Vol. 4, Issue 1                                    January 2020
The Kansas Legislature is back in session and we are deeply involved in several major issues that impact Sedgwick County. Besides our legislative platform, which the commission recently approved, we are monitoring a number of other bills that are moving through the legislature. The top four issues we are concentrating on involve behavioral health issues. We are also concerned about nuisance abatement in the unincorporated areas of the county and we need one adjustment to the urban area designation that was passed by the legislature. That adjustment will allow us to create a Charter Commission to work certain issues. We are also pleased that our partners including the City of Wichita, the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Regional Economic Area Partnership (REAP) are all asking the legislature to support three critical and common issues that impact our region—behavioral health, transportation and workforce initiatives.

Though we are just one month into the 2020 budget year, we are already starting work on the 2021 budget. We are tracking several bills in the legislature that may impact our budget planning. We understand the concerns that all our citizens have with appraisals and property tax, and some of the bills being considered by the legislature are related to those issues. I know from public discussions that our commission is very concerned about providing the necessary, critical services to our community at the least possible cost. The problem is that every year we see the cost of those services increase due to inflation, utilities, increased demand, personnel costs, etc. When one group advocates for increases in spending, we must find way to reduce spending in other areas to offset the request. We welcome input from our community as we move through this budget cycle.

This year marks a number of anniversaries. We just celebrated the tenth anniversary of the INTRUST Bank Arena and we will soon celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Exploration Place. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of both Sedgwick County and the City of Wichita. Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Sedgwick County Zoo; we will celebrate with a new entrance, gift shop and more. Each of these milestones showcases what a great place Sedgwick County is to live, work and play.

I am very proud that I had the opportunity to serve as the Chairman of the Sedgwick County Board of County Commissioners for the past two years. I sincerely appreciate the faith and confidence the citizens of Sedgwick County and our Commissioners placed in me. On my final day as Chairman, it was my honor for me to present the Chairman’s Award to the Kansas Honor Flight for their support of our nation’s veterans. Please go to their website if you would like to learn more about supporting this worthy effort. 

It is an honor to serve all the citizens in Sedgwick County. Please do not hesitate to contact me or any of the Commissioners if we can be of assistance.
Projects in District 3
Bridge replacement on 279 th north of 45 th
  • Closed through December
  • Open to local traffic
  • Expected to be complete in March/April

Bridge construction on 53 rd St N between 231 st and 247 th W
  • Closed to thru traffic during construction
  • Work began on October 21
  • Expected to be complete in the spring

Bridge construction on 215 th W between 13 th and 21 st N
  • Closed to thru traffic during construction
  • Work began on November 11
  • Expected to be complete in the spring
I-235 Green Project Tracker
Project updates can be found at www.235green.org and include:
Work on the I-235 Green Project began in March. Completion is planned for November 2021. This is phase one of the Wichita North Junction project. 
  • The northbound I-235 exit ramp to North Broadway is open.
  • Northbound I-235 and eastbound K-96 are reduced to one lane each as they enter the work zone.
  • The North Broadway on ramp to northbound I-235 is closed until construction of the two ramps is complete on the south side of the interstate (probably until 2021).
  • Northbound and southbound Broadway has been reduced to one lane traffic each until bridge construction is complete. 
New Bridge named for Former Commissioner
After nearly one year of construction, the Tim Norton Pedestrian Bridge along Meridian is complete. The project was made possible thanks to partnerships involving Sedgwick County, City of Haysville, and Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WAMPO).

Designed by WSP and constructed by King Construction, the 907 foot-long bridge spans the M.S. Mitch Mitchell Floodway and connects to existing pathways to the north and south. The total cost of the bridge is $3.2 million. This bridge supports the County’s continuing effort to complete inter-city pedestrian linkages and encourage overall walkability, such as the Aviation Pathway connecting Derby, Mulvane, McConnell Air Force Base, and Wichita.
 
“This project has been more than a decade in the making and its completion speaks to the value of partnerships, especially our friends at WAMPO and Mayor Armstrong and the Haysville City Council who had the vision and determination to complete this project,” said Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, whose District 2 includes the bridge.

The original application for the bridge was submitted to WAMPO in 2009 for construction between 2010 and 2019. It had funding set aside in the 2014 County’s Capital Improvement Project budget but, due to the bids being higher than anticipated, the project did not move ahead.

The bridge was named after Norton, the former commissioner who was an early supporter, champion and longtime public servant representing District 2.
 
“Commissioner Norton served this district honorably for years,” added Commissioner O’Donnell. “He was a consequential, passionate and diligent public servant who, even today, continues to selflessly serve our region.” 
Coronavirus confirmed in the United States
Sedgwick County residents are at low risk for infection with the new 2019-nCoV coronavirus recently identified from Wuhan, China. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) has confirmed five cases in the United States. All five cases had recently traveled from China. All contacts are being monitored.

