Archives for May 2014

Rail Trail Grant

Iola is poised to cement its growing reputation as the premier trail town in Kansas, with the addition of the Lehigh Portland Rail Trail, and new mountain bike trails. Thrive Allen County has been awarded a $100,000 Healthy Living grant from the Kansas Health Foundation to develop the Lehigh Portland Rail Trail in Allen County. This new trail system will include walking and biking trails similar to the Prairie Spirit Trail and the Southwind Rail Trail. It will also include mountain bike trails and related amenities that are rare in this part of Kansas. The new trail system will be free and open to the general public year round.

Thrive is one of 22 grantees in the state to receive Healthy Living grant funding, and was selected based in part on the outstanding progress that has been made in the county the past six years developing trails, improving parks and recreation, establishing bicycle routes and sharrows and in increasing the prevalence of physical activity among residents.

ACRH Wellness Programs

Allen County Regional Hospital board members this week spent some time discussing measures to better promote wellness in the community and among hospital staff. Hospital CEO Ron Baker said he and Dr. Brian Wolfe have discussed finding grants for health-related programs. There may also be low-cost programs that would promote “wellness behavior” among employees by providing incentives for them. It was suggested that board members submit ideas via email so they could be discussed further in June.

City Promotions

Several Iola City employees are stepping up to more responsibility, and in several cases, better pay. Jim Baker, a long-time Iola electric distribution city employee who was appointed recently as interim superintendent, will keep the job for good. Baker was the only applicant to replace Kent Tomson, who resigned to become grounds and maintenance director at Allen Community College. The promotion did not increase Baker’s pay.

Gary Kimball, a former lieutenant with the Iola Fire Department, has been promoted to a deputy fire chief, filling a position held by Tim Thyer, the new fire chief. The promotion carries with it a 1.27 percent pay raise. Charles Ecton and Andrew Hill, have been promoted to the position of paramedics, now that their schooling and certification are complete. Each receives an 8 percent bump in pay.

Pavement Test

Starting next Monday, KDOT will run tests of pavement strength on several routes in Anderson, Coffey and Greenwood counties: The tests will run through Thursday on U.S. 169, U.S. 54 and K-58. The testing crew uses a falling weight deflectometer, a device equipped with a series of weights that checks the strength of asphalt pavement. KDOT conducts FWD tests every year on different sections of the state highway system. A pilot car operation will be used for traffic control at each testing site. Motorists will experience delays of 15 minutes or less.

Jenkins Files

Second-district Rep. Lynn Jenkins, filed yesterday at Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office to run for her fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Jenkins was elected to her current seat in the 2008 election. During the 113th Congressional session, the Holton native was chosen by her colleagues to serve as the Vice Chair of the House Republican Congress, the fifth highest ranking in the House Republican Leadership.

Halfway There: US-54 Traffic About To Shift To New Lanes

Next Wednesday weather permitting, two-way traffic will be switched from the westbound lanes to the eastbound lanes through the US-54 construction area between Iola and La Harpe. Following the traffic switch the contractor will begin replacing the concrete pavement on the westbound lanes. Traffic on the bridge over Rock Creek, located on the project, will continue running on the westbound lanes while repairs are made to the eastbound bridge lanes. Once these repairs are complete two-way traffic will also be switched onto the eastbound lanes. The entire 5.4-mile U.S.54 project should be completed by the end of November.

Girl Who Surrendered In Yates Center Competent For Trial

A Nebraska judge has found a student who turned herself in after being convinced to do so by a hotel clerk in Yates Center is competent to stand trial. Sarah Piccolo will be back in court June 12th to face charges of stabbing 17-year-old Ellen Kopetzky in the women’s bathroom at their Lincoln school on October 7. The judge has already rejected a defense request to have the case moved to juvenile court.

Farm To Fork Summit Set For Iola

The upcoming Southeast Kansas Farm-to-Fork Summit on Thursday is focusing on policies to help Kansas farmers make healthful foods accessible and affordable for all residents. The event is hosted by the Kansas Rural Center and the Allen County Growing Rural Opportunities Works Council. The daylong gathering will take place Thursday at the Fellowship Regional Church in Iola.

K-39 Work To Start May 19

Starting a week from Monday DOT will replace the old railroad overpass on K-39 (East Elm Street) at the eastern edge of Chanute. The bridge will be closed to through traffic at the work zone. Eastbound K-39 traffic will follow a short signed detour on city streets: from K-39 turn south on South Central Avenue and proceed to East Main Street; turn east on East Main and continue to the intersection with K-39. Westbound K-39 traffic should follow the same route in the opposite direction. A short section of the Katy Hike/Bike Trail, from the East Main Street trailhead to a point just north of the bridge, will be closed for the duration of the project. The rest of the trail will remain open.

The new bridge will be slightly lower than the existing structure. It will have a roadway of 44 feet, with two 12-feet driving lanes and 10-feet shoulders. Barring any unforeseen delays, KDOT expects the new bridge to be open to traffic by June 2015.

Letter Carrier Food Drive Tomorrow

This weekend, helping feed the state’s needy residents is as simple as going to the mailbox, as we have the chance to take part in Saturday’s 22nd annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive {rw-39266-1}