Ozawkie man charged with cultivating marijuana

Charges have been filed against Chester D. Pottorf, Ozawkie, for allegedly cultivating marijuana plants.

Pottorf was charged in November with distributing hallucinogens, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to the court records Pottorf was alledgedly found with several bags of a green leafy substance that was believed to be marijuana. In addition a trash container with “green stock vegetation” was found in Pottorf’s possession along with triple beam scales and shears.

Also recovered was a photo album that allegedly contained photos of Pottorf in a marijuana field.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig said that the pictures seemed to be dated and that a field was never found. However, items were found in Pottorf’s home that indicated a possible growing operation.

Nearly a year went by before prosecutors officially charged Pottorf. A $10,000 bond was set for his release.

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/ozawkie-man-charged-with-cultivating-marijuana/

Holland predicts gridlock for 2012 session

by Dennis Sharkey

Kansas Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, and minority whip, says that Kansas will have a budget and redistricting will happen but don’t expect much else.

Sen. Tom Holland

Sen. Tom Holland

Holland isn’t trying to be pessimistic but is forecasting a contentious session because of political polarization that comes with an election year for all Kansas legislators and especially moderate Republican senators. He said many of them will see primary challenges.

“I see this session being extremely contentious,” Holland said. “You’re going to have these incumbent Republican senators under attack throughout the session,” he said.

Holland may predict gridlock but he doesn’t think that translates to a boring or slow session. He believes it will be the busiest session since he entered the legislature as a House member in 2003. He won election to the Senate in 2008 and challenged current Gov. Sam Brownback last year for the state’s top elected position.

Many believe the state’s economic position is better this year thanks to an improving economy and past cuts to the budget.

Holland guarantees that two items will get done before the legislature adjourns. A budget will pass and redistricting will happen but there will be some debates about whether to cut more spending or apply surplus balances to programs.

“There are lots of balls in the air,” Holland said. “I’m sure we’ll have some good debates on whether any balance should be put to use.”

Although Holland isn’t predicting much more legislation, he does expect many debates to take place on some key central issues that may also shape the elections.

There has been a lot of information published about Brownback’s plans for tax reform including income taxes. Many of Brownback’s ideas scare Holland. His main fear is that the lost revemies will be made up with trickle down effects on local communities.

“My fear is you will see increased pressure for local property taxes to go up,” he said. “I want to be sure those on fixed income are protected.

“The state is just going to shift the tax burden down to the local level,” Holland added. “We’re going to make life even harder for Kansas middle class families to survive,” he said.

Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, formed a committee last year after Brownback announced plans to put forth a proposal to reform income taxes. Morris was outspoken about the issue of transparency when he announced the committee. Holland is on the committee and agrees with his colleague across the isle. He believes any plan the governor puts forward will not have had the proper public scrutiny.

“This has been done behind closed doors,” he said. “You have special interest putting this package together.”

Holland said he will introduce legislation that freezes residential property taxes for seniors until they no longer own the property. He got a similar bill passed in the House during the 2008 session but the bill died in the Senate.

He also plans on introducing legislation that would prohibit employers from discriminating against those who are unemployed and a bill that would prohibit employers from checking an applicant’s credit history unless it is a financially sensitive position.

“Economic times are tough out there and we don’t want to be discouraging people from seeking employment,” he said.

“It’s none of their business,” he said about personal financial information. “That’s personal private business.”

Holland will pull another bill that he has previously tried to get passed to help with immigration. His bill would require all governmental agencies and state contractors to use e-verify. He said the bill would be structured to be as least burdensome as possible.

“The state needs to show it can live under its own rules,” he said.

He said all of Kansas’ neighboring states have already enacted similar laws.

Another issue that scares Holland is Brownback’s education finance formula. He says the state has cut more than $620 from the base state aid the past two years and the funding level is as low as it has been in a decade. Holland says Brownback’s plan is more status quo.

“He basically wants to lock in the cuts we’ve had over the last two years,” Holland said. “It’s basically a one time expenditure.”

He said the state needs to build back up to where funding was before cuts started.

