Youth leadership workshop to focus on safe driving, reduction of substance abuse

More than 160 high school students and adult advisers from 15 counties plan to attend the 13th annual Kansas Youth Leadership Summit Aug. 3-5 at Rock Springs 4-H Center, Junction City, Kan.

Some of the students are from Wyandotte County, according to a KYLS spokesman.

KYLS is sponsored by the Kansas Department of Transportation and focuses on reducing underage alcohol and drug use, and encouraging safety belt use and safe driving behavior among Kansas youth.

“During the summit, teams of youth and adults will create action plans to address alcohol and drug use as well as to promote safety belt use and safe driving behavior in their communities,” said Maria Torrez Anderson, KFP program director. “KYLS workshops will motivate and train participants to serve as catalysts of positive change in their communities. As a result, participants will improve their communities, expand their leadership skills and meet other teen leaders from across Kansas.”

Through interactive sessions and skill-building activities, KYLS participants will explore new ways to deal with critical issues facing teens and communities today, including alcohol and drug availability, perception of harm, community social norms, family attitudes, binge drinking, marijuana use, crash dynamics and more.

“It is crucial for Kansas youth to understand the dangers of substance use and poor driving behavior, and one of the best ways to provide that message is by allowing teens to educate one another,” said Chris Bortz, KDOT traffic safety manager. “KYLS provides participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to inform their peers with the right messages and impact the decisions they make in the future.”

Bill Cordes, nationally-known motivational speaker and author who presents to more than 70,000 students, teachers and businesses annually, will lead the summit. KYLS participants will also hear from a young Topeka adult who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of underage drinking.

For more information about KYLS, visit

UG budget vote scheduled tonight

The Unified Government Commission is scheduled to vote on its budget tonight.

The budget vote is on the agenda for the 7 p.m. July 31 meeting at City Hall, Commission Chambers, 701 N. 7th St., Kansas City, Kan.

A $295.8 million budget with a net zero tax increase in Kansas City, Kan., was proposed by the UG administrator. The UG administrator’s proposed budget would increase the mill levy by 2 mills on the county side and decrease it by 2 mills on the city side. The commission also discussed raising the proposed mill levy on the city side to its current rate.

The budget includes a 7 percent increase in water pollution fee charges, and an unchanged PILOT fee on BPU bills of 11.9 percent.

The administrator’s budget amendments announced July 28 included adding and subtracting some items to stay at the same proposed mill levy rate. The citizen survey in 2014 was deleted; two positions were added to the house arrest-pretrial program, which may reduce the number of inmates housed; a summer public works program with more youth to mow parks and vacant lots was added; a Fire Department equipment grant was announced with matching funds coming from projected fuel savings.

All budget items are subject to change before the final vote.

An earlier budget workshop before the July 31 meeting was canceled. Also scheduled is a closed session to discuss litigation at 6 p.m. July 31 in the ninth floor conference room.

Also on the July 31 agenda for the 7 p.m. meeting are several planning and zoning items.

These include:
– A change of zone from single-family to agriculture for a storage building at 221 S. 72nd St;
– A change of zone for McDonald’s at 4215 Rainbow Blvd., considering a previous stipulation about constant operation hours, 24 hours a day.
– A change of zone from planned general business, single family, planned apartment and planned commercial districts to general industrial district for a general equipment rental operation for homeowners and contractors at 2708 and 2710 Merriam Lane and 3000 S. 27th St.
– A special use permit renewal for a dirt fill at 1500 S.73rd and 7751 S. 73rd;
– A special use permit renewal for the temporary use of land for a construction trailer at 10351 France Family Drive;
– A special use permit renewal for a kennel for four dogs at 8012 Riverview Ave;
– A special use permit for a kennel for three dogs at 6417 Spring Ave.;
– A special use permit for a kennel for five dogs at 3024 N. 79th St.;
– A special use permit for live entertainment at Fat Cat’s Vortex at 411 N. 6th St.;
– Preliminary plan review for a public safety facility at 2100R Metropolitan Ave.
– Preliminary and final plan review for a Krispy Kreme restaurant at 7736 State Ave.;
– Master plan amendment from business park to employment at 2708 and 2710 Merriam Lane and 3000 S. 27th St.
– Ordinance rezoning property at 11501 Parallel Parkway from agriculture district to planned apartment district;
– Ordinance rezoning property at 3112 S. 51st St. from planned townhouse district to planned nonretail business district;
– Ordinance rezoning property at 101 S. 76th St. from single-family district to agriculture district\.

