Vol. 1, Issue 6                                     August 2019
Downtown Wichita has transformed into a vibrant center for social, professional, and cultural experiences and continues to revitalize our community with new development. Over the past year or so, we have welcomed Cargill Protein Group’s new headquarters, River Vista residences near the Advanced Learning Library, and the new indoor-outdoor venue, Wave.

The work on the Riverfront Legacy Master Plan is encouraging. It is important to have input across our community on this very critical area of downtown. Please mark your calendars for the Urban Exploration or walking tours on September 24 and 25. The public is also encouraged to provide comments and their vision for the Riverfront Legacy Master Plan area anytime at www.riverfrontlegacywichita.org.
In addition to that project, I look forward to the completion of the Ballpark Village and welcoming our new baseball team to town next year. What do you think about the potential team names announced so far?

Finally, I believe everyone who travels down Douglas Avenue will appreciate seeing the new and improved Naftzger Park and the Spaghetti Works project, which includes the restoration of the historic Spaghetti Works building and a new development where Martin Pringle Law Firm will be the anchor tenant. 

To promote existing and future opportunities within Wichita’s urban core, Downtown Wichita has produced a new video, which highlights development progress and amenities. The video will be shared with a national audience to drive further development of our city and region. View the video here:   https://downtownwichita.org/development/overview.
Take Caution: School is in Session
Help keep our students safe this school year by following these tips:
  1. Be on the lookout for children and school zones.
  2. Always follow the school zone speed limits.
  3. Always stop for school buses that are loading and unloading children.
  4.  Never pass a stopped school bus.
  5. Watch out for school crossing guards and follow their signals.
  6.  Be aware of and watch out for children near schools, bus stops, sidewalks, in the streets, and in school parking lots.
  7. Avoid using a cell phone while in a school zone.
  8. Never text while driving, especially in a school zone.
  9. Exercise patience while driving, dropping kids off, and picking kids up from schools. 

East Kellogg Expansion
The reconstruction of Webb Road is nearly complete, frontage roads are functioning as planned and traffic will be on mainline US 54 sometime this winter. The US 54 and Webb Road project on Wichita’s east side is scheduled to wrap up in the spring of 2020.

View the project at www.E54ict.com. Updates include:
  • No left turns are allowed at the Kellogg and Webb Road intersection.
  • Travelling westbound, use the frontage road from Rock Road to access the Kansas Turnpike.
  • Travelling eastbound, access the Kansas Turnpike by following the detour onto K-96 at the east end of the construction area.
Work on the I-235 Green Project on began in March. Completion is planned for November 2021. This is phase one of the Wichita North Junction project. 
I-235 Green Project Tracker
Project updates can be found at www.235green.org and include:

  • The northbound I-235 Exit to North Broadway is closed until November.
  • Northbound I-235 and eastbound K-96 are reduced to one lane entering the work zone.
  • The Broadway on ramp to northbound I-235 is closed.
  • Old Lawrence Road is closed under I-235 until at least November.
Aging Programs Recognized at National Conference
The Central Plains Area Agency on Aging (CPAAA) recently received two awards during a national association conference. These awards recognize agencies on aging for going above and beyond creating successful programs for caregiving, healthy aging, nutrition, technology, intergenerational needs, and transportation. 

CPAAA received an Aging Innovations Award for the Mobile Farmers’ Market program. People age 60 and older in the tri-county area are encouraged to purchase fresh produce, honey, or herbs at local farmers’ markets. This innovative partnership with a local farmer allows for a mobile food truck to visit older adults and senior centers. It takes the farmers market straight to the clients. More than 1,000 people participated in the program last year. 

The Agency works with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to distribute Kansas Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program booklets to eligible older adults. Service coordinators, senior centers, and local county departments on aging distribute booklets and raise awareness about the program. 

CPAAA also received an Aging Achievement Award for innovative partnerships to enhance congregate meal service. After identifying opportunities to expand this service with housing properties and rural towns, an outside-the-box program was developed. Using three unique congregate sites and a centralized kitchen led to an increase in usage in one county and a pilot project at a rural hospital. 
Mental Health Pilot Program Shows Signs of Success
A promising pilot program serving the mental health needs of USD 295 students and improving attendance and academic outcomes is expanding to 24 from 22 schools.

Approved last year by the Kansas Legislature, the Mental Health Intervention Pilot Program is a partnership involving the Wichita Public School District and COMCARE of Sedgwick County, which places staff at the 24 schools.
“As a former educator, I understand the importance of this program and the need for resources in our schools,” said Commission Chairman David Dennis. “I look forward to seeing this great partnership expand into additional schools.”

By the end of the 2019 school year, more than 7 00 students were served through the program. Results included students’ grades increasing by 50 percent, teachers reporting positive behavior increasing by 70 percent, and attendance increasing by 67 percent.

“This program has proven to be a needed resource in our school system,” said Joan Tammany, Executive Director of COMCARE. “The coordinated effort between USD 259 and COMCARE has allowed us to provide services to students faster and has helped students and families normalize the need for mental health resources. In addition, many students receiving services through this collaboration may otherwise never have sought out or received these services on their own. Intervening early can and does improve lives.”

The program is at five special day schools (Bryant, Greiffenstein, Wells, Sowers and Gateway), five elementary (Allen, Cessna, Dodge, Gardiner, Gammon, Isley, OK, and Stanley), six middle (Hamilton, Jardine, Marshall, Mead, Stucky and Truesdell), and six high schools (Heights, North, South, Southeast and West). The two new schools are Gammon and Stanley.

