Butler County Adopts Public Health Declaration

In response to Governor Kelly‘s Executive Order to “temporarily prohibit mass gatherings to limit the spread of COVID-19,” and to mirror the preventative actions being taken by the State of Kansas, the Butler County Commissioners held a special meeting on Thursday, March 19 , at 8 AM to discuss the adoption of a Public Health Emergency Declaration and closure of Butler County facilities to the public beginning Monday, March 23rd through, Friday, April 3rd.

County Administrator Will Johnson stated, “With the closure of State offices, school closures and the expansion of travel restrictions occurring after the County Commission meeting on Tuesday, it has become necessary for Butler County to adopt a Public Health Declaration allowing the County flexibility to provide the essential and necessary services required of County Government. The County Commission continues to be committed to the health and safety of our employees and citizens, along with delivery services necessary to carry Butler County through this crisis.”

Butler County Emergency Management Director, Keri Korthals, speaking to the commission about the need for the Public Health Declaration.
Meeting attendees sat with respect to the social distancing guidelines.

Essential services will be provided by appointment only. During the meeting, the Motor Vehicle tag office was cited as not being considered an essential service.

The Butler County Courthouse is among the public facilities to be closed to the public March 23rd through April 3rd.

Also, discussed was protocol for employees affected by a limited shutdown because of the pandemic. Primary among the concern is childcare for essential staff. “Family First” is the motto shared by Johnson. 

Johnson said “Childcare for staff will be provided in some fashion by the county.”

According to Jamie Downs, Director of Public Health, the number of available childcare workers in the county is down 733 providers with the coronavirus outbreak.

Johnson informed the Commissioners that employees are mandated by the state to quarantine immediately upon return from international locations and cruise ship travel as well as California, Colorado, Florida, New York and Washington. This currently affects three Butler County employees.

Board of Commissioners discussing the resolution presented by County Administrator Will Johnson.

Additionally, Johnson said fearful employees considered “non-essential staff” will be allowed to take this time off.

The Motor Vehicle office is one of the non-essential offices to be closed to the public. All essential business will be conducted by appointment to limit the number of gathered individuals. 

Commission meetings will also be closed to the public but will be available through live stream on the Butler County website (www.bucoks.com)  to comply with Kansas Open Meetings Act. 

The one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Butler County, along with two exposed individuals have been quarantined and are being monitored by the Butler County Health Department. 

In a recent report by the National Institute of Health (NIH), many have wondered if they couldn’t simply protect themselves by avoiding people with symptoms of respiratory illness. 

“Unfortunately, the answer is no,” the report went on to state, “A new study shows that simply avoiding symptomatic people will not go far enough to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because researchers have discovered that many individuals can carry the novel coronavirus without showing any of the typical symptoms of COVID-19: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. But these asymptomatic or only mildly ill individuals can still shed virus and infect others.

“This conclusion adds further weight to the recent guidance from U.S. public health experts: what we need most right now to slow the stealthy spread of this new coronavirus is a full implementation of social distancing. What exactly does social distancing mean? Well, for starters, it is recommended that people stay at home as much as possible, going out only for critical needs like groceries and medicines, or to exercise and enjoy the outdoors in wide open spaces. Other recommendations include avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, no handshakes, regular handwashing, and, when encountering someone outside of your immediate household, trying to remain at least 6 feet apart.”

With journal studies, as well as evidence from asymptomatic patients testing positive for COVID-19, proving it is possible to test positive for Covid-19 without symptoms, it is unethical to act otherwise. 

While there is no need to panic, this reality underscores the need to strictly adhere to social distancing, self quarantine and increased diligence to personal hygiene for the welfare of public health. It is necessary. It is about saving lives and protecting loved ones. We must all take it seriously.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) and tests are currently restricted to medical personnel, first responders those who are symptomatic or known to be exposed to positive cases.  This is due to the low number of supplies available. 

The Butler County Health Department does not have test kits. All testing is currently being done at the state level. 

While there may be no testing done on asymptomatic individuals who have no known contact with a positive case, there is still room for the virus to travel freely for weeks unknown. 

Cavalier or dismissive attitudes do not change the facts. Ignorance in this case is not bliss. We are in a critical time and to establish and enforce strict safety measures in order to get ahead of the virus and help contain this pandemic. 