“Our focus when it comes to education needs to be restoring funding to education through the existing state formula,” he said. “The existing formula works.

“The formula is constitutionally valid,” he added.

Holland said Brownback’s plan only helps large districts and rural districts will fall behind.

“What we’re saying is your zip code is going to determine the quality of education,” Holland said. “Jefferson County kids will not be able to keep up with Johnson County kids.”

Holland said all of the “weighting” for things such as transportation and at-risk students will go away making the gap wider if districts grow.

Holland expects at least a debate if not changes to some major programs. The state’s employee retirement program known as KPERS and Medicaid are on the front burner.

There is a predicted $8.3 billion long term funding gap for KPERS. Holland said he wants to know how the gap will be filled and how the plan will retain state employees.

“They have a lot of institutional knowledge,” Holland said. “The pension plan was seen as something to keep them around long term.”

Medicaid costs for the state have increased by more than 27 percent in the last five years. Holland said something needs to be done to curb the cost but checks and balances need to be in place for third party care providers.

“I want to be sure we have some measures and controls up front in those contracts to establish benchmarks and standards so that taxpayers know they are getting their money’s worth.”

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/holland-predicts-gridlock-for-2012-session/

Rep. Gonzalez more comfortable with a year’s experience

by Dennis Sharkey

This week a year ago he didn’t know where his office was or even which way to go but that’s all changed.

The 2012 session of the Kansas House of Representatives began on Monday and Ramon Gonzalez, R-Perry, doesn’t feel like the new kid at a new school on the first day.

Ramon Gonzalez, R-Perry

Rep. Ramon Gonzalez, R-Perry

“I kind of know how the flow is going to go,” Gonzalez said. “It should be a lot simpler on the stuff that gave me trouble last year.”

Last year he arrived in Topeka almost needing a map to get around the capital building with construction complicating matters further. The 2011 legislative session was the first time Gonzalez held any kind of elected office so the whole process was new as well.

Many lessons were learned for the first time legislator including the time he tried to take a simple one page bill to the House floor. A few hours later his simple bill wasn’t so simple anymore and was 17 pages long.

“I’m standing up at the podium saying, ‘What happened?’” Gonzalez joked. “That’s when I learned my lesson.”

Gonzalez has spent many hours since the legislature adjurned last May touring his district that encompasses all of Jefferson County and part of Atchison County. He has visited with all of the local school boards and attended many meetings. He believes he will hit the ground running this week.

Another lesson learned last year is attention to detail. He said lawmakers have to be aware of what is being put in front of them and ask a lot of questions.

“We’re going to have to be pretty cognizant of our decisions,” he said. “Show me what you got. We have to be aware.”

Since the last meeting of the legislature there has been discussion about hot topics such as the state income tax and education funding. Many have been critical of Gov. Sam Brownback’s education funding plan and the lack of transparency when dealing with taxes. However, Gonzalez said he wants the hearing process to play out before making a decision.

“What is the exact proposal?” Gonzalez said. “How are we going to do that? I haven’t seen the paperwork on it.

“That’s part of the session,” he added. “You have to have proposals and you have to have agendas.”

Gonzalez defended the governor’s handling of the income tax discussions and said nothing has been decided and it would have to pass both houses first.

“My comment to that is, ‘What’s a done deal?’” he said. “We don’t have all the particulars yet.

“It’s better you’re told what’s coming up,” Gonzalez says he tells people. “Once we get to the floor and start discussing it we’ll have a little bit more to go with.”

Initially Gonzalez sees some good things with Brownback’s education finance plan but also recognizes some of the arguments that rural schools will make.

“We have students out there who should be afforded the same quality of education that is being afforded to the Johnson County Schools,” he said. “You can’t just say, ‘Well you guys only have x number of dollars and that’s what you’re going to have to work with.’ You have to equalize it.”

Gonzalez will hold the same committee assignments as last year. He is on the public safety, aging and long term care, elections and budget committees.

He believes the biggest debates will be during budget hearings and that the challenges that lawmakers faced last year are similar to this year’s challenges.

