Public comments on Stallings’ parole scheduled Jan. 26

Several persons, including Darrell L. Stallings, are scheduled to have a public comment session for parole at 10 a.m. Jan. 26 at Kansas City, Kan., City Hall, 701 N. 7th St.

Stallings, 45 received five “hard 50” sentences, with five consecutive life sentences, after five persons were killed in Kansas City, Kan., in June 2002. He was found guilty of intentional premeditated killing in the five deaths.

Public comments are allowed at the Jan. 26 meeting, with a parole hearing following in February.

Those who would like to express comments on the inmates but are unable to attend the public comment session may send a letter to the Kansas Department of Corrections, Prisoner Review Board, 714 S.W. Jackson St., Suite 300, Topeka, Ks. 66603.

Besides Stallings, those who are listed in the Jan. 26 public comment session are Marvin L. Thorton, aggravated battery against law enforcement officer, theft, burglary, and other convictions; Robert W. Gibbs, theft, first-degree murder; Rodney A. Sanders, first-degree murder, aggravated assault; Henry Lee Williams, second-degree murder; Kenneth Harrison, indecent liberties, aggravated sodomy; and Vernon Arrington, indecent liberties, aggravated sodomy.

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Lane work being done at westbound I-70 to southbound K-7 ramp

On Thursday, Jan. 15, the left turn lanes from the existing westbound I-70 to southbound K-7 ramp will be closed permanently as crews remove and install new pavement markings on the ramp, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The new westbound I-70 to southbound K-7 ramp opened to traffic on Monday, Dec. 22, and is currently open to all traffic, KDOT stated.

In order to complete the closing of the old ramp and the pavement marking, the existing westbound I-70 to northbound K-7 ramp will be closed to all traffic between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15, the KDOT spokesman stated.

Westbound I-70 to northbound K-7 ramp traffic will use the new westbound I-70 to southbound K-7 ramp to access K-7 and Canaan Drive during this day-long ramp closure, the spokesman stated.

Intermittent traffic delays with lane restrictions on the ramp are possible, as crews do preparatory work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, weather permitting, the spokesman said.

This ramp access movement has two left turn lanes, one left turn lane is currently closed via a variable message board advising that the upcoming removal of both turn lanes will occur, the spokesman said. This traffic change is very temperature dependent due to the painting of the new pavement markings. All ramp access is currently available via the new westbound I-70 southbound K-7 ramp.

Once the left turn lanes are removed, westbound I-70 traffic will no longer use this existing ramp to exit onto southbound K-7. The only movements available from the existing westbound I-70 to southbound K-7 ramp will be either right turns onto northbound K-7 or the through lane movement onto Canaan Drive, according to the KDOT spokesman.

UG Commission plans to change way it distributes a half-million dollars in casino grants

The Unified Government Commission is working on a plan that would change the way it distributes $500,000 in community charitable contributions from the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway.

Under the proposed changes outlined at a recent UG meeting, UG commissioners would handle the grant applications directly, making decisions on them, according to UG officials. The selection committee no longer would make recommendations to the commission on the grants. A UG Commission subcommittee developed the proposed changes.

The focus of the grants, on community health programs in Wyandotte County, would stay the same, according to Joe Connor, assistant UG administrator, who described the changes at a recent meeting.

Commissioner Mike Kane was one of those who were in favor of the changes, as he noted last year that the 5th District was not receiving funds from the casino grant program.

Formerly, the maximum that could be distributed to any organization was $50,000 and the minimum grant amount was $10,000, but under the proposed change, there will be no minimum and maximum.

Each commissioner would have access to around $45,000 to distribute to nonprofits in Wyandotte County, according to the proposed plan. Previously, the selection committee selected the programs that would receive grants, and the UG Commission had the option of approving them all in total, or rejecting them all together.

Under the proposed plan, the commissioners will review applications, select recipients for about $45,000 that they will each control, and then their selections will go to the entire UG Commission for approval. The commissioners would be allowed to approve grants to agencies outside of their district, according to the plan.

The applications will still go through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, to verify whether the applicant is a legal entity in good standing with the state, and is either a nonprofit agency under the 501 (c) 3 rules or is a partner with a nonprofit, according to UG officials. Then the commissioners will review the applications.

Formerly, other local governments such as school districts were not allowed to apply for casino charitable grants, as the commission had reasoned that the schools already were receiving casino charitable grants under another program. However, under the new proposal, schools and governments will be allowed to apply for grants.

Commissioner Tarence Maddox said at the meeting that he was glad the commission has made a move in this direction. He thought the smaller groups formerly had been left out.

Smaller organizations that do not have nonprofit status could partner with larger organizations that are nonprofits in order to apply for grants, according to Commissioner Ann Murguia.

“This is going to create a lot more funding opportunity for the small grassroots organizations that make such positive impacts in their areas,” said Commissioner Murguia, who supports the change. “I think it will be really positive.”

The plan will come back before the commission for a final vote in a future meeting. The plan has the support of about seven commissioners, with Commissioner Jane Philbrook and Gayle Townsend expressing some doubts. Mayor Mark Holland also has previously expressed doubts about the changes to the funding distribution method.