Vol. 3, Issue 9                                     September 2019
Recently, I accompanied the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce on a City-to-City trip to San Antonio, Texas. This year, the Chamber organized attendees into three different tracks. One was for education, one was for economic development, and the track that I chose was for behavioral health. My group was able to tour the Restoration Center, which is similar to our COMCARE Crisis Center. We also toured Haven for Hope, which is much more than a homeless shelter. It is a collaboration between many non-profit providers to help people experiencing homelessness. This trip allowed community leaders from this region to look at three critical issues that many communities are experiencing. It provided an opportunity to learn what others are doing to help with the behavioral health crisis, improve education and enhance economic development. 

Sedgwick County recently hosted a state legislative delegation that was travelling around Kansas to explore issues that will impact the next legislative session in Topeka. Sheriff Jeff Easter, and our two Community Coordinators, Jennifer Wilson and Wendy Hummell, briefed the legislators on Sedgwick County’s response to the behavioral health crisis. Jennifer and Wendy are working with Wichita State University to develop a Strategic Plan and a Business Plan to guide our planning and activities concerning this issue. I know many people are asking what is the solution and how much will it cost. We are not close to answering either of those two questions until we develop the plans necessary to guide those critical decisions. We did not get here over night, and the solutions will take time to plan so we do it right. 

My next Citizens Advisory Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, October 7 at the Goddard School District Conference Center and we will discuss Sedgwick County’s Strategic Plan. Our leaders have been working on this plan since early this year. We have engaged the vast majority of our staff and we now want community input. Please mark your calendar and plan to be there. 

As always, it is an honor to represent District 3. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need assistance from Sedgwick County.

David Dennis 
September is National Preparedness Month, are you prepared?
September is National Preparedness Month – a month spent promoting family and community disaster and emergency planning now and throughout the year. This year’s theme is “Prepared, Not Scared.”

It’s not uncommon for Kansans to experience all four seasons in one day; a good indication that you should always be prepared.

Below are some tips to help prepare you and your family for an unexpected event.
  • At home, keep fire extinguishers nearby, check the batteries in your smoke detectors, and have your chimney inspected. All of these should be checked semi-annually.
  • A NOAA all hazards weather radio is a great investment, which can give you warnings for hazards in your area, as well as public safety emergencies. These are beneficial in your home as outdoor warning sirens are not designed to be heard indoors.
  • Stock your emergency shelter with extra water, snacks, clothes and shoes, as well blankets or other items to cover yourself with for further protection.
  • Purchase ice melt early in the season, store in a dry area, and keep a shovel handy to clear a path. If the use of a generator is necessary, make sure you have extension cords long enough to run it away from the house where there is room for air circulation.
  • Have your vehicle serviced regularly. Always keep a phone charger, first aid kit, jumper cables, water, snacks, flash light, and tow rope in your vehicle. Seasonally, think about adding other items, such as; boots, warm clothes, blankets, a shovel, ice scraper, bag of sand or cat litter, and tire chains.
  • If you are traveling in inclement weather, know where emergency shelters are, turn a local radio station on, and drive for the conditions. Remember to turn around, don’t drown and if your wipers are on, turn your lights on.
  • At all times of the year, prepare a system to check your vehicle for other occupants before you leave it.
  • As we approach flu season, remember there are many places to get your flu shot, including the Sedgwick County Health Department. Visit https://www.sedgwickcounty.org/health/ for more information.
  • To help prevent the spread of germs, please cover your mouth when you cough and wash your hands.

For more information on ways you can prepare your family, please visit  https://www.ready.gov/   or  https://www.sedgwickcounty.org/emerg…/severe-weather-safety/ .
County Recognizes Forensic Science Week, Receives Re-Accreditation
Forensic Science Week, September 15-21, recognizes the important work that forensic science plays in the criminal justice system. It is one way to praise the scientific and technical professionals who serve Sedgwick County and partnering agencies. 

All of their work is performed at the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center, a full-service, state-of-the-art facility housing the office of the District Coroner and Forensic Science Laboratories (FSL).

The Center has been accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) since 2001 and recently received notice of its continuing full accreditation. The notice includes, “[t]he citizens can be proud of the hard work, dedication, and leadership” at the Regional Forensic Science Center.

In 2018, medical investigators triaged 3,385 deaths. Medical investigators serve as the ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ of the coroner as they are on duty 24 hours, seven days a week. They may attend the scene of a death when it occurs outside of a hospital setting.

