to work with.” New boundary lines in response to a bond issue would likely only affect students in high density parts of town, she said. For example, Moonlight Elementary is overcapacity right now. The school was designed to hold 518 students, and last year, it hosted 613 students. To house the additional students, board members opted to build modular classrooms on the school’s property. There are a few classrooms in the district not being used for traditional K-12 that could potentially be used to alleviate some overcrowding, but Northway said that would possibly require getting rid of popular district programs. For example, the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department leases classrooms for...

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Around Town

QUESTION: What are the new Gardner Aquatic Center hours now that school has started? ANSWER: Due to the fact that school is back in session and most of the aquatic center’s staff is high school students the facility  is now open only on weekends.  Hours are 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.  The last day of the aquatic center’s season is Sept....

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Railroadiana, train rides offered during Railfest

A new Railroadiana show and sale will be featured along with train rides aboard vintage railroad coaches this Labor Day weekend, Sept. 3-5, by the Midland Railway Historical Association of Baldwin City. Locomotive cab and motorcar rides, a railroad post office car, and the 1906 Santa Fe Railway depot with souvenir shop will be featured. The weekend will celebrate the 60th anniversaries of Midland’s 1951 ALCO RS-3 locomotives – M-K-T #142 and NYC #8255. The 80th anniversary of the former Kansas City Southern Railroad Post Office car #30 will also be celebrated. New this year will be a Railroadiana show and exhibit at the depot park. Vendors will be showing and selling railroad artifacts, collectibles, China, signs, signals, and other items from former famous rail lines. A $5 admission will be charged. Admission is  free with train ride ticket. Vendors wishing to participate should contact Midland. Three trains each day will depart from the Santa Fe Depot, 1515 W. High St., in Baldwin City. The 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. excursions will be 11-mile, round trips to Norwood, an abandoned townsite in Franklin County, behind M-K-T #142. The 3 p.m. excursion will feature both RS-3s #142 and 8255 for a trip from Baldwin City to Ottawa Junction, approximately 21 miles, two hours plus run-by photo opportunities offered each way. Also open during the Railfest will be the ex-Kansas City...

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OUR VIEW: School’s started; drive safely

With the beginning of school, it’s a good time to remind everyone to drive safely. While it’s always important to obey the rules of the road, it’s time to be even more cautious as children walk or ride bikes to school; parents pick up or drop off children in school zones; and busses stop for children to load or exit. It seems fairly routine, but it only takes a minute for accidents to occur. Some areas of town do not have sidewalks; in others, road construction creates chaotic driving patterns. Even in areas where traffic patterns are not disrupted, it’s important to be cautious. And while it’s important to watch for children on the road, it’s equally important to watch for younger drivers as they drive to and from school. Inexperienced drivers may be easily distracted, so it’s as important to drive safely as it is to drive defensively. “Drive safely,” has become a cliche, but it’s an important one. It’s worth saying again. Please drive...

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Johnson County Extension horticulturist named ‘Best of the Best’

OVERLAND PARK. – The ironies of Dennis Patton’s career in urban horticulture come up every year as a cautionary tale in his wife’s middle-school English class. This fall, however, Laura Patton’s real-life fable will have a new ending. Dennis was recognized last week as the top columnist in the nation for 2010-11. The award was at the apex of a tri-level communications contest fielded each year by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (which, ironically, also includes the nation’s horticulture agents). The finalists in each category had already won at the state and regional levels.  The award presentation was part of the NACAA’s week-long annual meeting and professional development conference. The fact that the Kansas chapter was this year’s host was a lucky happenstance – as was the chapter’s selecting a conference site in Patton’s home turf: Overland Park.   Patton’s contest entry was a seasonal, weekly gardening column, introduced several years ago in a major metropolitan daily. In a reversal of what’s usual, The Kansas City Star had invited him to write it, as well as contribute to the paper’s Internet blog on gardening.   That’s not too bad for a rural Caldwell, Kan., farm boy who grew up with an affinity for growing plants and working outdoors.   It’s also pretty good for Patton’s wife, Laura. She’ll have an even better answer when students complain, “Why do we have...