“We’re still looking at a tight budget and we know that everyone will come in wanting to fund their departments,” he said. “We’re going to have the same challenge we had last year which is we only have so much money and what can we do with it?

“Is it reasonable and why do you need what you’re asking for?” he added.

Gonzalez does not know how much of the Republican agenda will be accomplished this year and isn’t worried that it is an election year.

“My responsibilities are to do what I’m supposed to do during the session,” he said. “If you worry about what’s going to happen in the future you need to think about doing something else.”

A project that Gonzalez has been working on since last year is a bill that will deal with sexting. Sexting is an act of sending lewd photos via a text message to a cell phone.

He said currently there are no guidelines for addressing the issue from a law enforcement perspective.

“It’s a brand new technology,” Gonzalez said. “Do you treat someone as a felon? Do you send a 15-year-old to jail? We’re trying to make it to where it would have some parameters.”

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/rep-gonzalez-more-comfortable-with-a-years-experience/

Rep. Gonzalez more comfortable with a year’s experience

by Dennis Sharkey

This week a year ago he didn’t know where his office was or even which way to go but that’s all changed.

The 2012 session of the Kansas House of Representatives began on Monday and Ramon Gonzalez, R-Perry, doesn’t feel like the new kid at a new school on the first day.

Ramon Gonzalez, R-Perry

Rep. Ramon Gonzalez, R-Perry

“I kind of know how the flow is going to go,” Gonzalez said. “It should be a lot simpler on the stuff that gave me trouble last year.”

Last year he arrived in Topeka almost needing a map to get around the capital building with construction complicating matters further. The 2011 legislative session was the first time Gonzalez held any kind of elected office so the whole process was new as well.

Many lessons were learned for the first time legislator including the time he tried to take a simple one page bill to the House floor. A few hours later his simple bill wasn’t so simple anymore and was 17 pages long.

“I’m standing up at the podium saying, ‘What happened?’” Gonzalez joked. “That’s when I learned my lesson.”

Gonzalez has spent many hours since the legislature adjurned last May touring his district that encompasses all of Jefferson County and part of Atchison County. He has visited with all of the local school boards and attended many meetings. He believes he will hit the ground running this week.

Another lesson learned last year is attention to detail. He said lawmakers have to be aware of what is being put in front of them and ask a lot of questions.

“We’re going to have to be pretty cognizant of our decisions,” he said. “Show me what you got. We have to be aware.”

Since the last meeting of the legislature there has been discussion about hot topics such as the state income tax and education funding. Many have been critical of Gov. Sam Brownback’s education funding plan and the lack of transparency when dealing with taxes. However, Gonzalez said he wants the hearing process to play out before making a decision.

“What is the exact proposal?” Gonzalez said. “How are we going to do that? I haven’t seen the paperwork on it.

“That’s part of the session,” he added. “You have to have proposals and you have to have agendas.”

Gonzalez defended the governor’s handling of the income tax discussions and said nothing has been decided and it would have to pass both houses first.

“My comment to that is, ‘What’s a done deal?’” he said. “We don’t have all the particulars yet.

“It’s better you’re told what’s coming up,” Gonzalez says he tells people. “Once we get to the floor and start discussing it we’ll have a little bit more to go with.”

Initially Gonzalez sees some good things with Brownback’s education finance plan but also recognizes some of the arguments that rural schools will make.

“We have students out there who should be afforded the same quality of education that is being afforded to the Johnson County Schools,” he said. “You can’t just say, ‘Well you guys only have x number of dollars and that’s what you’re going to have to work with.’ You have to equalize it.”

Gonzalez will hold the same committee assignments as last year. He is on the public safety, aging and long term care, elections and budget committees.

He believes the biggest debates will be during budget hearings and that the challenges that lawmakers faced last year are similar to this year’s challenges.

“We’re still looking at a tight budget and we know that everyone will come in wanting to fund their departments,” he said. “We’re going to have the same challenge we had last year which is we only have so much money and what can we do with it?

“Is it reasonable and why do you need what you’re asking for?” he added.

