August 27, 2014

Year 2011 in review

By late January of 2011, Gardner snow totals were six inches above average. Gardner was at 26 inches accumulation by the end of January. A major snowstorm shuttered much of the community. File photo

Edgerton’s city admin David Dillner resigns

Edgerton’s first City Administrator David Dillner tendered his resignation to Mayor Don Roberts at the end of January 2011. Dillner accepted a job as assistant city administrator in Abilene, Kan.
“I leave with mixed feelings,” Dillner said. “Edgerton has a lot going for it and is moving forward. I don’t really want to leave it, but I see this as an opportunity to get different experiences and face different challenges.”
Edgerton Mayor Don Roberts said Dillner was instrumental in helping the city prepare for the arrival of the intermodal.
“We could not have come this far without a city administrator,” Roberts said. “We have set Edgerton on a path that should be very prosperous, and that should continue into the coming years.”

GE district patrons receive surprise tax increase

Property tax bills for Gardner Edgerton School District patrons were higher than advertised thanks to faulty projections school officials received from the county in the summer of 2010.
Instead of a 1 mill increase, projected by the district when it passed its budget in August 2010, GE residents received tax bills that showed a 3 mill increase.
School districts are required to build and approve a budget for the following year each August. To do so, Eric Hansen, USD 231 Business Director, said he used assessed valuation projections to build a budget with a projected 1 mill increase for 2011.
At the time, he said because the value of the average property decreased between 2009 and 2010, the average homeowner would pay less in 2011 – even with a 1 mill increase.

Edgerton names Mike Press as interim city admin

Mayor Don Roberts announced on Thursday that Mike Press has been hired as Edgerton’s interim city administrator.
Press, who currently serves the city as a consultant, replaces outgoing City Administrator David Dillner, who has resigned his position to accept a job as city manager of Abilene, Kan. Dillner’s last day as Edgerton city administrator was Feb. 7, 2011.

County Charter Commission convenes in 2011

The 2011 Johnson County Charter Review Committee met for the first time in February 2011. The 25 member appointed board was created to examine the county’s home rule charter and make recommendations for possible changes to the document.
Don Jarrett, attorney for the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, said the committee will wrestle with a variety of issues as they review the document which created the county’s form of government.
The charter document was drafted in 1999 and approved by voters in 2001. The charter created the existing seven member board of commissioners – the largest in the state.
“We have the most advanced and we’re much more complex than most cities,” he told the group of 25.
The charter also includes a provision that required a review in 10 years.
The 25 members were appointed by Johnson County legislators, the county Republican and Democrat parties, commissioners themselves and from the council of mayors. Among them are nine attorneys, at least one medical doctor and six women. The group includes one rural, Gardner resident – Glenn Bonar – and no Edgerton, Spring Hill or De Soto residents.
The group has one year to review the charter and make recommendations to commissioners.

Gardner City Administrator Stewart Fairburn resigns

City Administrator Stewart Fairburn tendered his resignation with the city of Gardner on Feb. 8. Fairburn took a job as Chickasaw, Okla., city administrator. His final day with the city of Gardner was March 7.
Gardner Mayor David Drovetta, said the governing body would begin the process of searching for a replacement; however, the mayor said that he believes they will wait to hire someone until the new council is seated following the April’s election.
Drovetta expected to utilize a search firm to locate the next city administrator.
“I’m hoping to be able to I.D.. a search firm soon so that we can get that process started and get candidates identified,” Drovetta explained.  “Any candidate that we will interview will want to wait to interview with the most current government.”

Rep. Kiegerl suffers stroke during legislative session

Rep. Mike Kiegerl is in a Topeka hospital after suffering a mini-stroke at the close of the legislative session on yesterday.
“They’re telling me I’m going to be OK,” Kiegerl said.
Kiegerl, who represents Gardner, Edgerton and parts of Spring Hill and Olathe in the state legislature, said he wasn’t feeling well Feb. 14 as the day’s session was drawing to a close.
He turned to Rep. TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City, to tell her he wasn’t feeling well and that he was going to head home to Olathe.
Gregory got a doctor, and Kiegerl was rushed to a Topeka hospital.
“Initially, it was just slurring speech, but then it progressed,” Kiegerl said. “My left arm was numb.”
Gregory said Kiegerl’s mind remains “clear and alert.” Despite continued slurred speech, he participated in some committee work on Feb. 15 via telephone.
“I have not lost my mental faculties,” he said. “But I’ve lost my ability to express myself.”