Alternatively, running to stores and clearing shelves of food and supplies, including toilet paper, has increased the hysteria and panic.  This behavior only serves to perpetuate the fear surrounding the coronavirus, as well as preventing people who need to purchase basic necessities from having access.

Using common sense, thinking of your fellow man and following the guidelines established by national, state, local authorities will help us stay ahead of the virus. In six months, we are going to look back at this time and say, “We overreacted” or “We didn’t do enough.” 

The resolution, approved 4-1 with Myers in opposition, recommends the following:

  • Recommended no gatherings greater than fifty (50) people through May 10th, or until the situation changes, in line with CDC recommendations.
  • Recommended the County Administrator follow KDHE & CDC protocols for recommendations related to County services and employees.
  • Encouraged County residents to utilize web-based or mail-in services instead of visiting
  • County facilities in person.
  • Cancelled all 4H Building rentals along with activities through May 10th.
  • Cancelled the Department on Aging’s Spring Fling event in May.
  • Cancelled all Commissioner Senior Center visitations and luncheons through May.
  • Cancelled all out of state travel through May 10th.
  • Required County employees to quarantine for fourteen (14) days if they had traveled to any restricted areas, as outlined by the CDC.
  • Restricted County employee personal travel to CDC restricted areas.
  • Discontinued any new vacation requests for Public Safety employees or critical essential employees (Health, Sheriff, 911, EMS, Emergency Management).

KSDE Hears Computer Science Task Force Recommendations

In a partnership with Flagship Kansas.Tech and Code.org, Miss Southwest Sierra Marie Bonn, along with technology industry leaders Joy Eakins, President of Cornerstone Data and Luis Rodriguez, KeyCentrix LLC, and Code.org and Project Lead the Way facilitator, Jessica Asbury a teacher at Piper East Elementary School, advocated for the adoption of the Kansas Computer Science Education Implementation Task Force Recommendations.

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Board of Education Representatives listened to public testimony and received the Computer Science Task Force Recommendations at the January 2020 board meeting.

They urged the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) Board of Education to adopt the recommendations.

The Kansas Computer Science Education Implementation Task Force was formed in June 2019 with the mission of creating recommendations for the Kansas State Board of Education to further computer science education throughout Kansas. 

Those recommendations are: 

Recommendation 1: KSDE creates a dedicated Computer Science education position 

Recommendation 2: KSDE should encourage all schools to offer computer science 

Recommendation 3: Computer Science should satisfy a core graduation requirement 

Recommendation 4: Create Licensure Endorsement

Recommendation 5: Arrange Funding

Katie Hendrickson, Director of State Government Affairs for Code.org, said “Code.org and our Advocacy Coalition (advocacy.code.org) are thrilled with the recommendations from the Kansas Computer Science Task Force. These five recommendations align with the policies recommended by our coalition, and, if adopted, would make significant progress in ensuring that every student in Kansas has access to a high-quality computer science education. We applaud the efforts by the state board and department of education and look forward to supporting their work expanding computer science across the state.”

“For Kansas to lead the world in the success of each student,” said Flagship Kansas.Tech Executive Director Lisa Roberts Proffitt, “it is imperative that we offer each one the opportunity to learn computer science so that they are prepared for every career. We need to support these opportunities for our students to thrive in their home state by providing each student with the opportunity to take computer science.”

Sierra Marie Bonn advocates for STEAM education and engagement to empower the next generation of innovators, through her initiative “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!” 

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Sierra Marie Bonn speaking to the Kansas Department of Education’s Board of Education, where she was advocating for the adoption of the Computer Science Task Force Recommendations.

Bonn shared her experiences with computer science classes at Wichita State University, where she attends college and the lack of coursework that was available to her at the highschool level.  

“I didn’t take a computer science class in highschool, I didn’t take a computer science class until my sophomore year of college. In high school, we were fortunate enough to be issued individual computers to use for writing reports and for doing research, but the only official training we received was a half-day orientation at the beginning of 9th grade.” Bonn said.  

“We need policy change in education now,” Bonn said.  

“Nearly everything I know how to do on a computer is self-taught. When I entered my first Computer Science class in college, I realized I was far behind my peers.  The Biomedical Computer Applications class taught me very basic programming and 3-D drafting skills, but more importantly, it taught me how to think in algorithms and to view the world as a series of systems. Once I had that realization, my learning, my leading, and my life shifted,” she told the Board. 

