Congratulations to the SBHS Class of 2016!

Wheat harvest in the southern Barber County area was outstanding this year with great weather, huge yields and very good quality. Now if the wheat price would just cooperate!

Winner in the Infant age group in the Little Miss Firecracker Contest at the Hardtner 4th of July Celebration was Tennessee Cook (left), daughter of Garrett and Holly Cook. Winner in the Toddler thru 10 years age group was Lexie Lohmann, daughter of Garrett and Emily Lohmann.

American Legion Riders led the crowd in saluting the Flag to start the 4th of July Parade in downtown Hardtner.

The Pistol Packin\\\' Mamas raised over $15,000 in the \\\"Relay for Life\\\" held in Medicine Lodge to help in cancer research.

UP IN SMOKE- Kiowa firefighters put out a hay bale on fire Sunday morning near D&W Automotive at 7th and Hardtner Streets. There was lots and lots of smoke but little damage.

 

August 2 Election Will Focus on Sheriff’s Race

By REX ZIMMERMAN

Barber County voters go to the polls next Tuesday, August 2, for the Kansas Primary Election, which will select candidates for the General Election ballot in November.

And while most primary races in the county are uncontested, the race for Sheriff and County Commissioner from District 3 do have candidates for voters to choose from.

Sheriff candidates are Christina Ricke, James Stevenson, Lonnie Small and incumbent Justin Rugg. All four visited with the public in Kiowa at a forum held Tuesday, July 19, at the Community Building. A good crowd of interested citizens attended the forum, which was sponsored by the Kiowa Chamber of Commerce.

Candidates for Sheriff were the only candidates on the speaking schedule, but the crowd did get to hear from County Commissioner Bill Smith of Hardtner, who gave the crowd an overview of the many issues facing the county, including continued low valuations in the oil and gas industry, which has traditionally made up a big part of Barber County’s tax revenues.

He did praise, however, the completion of the new Courthouse Annex complex located just east of the present courthouse. He said it proved it worth right after opening when it served as command headquarters for the county, state and many, many other fire crews that fought the Anderson Creek Wildfire in March of this year.

Commissioner Smith got a few chuckles when he said he would keep his talk non-political and even introduced Charles Achenbach, who was sitting in the crowd and who is also running for the District 3 commissioner’s job.

The Sheriff candidates then took the podium.

Christina Ricke grew up on a farm near Sharon and presently lives in Medicine Lodge with her son, Grant, and works for the City of Medicine Lodge.

She feels her experience in working with city codes and regulations, time management, and especially her experience working with every day citizens makes her a good candidate for an office dedicated to serving the public.

Although she doesn’t have a law enforcement background, Ms. Ricke said she is confident that she will have no problem learning and implementing regulations pertaining to law enforcement and wants “to make certain that everybody in Barber County is treated equally and honestly under the law.”

James Stevenson, who resides on a farmstead near Hazelton with his wife, Joann. A native of Derby, KS, Mr. Stevenson first worked and retired from the Wichita Police Department, then went to work for the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, retiring as a senior crime scene investigator.

Mr. Stevenson said the biggest problem with the current Sheriff’s Office is that they haven’t been trained to investigate crime scenes properly, and he feels his extensive experience in that area would be a big asset to the job.

Justin Rugg, the current Sheriff, is a lifelong resident of the Hazelton area and resides there with his wife, Dooli, who worked at Kiowa District Hospital, and their two children, Emily and Logan.

Sheriff Rugg is finishing his first term in the office and has spent all of his 12 years of law enforcement with the Sheriff’s Department.

Mr. Rugg noted that during his past four years in office, arrests have gone up from 398 to 488 and traffic stops are up from 1,452 to 3,299, which, he said, means they are “getting more bad guys off the streets”.

He has initiated other improvements in the department, such as body cameras for deputies. He said his department is always ready to serve the public honestly and fairly and said he can stand on his record as Sheriff the past four years.

Lonnie Small is a Medicine Lodge resident and was formerly Undersheriff for Barber County. He presently works for Barber County Public Works. His wife, Colleen, has worked 18 years for the Kansas Dept. of Transportation.

They have two grown children- Brittany, husband Jordan and son Parker of Dodge City, and son Josh and wife Chelsea and their children Caeden and Madisyn of Medicine Lodge.

