South Central Kansas Medical Center is drowning in debt, and now the hospital needs help to make it’s next loan payment. According to the local newspaper, the hospital plans to beg for city assistance to make ends meet. The hospital board met yesterday morning, and agreed to request a loan of about $655,000 from the City of Arkansas City… the amount it is coming up short on for it’s next bond debt obligation of about $1,136,000. The hospital, according to an auditor’s report, reported an operating loss of $366,447 in 2014 and a loss of $768,385 in 2015. It will begin to receive additional financial help in October, when a 1-cent sales tax approved by Ark City voters in May, kicks in.
Archives for July 2016
The Arkansas City Commission met Tuesday when they went over next year’s budget. Discussions centered around just how much to give some entities, such as the museum and chamber. Because of the money that had to be given to the South Central Kansas Medical Center to keep it afloat, both the Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum and the Arkansas City Chamber of Commerce, had to make do with a reduction in funding this year. Although $167,000 had been approved for the museum in 2016, they only got $110.000. The museum has requested $150,000 for 2017. In 2016, the Chamber was supposed to get $30,000, but as of yet, absolutely nothing has been provided. The Chamber has requested the same amount… $30,000… for 2017. The fire department also needs to update equipment, and they need money to do it. Meanwhile, even after getting the extra cash infusions, the hospital remains on life support. A public hearing on the 2017 budget will be held on August 15th.
The lead nurse for Winfield public schools has been named the 2016 Kansas School Nurse of the Year. The award was presented to Lorri Greenlee at the Kansas School Nurse Organization annual summer conference, recently held in Wichita. Greenlee leads the USD 465 school nursing department, and also serves as provider of client care for 496 students in grades six through eight at Winfield Middle School. Greenlee is an active member of the USD 465 Health & Wellness Committee and has helped develop, write and present wellness policies to students, staff, parents and the community. She also monitors students with chronic conditions in the district, tracking data over several years to help address student illness and absenteeism. She has testified before the Kansas State Legislature about issues such as head lice and school funding. Greenlee serves on the City-County Health Department Board of Directors, the CCL Mental Health Board of Directors, the American Red Cross, the Advisory Council for the Community Health Center and the USD 465 Health/Wellness Committee.
A two-vehicle accident around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday on U.S. Highway 160 west of Oxford, leaves one person dead, and two others hurt. A Chevrolet Trailblazer with two people in it, was eastbound, when the driver crossed the center line, and slamed head on a westbound Chevrolet 1500 with one person inside. A passenger in the Trailblazer was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of that vehicle, along with the driver of the 1500, were both rushed to hospitals in serious condition. No names have yet been released. The investigation is continuing today.
Winfield’s proposed budget for 2017 will include a decreased mill levy and increased funding for street work. Under the terms of the proposed spending plan, some projects will be delayed though so the city can continue to pay off it’s debts. The total 2017 budget will be $11.1 million in expenditures, with expected revenues of $11.3 million. The mill levy will decrease by 0.914 mills in 2017, making for the lowest mill levy since 2008. Property tax receipts requested for 2017 will increase from $3.674 million to $3.744 million, an increase of just under $70,000. Sixty-five percent of the proposed 2017 budget is for the five utilities — electric, natural gas, water, wastewater and refuse.
They did it again, only this time, it was done according to law. All six Cowley board members approved Jill Long as a new trustee on Monday. It was the second vote on her nomination, after the original vote was found to be in violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act last week when they used a “secret ballot” process to select Long. They found out about that, when Cowley County Attorney Chris Smith determined that using a secret ballot violated the open meetings act. The meeting yesterday, was held with no discussion, and the other candidates — Bonnie Niles, Jeremy Biddle and Forest Smith — were not even mentioned.
According to Cowley County Attorney Chris Smith, Cowley College trustees violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act last week, when they used a secret ballot during the process of filing a board vacancy. According to the CourierTraveler, former board Chairman Dennis Shurtz simply announced that Jill Long of Winfield, was the winner after the secret written ballots were tallied. Long was one of four applicants in line to fill the open board seat. According to Smith, the board members used the secret ballots because they did not want to embarrass the hopefuls who would not be chosen. But Smith says, despite what were most likely good intentions, in which the board members didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, the selection of Long, by a process which did not allow for the public to know which Trustees voted for which candidate, was wrong. Now, the county attorney says there are a few choices that the trustees have open to them to avoid legal implications… They can call a special meeting within seven days to rescind the appointment of Long to the board, or they can hold a new vote “with full public view” to select a person from the previous applicants. Smith, according to the paper, said that he does not believe the board acted with malice or intent, and his office does not intend to prosecute, despite the fact that under the law, a possible fine of up to $500 for each member in violation is possible. The board already has scheduled a meeting at 3 p.m. today to revisit issue.
After spending the past two years as a dance instructor and choreographer at Cowley College, Cara Kem will transition into the role of interim theatre director as the school prepares for the 2016-2017 academic year. Kem had an opportunity to spend the past two years working with previous Theatre Director John Sefel. Kem, an Oklahoma native, received her BS from the University of Central Oklahoma. She started her professional career at 13 at the Music Theatre of Wichita and Horsefeathers and Applesauce before performing leading roles in many other regional theaters across the county.
The Arkansas City Police Department announced a sizable drop in 2015 crime statistics at Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting, falling into a tie with Winfield in overall crime index and coming in even lower than its sister city in the property crime index. Police chief Dan Ward stated that, while he knew stats for 2015 had decreased, he did not know how we compared to the other agencies in Kansas for the year. He added that he was very happy to see that while the city’s crime rates dropped in virtually every area, most agencies across Kansas saw fairly large increases. Arkansas City’s overall crime index dropped from 44.3 to 38.2 in 2015. At the same time, the state average increased from 34.6 to 36.5. This means that Arkansas City has an overall crime index that is about average for the entire state of Kansas.
In advance of the upcoming election, the candidates for the offices of district judge, Cowley County attorney and Cowley County sheriff met at the Baden Square Community Center in Winfield recently, for a public “question-and-answer” session. More than 100 people showed up to ask questions, and to learn just where each of the candidates stood on important issues. Each candidate was given two minutes to present an opening statement, answer questions and then give a closing statement. The candidates remained after the forum to meet the public, address their concerns and answer even more questions. The primary election is scheduled for Aug 2.