Commentary by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — The latest throw down at Wellington City Hall comes courtesy of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Water quality has become the hot topic since the unfortunate situation in Flint, Mich. The feds have mandated to KDHE that stiffer water regulations must apply.
As a result, KDHE has issued a warning to the city of Wellington that it will face stiff fines if it doesn’t stop supplying untreated water to those in the Mayfield area who have tapped in the water lines in turn allowing them to pump for much needed water on their private properties.
According to James Jordan story (see here), there has been a gentleman’s agreement since the 1950s in which the city can drill on the personal property of those living in rural Sumner County, east of Mayfield. In turn, these property owners could have access to city water near these wells – albeit it be untreated water.
Originally, there were 25 property owners who agreed to the deal. Earlier this year, the council attempted to contact these 25 owners, and 13 of them responded that they don’t want or need water; or could not be reached. That left 12 who responded and needed water. The city formed an agreement with seven property owners to be given $6,000 to help dig a well. The other five property owners have not taken the deal, including one who has refused saying $6,000 wasn’t enough.
Commentary by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — I don’t think I ever met Sibyl Wells. If I had, I don’t remember.
We may have had a conversation. I may have taken her picture sometime, somewhere.
But when she died at 97 years of age, I placed her obituary on Sumner Newscow on Oct. 22, 2015 without any kind of recognition or remembrance (see obit here). Did I remember reading that obituary the first time? Not in the least.
We feature a lot of obituaries on this site. Since April 17, 2015, Sumner Newscow has run 193 obits. I would venture to say I recognize about 30 percent of the people, who have left us recently. Unfortunately for myself, Sibyl Wells was not one of them.
So goes life. After placing her obit, I moved on not remembering.
But then something happened. I received an e-mail in March from Sumner Regional Medical Center. The endowment foundation was receiving a sizable donation from someone who had recently died. I learned that Sibyl Wells had donated more than $100,000 to the service organization that helps the local hospital with philanthropy endeavors including the purchase of equipment.
by Ed Trimmer, State Representative, 79th District — On the last day of the regular session, the Kansas House and Senate passed an education equalization formula. The Governor recently signed it. The legislative process was rushed and confusing. The final result was a plan that I believe makes little sense. The Supreme Court will begin hearings on May 10 and a great many educators and others believe they will not accept the new formula as constitutional.
The need for a new funding formula came as a result of the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling that Governor Brownback’s block grant funding formula was unconstitutional. It took legislative leadership about three months to finally act on school finance. Only after repeated condemnation from the press and school supporters for the apparent lack of action, was something finally done.
Two days before the end of the regular session, a finance formula was amended into an unrelated bill in conference committee. Through a parliamentary move, the two Democrats on the conference committee were denied a vote. Since the bill was sent back to the House and Senate as a conference committee report, legislators could not amend the bill and could only vote yes or no. At no time were any members of the House allowed input, except for the two Republican members of the conference committee.
The following is a guest editorial by Kyle Green, who is a Social Studies teacher at Oxford High School. He also coaches head boys basketball, baseball and assists with football.
Commentary by Kyle Green, Oxford High School — Since the demise of the 1992 school finance formula, the Kansas Legislature has had trouble developing a new school finance formula that would satisfy the masses. When I say developing a new finance formula, I mean they haven’t really tried until now. Before the Kansas Supreme Court struck down the block grants that replaced the 1992 formula, there was no movement at all from the Legislature this session to develop a new formula. However, after the Supreme Court struck down the Block Grants, a hasty piece of legislation was crafted by our own Sen. Steve Abrams and Rep. Ron Highland before they went on break a few weeks ago.
HB 2741 is wrought with issues. First, it allows parents 70 percent of the per-pupil state aid that would have gone to their local school district to instead pay for private schools, including religious schools or home schools. Such accounts would be administered by the state treasurer. Students who are eligible for this are ones who have yet to start school or who have previously been enrolled in public schools. The constitutionality of this issue will be challenged almost immediately.
The following is a letter presented by the committee of the Wellington Project Prom – which will be putting on the after prom on April 23.
Submitted to Sumner Newscow — Since 1987 the community of Wellington has been nothing but supportive of Project Prom. We’ve made some changes this year and as valued supporters, we’d like to take the opportunity to fill you in on those changes. As you may have heard, we are changing the venue for this year and it’s generated some very reasonable questions that this letter will hopefully answer.
Each year we survey the students looking for opportunities to improve our event. Their input is invaluable in making sure that what we’re doing will keep them coming back and committing to a drug and alcohol free extension of their prom night celebrations. The most frequent answer is a change in scenery since they attend school, most of their extra-curricular and even the magical event of Prom at the school. We heard them and have been trying for a few years to work out the logistics of such a request.
Ultimately, we’ve decided to experiment with the option of alternating the venue from WHS to an off-site location every other year. This allows each junior and senior student to experience both formats from one year to the other. We think our current event at WHS is still great and the students are always very grateful for the fun. We do, however, believe that changing it up each year gives them more incentive to attend both years. Since attendance is the key to achieving our goal of keeping kids safe on prom night, we felt we needed to be responsive.
Below is some general information concerning this year’s changes:
Commentary by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — The primary season for the Republicans has become a disaster and it is getting worse by the week.
