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.

City of El Dorado 2020 Budget Approved

El Dorado Boy Scout Troop #222 made a visit to the City Commission meeting to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

The City of El Dorado Budget for 2020 was approved Monday night. City Manager David Dillner explained to the Commission that the Total Budget Authority for the year is expected to be $32.9 million.

Jordan Buxton, El Dorado Chamber of Commerce Director, along with Sue Hoefgen of Augusta Chamber of Commerce, shared information on the Butler County Act Program.

The goal of the Butler County Act Program is to create an ACT ready community. ACT Work Ready Communities Program (WRC) empowers states, regions and counties with data, processes and tools that drive economic growth.

Commissioner Wilkinson stated, “As a former educator I appreciate it is not just the schools involved but the chamber as well.” Mayor Haines added that he appreciates the bridge between the workforce and schools.

A date of September 12th is scheduled to launch the program. To learn more contact Jordan Buxton at the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce or Sara Hoefgen at the Augusta Chamber of Commerce.

Also appearing before the Commission was the HollyFrontier Western Celebration chairman, Tabitha Sharp. She was joined by the newly crowned Miss Frontier 2019, Naomi Galindo. They shared information about the upcoming festival and invited the Commissioners to attend this year’s event.

The festival begins Friday, August 9 with Mutton Bustin’, the Extreme Bull Blowout, and a concert by Kyle Park.

Saturday includes a parade through downtown, the Kids Korral at East Park in partnership with the Butler County History Center and Kansas Oil Museum. A Junior Ranch Rodeo will be held at 1p on Saturday followed by the Butler County Ranch Rodeo and a concert with Jason Callahan.

The weekend rounds out with Cowboy Church on Sunday. Tickets are $10, can be purchased at the gate, and provide admission to the festival all weekend. The City of El Dorado is a sponsor of the HollyFrontier Western Celebration. The HollyFrontier Western Celebration is a committee of El Dorado Main Street.

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 

 

Noise Complaint from Neighbor of Wichita PD Officer

At the most recent Board of Butler County Commissioners meeting, Butler County resident of Douglass, Jeff Runyon appeared before the Board during the “Public Comments” to appeal for help in resolving a long-running nuisance with neighbor who is a Wichita Police Department Officer.

Citing the near daily running of 4-Wheelers, Mr. Runyan expressed his frustration with the noise pollution. “These are not regular four wheelers, they are racing bikes with hardly any mufflers [and] has gone on for 5 years.”  He stated the noise level has increased each year.

He presented a specific incident when he called the Sheriff’s office. On October 1, 2016, the noise began at 8a in the morning and continued all day. From his home, half a mile away, he documented the noise with a decibel meter at 79 decibels. After canister fireworks went off, he called the Sheriff, it was approximately 10:30p.  Once the Sheriff’s deputy had left, Mr. Runyan heard individuals get back on the bikes and make comments such as “take that.”

In addition to the disruption to daily life, he noted “You can’t do anything without wondering when and where it’s going to start up.” Also, he has witnessed that the behavior is harassing wildlife.

Pleading with the Commission, he asked for serious help in putting together a noise resolution that can be enforced. “It is obnoxious behavior.  Where’s our rights and what can we do?”

“[Mr. Runyan] is not only one in that area complaining”  stated Commissioner Woydziak “We need to look at an enforceable law.”

Sheriff Kelly Herzet can not currently issue a ticket according to Butler County Attorney, Darrin Devinney.  He presented the challenges to prosecution under the active ordinance. It is an undetermined misdemeanor imposing a $500-$2000 fine for a first offense as a Class A misdemeanor.

Some of those challenges include the need for standardized equipment to enforce, as well as the cumulative effect of sound as a problem. Mr. Devinney asked, “Do we [prosecute] the land owner or all the parties? We have talked about this at length.  Sheriff Herzet and David Alfaro have spoken with Mr. Runyan regarding the remedies available to him.”

Sheriff Herzet has been accumulating sound ordinances violation for several years and this situation has been well documented.

Commissioner Masterson asked if a decibel level is set within the current ordinance and it was identified as limiting the allowable decibel level.

With respect to obtaining standardized equips for the department, he stated, “A decibel meter is not too expensive.” Sheriff Herzet outlines the actions he has taken. “What I’ve done is I have reached out. This guy is a Wichita police officer. Made contact … to let him know we’re on a complaint.” Sheriff Herzet added, “I like riding motorcycles but not from 8a-10p.”

County Administrator, Will Johnson informed the Commission that the complaint of out of season fireworks is currently enforceable.

The Commission determined to investigate how to amend the ordinance.