New round of CDBG funding to begin

A new round of Community Development Block Grant funding will allow nonprofits to apply, and there will be the same level as last year’s funding for them.

That recommendation was made after discussion Monday night at the Unified Government Administration and Human Services Committee meeting.

While there is a total amount of funding of about $580,000 in the 2016-2017 CDBG budget available, the maximum available for public services will be about $275,000, according to UG officials. Other uses for the funds include public facilities and improvement, rehabilitation and acquisition of existing housing and economic development activities.

The services currently funded for public service activities include $20,000 for Livable Neighborhoods, $148,000 for the Willa Gill Center, $52,575 for the Wyandotte Homeless Services Coalition and $50,000 for the Doing Real Work program, according to Wilba Miller of the community development department.

The balance of the funding could be available to other agencies that qualify and apply.

According to UG staff, there will be a three-week window to apply for the funds. One more week was added to the application process today. The funds become available in the first quarter of 2017.

Miller explained that there are many rules that apply to this federal funding, and that the UG will hold a workshop to explain the rules to agencies that are interested. Timelines of projects are important, said Melissa Mundt, assistant UG administrator.

According to Mundt, today the UG received a denial of use of funds from Habitat for Humanity on an earlier CDBG project. The UG had allocated $250,000, but the agency is not able to execute the work on the timeline that was required, she said. UG staff said the CDBG grants are reimbursement grants, and the funding cannot be advanced to do the projects.

Mundt said the staff will ask the UG Commission to approve the reallocation of those dollars to sidewalks projects, because that is the only thing they can move quickly enough. The item may come up at a future UG meeting.

A community forum on the grant application process is planned for 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, April 7, on the fifth floor of City Hall, with agencies applying for grants from April 8 through April 29 at noon.

Water bottle a factor in I-70 crash

A water bottle that fell on the floor of a Dodge utility truck played a role in a crash on eastbound I-70, east of I-435, about 8:48 a.m. today in Wyandotte County.

According to the Kansas Turnpike Authority trooper’s report, the water bottle fell on the floorboard and rolled behind the driver’s brake pedal.

The driver, a 21-year-old Bonner Springs woman, was not able to stop, the report stated.

The Dodge truck was approaching a Ford truck stopped in traffic because of another crash, according to the report.

The Dodge driver tried an avoidance maneuver on the left shoulder, was not able to get her vehicle completely on the left shoulder, and struck the Ford truck in the rear, the trooper’s report stated.

The driver of the Dodge truck had a possible injury, and the driver of the Ford truck, a 42-year-old Leavenworth man, also had a possible injury, according to the report. A passenger in the Ford truck, a 29-year-old Leavenworth man, also had a possible injury, the report stated.

Annual rankings show health disparities remain among Kansas counties

Annual health rankings from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute show disparity from county to county in Kansas. (Graphic by County Health Rankings)
Annual health rankings from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute show disparity from county to county in Kansas. (Graphic by County Health Rankings)

by Bryan Thompson, KHI News Service

New county health rankings tell the same old story in Kansas.

The southeastern corner of Kansas remains the state’s least healthy region, according to the rankings released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

However, the Kansas county at the bottom of the list — Wyandotte — is next door to Johnson County, the state’s top performer.

Gianfranco Pezzino, senior fellow and strategy team leader at the Kansas Health Institute, said the big story in the annual rankings is the disparity from county to county. The health institute is the parent organization of the editorially independent KHI News Service.

“We have deep, deep differences among the poorest and the richest counties, and so as a consequence also among the healthiest and the least healthy counties,” Pezzino said.

He sees two main factors causing the variation among counties.

“The two best predictors of good or poor health are economic situation and education, and those two are very much linked to each other,” Pezzino said.

People with less education are more likely to have jobs that don’t provide economic security, he said, and that leads to what some researchers call “toxic stress.” As a result, they’re more likely to make lifestyle choices — smoking, for example — that are less healthy.

“The cumulative effect of living a stressful life really takes a toll on people,” Pezzino said. “And when you are poor, that toll is even bigger. You are under continuous stress. Once again, you don’t know what you’re going to feed to your children this evening for dinner. And you don’t know if you’re going to have any kind of job that will allow you to pay rent next month. So the level of stress becomes really high. Every smoker will tell you, the first thing they do when they feel stress is reaching out for a cigarette.”

Pezzino said Wyandotte County has the highest smoking rate in Kansas and poor performance on a host of other measures. While officials and community leaders in Wyandotte County are working to address those issues, it takes time to see a change in the ranking.

“We call these the 2016 rankings. In reality, the data that’s based on spans from 2007 to 2014 — and that’s just for a few measures in 2014,” Pezzino said. “Recent efforts, even if they have produced results, those results are not captured in this report. It may take a full generation before they can really see the results of their investment. But they’re doing wonderful things, and they’re really addressing the right factors.”

The nonprofit KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute and a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor reporting collaboration. All stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to KHI.org when a story is reposted online.

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