Mr. Small, who also worked several years for the Medicine Lodge Police Dept., said he wants to bring back “honesty, integrity and a common sense approach” to the Sheriff’s Office. He said he feels the rural areas of the county have been underserved and vows to increase patrols in those areas if elected. He also said he will work with county commissioners to be a good steward of tax dollars and will always be open to the public he hopes to serve as Sheriff.

ALSO ON the August 2 ballot are two county commission races. In District 3, which covers much of the west part of Barber County including Hardtner, incumbent Bill Smith is facing a challenge from Charles Achenbach. Both candidates are from Hardtner.

In District 2, Paul Harbaugh of Kiowa is running unopposed.

Incumbents for County Clerk, County Treasurer, Register of Deeds and County Attorney are all running unopposed.

Elections will also be held for state and federal representatives and senators and township offices.

Voters in the Kiowa-Hardtner-Hazelton area will cast ballots from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Kiowa Community Building. Residents in the Medicine Lodge area will vote at the new Courthouse Annex.

Election results will be posted Tuesday night on our website “www.kiowanews.com” as soon as received from the County Election Office.

Verda Diel Leaves Lasting Legacy with Scholarships

Dr. Andi Williams, left, accepts $25,000 check from Carl Helfrich, executor of Verda Diel estate.

Dr. Andi Williams, left, accepts $25,000 check from Carl Helfrich, executor of Verda Diel estate.

Verda Diel had a love for education. That makes it no surprise, then, that she left in her will a little gift for the students at South Barber High School. Last week, local CPA Carl Helfrich, who is executor of Verda’s estate, presented a check for $25,000 to U.S.D. 255 Superintendent Dr. Andi Williams to be used for scholarships for graduating seniors. According to Verda’s instructions, the bequest is to be distributed by the Superintendent to students who demonstrate financial need. The funds are to be used at the rate of $5,000 per year until the entire $25,000, plus interest, has been distributed to students. Dr. Williams extended her thanks for the generous gift that will help many students in the future with their desire for a college education.

 

BOE Reorganizes for New School Year

By REX ZIMMERMAN

It was time to reorganize for the new year at the U.S.D. 255 Board of Education meeting on Monday, July 11. The meeting was held at 6:00 p.m. in the District Office.

Board members present were Dooli Rugg, Deb Helfrich, Melissa Simpson, Mike Miller and Mariah Doherty, along with board president Steve Allen. Also present were Superintendent Dr. Andi Williams, 7-12 Principal Brent Shaffer and PreK-6 principal Eric Stoddard.

First action of the meeting was organizing for the 2016-2017 school year. Steve Allen was re-elected as President and Mark Pollock as vice-president. Julie Johnson was then appointed and approved as Board Clerk, Luke MacKinney as Deputy Clerk and Walter Fry as Board Treasurer.

Moving into the regular meeting, the board approved the agenda and previous minutes and approved current bills totaling $258,032.48.

Principal Shaffer gave a short report for the high school and junior high and noted that Drivers Education is completed with 14 students participating. He said that the schedule will be finalized when all positions are filled, and enrollment is coming up soon.

If a foreign language instructor is not found, students may have to take language classes online, he reported.

FFA officers attended leadership camp, basketball camp was held July 11-13, and summer weights continue through the end of the month.

Board member Melissa Simpson reported on a summer food program that is being used in Medicine Lodge. It is funded through the government for any child up to age 18, and the board agreed to look into the program.

Policy Updates

The board next approved Kansas Assn. of School Board policy updates covering several items including: Requisitions; Security and Safety; Memorials, Funerals, and Naming of District Facilities; Emergency Safety Interventions; Staff-Student Relations; Use of Tobacco Products and Nicotine Deliver Devices; Family and Medical Leave Act Plan; Additional Duty; Student Privacy Policy; Truancy; Tobacco and Nicotine Delivery Devices for Students; Weapons (airguns); Reporting to Law Enforcement; Health Screenings; Concealed Observations.