Gonzalez does not know how much of the Republican agenda will be accomplished this year and isn’t worried that it is an election year.

“My responsibilities are to do what I’m supposed to do during the session,” he said. “If you worry about what’s going to happen in the future you need to think about doing something else.”

A project that Gonzalez has been working on since last year is a bill that will deal with sexting. Sexting is an act of sending lewd photos via a text message to a cell phone.

He said currently there are no guidelines for addressing the issue from a law enforcement perspective.

“It’s a brand new technology,” Gonzalez said. “Do you treat someone as a felon? Do you send a 15-year-old to jail? We’re trying to make it to where it would have some parameters.”

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/rep-gonzalez-more-comfortable-with-a-years-experience/

Jefferson County Transportation turning to municipalities for help after funding cut

by Dennis Sharkey

The only public transportation system within Jefferson County is now looking to the cities for help.

Jefferson County Services Organization(JCSO) Director Lynn Luck met with the Oskaloosa city council last Thursday, Jan. 5, to ask for help.

Last month JCSO found out from the United Way of Topeka that funding to the transportation program was going to be slashed. JCSO requested $36,000 and was granted only $6,000.

Luck said the timing and notice of the cut could not have come at a worse time.

JCSO was notified on Dec. 15 that the cuts would take effect Jan. 1. To complicate matters further a large grant through the Kansas Department of Transportation is due at the end of this month and requires matching funds. Luck said they are about $30,000 short.

Luck said the JCSO board met last week and plans to secure funding are being scrambled together.

“We don’t have it all down in black and white,” Luck said. “It was extremely short notice.”

Luck is requesting up to $1,200 annually from each of the eight cities in the county. Oskaloosa was the first to be visited. Contributions from the cities would not solve the whole funding problem but would get JCSO closer.

In addition the organization is looking at several ways to cut costs.

“There are ways that we can make our program more efficient so we’re looking at that,” she said.

Luck told the council that the program is valuable to not only the hundreds of countians who use the service, but to family members as well. She said 75 percent of patrons surveyed said a family member would have to take off work to transport them to the doctor.

Many of the patrons travel to Topeka and Lawrence for appointments but some also use the service to travel to local clinics as well. A trip could be as short as two blocks for a disabled person.

“There is no other way for them to get there,” Luck said. “It’s such a service that I would hate to see us lose the ability to take those people to the doctor.

“I could defend the needs of the service for a long time,” Luck added.

Some local Jefferson Countians have begun to help the program. Last week a local family donated $5,000 to the program. Luck appreciates the help but many times donations are a one-time thing. What she is looking for from the cities is stability.

Councilman John Norman, who is one of the councilmen overseeing finance, said he has told City Treasurer Joy Neely to look at the budget for areas where funding could come from.

“They do provide a tremendous service,” Norman said.

Norman said he knows of several elderly residents of the city that do not have family members nearby.

Luck said the transportation service could also help the cities with things such as delivering water samples to Topeka. She said cars go to Topeka about three times a week.

The council told Luck they would give her an answer at the next meeting Jan. 19.

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/jefferson-county-transportation-turning-to-municipalities-for-help/

Courthouse records: Jan. 12, 2012

Cases filed—

Limited civil:

Zoeller and Zoeller DCPA vs. Sonya T. Ames, recovery of money; vs. David T. Ames, recovery of money.

Educational Credit Union vs. Misty D. Curry and Gary D. Curry, recovery of money.

Leavenworth-Jefferson Electric vs. Erickha D. Rygaard, recovery of money; vs. Rebecca Price and William F. Price, recovery of money; vs. James R. Ayers, recovery of money; vs. Debra L. Pratt, recovery of money.

Leonard Stevens vs. Christine Annis, petition to evict and recovery of money.

Dillon Companies Inc. vs. Aaron Callahan, recovery of money.

Credit Management Services Inc. vs. Stacie L. Ricley and Joe Ricley, recovery of money; vs. Michael W. Pease and Rachel Pease, recovery of money; vs. Lance Steffey, recovery of money.

