New Editor Finds Himself at Home in Butler County

There’s a new face in town and you may see his name pop up from time to time.  I am referring to the new Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette, Clinton Dick.  But, he says, we can call him Clint. 

Clint comes to us from the Ottawa Herald where he has been for the past six years.  Originally he was assigned to local government and breaking news, but for the past three years he has been their Sports Editor.  

When the Editor’s position came open, Clint stated that he knew “it was a good fit.”  Originally from a small community in Kingman County, he was looking to be closer to his family.  He noted some of them live here in Butler County, and he already feels right at home.

While you may have noticed some changes over the past few months, as there has been a transition with the editorial department, Clint does not expect his arrival to create drastic changes.  He plans to be hyper focused on local issues and points to the similarities between Ottawa and Butler counties as they are both rural counties focused on agriculture and small business. However, he identifies the size of Butler County as his major challenge. 

The sheer number of communities, and the larger land size, combined with limited staffing and resources, make it difficult to ensure the smaller communities get the coverage they need and deserve.   “I’m hoping to work diligently to provide the best local news for Butler County that I can.”  

Listen to my conversation with Clint over on the podcast.

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Orin Friesen Shares History of Music in Kansas

The Kansas Oil Museum will hold the final presentation in their Summer Speaker Series “The History of Music in Kansas”  by Orin Friesen. 

Orin Friesen

This lecture will explore the rich history of music in Kansas and highlight songs and performers from the early days of the state up to the present time. 

After the lecture, the last “Concert on the Green” will feature Orin Friesen and the Diamond W Wranglers.  An ice cream social will be held prior to the concert and food trucks will be on hand. 

Call ahead or purchase tickets at the door: $10 admission for members, $15 for non-members.

 

Reinstatement of Kansas Local Bridge Improvement Program

Secretary of Transportation Julie Lorenz visited El Dorado and the Historic Butler County Courthouse to announce the reinstatement of the Kansas Local Bridge Improvement Program.  This is a state-funded program that provides funds to local public authorities to replace or rehabilitate locally-owned, deficient bridges in order to improve overall system throughout the State of Kansas.  

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Stone Arch Bridge was built in 1933 in the Northeast Area of the “Old” El Dorado Lake.

Many bridges in the state of Kansas were built between 75-100 years ago with the average age being 50 years old.  There are 19,000 bridges across the state that could potentially qualify for this program. It is estimated between 9-10,000 bridges will be closed in the next 50 years, if they are not improved.  

In order to receive funding a bridge must be classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete based on the latest inspection performed under the procedures of the National Bridge Inspection Program (NBI). According to Secretary Lorenz, applications will be accepted beginning Wednesday, August 7th, through mid-September.

 

Butler County Motor Vehicle Western Office Closure

Starting September 3rd, 2019, the Butler County Motor Vehicle Western Office will be temporarily closed for remodeling. The Western Office will be open through normal operating hours Friday, August 30th, 2019. The closure is expected to last sixty to ninety days, with updates on reopening dates to be provided as available.

During the Western Office closure all Butler County Motor Vehicle transactions will be processed at the Main Motor Vehicle Office, situated on the second floor of the Historic Courthouse located at 205 W Central, El Dorado, KS 67042.

The Western Office remodel will allow for more Motor Vehicle Clerk stations to be installed, increasing the stations from four to six, which will assist in better serving patrons. The remodel also allows for security enhancements to be made to increase the security and well-being of staff and patrons alike.

Mail-in, online, and in-person Motor Vehicle transactions will proceed as usual at the Main Motor Vehicle Office during the Western Office closure. Mail-in and online transactions are a convenient way in which vehicle owners can complete transactions without traveling to the Motor Vehicle Office. Patrons who intend to travel to the Motor Vehicle office are encouraged to get in line via QLess prior to arriving at the office; thereby reducing wait time at the office itself.

To get in line for the Main Motor Vehicle Office via text or online visit the Butler County Motor Vehicle webpage at https://www.bucoks.com/395/Motor-Vehicle. If you do not sign in to QLess prior to arriving at the Main Office please be sure to sign in at the kiosk in front of the Butler County Treasurer’s Office once you do arrive so as to assist with reducing your in-office wait time.