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Fresh paint

Merrill Monk, seasonal employee of the Gardner Public Works Department, puts the finishing touches on a freshly painted fire hydrant. Monk has painted about 200 of the city’s more than 1,000 fire hydrants since starting work on the...

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Failed resolution a ‘Miss Congeniality’ award

Martin Hawver Guest Columnist Last weekend the Kansas Republican State Committee voted, well, we guess it would be: If you can’t say something nice about somebody (and by clear implication for us political junkies, nothing nice about somebody else) don’t say anything at all. It’s a sort of off-beat twist on that advice your mother gave you, but it rang clear Saturday in Wichita at the semi-annual meeting of the Kansas GOP’s leaders, and it probably says something that Republicans, of course, and in this case, Democrats, ought to hear. The issue was the vote by Congress to raise the debt ceiling, in which the six-member all-Republican Kansas delegation split in half. U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp of the 1st District voted against the debt ceiling bump, as did 3rd District Rep. Kevin Yoder, and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran. Reps. Lynn Jenkins of the 2nd District and Mike Pompeo of the 4th voted for the bill, as did U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. OK, so before the state committee meeting, the party chairs of the districts represented by Huelskamp and Yoder ginned up a resolution to congratulate the two for voting against the Obama administration-pushed debt ceiling hike, oh and toss in congratulations for Moran, too. Well, that clear-cut boost for just Huelskamp, Yoder and Moran got turned around and watered-down by the party’s resolutions committee which wouldn’t go for the...

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Governor Brownback to announce Top 25 Notable Kansans

TOPEKA — As part of the state’s commemoration of the Kansas  sesquicentennial during 2011, Gov. Sam Brownback invites Kansans to  join him at five events across the state at which he will announce the  names of the top 25 notable Kansans. These individuals were recently selected by the governor’s blue ribbon panel for history. Five names will be announced at each event, the first took place  Aug. 18, at the Kansas Museum of History, Topeka. Other  events will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at Shawnee Indian  Mission State Historic Site, Fairway; 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, at  Fort Scott National Historic Site, Fort Scott; 3:30 p.m. Wednesday,  Sept. 7, at Kansas Aviation Museum, Wichita; and 9:30 a.m. Thursday,  Sept. 15, at the Kansas State Fair, Hutchinson. The public is  invite to attend all events, each featuring comments by Brownback, introduction of special guests, and a brief reception. Events commemorating the top 12 events in Kansas history will be held later in  the fall.  The blue ribbon panel for history is comprised of: Don Chubb, Topeka;  Virgil Dean, Kansas Historical Society; Gayle Garrelts, Hays; James Hoy, Emporia State University; Bob Keckeisen, Kansas Historical Society; Nathan McAlister, Royal Valley High School; Leo Oliva, Woodston; Mary Regan, Finney County Historical Society; J. Schafer,  Kansas Public Radio; James Shortridge, University of Kansas; and Raymond Wilson, Fort Hays State...

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Sheriff’s Office to conduct sobriety checkpoint

A program to identify intoxicated drivers will be conducted by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office in the rural portion of the county in the late evening of Saturday Aug. 27 and early morning of Aug. 28. Drivers suspected of being intoxicated will be given brief sobriety tests and those drivers who are confirmed to be impaired will be arrested. Efforts will be made not to severely interrupt the flow of traffic.  Citizen’s patience and cooperation will assist with this important safety effort....

