Vol. 3, Issue 4                                         April 2018
When I was a kid, I remember making May Day baskets in school. What a fun time we had making door hanger baskets filled with flowers and candy to secretly bless one or two of our neighbors. That tradition is mostly forgotten now. As an adult, I think of May Day as the real trigger of spring cleaning and summer fun. As a commissioner however, I think of May as the apex of the tornado season. Looking at our tornado history ( https://www.weather.gov/ict/kstorfacts), May is the most prominent tornado month.

I am now in my mid-fifties and have lived here in this area nearly my entire life. I still have never seen a tornado. Most of us have never seen one. That truth surprises visitors to the area that reflect on The Wizard of Oz or the movie Twister where huge tornadoes are common and we spend a great deal of time cowering in the storm shelter. 

I am glad I have not been personally impacted by a tornado or other severe weather. There are many people around us that have though. For those like me, we tend to get a little too comfortable with severe weather. The joke that tornado sirens are a call for us to go outside to look for a tornado is based in truth. Many Kansans indeed, do go outside to look at the sky when the sirens are blaring.

Seeing a tornado is not on my bucket list. Rather than go outside, there is a better response. As a commissioner, I recognize the excellent work our Sedgwick County Emergency Management team does to monitor and inform us early and during any severe weather that heads our way.

Because most of us have never seen a tornado, it is easy to dismiss the annual preaching on preparedness. Nevertheless, it is time to take just a few minutes and review an emergency plan with the family. For very little money, do a few simple things that could literally save the day. Similar to ensuring we have working smoke & carbon monoxide detectors, placing a fire extinguisher near the kitchen, and checking the air pressure in the spare tire, we must think and plan ahead of the emergency. Put a case of water in the basement with a few flashlights and a radio. Write down the phone numbers of people to call and put that info in the wallet. For older kids, establish a common point of contact. Follow Sedgwick County on social media like Twitter and Facebook and consider these as good places to get the best information in severe weather. Doing these steps helps ensure keeping our loved ones safe and sound through this coming severe weather season. 
Nearly 4,000 people participated in County's e-waste collection
Over two weekends in April Sedgwick County Environmental Resources hosted an electronic waste collection event. Residents could visit the Public Works West Yard on April 5-7 and again on April 12-14 to safely dispose of unused and unwanted electronics. Over the six days nearly 4,000 cars drove through to drop off a total of 522,000 pounds of material. 

Devices with hard drives were destroyed to ensure that any information could not be gathered. All the material collected was recycled domestically and will not be sent to a foreign country.

Thank you to our residents for helping keep this material out of landfills. 
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.235red.org and include:

  • The southbound I-235 two-lane flyover ramp to eastbound US 54 will open in late April or May, weather dependent. 
Projects in District 5
Pedestrian Crosswalk Signal on MacArthur between Hillside and Oliver (R347)
  • Work to begin on March 19, 2018
  • HAWK pedestrian signal began operation on April 5
County staff provide update on VA billing reconciliation
Commissioners received an update this month from County staff regarding the reported $1.5 million outstanding balance due from the Veterans Administration (VA) to the County for EMS services since 2014. Since Oct. 20, 2017, a team from Sedgwick County and one from the local VA have been working together to review and reconcile nearly 4,200 claims. Through these efforts, the VA has made payments totaling $645,000 from late October 2017 through late March 2018 to the County. A complete resolution to all unresolved claims is expected by the end of this month. 

“I am very pleased that we have been able to resolve this issue with the VA,” said Chairman David Dennis. “This relationship will be beneficial moving forward, especially as we are able to care for our veterans.” 

These efforts have resulted in additional recommendations to both organizations to ensure that this issue does not happen again. The dialogue and communication between the two organizations will continue and moving forward there will be regular communication. 
Sedgwick County invests in community and economic development
Sedgwick County has chosen to make economic and community development a priority this year. As such, the Commission voted to invest in Project Wichita, a new community engagement process to discover the community’s ten-year vision and the action plan to achieve it. 

Project Wichita, through a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity, (Opportunity Wichita) requested a one-time investment of $45,000 from Sedgwick County to help fund a robust community engagement and strategic visioning initiative designed to determine the ten-year vision and action plan for our region, led by community input. County funding support will be used to fulfill the contract with Wichita State University’s Public Policy and Management Center to facilitate the public listening and engagement process.

“I support a strategic approach to economic development in this region. This provides the vision for our future,” said Commission Chairman David Dennis. “I am encouraged to see our community and region becoming a more attractive place to live, work, and play.” 

Earlier this year the Commission agreed to join the Greater Wichita Partnership, City of Wichita, and other regional investors, to fund an economic development consulting firm, who will refine and focus the Partnership’s regional economic development efforts. This one-time investment for Market Street Services, Inc. totaled $45,000 from Sedgwick County.

Sedgwick County and the Greater Wichita Partnership have a longstanding relationship and the County has invested in the Partnership for a number of years. This public-private partnership was created to align and focus economic development initiatives. 

The Greater Wichita Partnership is devoted to expanding the greater Wichita area's commercial and industrial base through aggressive business retention, expansion, recruitment activities, and marketing the ten county region of South Central Kansas as a fierce competitor in the global environment. Additionally, Commissioners approved an annual funding request from the Partnership in the amount of $300,000. 
Commissioners recognize Project SEARCH interns for completing program
During the April 18 Board of County Commissioners meeting five Project SEARCH interns were recognized for their service. These students have spent the last several weeks working for various Sedgwick County divisions and departments. Students participate in approximately three unpaid, 10-week internships led by a USD 259 instructor or para-educator/job coach during the school year. They will graduate in May. 

