Vol. 1, Issue 10                                    November 2019
Not your average Jane.
I’ve always done things little differently in my life. Been the one to always buy the item on the sale rack that clearly no one else wanted. Have a very unconventional parenting style. Ran for a seat that no one thought I’d win. Yet, here I sit.

You may notice how my greetings are not the average, “here’s what’s happening in the County this month” and that is intentional. Road projects, financial updates, etc. It’s all clearly laid out in the rest of this newsletter. I want this space - the greeting - to be a place for you to get to know me. The “politician” who is representing you on the County Commission. For the past 11 months, I have listened and – sort of – sat back. One thing everyone told me to do was “get your feet wet, listen, take everything in, and learn as much as you can this first year.” That was pretty common advice and something I did not take lightly.

Well, here we are. Coming up on the end of this first year and what a ride it has been. I have learned more than I could have ever imagined. I mean, I have learned a TON: a lot about the nuts and bolts of county government, everything from civic engagement to politics in real life. It’s been an eye opener to say the least.

In a short time I have seen the best and worst in people. Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” As many of you know (or can imagine), the world of politics can get gross. Yep, you read that right. Downright gross. And if I let it, it would eat me alive. I’m not sure why it has to be this way but … well … it is what it is.

Challenging the status quo is not always welcomed. Has it ever been? People say they want change, but when they are hit with it square in the face, it’s not something easily embraced.

The best part about being “GREEN” and new to this whole game is, I have no preconceived notion on how things are supposed to be or how they “should” have been done. I go with my gut. When I get that feeling that says, “Yeah, that seems strange, I wonder why it is done that way?”... I ask.

I ran for this office because I want to do my best for this community. I ran for this office because I want to create a government that includes all voices. I’m not here to break something that’s working, but I’m certainly not here to maintain business as usual. Usual is boring and boring has never been a part of my vocabulary.

The number one thing I hear from my constituents is, “What the heck does a county commissioner even do?” Well, I have been doing my very best to explain and will continue to do so. I want to tear down the wall of confusion about what really goes down. One of my top priorities is to help this community understand how its tax dollars are being spent. After all, it’s the taxpayers who are paying me to do this work. I feel a responsibility to tell them what I do, how their money is being spent and how operations are being managed. My wish is through my experience you can take this journey with me and feel comfortable asking me any questions you may have knowing its OK if you don’t know. This is complicated stuff, but I’m here to explain things in an uncomplicated and non-bureaucratic way. And if I don’t know the answer to your question, I will learn myself so I can make sure and help you understand.

This holiday season, I am so very thankful for the incredible support you have shown me during this tough first year. It’s people like you who keep me going and help me see that we are making a difference together. I also want to express my sincere appreciation to County staff who have helped me understand the ins and outs of government. I have a TON still to learn but the professional, incredibly knowledgeable people here at the County make it engaging and fun.

Have a great Thanksgiving with your friends and family. I wish you the very best and, AS ALWAYS, I work for you. If you have questions, concerns, comments or suggestions, TELL ME. I’m a great listener!

Four Tips for a Less Stressful Holiday Season
For some, holidays can bring added stress, anxiety, or depression. Here are some helpful tips to managing your mental health during this time.
  1. Set realistic expectations. No matter how much you want, you cannot control the weather, friends, or family members. You may not get a white Christmas, a peaceful holiday, or everyone around the dinner table. That is okay.
  2. Do something good for others. Now is a popular time for charitable acts such as donating your time or money to a favorite charity, cause, or organization. Another idea is to bring a meal or a gift card for a meal to a family with a new baby, someone who is ill, or a family experiencing grief.
  3. Do something good for yourself. It is important to take time for yourself during this busy season. Be present and enjoy time with others or alone (if you want to be). Indulge in moderation; don’t punish yourself for having an extra slice of pie but also don’t eat the whole pie. Find time to exercise, even a quick 30 minute walk is helpful. Remember to get enough sleep; it allows our bodies to recharge and prepare for the next day.
  4. Include your children in holiday planning. Let your children suggest family activities while school is out to get their buy-in to participate. You should participate too, don’t be a spectator, and enjoy the fun. Remember to take time to relax together, too. 
Thankful for Caregivers
National Family Caregiver Month – celebrated annually during the month of November – recognizes and honors family caregivers across the country who dedicate themselves to providing care and support to aging loved ones so they may live in their homes and communities. This year’s theme – Be Care Curious – encourages caregivers to ask questions, explore options, and share in the care decisions that affect the health and well-being of their loved ones to ensure they are receiving the best care possible.