Now with Ted Cruz and that orange haired fellow playing National Enquirer gutter style politics by throwing one another’s wives under the bus, it is apparent:
The Republicans don’t have a viable Presidential candidate to bring to voters this November.
This is why, the national Republican Party “establishment,” those who truly love the party and have been there forever, needs to simply take over, much like irate parents do with their fussing, fighting children.
And come July, the Republican Party elite should open the convention by trotting up some stanch Reagan-era Republican like Bob Dole, who will step to the stage to open the convention and announce:
“Enough is enough. Trump, go home. Cruz, go home. Kasich, maybe you can stay but shut up. Now this is what we are going to do. We are picking someone else. Someone with a brain, someone who is reasonable. Someone who hasn’t embarrassed himself. So are there any nominations? OK, since there are no nominations, I nominate Paul Ryan as President and Mitt Romney as Vice President. Do I hear a second? (Some old fart in the audience yells a second).
“I now pronounce the nominations close. All those in favor state ‘eye.’ (few yell) All those oppose say ‘nay’ (many scream). Motion passes. Ryan is our nominee for President, Romney is our Vice President. I now proclaim this Convention over! Now let’s go drink beer.”
It would be great. Trump and his supporters will scream and holler and start a third party campaign. Cruz will simply scream and holler. There will be mass chaos and it will be fun to watch.
And come November, the inevitable will happen: Hillary Clinton will be elected.
by Ed Trimmer, State Representative 79th District — Medicaid expansion has been a very misunderstood issue in Topeka. It involves using largely federal money to provide expanded health care coverage for more than 150,000 Kansas citizens. These citizens work but make too much money to qualify for the current Kansas Medicaid program, and at the same time, do not earn enough to qualify for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Here are some of the compelling arguments that I believe indicate we should expand Medicaid and accept federal money.
Commentary by James Jordan, Sumner Newscow — Transparency is a word that gets thrown around a lot at governmental meetings. Politicians like to use it, and media folks do too. Local governing bodies get tired of hearing about it, but as media members, that is part of our job. We can’t really report on what we don’t have access to. We do keep a close eye on that because even if they are making a good effort to be transparent, you don’t want to make it easy when the going gets tough and they really do want to hide something.
I think we are seeing a bit of progress though with the Wellington City Council. The council has never been really bad. I have experienced much worse in other states. But even the best bear watching. Any of us might bend things a bit when in a pinch. Who hasn’t gone over the speed limit when they felt the need?
Recently, we reported that the city of Wellington had self reported what they thought might have been a KOMA (Kansas Open Records Meeting Act) violation. Turns out it was, and now they have to go watch a presentation on the law itself.
That meeting was a town hall meeting where several council members showed up. Because most of them spoke, it became a violation. Had only two been there, or if they had remained silent, it would not have been a violation.
It was unintentional.
Guest editorial by Larry Anderson M.D.
Dear State Sen. Steve Abrams, Rep. Kyle Hoffman, and Rep. Kasha Kelley:
I have been a Republican for more years than any of you three. The fact that you might view me as a “Moderate” does not make me any less a real Republican than you, however. I am communicating with you again as you three are the legislators from our area and because you continue to be identified as key legislators for change as I visit with your colleagues and with leaders in my medical organizations.
We no longer live in a vacuum and while traveling and visiting with physicians, relatives, and friends from other states, it gets old taking abuse from these respected individuals as they tick off items on a growing list of Kansas Governmental Decision Disasters. This probably started off with the downgrading of Kansas bonds and most recently, I read an editorial in a Utah paper stating that national polls show our Governor Brownback has the lowest approval rating of all the governors. A recent poll from Fort Hays would seem to confirm that fact showing his approval rating of 21 percent.
The Brownback Experiment has failed. As our state suffers, you will personally catch the political fallout. Gov. Brownback’s future is likely secure with two more years in Topeka then on to whatever he wants to be, a lobbyist, a corporate lawyer/CEO, a college professor, or he may return to his roots as a farmer. But what about future plans? Do they include politics?
Commentary by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — Props to the Wellington school board Thursday night for doing some outside the box thinking.
Taking the advice of four Wellington high school math instructors, most who are young and have been newly hired by the school district in the past three years, the board approved the purchase of Chromebooks and computer software instead of going with a $40,000 purchase on textbooks — you know those huge things you carry around in backpacks until you are done being educated. The new computer software called ALEKS (see story here) has the ability of providing the latest in math curriculum while teaching students at their own rate.
I loved the move and I hope it works out, because when it comes to change, things are changing very quickly, and schools haven’t always kept up.
A week ago when we were being barraged with unnecessary Super Bowl coverage, I stumbled across this fascinating discussion on a sports talkshow hosted by Fox Sports anchor Colin Cowherd. He was interviewing an entrepreneur named Jason Calacanis, who has invested in such things as Tumblr, Uber and Tweetup among other things. I guess he’s a big deal, but I didn’t realize his existence until last week when I was really only looking for more blather about the soon-to-be 2016 World Champion Denver Broncos(!).
It was one of those rare moments on television when the world had to stop, and I had to grab the DVR remote and record what this guy was saying.
Calacanis made some incredible predictions about the future of the world. Here were a few of them: