Archives for January 2014

Summer Roadwork Outlined

At times this summer, highways 54 and 169 at the east edge of Iola will be a busy place. KDTO Engineer Darrin Petrowsky told Allen County commissioners this week work to rebuild U.S. 54 from Iola to the east edge of La-Harpe would resume in early April, “sooner if the weather looks like it’s going to be cooperative.” Work remaining on the highway is the bridge over Rock Creek, half a mile east of Iola, and the roadway through Gas. Meanwhile, the Register reports, a major rebuild of U.S. 169 will start about June 1. That will entail milling four inches of concrete paving from 1.3 miles south of U.S. 54 to south of Welda, in Anderson County. Pavement removed will be replaced with seven inches of asphalt overlay along with a three-inch overlay of shoulders.

Wx Lead

A little bit of a mess on tap weather wise today and tomorrow, as a pair of storm systems separated by about half a day bring freezing rain and other wintry weather to our region. The first system is passing overhead this morning, and bringing freezing drizzle in places as well as some snow to our northwest. A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 3 THIS AFTERNOON. The freezing drizzle may at times be  mixed with or change to snow, with the net result being a light coating of ice that makes roads and untreated sidewalks hazardous.  If you’re traveling, this system is expected to bring about an inche of snow along the I-70 corridor, with more expcted further north in Kansas and Missouri.

The second system, to come through tonight into tomorrow morning, is the stronger of the two.  ANOTHER ROUND OF SNOW WILL AFFECT CENTRAL KANSAS WITH AN ADDITIONAL 1 TO 3 INCHES POSSIBLE. MEANWHILE…SOUTHERN KANSAS WILL SEE A MIXTURE OF LIGHT FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET OR IT COULD BE ANOTHER ROUND OF FREEZING DRIZZLE. THE KEY WILL BE IF ICE CRYSTALS WILL BE PRESENT in the mid levels of the atmosphere, and even 12 hours out, that’s impossible to know for any one location. EITHER WAY A MESSY WINTER WEATHER EVENT IS ANTICIPATED TO AFFECT THE ENTIRE REGION THIS PERIOD. THE COLD BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES WILL PERSIST THROUGH THE WEEKEND AS THE POLAR AIRMASS REMAINS LOCKED IN ACROSS THE HEARTLAND. 

Looking ahead, more winter precipitation may come around mid-week and toward next weekend.

Concrete Bill

A bill designating some machinery used in cement and lime manufacturing as personal property rather than real property for appraisal purposes could force some southeast Kansas entities, particularly those in Neosho County, to pay back some of the taxes they’ve collected. In Neosho County’s case, it would total more than $7.5 million. Neosho County Appraiser David Thornton says House Bill 2456 would reduce the overall appraised valuation of Ash Grove by almost 40-million dollars. It would be retroactive to December 31st of 2012, forcing the refund for the county and other entities levying taxes based on that value.

The industrial machinery owned by Ash Grove was reclassified as real property during Neosho County’s 2012 appraisal of the Chanute cement manufacturer. That appraisal, performed by independent contractor Hadco International, added more than 107-million dollars in real property value and nearly 86-million dollars in total property value to Ash Grove from 2011 to 2012, moving 18-million dollars from personal to real property.

According to Thornton, if local levies remain at current levels, USD 413 would be impacted the most if the legislation passes. Chanute schools would have to refund a total of  more than 2-million dollars. The county would refund about 8-thousand dollars less than the school district, and other entities would refund the remaining 3-million dollars.

Bus Security

Iola school buses will receive a security upgrade. Monday night USD 257 board of education members heard bids for adding security cameras in all of the district buses. Scott Stanley, director of operations, said adding cameras would benefit the district. Multi-camera systems would have a technology upgrade. It would be easier to review the tapes if needed and it would come with GPS. The Register reports board members agreed that all the buses should have cameras but the question is when they should be installed.  The members decided to purchase and install three systems for buses this year. Each bus will have four cameras. During the summer the rest of the buses will be equipped. It will cost $12,713 to equip the 10 school buses with this technology for the first year.

