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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


from JF-KS Situation Room

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


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.


Opening day set for Flint Hills Discovery Center

The opening of Kansas’ next major tourism attraction, the Flint Hills Discovery Center, has been set for April 14 in Manhattan’s downtown redevelopment district.
“This project is stunning evidence of what can be accomplished when the public and private sectors collaboratively work together,” said Ron Fehr, city manager.
“The Flint Hills Discovery Center is a key component to Manhattan’s successful downtown redevelopment and the award of $50 million in STAR bonds from the state of Kansas. We are proud to have created this great place of both learning and fun. It will support all our efforts to preserve the Flint Hills and promote tourism within our state.”
Opening day will include a ribbon cutting, remarks by local and state dignitaries, and the public’s first look at the facility. Dedication of the adjoining Blue Earth Plaza also will take place April 14.
Construction of the 35,000-square-foot facility began in July 2009 with a promise to inspire and educate visitors to the uniqueness and importance of the Flint Hills of Kansas and the Osage Hills of Oklahoma, said Bob Workman, director of the Flint Hills Discovery Center.
“It’s fantastic to be planning our opening. Our visitors are the reason for this project, and on April 14 we will come alive as everyone sees and enjoys all that the Discovery Center has to offer,” Workman said.
Through interactive exhibits visitors will have an opportunity to explore the science and cultural history of the last stand of tallgrass prairie in North America – one of the world’s most endangered eco-systems. The building is nearly complete and installation of exhibits is in progress.

The $24.5 million project anchors the second phase of Manhattan’s downtown redevelopment.

The Flint Hills Discovery Center contains permanent and temporary exhibits, classrooms and meeting rooms, a store and outdoor terraces and landscaping. It will be open 363 days a year and serve as the visitor information center for Manhattan and the surrounding Flint Hills region.


Safe driving the goal, age not always a limiting factor

by Nancy Peterson
K-State Research and Extension News Media Services

Parents who fret when teens begin to drive may be surprised to see their now-grown children fretting about their parents’ driving skills.

A driver’s license is often viewed as a key to independence, particularly in rural areas with scant public transportation, said Jill Frost-Steward, a doctoral student in Family Studies in the College of Human Ecology at Kansas State University.


Driving is a meaningful activity and important in retaining independence.

Frost-Steward, who has chosen safe driving for older adults as the focus of her research project, explained that changing medical conditions, rather than age itself, often are the primary factor or factors in deciding when it’s no longer safe to drive.

Driving is a meaningful activity and important in retaining independence, said Frost-Steward, who explained that driving allows control over daily decision-making, such as when to go to the grocery store, visit friends or schedule appointments.

For many older adults, driving also is a symbol of competence, said Frost-Steward, who identified three major types of health concerns that can affect driving ability:

  1. Changes in vision;
  2. Changes in physical health, and
  3. Changes in cognitive function.

“Changes in vision are a common concern, as a decline in depth perception, peripheral vision, and the ability to manage glare that could result from the aging process, an accident, injury or other medical condition can make driving more difficult,” she said. Eye conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease may create blind spots in vision.

“Visual attention is another issue,” said Frost-Steward, who explained that this is a term used to describe the ability to manage a changing environment. For example, in approaching a stop sign, a driver will need to consider other cars either stopped at or approaching the stop sign or intersection, which driver has the right-of-way, and pedestrians in his or her decision-making process.

A decline or other change in physical health also can be a determining factor, she said.

Flexibility, strength and coordination also are important for safe driving because a driver will need to be able to rotate his or her neck to look from side to side to view road conditions and traffic, and to turn around to check before backing up or parallel parking.

Shoulder and elbow movement is key to turning the wheel, and, with or without arthritis, it’s important to be able to curl fingers to grip the wheel, Frost-Steward said.

Some physical limitations may be able to be addressed by health care professionals or modifications to a vehicle, she said.

The third factor that can affect a person’s ability to drive is a change in cognitive functioning.

To drive safely, a driver needs to be able to make judgments, such as when it is safe to make a left turn or to react quickly to a change in traffic conditions. Examples might include a sudden stop or need to change lanes.

Cognitive functioning can be affected by a variety of factors. For example, if taking one or more prescribed or over-the-counter medications or supplements, a driver is urged to consult with his or her doctor or pharmacist to rule out negative drug interactions or side effects that could slow driving response times.

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia also can interfere with cognitive functioning, Frost-Steward said.

In the earliest stage of dementia, some older adults are able to pass an on-the-road driving test. As diseases that affect the brain progress, drivers may get lost in familiar places, may lose the ability to comprehend traffic signs, and may lose awareness of how their driving is affecting others.

Adult children and others who serve as caregivers are encouraged to ask to ride along occasionally to observe driving capacity, she said.

“The topic can be challenging,” said Frost-Steward, who recommended working with a driver in question and his or her health care providers to understand and address medical concerns.

When driving is no longer an option, Frost-Steward encourages family members and caregivers to develop an alternative transportation plan that will keep the former driver connected to his or her regular activities.


Bill Anderson

Word was received this week of the death of William “Bill” Anderson, Topeka, formerly of Valley Falls, who died Jan. 6, 2012.

He married Hazel Aleen Lykins March 10, 1956. She died June 1, 2011.

The couple moved to Valley Falls in 1983 and operated The Last Straw and a furniture store for several years before moving to Topeka.

Survivors include a daughter, Teresa Rivera; two sons, Douglas Anderson and Michael Anderson; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at Mission Towers, 2929 SE Minnesota, Topeka.