Vol. 1, Issue 4                                     April 2019
The last four months as your Fourth District Commissioner has been interesting, to say the least. The month of April was tough. Not only did I turn another year older but I was privy to some pretty disturbing news. The news of multiple suicides and the overdose of a very young man has me doing some soul searching. This month has me asking myself some serious questions:

Why am I seated at this table? 
What is my purpose? 

I mean, let’s be real here, we all have to ask ourselves that very question from time to time. My time happens to be right now.

Daily, I meet with people who are vying for county funds. For this, for that. And 95% of the asks are for good causes. 95% are for services so badly needed here in our community. The sad part, there is no way all of these asks can be granted. There is just not enough money to go around. That is a fact. 

Over the next few months, we are headed into the 2020 budget cycle. Next week I will receive my huge binder with the 42 decision packages to consider from departments within our county. 42… That’s a lot to consider. 

So… the question is, “What is our priority as a county?”

Last year, the commission set Mental Health as the top legislative priority. Conversations were had. Meetings were held. BUT … what progress was made? Now, I mean no disrespect to those who are working to find a solution to this growing problem but what are we actually going to do? 

What actual changes are we going to take to make sure that Sedgwick County families get a system that can handle the growing number of behavioral health issues? What programs are we going to implement and when are we going to implement them? 

These are the questions I plan to keep at the forefront of my decision making when sifting through the 42 decision packages and all the other asks of me as a policy maker. One thing I want people to know is I’m not here to play games. I’m here to do the right thing with our taxpayer dollars. 

During the month of April, I was very busy gathering as much information as I could. In addition to my own research, I toured our Crisis Center and our other COMCARE services, I sat in on a Criminal Justice Coordinating Council meeting, I heard a proposal on a Mental Health Community Response Team and let me tell you, there are a lot of people doing a lot of great things in our community but as the Board of Health, as County Commissioners who have control over our taxpayer funds, we have to commit ourselves to take an active role in supporting the work that is already being done. 

We have to get away from maintaining to gaining ground. 

There are so many people doing the grind day-in-and-day-out just to maintain and for that, I want to commend their efforts. But I want to ask our community at what point is enough enough? For me, hearing about 4 suicides in one week of young people, hearing about another person overdosing, hearing about one more child murdered has me over just maintaining. We have to set goals and work to meet them. And we have to set them now. 

Join me at my next Citizens Advisory Board or at an upcoming coffee event. We have a lot to discuss and I’ll be happy to update you on some things I’m working on to do just that. The only way we can create real change is by doing it together. 

As always, reach out to me if you need anything. My door is always open. 

Lacey Cruse
2020 Budget Development is Underway
Discussion regarding the 2020 budget is underway. Commissioners and County leaders held a retreat in February at the Law Enforcement Training Center taking time to cultivate their priorities for the coming year. 

Area experts were cautiously optimistic about our region’s future with labor markets showing signs of improvement and unemployment rates continuing to decline. However, salaries and wages have remained flat over the last few years. Sedgwick County’s own financial forecast projected modest surpluses, even as the organization continues to strategically draw down fund balances.

More workshops and conversations will happen through the spring and summer; the County Manager is expected to present a recommendation to Commissioners on Wednesday, July 17. 
Interns Gain Experience through Project SEARCH
Ten interns recently graduated from the Sedgwick County Project SEARCH program. Commissioners celebrated their achievements during their regular meeting. Project SEARCH is a business/ organization-led collaboration that enables young adults with disabilities to gain and maintain employment through training and career exploration during a one-year rotational internship. More than 70 percent of graduates attain employment after this internship.

Interns are matched to specific projects based on their previous work history and predetermined interests. Internship tasks vary but can include data entry, scanning, janitorial/ custodial, general administrative duties, food service, housekeeping, and laundry.

In Sedgwick County, there are a total of three Project SEARCH sites. Wichita Public Schools partners with Sedgwick County and Ascension Via Christi, while Derby Public Schools partners with McConnell Air Force Base for Project SEARCH. Support is also provided by Sedgwick County’s Community Developmental Disability Organization (SCDDO) and Kansas Rehabilitation Services.

SCDDO serves as the single point of entry for all intellectual and developmental services in Sedgwick County. This program is a key piece in the SCDDO’s employment efforts. Learn more about Project SEARCH by emailing scddo@sedgwick.gov
National Public Health Week Celebrated: Steve Coen receives Lifetime Commitment to Public Health Award
For more than 20 years, communities around the country have celebrated National Public Health Week (NPHW), an initiative of the American Public Health Association, each April to celebrate public health and highlight key issues. This year, NPHW was celebrated April 1 through 7 with the theme, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: For science. For action. For health.”

Locally, the Sedgwick County Health Department (SCHD) recognizes an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and contributions to public health through the Dr. Doren Fredrickson Lifetime Dedication to Public Health Award. Dr. Fredrickson served as the County’s health officer from 2002 until his death in 2008. He was a dedicated, caring, and enthusiastic health advocate who devoted his entire career to improving public health.  

The 2019 recipient of the Dr. Doren Fredrickson Lifetime Commitment to Public Health Award is Steve Coen (photograph). He received the award at the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners’ Meeting on April 3. Coen is the President and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation.

“We are very excited to honor Mr. Coen with the Doren Fredrickson Award. He, too, is an individual who has dedicated his entire career to improving the health of the community in not just Sedgwick County, but the entire State of Kansas,” said Adrienne Byrne, Director of the Sedgwick County Health Department.  
A Week to Celebrate the First of the First Responders
Sedgwick County’s 911 call takers and dispatchers are often described as hidden heroes – the people you hear, but never see. April 14 through 20 was National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week – a week to celebrate, recognize, and thank the true first responders to an emergency. A lifeline for the community in times of crisis – they offer critical, timely care to citizens, ensuring help is provided during the worst times of your life. We thank them every day for the work they do, their service, and dedication to the Sedgwick County community.
Crews continue to work on the Kellogg/ I-235 interchange rebuild. This first phase is scheduled to be completed this year.
Update on Kellogg/ 235 interchange
Project updates can be found at www.235kelloggcentral.com and include:

  • All ramps are open but temporary lane closures are possible for regular maintenance chores or to complete minor items from the construction punch list.
  • Work will resume on bridge painting as weather moderates but traffic should not be affected.
County Launches New Career Website
This week, Sedgwick County unveiled a new website for job vacancies , directing candidates to apply for careers at careers.sedgwickcounty.org. The new website has additional functionality to assist the County with attracting and communicating with potential employees. The site interacts with major job websites, including LinkedIn and Indeed. Users may apply using their tablets or mobile devices. The website replaces the 19-year-old www.HRePartners.com.  

The new site is part of an overall recruitment campaign for Sedgwick County. Strategic Communications has created digital ads to share careers across the organization, with special consideration for positions with historically high turnover, or positions that require specialized training.

The campaign highlights several career paths with Sedgwick County and the Sedgwick County Zoo. 
Public Invited to Show Support for Children's Mental Health Awareness Day
According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, one in five children ages 13-18 have or will have a serious mental illness, making it the 3rd leading cause of death in youth. Educating yourself and others on the warning signs of mental illness can be crucial in saving someone’s life. That’s why COMCARE of Sedgwick County, COMCARE Community Partners, and Wichita Public Schools have come together to host a Children’s Art Show in recognition of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.

All are invited to attend the Art Show at Old Cowtown Museum from 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 18 in the Empire House Theatre. Additionally, Cowtown is offering FREE admission into the museum to any students and their families from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day. The Art Show is a come and go event, and light refreshments will be served. 

Remember: take care of your mental health. It’s the smart thing to do. 
County to Participate in Community Events
Stop by the Sedgwick County booths on Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5. Representatives will be at Viva Cinco de Mayo on Saturday, May 5 at the Coleman Parking Lot in Downtown Wichita. Then, representatives will be at Cinco de Mayo for Open Streets ICT – NoMar on Sunday, May 5, near the NoMar Market on 21st Street and Broadway.  
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