For questions about the available options for children, youth, and families, contact COMCARE at www.sedgwickcounty.org/COMCARE or by calling the children's intake line at 316-660-9605. COMCARE's Community Crisis Center is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week by calling 316-660-7500 for more immediate needs. 
Commission Adopts 2020 Budget
During their regular meeting August 7, Commissioners voted to adopt a $ 457,422,200 budget for 2020. It is comprised of $ 437,312,854 for Sedgwick County, $20,109,346 for Sedgwick County Fire District 1 (SCFD1), and a $22,798,238 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). 

Commissioners emphasized three themes throughout budget development including good partnerships with business, other local governments, and all stakeholders; emphasis on employees related to compensation and benefits, training and development, and overall work environment; and an increased emphasis on behavioral health services and resources.

“I am pleased that our staff was able to create a budget that fell in line with commissioner values, supported the needs of our community, and kept the financial impact on citizens to a minimum,” said Commission Chairman David Dennis. 

The 2020 Adopted Budget highlights include additional staff, resources, or new programs: 
Funding to the Department on Aging for Meals on Wheels, wheelchair posture seating, and other services;
  • Six additional full-time positions for COMCARE’s Community Crisis Center (CCC);
  • Funding for a new basic nutrition program for seniors living in rural communities;
  • Three additional staff positions for Emergency Communications;
  • Funding for the Integrated Care Team -1 or ICT-1 pilot program;
  • A flat pay adjustment for all employees and additional pay adjustments for positions with high turnover and pay issues; 
  • A Technology Review Board (TRB) to encourage the organization to be more fiscally responsible and cohesive when making technology purchases; and
  • Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, II reallocated his pay raise ($2,158) to storm drainage funding for a long-term funding solution.

“It was important to me, to show our residents how critical a long-term funding solution for storm drainage is,” said District 2 Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, II. “The damage from this year’s rainfall has created an unnecessary burden on residents that we need to remedy. And so I decided to put my money where my mouth is.”

This budget is evidence of an improving economy with assessed valuation growth in Sedgwick County of 4.61 percent and 5.32 percent in Fire District 1. Property tax rates are estimated to be 29.359 mills for Sedgwick County. The Fire District 1 mill levy was reduced from 18.131 mills to 17.889 mills based on estimated assessed valuation, subject to review and technical adjustments. The Budget was developed to ensure that resources were concentrated on those areas with the greatest needs for additional resources. 

County Manager Tom Stolz shared the Recommended Budget on July 17 and members of the public were invited to two public hearings (July 24 and August 5) or to leave a comment in an online forum on the County’s website ( www.sedgwickcounty.org). 
Commissioners Vote on Renewable Energy Policy

Recently the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners approved amendments to the Community Investments Plan and Unified Zoning Code, which addresses commercial wind and solar energy operations.

The amendments allow commercial solar energy systems that meet development and performance standards; allow for small wind and solar systems on individual properties that comply with guidelines; and prohibit commercial wind energy conversion systems in the City of Wichita and unincorporated areas of Sedgwick County. 

“After a thorough analysis of public input, airport locations, and residential development patterns, commercial wind energy systems have been deemed incompatible with our area,” said Chairman David Dennis. “Going forward, solar panels will still be welcome in our community. Kansans have a long history of being good stewards of our natural resources and I’m pleased to continue that tradition in Sedgwick County.”

The new guidelines protect the area’s future growth potential, aviation facilities such as “airports and landing strips” and addresses “aesthetics, environmental and cultural” concerns related to an urban county.

Prior to today’s vote, County officials held several public engagement opportunities including public meetings and public online forums.

The City of Wichita is expected to vote on the matter at a future meeting. 
Community Gathers for Groundwater Meeting
Commissioners, County staff, and residents gathered this month at Haysville Middle School, where several subject matter experts spoke on topics regarding groundwater and possible solutions to basement flooding due to record rainfall some Sedgwick County communities have experienced this summer. The goal of the meeting was to help citizens understand groundwater, discuss possible solutions, and answer questions.

To watch a video of the meeting, please visit:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDoZh2esFEk.
Riverfront Legacy Master Plan Community Engagement
The next community engagement opportunity for the Riverfront Legacy Master Plan will be the Urban Explorations (a series of site tours) on September 24 and 25. Tour location to be determined.

September 24, 2019
5 - 6 p.m.
6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

September 25, 2019
7:30 - 8:30 a.m.
noon to 1 p.m.

Mark your calendar for 4 p.m. on Monday, September 30 for the next Coalition Meeting. Location to be determined.

Learn more about the project at www.riverfrontlegacywichita.org.
As the top outdoor family attraction in the State, the mission of the Sedgwick County Zoo is to inspire discovery, appreciation, and respect for animals and nature. It is home to 3,000 animals and nearly 400 species. The Reed Family Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley exhibit is the third largest elephant habitat in the United States. 
Exploration Place, Kansas’ premier science center, inspires a deeper interest in science through creative and fun experiences for people of all ages. Through its permanent and travelling exhibits, education programs, Digital Dome Theater films and special events, visitors can enjoy learning about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  
The Kansas African American Museum endeavors to make the Kansas African American experience resonate with EVERY Kansan. Located in the venerable Calvary Baptist Church, visitors may expand their knowledge and understanding of the Kansas African American story. 
Residents and visitors can gain an understanding of our community and cultural heritage at the Wichita – Sedgwick County Historical Museum. By collecting, preserving, and interpreting materials which reflect the area’s heritage visitors can experience different facets that shaped the community we live in today.  

525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203