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Fireworks show donations sought

The countdown is on, as time ticks away until Independence Day and the annual Atchison Community Fireworks Show at Warnock Lake.

It is never too late to contribute to the show; the show is scheduled for after dark on Thursday, July 4, with a backup date of Friday, July 5. As of June 21, about $5,000 had been raised for the fireworks show, with a goal of $9,000 to ensure a coverage of all expenses.

All donor amounts large or small are welcome. Supporters can bring their loose change, currency or check throughout the workweek between the hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to the Atchison Globe office, 308 Commercial Street or during business hours at Hundley Insurance, 1401 Main Street.

Supporters who contribute $250 or more are eligible to have their photo taken with their check. The photograph will appear on a special page of sponsors in the Wednesday, July 10, Atchison Globe edition. Atchison Lions Club members are contacting local businesses to generate support for this celebration of our nation’s birth.

Authorities encourage all to have a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday. However, to ensure public safety, there are some restrictions that will be in place in the area.

Atchison Police Chief Mike Wilson said his department has assigned a significant number of officers to ensure public safety during the display at Warnock Lake. Traffic will be allowed to all areas of the park until 20 minutes before the show. At that point, until the display is over, both pedestrian and vehicle traffic will be prohibited throughout the dam area.

Handicap parking will be provided on the southeast side of the sake, and all parking will be prohibited on 274th Rd. between Phillips Road and Rawlins Road. Officers will direct traffic out of the park once the fireworks display has concluded. For more information, contact the Atchison Police Department at 913-367-5525.

Atchison Police Department officers will be in position during the evening throughout the Warnock Lake grounds for crowd and traffic control. Event goers are urged to watch for barricades adjacent to the dam along the north side of the lake because it is a restricted area to accommodate Dave Hundley and his son, Bryce Hundley, both licensed pyrotechnicians, and their crew.

The Hundleys are Lions Club members. Atchison Lions Club members originated the community fireworks event 67 years ago, and the Lions Club continues to sponsor the event.

From the top of the dam, the Hundleys and crew members will set off more than 2,500 shells that will include 96 floating mines atop the lake water to dazzle the audience.

Bryce Hundley said he is grateful to all who have shown their support to make the annual event possible.

Atchison Globe invites shutterbugs present during festivities at Warnock Lake to electronically submit their photographic images of the event.

The deadline for submission is 1 p.m. Friday, July 5. Send images to marcus.clem@npgco.com. The selected suitable images along with bragging rights, will appear in the post-coverage feature in the Saturday, July 7, edition of Atchison Globe.


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Kansas leader talks rural growth

WATHENA — A Kansas leader is on a tour to assure constituents and businesses that he won’t approach their needs with a “Let them eat cake” attitude.

Visiting Marie Antoinette’s Gluten Free Bake Shoppe and the Dairy Barn family restaurant on Thursday afternoon in Wathena, Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers emphasized how the Democratic-led administration of Gov. Laura Kelly wants to dispel the notion that the state government cares only for Topeka, Johnson County and other high-population communities.

“For both Gov. Kelly and myself, that’s really important. We want to be out in the country and on a regular basis,” Rogers said. “Every time we hear a suggestion, we’ll have some staff look into that.”

Marie Antoinette’s owner Rani Navarro-Force said she believes that the first thing the state government should do is pave roads through bureaucracy toward business growth in local communities.

However, breaking into new markets and operating multiple tiers of her business imposes what Navarro-Force regards as imposing regulatory requirements and fees, some adding up to tens of thousands of dollars per year. Navarro-Force urged Rogers to sponsor state financial incentives that can assist with such burdens.

“That would be a great help, you know, with the state if they could actually provide the resources that we need in order to fulfill the obligations that the state requires,” she said.

At the Atchison Event Center, the state government called together focus groups led by employees from the Office of Rural Prosperity, to help determine what local constituents believe is their ideal of a successful community. The focus groups wrote down their ideas on easels and gave presentations on policies the state government should pursue.

As might be expected, leading issues proved to be helping less-advantaged residents afford housing, education and health care. The Democratic-led Kelly administration, since taking office in January, has actively sought to pass Medicaid expansion under the auspices of the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Thus far, the Republican-dominated Legislature has declined to play ball.

If Medicaid expansion could happen, focus group participant Stevie Durkin said, it would make a big difference, to the tune of millions of dollars in guaranteed revenue for regional health services.

“Because so many people are uninsured,” said Durkin, executive director of the Atchison Community Health Clinic. “So what we would love to see is an enhanced effort to kind of increase funding for community health centers so we can take care of people, regardless of their ability to pay.”


School_board
USD 409 to meet to close fiscal year

USD 409 Board of Education members plan to gather for a high noon special meeting later this week at to take care of a few business items before the close its fiscal year.

The meeting is scheduled for 12 p.m. Thursday, June 27 in the community room at the 409 Board Office, 626 Commercial St.

Board members expect to:

Make payments on warrants as listed for the Sunday, June 30 fiscal year-end as wells as review credit card summaries for the month of June.

Accept a Juvenile Justice Authority Grant award in the amount of more than $20,211. Atchison County supports the JJA program in the amount of $5,600 and 409 supports the program with more than $13,188.

