Archives for April 2010

Making Iola Downtown More Walkable

Some interesting ideas have shown up for making downtown Iola more walkable. For instance, bulb-outs. An ugly name for a feature that’s not only safer but can be rather pretty. It simply means extending the curb line out from the sidewalk at a crosswalk, to the depth of a parked car on both sides of the street. That makes the crosswalks shorter and tends to slow traffic a little, making crossing safer. Because they give a little space for landscaping, the bulb-outs can be used as part of the overall beautification plan, which includes storefront benches, trees that would serve as ideal gathering points and sidewalk pavers that would create a durable, attractive walking surface. It’s still an idea at this point, presented last week at the Vision Iola update meeting.

ACC Endowment Fundraiser Saturday

The Allen Community College Endowment Association Dinner and Auction is this Saturday at the American Legion Building in Iola. The group says the silent Auction starts at 5:00, followed by dinner at 6:30 and the live auction at 8:00. Tickets are $12.50 per person and can be purchased at the door or by calling the Endowment Office. Auction items include KSU football tickets, Kansas Speedway tickets, KSU basketball signed by 2010 Elite Eight Team, KU basketball signed by 2010 team, Dale Earnhardt Jr. autographed photo and many other items donated by local and area businesses and individuals.

Marmaton Valley Board Readies Administrative Cut

One area school district is close to making administrative cuts as it prepares for the bad news from Topeka about next year’s school funding. Marmaton Valley has only three administrators, and board members have not decided which of the three will go. However, the plan is to eliminate the position of superintendent, and have the two building principals jointly handle superintendent duties. One would be designated the superintendent and the other would be the assistant, at least as far as the district’s org chart is concerned. Whether both principals will be retained or one will be let go to keep Superintendent Nancy Myer on board is a decision the board is holding off making. The board says it’s the only way they see to cut enough money from the budget to match what they’ll be getting form the state.

Blood Drive Today

Community Blood Center’s is holding a blod drive in Iola today from noon to 6 at the North Community Building. Officials with Community Blood Center, which supplies Allen County Hospital’s blood needs, say donations are always needed to keep the supply up. Blood donors must provide identification, be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Walk-ins are welcome.

Humboldt Student Count, State Aid Grows

The declining student trend that’s hurting Iola is helping Humboldt, where some new students moving into the district after school started are giving school board members a little cushion in the budget for the current year. By the time of the official count date last fall, Humboldt’s enrollment was 528 full-time students. The budget was built based on 495. That means the district will receive, in the form of those school-aid payments the state has deposited late the last six months, and extra 84-thousand dollars it had not budgeted for. Using that money requires a formal amendment to the budget, which has two months left. That amendment is to be published this week and ready for approval by the May board meeting or a special meeting before then.

School Budget Latest

When legislators return to Topeka in two weeks, USD 257 board members will be holding their breath just like other districts across the state, waiting on final budget decisions until the Legislature decides how badly the budget damage will affect schools. In Iola’s case, it’s somewhere between $330-thousand, which the district will lose through a combination of lower enrollment and increased costs. and just over 900-thousand dollars in a worst-case scenario. The district has lost 1.1-million dollars in state aid the past two school years.

Fire Interrupts USD 257 Board Meeting

The Iola USD 457 School Board meeting became a little more “heated” than usual this week. Superintendent Dr. Craig Neuenswander explained during his regular radio appearance yesterday morning:

Iolan Sought After High-Speed Chase

Area law enforcement agencies are on the lookout for a man who led Allen county authorities on a high-speed chase after they tried to apprehend him on a Neosho county warrant. 25-year old Garrett Cleaver is facing arrest on a charge he of involuntary manslaughter from a traffic accident in which a person was killed. When local officers raided his South Kentucky street home early Tuesday, he fled to his pickup truck and sped off, leading officers on a chase eventually called off near Elsmore due to excessive speed. Undersheriff Bryan Murphy says Cleaver’s truck is a black Dodge quad cab with a 30-day license tag. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is encouraged to call the sheriff’s office, 365-1400.

Area Unemployment Stats: Good, Bad News

Allen County’s unemployment picture improved from January to February, but like other area counties, is still worse than last year. County-by-county numbers from the Kansas Department of Labor show Allen, Neosho and Wilson counties all above the statewide average, and all improving from January to February. In Allen county, 7.6-percent of people were unemployed, down from 7.9-percent in January and up from 7.3-percent a year ago. In Neosho County, the jobless rate fell to 8.9 percent, down from 9 percent in January. It was 8.5 percent in February 2009. In Wilson county, the unemployment rate stood at 9.8 percent in February, down from 10.3 percent in January but up from 9.2 percent in February 2009. Statewide, the unemployment rate in February was 6.8 percent.

Chanute Saves Money on Pool Staffing

The Chanute Aquatic Center will cost somewhat bit less to run this year, after city commission members approve a new contract for pool management. Total costs in the contract are a bit over 147-thousand dollars, compared to the 216-thousand dollars they thought they’d have to spend. The reduced costs are in labor, the most expensive portion of the contract. By adjusting the original hours, which were to have been noon to 8pm daily, to start later and end earlier, the costs of the contract through August 15th were pared. The new hours will be 1pm to 7:30pm daily.