Donnelly plans Multicultural Festival April 11

Donnelly College will hold its 2014 Multicultural Festival fr0m 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, April 11,  at 608 N. 18th St., in Kansas City, Kan.

This annual, family-friendly event allows Donnelly College to showcase and celebrate the wide array of cultures included in its student population.

Highlights of this year’s festival will include fun and interactive student presentations;  international food sampling; henna body painting; live music and dance performances; and hand-crafted items, which will be available for purchase. Admission, as well as on-campus parking, is free and open to the public.

Student displays, designed to educate on local, regional, and international culture and customs, will be held from  4 to 6:30 p.m. in Donnelly College’s Community Event Center.

Food vendor sales, arts and crafts, and musical performances will take place from 6:30 to 10 p.m. in the Campus Meeting Room. Ottoman’s House, Ten Thousand Villages, The Embellished Body, and local, Latin music group, Son Selecta, will be among the featured vendors and performers.

“The Multicultural Festival is my favorite event of the year,” said Betsy Gran, Multicultural Festival co-coordinator. “Our students come from all over the world and it’s wonderful to celebrate their cultures–and ours–through food, dance and music.”

For more information about the Donnelly Multicultural Festival, contact Michelle Bridges at 913-621-8757 or mbridges@donnelly.edu.

Red flag warning, wind advisory in effect for Wednesday

Wednesday’s forecast includes a red flag warning and a wind advisory for Wyandotte County. (National Weather Service graphic)

A red flag warning and a wind advisory will be in effect Wednesday in Wyandotte County.

The red flag warning will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., while the wind advisory is from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Today’s forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of showers after 5 p.m., the weather service said.

Most of the day will be mostly sunny, with a high near 59.

Tie down any loose objects outdoors today. Windy weather will see a south wind of 14 to 19 mph increasing to 23 to 28 mph in the afternoon, and winds could gust as high as 39 mph, according to the weather service forecast.

Wednesday afternoon relative humidity values (National Weather Service graphic)

Relative humidity values today will fall to 20 to 30 percent, which will create a high fire danger, given the strong winds.

On Thursday, a cold front will move into the area, bringing a threat for thunderstorms, the weather service predicted.

Before Thursday, scattered thunderstorms will move through the area late Wednesday. Strong storms are not expected on Wednesday at this time.

Severe thunderstorm risk Thursday (National Weather Service graphic)

By Thursday afternoon, a line of strong to severe thunderstorms is expected to develop just west of the I-35 corridor and spread into central Missouri through the evening, the weather service said.

Depending on the degree of instability, a few of these initial storms could be super cells for a brief time near the I-35 corridor with large hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes.

Storms will then develop into a line moving toward central Missouri with large hail and isolated damaging winds the primary threats, the weather service said.

UG tries to rein in animal problems

Dog packs running loose in the community is one of the issues that will be addressed in an examination of animal control policies.

Shortage of space at the animal shelter and increasing the limits on pets allowed at residences are some of the other issues that may be addressed.

Police Capt. Michelle Angell of animal control said traps have been set recently in the Quindaro area for wild dogs, and four dogs were caught in the past week. Animal control has received complaints about dogs running loose, some in packs.

Not helping the situation is that the animal shelter is often full and sometimes unable to accept more dogs. Recently, Capt. Angell reported, the state has told the local shelter that it cannot double up dogs in kennels.

Animal control was the topic at a Unified Government Standing Committee meeting on Monday night. Commissioner Jane Philbrook asked representatives from animal control and a committee looking at the issues to address the commissioners.

The UG Standing Committee unanimously voted Monday to have a committee continue to look at this situation and come up with a final proposal to submit to the commission, including a budget recommendation and ordinance changes.

Capt. Angell told the commissioners that irresponsible pet owners and the pet population were the reasons animal control agencies exist. She described several improvements recently at the animal shelter, which opened in 1986, including renovations; a new surgical room and recovery room being set up; on-site veterinary services to spay and neuter; an isolation room; and new epoxy flooring for the kennel.  Some of the improvements were required by the state.

Numbers of animals were down at the animal shelter during 2013 because of a state requirement to allow more space for animals.

Capt. Angell also said officers found that warnings were not working, so the number of summons issued went up during 2013 from 1,119 to 2,137.  If the pet owner gets shots for the animal prior to the court date, the citations are dismissed and the owners just pay court costs, she said.

Among the ideas being discussed by the committee will be increasing the staff for animal control; allowing a larger number of pets per residence; more education; and changing language in ordinances to more clearly define animal abuse or neglect. The city currently has a leash law and a limit on the number of pets per residence. The group will look at different ways to deal with the cat population.

Katie Barnett, an attorney representing Professionals for a Humane and Safe Kansas City, a coalition of animal shelters, cited a recent citizen survey that ranked animal control as a high priority. This group has been talking with people in the community for about seven months about animal control and policies.

She said people are most concerned about stray dogs and dogs at large; public safety concerns about dangerous animals are breed-neutral; neglect; reducing the community cat population; and pet limits.

She also noted that some segments of the community want to increase outdoor walking trails, but that if residents are afraid to go outdoors because of stray dogs, no one would use the trails.

The committee may look at revising ordinances concerning the dangerous animal section; revising the definition of “proper care” to more definable terms; humane tethering guidelines; pet limits; and lower community cat population. She advocated repealing breed-specific language and implementing no tolerance for dangerous animals. She supported a trap, neuter and return policy for community cats.

Barnett also recommended formal training for animal control officers, and looking at changes to operations policies at the animal shelter.

In addition, she advocated an education program on living safely with dogs, humane care, and community outreach.

Barnett also said animal control was understaffed for a city this size.

Listed as additional resources and revenues through changes advocated by Barnett were increased licensing revenue from raising the pet limit; increased licensing revenue from allowing all breeds of dogs; increased revenues from online licensing and fee payments; resources and money saved from not seizing, impounding and euthanizing community cats; resources better allocated from targeting reckless owners and dangerous dogs, and not targeting breeds of dogs; a reduced number of animals impounded with revised policies and ordinance changes; an increased number of adoptions through the animal shelter; a free ride home for licensed and microchipped animals instead of impounding them; and increased penalties and citations for reckless owners.

Barnett listed expenditures from these proposed changes as unfreezing and funding three additional animal control officers who would patrol; increased impoundment of stray and feral dogs; formal education and training for animal control officers; new “adoption counselor” position; and updated equipment to increase efficiency.

The committee is expected to discuss “breed discrimination,” the idea that certain breeds such as pit bulls are naturally vicious and should be banned. Barnett said the current thinking is that animal behavior varies according to individual animals and not according to breed. Pit bulls are currently banned in Kansas City, Kan., and there is a movement to allow them, according to officials.