Vol. 4, Issue 8                                     August 2019
Sedgwick County Adopts Renewable Energy Plan
Over the last year or so, there has been plenty of regional discussion on renewable energy. Several counties around Sedgwick County have had robust community hearings or have quietly worked out the details and witnessed hundreds of wind turbines pop up. That said, what works in one area may not work great everywhere. 

We made the news this week when Sedgwick County unanimously passed an update to the Community Investment Plan along with zoning regulations for commercial wind and solar farms. Over the last year, we have heard quite a bit of opposition from neighbors concerned about the “flicker-effect”, how these turbines kill birds like eagles, and how they emit a low persistent drone and how living near a towering generator will cause property values to plummet. Nearly everyone says they are in favor of renewable energy production. The disagreement comes when we start defining details about where to place these farms. 

Here in Sedgwick County, the most compelling concern that influenced the wind turbine discussion is the vast aviation industry. Here in the Air Capital, we build planes but we also train pilots and are exploring drone technology. Sedgwick County has 31 airports and perhaps 40 runways or airstrips depending on how they’re counted. More than just manufacturing aircraft, flying is a huge part of our economy and is a big part of our culture.  

Some people think if we have the generators closer to Wichita, it might somehow lower our local energy bills. Regardless of where the electricity is generated and enters the nation’s power grid, it becomes available to customers anywhere and everywhere. Collectively, the nation has invested in about 100,000 wind turbines but the cost of energy has steadily risen. 

Sedgwick County is different from our surrounding counties in many ways. With over a half million people and twenty cities, Sedgwick County is more urbanized and industrialized than the agricultural plains that surround us. After many months of work, after hearing from so many in the community, and after consulting the scientific information available, the planning commission recommended we allow all personally owned renewable energy solar or wind generators but prohibit large commercialized wind farms inside Sedgwick County. Commercial solar is acceptable too long as the reflections are managed. Please know that Sedgwick County has not received any applications for commercial wind or solar farms. 

Kansas had almost no renewable energy 20 years ago. Despite that slow start, Kansas has leap-frogged other states with nearly 6,000 wind turbines located at 19 wind farms. Roughly, 5.8% of the Nation’s wind generators call Kansas home. Kansas is a leader on renewables and we should be proud of that fact.  
Take Caution: School is in Session
Help keep our students safe this school year by following these tips:
  1. Be on the lookout for children and school zones.
  2. Always follow the school zone speed limits.
  3. Always stop for school buses that are loading and unloading children.
  4.  Never pass a stopped school bus.
  5. Watch out for school crossing guards and follow their signals.
  6.  Be aware of and watch out for children near schools, bus stops, sidewalks, in the streets, and in school parking lots.
  7. Avoid using a cell phone while in a school zone.
  8. Never text while driving, especially in a school zone.
  9. Exercise patience while driving, dropping kids off, and picking kids up from schools.
Projects in District 5
Scrub Seal
  • Operations to begin late July/early August on select county roads
  • Excess gravel to be swept off a few days after application
  • Road open to traffic but expect delays

Asphalt Overlays anticipated in late August
  • Webb Road from 103rd Street to 119th Street South
  • 111th Street South from Webb Road to Greenwich Road
Work on the I-235 Green Project on began in March. Completion is planned for November 2021. This is phase one of the Wichita North Junction project. 
I-235 Green Project Tracker
Project updates can be found at www.235green.org and include:

  • The northbound I-235 Exit to North Broadway is closed until November.
  • Northbound I-235 and eastbound K-96 are reduced to one lane entering the work zone.
  • The Broadway on ramp to northbound I-235 is closed.
  • Old Lawrence Road is closed under I-235 until at least November.
Aging Programs Recognized at National Conference
The Central Plains Area Agency on Aging (CPAAA) recently received two awards during a national association conference. These awards recognize agencies on aging for going above and beyond creating successful programs for caregiving, healthy aging, nutrition, technology, intergenerational needs, and transportation. 

CPAAA received an Aging Innovations Award for the Mobile Farmers’ Market program. People age 60 and older in the tri-county area are encouraged to purchase fresh produce, honey, or herbs at local farmers’ markets. This innovative partnership with a local farmer allows for a mobile food truck to visit older adults and senior centers. It takes the farmers market straight to the clients. More than 1,000 people participated in the program last year. 

The Agency works with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to distribute Kansas Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program booklets to eligible older adults. Service coordinators, senior centers, and local county departments on aging distribute booklets and raise awareness about the program. 

CPAAA also received an Aging Achievement Award for innovative partnerships to enhance congregate meal service. After identifying opportunities to expand this service with housing properties and rural towns, an outside-the-box program was developed. Using three unique congregate sites and a centralized kitchen led to an increase in usage in one county and a pilot project at a rural hospital. 
Mental Health Pilot Program Shows Signs of Success
A promising pilot program serving the mental health needs of USD 295 students and improving attendance and academic outcomes is expanding to 24 from 22 schools.

