Vol. 4, Issue 6                                     June 2019
Elected officials are not experts on all things even though we often have to make decisions far outside our area of expertise. The smartest elected officials heavily lean on subject matter experts around us to educate us and guide us to make the best decisions possible. 

One challenge currently sweeping the nation, including Sedgwick County, is the ever-increasing mental health and substance addiction issue. These two related topics have a costly and negative impact on our community. The treatment needs are outpacing efforts by government and treatment centers. The true cost of these is really incalculable. As policymakers, this is critically important because so much of what we spend tax dollars on in Sedgwick County relates directly and indirectly to the issues of substance abuse and mental illness. 

I’ve been told that the majority of property crimes are likely related to people desperate to support their addictions. Not only does that add traumatic stress to the victims of those property crimes throughout the community, but nearly every one of those crimes is documented and investigated by law enforcement, plus once a suspect is identified, there may be costs related to the potential prosecution, defense and incarceration of the perpetrators. In 2018, 65% of Sedgwick County jail inmates were either diagnosed or were suspected to have a mental illness. 

No one wakes up saying they want to be addicted to a substance. Nevertheless, addictions are at an all-time high. In 2018, 73% of inmates in the Sedgwick County jail had some sort of chemical dependency. The pain and suffering of families watching their loved ones struggling with mental health and addiction is also immeasurable.

Over the last few years, Sedgwick County has led new community-wide discussions to better analyze the magnitude of this issue as well as the financial toll. Last week, leaders and treatment providers across the county came together for a summit. The discussion also considered ways for providers to work together to become more effective. The prevailing consensus is that prevention and treatment is not only morally preferred but also costs less than not having those programs. 

These are complex issues and the best strategies to move our community forward are equally hard to define. Mental health and addiction treatments are important for the health of our community. We are working hard to do it better. 
Projects in District 5
Bridge Construction on Pawnee both east and west of 143rd St. East
  • Pawnee bridges opened to traffic on May 16
 
Lane Addition on 143rd St. South of Harry
  • Work to begin in June with County crews
  • Estimated completion in August
Stay Safe over the July 4 Holiday
In order to ensure everyone has a safe holiday, residents should be aware of regulations on fireworks sales and discharges in Sedgwick County municipalities and unincorporated areas. This information is available at www.sedgwickcounty.org/fire .

Sedgwick County Fire District 1 urges residents to stay safe over the holiday with the following tips:
  • Small children should not handle fireworks; even sparklers can be harmful if mishandled.
  • Older children and young adults should be monitored by an adult when handling fireworks.
  • Follow the directions on the packages closely.
  • Always keep a bucket of water or a water hose nearby.
  • Keep fireworks away from dry grass, hay, trees, and all structures.
  • Try to light fireworks on gravel, concrete, or a hard surface that will not ignite.

Watch a brief video related to firework safety here: h ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3e5ddbFitjI
Brad Crisp Named Deputy County Fire Chief: Will Lead a Consolidation Feasibility Review
The Governing Body of Fire District 1 voted Wednesday, June 19 to hire veteran firefighter Brad Crisp as Deputy Fire Chief for Sedgwick County Fire District 1 (SCFD1). Crisp retired in March as Deputy Chief of Support Services after a 30-year career with the Wichita Fire Department (WFD). In his new role, Crisp will lead a review of County fire services and he will review the feasibility of consolidation between Fire District 1 and the WFD.

Crisp will report to Fire Chief Doug Williams. He will work on consolidation matters with Williams and WFD Chief Tammy Snow. Williams and Snow are currently pursuing functional consolidation, specifically training for recruits, current employees, and specialty units. 

City and County officials have discussed and analyzed consolidation for the past several years, holding a joint workshop last year with area fire service agencies. Crisp’s hiring is a significant step in a review process that may lead to consolidation. 

With WFD, Crisp also served as Safety/Training Officer and Fire Marshal. He has a Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Wichita State University (WSU). Crisp holds certifications through the National Association of Fire Investigators as a Fire and Explosion Investigator (NAFI/CFEI) and through the International Association of Arson Investigators as an IAAI/CFI. He has served on several boards including the Board of Directors for the Kansas Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators. 

Crisp started his County job Monday, June 24. 
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.
Protect Yourself Against Mosquitoes this Summer
Fight the bite this summer and protect yourself against mosquitoes. Sedgwick County Health Department (SCHD) suggests following the three D's to avoid mosquito bites this summer. Drain  standing water; the insects breed in standing water. Use mosquito dunks or mosquito-eating fish in ponds and stagnant water. Use insect repellent that contains  DEET ; this offers the best protection against mosquito bites.  Dress  appropriately: wear loose-fitting clothing when outdoors, especially at dawn or dusk when the insects are most active.
 
Mosquitoes can cause serious health problems and spread diseases like West Nile Virus (WNV) to humans and animals. For more information about WNV and mosquito bite prevention, contact the Health Department at (316) 660-7300 or visit www.sedgwickcounty.org
Keep your Pets Cool this Summer
Don’t forget about your pets this summer! Follow these recommendations to keep your pets cool and safe during the hot summer days:
  • Exercise with your dog at dusk and dawn
  • Make sure they have a constant source of fresh water
  • Provide shade or shelter to keep your pet cool
County's 2020 Budget to be Discussed in July
Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz is scheduled to present his recommended budget for 2020 during the Board of County Commissioner’s meeting Wednesday, July 17. Sedgwick County’s 2019 Adopted Budget of $439,530,621 focuses on its key priorities (Safe and Secure Communities, Public Services and Cultural Experiences, Effective Government Organization, and Communications and Engagement).

There will be a public hearing during the Board of County Commissioners regular meeting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, July 24. An evening public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, August 5. Both hearings will be held in the Commission meeting room, 525 N. Main, third floor. An online public forum will be open for residents as well at www.sedgwickcounty.org. Commissioners are slated to adopt a 2020 budget Wednesday, August 7. 
Wind and Solar Energy Operations Continue to be Discussed
The Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (MAPC) voted Thursday, June 6 to prohibit commercial wind energy operations in Sedgwick County while allowing solar energy operations. The board sent recommended revisions to the Metropolitan Area Planning Department (MAPD) for the zoning code. The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) will consider extending the moratorium in mid-July. 

Earlier this year, Commissioners approved a Resolution establishing a temporary prohibition of wind and solar energy zoning applications. The current moratorium temporarily prohibits the acceptance and processing of an application for a commercial wind or solar energy system until August 12, 2019. Commissioners held a public forum related to this land use topic in March. 
Recognizing Training Center Founders
Commissioners and County leaders attended a memorial honoring fallen local law enforcement officers on Friday, May 17. This year, Sedgwick County Deputy Robert Kunze, III was given special consideration.  

The memorial honored fallen officers from the following agencies: Wichita Police Department, Sedgwick County Sheriff, Clearwater, Kansas Police Department, and Derby Police Department
Report Nuisances through the Non-emergency Line
The Sedgwick County Courthouse and Sedgwick County offices will be closed Thursday, July 4 in observance of the Independence Day holiday. Emergency services are available by dialing or texting 9-1-1.

The Sedgwick County Emergency Communications’ non-emergency phone line, 
316-290-1011, will be available during the following hours: 
  • 6 p.m. July 1 through 2:30 a.m. July 2
  • 6 p.m. July 2 through 2:30 a.m. July 3
  • 6 p.m. July 3 through 2:30 a.m. July 4
  • 6 p.m. July 4 through 2:30 a.m. July 5
  • 6 p.m. July 6 through 2:30 a.m. July 7

This line functions as an alternative to 9-1-1 and is meant to receive calls for non-emergency nuisances that do not pose a threat to life or property; examples include complaints pertaining to parties, excess noise, fireworks, etc. It was established to prevent an influx of nuisance calls that can block emergency calls from reaching a call taker; the non-emergency line is activated during times of historically high call volumes and as otherwise needed. If someone calls 9-1-1 with a non-emergency, he or she will be transferred to the non-emergency line.
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: 
316-660-9300
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203