Authors Posts by Mary Rupert

Mary Rupert

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Fireworks stands, such as this one near 74th and State Avenue, opened today in Kansas City, Kan.
Fireworks stands, such as this one near 74th and State Avenue, opened today in Kansas City, Kan.

by Mary Rupert

Fireworks stands opened today in Kansas City, Kan.

Residents of Kansas City, Kan., may shoot certain approved fireworks from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 2 to 4.

Assistant Fire Chief John W. Zimbelman, interim public information officer, said it is important that parents and adults supervise children who are around fireworks.

“People need to be careful, especially with children and supervising,” Zimbelman said. He said that kids should not shoot fireworks, that adults should be the ones to do it.

Fireworks may be discharged between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. from July 2 through July 4 only, according to the local ordinance on fireworks.

This year, there are 47 fireworks stands operating throughout Kansas City, Kan., Zimbelman said.

It is not legal to discharge guns in Kansas City, Kan., to celebrate the holiday, even though there are some laws that permit carrying guns, according to officials. It is illegal to fire a gun in the city.

This year, the free fireworks show for residents at Pierson Park in Turner will not take place, according to the parks department. The show was canceled because the company that formerly did the show is not currently operating, according to the parks department, and no one else would do it for the same amount of money.

The T-Bones are listed on the promotions schedule as having fireworks displays after the home games, which start at 7:05 p.m. July 3 and July 4 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan. The July 4 fireworks display should be a large display, Zimbelman said.

For those shooting fireworks at home, fireworks such as bottle rockets, sky rockets, missile-type rockets, luminaries and lanterns, and unapproved fireworks such as M-80s are not allowed in Kansas City, Kan., according to the UG ordinance. Only consumer-grade fireworks that are on the approved list may be discharged, Zimbelman said.

The UG’s fireworks ordinance is at https://www.municode.com/library/ks/wyandotte_county_-_unified_government/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=CH15FIPRPR. It outlines the specific fireworks that are approved, and those that are not approved. There are no changes to the ordinance this year that apply to residents.

The ordinance specifies that fireworks may be sold only between June 29 and July 4.

The Bonner Springs and Edwardsville fireworks ordinances closely follow the Kansas City, Kan., ordinance, Zimbelman said.

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Window on the West
by Mary Rupert

The tragedy last week in South Carolina, a shooting of nine people attending a historic black church, brought out what I believe is one of the most forgiving acts I have ever seen.

Families of the victims almost immediately said they forgave the shooter. They proved that hate would not triumph. Their statements were important in setting the tone for the rest of the nation in responding to a senseless tragedy. Kansas City, Kan., had its own memorial prayer service last week for the Charleston victims, including an appearance by the U.S. attorney at the Rev. C.L. Bachus’s church.

While gun rights advocates continued to support their right to own and carry guns, the incident sparked a new wave of backlash against the laws that allow individuals to get hold of the more lethal kinds of weapons such as machine guns and automatic guns. I believe the president is correct in saying that guns are a major part of the problem. If society had acted 30 years ago, we would not be seeing these sorts of incidents now.

The man arrested last week displayed a Confederate flag in photos and was reportedly a white supremacist, which started another discussion on whether to remove the Confederate flag from its prominent place at South Carolina’s government buildings and in other states that have displayed it. It’s hard for someone from a northern state to understand why anyone would still be fighting the Civil War, 150 years after it has been over. Quite correctly, the Confederate flag is often seen as a symbol for supporters of white supremacy and slavery.

There is a movement to remove the Confederate flag from flying in front of South Carolina state buildings, and Walmart has announced it will pull Confederate flag materials from its shelves. I would point out if you think the Confederate flag has never flown in Wyandotte County, you are sadly mistaken.

In Kansas, founded as a free state, the Confederate flag was spotted as recently as 2011 flying over a fan’s tailgate area at a Kansas Speedway event in Kansas City, Kan., and it was unconnected with the management of the event. In that case, it might have meant nothing more than supporting a particular driver from South Carolina. And in the past, there was the appearance by the General Lee car, with a Confederate flag on it, from the “Dukes of Hazzard” television show, at the Kansas Speedway.