County officials thank patrons for their patience during this closure to complete much needed remodeling. Please contact the Butler County Treasurer’s Office with questions at 316-322-4210.

Butler Mission Week 2019

The Second Annual Butler Mission Week (BMW) celebrated the weeklong event with a free community Block Party on Friday, July 19th.  The Block Party was held on the lawn of Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital.   

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The weeklong event ended with a Block Party on the lawn of Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital.

Over 227 volunteers worked in multiple shifts each day throughout the week, following the biblical command “Love Thy Neighbor” .  They did so by participating in community service projects and intentional acts of kindness. According to program director, Andrea Van Auken, the goal was simple, to “Take care of the town we live in.” 

The volunteers participated in a variety of events throughout the week and impacted over 90,000 people in Butler County.  The week also served as a mission week for the middle school and high school kids who stayed at the church all week. 

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Butler Mission Week volunteers served multiple organizations throughout the week. 
Pictured here at Drums Across Kansas, from left to right, are Christian Price, Dewey Price and April White.

BMW was conceived of by the Co-Pastors of Hope Covenant Church.  The church’s vision is to “Be Known, Belong, Be Love. We believe it is important for people to be known by God through intentional discipleship, to belong to a community through authentic relationships, and to be love through serving others.

 

Kansas Honor Flight Donation Honors WW2 Veteran Howard Cool

On Tuesday, July 9th family and friends of WWII Veteran Howard Cool gathered in front of the Butler County Freedom Memorial to present a check to the Kansas Honor Flight.

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On hand for the presentation were, from left to right, Lois Cool, Brad Cool, Marla Lopeman, Lloyd Van Dever, Herb Duncan and Jo Ann Duncan.

The funds, in the amount of $4,000, were raised through donations and memorials given in honor of Howard Cool.  

Mr. Cool was a Marine stationed at the Atoll Islands during WWII and had the privilege of flying aboard a Kansas Honor Flight to Washington D.C., with his son Brad.  According to Howard’s daughter, Marla Lopeman, “When they came back, they were changed.”  

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Herb Duncan and Jo Ann Duncan (center and right) with the Kansas Honor Flight and Lloyd Van Dever (left) the Butler County Kansas Honor Flight Coordinator, were on hand to accept the check.

 Through the Kansas Honor Flight, veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam are provided an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. to visit their war memorial.  The funds provided in honor of Mr. Cool will provide for almost 5 Kansas veterans to make the journey.  

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American Legion Post 81 members, joined Lois Cool at the presentation.  Howard was a long time member of Unit 81 in El Dorado.

To learn more about the Kansas Honor Flight program visit www.KansasHonorFlight.org 

 

NLRB Hears Allegations Against SBA

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held a hearing at the Butler County Judicial Center involving charges made against Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital by former employees, Lori R. Dashner and Gay Kimble.

 The NLRB was created in 1935 by Congress to administer the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRA is the law that governs relations between labor unions and employers whose operations involve interstate commerce. 

Dashner and Kimble, who were terminated within an hour of one another, claim they were illegally terminated and they were fired as a result of “Concerted Activities.” 

Alan Rupe, attorney for Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital (SBA), noted in his opening statements that some of the employee activities fell under protected concerted activities.  However, he added the employees were not terminated for those activities. 

In an official statement released by SBA, they contend the employees were terminated as a result of safety and security breaches.  

“Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital maintains that it operated within the guidelines of the National Labor Relations Act. All personnel decisions are made with the intent to protect the safety of the patients and employees at SBA.”

According to the NLRB, under the protection of concerted activities, employees have the right to act with co-workers to address work-related issues in many ways.  Examples include: talking with one or more co-workers about wages and benefits or other working conditions, circulating a petition asking for better hours, participating in a concerted refusal to work in unsafe conditions, openly talking about pay and benefits, and joining with co-workers to talk directly to the employer, to a government agency, or to the media about problems in [the] workplace. [An] employer cannot discharge, discipline, or threaten for, or coercively question about, protected concerted activity.  A single employee may also engage in protected concerted activity if he or she is acting on the authority of other employees, bringing group complaints to the employer’s attention, trying to induce group action, or seeking to prepare for group action. However, [employees] can lose protection by saying or doing something egregiously offensive or knowingly and maliciously false, or by publicly disparaging [the] employer’s products or services without relating complaints to any labor controversy.

