Vol. 4, Issue 2                                     February 2019
Consolidation Needs to Make Sense
There are some popular ideas seemingly supported by most everyone. For example, just about everyone thinks Congress should have term limits. 

Consolidation is another popular idea. Consolidation presumably helps eliminate duplication, increases efficiency, saves taxpayer dollars, and improves services. For example, I think it would be great to consolidate the Kansas Driver’s license offices with the County Tag Offices. Imagine an office that could handle tags and licenses. Makes sense, right?  

For the record, neither tags nor licenses are under the authority of a county commissioner. Issuance of driver’s licenses is a State function whereas vehicle registration and tags are issued by the County under the State’s rules. Anyway, could consolidation happen here? Only if someone took this idea to the state and won support to pass legislation. 

There are other topics that do fall under the County Commission. Some of the proposals would not necessarily be more efficient, save money, or improve service. For example, we could merge Wichita’s Animal Control with the County’s Animal Care services. Would that consolidation improve efficiency, save tax dollars, or increase services? Perhaps. But it would be modest at best. 

For the record, Sedgwick County already provides many county-wide (consolidated) services. For example, the county solely provides 911, Emergency Management, and EMS (exceptions are Clearwater and Mulvane).  

The most talked about issue of potential consolidation includes merging the Wichita Fire Department with the Sedgwick County Fire District. The assumption is that there is duplication that could be eliminated and that would save tax dollars. That could be true, but it is unbelievably messy. For example, who becomes the governing board? Is this a new level of government or would Wichita or Sedgwick County just take that role? Would there be a separate mill levy that funds the consolidated organization? Sedgwick County is geographically 68% agricultural covering 1,009 square miles. With that in mind, how many staff positions or fire stations can be eliminated? Probably none. Then where is the savings? Any reductions in staff or stations would reduce service, not make it better. 

I am not against consolidation but it must make sense. I welcome the discussion. In fact, I am willing to support the total elimination of the County Commission if that better serves the public.

I’m open to anything that makes sense. If you have consolidation ideas you want me to explore, please send me your thoughts to  Jim.Howell@sedgwick.gov or 316-60-9300. I want to hear from you.
Corrections clients receive books from local author
Jan Schultz, a local author known as “Grandma Jan,” wrote and donated nearly 3,000 booklets to the Division of Corrections. Books cover various topics including celebrating diversity, family and community, hopes, and imagination. They all have a feel-good positive message and are written at a third or fourth grade reading level so they can be enjoyed by adults and children. 
 
Schultz is a retired educator who authored and illustrated eight books for adults and children to enjoy. These books will be distributed to both adult and juvenile Corrections clients.
Crews continue to work on the Kellogg/ I-235 interchange rebuild. This first phase is scheduled to be completed in 2019.
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.
Projects in District 5
Bridge Construction on Pawnee both east and west of 143rd St. East
  • Construction began October 22, 2018
  • 143rd St. West to remain open
  • Estimated completion is May 2019
County supports Zoo Master Plan upgrades
Commissioners approved $6 million in funding over the next three years to replace the County-owned entryway and administrative building at the Sedgwick County Zoo. According to the Sedgwick County Zoological Society, the County funding will be combined with $9 million in privately raised funds to implement Phase 1 of the Zoo’s new 25-year Master Plan. 

Unveiled at a news conference in October, the first phase of the new Master Plan includes a new entryway complex, administrative offices, gift shop, an expanded and enhanced Amur Leopard habitat, and an electric train for visitors for an estimated total $15 million. 

“The Sedgwick County Zoo is a prime example of what we can achieve as a community when we work together,” Chairman David Dennis said. “We are today’s stewards of this strong partnership that over five decades has created an invaluable community asset that drives economic impact and continues to move our region forward.” 

The proposal brought forward by the Zoological Society included a $2 million anonymous challenge grant and a $7 million fundraising campaign for a total of $9 million. Sedgwick County’s $6 million will fund 40 percent of the total cost for Phase 1. 

Planning calls for the grand opening of Phase 1 to be in time to commemorate the Zoo’s 50th Anniversary in 2021.
National Children's Dental Health Month
Tooth decay is the single most prevalent disease in children. It not only causes pain in the mouth, it can lead to poor overall health and learning problems. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, which serves as a reminder to prevent dental cavities by practicing good oral health early – even before babies get teeth – and continuing to do so throughout adulthood
 
In 2018, the Sedgwick County Division of Health (SCDOH) Children’s Dental Clinic (CDC) provided free preventive and restorative services to 320 uninsured, low-income children. The clinic also provided school screenings to more than 18,862 children in Sedgwick County schools, and identified 771 children who had emergency needs.
 