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County commissioners hear second quarter update on finances

Mark Taylor [email protected] Johnson County Commissioners reviewed the county’s second quarter interim financial report on Aug. 18. Perhaps the best news was that Johnson County’s unemployment rate was just more than half of the national rate at the close of the second quarter of 2011. Kevin Hiskey, deputy director of treasury and financial management, told commissioners the county’s second quarter interim financial report shows that local unemployment has decreased from about 6 percent the same time last year to 5.7 percent this year. The national unemployment rate has increased to 9.2 percent. But economic uncertainties continue to affect the county’s overall economic health. For example, Hiskey said new home sales remained stagnant across the nation during the first two quarters of 2011, and existing home sales increased decreased by about 8 percent from the same period last year. He added that the county’s major revenue sources – the bulk of which is property tax – are at 74 percent of budget at the end of the second quarter. “This is primarily due to the largest source of revenue, property tax, receiving its largest payments in the first two quarters,” Hiskey said. However, county revenues are $1.9 million less at mid-year in 2011 compared to the same time frame last year. Property tax itself is at 98 percent of budget at the end of the second quarter of 2011, yet...

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Annual Football contest to begin Aug. 31

The annual Gardner News Football Contest begins its 12-week run on Aug. 31. Football contest rules: the overall winner will receive $50, while runner up will be awarded $25. Weekly winners receive $10. Official entry blanks must be received in the office at 936B East Santa Fe, Gardner, or by mail at P.O. Box 303, Gardner, KS 66030, by 4:30 p.m. on Friday. All entries will be computed on the same basis, and the judge’s decision will be final. Each week, a new entry form will be published in The Gardner News. The 12 games will appear in a separate box. Simply select your winners and print them on the spaces provided. You must pick a score for the tiebreaker game. Only the official entry forms will be accepted. No copies or photo reproductions will be accepted. As usual, the contest will feature key games from the college and pro level each week. The tiebreaker will usually involved the GEHS Trailblazers or the Kansas City Chiefs. We invite everyone to join in the free contest. Be sure to get your entry in weekly. Missing a week is a sure way of eliminating yourself from the grand prize. Each week we will keep tabulations on how many correct predictions are made per person. At the end of the season, the person with the highest number of correct answers will win...

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Campaign bringing more troopers to the road

Beginning last week, the Kansas Highway Patrol and many other law enforcement agencies began participation in the Kansas Department of Transportation’s (KDOT) Special Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP), which runs from Aug. 18 through Labor Day, Sept. 5. Troopers will be enforcing Kansas’ impaired driving, occupant protection, and other laws. The KHP is among more than 130 law enforcement agencies across the state who will participate in the Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest. STEP campaign. In an effort to drastically reduce the number of preventable deaths and injuries that occur when alcohol is mixed with driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle, troopers across the state will be participating in saturation patrols and check lanes. It is illegal in Kansas to drive or attempt to operate a motor vehicle with a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Penalties for impaired driving include loss of driving privileges, fines, court costs, and possible jail time. The more severe consequences of drinking and driving include injuring or killing yourself, an occupant of your vehicle, or the occupants of another vehicle. The Patrol suggests taking the following precautions: • If you plan to drive, do not drink. • If you plan to drink, designate a non-drinking driver and give that person your keys. • Never ride with a driver who has been drinking. • Take a list of phone...

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Why is Europe obsessed with a central government?

Robert Romano Guest Columnist As the situation in Europe continues to unravel, with each concurrent intervention by central planners unable to stem the sovereign debt crisis, policymakers appear to be at a loss of what to do next — besides engage in yet more interventions. Not long after Europe had agreed on yet another bailout for creditors of the failing socialist state of Greece was the European Central Bank back at it. Next, they intervened in Spanish and Italian bonds — trying to hold back the floodgates that would lead to dissolution of the euro as a dominant world currency. To prevent such an outcome, leaders appear ready to pull out all of the stops — even if it threatens liberty and leads the end of sovereignty. “We want to state our absolute will to defend the euro,” said French President Nicolas Sarkozy after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris. Sarkozy called for a “true European economic government”. Uh oh. Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson recently outlined what that means for the fate of liberty across the pond: “Entire nations of Europe are being pillaged to cover the bad bets of the banks. And the ultimate sacrifice demanded is their national integrity, their national independence.” Thus far, the bailouts have not benefited any nation. Instead, they have helped each nation’s creditors: international financial institutions, and...

