Author: mtaylor

School board approves construction management agreement

Mark Taylor [email protected] Following a brief discussion on the legality of hiring a construction manager without taking bids, the Gardner Edgerton School Board adopted a resolution to put a $72.790 million bond issue on a 2012 ballot. Patron Bill Sutton, Gardner, expressed concern about the board’s hiring of Manning Construction to oversee the bond projects without first soliciting bids from other companies. Superintendent Bill Gilhaus told Sutton that state statute does not require competitive bids for “services” like construction managers. He said the district instead compared fees with what other districts paid for construction managers in recent months and negotiated a fee with Manning on the “low end” of the spectrum. The board approved a 5.3 construction management fee with Manning compared with an average 6.5 percent fee paid by other districts for construction management...

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Judge rules in favor of BNSF in environmental suit

Mark Taylor [email protected] A federal judge has ruled against an environmental group that filed suit against BNSF last year claiming the intermodal development near Edgerton posed regional environmental hazards. Skip Kalb, director of strategic development for the railroad, told members of the Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce and the Southwest Johnson County EDC on June 29 the ruling was handed down the previous evening. Kalb, keynote speaker for the chamber’s and EDC’s annual Business Appreciation Luncheon, said the judge’s 20-page decision disputed complaints in a federal lawsuit filed in 2010 by Hillsdale Environmental Loss Protection, Inc. (HELP). “We are very pleased (with the ruling),” said, Kalb, who added that BNSF has gone to great lengths to make the project fuel efficient and to minimize environmental impacts. HELP, along with the Kansas Natural Resource Council (KNRC) and five individuals, sued BNSF and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over what they claimed was an inefficient environmental study for the 1,000-acre development. The plaintiffs said the development would have a significant environmental impact on local and regional air and water quality. The lawsuit contended that the Corps of Engineer’s Environmental Assessment – which found no significant environmental impact posed by the development – relied too heavily on data provided by BNSF. The plaintiffs called for a more intensive Environmental Impact Statement and Health Risk assessment for the development. When contacted for...

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Former Merriam Court Clerk charged with embezzlement

A former municipal court clerk for the city of Merriam has been charged with felony embezzlement, according to the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office.  Steve Howe, district attorney, said Fabiola Ester Cruz, 35, was charged on June 27 with four counts of felony computer crime and one count of felony theft over $100,000.  Cruz was arrested after an investigation by the Merriam Police Department.  Cruz remains jailed on a $100,000...

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New driver’s license bureau opens at Great Mall

TOPEKA – Kansas Department of Revenue opened its newest driver’s license bureau June 28 in Olathe’s Great Mall of the Great Plains. The new bureau includes an express lane for drivers who just need to renew their licenses, more stations and the more secure photo first process where drivers will only need to stand in one line to get their license. “This new space not only includes several user friendly features, it will allow the department to expand in the future and meet the growing needs of the south Johnson County community,” said Donna Shelite, director of vehicles. The bureau replaces the department’s old driver’s license bureau on Ridgeview Road, where it had been for 15 years. The Olathe bureau has become the state’s third busiest serving up to 500 people a day during peak times. The need had outgrown the old space, sometimes resulting in lines stretching out the office doors and people standing outside on hot days. The new space inside the Great Mall will allow people to wait in more comfort. They will even be able to enjoy a snack at the mall’s food court while monitoring the line’s progress thanks to an electronic sign which will show what number is being served. Those applying for a commercial or motorcycle driver’s license will also be able to take their driving tests onsite starting in mid-July. “We...

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Minor injuries sustained in apartment fire

Mark Taylor [email protected] One person was treated and released at an area hospital for minor burns after a fire at Moonlight Apartments in Gardner. The fire – which was reported at about 1:35 p.m. on June 15 – was contained to one unit in building 23 at 400 S. Moonlight Rd. The blaze was brought under control in about 10 minutes. Rob Kirk, deputy chief of Johnson County Fire District No. 1, said damage to the apartment was minimal due to a sprinkler system in the building. “That saved some pretty substantial damage from occurring,” Kirk said. Kirk said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, but may be due to careless smoking....

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Brief power outage affects part of Gardner

Some Gardner customers experienced a brief power outage about 7:50 a.m. on June 15. According to Gardner Electric, the outage happened when employees were inspecting and repairing equipment damaged during recent vandalism. During the work, a relay failed and a substation transformer tripped off line, causing a three minute outage to part of the city. Vandals damaged electronic equipment that controls one of the substation transformers at the Santa Fe Sub during a break-in on May...

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Car strikes building, driver unhurt

Mark Taylor [email protected] An elderly man escaped injury after driving his car into an unoccupied building at New Century AirCenter this morning. Tom Erickson, public information officer for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, said the man, who had a medical condition, missed a turn and struck the building. The driver was uninjured and the building sustained little damage, Erickson said. The man’s name was not available at press time....

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Winds overturn tractor-trailer, driver uninjured

Mark Taylor [email protected] An Atchison man escaped injury late last night when 70 mph winds overturned his tractor-trailer in Gardner. According to Ilena Spalding, public information officer for the Gardner Police Department, 50-year-old Barrie Charlsen was driving the tractor-trailer at 11:55 p.m. on westbound U.S. 56 Highway and was merging onto the northbound ramp at New Century Parkway when powerful winds overturned the rig. Spalding said winds clocked at 70 mph with gusts up to 90 mph lifted the empty trailer off the ground and turned the truck sideways, causing it to overturn in the ditch. “There was evidence on the pavement that the driver was struggling to keep the tractor-trailer on the road,” Spalding said. Charlsen, who was wearing a seatbelt, was uninjured. The tractor-trailer was heavily damaged and towed from the scene. Spalding said the only other known damage from the storm was downed tree limbs. No structural damage or downed powerlines were reported....

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Spring Hill school bond issue passes

Mark Taylor [email protected] Voters in the Spring Hill School District approved a mail ballot bond issue by a vote of 1,717 to 1,375 on June 7. The $39 million bond issue will pay for maintenance, school additions, new schools and technology upgrades. The election results are unofficial until certified later in the week by Johnson County election officials. “We are very, very pleased with the results,” said Superintendent Bart Goering. “It is going to mean a great deal for the kids in the district and the community as a whole.” The bond issue, which school officials say will not require an increase in the property tax mill levy, includes several improvements to accommodate a growing enrollment, including: Expanding Prairie Creek Elementary School to a capacity of 528 students in the fall of 2012. A new 528-student elementary school on the existing 155-acre high school site, expected to be completed in the fall of 2013. Transforming Spring Hill Elementary into a pre-kindergarten to fifth grade facility in the fall of 2013. Converting the current intermediate school into a sixth grade building by fall of 2013. The bond issue will also pay for safety enhancements in all schools, district-wide technology upgrades and various maintenance projects. School officials say the improvements are necessary to meet the demand for classroom space as the district grows by more than 100 students per year. School...

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