Property valuations decline in Gardner, Edgerton, SH

When property valuations were mailed in early March, approximately 75 percent of the homes in Johnson County were worth the same or less than they were in 2010.
More than 50 percent of homes lost value, while the assessed values of more than 24 percent of homes in the county remained stagnant.
On average, Gardner, Edgerton and Spring Hill communities showed lower home values, according to the county report.
In Gardner, the average property value declined by 3.8 percent. In Edgerton, the average home value dropped 3.3 percent; and in Spring Hill, the average home value declined by 2.5 percent.

Gardner City Council candidates introduced

Candidates for Gardner City Council formally introduced themselves to members of the public during a forum sponsored by the Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce in late February.
Candidates included Dennis Pugh, Jared Taylor, Chris Morrow, Jeff Barber, Dustin “Duck” Martin, Larry Fotovich, Bill Sutton and Tory Roberts. The candidates vied for three council seats up for grabs in an April 5 election.

Douglas County arrests Edgerton man on rape charges

An Edgerton man remains jailed in Douglas County on charges of child rape, indecent liberties with a child and lewd and lascivious behavior.
The 45-year-old was arrested by the Douglas County Sheriff’s department on Saturday, Feb. 5 after a lengthy investigation.  The department received the initial complaint on Nov. 13, 2010 three days following the most recent attack.
In all, the suspect faces seven charges including two counts of rape of a child, three counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior.

Recall Committee files late campaign finance report

The Gardner Recall Committee filed a detailed campaign finance report on Feb. 25, following a request from the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office.
Steve Howe, Johnson County District Attorney, said his office sent a request for the campaign finance report after a complaint was filed in January.
“Now we’re doing a further review to determine if that report complies with the statutory requirements,” Howe said.
According to Gardner Recall Committee’s campaign finance report, the group received more than $1,800 in anonymous donations from 24 different sources.

USD 231 asks Gardner to finance infrastructure for school bond issue

USD 231 officials requested that members of the council commit to partially fund an extension to Grand Street and sewer system upgrades for two new schools in the middle of town. According to school officials, the estimated cost to the city would be approximately $3.5 million.
Typically, developers pay to build roads related to their projects and then dedicate the new streets to the city. However, USD 231 Superintendent Bill Gilhaus said the school district is not a developer. That’s one reason school officials are asking for the city’s help.

In March, the DeForest family of Gardner was selected from more than 2,000 applicants to participate in a metro-wide Price Chopper get fit competition. The winning family received $1,000 in groceries and an all-expense paid cruise. The DeForests didn’t win the grand prize, but they made healthy lifestyle changes as part of the 12-week contest. File photo

Council agrees to hire consultants for admin search

Hiring a new city administrator will be challenging. That’s the word from a Gardner City Council member Steve Hale and Mayor Dave Drovetta.
The council selected members Kristina Harrison and Brian Broxterman to assist Drovetta in hiring a consulting firm to search for a new administrator during a meeting March 21.
Drovetta said the city administrator position is one of two city jobs that requires residency.
“That makes recruitment somewhat challenging,” Drovetta said.
Three consulting firms have offered to assist the city in its search, and Harrison, Broxterman and Drovetta will decide which company to use and at what cost.

Property owner fights USD 231 over eminent domain

Three court-appointed appraisers will determine the value of land USD 231 wants to purchase.
The school district and the owner of property near Waverly Pointe subdivision will make their cases during a hearing on April 1. Appraisers will then determine the land’s fair market value no later than April 12. The hearing is part of eminent domain proceedings that could eventually see the district condemn and take the property.
According to Bill Miller, USD 231 Director of Operations, the district wants the land between Gardner Edgerton High School and Waverly Pointe for additional parking and athletic practice fields, however owners of the property believe the land is worth more than what school officials are offering.
Appraisers for the district have valued the land, but they did not take into consideration an earlier offer-to-purchase worth more.

Two candidates vie for open school board seat

Two candidates will face off for a seat on the Gardner School Board on April 5 when incumbent Mary Herbert will face newcomer Clint Newell to retain her seat on the board.

Edgerton experiences mini-business boom

A mini-business boom may be sweeping through Edgerton; a drive down Nelson Street confirms that storefronts are filling up.
Within the past four months three new businesses, Body Well Therapeutic Massage, Easy Double E restaurant and Engraving Services and Crafts have all chosen to call the downtown area located on Nelson Street home, said Janiece Rawles, interim city clerk for the City of Edgerton.  She said that, within the last year other businesses including Home Readers, a non-profit organization providing catalogue, cookbook, magazine and books on audio tape for the blind, moved from the owner’s home to their location on Nelson.

Businessman Ryan Williams recently purchased two buildings, 310 and 312 East Nelson Street, located at the west end of the business district.  Currently Williams is working to renovate the buildings, formerly a plastics plant, but he plans to create at least one or two new businesses, most likely dealing with recycling services, within the next year-or-so.  He believes that his investment will payoff when the Intermodal opens for business.

School operations director leaves before contract ends; district hires new director

USD 231 hired Gary Diener as the new Director of Operations. Diener replaced outgoing director Bill Miller. Miller’s contract was set to expire at the end of June, but was released from his contract early.
Diener began his duties at the district on March 31.

New council members in Gardner, Edgerton, Spring Hill elected

Three newcomers earned seats on Gardner’s council – Chris Morrow, Dennis Pugh and Larry Fotovich. The three will replace Todd Winters, Steve Hale and Dan Newburg on the Gardner council, if numbers hold when official numbers are tallied on April 11.  Morrow received 18 percent of the votes; Dennis Pugh followed with 16 percent; and Fotovich received 13 percent.
In Edgerton, former mayor Frances Cross will replace Ken Gillespie on the council. She’ll join incumbents Jody Brown and Clay Longanecker, who retained seats on the governing body.
Incumbent Darrell Beck, narrowly lost his seat on the council in Spring Hill, and two newcomers earned seats. Beck’s 99 votes fell three votes shy of the third-place finisher Floyd Koder’s 102 votes. Steven Ellis, an incumbent, earned 151 votes, and newcomer H. Clint Gillis, Jr., took 143 votes.

Incumbents retain seats on GE school board

Mary Herbert will retain her seat on the Gardner Edgerton Board of Education. She boasted 838 votes to newcomer Clint Newell’s 675. Other incumbents to the board include Tim Rayburn, Mark Grannell, and James Repshire.

Police arrest Gardner man after 7-hour stand-off

Police arrested Corey Christopher Lane, 23, after a seven hour stand-off in Gardner on April 7. He was charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated battery/intentional harm following a stand-off in the 100 block of N. Cedar Street.
Police responded to a domestic disturbance at a residence there on April 7.
Police tried to negotiate with the man for nearly seven hours but could not make contact with him.
After using a robot, camera, pepper spray and thermal imagine equipment, police found Lane hiding in the attic of the duplex.

Gardner council passes new property codes

Twenty-one pages of updated codes will replace what was once a one-page, single-sided Gardner ordinance on property codes and enforcement.
The new code includes everything from right of entry for properties with suspected violations for city employees to the use of barbeque grills.
For example, the new code reads, “Any public officer shall be allowed to enter onto any land within the city limits to investigate or abate violations of this Title.”
Violations include:
•inoperable vehicles
• not shoveling ice and snow within 48 hours of a snow storm
• excessive accumulation of animal waste
• loose or rotting shingles
• chipped paint
• cracked windowpanes
• missing boards on outbuildings or garages
• buckling fences
• accumulation of trash debris
Those found in violation could be fined or have liens placed on their property.

Two Edgerton roads permanently shuttered

The City of Edgerton has announced upcoming road closures related to the construction of the BNSF Intermodal Facility.
Edgerton City Superintendent Mike Mabrey released a statement notifying the public of the city’s intent to close 183rd Street between U.S. 56 Highway and Waverly Road, Four Corners Road between U.S. 56 Highway and 191st Street and 191st Street between U.S. 56 Highway and Four Corners Road. The changes took effect April 15.
According to Mabrey, two of the three closures are permanent and the property will be turned over to BNSF.  Both 183rd and 191st Streets are not expected to reopen, however he said he expected Edgerton to retain the rights to Four Corners Road to use in the future.

Congressman Yoder tours Coleman warehouse

Congressman Kevin Yoder breezed through Gardner Monday morning to join city officials including Mayor Dave Drovetta, council members-elect Larry Fotovich, Dennis Pugh and Chris Morrow; and assistant city administrator Melissa Mundt, on a tour of the Coleman warehouse.
Members of the press were not allowed to take part in the tour at the behest of Coleman officials, according to a staff member in Yoder’s Washington, D.C. office.
“We’re out here today to see development in the community,” Yoder said in a meeting with The Gardner News following the tour. “Coleman is an exciting place and it shows the kinds of development that will be critical to the future of Gardner and Edgerton.”