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SH School Board hires for bond projects

Mark Taylor [email protected] A variety of bond issue and construction-related business dominated the Spring Hill School Board’s Aug. 22 agenda. In separate actions, the board approved an architect contract with the DLR Group and a construction management contract with J.E. Dunn for $39 million in school construction and renovation work approved by voters in a June bond issue. The DLR Group’s contract consists of five phases of work with a fee based on a percentage of the construction manager’s estimate of the work. The architect’s fee will be 4.5 percent for a new elementary school, 6.75 percent for the Prairie Creek Elementary School addition and 6 percent of a planned ground source heat pump retrofit for Spring Hill Elementary and Spring Hill Middle School. J.E. Dunn’s construction management fee will be 2.25 percent for its scope of work. The board also reviewed updated budget figures and timeline for the construction projects, which include: • Expanding Prairie Creek Middle School to a capacity of  528 students in the fall of 2012, The work includes the addition of 19,944 square feet of new space and 7,541 square feet of remodeled space to the existing 52,000 square foot facility. The plans also include remodeling work on the teacher’s lounge, additional seating for the gymnasium, and a portable thrust stage for the auditorium. Closed circuit television monitoring is proposed for the vestibule in...

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Johnson County commission adopts 2012 Budget of $810.7million

It’s official. The FY 2012 Budget for Johnson County is approximately $810.7 million with no anticipated increase in the mill levy next year. Last week by unanimous vote, the Johnson County Board of Commissioners adopted the county’s fiscal year 2012 budget with an estimated mill levy set at 23.256 mills, the same as the existing mill levy, which traditionally is the lowest among the 105 counties in Kansas. The county has maintained a constant mill levy since 2007.  One mill equals $1 on every $1,000 of a homeowner’s assessed valuation. The final setting of the 2012 mill levy, however, will be established by the end of October with the 2012 property valuations by the Johnson County Department of Records and Tax Administration. By state law, the board must adopt the new budget each year by Aug. 25. “We are holding our own with no dramatic reduction in core public services, no layoffs, and no tax increases,” Chairman Ed Eilert said. “We have taken the necessary steps to address economic and budgetary challenges by balancing the county’s pressing needs with future financial projections, resulting in a fiscal year 2012 budget that’s fiscally prudent.” In crafting the new budget, the county, like many local governments in Johnson County, faced a balancing act of crafting a bottom line while dealing with the ongoing challenges of state and federal funding reductions, lower assessed...

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Construction to shut down 183rd Street until late October

Mark Taylor [email protected] Construction work started this week on 183rd Street between Moonlight Road and Center Streets. The work – which is expected to take about two months to complete – will replace pavement and add a 10-foot wide sidewalk along a section of the north side of 183rd Street. Mark Pottinger, engineering technician for the Gardner Public Works Department, said residents in subdivisions along 183rd Street will have back-road access to their neighborhoods and a few landlocked property owners will receive special accommodations to access 183rd Street during the construction process. For example, the Gardner Post Office’s 183rd Street access has been closed and access is available from Center Street. “Really, everybody that lives out there is going to have a different way (to access their neighborhoods,” Pottinger said. Detour signs will also direct east-west motorists to use Main Street for the duration of the construction. The project consists of full depth pavement reconstruction, a 2-inch asphalt overlay from Mulberry Street to Moonlight Road, and a 10-foot wide concrete sidewalk along 183rd Street between Center and Mulberry Streets. Pottinger said the new sidewalk will tie into the existing recreational trail that runs along the east side of Center Street. The city contracted O’Donnell and Sons Construction for the $562,203 project. The city will cover $235,536 of the total project cost from the Special Highway Fund. Remaining costs will...

