You can help make the annual Back to School Fair a success

by Cathi Hahner
Director, volunteer engagement, Volunteer Center and RSVP

The 14th annual Wyandotte County Back to School Fair will be held on Saturday, Aug. 1, at two locations: Kansas City Kansas Community College and KCK Boys and Girls Club.

The goal of the Back to School Fair is to help make every child school ready from day one. More than 5,000 Wyandotte County students are provided basic school supplies to start the new school year as well as immunizations, sports physicals and an opportunity to learn about community programs and services.

The success of this project relies on contributions from the community. Donations of dollars to purchase items are needed as well as the contribution of your time.

Volunteers are needed prior to the event to help sort supplies and to pack the bags for the various grade levels.

On the day of the event your help is needed with set-up, registration, hall greeters, and distribution of the supplies, library books and food. More than a hundred volunteers are needed on the day of the event. If you want to volunteer, register online at and click on Back to School Fair.

You can also contact Cathi Hahner at the Volunteer Center of the United Way of Wyandotte County, 913-371-3674 or at This is a wonderful opportunity for groups looking for a service project.

If you would like to make a financial contribution, go to www.unitedway-wyco-org, click on Back to School Fair. Or mail payment to United Way of Wyandotte County, 434 Minnesota, Kansas City, Kan. 66117; note Back to School Fair donation.

With your help, we can make the annual Back to School Fair a huge success.

Cathi Hahner is the director of volunteer engagement, Volunteer Center and RSVP, for the United Way of Wyandotte County.

Some local reaction positive to news of Woodlands’ sale

Reaction to the news that The Woodlands has been sold was positive in some parts of Kansas City, Kan.

The Woodlands was reported sold to Phil Ruffin, who also owns another dog track in Kansas, and is an owner of a casino in Las Vegas. A story published July 16 in the Wichita Eagle reported the sale.

The Woodlands, a horse and dog racing track at 9700 Leavenworth Road, has been closed since 2008 when a new gaming law in Kansas would have required the track to give the state more of its gaming proceeds from slots than the state-owned casinos give the state.

“I think the opening of it is long overdue,” said Lou Braswell, executive director of the Leavenworth Road Association. “I also know that the mayor has already publicly said that he would block it reopening because it wouldn’t be fair to Hollywood Casino, but my reasoning in that, is they don’t limit how many automotive repair shops could be open, so why does Hollywood Casino have a monopoly?

“I am anxious for it to reopen and I am not a gambler, I just think it’s long overdue,” Braswell said.

She said many people she has talked to in this area would be happy to see it reopen, and she believes they would support it.

“If and when The Woodlands opened, the sad thing is that young Dr. John Swanson (who recently died) won’t be alive to see it, because he fought hard for it, too,” Braswell said.

A bill in the state Legislature carried by Sen. Steve Fitzgerald would have allowed The Woodlands to pay the same percentage in gaming tax as the state-owned casinos; however, the bill did not pass this year. It could come back next session for discussion. Earlier this year, the UG was not in favor of this bill.

Mayor Mark Holland recently remarked that even if the state passes a bill lowering the gaming tax on The Woodlands, that the UG still doesn’t have to allow it in the community. The UG would have to approve a special use permit for The Woodlands. As part of its lobbying platform earlier this year, the UG has taken a stance that it supports the current law, not the change to a lower gaming tax rate for The Woodlands.

The mayor said in June that that he couldn’t support issuing a special use permit for The Woodlands that would undermine the casino and its 900 jobs. He said he would support The Woodlands reopening under the current law, where it would pay a higher gaming tax on its slots than the casinos do. The casino has stated that it was unfair to allow the dog and horse track to have the same gaming tax rate on slots because the casino had to make a minimum $225 million investment commitment, while the racetrack did not.

This year, Sen. Fitzgerald’s bill got out of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, and was passed in the Senate, but not in the House. Last year, the same bill was defeated on the Senate floor.

So far, there have been no indications of a sale yet in the public records on file at the register of deeds office, Wyandotte County Register of Deeds Nancy Burns said this morning. It takes some time for the paperwork to be completed and then filed.

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Heat advisory in effect this afternoon and Saturday

A heat advisory is in effect Friday afternoon and Saturday. (National Weather Service graphic)
A heat advisory is in effect Friday afternoon and Saturday. (National Weather Service graphic)

Hot and humid conditions return for today and Saturday, with a heat advisory in effect from 1 p.m. today until 9 p.m. Saturday in Kansas City, Kan., the National Weather Service said.

Today’s high will be 95, with a heat index as high as 106, according to the weather service.

Saturday’s forecast is a high of 94, with a heat index as high as 106, the weather service said.

The weather will be dangerously hot in the afternoons, according to the weather service. It advised people to take extra precautions if they are spending time outside. Reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or late evening, be aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing when possible, check on relatives and neighbors, and drink plenty of water, the weather service said.

Schedule frequent breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned room if working outside, the weather service said. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cooler location, and call 911 if it is a heat emergency.
Thunderstorm chances return Saturday night and Sunday, the weather service said. Severe storms are possible Sunday as a front slides south through the area, according to the weather service. Locally heavy rain and additional flooding are possible as well.

The main hazards with storms on Sunday are winds and flooding, according to the weather service. While the threat of a tornado is very low, it can’t be ruled out at this point, the weather service said. Small hail also is possible.

The chance of storms continues through Monday night. Wednesday, there will be a 30 percent chance of rain, according to the weather service.

The severe weather outlook shows Wyandotte County is at slight risk for severe storms on Sunday. (National Weather Service graphic)
The severe weather outlook shows Wyandotte County is at slight risk for severe storms on Sunday. (National Weather Service graphic)