Approved last year by the Kansas Legislature, the Mental Health Intervention Pilot Program is a partnership involving the Wichita Public School District and COMCARE of Sedgwick County, which places staff at the 24 schools.
“As a former educator, I understand the importance of this program and the need for resources in our schools,” said Commission Chairman David Dennis. “I look forward to seeing this great partnership expand into additional schools.”

By the end of the 2019 school year, more than 7 00 students were served through the program. Results included students’ grades increasing by 50 percent, teachers reporting positive behavior increasing by 70 percent, and attendance increasing by 67 percent.

“This program has proven to be a needed resource in our school system,” said Joan Tammany, Executive Director of COMCARE. “The coordinated effort between USD 259 and COMCARE has allowed us to provide services to students faster and has helped students and families normalize the need for mental health resources. In addition, many students receiving services through this collaboration may otherwise never have sought out or received these services on their own. Intervening early can and does improve lives.”

The program is at five special day schools (Bryant, Greiffenstein, Wells, Sowers and Gateway), five elementary (Allen, Cessna, Dodge, Gardiner, Gammon, Isley, OK, and Stanley), six middle (Hamilton, Jardine, Marshall, Mead, Stucky and Truesdell), and six high schools (Heights, North, South, Southeast and West). The two new schools are Gammon and Stanley.

For questions about the available options for children, youth, and families, contact COMCARE at www.sedgwickcounty.org/COMCARE or by calling the children's intake line at 316-660-9605. COMCARE's Community Crisis Center is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week by calling 316-660-7500 for more immediate needs. 
Commission Adopts 2020 Budget
During their regular meeting August 7, Commissioners voted to adopt a $ 457,422,200 budget for 2020. It is comprised of $ 437,312,854 for Sedgwick County, $20,109,346 for Sedgwick County Fire District 1 (SCFD1), and a $22,798,238 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). 

Commissioners emphasized three themes throughout budget development including good partnerships with business, other local governments, and all stakeholders; emphasis on employees related to compensation and benefits, training and development, and overall work environment; and an increased emphasis on behavioral health services and resources.

“I am pleased that our staff was able to create a budget that fell in line with commissioner values, supported the needs of our community, and kept the financial impact on citizens to a minimum,” said Commission Chairman David Dennis. 

The 2020 Adopted Budget highlights include additional staff, resources, or new programs: 
Funding to the Department on Aging for Meals on Wheels, wheelchair posture seating, and other services;
  • Six additional full-time positions for COMCARE’s Community Crisis Center (CCC);
  • Funding for a new basic nutrition program for seniors living in rural communities;
  • Three additional staff positions for Emergency Communications;
  • Funding for the Integrated Care Team -1 or ICT-1 pilot program;
  • A flat pay adjustment for all employees and additional pay adjustments for positions with high turnover and pay issues; 
  • A Technology Review Board (TRB) to encourage the organization to be more fiscally responsible and cohesive when making technology purchases; and
  • Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, II reallocated his pay raise ($2,158) to storm drainage funding for a long-term funding solution.

“It was important to me, to show our residents how critical a long-term funding solution for storm drainage is,” said District 2 Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, II. “The damage from this year’s rainfall has created an unnecessary burden on residents that we need to remedy. And so I decided to put my money where my mouth is.”

This budget is evidence of an improving economy with assessed valuation growth in Sedgwick County of 4.61 percent and 5.32 percent in Fire District 1. Property tax rates are estimated to be 29.359 mills for Sedgwick County. The Fire District 1 mill levy was reduced from 18.131 mills to 17.889 mills based on estimated assessed valuation, subject to review and technical adjustments. The Budget was developed to ensure that resources were concentrated on those areas with the greatest needs for additional resources. 

County Manager Tom Stolz shared the Recommended Budget on July 17 and members of the public were invited to two public hearings (July 24 and August 5) or to leave a comment in an online forum on the County’s website ( www.sedgwickcounty.org). 
Community Gathers for Groundwater Meeting
Commissioners, County staff, and residents gathered this month at Haysville Middle School, where several subject matter experts spoke on topics regarding groundwater and possible solutions to basement flooding due to record rainfall some Sedgwick County communities have experienced this summer. The goal of the meeting was to help citizens understand groundwater, discuss possible solutions, and answer questions.

To watch a video of the meeting, please visit:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDoZh2esFEk.
Riverfront Legacy Master Plan Community Engagement
The next community engagement opportunity for the Riverfront Legacy Master Plan will be the Urban Explorations (a series of site tours) on September 24 and 25. Tour location to be determined.

September 24, 2019
5 - 6 p.m.
6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

September 25, 2019
7:30 - 8:30 a.m.
noon - 1 p.m.

Mark your calendar for 4 p.m. on Monday, September 30 for the next Coalition Meeting. 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.  

Contact  Commissioner Jim Howel l: 
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203