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Mission administrator rumored to be in the running for Gardner job

Mark Taylor [email protected] Two websites in northern Johnson County are reporting that Mike Scanlon, current city administrator for the city of Mission, may be a front-runner for the vacant Gardner administrator post. The council is expected to name a new administrator by Sept. 6. Three committees — including Gardner City Council members, city staff, and citizens — interviewed the top three candidates for the post on Aug. 22. The new hire is expected to start work in October. Attempts to reach Scanlon for comment on Aug. 24 were unsuccessful. But according to savemission.net, a citizen group’s website, Scanlon recently confirmed that he had applied for the Gardner job but said he did not know whether he was among the top contenders. The Shawnee Mission Times first reported that Scanlon may be up for the Gardner job. The Gardner council has been searching for a new city administrator for since Stewart Fairburn left in March to take a job in Chickasha, Okla. UPDATE: (4:44 p.m.) Mayor Dave Drovetta has confirmed that Scanlon is a candidate for the...

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Scammers posing as sheriff’s deputies bilk local businesses

Mark Taylor [email protected] The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating reports of out-of-town scam artists posing as local sheriff’s deputies and bilking local business owners out of thousands of dollars. The scam has been going on for at least two years. According to Tom Erickson, spokesperson for the sheriff’s department, the culprits have mostly been preying upon restaurants. He said the scam artists usually call and ask to speak to the manager. “The caller tells the manager they are with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and one of their employees has been arrested and is in jail,” Erickson said. “The caller usually has the name, the reason for the arrest and a very good description of the person they claim to need bail money for. They then request the manager wire money to bond their employees out of jail.” Erickson said the culprits are believed to be out-of-towners because they request that the money be wired to a “specific place” outside the Johnson County area. That makes tracing the stolen money difficult, Erickson said. “With money wiring services, it is not always the easiest thing to track down who got the money in the end,” Erickson said. Erickson said business owners should be suspicious of anyone who calls on behalf of the sheriff’s office requesting bail money. He said the sheriff’s office “does not under any circumstances” request bond...

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OUR VIEW: SSI applications increase

If you doubt the economy is in trouble, pay attention to the commercials: pay day loans, title loans and attorney ads for tax relief, workers compensation or Social Security Disability. So it’s no surprise that the SSI fund is nearing insolvency, and that the waiting list of applicants for disability income has a backlog of two years. News reports indicate that as the unemployment rate has hovered around 9 percent – excluding those who have given up looking and the underemployed – the number of applicants for social security disability has  increased.  About two-thirds of original SSI applications are declined, but for those willing to reapply, or who hire an attorney, the average benefits are about $500 per month, plus any other government benefits a low income makes recipients eligible for – including Medicaid after a waiting period. Whereas Social Security benefits are paid to recipients based on pay-in from work, because SSI beneficiaries are considered to be disabled, pay-outs are from a different fund. And that fund is about insolvent. One school of thought is to transfer money from the Social Security retirement fund to shore up SSI. We think that is a bad idea. As a bubble of baby boomers edges closer to retirement age, Social Security will be doing well to fulfill promises it made to workers who paid in throughout their work career. Already the...

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Gardner council nears decision on new administrator

Danedri Thompson [email protected] Gardner may have a new leader soon. Gardner City Council members, with the help of a citizens group and a committee of city staff, interviewed three finalists for the city administrator job on Aug. 22. If all goes well, Mayor Dave Drovetta hopes the council will appoint a candidate as early as Sept. 6, who will be able to take the reins at city hall in early October. “I don’t know if that’s doable, but that’s the goal,” Drovetta said before an interview session on Monday evening. “It’s difficult to tell. We speak to the finalists tonight and what comes from that – there could be a desire for further interviews. If we get there tonight, great. “ Three groups interviewed three candidates to replace former city administrator Stewart Fairburn. Fairburn headed city operations for 10 years before accepting a similar position in Chickasha, Okla., last March. Each interview group – the council, a staff committee, and a citizens committee – will spend an hour with each candidate. At the end of the evening, committee members will make recommendations to the Mayor at the end of the night. Steve Shute, a Gardner resident who will sit on the citizen committee, said he hopes to ask the candidates what they think the optimal size of city staff should be to handle basic roles of the city. “I’d...

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