Community meeting planned on education March 27

“How Best to Access Success in Wyco,” a community meeting, will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 27 at the Dr. Thomas Burke Technical Education Center at Kansas City Kansas Community College, 65th and State Avenue.

A panel discussion will be sponsored by El Centro, KCKCC Advancement Council and MainStream Coalition on kindergarten through 16th year education in Wyandotte County and the effect of recent Kansas legislation.

Partnerships in the Wyandotte education community that help students succeed will be discussed. There will be a voter registration booth.

Guest speakers include Ed Marquez, director of admissions, Donnelly College; Superintendent Cynthia Lane, Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools; and Joy Engel, assistant superintendent of the Turner Public Schools. The moderator is KCKCC President Doris Givens.

To register for the program, visit www.mainstreamcoalition.org under “Upcoming Events.” Reservations are requested but not required.

Former governor played role in helping Wyandotte County

Column

by Murrel Bland

Bill Graves was pleased to have played a role in the significant transformation of Wyandotte County that started in the mid-1990s and continues today.

Former Gov. Bill Graves

That was the message he delivered to an audience of more than 600 persons at the annual meeting of the Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce Friday, March 7, at the Reardon Convention Center.

Graves, who is now the president of the American Trucking Associations in Washington, D.C., and nearby Arlington, Va., cited three major accomplishments that needed state government approval—the change to a unified city and county government, the authority to issue sales tax bonds necessary to develop Village West and the creation of an independent KU Hospital Authority.

Graves gave much of the credit to other state leaders such as Gary Sherrer, his lieutenant governor and secretary of commerce, and then State Sen. Mark Parkinson.

“Once the election was over, we forgot about party labels,” Graves said. He said that he doubted that such accomplishments could occur today because of the partisan bickering in Topeka.

Graves, grew up in Salina, Kan.; his family owned Graves Truck Lines and had a terminal on Seventh Street here. His father was a good friend of Jay Dillingham who was president of the Kansas City Stockyards. He recalled another Salina native, coach Walt Shublom, who led Wyandotte High School to state championships.

Graves said he had met with Bill France and Lesa France Kennedy privately in Topeka a few years after he took office in 1995. France told him of plans to expand the International Speedway Corp.  to other areas including Kansas. That excited Graves, who said he has been a race fan since childhood. Today he serves on the board of directors of the ISC.

Graves said he worked with Mark Parkinson, a state senator from Olathe, who played a key role in assuring that legislation passed to allow consolidated government in Wyandotte County. Enabling state legislation and a positive vote of the people allowed the Unified Government to become a reality in 1997.

The problems at the KU Medical Center and its hospital needed attention, Graves said. Bob Hemenway, then the KU chancellor, came to Graves explaining that the KU Hospital was losing money and would be in a much better position to compete with area hospitals if it were governed by an independent authority. Graves helped that legislation pass.

Graves also told a humorous story about a meeting in Topeka with Richard Petty, a NASCAR driver with the nickname “The King.” Petty won seven national NASCAR championships and is famous for wearing his big cowboy hat and sunglasses.

Petty had learned that Graves was the only secretary of state in the country to later be elected governor. Graves said Petty was planning to do the same thing in North Carolina and wanted political advice.  Petty ran for secretary of state but lost.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.

Miller nominated for U.S. Marshal

Topeka Police Chief Ron Miller, former chief of the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, has been nominated by President Obama for U.S. Marshal of Kansas.

The appointment is for four years. The nomination has been sent to the U.S. Senate for confirmation.

Miller, who is from Kansas City, Kan., became Topeka police chief in 2006.

He served in the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department since 1972.

Miller has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Missouri and master’s degree from Wichita State University. He is a past president of the Kansas City Metro Chiefs and Sheriffs Association.