Caregiving for someone is tough, and can create profound life changes. If you are one of the 90 million people in the U.S. caring for a loved one, thank you. Learn about additional resources and information by visiting  www.sedgwickcounty.org/aging/.
Seasonal Reminder from Animal Control
Don't forget about your pets this winter! If you're cold, they're cold too. Here are some helpful tips on keeping your pets warm if they must be outdoors.
Bon Voyage! from the Register of Deeds
The Register of Deeds Office will offer Passport Services, by appointment only, beginning December 16, 2019.

To learn more about Passport forms and other information, please visit the United States Department of State’s official passport website:  travel.state.gov/content/travel.html .
County Seeks Community Input on Strategic Plan
Over the past year, Sedgwick County has been dedicated to developing a new comprehensive Strategic Plan. Input was gathered from County Commissioners, local and regional partners, community stakeholders, and county employees - many of whom spent time facilitating meetings and gathering information to contribute to this effort. To this end, there are fresh mission, vision, and values statements, along with new organizational goals. 
At this time, we are seeking additional input from the community, and encourage residents to participate in a short survey about the strategic plan. The plan is still being revised and public feedback is essential to the process. Comments will be collected until Friday, December 6, 2019.

WSU 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 attracting and retaining workers, internal and external communications, and ways to move the County forward over the next five years. 
County's High Credit Rating Reaffirmed
Sedgwick County has received the highest credit worthiness rating of AAA from S&P Global.

Reported strengths include management practices, the County’s budget performance, fund balance levels/ ratios, the County’s liquidity, and its debt and contingent liability (a low debt limit). 

“Outside of our annual financial audits, this is an excellent way to provide assurance to our citizens as to the financial standing and management of the organization,” said Chief Financial Officer Lindsay Poe Rousseau. “This couldn’t happen without the Commission, County leadership, and support of the great Finance staff.”

In September, Sedgwick County received the highest credit worthiness rating from Moody’s – an Aaa rating which is above the median rating of Aa2 for US counties. Positive influencing factors cited included a solid financial position, an extensive and improving tax base, and a healthy wealth and income profile. The Moody’s rating also reflects an affordable debt burden which has decreased from 2014 to 2018.
Public Works Trains for Snow
Every year, Sedgwick County Public Works conducts a snow removal training to prepare for the upcoming winter season. Roughly 75 employees spend the day rotating between the classroom, a road grater course, and a sand truck course. Click here to watch a video about the exercise.

Now is a great time to make sure your vehicle is prepared for colder weather by using this checklist provided by Sedgwick County Emergency Management.
Your County Access: Fire Recruits
Sedgwick County’s new initiative – Your County Access – is designed to provide behind-the-scenes access to departments within Sedgwick County. The organization strives to provide quality public services for more than 500,000 residents, and these videos give you a glimpse into a day of hard-working and dedicated employees.

Class 1902 Recruits graduated from the Sedgwick County Fire District 1 Academy last week. Please watch the video (click on the photo) to see how hard they train to prepare for duty, serve with honor, and respond with compassion.
Projects in District 4
Bridge construction on Hydraulic at 69th St. North
  • Closed to thru traffic during construction
  • Work began in mid-August
  • Expected to be complete in early 2020

Bridge construction on Broadway between 117th St. N and 125th St. N
  • Closed to thru traffic during construction
  • Work began in late October 2019
  • Expected to be complete in late spring/early summer 2020
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.

General Election Results are Final
The Board of Vote Canvassers and Election Commissioner, Tabitha Lehman, met on November 15 to review the results of the General Election. Results were finalized Monday, November 18. View them here.
Riverfront Legacy Master Plan
On Thursday, November 14, the Design Team presented the preliminary design concepts for the Riverfront Legacy Master Plan site. Three scenarios with two variable options were presented each including an emphasis on public green spaces/parks/common areas, new performing arts and convention centers, various combinations of mixed-used buildings, a pedestrian bridge, and options for parking.
Provide your feedback on each scenario by taking an online questionnaire available at  www.riverfrontlegacywichita.org/contact .
If you were unable to attend the meeting, the full presentation can be viewed at  www.riverfrontlegacywichita.org/engagement-events .

Mark your calendar for these upcoming community engagement opportunities regarding the Riverfront Legacy Master Plan:

Coalition Meeting
Monday, December 16
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