Bonn began her college career as a biomedical engineering student, but after learning about computer science and how technology pervades nearly every field, she realized that by changing her major she could focus on the innovation that Computer Science brings. 

“Unfortunately, with the major change,” she said, “I fell even further behind my peers. While I don’t mind playing catch-up, it made me think of all the other students out there who don’t currently receive a well-rounded STEAM education to set them up for success in the innovative workforce. That’s how I began advocating for STEAM education and engagement through my social initiative, Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!” 

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Bonn facilitating “Sunflower Science” with students at Sullivan Elementary in Ulysses, Kansas.  

Bonn enters school classrooms, Girl Scout camps, and college campuses across the country to provide students a variety of workshops to help them realize their potential for innovation. 

“One of my favorites is an algorithm activity that I do with the third graders, where we learn about how to structure algorithms through potting vegetable plants,” Bonn said. “This shows the students that computer science is important, not just for tech jobs, but for anything they want to do.” 

“We are in the era of innovation,” Bonn told the Board.  “In order for us to continue progressing as a society and growing our innovative workforce, we must set our students and future innovators up for success. Everyone deserves a basic understanding of Computer Science. 

“This is why the policy recommendations are so important,” Bonn said.  “They will begin to ensure that students have access to computer science in K-12.” 

The Mission of the State Board of Education is to prepare Kansas students for lifelong success through rigorous, quality academic instruction, career training and character development according to each student’s gifts and talents. The Kansans CAN Vision is to “Lead the World in the Success of Each Student.”

The KSDE Board of Education will make their decision on the recommendations at the next meeting which will be held in Topeka, at the Landon State Office Building, Board Room, Suite 102, 900 SW Jackson, on February 11th and 12th. 

Bonn is asking all Kansans to contact their Board of Education representative and ask them to adopt the Kansas Computer Science Education Implementation Task Force Recommendations. 

According to the KSDE website, “The Kansas State Board of Education consists of 10 elected members, each representing a district comprised of four contiguous senatorial districts. Board members serve four-year terms with an overlapping schedule.”

Kansas State Board of Education

Janet Waugh – District 1

715 N. 74th

Kansas City, KS 66112

(913) 620-5062 (cell)

jwaugh@ksde.org

Steve Roberts – District 2

9126 Riggs Lane, Apt. B Overland Park, KS 66212

(913) 302-8185 (cell) 

sroberts@ksde.org

Michelle Dombrosky – District 3

14248 W. 157th St. Olathe, KS 66062

(913) 782-1835 (home) 

mdombrosky@ksde.org

Ann E. Mah – District 4

3351 SE Meadowview Dr. Topeka, KS 66605

(785) 266-9434 (home)

(785) 231-0823 (cell)

amah@ksde.org

Jean Clifford – District 5

102 Drury Lane

Garden City, KS 67846

(620) 275-4317 (home)

jclifford@ksde.org    

Deena Horst – District 6

920 S. 9th

Salina, KS 67401

(785) 827-8540 (home)

(785) 822-5521 (cell)

dhorst@ksde.org

Ben Jones – District 7

PO Box 266

Sterling, KS 67579

(620) 278-6063 (cell)

bjones@ksde.org

Kathy Busch – District 8

238 N. Ridgewood Wichita, KS 67208 (316) 682-5718 (home) 

kbusch@ksde.org

Jim Porter – District 9

501 S. 7th

Fredonia, KS 66736

(316) 617-6779 (cell)

jporter@ksde.org

Jim McNiece – District 10

1213 Manchester Court Wichita, KS 67212

(316) 729-9742 (home)

(316) 708 5752 (cell)

jmcniece@ksde.org

 

 

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.

 

City Commission Proclamations and Awards

The City Commission meeting held on Monday, May 6, 2019 began with proclamations and awards.

Citing the fact that Americans are served every single day by public servants at the federal, state, county and city levels. These unsung heroes do the work that keeps our nation working. Public employees take not only jobs, but oaths.  Many public servants, including military personnel, police officers, firefighters, border patrol officers, embassy employees, health care professionals and others, risk their lives each day in service to the people of the United States and around the world.

Public servants include local, state and federal government employees, teachers, health professionals and countless other occupations. Day in and day out they provide the diverse services demanded by the American people of their government with efficiency and integrity; and without these public servants at every level, continuity would be impossible in a democracy that regularly changes its leaders and elected officials.  