The complaints filed by Dashner and Kimble cited Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act which makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer “to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7” 

Employers are restricted from the following actions:

  • Threaten employees with adverse consequences, such as closing the workplace, loss of benefits, or more onerous working conditions, if they support a union, engage in union activity, or select a union to represent them.
  • Threaten employees with adverse consequences if they engage in protected, concerted activity. (Activity is “concerted” if it is engaged in with or on the authority of other employees, not solely by and on behalf of the employee himself. It includes circumstances where a single employee seeks to initiate, induce, or prepare for group action, as well as where an employee brings a group complaint to the attention of management. Activity is “protected” if it concerns employees’ interests as employees. An employee engaged in otherwise protected, concerted activity may lose the Act’s protection through misconduct.)
  • Promise employees benefits if they reject the union.
  • Imply a promise of benefits by soliciting grievances from employees during a union organizing campaign. (However, if you regularly solicited employee grievances before the campaign began, you may continue that practice unchanged.)
  • Confer benefits on employees during a union organizing campaign to induce employees to vote against the union.
  • Withhold changes in wages or benefits during a union organizing campaign that would have been made had the union not been on the scene, unless you make clear to employees that the change will occur whether or not they select the union, and that your sole purpose in postponing the change is to avoid any appearance of trying to influence the outcome of the election.
  • Coercively question employees about their own or coworkers’ union activities or sympathies. (Whether questioning is coercive and therefore unlawful depends on the relevant circumstances, including who asks the questions, where, and how; what information is sought; whether the questioned employee is an open and active union supporter; and whether the questioning occurs in a context of other unfair labor practices.)
  • Prohibit employees from talking about the union during working time, if you permit them to talk about other non-work-related subjects.
  • Poll your employees to determine the extent of their support for a union, unless you comply with certain safeguards. You must not have engaged in unfair labor practices or otherwise created a coercive atmosphere. In addition, you must (1) communicate to employees that the purpose of the poll is to determine whether the union enjoys majority support (and that must, in truth, be your purpose); (2) give employees assurances against reprisal; and (3) conduct the poll by secret ballot.
  • Spy on employees’ union activities. (“Spying” means doing something out of the ordinary to observe the activity. Seeing open union activity in workplace areas frequented by supervisors is not “spying.”)
  • Create the impression that you are spying on employees’ union activities.
  • Photograph or videotape employees engaged in peaceful union or other protected activities.
  • Solicit individual employees to appear in a campaign video.
  • Promulgate, maintain, or enforce work rules that reasonably tend to inhibit employees from exercising their rights under the Act.
  • Deny off-duty employees access to outside nonworking areas of your property, unless business reasons justify it.
  • Prohibit employees from wearing union buttons, t-shirts, and other union insignia unless special circumstances warrant.
  • Convey the message that selecting a union would be futile.
  • Discipline or discharge a union-represented employee for refusing to submit, without a representative, to an investigatory interview the employee reasonably believes may result in discipline.
  • Interview employees to prepare your defense in an unfair labor practice case, unless you provide certain assurances. You must communicate to the employee the purpose of the questioning, assure him against reprisals, and obtain his voluntary participation. Questioning must occur in a context free from employer hostility to union organization and must not itself be coercive. And questioning must not go beyond what is needful to achieve its legitimate purpose. That is, you may not pry into other union matters, elicit information concerning the employee’s subjective state of mind, or otherwise interfere with employee rights under the Act.
  • Initiate, solicit employees to sign, or lend more than minimal support to or approval of a decertification or union-disaffection petition.
  • Discharge, constructively discharge, suspend, layoff, fail to recall from layoff, demote, discipline, or take any other adverse action against employees because of their protected, concerted activities.

After two days of evidentiary hearings, the judge gave both sides an August 6th deadline to present briefs for his consideration.  A decision is not expected until later this year.