Former Edgerton Council member Larrick dies

Earnest “Ernie” Larrick is being remembered by Edgerton residents as a caring leader who helped pave the way for Edgerton’s future growth.
Larrick, 60, passed away unexpectedly on May 1.
He was an active member of the Edgerton community, especially in the 1980s when he spent the majority of the decade as a mayor and a city council member.

Topless woman arrested at Austin’s restaurant

A Gardner woman has been charged with child endangerment after leaving a 9-month-old infant in her car and attempting to enter a local restaurant topless.
Kristin R. Macias, 28, was taken into custody May 10 after persons in the restaurant spotted the shirtless woman in the parking lot and stopped her from entering Austins Bar and Grill, 245 N. Moonlight Rd., according to witness accounts.

Edgerton council hires new city administrator

The Edgerton City Council hired Elizabeth “Beth” Linn as city administrator on May 26.
Linn, who was one of nearly 60 persons who applied for the job, previously worked as
director of community development for the city of Raytown. She also worked as neighborhood services manager for the city of Merriam.

Allen Group gets first intermodal tenant

The Allen Group has its first tenant in its yet-to-be-constructed logistics park adjacent to the BNSF intermodal site near Edgerton. The DeLong Company, an exporter of containerized grain, closed on the purchase of an 8.7 acre site June 3.
“We’re excited to be a part of the new development with BNSF and The Allen Group – even though it’s still a year and a half out,” David DeLong, President of the DeLong Company, said.

Travis Conley, 27, formerly of Spring Hill, represented the United States in the World Grappling Competition in Belgrade, Serbia in Aug. File photo

Royals draft Gardner Edgerton baseball standout Bubba Starling in 1st round

The Kansas City Royals selected Gardner Edgerton High School outfielder Bubba Starling in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft on June 6 leaving the 18- year-old with a decision: Keep his verbal commitment to play baseball and football at the University of Nebraska or sign with the hometown professional baseball team.

Gardner Council meeting dissolves into argument

Gardner City Council didn’t officially adjourn following official action on June 20.
Instead, the quorum necessary to do business dissolved when 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.

Neighborhood horse Blazer must find new home

The saga of Blazer the pony has quietly come to an end following a unanimous decision by the Gardner Planning Commission during a June meeting.

Flower Souter offers Blazer the horse a treat. In May, the family was forced to fight to keep their miniature pony in a Gardner subdivision. The family lost and Blazer was forced to find a new home. File photo

The miniature horse’s owners must find a new home for their pet.

Community mourns loss of entrepreneur, volunteer

Bill Bond is being remembered by friends, business associates and colleagues for years of civic and business contributions to the Gardner community.
Bond, 76, a pharmacist, entrepreneur and community volunteer, passed away in early August at his Gardner home.

Starling inks last minute deal to become a KC Royal

Gardner Edgerton High School standout Bubba Starling reached a late-night deal on Aug. 15 to become a Kansas City Royal.
The action ended months of speculation across the nation of whether Starling would join the Royals right out of high school – he graduated from GEHS in May – or play football and baseball at the University of Nebraska.
Starling’s deal with the Royals is said to be worth about $7.5 million over three years.

Gardner council interviews finalists for admin job

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

Redistricting committee begins process with townhalls

A joint House/Senate committee is halfway through a 14-community town hall tour to gather input from citizens before drawing new representative districts for Congress, the Kansas House and Senate and Kansas Board of Education.
The committee made its presentation and took public comments during a Sept. 2 public hearing at Johnson County Community College.

Gardner council places administrator search on hold

Gardner’s city administrator search is on hold, Mayor Dave Drovetta announced in a letter to the community Sept. 14. According to the letter, two of the top three candidates for the position withdrew from the city’s hiring search.
“Based on the process agreed to by the City Council, candidates for the position were told that their interest would be held in confidence and they would be informed well in advance of making their names public. This assurance of confidentiality was broken, forcing the candidates to notify their organizations and governing bodies sooner than necessary and without adequate time to prepare,” Drovetta wrote.

Planning Commission tables discussions on city plan update

Gardner Planning Commissioners will table further discussions about updating the city’s comprehensive plan until after the new year.
“I would hesitate to go too much further without public involvement,” Amy Kynard, city planner, said.
In August, commissioners discussed incorporating the existing city-adopted plans and studies, including the Main Street Corridor Plan and Park System Master Plan and the U.S. 56 Corridor Management Plan into the comprehensive plan.

