Count Allen Community College Trustees on the side of those who are less than enthusiastic about the tax abatement language contained in Iola’s Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. City officials presented the plan to trustees this week for their feedback. At least two trustees, Spencer Ambler and Larry Manes, expressed concerns. Ambler said, “if we keep extending and extending everyone is going to want in on it. There has got to be a stopping point.” He also felt the the expansion of the plan was not part of its original intent — a sentiment echoed by Manes, according to the Register. Areas in the plan receive a 10-year tax abatement for either new construction or improvements to their properties. They receive a 95 percent abatement for their taxes for the first six years of the program. That is decreased by 20 percent every year for the remaining four years.
Flu would not be considered widespread across Kansas yet, as the peak of the season typically isn’t for a few more weeks. Yet most of the members of the Chanute City Commission were out with the flu this Monday, forcing the regular meeting to be pushed to next week. Local health officials seized on the coincidence to offer flu-prevention tips for us all. Right at the top of the list: get your flu shot. It’s not too late, and in Neosho County shot clinics are held every Friday. In order to avoid the flu, health officials recommend developing good hand-washing techniques (20 seconds with soap in warm water), avoiding large crowds, sick people, and staying home if you feel sick.
We’ll get there, but it seems even as the deadline for merging EMS Services in Allen County and the City of Iola nears, bumps still develop in the process ever time it’s talked about. Case in point: the building where EMS is currently housed on North State Street. The county wants to rent that to the city, for what city commissioners admit is a nominal amount — $250 a month. Steve French threw a pebble into the gears at this week’s meeting, saying he could not support paying rent on the building, which is still needed after the merger, because he feels the city/county contract for the merger transfers ownership of the buildings owned by the county EMS to the city. Agreed, said Jon Wells, but he wanted to move ahead with renting the building in the interest of getting this particular piece of the process done. Bottom line, the council tabled the decision on one of the key structures to the function of the post-merger service for legal review.
The Register reports it will be first quarter before a wage and compensation study gets underway. The current pay scale was developed by former interim City Administrator Richard Chesney between April 2004 and Jan. 2005.
Hoped-for renovations to the Chanute Recreation Center are needed to bring it up to state fire standards. The rec center, in the former location of Chanute High School, did not meet state fire code standards and needs to install a sprinkler system and update its fire alarm system. The Chanute Tribune reports other concerns for CRC and CRDA members include cooling the building, which hosts after-school programs, youth and adult sports, summer camp programs, and a variety of other activities. An estimate of the necessary repairs and upgrades is to be presented to the CRC during tonight’s meeting. Money for the repairs would come from Chanute’s Capital Improvement II fund.
In an attempt to further investigate cross connections and other potential trouble spots within the city sanitary sewer system, the City of Parsons will begin dye testing the storm sewer inlets in several spots throughout the 13th Street Basin, which was smoke tested earlier this year. According to City Utilities Director Derek Clevenger, dye testing will be conducted at specific points along the 13th Street Drainage Basin, including in downtown Parsons beginning the week of December 16 and running through early January as weather permits. The entire process will take approximately two weeks. In addition to the smoke testing that was completed earlier this year in town, dye testing will help to determine if there are any other improper connections between the sanitary sewer and the storm water drainage system.
The third-highest administrator in the Kansas Bureau of Investigation no longer works at the agency, which declined to clarify the reason for his exi0t. Deputy director Kyle Smith “is no longer employed by the KBI,” spokesman Mark Malick said Monday. Malik would say no more, invoking privacy protections. The KBI’s human resources office issued a notice on Nov. 26 that Smith no longer worked at the agency.
An audit has found state agencies need to do a better job protecting sensitive information stored on their computer systems. The information technology audit found “chronic weaknesses” in several security controls, including weak passwords and software vulnerabilities. That has left several state agencies vulnerable to hackers gaining access to confidential data or breaches from within. Justin Stowe with the Legislative Post Audit Division tells the Lawrence Journal-World there has been little improvement in the past three years.
The audit evaluated the Department of Administration, Department for Aging and Disability Services, Department for Children and Families, the Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Attorney General, KBI, Highway Patrol and KPERS.
Investigators continue to look for the cause of a Friday night fire that destroyed a two-story house just east of Garnett. The fire was reported about 7:30pm Friday in the 27000 block of NE 1750th Road. The Anderson County Review reported the second floor collapsed about 830pm. The woman living in the house was not hurt, and is living with family temporarily.
Steve Woolf, a school superintendent in Neosho County, said his jaw hit the table when he learned that Gov. Sam Brownback was going to use welfare funds to pay for a reading program directed at grade-school students in southeast Kansas. Woolf, who leads the Erie-Galesburg school district, told the Lawrence Journal-World, “It is morally wrong.”
Brownback recently announced a plan to take $12 million from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program and use those federal dollars to try to raise fourth-grade reading scores. TANF funds are typically used to provide cash assistance to families in poverty. But the administration has said the reading program is an appropriate use of TANF funds because studies show girls who read at grade level are less likely to become unwed mothers, which is a goal of the TANF program as a strategy to reduce poverty.
Burned and smoky, but don’t count them out. The owner of the Colony Diner posted on the Anderson County Review’s Facebook page that the convenience store received mostly smoke and water damage and she intends to reopen that part of the business as early as sometime next week. The cause of a fire that severely damaged the restaurant and food store remains under investigation. Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office went over the remains of the Colony Diner and Convenience Store, and the neighboring Colony Foods Wednesday. So far, they have not released their findings.