Public hearing tonight on proposed Atmos Energy rate increase

The Kansas Corporation Commission will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 17, to receive input from Atmos Energy customers on the company’s rate increase request.

The public hearing will begin at 6 p.m. Sept. 17 at the BEST Conference Center on the KU Edwards Campus, located at 12604 Quivira Road in Overland Park.

Atmos filed an application with the KCC on June 28 requesting an overall net revenue increase of $7.1 million. If approved, the average monthly bill for residential customers will increase by approximately $3.83 per month or 13.4 percent.

In addition to the rate increase, Atmos is seeking approval to incorporate into its rate structure a pilot System Integrity Program (“SIP”) Mechanism that would allow the utility to accelerate its progress in the replacement of obsolete materials in its Kansas system and provide for quarterly updates to rates for approved completed projects.

At the hearing, Atmos customers will have the opportunity to learn more about the company’s request and make comments to KCC commissioners. For those unable to attend, a recording of the hearing will be available on the commission’s website ( beginning Sept. 19.

The commission will accept public comments through 5 p.m. on Dec. 13, 2019. In addition to attending the public hearing, there are three ways to submit a comment:
1) Go to the KCC website ( and click on the “Your Opinion Matters” link to submit a comment.
2) Send a written letter to the Kansas Corporation Commission, Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, 1500 SW Arrowhead Road, Topeka, KS 66604-4027. Be sure to reference Docket No. 19-ATMG-525-RTS.
3) Call the commission’s Public Affairs office at 1-800-662-0027 or 785-271-3140.

A decision on the rate increase request will be issued on or before Feb. 24, 2020.

Atmos provides natural gas service in approximately 135,000 customers in Kansas, including some in Kansas City, Kansas.

Wounded veteran sought for fellowship in Rep. Davids’ office

Rep. Sharice Davids, D-3rd DIst., has announced she is seeking a wounded or disabled veteran for a two-year paid fellowship in her Overland Park district office as part of the Wounded Warrior Fellowship Program.

The person who is chosen will work with the military and veteran constituents to handle veteran-related casework and act as a facilitator between constituents and federal, state and local agenices.

“As the proud daughter of an Army veteran, I know the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who serve our country, and the importance of giving back to those who serve when they return,” Rep. Davids said. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to have a Wounded Warrior Fellow in our district office to ensure the veterans and service members of Kansas’ third district receive the care and services they deserve.”

The Wounded Warrior Fellowship Program was established by the U.S. House of Representatives to provide opportunities for wounded or disabled veterans to work for Congress.

The program is limited to veterans who meet all of the following requirements: Honorably discharged, released from active duty within the last five years, terminal pay grades at or below E-5 or O-3, 20 percent or greater service connected disabilities (waived if you have a Purple Heart). Veterans who are in receipt of a 20-year or Temporary Early Retirement Authorization (TERA) retirement are not eligible for the program.

Interested veterans may go to and search “Wounded Warrior Fellowship Program” for more information and how to apply.

Overland Park man charged in government contract fraud scheme

Troy L. Bechtel, 49, of Overland Park, Kansas, is charged in a federal indictment with two counts of major program fraud against the United States and two counts of lying to federal investigators, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said.

The indictment alleges that from August 2009 to April 2013 Bechtel aided and abetted other persons unlawfully to obtain more than $12.7 million from a contract with the Department of Defense.

The indictment alleges Bechtel and other persons falsely represented that United Medical Design Builders, LLC, of Merriam, Kansas, was controlled by co-defendant Joseph David Dial Jr., a disabled veteran of the U.S. Army.

In fact, UMDB was a pass-through company that Dial did not control. The company received a contract through the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program that was awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the design and construction of healthcare facilities at Langley AFB, Andrews AFB, Hanscom AFB and McGuire AFB.

The indictment alleges Bechtel ran the daily operations for UMDB and made project decisions without reporting to or consulting with Dial. Dial was rarely in the office. He also signed a blank sheet of paper that was scanned for use on official letters and correspondence.

Co-defendant Dial pleaded guilty to one count of major program fraud and one count of wire fraud. He is set for sentencing Jan. 28.

If convicted, Bechtel faces up to 10 years in federal prison on each count of defrauding the government and up to five years on each count of lying to investigators, as well as fines and forfeiture judgment representing the amount of proceeds obtained by committing the offenses set out in the indictment.

Investigative agencies include the Small Business Administration – Officer of Inspector General, General Services Administration – Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Army CID Major Procurement Fraud Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tris Hunt is prosecuting.