The board next voted to:

  • Approved monthly meeting date as the second Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the District Office at 512 Main Street. In the event of a Monday holiday, the meeting will be held the next day, Tuesday, at same time and place.
  • Approved the 1,116 hour school year, which is currently used.
  • Approved the Peoples Bank and First State Bank as official depositories for district funds. Checking accounts are at the First State Bank and interest accounts at the Peoples Bank. Andi Williams, Julie Johnson and Luke MacKinney will have approved signatures for the Petty Cash and Centennial Account funds while authorized signatures for the District funds accounts are the board treasurer, board president and board clerk.
  • Approved petty cash limits of $800 for the Central Office, $500 for PreK-6, and $1,500 for 7-12 building. Principal Shaffer was approved to administer the high school activity fund and Eric Stoddard the elementary activity fund.
  • Approved textbook and workbook rental fees. PreK through 6th Grade workbooks are $25 and 1st through 6th textbooks are $25. Both workbooks and textbooks for Grades 7-12 are $30 each.
  • Approved student fees. Student Activity Tickets are $30 and Adult Activity Tickets are $40. Family (immediate) Activity Tickets are $100.
  • Approved meal prices. Breakfast costs will be $1.90 for Elementary, $2.10 for Grades 7-12 and $3.20 for Adults. Lunch prices will be $2.60 for Elementary, $2,85 for Grades 7-12 and $3.70 for Adults. All prices reflect a 10-cent increase over last year.
  • Approved the board clerk to pay bills early when necessary.
  • Approved the mileage reimbursement rate of 54-cents per mile.
  • Approved district personnel to destroy old records as per state statutes.
  • Approved all board action which established policy during the previous year and approved the KASB Board Policy book as policy.
  • Approved Steve Allen as SCK-SEC representative.
  • Approved Deb Helfrich as Governmental Relations Network representative.
  • Appointed: Superintendent as federal programs representative and compliance officer; Principals as truancy officers for their respective buildings; Julie Johnson as Food Service representative; Superintendent as free and reduced meal appeals hearing officer; Julie Johnson as KPERS representative; Kansas Assn. of School Boards as school attorney; Superintendent as coordinator for homeless students; The Kiowa News as official district newspaper; Busby, Smith & Ford as district auditor; Superintendent as communications manager, purchasing agent and custodian of records.

Items for board review included the Notice of Non-Discrimination, which will be published, competitive bidding guidelines, 2016-2017 calendar, procedures for requesting public records, Capital Outlay resolution (present resolution is still in effect), immunization guidelines, record retention guidelines, home rule resolution (giving board the authority to interpret policy) and review of scheduled insurances.

In final action, the board held a couple of short executive sessions and were asked to take into consideration changing school board members to At-Large positions instead of the present district election system.

Board members will hold a Strategic Planning Workshop on July 20 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the District Office.

Update to City Council Story

Updating information for the Kiowa City Council story in the July 13 issue of The Kiowa News:

Council voted unanimously to approved the “burn out” competition to be held at the corner of 7th and Miller Street as part of the Labor Day festivities.

Council felt a mill levy increase of nearly 8 mills was too much and instructed City Administrator Lou Leone to rework the figures to keep the mill levy increase as small as reasonably possible. Council will hold a special meeting on July 25 at 8:00 p.m. to again review the budget and finalize it for publication.

Council was also informed that the recent electric issues apparently burned out a bulb in the projector at the Chief Theater. Technicians were scheduled to be in Kiowa on Wednesday to replace the bulb, which costs $1,000, and do other service work if needed. If the work and bulb replacement is not covered by city insurance, it will be paid for by taxpayers. The city owns the building and equipment of the local theatre and pays to keep it all functioning, including some fees associated with running the theater business. The actual business of “The Chief Theater” , however, is owned by a local businessman, who is not charged a fee by the city for using the building and equipment. The city does not have any written agreement with the businessman to cover use of the equipment and building, who is responsible for insurance coverage, etc.

Hospital in Black for May, Big Increase in Surgeries

The regular meeting of the Board of Directors of KDH was called to order at 7:00pm June 23rd, 2016 at the KDH lobby by Board President Brenna May. Board members present were Chantae Simpson (via Skype),Pat Myers, Jeff Miller and Jim Parker. Also present were Margaret Grismer, CEO, Janell Goodno, CFO, Dr. Leal, Melissa Stroh, PA, Kim Balding, Manor Administrator, Tammie Stroud, Manor DON, Judy Schrock, Foundation President and members of the press and public.

Brenna moved item 7)a Lance Freeman – 340B Program to item 3)a. Pat moved to accept the amended agenda; Jeff seconded; motion carried.

Lance-340B Program: Lance Freeman, owner of Kiowa Prescription Plus, presented a 60 days notice of termination of the 340B contract. Lance cited this was due to a breakdown in negotiations with KDH Administration to accept a 340B model that did not make business sense to him.

Janell and Margaret explained that KDH was looking at different models for 340B in an effort to maximize 340B money for the hospital. In light of the budget shortfall and the desire of KDH to limit the tax burden on taxpayers, KDH feels bound to do everything it can to maximize revenue.

After a lengthy discussion, Lance agreed to let the Board table the matter.

Pat moved to approve the minutes of the May 19th regular meeting and the special meetings of May 27th and June 9th; Jeff seconded; motion carried.

The Hospital Statistical Report was presented. May had 4 admits with 22 inpatient days and 6 swing bed admits with 79 days and 590 outpatient visits. The Clinic had 335 visits. The Manor currently has 23 residents.

The payment of hospital and manor bills was reviewed. Pat moved to approve as presented; Jeff seconded; motion carried. There were no uncollectible accounts for May. Jeff moved to approve the bad debt accounts for May; Jim seconded; motion carried. During the month of June KDH is offering 20% off of the bill if paid in full.

The Hospital financials for May were reviewed. The Hospital had a total operating revenue of $498,700, operating expenses of $427,705, and non-operating revenue of $97,222 for a revenue in excess of expenses of $168,358.

May financials for the Manor show a total operating revenue of $123,705, total operating expenses of $136,866, total non-operating revenue of $5,000 for a revenue in excess of expenses of -$6,412. Chantae moved to approve as presented; Pat seconded; motion carried.

Old Business: City of Kiowa Bill: As reported previously, our electric bill will increase because we were being under billed. Lou Leone, city manager, was going to try to work out an organizational rate that would not be so significant an increase. We had hoped the know the new rate by now, but Lou reports that it will take one year to evaluate before the city can make a decision on the rate.

Old Business: Tax Credit Update: Janell reports it was submitted in May and we will know after July 1st if we were granted the credits.

Old Business: Landscaping bids: Janell obtained bids from Gottlob Lawn and Landscape and Younie Lawnscapes Inc. The bids ranged from $1,250 to $23,665. Jeff moved that we cap spending on landscaping at $18,000; Pat seconded; motion carried. Janell recommended that we ask the Foundation for $15,000 and use $3,000 from donations.

New Business: 2017 Tax Budget Hearing: Janell reports that all the info has be sent to BKD for review.

Administrator Report: Physician recruiting: We continue to recruit through the Inline app, Doximity, Arthur Marshall, KU Med School, word of mouth through current temporary physicians, especially Dr. Tomsen, newspaper, and website.

Administrator Report: Dr. Vargas was extended an offer but has accepted another offer.

Manor Report: Tammie Stroud, RN is the new Manor DON. The Manor has given 4 or 5 tours and is using an electronic marketing app. The childcare half-price enrollment continues this month. Children and residents had a picnic at the park recently. Mobile Meals has lots of sponsors for persons who are low-income. The new case mix reimbursement is higher than it’s ever been. They just had a benefit bake sale for the Maas and Thimesch families for medical expenses. The next fund raiser will be working on acquiring a golf cart. They are also working on raising money for Music in Memory, a program for residents that uses music to enhance memories.

Manor DON Report: Tammie Stroud reports they are working on recruiting, training and getting ready for re-survey.

Kim notes that a Kiowa District Manor Notice of Discharge policy has been adopted and all residents have been informed of the change.

Hospital DON Report: At this time last year we had 13 surgeries and this year we have 33. At the end of May we met Dr. Porter’s goal of doubling the surgical revenue and now he is pushing to triple the revenue.

Rural Health Clinic Report: They are transitioning from 30 minute to 20 minute office visits in order to accommodate more patients.

Medical Staff Appointments: Karim Masri, MD, Iram Sirajuddin, MD, Justin Moore, MD, Mary Betterman, MD, Scott Belliston, DO, Samuel Porter, MD and Christie Leal, DO.

The July regular Board meeting and 2017 Tax Budget Hearing will be Tuesday July 26, 2016 at 7:00pm at the KDH Clinic lobby.

At 8:23pm Jim moved to enter executive session to discuss RM/QA, non-elected personnel and contract/legal; Chantae seconded; motion carried. At 11:18pm Jeff moved to enter regular session; Jeff seconded; motion carried.

Jeff moved to approve RM/QA; Chantae seconded; motion carried. Jeff moved to accept the mutual severance agreement with Dr. Leal pending legal review; Chantae seconded; motion carried.

The Board will reconvene Tuesday June 28, 2016 at 7:00 at KDH for an executive session to discuss strategic planning and contract/legal.

At 11:20 Jim moved to adjourn; Jeff seconded; motion carried. The meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

James E Parker, Secretary

 

Enjoy a Star Spangled 4th in Hardtner

By REX ZIMMERMAN

It’s time to celebrate America! The town of Hardtner will hold its 58th Annual 4th of July Celebration on Monday, July 4, with activities planned for all day long. There are games and activities for all ages all day long both downtown and in beautiful Achenbach Park.

The celebration begins at 9:00 a.m. with the Little Firecracker Contest held at the American Legion Building downtown. Those young ladies will then join many, many other floats and entries at 10:00 a.m. for the big 4th of July Parade down Main Street. There is $1,000 in prize money to be awarded the best floats or entries.

The first clue in the Medallion Hunt will be given right after the parade.

At 11:00 a.m. the Veteran’s Program gets underway at the United Methodist Church. Veterans are always a special focus of the Hardtner 4th Celebration and this year the featured speaker will be WWII veteran and retired Kiowa physician Dr. M.D. Christensen.

Following the program, a free lunch will be held at the church beginning at noon. Yur Place will also be open for lunch on Monday.

A big Volleyball Tournament tips off at 12 noon at Achenbach Park and there is Free Swimming at the spacious Hardtner Pool from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Achenbach Park will be the focus of an entertaining afternoon as Bike Races get started at 2:00 p.m. followed by Turtle Races at 3:00 p.m.

Free BBQ Beef Sandwiches will begins serving at the Park at 4:00 p.m., followed by the annual White Elephant Auction at 5:00 p.m. Donations are still needed for the auction, which is the primary fundraiser for the fireworks show each year. If you have items to donate, contact Syd Sterling at Yur Place.

If you are a vendor, you are welcome to set up your stand at the park on Monday.

At dark, the best fireworks show in Southern Kansas celebrates our American heritage as thousands will watch the festivities, accompanied by patriotic music. Other entertainment for the evening will be provided by Local Boyz Entertainment with music for all ages.

Finances Still Undecided But BOE Still Busy Preparing for School Year

By REX ZIMMERMAN

The U.S.D. 255 Board of Education met in regular session on Monday, June 13, 6:00 p.m. at the central office. Board members in attendance were Mark Pollock, Dooli Rugg, Mariah Doherty, Mike Miller and Deb Helfrich, along with board president Steve Allen.

7-12 Building Report

Following approval of previous minutes and current agenda and payment of bills totaling $362,132.54, the board heard the 7-12 building report from principal, Brent Shaffer. He reported that Driving Education is in progress with 15 students enrolled. The class work is completed and he said students are now driving.

He gave a report on the outstanding results of South Barber athletes at state. All eight athletes that attended, whether in relays or individual events, scored points and received medals.

Dr. Williams Give Update

Superintendent Dr. Andi Williams reported to the board that the district is again fully accredited through June 30, 2017 as the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation works on implementing a new program. She said the new system will have less focus on scores.

Dr. Williams next discussed teacher professional development and survey results, and said the EdGE technology summer teacher camp will be held July 27 and 28. Teachers will be paid $100 per day to attend and upgrade their technology Moving to finances, the superintendent said she feels confident about the district’s finances after meeting with auditor Randy, who said the district was “in pretty good shape” heading into the end of the fiscal year.

The district will still lose around $175,000 in operating funds from the drop in valuation – but that is better than the $300,000 drop that was expected.