Approve the transfer of funds subject to the final June reconciliation.

Approve to void outstanding checks that are 24 months or older.

Discuss and consider budget updates for the 2019-20 schoolyear and review the proposed budget timeline.

Self-evaluate how they function as a board during a discussion session. A Kansas Association of School Board representative will be present to facilitate the self-evaluation and review board members’ responses from a survey.

Recess from public meeting to convene in executive sessions for different purposes relating to discussions concerning negotiations and non-elected personnel matters.

Resume their public meeting and take action on any resignations and recommendations for employment and/or transfers.

Possibly ratify the 2019-20 agreement between Atchison National Education Association and the district respective negotiation teams met convened June 20 and reached a tentative agreement between the parties.

Board members expect to adjourn for the day as their last order of business to address.


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City, county leaders at fiscal odds

Years of discourse on how to divide Atchison County’s sales tax pie has produced a new public disagreement.

Chairman Jack Bower of the Board of County Commissioners rose to speak as a City of Atchison constituent on Monday during a city government public forum session, in order to register a public complaint with the process to date.

In particular, Bower said, he believes that city leaders haven’t engaged with the county government on the issue of properly dividing the burden of providing sales taxes from each jurisdiction to public services that affect both City of Atchison and Atchison County constituents.

“We haven’t been able to get a meeting set up,” Bower said during the public forum. “The last communication we had was, ‘Well, we’ll get ahold of you later.’ That didn’t sound like a commitment. It’s a little frustrating that we can’t set up a small timeline.”

In a follow up interview with Atchison Globe, Bower said his point of view is, after years of conversations about this issue, that it should take “about an hour” to define when and how the sales tax pie ought to be divided.

“But right now, we’re not talking,” he said. “I don’t know why. I wish I knew the answer to that.”

In a statement, Mayor Shawn Rizza rebutted the notion that communication hasn’t occurred.

“I was disappointed in Jack’s performance at the City Commission meeting on Monday (June 17). It’s blatantly false that we are not communicating with the county,” Rizza said. “That very day, I had a long conversation with Commissioner Eric Noll, who is the county’s lead on negotiations ...

“There are major differences to be worked out with financial oversight and accountability, but I plan to continue progressing toward a resolution as long as I have an even-handed partner at the county level.”

Noll said he is in the process of gathering information about events from the last week.

“It is rather worrysome that it has taken us this long without an agreement,” Noll said.

In 1993, voters approved a countywide sales tax addendum to fund certain programs that are joint concerns for the county and City of Atchison governments, such as solid waste and emergency communications. Since that time, officials from each tier of government have often been out of alignment on how total proceeds from county sales taxes should be divided up.

Each municipality within Atchison County, including the City of Atchison, supplies a proportionate amount of sales tax revenue to the Kansas Department of Revenue, which then distributes it back to the respective municipalities.

Those municipalities, by agreement with the county government, relay a portion of what they get from the state back to the county, to pay for countywide programs and services. Exactly who is responsible for what is the inspiration of much debate between governing bodies.

Work has been ongoing since last summer via the Countywide Sales Tax Committee, ahead of a joint meeting in May between the city and county governments, in which leaders affirmed the principle of dividing county sales taxes among affected departments “reasonably, equitably and proportionally, as borne by each government.”

“I don’t want this to be perceived, or to approach it as an ongoing battle,” Bower said. “Us working together is going to make us all better. After our discussions in January, it should take about an hour to hash out a formal agreement.”

Rizza said that’s false.

“This is an issue that’s been building since 1993, and it’s unrealistic to suggest that it could be resolved in an hour,” he said.

Amid the current spat, Bower has floated the notion that the county might reconsider its current level of financial support for programs like the area’s public health and wellness nonprofit, Live Well Live Atchison.

“To my knowledge, Live Well Live Atchison does a pretty good job,” Bower said. “I just wish we weren’t the only ones holding the bag. I mention them only as one example ... We give to so many nonprofits in the city, it’s unbelievable ... You’ve got to judge things based on their merit and your ability to pay for them.”

Rizza took exception to that.

“When threats are made that funding to Live Well Live Atchison ... will be cut unless we quickly agree to their terms, that’s not solid ground on which to build a partnership,” he said. “These are valuable countywide programs and threatening funding hurts their mission to help Atchison County.

“The City Commission won’t be bullied into an agreement, and I refuse to partake in political theater at the expense of real results.”

Ultimately, all decisions on the matter must be made by a majority vote of the Board of County Commissioners and also the City Commission; Rizza and Bower hold their positions of mayor and chairman for the purposes of legislative order and public ceremony, but otherwise serve as elected policymakers in an equivalent capacity to their peers.

All five city commissioners, including Rizza, serve at large on behalf of all City of Atchison residents. Each County Commission district includes an equivalent-population area. Each district includes a section within Atchison city limits, but Bower’s district is concentrated on city limits; his two colleagues, Noll and Commissioner Bill Pohl, primarily represent rural areas of the county.

Rizza won election to his first city commission term in November 2017 and served for one year as a city commissioner, before his colleagues appointed him mayor at the start of 2019.

Bower, who served on the city commission for several years, received appointment as county commissioner in 2017 and received the most votes last November for a four-year commission term, before his colleagues appointed him chairman in January.