Therefore, Mayor Vince Haines recognized May 5-11 as Public Service Week.  

A representative from AAA appeared to present a Platinum Traffic Safety Award to El Dorado Police Department Superior Community Traffic Safety in 2018. The AAA Community Traffic Safety Awards honor police and sheriff departments around the state for their commitment to traffic safety practices and programs.

Barbara Trent, American Legion Auxiliary Unit #81 member and Poppy Chairman presented information to the Commission on the work of the local Auxiliary Unit.  Mayor Vince Haines shared that he recently had the opportunity to visit flanders field then announced a proclamation naming May Poppy Month. Joining Barbara were other unit members including President Carol Smith, Chaplain Lois Cool and Poppy Prince Tatum.

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El Dorado City Band members at the City Commission, from left to right, Marlene Avery, Barbara Templin, John Templin, Anita Seivley, and Keith West. 

A personal appearance was made by Barbara Templin with the El Dorado City Band.  She was joined by band members Marlene Avery, John Templin, Anita Seivley, and Keith West.  This year marks the 97th season of the El Dorado Band with the first of 10 concerts to be held at the bandshell on May 30th at 7:30pm.  The band will be joined by 35th Infantry Division Army Band for the first concert of the season. The concerts are free and open to the public.

 

 

 

 

County Jail Employees to Receive Incentives

In response to County Detention Facility financial difficulties, the Board of Butler County Commission adopted the “Detention Facility Revenue Incentive Policy” in 2017 to: “…align the Detention Facility operations with county tax payers by incentivizing the Detention Facility and its staff to focus of housing revenue generating inmates in a safe and efficient way.”  The policy goes on to state: “all Detention Facilit(ies) employees will be offered a bonus payment based on the total actual non-tax, fee related Detention Facility revenue that was received in the prior year (budget year) compared to the budgeted amount for the prior year…” Additionally, the policy calls for a calculation each February after the audit is completed. The first year of this policy was applicable to is 2018.

The County Jail fell short of meeting the budgeted revenue by $177,497. This calculation, however, does not tell the full story. The first quarter of 2018 looked to be a repeat of 2017, where the county was required to transfer over $500,000 from the General Fund into the Jail Fund because of fee revenue shortages. However, the Detention Facility and its staff shifted their focus to housing revenue generating inmates in a safe and efficient way and revenue generating inmates began increasing around April or May of 2018.  The jail fee revenue trended upward until in July it matched the budgeted revenue amount.

The willingness of jail management to increase revenue inmates was at least partially due to turnover in a few key management positions. No doubt reversing the low revenue numbers of the first quarter took much planning and effort by all jail staff, especially considering the effects of low, although better than before, staffing levels, which resulted in mandatory overtime.  Because of these unique circumstances, it was recommended to remunerate the County Jail, in the amount of $20,000, to be distributed per the Detention Facility Revenue Incentive Policy.

Due to the fact that excessive amounts of overtime are required throughout the Kansas Department of Corrections, Captain Floyd Hunt stated “It’s hard to keep people on.”

“We appreciate you and your staff and what you do out there,” shared Commissioner Woydziak.  Payment of $20,000 to the Jail staff to be distributed per the Detention Facility Revenue Incentive Policy was approved.

Read the full Commission Report

 

 

Hemp Farming Education Seminar

The Hemp Development Group, LLC is presenting to the public an educational seminar featuring Veronica Carpio of Grow Hemp Colorado, LLC. The seminar will take place on February 28, 2019, from 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm at the Best Western Wichita North 915 E 53rd St North Wichita KS 67219. $10 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by contacting Rick@HempDevelopmentGroup.com as seating is limited.

Ms. Veronica Carpio, founder of Grow Hemp Colorado an open source hemp organization focused on hemp education, farming and manufacturing solutions will present the seminar. Ms. Carpio is one of the first 3 U.S. hemp farmers, first registered female hemp farmer, first licensed seed seller in the US, and is the first female hemp seed breeder to get seed certified in 2 states in 2018 and recently one in Kansas for 2019. Ms. Carpio is the Author of the “Colorado Hemp Foods Bill” which now regulates all hemp products as food, food additive and herbs including CBD in Colorado. Her mission is to work with farmers across the USA to educate and ensure successful harvest both under contract and within 3rd party opportunities, which provide turnkey solutions. She is well versed in all things hemp from genetics, planting, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, state, and federal laws and is driven to help Kansas’s farmers be successful.