Follow these practices to help ensure proper oral health for children:
 
  • Clean babies’ gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water.
  • Avoid nursing babies to sleep and put only water in a bedtime bottle.
  • Floss and brush primary, or “baby,” teeth twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, small toothbrush.
  • Most children may begin flossing and brushing their own teeth, while supervised, when they can tie their shoes.
  • Serve children fruits and vegetables. Proper nutrition is good for children’s bodies and their oral health.
 
The CDC is operated by one dental assistant and two hygienists who work in concert with school nurses to identify children in need of and eligible for services. Twenty-five dentists and oral surgeons, and Wichita State University dental hygiene students volunteer their services, without which thousands of children in our community would not receive oral health care.
 
To schedule a free presentation about the importance of good oral health, or for more information about the CDC, call (316) 660-7300 or visit the SCDOH online at www.sedgwickcounty.org .  
Commission approves contract with new County Manager
The Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday, February 20, to accept the employment contract with Tom Stolz making him the new Sedgwick County Manager. Stolz was named Interim County Manager in December after serving as Deputy Manager since May 2017. He was promoted to Deputy Manager after serving as Assistant County Manager of Public Safety, Code Enforcement and Emergency Management since August 2016. 

During the discussion, Chairman David Dennis said, “Through every interaction with community members, partners and staff, the support for this decision was strong. All of those who have worked with Tom recognize that he is a strong leader who has developed strong relationships.” 

After the vote Stolz said, “I’m incredibly humbled and honored to serve the Commissioners and Sedgwick County, especially our great staff who are experts in what they do from clinicians to deputies to budget analysts. Our focus must be on delivering the services our residents need today and planning for tomorrow, creating efficiencies in how we operate.” 

Stolz has more than three decades in public service. Before joining Sedgwick County, Stolz was named the first Director of the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department (MABCD), a joint department between the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County. In that position he led the joint department’s consolidation efforts reporting to both City of Wichita and Sedgwick County. Stolz was named to the position after retiring from the Wichita Police Department in 2012 after a 31-year career culminating as Deputy Police Chief.  

He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Newman University, a Master’s in Administration of Justice from Wichita State University, and a Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Certificate from Boston University.  
Community leaders break ground on new stadium
Commissioners joined community leaders at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Triple-A baseball stadium on Wednesday, February 13.

Earlier it was announced that the New Orleans Baby Cakes, an affiliate of the Miami Marlins will move its operations to Wichita. The new team name has yet to be announced. 

The stadium will be completed in time for the 2020 baseball season. 
County participates in Chamber Chairman's Lunch
Commissioners and County leaders attended the Chamber Chairman Lunch on February 20 at INTRUST Bank Arena. The topic of discussion was multipliers and how the best leaders make everyone smarter.
Severe weather safety classes offered through Emergency Management
Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas is March 3 through 9. The statewide tornado drill is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 5. Please note, Sedgwick County Emergency Management will not test sirens at noon on Monday rather they test them at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, weather permitting. 

To help the community prepare for severe weather, Emergency Management is holding severe weather safety classes throughout Sedgwick County. These presentations are designed to teach attendees about severe weather and how to stay safe. Classes are free to residents. The class schedule can be found online ( www.sedgwickcounty.org) and by clicking on the graphic below.

As with any emergency, preparedness can make the difference. With severe weather season approaching, remember to:
  • Get a Kit – Gather necessary items and information for your family's emergency preparedness kit.
  • Make a Plan – A thorough and practiced plan can help you keep track of family members in any emergency.
  • Be Informed – Stay tuned to sources of information before, during, and after an emergency.
  • Get Involved – We all have a role to play in keeping our hometowns safe. Contact local volunteer organizations to find out how you can contribute.

More information about each of these preparedness steps may be found at www.sedgwickcounty.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. For example, the all-new, 5,100 square foot Design Build Fly exhibit celebrates our community’s aviation industry. Visitors encounter dozens of hands-on activities that focus on manufacturing and engineering to reveal what happens behind-the-scenes in our aircraft plants.   
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.  
County Information
Contact   Commissioner Jim Howell :
316-660-9300
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203

Contact Strategic Communications Director:
Van Williams, 316-660-9370
525 N. Main, Ste 315, Wichita, KS 67203 

Contact Public Information Officer:
Kate Flavin, 316-660-9370
525 N. Main, Ste 315, Wichita, KS 67203