For more information, please visit the CDC Coronavirus website at  https://www.cdc.gov  or  https://www.sedgwickcounty.org/health/community-health-news/ .

A full news release regarding a person under investigation in Kansas can be found here:  https://bit.ly/36ylWIP .

(MGN Image)
New Webpage launches to serve People affected by Layoffs
The Aerospace Task Force, a group of 15 organizations and partners, launched a webpage on January 21 to provide information and connections to resources for people affected by the 737 MAX production suspension and related layoffs. This new webpage streamlines information from over 20 websites to help decrease internet search time for affected workers during this difficult time. 

The partners coordinated content on a variety of topics that will be continuously updated as more information and resources become available. 

The Air Capital Commitment webpage connects to other sites such as the State of Kansas’ website through the Department of Labor, open jobs and job fairs through Workforce Alliance and United Way of the Plains one-stop 2-1-1 connection to social service and healthcare resources. 

The site is part of a community-wide effort to coordinate a strong, unified response to keep and support the region’s and state’s world-class aviation workforce during the production suspension. 
Kansas Honor Flight receives Chairman’s Award
In one of his last official duties as Chairman, Commissioner David Dennis presented the 2019 Chairman’s Award to Kansas Honor Flight (KHF). 

“This organization inspires and mobilizes our community to support this generous cause through donations to ensure that all veterans who served during WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War are able to travel,” said Chairman David Dennis. “Without the volunteers who give their time, talents, or funds, the Honor Flight might not exist.” 

KHF began in 2012 to honor veterans by providing memorable trips at no cost to visit their respective Memorials in Washington, D.C. By the end of 2019, more than 2,500 Kansas veterans have participated in these trips. KHF allows our community to thank our veterans in a very meaningful way and greet them with a hero’s welcome upon their return home.

Each year since 1988, the chairman of the Board of Sedgwick County selects one organization, project, or person who has exhibited a high level of dedication to public service, or otherwise made strides to improving our community. Some past recipients of this award include: the Patriot Guard, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office Community Policing Unit, the Wichita Independent Business Association (WIBA), and the Sedgwick County Zoological Society.
Meitzner, Cruse selected to lead County Commission 
During the January 15 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, First District Commissioner Pete Meitzner was selected to serve as Chairman. Fourth District Commissioner Lacey Cruse was selected to be the new Chair Pro Tem. Both will serve in these roles through January 14, 2021.

“This is going to be an exciting year with welcoming a new baseball season, the conversations surrounding the riverfront, our support for the aviation sector, and our continued support for mental health services,” Meitzner said. “As Chair, I intend to support our staff, and work with our city, state, and business partners who invest in making our region better. I will do the best I can with the respect and dignity the community deserves.”

Meitzner began his first term as a Sedgwick County Commissioner representing District 1 in January 2019. Prior to serving as a Commissioner, he represented Wichita District II as a City Councilmember for seven years. His experience as a business leader, his budget knowledge and his civic work have supported his work in local government as well as with state and federal officials. Meitzner also serves on numerous non-profit and community boards. 

Cruse joined the Board Sedgwick County Commissioners in January 2019. She is a singer/ songwriter who has professional experience in communications, marketing and advertising. During her time as a Commissioner, Cruse has advocated for issues related to improved quality of life, behavioral health and community partnerships. She has served on several boards including the Arts Council and The Kansas African-American Museum. She wants elected officials to work together and put people back into the heart of decision-making. 
Tickets available for 14th Annual Death by Chocolate
Indulge in delicious delights for STEM Education at Exploration Place's largest fundraiser of the year. Treat your senses with unlimited sweets, savory food and drinks from area restaurants, chefs and vendors.

Tickets and event details can be found here: https://exploration.org/support/death-by-chocolate/.

(Exploration Place Image)
Celebrating Ten Years
INTRUST Bank Arena plans to celebrate its ten-year anniversary in a big way throughout 2020, including a 10th Anniversary Concert Series which kicked off with Guns N’ Roses on Oct. 7, 2019 and George Strait on January 24. To date, the series also features Jason Aldean (February 15), KISS (February 19), Blake Shelton (March 11) and Cher (April 22), with more announcements to come throughout the year. 

Additionally, a commemorative log along with a new branding campaign has been developed to commemorate this milestone year and will be visible on street pole banners surrounding the arena, souvenir cups sold at arena concession stands, special ticket stock for our premium seat holders, and more projects to be developed in the coming months. In December, commemorative banners were hung in the South Lobby of the arena that highlight some of INTRUST Bank Arena’s most significant milestones over the past decade. The banners showcase various achievements, from hosting Brad Paisley, our sold out, grand-opening concert in 2010, to Metallica, our highest attended show in arena history, and everything in between. 

(Arena Image)
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.  

316-660-9300
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203