This meeting is timely as the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Research Program applications for the growing year 2019, are due March 1st. Assistance in proposal completion and a compliance review will be provided at the end of the event for those that are interested. 

Attendees will learn how to build a solid foundation, finding success in the first year and setting up for long term success and profitability for many years to come.  Understanding the key essentials that will give confidence in making the right decision for your 2019 hemp farming plan and or hemp business plan.  Come out and learn how Kansans are going to impact positively our future generations to come with Industrial Hemp.

 

El Dorado Police and Fire Departments Give Annual Reports

During the biweekly City Commission meeting, Police Chief Curt Zieman addressed the Commission with a summary of the past year’s accomplishments, projects, and initiatives planned for the upcoming year, and major trends and challenges affecting the department’s operations.

The El Dorado Police Department motto is “Community Safety, Partners in Service.”  The motto states the essential purpose of the El Dorado Police Department, which is to protect the rights of all persons within its jurisdiction to be free from criminal attack, to be secure in their possessions and to live in peace.

Chief Zieman shared a quote that he keeps in his office as a reminder to himself and his officers, “Your job gives you authority but your behavior gives you respect.”

Citing 2018 crime statistics, he noted that the numbers were down on average, but there were a few categories which increased from 2017.  Arson was up 1300% with a total of 13 incidents. Many of them were attributed to a single individual who has since been prosecuted. Burglary was up 55%, kidnapping was up 100% with one incident. Other areas of increase included sex offense, non-force; weapon law violations; DUI; family offense, non-violence; runaways; and trespassing.  He mentioned the trespassing increase was due in part to the issue of homelessness and individuals seeking shelter.

He reported that El Dorado was listed as the 14th safest city (out of 30) in Kansas as rated by Alarms.com.  Leawood, Kansas ranked as number 1 and Wichita rounding out the list at number 30.

Zieman listed several successful projects from the previous year that the Police Department plans to continue as well as bringing back a former one.  Citizens Police Academy is an educational program that meets once a week for 8 weeks. Classes will include Introduction and orientation, Patrol Operations, Traffic Stops and Traffic Laws, Criminal Investigations, Self Defense, Drug investigations, DUI investigations, Use of Force and firearms, Report writing and other topics.

Commissioner Badwey extended his appreciation to Sgt Thompson for his quick response and attention to a child safety seat check.  Sgt Thompson is licensed to perform child safety seat checks and this is a free service provided to the community.  To schedule 

Zieman

Read Chief Zieman’s full El Dorado PD Annual Report

Giving the Fire Department Annual Report was Fire Chief Joe Haag.  He reported the Fire Department responded to 1,667 incidents in 2018 and that number is trending up since 2016.

Additionally, he noted the response times are down overall. The highest number of calls were for “EMS/Rescue” at 878, followed by “Good Intent” calls at 265 and actual “Fire” calls at 173.  

Provides 350 hours of public education through initiatives such as Project 20/ 20 at the High School, Middle School and Blackmore Elementary School; the Junior Firefighter Program; Fire Extinguisher Training; Safety Talk with First Baptist Preschool & Daycare and at EduCare; Fire Prevention Week assemblies at Grandview, Skelly, Jefferson, and Oil Hill; and Station Tours.  

Haag

Read Chief Haag’s El Dorado Fire Department Report

Also on the agenda was a Sanitary Sewer Extension Project.  Wilkinson Construction presented a petition for sanitary sewer extension of Lots 1-14 in Block 7 of the CL Stone Addition.  Resolution No. 2876, “to determine the advisability of the making of certain internal improvements in the City of El Dorado, Kansas; making certain findings with respect thereto; and authorizing and providing for the making of the improvements in accordance with such findings (Sanitary Sewer Improvements/Sanitary Sewer Extension- Project No. 553)” was approved by the Commission.  

Commissioner Guthrie is stepping down from the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and Commissioner Kendra Wilkinson was selected to replace him.  Additionally, Commissioner Wilkinson was selected as Vice-Mayor for the year 2019 and EFABC member. Commissioner Lewis was selected as alternate to EFABC.

The Commission adjourned for a 10 minute Executive Session and returned with no action.  

The next City Commission meeting will be Monday, February 18th at 6:30 P.M.  The meetings are held in the Commission Room at City Hall and are open to the public.