New officers chosen for BPU board

Mary Gonzales
Members of the Kansas City, Kan., Board of Public Utilities elected new officers to the board.

New officers include: Mary Gonzales, president; Robert L. Milan Sr., vice president; Tom Groneman, secretary.

Before being elected board president, Mary Gonzales served as vice president. She has been on the BPU Board of Directors since 2001.

Gonzales retired from teaching school in 2006 after a 33-year career. For many of those years she was an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Piper Middle School.

She served as president from 2005 to 2007. She also served previously as vice president and secretary of the BPU board.

Besides her BPU Board and other community activities, she serves on the Board of Directors of El Centro and City Vision Ministries. She also is a member of the American Public Power Association and the American Water Works Association. A graduate of Leadership 2000, she was also District 5 coordinator in the successful effort to consolidate the Wyandotte County-city governments, and served on the advisory board of the Wyandotte County Library. In addition, she is past president of Delta Kappa Gamma International Educational Society.

Gonzales has a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Ala., and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Emporia State University. She is married to John Mendez and has three sons and two step-daughters.

Other elected officers include Robert L. Milan, vice president and Tom Groneman, secretary. Milan has served on the board since 1991. Groneman has served on the board since 2013. Both Milan and Groneman will work closely with Gonzales in their new roles.

Spring tornadoes are an important reminder to prepare

The Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department is offering suggestions for what to do before, during and after a tornado:

• Maintain an emergency kit or check list of emergency items to take with you.
• Develop a family communication plan in case your family is separated.
• Identify a safe shelter location. A basement is best, followed by interior rooms on the lowest level of the building away from windows. Mobile homes are often unsafe in a tornado – identify a neighbor’s house or public shelter where you can go if a tornado warning is issued.
• Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio to receive alerts about impending severe weather.
• Sign up for reverse telephone alerts for your county, and don’t forget to include your cell phone.
• Make sure you have sufficient insurance coverage – including flood insurance, which is separate from your homeowner’s policy.
• Photograph or video the contents of your home in case you need to file a claim.
• Store copies of your important documents in another location, such as a bank safe deposit box.
• Consider building a safe room inside your home.
• Immediately go to your pre-identified safe shelter – there is no time to gather possessions.
• If possible, crouch under a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a table. Cover your head and neck with your hands and arms.
• If you are outside and no other shelter is available, get in a vehicle and drive to shelter if possible. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to outrun a tornado.
• If you must use a vehicle for shelter, keep your seatbelt on, cover your head and keep it below the window level.
• Do not use an overpass or bridge for shelter.
• If no other shelter is available, lie in a low spot and cover your head, but be alert for water filling the location.
• Avoid downed power lines and leaking gas lines – report them to your utility company.
• Watch for broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects.
• Avoid damaged buildings until they are declared safe by officials.
• Notify your family that you are safe – phone lines may be down, so be prepared to send text messages.
• Check property for damage and contact your insurance company to file a claim, if necessary.

Hall Family Foundation will provide $25 million for new health education building in KCK

A $25 million lead gift from the Hall Family Foundation is a catalyst for the University of Kansas Medical Center to move forward on plans to construct a $75 million health education building in Kansas City, Kan.

The building’s total construction costs will be made possible through a combination of state bonds, university funds and private philanthropy. Last month, the Kansas Legislature approved $25 million in bonds for construction. KU will provide $15 million, and the remaining $10 million will be raised by KU Endowment.

“We are pleased to partner with the state of Kansas and university to build a state-of-the-art health education building,’’ said Don Hall, chairman of the Hall Family Foundation. “We applaud the governor and Legislature for their support, and we particularly thank Fred Logan and the Board of Regents for their leadership.

“This building is key to realizing the vision of Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, Executive Vice Chancellor Doug Girod, and hospital President and CEO Bob Page to create a leading educational, research and clinical health care enterprise.

“The University of Kansas Hospital is nationally recognized in numerous clinical areas, and National Cancer Institute designation confirms KUMC’s research strength. This new building will provide unparalleled interprofessional health education for the physicians, scientists and nurses who will build on this momentum.

“Congratulations to all those who are making this project a reality,” Hall said.

Fred Logan, chair of the Kansas Board of Regents, said, “The Regents’ number one priority this year was to obtain funding for construction of a new health education building at the University of Kansas Medical Center. The Hall Family Foundation’s extraordinary gift makes construction possible. It lifts the entire state.”

The chancellor expressed her appreciation.
“The generosity of the Hall Foundation is once more helping KU achieve its bold aspirations by elevating the quality and stature of our university,” she said.

The KU School of Medicine is the only medical school in Kansas and is nationally recognized for training primary care and rural physicians. The new building will facilitate the education of a greater number of physicians and other health care professionals to meet the state’s needs. Currently, 89 of the state’s 105 counties are medically underserved, and it is estimated that 30 percent of the current physician workforce will retire or otherwise leave their medical practices within the next decade.

“This new building will allow us to continue increasing our School of Medicine class size across all three campuses to address the state’s physician shortage,” said Dr. Girod, executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center.

KU trains 211 medical students annually across all of its campuses in Kansas City, Kan., Wichita and Salina. With the new health education building in Kansas City, Kan., the School of Medicine proposes increasing its class size across all campuses by 50 students.

“We will now be able to train future doctors, nurses and health care professionals in state-of-the-art facilities appropriate for the modern health care education curriculum,” said Dr. Robert Simari, executive dean of the School of Medicine.

Over the years, the Hall Family Foundation has provided generous support for several disciplines at KU, including the life sciences, humanities, business and biology. The foundation’s support was instrumental in KU’s achievement of National Cancer Institute designation, as well as the establishment of the Hall Center for the Humanities.

– Story from the University of Kansas