Gardner council fast tracks utility management committee

Council members hashed out the purpose of committee that will study a potential public-private partnership to lease Gardner’s utilities during a meeting Oct. 3.
Council member Chris Morrow is charged with leading the committee, but told council members he’s had little success getting the committee off the ground. Morrow said he’s had ongoing discussions with interim-city administrator Melissa Mundt about the committee.
“I don’t think we’re understanding each other very well,” he said.
Council members reached a consensus to create an ad-hoc committee of Gardner citizens to study the issue on Aug. 3.

Gardner man charged after five hour standoff
A 27-year-old Gardner man was charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors in connection with a five-hour standoff Oct. 4 in the 700 block of East Lincoln Lane.
According to court records, Shane Anthony Tucker was charged with two felony counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, felony and misdemeanor counts of criminal damage to property, and a misdemeanor count of domestic battery.

Gardner council work session ends in argument

The Gardner City Council’s Oct. 10 work session ended with an argument between Mayor Dave Drovetta and Councilman Larry Fotovich over a perceived $4,500 billing discrepancy for the consulting firm the city hired to assist in the search for a new city administrator.
The Gardner News reported last week that the city paid Springsted Incorporated $4,500 beyond its $11,000 base fee for its services in the candidate search, which was put on hold by Drovetta last month.
Fotovich requested an itemized bill for the additional charges, which Melissa Mundt, interim city administrator, provided at the end of the Oct. 10 work session.

DA investigating possible Gardner KOMA violations

The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office is investigating members of the Gardner City Council and Mayor for at least two separate Kansas Open Meetings Act violations.
A spokesperson for the DA declined to comment about any specifics of the investigation including who filed the complaint, which council members are under investigation and when the investigation will be complete.

Charter Commission passes on partisan elections

Johnson County will continue to have non-partisan elections. Members of the county charter commission voted, 9-14, against recommending a return to partisan elections.

Council discussion on videotaping reaches boiling point

Debate on whether to video tape council meetings hit a boiling point on Monday night. Council member Dennis Pugh stood up, telling council member Larry Fotovich to shut up.
Fotovich said if meetings were videotaped, council meetings would end better, because the public was watching.
“I’d drag you into the back room and beat the shit out of you,” Pugh said before exiting council chambers. The remaining council members and handful of audience members could hear doors slamming as Pugh exited the building.

Pugh asked to resign following allegations he assaulted another council member

Councilman Chris Morrow is calling on Mayor Dave Drovetta and Councilman Dennis Pugh to resign following an argument that started during Monday night’s council meeting escalated into an altercation in front of Councilman Larry Fotovich’s house.
Pugh allegedly followed Fotovich home after the meeting and accosted him.
“Considering the ongoing intimidation tactics that seem to be employed by the mayor and most recently Dennis Pugh, first at council meetings and now following people to their homes in hopes of intimidating elected officials, I have to ask Councilman Pugh and Mayor Drovetta to resign,” Morrow told The Gardner News.

Pugh, Fotovich altercation in District Attorney’s hands

The investigation into what occurred between council members Dennis Pugh and Larry Fotovich at Fotovich’s home following the Nov. 21 council meeting is in the hands of the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office.
That’s the word from the Gardner Police Department. Police officials say they’ve turned all evidence, including a video recording and police reports, to the DA’s Office.
Police and officials from the district attorney’s office aren’t commenting on what evidence they were able to retrieve from the tape.

Pugh will not resign

Council member Dennis Pugh doesn’t plan to resign, at least that’s the word from two emails Pugh sent after a council meeting last Monday.
“I will gladly tender my resignation right behind the resignation of Mr. Fotovich,” Pugh wrote in an email to council member Chris Morrow. Morrow asked for Pugh’s resignation following last week’s council meeting.

Pugh resigns after charges filed for battery

The Gardner City Council was one member short on Monday night.
Mayor Dave Drovetta announced he had accepted the resignation of Dennis Pugh.
In a brief resignation letter, dated Friday, Dec. 2, Pugh withdrew from office, effective immediately.
“I wish you and the magnificent city staff all the best,” Pugh wrote. “Please know that I did not come to this decision lightly, and this is the best course of action for our city to move forward.”

Long time Edgerton resident, leader passes away

Mike Schmidt, one of the most influential members of the Edgerton community over the past 35 years, passed away last weekend in San Rafael, Calif., where he had lived for a year-and-a-half.
Schmidt lost a year-long battle with lung cancer.
Friends and colleagues remember Schmidt as a tireless worker who had a strong sense of humor.

Gardner Elementary School Principal Pam Tate was named the Kansas Distinguished Principal of the Year for 2012 in December. File photo

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