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Colyer taking budget lead as Brownback prepares for Trump administration post

by Stephen Koranda

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback revealed Tuesday that in anticipation of his confirmation to a post in the U.S. State Department he has begun transferring major responsibilities to Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer.

Brownback said Colyer is developing the budget that the governor is required to propose at the outset of the legislative session, which will convene Jan. 8, 2018.

“He’s doing those and getting ready for the legislative session,” Brownback told reporters after taking delivery of a Christmas tree at the governor’s mansion.

Colyer is also taking the lead on key personnel decisions. He has called a Wednesday news conference to announce the appointment of a new secretary for the Department for Children and Families.

Current Secretary Phyllis Gilmore is stepping down amid allegations that she and the agency have failed to address long-standing problems in the Kansas child welfare system.

Brownback, a Republican who has a little more than a year remaining in his second term, is planning to resign once the U.S. Senate confirms his nomination as ambassador for international religious freedom. He said he had hoped that would happen before Thanksgiving but is now talking with Vice President Mike Pence and former Senate colleagues about getting it done by Christmas.

“I think we’ve got a good prospect of getting up for a vote, and if I can get up for a vote, a good prospect of passing,” Brownback said.

Brownback declined to say whether he would consider stepping down before he is confirmed if the vote has not occurred by early January.

“We’re looking at what we need to do to get cleared through for the vote,” he said.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service. Follow him on Twitter @kprkoranda. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to

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BPU announces winners of photo contest

The Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Public Utilities has announced the finalists for the recent BPU Photo Contest. The contest offered area photography enthusiasts the opportunity to submit photos capturing various landscapes within Wyandotte County, Kansas.

One hundred-fourteen entries were received from 25 local photographers this year. On Nov. 15, ten winners were notified and congratulated on their captivating images. A list of the winners’ names is located online at

The winning photographs will be featured on the BPU website, social media pages, and the upcoming BPU Community Calendar. 2018 marks the first year that the calendar will feature contest photo submissions in its entirety.

“We’d like to extend thanks to the photographers who submitted photos to this year’s contest. They are the ones who make this calendar possible,” stated BPU chief communications officer David Mehlhaff.

The latest BPU Photo Contest is currently accepting entries. Submissions for the new contest must be received no later than 11:59 p.m., on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.The entry form with complete details can be found by visiting

– Information from BPU


National World War I Museum observes centennial

Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

The United States is observing its centennial of the country being involved in World War I. And that has boosted attendance at The National Museum and Memorial just south of Union Station in Kansas City, Mo.

That was the message that Jonathan Casey delivered to about 35 persons who attended the quarterly meeting of the Wyandotte County Historical Society Sunday afternoon, Nov. 19, at the George Meyn Community Center in Wyandotte County Park, Bonner Springs. Casey is director of archives and the Edward Jones Research Center at the National Museum.

The museum tells the whole story of the war that covered a period from 1914 until 2019. The United State got involved in 1917. Fighting stopped on Nov. 11, 1918. That date used to be called “Armistice Day.” The holiday is now called “Veterans’ Day.”

The peace treaty was signed in 1919. About 9 million persons died.

Casey said ground was broken for the museum site in 1921; a crowd estimated at 100,000 showed up. Calvin Coolidge, who was vice president, was among the dignitaries who attended. Also present were five Allied military commanders; they were Lieutenant General Baron Jaques of Belgium, General Armando Diaz of Italy, Admiral Earl Beatty of Great Britain, Marshall Ferdinand Foch of France and General John J. Pershing of United States. This was the only time that these five were together.

The museum was dedicated in 1926. Calvin Coolidge, who was president then, attended with another large crowd. Harry Truman, who was an artillery officer during the war, was also there.

Casey said that the archives at the museum has many artifacts and records including letters written to and from soldiers. Among the correspondence is that to and from Warren Shaw of Bonner Springs who was a member of an army band unit. He played the violin and clarinet. He was killed in October of 1918 and was buried in France.

The most visible part of the museum is the 217-foot tower. Visitors are allowed to travel to the top of this structure and enjoy an excellent view of Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan.

The museum has a staff of about 40 fulltime and part-time workers. About 200 volunteers help out.

According to its 2016 tax form filed with the IRS, the museum had total revenue of $9,973,623; its total expenses were $5,596,712. It attendance for 2016 was 309,288.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, telephone 816-888-8100 or see the web site

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte west and The Piper Press.