Vol. 1, Issue 9                                     September 2019
Dear neighbors,
 
Last night I attended the debut screening of “ I Am Not Scared - The Miracle of Jenny Wood .” This beautiful documentary , by Travis Heying , tells the somewhat hard to watch but very inspiring story of a songstress and friend fighting to get back to normal.
 
But what is normal?
 
Webster describes it as “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.” As I sat and watched Jenny walk through the crowd to take the stage – as I listened to her for the first time in about 6 months – she seemed nervous. Understandably so. For Jenny, her normal may be something very different now. Dealing with the loss of her mother and niece. Dealing with a body and mind still trying to heal. Time will only tell. Jenny is a fighter and you could tell last night for sure. Taking the stage on a “normal” night with so many people is nerve-wracking, so it’s no surprise she may have felt that way. To go through what she has gone through and pour her soul out for others to feel is truly inspiring.
 
Watching Jenny last night , and reflecting with my daughter on the way home from the screening I began to ask myself, “What is normal?” What is my normal? What is our community’s normal? It’s been quite the eye-opener to learn how some would describe that word. Normal to me can be completely opposite to someone else. Ever felt that way? Here lately, in my opinion, it seems that there are a lot of things that are becoming normal that shouldn’t be.
 
Think about the normal in your life. Think about the labels that we hear each and every day. Is it normal for you and others to think one way strongly for or against something just by hearing a word?
 
Let’s take for example the word, “hospice”. To some, it is a gift that everyone should experience when the need arises. To others it means death and evokes fear. How did it make you feel?
 
Now let’s take the word “politics”, even more specifically Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal.
 
Feel something when you read those?
 
Perhaps you had strong feelings or nothing at all? In a recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research that explores America s changing cultural, religious , and political landscape, found that “ As we head into the 2020 presidential campaign, a striking 91 percent of  people said that the country is divided over politics. This is higher than the percentage of people who reported that America is divided over issues of race and ethnicity (83 percent) or religion (77 percent).”
 
It’s really no surprise that Democrats and Republicans have always disagreed over policy but something , as of late , has things becoming increasingly more personal.
 
Could this be our new normal?
 
Even though there is a clear divide when it comes to party affiliation in our city and/or county, I am certainly encouraged by the level of civility that I’ve seen. On a local level the issues we face are not subject to a party affiliation. Roads, bridges, 911 services, county health services, etc. are for everyone and are in no way partisan.
 
Could we, on a local level, change the normal “political” divide? Could we, as a community, understand that the issues we face here locally don’t carry a party label?
 
Life is too short to have a “normal” that includes hating someone for their party affiliation.
 
In closing, we have an huge opportunity to change the norm. I, for one, am keeping an open mind when it comes to any and all challenges facing our community. I have met with leaders on the right and on the left and no matter what, at the end of the day we all want the same things. We want to see our friends and children happy. We all want to have healthy food to eat and a warm bed to sleep in.
 
It is so encouraging to see how many people are doing great things in a cooperative manner. I think we, as a community, the right, the left and everything in-between can change the normal and I’m willing to do my best to make the new normal a positive one that includes all voices.
 
Let’s make our new normal one of compassion, empathy and kindness. I think we could all agree that is a “normal” we could learn to love.
 
As always it is a pleasure serving this community. I have grown more than I could ever imagine and am learning more and more with each passing day and with each person I meet.
 
If you have ideas, comments, concerns or suggestions you’d like to share with me, reach out. My door is always open.
 
Above all - Spread Kindness. It helps in more ways than you know.
 
Best,

Lacey
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.

As a side note: Governor Kelly is a woman who inspires me. And she certainly embodies the phrase “Empowered Women Empower Women!” When I asked if she had a quick moment for a picture in my office there was no hesitation. I’m so glad she is in charge.

View a video of the ceremonial signing here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUFXmMQzl10
Citizens Advisory Board
At the most recent District 4 Citizens Advisory Board, we discussed EMS and took a tour of Maize Career Academy.

Mark your calendar for the next meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, October 14, at McAdams Recreation Center, 1329 E. 13th St. North.

We will talk about the Riverfront Legacy Master Plan and Sedgwick County’s Strategic Plan. Make sure your voice is heard!  