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. The goal for each student participant is competitive employment. Project SEARCH has proved successful, with over 70% of graduates attaining employment.
National Public Health Week recognized April 2-8
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 highlight the good work of public health professionals. This year, NPHW was recognized April 2-8, 2018.

Sedgwick County Division of Health (SCDOH) used this time to recognize a community member 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 SCDOH’s health officer from 2002 to 2008. He was a dedicated, caring, and enthusiastic health advocate who devoted his entire career to improving public health. This year’s award recipient is Ms. Peggy Johnson; she was recognized at the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioner’s Meeting on April 4, 2018.

Peggy Johnson is the Executive Director and COO of the Wichita Medical Research & Education Foundation and has, with full support of the Board of Directors, taken the organization into the arena of Public Health. Under her direction the Foundation has increased its funding for public health educational events over 600%. Additionally, Peggy began the Foundation’s work in providing free Advance Directive documents to the general public to address health care issues for the elderly and terminally ill. She began the organization’s Annual Health Care Ethics Conference, which is now in its fifth year and brings together healthcare workers, social workers, chaplains, adult home healthcare administrators, and others to learn about ethical issues in the public and private healthcare arena. 
Central Plains Area Agency on Aging co-hosts Hoarding Conference
This month the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging co-hosted a conference with the Wichita/ Sedgwick County Hoarding Coalition and other governmental and community organizations. The conference focused on thought processes and underlying issues as it relates to hoarding behaviors. Health and human service providers attended this day long conference which included a keynote presentation by Christiana Bratiotis, Ph.D., LICSW Assistant Professor at The University of British Columbia. She is an expert in multi-disciplinary community hoarding task forces. Conference attendees reviewed several behaviors linked to hoarding, hoarding intervention, and animal hoarding. They also discussed how agencies can collaborate to deliver services and assist those in our community with hoarding tendencies.

Hoarding is not only extensive collections; it’s when an individual cannot use rooms and or furniture for its intended purpose or housing more animals than he or she can adequately care for. Hoarding can start as young as age five and it occurs in all social and economic groups. The Wichita/ Sedgwick County Hoarding Coalition is consistently working on ways to assist individuals in our community who excessively collect. There is a support group, Clutter Cleaners Club, for individuals that are interested in finding ways to overcome hoarding. 

For additional information about the Coalition or to make a referral, visit their website or call 660-5144. 
Stay safe during High Fire Danger days
Sedgwick County Fire District 1 would like to remind residents that during periods of High Fire Danger there are precautions you can take to help minimize the risk of starting a fire. High Fire Danger conditions include low humidity, long periods of very little moisture and very high winds that are usually greater than 15 mph or more. 
Here are some precautions you can take: 
  1. Be aware when discarding cigarettes, cigars, or other similar products. 
  2. Ensure trailer chains don’t drag on the ground and spark. 
  3. Properly maintain vehicles to prevent sparks or flammable materials from coming out of the exhaust system. 
  4. Completely extinguish all recreational burns, such as barbeque grills, chiminea fireplaces, fire pits, and the like, with abundant amounts of water. 

Click on the image in this article for a video with additional precautions. Please call Sedgwick County Fire District 1 at 316-660-3473 or visit www.sedgwickcounty.org if you have any questions.
April is 911 Education Month – five facts
You may have heard about the thin blue line as a symbol for law enforcement, but what about the thin gold line? That one represents emergency communications, the first of the first responders. April is 911 Education Month, and to give you a better understanding of what the call takers and dispatchers do, here are a few things you may not know about 911. 
  1. Sedgwick County Emergency Communications dispatches for 31 first responder agencies including the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office, Sedgwick County Fire Department, and Sedgwick County Emergency Medical Service. Additionally, they provide dispatch services for the Wichita Police and Fire Departments, as well as outlying municipalities such as Andale, Bel Aire, Benton, Cheney, Clearwater, Colwich, Derby, Eastborough, Garden Plain, Goddard, Haysville, Kechi, Maize, Mt. Hope, Park City and Valley Center.
  2. Residents can access 911 by texting, if they are in a situation where a voice call is not possible. In the “to” field of a text message, type 911. 
  3. In 2017, 911 responded to 528,488 calls for service. 
  4. There were 94,550 pocket dials in 2017 compared to 129,561 in 2016. Emergency Communications wants to remind you that cell phones can still call 911 if a battery has a charge, regardless of whether it has a service plan.  
  5. It takes nine weeks of training to become a call taker, five more weeks to become an EMS and fire dispatcher, and an additional four weeks to become a law enforcement dispatcher. Call takers have one headset to handle one conversation at a time, while dispatchers are required to handle multiple conversations at once. 
Excellence in Public Service surprise for Sheriff’s Office employee
Detention Academy Sergeant Clayton Barth was recognized for his work ethic and exceptional performance and commitment to the community on Thursday, April 12. 

Barth graduated from Southeast High School in 1999 and joined the United States Army where he completed Military Police School and spent eight years serving. He is known for his bravery, courage, and leadership and has been awarded the prestigious Silver Medal of Valor. Barth has trained many staff members from the Sedgwick County Juvenile Division of Corrections, Kansas Jail Association, Andale Police Department and been invited to share his expertise in the field at numerous events.

Barth has been married to his wife Katie since 2002 and they have two children, Kylee and Austin. An active member of Journey Church, Barth serves as the Lead Pastor and an Executive Board Member. Under his leadership, Journey Church has distributed over 300 sack lunches to the Union Rescue Mission and provided Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to those in need. Sgt. Barth has demonstrated exemplary performance both in his work duties and in the community. 
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 resonant 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 Howel l: 
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203

Contact Public Information Officer:
Kate Flavin, 316-660-9370
525 N. Main, Ste 343, Wichita, KS 67203

Contact Corporate Communications Manager:
525 N. Main, Ste 343, Wichita, KS 67203