In 2011, a fan flew a Confederate flag in the parking area of the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. (File photo)
In 2011, a fan flew a Confederate flag in the parking area of the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. (File photo)

NASCAR released a statement Tuesday that it supports the position of the governor of South Carolina, who favors removal of the Confederate flag from state government. “As our industry works collectively to ensure that all fans are welcome at our races, NASCAR will continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity. While NASCAR recognizes that freedom of expression is an inherent right of all citizens, we will continue to strive for an inclusive environment at our events,” according to the NASCAR statement.

While inappropriate and perhaps even a bit rebellious for a state government to display the Confederate flag, it is part of an individual’s right of free expression to do so, however insulted the rest of us may feel. There’s really no need to fly a flag that has so much bad history attached to it. A good response for those who feel strongly about it, I think, is to fly their own different flag. An even better response for everyone is to look inward and do away with any hate toward any group or individual.

When will fire stations be upgraded?

The Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department has found a friend in Commissioner Mike Kane.

At recent Unified Government meetings discussing building and maintenance projects, Commissioner Kane spoke up in favor of funding for fire stations that are in disrepair. Why weren’t they listed on the capital projects being considered in the budget being prepared now, he asked. He mentioned the water problems at the station at 81st and Leavenworth Road – repairs were being made there.

He also mentioned the condition of the fire station in Piper, which according to Kane is not much more than a pole barn.

Will there be any results from his advocacy this year?

It’s hard to tell, but there may not be, because the mayor and UG officials have said they are waiting on the results of a study of the Fire Department before making any changes, and that will be after the budget is completed this year.

Although budget time officially kicks off in mid-July, the commission has been hearing reports for several months about various departments and their needs. The UG administrator has been getting some guidance from the commissioners on the direction the next budget will take.

County Administrator Doug Bach is scheduled to give his 2016 budget recommendations at 5 p.m. Monday, July 13, at City Hall, followed by several budget workshops. A final budget public hearing is scheduled at 5 p.m. July 27.

To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email maryr@wyandottepublishing.com.

by Mary Rupert

The Piper School District bond issue was defeated today, 1,805 to 1,454.

Piper voters were asked to approve a maximum $67.5 million bond issue that would have included a new high school and renovations to the other schools. The “nos” had 55 percent of the vote.

Election Commissioner Bruce Newby said the mail-in election had “a decent turnout.”

He said ballots were mailed to 6,936 active registered voters in this election, and the ballots that were returned totaled 3,260, representing a 47 percent turnout.

When inactive voters are included in the totals, the turnout becomes 34.5 percent, he added.

About a year ago, Piper district voters approved an increase in the local option budget at an election held at the polls June 3, 2014, he said. There was less than 10 percent voter participation in that election, he added.

Piper Superintendent Tim Conrad said today that he was “disappointed” in the election results. He said the district will continue to develop a solution to accommodate growth. There was a lot of effort put into the campaign by those who were in favor of the bond issue.

He said while it is too early to tell what the next step will be for the district, he would expect the board and advisory groups to study where to go from here. Studies have found that Piper would need more classroom space in the future because of anticipated growth in enrollment.

“The problem’s not going to go away, unfortunately, with the growth,” he said. “We just have to regroup.”

Several years ago, voters in the district also defeated a large bond issue question, and after that, the district moved forward with smaller projects.

Conrad said the district would look at the feedback from the “no” voters to find out if the vote was mostly a feeling that they are overtaxed and feel they can’t afford the plan. Then the information could be used in the plans for the next steps for the district.

“We’ll use this as a litmus, so to speak, to gain more information and look to the future,” he said.

On another topic, the Piper school district, like many districts, is facing a reduction in state aid.

Next year the block grant reduction that was announced is projected to be $230,000 to $280,000 less in state aid, Conrad said.

However, district officials are also waiting for the legislative session to end to know the exact figures. Because the Legislature is still in session, cuts could even still be made to this year’s budget, he remarked.

The block grants start July 1 and are in effect for two years. With a reduction of state aid and enrollment growth projected in the Piper district, it has been necessary to make some reductions in the local district budget, he said.

The Piper district has made some reductions, tried to maintain some programs, and has reconfigured some existing contracts with leasing companies, he said. There have been some retirements and resignations, with replacement of staff, and there has not been a big reduction in personnel, he added.

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