The Forensic Laboratories examined more than 15,000 items of evidence submitted in 3,306 criminal cases. Last year, 66 percent of fatally injured drivers had alcohol and/or drugs in their system. Methamphetamine-related deaths have steadily increased over the last five years with the highest number of cases on record (115) in 2018. Opioid-related (fentanyl, heroin, oxycodone, and other) deaths have increased, in 2018 they totaled 148.

Additionally, the Center is one of the first 12 agencies in the U.S. to achieve ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) in the Field of Forensic Science Testing. The certification is granted after thorough evaluation of an organization’s management system and scientific and technical procedures and practices.
Projects in District 3
Bridge replacement on 119 th Street between MacArthur Road and K-42
  • Closed to thru traffic during construction
  • Work to begin in mid-August
  • Expected to be complete in October
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 on ramp and exit to North Broadway are both closed until construction of the ramps is completed.
  • Both northbound & southbound Broadway in the construction zone under I-235 are single lane traffic until next year.
  • Northbound I-235 and eastbound K-96 are reduced to one lane entering the work zone.
  • Old Lawrence Road is closed under I-235 until at least November.
Sedgwick County Observed Suicide Prevention Week
Sedgwick County Commissioners proclaimed the first week of September as Suicide Prevention Week.

Know the signs:
TALK: No reason to live. Feeling trapped. Being a burden to others. Unbearable pain. Talk of killing themselves.
BEHAVIOR: Increased alcohol/drug use. Isolation from family and friends. Sleeping too little/too much. Withdrawing from activities. Seeking access to pills/weapons or other means.
MOOD: Depression. Loss of interest. Rage. Irritability. Humiliation. Anxiety.

What you can do:
Take it seriously, if someone mentions suicide.
Talk openly and matter-of - factly about suicide.
Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
Offer hope that help is available.
Do not leave him or her alone.
Get help immediately! 

The COMCARE Community Crisis Center is a 24-hour resource for mental health assistance and suicide prevention. Call them today at (316) 660- 7500 or click here for more information.
Sedgwick County Recognizes National Direct Support Professionals
The Sedgwick County Developmental Disability Organization (SCDDO) has launched a media campaign seeking to hire professionals who will assist people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The media campaign features advertising that promotes jobs through SCDDO’s network of community service providers including Envision, Goodwill Industries of Kansas, Rainbows United, Starkey, KETCH, Catholic Charities, The Arc of Sedgwick County and others. People searching for a rewarding career and flexible work hours should apply for jobs at a specific agency.
The campaign aims to find workers for vacancies that are hard to fill in the direct support workforce. The campaign coincides with National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week, September 8 – 14.
“Sedgwick County is taking this opportunity to highlight the dedicated, innovative direct support workforce,” said Dee Nighswonger, SCDDO Director.
For more information about providers and their job opportunities, please visit www.careerofcaring.org .
For a video capturing the work of direct support professionals, please visit:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7FUQNulU_I&feature=youtu.be
County Hosts Legislative Tour of COMCARE
Earlier this month, State Legislators traveled across Kansas touring a variety of mental health facilities. They spent time at the Community Crisis Center (CCC) where Joan Tammany, COMCARE Executive Director, talked about the many services offered at COMCARE, the growth of intervention teams in Wichita Public Schools, and successes and challenges COMCARE has faced. In addition to hearing from Joan, Tisha Darland, Director of Crisis and Access Services, provided tours of the CCC, a 24-hour resource center for mental health assistance and suicide prevention. Legislators heard from patients who receive services at COMCARE and shared their experiences with mental illness.

That evening, the Legislators, Commissioners, and County leaders attended a dinner and presentation at INTRUST Bank Arena where Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter, Jen Wilson, Behavioral Health Community Collaborator, and Wendy Hummell, Substance Abuse Coordinator, discussed the Mental Health Substance Abuse Coalition, specifically highlighting early victories made by the coalition, strategic planning project highlights, and common themes from recent studies and focus groups.
Sedgwick County Hosts Governor, Lt. Governor for Ceremonial Bill Signing
Governor Laura Kelly, Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers, Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman, Commissioners, and other local and state elected officials gathered for a ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 130 (SB130) this month. The bill was approved by the Governor on April 15 and will take effect once regulations are in place.

Once SB130 takes effect, it will allow registered voters to vote at any polling place within the County on Election Day. The bill included having locations available as “vote centers” or other locations where a voter could avoid casting a provisional ballot.

