Archives for January 2010

Chanute Armory Transfer Date: Feb. 28

The Kansas National Guard armory building in Chanute is set to be handed over to the city on Feb. 28th. City leaders are still wrangling about what to do with the building once the Guard unit consolidates into Iola. Relocating the parks department and some of the street department or establishing a new south fire station are some of the options for the building. Other uses suggested include a business incubator or a storm shelter.

Charter Committee Recommends Six-Member Council + Mayor

The Charter Ordinance Committee reported to the Iola City Commission yesterday with their recommendation for a new form of government for the city. Last April city voters voted for a change in the present three member commission. The committee recommended that the city move to a Mayor/Council form of government with six commission memnbers and a mayor. The commission would be elected with one member each from the four wards and two commission members elected at large with the mayor also elected at large. The commissiion will now make a decision on what form to put in place by next year. The commission accepted the low bid for the renovation of the city library from General Services Corp of Oswego, Kansas. the bid was $648,000 and included several additions to the base bid. Mickey Davis, Project Administrator, told the commission that the 2007 flood buyout should be completed by the end of February. About 120 houses have been torn down since the project began.

Iola Library Remodel to Start Soon

The Library remodeling project is expected to cost 800-thousand dollars, and paid for with a combination of Community Development Block Grants form the state and federal governments and some money the library has in its reserve fund. The 11-month project will not make the library any larger, but officials say it may feel somewhat larger once the work is done. They’ll have 15-percent more space for books, DVD and other materials. There will also be a new public meeting room, which will be accessible from outside so it can be used outside normal library hours. The Commission will select a contractor today.

Hung Jury in Harmon Case

A Chanute man is free on bond, awaiting a retrial on sexual molestation charges after a jury was unable to convict him. Following eight hours of deliberation Friday, jurors told Judge Timothy Brazil they were unable to reach a verdict concerning the charges faced by Harold Harmon. He is accused of two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child under 14 in late 2007 and early 2008. Harmon’s alleged victims were 9 and 10 at the time. A hung jury means the case will be tried again. A date has not been set, but attorneys will be back in court in early March.

Jury to Deliberate Chanute Child Sex Case

A child sex abuse trial in Chanute enters the jury deliberation phase this morning. Harold Harmon is accused of two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child stemming from incidents between September 2007 and January 2008. His alleged victims were 9 and 10 years old at the time of the abuse. Testimony and arguments finished yesterday afternoon; jurors start their deliberations at 9am.

Reopening Montoy is Wrong, State Says

The state says reopening the long-dismissed school finance litigation would be the wrong move. In a filing to the state Supreme Court yesterday, Attorney General Steve Six said a new petition starting in District Court is the appropriate way for aggrieved districts to pursue their complaints about school finance. The original case, known as Montoy v. state of Kansas, pressured the Legislature to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into school finance in recent years. The litigation was supported by a coalition of school districts organized under the name Schools for Fair Funding. That coalition is rebuilding, and asked for the reopening of Montoy earlier this month.

Fredonia Plant on Short End of EPA Action

A Portland cement plant in Fredonia is one of three that will have to install millions of dollars in pollution-control equipment as a result of the first-ever settlement of a Clean Air Act claim against a Portland cement company. LaFarge North America’s plant in Fredonia, along with sister plants in Buffalo, Iowa and Sugar Creek, Missouri, will be required to install and implement an estimated total of $170 million in new air pollution control equipment.

Parents Bring School Budget Ideas to Board Table

Consolidation. Pay-to-Play. Enrollment Fees. All solutions offered by a group of parents in the Marmaton Valley school district as educators try to avoid classroom cuts. USD 256 board members sat down with 60 patrons for advice at a meeting this week. In the past year the district has lost 278-thousand dollars in state aid, and officials are worried about more. It might men the loss of wood shop, art and music, might have to be abandoned. Staff cuts and revised sports programs are on the table. As with most school districts, salaries are the bulk of expenses — 80 percent in Marmaton valley’s case.

The parent proposal for consolidation would not be a formal consolidation but a joining of the administrative team to oversee schools in Uniontown, Moran and Colony. That idea was defered to future talks…it’s a long process. Pay-to-play and enrollment fees would raise less than 20-percent of a single teacher’s annual salary. But even the presentation of that idea, school officials said, showed the level of community support the schools enjoy.

Schmidt Bill Would Enhance Prison Time for Drug Offenses Invovling Kids

Senator Derek Schmidt is sponsoring a bill that would set stricter sentences for those convicted of selling illegal drugs to pregnant women or in the presence of children. Schmidt’s bill would allow charges of aggravated child endangerment when children are permitted to be places where illegal drugs are available; enhanced prison terms for selling illegal drugs to children or pregnant women; and enhanced prison terms for selling drugs at any park or public recreation area. It was introduced yesterday.

Linnn County E911 Upgrades Sought

The Linn County Sheriff’s office will spend 146-thousand dollars in grant money out-of-date emergency equipment at the office. Sheriff Barry Walker says most of the equipment to be replaced with an E-911 grant is five to six years old and no longer fixable or supported. Walker said the generator has an intermittent problem where it runs at different voltages. He said the copier company will not fix the copier that burned out until the generator is fixed. He continued that the voice recorder is also failing and can’t be fixed. The grant covers about three-fourths of the cost, so the county will use 40-thousand dollars form its E-911 fund to make up the difference. The department is now applying for the state grant, which was awarded to all counties who applied last year.