Criticare Homes Health Service vs. Kenji Zweygardt, recovery of money.

Central National Bank vs. Nathan M. McClurg, recovery of money; vs. Marjorie J. Reberry and Charles E. Reberry, recovery of money.

Radiologic Professional Services vs. Joanie E. Meier-Honea, recovery of money.

Domestic relations:

Brandi L. Cretsinger vs. Stephen M. Cretsinger, divorce.

Levy B. Cantrell vs. Melissa M. Charay, establish paternity.

Lee F. Callen vs. Jena Jo Callen, divorce.

Sonya Christiansen vs. Richard Christiansen, order of protection.

State Social & Rehabilitation Services vs. Steven Robert O’Trimble, modify child support.

State Social & Rehabilitation Services vs. Larry K. Fowler, recovery of child support.

State Social & Rehabilitation Services vs. Darren E. Kizziah, recovery of child support.

Curtis J. Gatzemeyer vs. Janet M. Gatzemeyer, divorce.

Civil:

Bank of America vs. Bradley W. Cook, mortgage foreclosure.

Darrin Kelley vs. George N. Mathews, recovery of damages.

JP Morgan Chase Bank vs. Rynette Reiling, mortgage foreclosure.

Federal National Mortgage vs. Angela D. Barnett and Mitchell E. Barnett, mortgage foreclosure.

Criminal:

State vs. Chester D. Pottorf, Ozawkie, distributing certain hallucinogens, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia.

State vs. Tod L. Adams, Meriden, possession of stolen property value > $1,000 but < $25 ,000, fleeing or attempt to elude a law enforcement officer, driving while suspended/revoked(2), no vehicle insurance and criminal trespassing.

State vs. John R. Bryson Jr., Oskaloosa, criminal trespassing.

State vs. Jessie W. Remby, Lawrence, criminal threats.

Small Claims:

Roof Care Center Inc. vs. Sherri Nibarger, recovery of money.

Register of deeds—

QC, Merlin E. Magathan et ux. to Brad and Julie Neuenswander, lot 17, blk. W, Lake Ridge Estates.

WD, Deanna Stinnett to Roger T. LeBlanc and Martha E. LeBlanc, lot 6, blk. M, Lakeside Village Campgrounds.

WD, Sarah P. Lawson et vir. to Stephen L. Lunsford and Mary Jo Lunsford, SW 1/4 31-8-20.

WD, Patrick A. Tacha et ux. to PatConn LLC , lot 2, Hidden Acres Subdivision.

WD, Ousdahl Land Company LLC to Peoples Bank, lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, Ousdahl Subdivision No. 2.

Sheriff’s reports—

The following offense and traffic reports are the latest released by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. The date of offense is often approximate and sometimes long before the reporting date.

Dec. 27: Larry Smith, Oskaloosa, reported trespassing.

Dec. 28: Tyler Fowler, Nortonville, reported telephone harassment.

Dec. 29: Officers responded to a report of a disturbance on the 900 block of Oak Street, Valley Falls.

Dec. 29: Officers responded to a report of a prowler on the 200 block of West Memory Lane, McLouth.

Dec. 30: Chris Rutthoff, rural Meriden, reported criminal damage to property.

Dec. 30: Officers responded to a report of harassment in Oskaloosa.

Dec. 30: David Cherry, rural Ozawkie, reported criminal damage to property.

Dec. 30: Officers responded to a report of threats.

Dec. 31: Tanner Penry, rural Grantville, reported criminal damage to property.

Dec. 31: Shannon Kolde, Valley Falls, reported telephone harassment.

Dec. 31: Brian Royt, McLouth, reported criminal damage to property.

Dec. 31: Dustin Rudy, rural Ozawkie, reported threats.

Dec. 31: Officers responded to a report of a disturbance on the 500 block of Third Street, Winchester.

Dec. 31: David J. Gorden, Winchester, reported a burglary.

Jan. 1: Rita Guy, rural Perry, reported telephone harassment.

Jan. 1: John Laduke, rural McLouth, reported a theft.