Anderson County Tax Sale

Anderson County will have a tax sale on March 24th. It’s the first time in a decade or so. The Anderson County Review reports the date is still tentative because county counselor James Campbell has to attend a trial that could take up to seven weeks. He doesn’t think it will take that long, and believes he should be able to attend the sale. The county’s last tax sale was 10 years ago, although a delinquent mineral rights sale was held four years ago. County officials hope to recoup up to $310,000 in past due taxes and get properties back on the tax rolls.

Jobless Rate Down

The unemployment rate ticked down in Kansas in December, falling to a seasonally adjusted 4.9 percent, according to the Kansas Department of Labor, though several industries reported job losses. The rate had been 5.5 percent in December 2012 and 5.1 percent in November. The Department of Labor reported the state added 10,000 non-farm jobs compared to December 2012, but lost 7,400 non-farm jobs compared to November. County-by-county numbers will be released later today.

CodeRED Moves Ahead

Allen County’s CodeRED automated phone alert system will continue in operation, as county commissioners recently approved another round of funding for the Florida-based firm that provides the technology. Emergency Communications Network will receive about 11-thousand dollars this year. Emergency Management Director Pam Beasley said 113 weather alerts were issued during 2013, compared to just 40 in 2012. Altogether, 26,350 contacts were made through all calls, three times as many as in 2012. In addition to weather warnings, calls are made for law enforcement purposes. Calls may be targeted to people living in areas directly affected by weather or other events.

Full-Day K

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is stumping for full-day kindergarten throughout Kansas. The initiative is a Kansas Board of Education proposal to increase the student count for kindergarten age students every year for the next five years, for a total of $16 million in additional funding. Currently, kindergarten students count for half of 1-12 grade students in the state funding formula as the state only requires half-day kindergarten. A number of districts already provide full-time kindergarten — including USD 413 Chanute Schools. The district has done so for at least 14 years, longer than Gary Wheeler has been principal of Chanute Elementary. Wheeler said there are several benefits to full-day kindergarten. Socially, academically, and in other ways, the students progress more quickly, he tells the Chanute Tribune.

The school also has the opportunity to feed all the kindergarten students lunch. Wheeler said half-day kindergarten can be a challenge for parents as well to find half-day babysitters or day cares. Before becoming principal of Chanute Elementary 12 years ago, Wheeler was a principal in the Labette County School District which only provided half-day kindergarten. Wheeler said he is glad the state is looking to fund something that is good for students.

Neosho County Loses Some Property In Erie Quarry Break-In

A recent break-in at the Neosho County quarry in Erie may cost the county about $30,000, mostly from the theft of electrical cables. Neosho County Sheriff Jim Keath says a thief (or more than one) entered the quarry in Erie, cut electrical supply lines from the rock crusher and removed those cables along with some other miscellaneous items. Road and Bridge Director Charles Morse said Friday not all of the losses have been calculated, but they are already looking at $14,000 in losses from what is known. Morse said he expects about $30,000 total losses when all of the bills for replacements come in. Morse said the county has begun implementing new security measures at the quarry. Keath said the Sheriff’s department is following up on leads and discussing with other districts who have had similar incidents including Labette County. There was a similar break-in at Midwest Minerals south of Parsons.

Tractor Pull Proposed

Iola Rotarians are sponsors of the Neil Westervelt Memorial Car Show at the Allen County Fair and will add sponsorship of a barbecue cook-off this summer. The fair didn’t have a cook-off in 2013 for the first time in years. They thought adding a garden tractor pull would make the first day of the fair all that more appealing. That apparently won’t happen this year, as the fair has a two-day rodeo scheduled, which means there won’t be space for a pull.

Local Paramedic Mike Hueston is vice president and promoter of the Bourbon County Garden Tractor Pulling Association, which he said would be eager to work with Rotarians to bring the sport to Iola. The group’s biggest pull is in Kincaid each September.  The sport is growing and it isn’t unusual for as many as 140 tractors to be entered in a show, according to Hueston. The Register reports Hueston discussed with the Rotary Club at their meeting last week what the club would need to do to have a pull here.