These meetings are always open to the public. Let me know if you are interested in possibly serving on this advisory board in the future.
Jenny Wood Documentary Released this Week
Jenny Wood’s story of hope and recovery produced by the Wichita Eagle dropped this week. As a friend and fellow musician, I am inspired by her strength, courage, and endurance. She is a fighter who lives her life to the fullest. I can’t wait to see the documentary of her road to recovery.
 
Click on the image to watch the documentary. 
Drug Court Graduation Sparks Hope
Handing out these stickers at the Drug Court Graduation. Excited for this group.
 
Three individuals got up and shared their personal stories. Truly incredible to hear how this program has changed lives.
 
Drug Court is a specialty court with the responsibility to handle cases involving drug-using offenders though comprehensive supervision, drug testing, treatment services and immediate sanctions and incentives. It is a partnership with COMCARE, the Department of Corrections, the District Court, the Office of the District Attorney and the Sheriff's Office. Effective court services and substance abuse treatment are combined to help abusers gain a new lifestyle through drug and alcohol recovery.
 
The Sedgwick County Drug Court Program began in 2008 and is the production of more than two decades of scientific research. There are 14 drug courts in Kansas.
 
Using a non-adversarial approach, prosecution and defense attorneys promote public safety while protecting the due process rights of the people in the program. It has been proven Drug Court significantly reduces drug use and crime at a substantial cost savings.
 
The overarching goal of the Sedgwick County Drug Court Program is to provide an alternative probation program that assists addicts in attaining a lifetime recovery and promote a crime free and productive life.
 
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 .
Fundraiser to Benefit Mental Health Care
The third annual Beautiful Minds Gala begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, October 5 at Mark Arts, ADDRESS. This event supports the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas which has been in service for more than 60 years.
 
The funds raised go toward supporting many of its programs so they can be provided to the public at no cost.
 
Tickets and event information can be found here: https://www.mhasck.org/beautiful-minds-2019.html  
Riverfront Legacy Master Plan Community Engagement
Mark your calendar for these upcoming community engagement opportunities regarding the Riverfront Legacy Master Plan:

Commissioner Cruse’s District 4 Citizens Advisory Board
Monday, October 14
6 p.m.
McAdams Recreation Center, 1329 E. 13th St. North

Public Open House
Thursday, October 17
5 - 6 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.
Wichita State University Journalism Students
This month I had a great discussion with a group of journalism students about the good, the bad, and the ugly in terms of news coverage and my experience thus far in the public eye.

Thank you to Kevin Hager at the Elliott School for the invitation. What a smart class!
Open Streets ICT 2019
Nova and I had the chance to walk and bike along Douglas Ave. at the 3rd Annual Open Streets ICT!

By temporarily removing the danger of motor vehicles, Open Streets provides a novel type of public space that helps people make social connections and lets them view their city through a new lens.

Here's a picture of us at one of the vendor booths. The last day to register to vote for the 2019 General Election is October 15. Are you registered?
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.
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.
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 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.
 
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 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.
 
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.
  
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.

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.
Teen Hero Recognized by Commissioners
Commissioner Lacey Cruse introduced an extraordinary individual and real hero in our community at a recent Commission meeting.
 
On the morning of May 26, Geoffrey Lopez was like any other 16-year-old on summer vacation – hanging out at Hap McLean Park. Because of the rainy spring, Chisholm Creek—which runs right through the park—had flooded. Honestly, he probably should have been anywhere else than next to a flooded creek. But, had he not been  there, this story might have a different ending.
 
Twelve-year-old Gunner Banta was trying to ride his bike across the foot bridge when the front wheel was pulled off the bridge and he fell into the rushing water. The current instantly washed him down the creek. Without hesitation, Geoffrey ran toward Gunner, climbed on a tree limb, reached out for him, and heroically pulled him to shore.
 
Thanks to Geoffrey’s quick thinking, Gunner received only a few minor scratches on his hands and knees. Geoffrey represents the best Sedgwick County has to offer. He acted selflessly and heroically to help somebody in need, and hopefully his actions inspire others to do the same.
 
Geoffrey was presented with a certificate for heroism, a Sedgwick County challenge coin, and a Superman plaque.
Projects in District 4
Bridge construction on Hydraulic at 69 th St. North
  • Closed to thru traffic during construction
  • Work began in mid-August
  • Expected to be complete in early 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.
  • Old Lawrence Road is closed under I-235 until at least November.
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.
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.  
Contact  Commissioner Lacey Cruse
316-660-9300
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 672