Jan. 1: Officers recovered lost or stolen property on the 4100 block of 39th Street, rural Grantville.

Jan. 1: Officers recovered a lost or stolen tag on the 5100 block of U.S. 59 Highway, rural Perry.

Jan. 1: Officers responded to a report of a theft on the 600 block of Countryside Drive, McLouth.

Jan. 2: Ronna May, Perry, reported telephone harassment.

Jan. 2: Officers responded to a report of a burglary and theft on the 400 block of Frontier Court, Meriden.

Officers also responded to the following calls for service:

  • alarm 6
  • animal call 12
  • check welfare 6
  • citizen assist 21
  • domestic disturbance 6
  • felony warrant 1
  • funeral escort 2
  • keep peace 1
  • misdemeanor arrest 1
  • restraining order violation 3
  • suspicious activity 10
  • traffic problem 7
  • vehicle check 10
  • 911 hangup 27

The following accidents were recently reported:

Dec. 28, 5:45 a.m.: Clinton O. Thomas, 31, Valley Falls, was traveling Half Mound Road and failed to stop at a stop sign on Effingham Road. Thomas’ vehicle struck a vehicle driven by Douglas E. Peak, 53, Huron, traveling southbound on Effingham Road.

The following drivers recently struck wildlife on county roadways:

Shane D. Cassatt, 20, McLouth; Jeanette M. Shipley, 43, Valley Falls; Mark A. Zeltner, 20, Everest.

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/courthouse-records-jan-12-2012/

Meriden man leads police on chase

Tod L. Adams

Tod L. Adams

A Meriden man allegedly stole a pickup truck and then led police on a high speed chase.

Tod L. Adams according to court records alledgedly stole a 1991 Chevy pickup truck on Dec. 19 and then attempted to elude police officers after he was spotted.

The chase took officers down K-4 Highway before it ended near Grantville.

Adams is currently being held in the Jefferson County Jail.

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/meriden-man-leads-police-on-chase/

Special Weather Statement issued January 15 at 5:13AM CST by NWS

EXPECT SOUTHERLY WINDS TODAY TO INCREASE TO 15 TO 25 MPH WITH GUSTS OF UP TO 35 MPH. EXPECT THE STRONGEST WINDS TO BE ACROSS AREAS EAST OF A MARYSVILLE TO COUNCIL GROVE LINE…HOWEVER EVEN AREAS WEST OF THIS LINE COULD SEE WINDS OF 15 TO 25 MPH TODAY. DEWPOINTS ACROSS THE AREA LIKELY WILL NOT REACH MUCH HIGHER THAN 25 DEGREES…WHICH IN COMBINATION WITH THE LOWER 60 DEGREE AIR

from JF-KS Situation Room http://jf-ks.com

Rollover blocks highway near Oskaloosa

Rollover blocks highway near OskaloosaOskaloosa volunteer fireman Jake Meyer inspects the cab of a Jefferson County Road and Bridge work truck that rolled over on U.S. 59 Highway near the Oskaloosa Veterinary Clinic about 8:45 Monday morning. The truck was pulling a trailer loaded with a large metal culvert pipe. The wreckage stretched across the highway blocking both lanes for more than an hour. According to Road and Bridge Director Francis Hubbard no one was injured in the accident. It took about two hours to clear the road and open the highway to traffic. The truck was severely damaged but the culvert pipe was intact.

Photo by Dennis Sharkey

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/rollover-blocks-highway-near-oskaloosa/

Dollar General plans to build in Valley Falls

Plans are in the works for a Dollar General store to be located at Valley Falls.

A hearing before the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals is set for Feb. 2 for the purpose of rezoning a piece of land from industrial to commercial on the south edge of town next to Valley Ag.

The company planning to build the store has an option on land just to the west of the Valley Ag building and is working with the Kansas Department of Transportation to get access off K-4 highway.

After matters go through the Appeals Board, a site development plan will need to be approved by the city Planning and Zoning Board.

from JeffCountynews.com http://www.jeffcountynews.com/2012/01/dollar-general-plans-to-build-in-valley-falls/