An agenda is online at

Judge contest in primary election holds much interest this year

Jim Yoakum, right, and Tim Dupree, left, candidates for a Wyandotte County judge position, answered questions at a candidate forum July 30 at Kansas City Kansas Community College. (Staff photo)

by Mary Rupert

With the primary election coming down to the wire, Wyandotte County voters were able to see a variety of candidates at a forum Wednesday night at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

The primary contest to fill a vacant judge position in the Wyandotte County District Court holds a great deal of interest this year. The primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 5.

Judge David Boal is not seeking re-election this year. The winner of the primary election for that position likely will fill the judge’s seat. Three Democratic candidates, Timothy Dupree, Courtney Mikesic and James Yoakum, are running in the primary. There are no Republican candidates for the office.

Dupree graduated from Wyandotte High School and Kansas City Kansas Community College, and is a 2001 graduate of the University of Kansas with a degree in psychology.

He received his law degree in 2003 from Washburn University. He was a prosecutor in Lyon County, Kan., and he opened his own law office in Wyandotte County in 2008.

At the candidate forum on Wednesday night, Dupree cited his experience in trying murder cases as a private practice attorney.

He said he has represented the state before the Kansas Supreme Court. He said he was the most qualified of the candidates.

“The decisions judges make affect everyone,” he said. “You need to choose the person that is the most qualified.”

Yoakum has been an attorney for 17 years in the community. He attended Bishop Ward High School and Kansas City Kansas Community College, where he played baseball in 1987.

He received a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and his law degree from Washburn University.

Yoakum said he is experienced in his private practice in probate, civil, criminal and family law, and could be assigned to any docket as he had experience in all of them.

He served six years as the Edwardsville city municipal court prosecutor, and he also is one of 10 contract attorneys handling juvenile offender and child in need of care cases in Wyandotte County.

“District court is the place where the law most meets the lives of the people,” Yoakum said. “If I’m elected I will be a humble public servant. I will remember where I came from.”

Courtney Mikesic

Mikesic, who did not appear at the candidate forum, attended Bishop Ward High School and Kansas City Kansas Community College, where she played on the volleyball team, and graduated with honors. She received her bachelor’s degree from Long Island University, Brooklyn, N.Y., graduating magna cum laude, and was on a volleyball athletic scholarship. Her law degree is from Washburn University.

Mikesic, managing attorney at Kramer and Frank, where she has been more than six years, concentrates in civil and business litigation, as well as creditors’ rights. She has previous experience in insurance and medical malpractice defense litigation, working for more than two years for the Holbrook and Osborn law firm. She was at the district attorney’s office for 11 months at the start of her career, while still in law school, where she handled some misdemeanor cases and drafted criminal charges.

She has served as a judge pro-tem, and was a law clerk in the Kansas Supreme Court. In an earlier interview, she said she would like to give something back to the community. Her father, retired Judge David Mikesic, served 30 years in the Wyandotte County District Court. She pledged to be hard-working, fair and honest.

The forum was sponsored by the Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce, Kansas City Kansas Community College, Business West, the Central Avenue Betterment Association, the Historic Northeast Mid-Town Association, Downtown Shareholders, Rosedale Development Association, Fairfax Industrial Association and the Kansas City Press Club.

About 50 people attended the forum. It is expected to be shown on the KCKCC cable television channel this weekend.

The candidate forum can be found on the KCKCC YouTube Channel at

To see earlier stories about the candidates, see: