Vol. 4, Issue 4                                     April 2019
Keeping Elections Secure but Injecting a Little Common Sense
That famous phrase, “A government of the people, by the people, and for the people…” spoken by Lincoln in his speech at Gettysburg sounds great. Unfortunately, many of “the people” never vote to shape their government, leaving those decisions to other people. I wonder why some people don’t vote. 

It continues to be a goal of mine that we would do everything we can to safeguard each election while finding ways to make the voting process easier. If we can increase voter turnout and reduce provisional ballots, that is a step in the right direction. 
Last week, Gov. Kelly signed SB130. The concept for this legislation began when county commissioners were certifying the 2016 & 2018 elections. In 2016, Sedgwick County alone had 1,600 provisional ballots due to the fact that those voters, on Election Day, voted somewhere besides their assigned poll site.  

Last year, we saw 1,100 provisional ballots for that same reason. 

Perhaps the voter’s assigned poll site changed for some reason and maybe they did not see the informational postcard telling them the change. Whatever the reason, about 1% of Sedgwick County voters usually cast a provisional ballot because they are in the wrong poll site. During early voting, voters are encouraged to go to any poll site that is convenient. Before Election Day, voting anywhere is encouraged and does not require a provisional. Simply stated, the election rules are different on Election Day. 

A “provisional” basically means there is some issue that requires special consideration. Each provisional is carefully analyzed and they may be fully counted, fully rejected, or partially counted. If someone votes in the wrong poll site, his or her ballot is usually partially counted. 

In recent elections, you may have noticed our new, state-of-the-art voting equipment. This equipment is vastly improved. One of the best improvements includes the electronic poll-book which is virtually connected to the countywide registration database. When a voter checks in, the virtual database is immediately updated. If that voter tried to subsequently vote elsewhere, the database would show that the voter had already voted. This is the key to SB130. This electronic poll-book technology has been in use for several years already. We allow voters to conveniently go anywhere during early voting so why not use the same rules on Election Day? 

We successfully pushed this legislation this year, because it will take some time to implement. We hope this freedom is available for the 2020 elections. Stay tuned. 
Projects in District 5
Bridge Construction on Pawnee both east and west of 143rd East
  • Construction began October 2018
  • 143rd Street West to remain open
  • Estimated completion in May
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.
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.  
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
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. 
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.  
Contact  Commissioner Jim Howel l: 
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203