“The $175,000 is what we didn’t receive (from mineral production taxes) and it will become at this point what I ask for in extraordinary needs funding.” Dr. Williams added that the district would still have to increase the mill levy rate from the present 6 mills to possibly just over the state average of 19 mills, in addition to receiving the extraordinary needs funds from the state.

The auditor also gave the go ahead to make final year end purchases, including expanding the Envision math program (already used in grades K-6) with newest copyrighted materials, digital resources paid out over a six year contract which calls for materials to be updated regularly.

Superintendent Williams said the district will pay “one money” for the program and she did some figuring to determine that it would come out to about $18 per student for the next six years. There is also a good amount of free material that comes with the purchase of the program, she said. The district has the option to set up a payment plan that meets its budget needs.

Dr. Williams next addressed the recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling that the Kansas Legislature’s adopted school financing plan still did not meet the court’s guideline of a fair and equitable education for all Kansas students.

“As you may know, the legislature is going into special session on June 23 That is all we know,” she said. She said the district will try to keep it “business as usual” and be ready to do a few things if we need to, including paying salaries for work already done by the end of June with funds already available.

Negotiations with certified staff are completed, she continued, and the high school foreign language opening is still vacant. Dr. Williams said the district will continue to look for the best instructor available for that position, but could consider online foreign language as a temporary solution. The district has one applicant for the open math position, she said.

Dana Dunn from P1 Group met with Superintendent Williams. The corroded gas pipe project on the roof of the high school was taken off the list of items to do on the high school “Master Plan” as she requested the pipe be taken care of as soon as possible as a safety issue.

She then asked the board for their thoughts on how they wanted to proceed with the high school improvements – their priorities, and if they wanted to lump several projects together or to do a series of small projects over time.

Board members mentioned the heating and air conditioning system as a possible top project, but most felt with district finances still uncertain it might be a bit too early to commit to any large projects. They felt some of the smaller projects might be possible. Keeping any work local as possible was also suggested by board members.

Superintendent Williams will get the board a revised list of priorities for their review.

Steve Allen gave a report on the recent SCK-SEC meeting, and heard no objections to remaining with the group despite an increase in cost to the district.

In other action, the board:

  • Approved Steve Roberts and Tammy Angell for the two summer help positions.
  • Accepted the resignation of high school cook Dominique Thompson, with no replacement planned. Dr. Williams said based on other food services, the number of students we have and meals served, the district is still overstaffed. She said she is still looking into ways to conserve in that area. A brief discussion also included the quality and amount of food served students.
  • Approved the revised district calendar.
  • Approved the building handbooks for the K-6 and high school with changes. High school principal Brent Shaffer noted one change was that cell phones will not be allowed to be used in classrooms as they can cause a distraction, along with other changes that were discussed by the board.
  • Approved a request from an alumni group to use a school bus to tour the Hazelton-Hardtner-Kiowa area during Labor Day weekend. The group would pay for a driver from the school and fuel and sign an agreement the district already has in place. Such alumni requests have previously been approved.
  • Approved retired teacher Jeannie Albright to purchase an original sketch signed by noted Kansas artist Birger Sandzen that she had found years ago behind a desk and has been hanging in her room for several years. She said after contacting a gallery concerning the value of the artwork, she found it to be worth approximately $500.

Board member Mike Miller noted that after all the work Mrs. Albright had done for the district “I don’t have a problem with handing it to her and saying thank you.” Board voted to sell the drawing to Mrs. Albright for one dollar.

  • Agreed to allow a few rooms at the high school be used for EMT training on July 9.
  • Approved a request to use the football field area for soccer games one Saturday in April, 2017. The agreement is for around eight playing areas and the football field itself would not be used.
  • Had a first read on 16 KASB policy updates.
  • Approved the use of the gymnasium facilities at the high school and elementary school for summer league basketball.

In final action, the board held an executive session to discuss negotiations and approved them as presented after coming back into regular session.

Council Hears Reports, Discusses Pole Damage Concerns at Monthly Meeting

By REX ZIMMERMAN

The Kiowa City Council faced a light agenda as it met for its regular monthly meeting on June 6. Members present were Bill Watson, Tom Wells, R.L. Simpson, Brian Hill and Russ Molz, along with Mayor Brandon Farney.