View a video of the ceremonial signing here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUFXmMQzl10
County Officials Attend City-to-City Leadership Visit
Commissioners David Dennis and Lacey Cruse and other County officials visited San Antonio, TX in September for the annual City-to-City Leadership Visit planned by the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce. The trip introduces business and community leaders to innovative projects and best principles that may be adapted and implemented in their own community.

Nearly sixty business leaders had the opportunity to exchange information with peers and take a deeper dive into the following topics: economic development, mental health and homelessness, and education. Specifically, Sedgwick County has a strong interest in programs, projects, and initiatives related to behavioral health, which is a top priority in County Government.
County Officials and Partners Welcome Additions to Sedgwick County Park
Sedgwick County officials and community partners celebrated additions to Sedgwick County Park Thursday, September 19 at the Sunrise Boundless Playscape and the Art Walk.
“Sedgwick County is a proud supporter of the community’s arts and culture amenities,” Chairman David Dennis said. “Partnerships [like this] are vital to the success of our community.”
The County and the West Sedgwick County Sunrise Rotary Club celebrated a $150,000 renovation project of the Sunrise Boundless Playscape. The project was funded by the Rotary, County, corporate and private donations.
“With help from the community, the Boundless Playscape has become a place where kids - no matter their abilities - can make new friends and just have fun,” Rotary President Matt Byrum said.
Three major areas of the Playscape now have new play equipment:
  • A wheelchair-accessible maze through the generous gifts from Goebel Star Lumber Family Foundation, Kansas Children’s Foundation (formerly Wesley Children’s Foundation), Cox Charities, and JR Custom Metal.
  • Sound Play Garden through the generosity of Envision.
  • A new children’s area replacing the sand play through the generosity of the Lattner Family Foundation, West Wichita Rotary Club, Fidelity Bank, and Sedgwick County.
The Playscape is a 1.5-acre outdoor play area nestled in the middle of Sedgwick County Park with age-appropriate equipment for toddlers to elementary-age children. There are separate swing bays for babies and toddlers, elementary-age children, high back swings for children with spinal challenges, and the Sway Fun swing for those who use wheelchairs. There are climbing structures, slides, spinners and sound play equipment. Phase 1 was dedicated in 2008.
County officials and the Wichita Arts Council recognized the artwork installed at the Sedgwick County Art Walk at an event that afternoon. Two pieces of artwork by Terry Corbett have been completed so far.
“Inclusion was at the very heart of the Art Walk design,” Arts Council President Martha Linsner said. “Art is for everybody, and the wheelchair-friendly surfaces guarantee that anyone and everyone can be part of the Art Walk.”  
Twenty acres of parkland near 13th Street has been designated for an art walk with “family-friendly environmental art.” The Wichita Arts Council approves the artwork, the County maintains it, and helps construct pathways to make it wheelchair accessible. An estimate of the cost of the artwork, installation, and pathways is approximately $400,000.
2019 Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cook-off
Join us Saturday, September 28 for the Wichita Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cook-off! We're excited to partner with the City of Wichita and The Anchor this year.

This year there will be a cornhole tournament at 9 a.m. Tasting begins at noon. 

As always tasting kits are only $5 per person, and the event proceeds go to The Good Life Grants and to support local charities.
2019 Trailblazers Gala
Tickets for The Kansas African American Museum (TKAAM 2019 Trailblazers Gala  event Saturday, October 5 are available.

To reserve a table contact the Museum at (316) 262-7651 or purchase single seats online at  https://bit.ly/2kQp7JY .
County Seeks Input on New Strategic Plan
Residents are encouraged to learn about Sedgwick County’s new strategic planning efforts and offer feedback during several upcoming meetings:

Commissioner David Dennis' District 3 Citizens Advisory Board
October 7, 2019
7 p.m.
Goddard School's Conference Center
315 S. Main, Goddard, Ks.

Wichita State University’s Public Policy and Management Center has been facilitating Sedgwick County’s strategic planning process since February, engaging employees at all levels, and keeping Commissioners updated on the process. Topics have included organizational mission, vision and values, community partnerships, attracting and retaining workers, internal and external communications, and moving the County forward over the next five years. The community will have the opportunity to provide input throughout September and October before Commissioners receive a final plan in November. 
Riverfront Legacy Master Plan Community Engagement
Mark your calendar for these upcoming community engagement opportunities regarding the Riverfront Legacy Master Plan:
Public Open House
Thursday, October 17
5 p.m.
Location to be determined.
Coalition Meeting
Monday, October 28
4 p.m.
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