In opening action, council approved previous minutes and the agenda, and after discussion approved bills for payment including late additions.

Administrator’s Report

Lou Leone presented his report and noted that the city electric crew has switched out 32 poles in two months, compared to far fewer the previous year. Having a dedicated electric crew has been a big asset, he said.

Drainage problems have cropped up again throughout the city after the very wet spring, and the city is seeking input from a couple of engineering firms on long-term ways to correct the problems.

Application to the Kansas Corporation Commission for certification of the city’s electric grid has been filed and Mr. Leone said he anticipates completion by July.

Staff attended a state sponsored class in Hays on June 3 relating to the 2017 budget, and credit due the city from overcharges for electricity from KMEA have started to show up. The April overcharges appeared on the city’s June bill and the January through March overcharges are scheduled to appear on he July bill.

The Kiowa Swimming Pool is open and Mr. Leone thanked everyone who worked hard to make sure it was ready. A few leaks have appeared, but it is believed they are the result of old piping that has not been replaced in recent pool upgrades.

City staff is working with Fire Chief Bill Duvall and Asst. Chief Roger Robison on ways to improve the city’s insurance rating, which is now an ISO 6 rating. He felt that with just a little work, such as additional firefighter training and upgraded equipment, the city could get down to a Grade 5 rating. Each improvement in ISO rating also improves insurance premiums for both the city and its residents. The city administrator also said. The city administrator also said that he plans to apply for grants for obtaining new fire vehicles when the registration period begins in November.

An inspection at the Kiowa Senior Center has found areas that need improvement, including windows that leak throughout the building. John Terwort is doing an inspection to see what else is needed and Mr. Leone will report back to the council with the findings.

The recently purchased dump truck should be available to the city at the end of the month. It is located in Sioux City, IA. The skid loader that was also purchased won’t be available until late July or August, but Mr. Leone said he is hoping PrairieLand Partners can fine a loaner skid loader the city can use until the new one arrives.

The roadway on Commercial Street was also discussed and the city plans to use rock such as gypsum or limestone to help improve the driving surface. Nuisance property letters have also been sent out for such items as not mowing yards. Mr. Leone said that some property owners don’t live here which makes the situation more difficult.

In other action, council approved the city administrator to attend a grant writing in Wichita August 4 & 5 and the $650 tuition fee, plus other appropriate expenses.

Mr. Leone also said the city is reviewing different programs to provide better tracking of city inventory, work orders, and managing city assets. One program he is interested in so far would cost $3,800 for initial setup and $1,500 a year in fees.

He also discussed the need for updating city codes, updating the city’s website, a 20 year strategic plan, and an agreement to increase the lease money the city received from the cell tower on Ellis Field from $529 to $1,250 per year.

The city administrator also noted that mosquito spraying is continuing on the first and third Tuesday mornings in Kiowa. The city has also begun spraying on Thursdays in Hardtner, but is waiting on official word from the Hardtner City Council to see if they wish to continue the service.

Council Discusses Pole Damage

As the meeting moved to concerns from individual council members, Bill Watson brought up an issue from a couple of months ago involving a utility pole and related equipment that was damaged several months ago when the homeowner damaged the pole and equipment by running into it with a skid loader.

The homeowner quickly reported the incident to the city and crews worked during the weekend to replace the pole and restore power to those affected.

Council had determined at the time that the homeowner would not be charged for the damaged utility pole as it was marked as a pole already scheduled to be replaced in the near future.

Councilman Watson presented a copy of a current city resolution that stated what fees the city would charge for use of various equipment, manpower, and work on weekend and holidays. He felt the resolution was not being followed and that the homeowner probably should owe more than he was charged by the city.

“We didn’t follow procedure,” Mr. Watson said. “We have it on the books.” He also noted that

After more discussion, the city administrator said he will look a the resolution to see how it applies to the incident in question.

In another council item, Councilman Molz said he is still getting complaints on pit bulls being in town. He said there had been a dog attack recently on a child that was “mauled” and that there was no “grey area” for having a pit bull in the city.

Kiowa does allow pit bulls if they are caged according to regulations in place, and the owner has a $50,000 insurance policy covering the animal.

In final action, council held an executive session with no action taken.

Superintendent Williams Gives Update on School Financing Plans Amid the Uncertainty Coming from Lawmakers

By ANDI WILLIAMS, Ed. D

Superintendent

South Barber U.S.D. 255

The current Kansas economy and the uncertainty of public school finance have left many patrons wondering about the future of South Barber Schools. For the first time in a long time, Kansas school administrators are unsure of how to make financial plans for their school districts. The administrators who were once able to plan for years in advance are now wondering about tomorrow.

Through Kansas Supreme Court (KSC) challenges, the Kansas Legislature has been charged with the duty of creating a constitutional funding system for Kansas Public Schools: their duty; to provide a system which is first equitable to all school districts, and then adequate. With regard to the first task, the KSC ruled the Legislature’s recent proposal was only in part equitable. As a result, the Legislature must return to the drawing board to create another submission. If they cannot propose what the KSC determines to be equitable, Kansas Public Schools cannot legally function with an unconstitutional financial framework. The responsibility lies completely with the Legislature.

More specifically, USD 255 has been monitoring the Kansas economic happenings. While we do not possess the crystal ball which tells us exactly what the future holds, we have created multiple possible budget scenarios to address current and future budget constraints. Those scenarios are fluid, changing as the dynamics of the Kansas economy changes.

The included graph depicts the school district valuation over the last eight years. As the district valuation increased, the Local Option Budget (LOB) mill rates decreased. Each year, the school district maximized the mill rate to generate the same cash funds as the year before. As assessed valuation decreased, the value of the mill also decreased, therefore requiring more mills to generate those same cash funds. Now that the oil production windfall is on the down-hill slide, the economy of USD 255 is returning to the status it had similarly in 2008.

Because the school district’s assessed valuation is expected to drop by nearly half for the second time in two years, property owners in the district can expect the LOB mill rates to increase dramatically. All of this county financial activity happens without a vote and is within the limits of the authority of the school district. By accessing Extraordinary Needs Funds last year, the district was able to keep the LOB mill rates at a state low of 6.1. That will not be the case for the upcoming school year. I will do what I can to keep the mill rates as low as possible while generating the same cash funds.

At all times, school district personnel do what we can to be as efficient as possible. Our number one goal will always be to provide the best rigorous education possible for our students. At the same time, we must be good stewards of the finances. We scrutinize financial decisions on a daily basis, reduce waste where we can, minimize utility expenses, streamline instructional purchases, and only hire for positions where absolutely needed. We value our educational staff and their daily contributions to the success of each student. We have not had to cut instructional positions but absorb where we can. Today’s economic demands force creativity on our part. Creativity is a good thing.

If you have specific questions, please contact me at the school district office any time. If I do not have the answers you need, I’ll find them.

South Barber Athletes Do Well at State Meet

Senior Kolton Pavlu placed 4th in shot put and 6th in discus at State.

Senior Kolton Pavlu placed 4th in shot put and 6th in discus at State.

Despite a heavy rain Friday afternoon that cancelled all the 1-2-3A events, South Barber competed well at the Kansas State Track & Field Championships at WSU Cessna Stadium in Wichita.

All of Friday’s devents were crammed into a busy Saturday for the Chieftains and Lady Chiefs.

Senior Kolby Pavlu placed 4th in the Shot Put with a throw of 44-6.5 ft. and was 6th in discus with a 125-08 effort.

Junior Gavin Doherty had a great 400 meter run to take 2nd place in 51.58 seconds. He was also 14th in the 200 meters in a time of 24.25 seconds.

For the Lady Chiefs, senior Nicole Blick took 8th in the 400 meters in 1:02.14. Freshman Morgan Polson took 15th in the Triple Jump with a leap of 31-09.75.

The 4×400 meter relay team of Nicole Blick, Sabrina and Savannah Hughbanks and Morgan Polson was 7th with a time of 4:20.75 and the 4×800 meter relay team of Morgan Polson, Nicole Blick, Bailey Roberts and Taylor Pollock placed 8th with a clocking of 10:48.97

The Chieftains were 14th overall with 16 points and the Lady Chiefs scored 4 points.