Snow in forecast for Tuesday

About 3.6 inches of snow is in the forecast for Wyandotte County from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning. (National Weather Service graphic)

Wyandotte County will have today to rest before looking at the possibility of 3 to 5 inches of snow on Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service says today’s forecast, Presidents Day, will be mostly cloudy with a high near 27 and a west wind of 5 to 7 mph becoming north in the afternoon.

No precipitation is in today’s forecast.

Moderate to heavy snow will return to the area on Tuesday afternoon and last through Wednesday morning, according to the weather service.

The storm will be heavier toward the north, with as much as 7 inches of snow expected near the state’s northern border.

Motorists should expect hazardous road conditions overnight Tuesday into Wednesday afternoon, the weather service said.

Looking ahead to the weekend, more snow is possible Friday night and Saturday, according to the weather service.

Tonight, it will be mostly cloudy with a low of 19 and a northeast wind of 5 to 7 mph, according to the weather service.

Tuesday, there is a 40 percent chance of snow, mostly after 3 p.m., the weather service said. The high will be near 31 with an east wind of 6 to 11 mph.

Tuesday night, there is a 90 percent chance of snow before 2 a.m., then snow and freezing rain. The low will be around 27 with an east wind of 7 to 11 mph, gusting to 21 mph, according to the weather service. New ice accumulation of less than a tenth of an inch is possible, and new snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches is possible.

Wednesday, there is a 20 percent chance of snow and freezing rain before 11 a.m., then a slight chance of rain between 11 a.m. and noon, the weather service said. It will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 36 and a southeast wind of 5 to 8 mph becoming west in the afternoon.

Wednesday night, skies will be partly cloudy, with a low of 17, according to the weather service.

Thursday, it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 39, the weather service said.

Thursday night, it will be mostly cloudy, with a low of 27, according to the weather service.

Friday, it will be partly sunny, with a high near 44, the weather service said.

Friday night, there is a 60 percent chance of rain before 3 a.m., then rain and snow likely between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., with snow likely after 4 a.m., according to the weather service. The low will be around 33.

Saturday, there is a 60 percent chance of rain and snow, with a high near 44, the weather service said.

Saturday night, there is a 60 percent chance of rain and snow, with a low of 25, according to the weather service.

Sunday, it will be mostly sunny, with a high of 38, the weather service said.

Committee hearing to be Monday on bill that could bring BPU rates under KCC

by Mary Rupert

A hearing is scheduled Monday on a bill that could place Board of Public Utilities rate increases under the scrutiny of the Kansas Corporation Commission, if customers file a petition.

State Sen. David Haley, D-4th Dist., said he requested the bill be introduced after hearing from many residents that they have not been able to get their issues regarding BPU rates resolved.

“Neither the county commission nor the elected BPU members are able to resolve legitimate questions that ratepayers have,” Sen. Haley said.

He said he often hears from residents who say their utility bills are too high, and who question the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) fee placed by the Unified Government on BPU bills.

The bill, sponsored by the Senate Utilities Committee, is scheduled for a hearing at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, in Room 548-S at the Senate Utilities Committee at the Capitol.

The bill provides for rate hearings before the KCC if a petition is filed by 5 percent of the utility’s customers or 3 percent of any one class of customers. Currently, the BPU conducts its own study and holds its own public rate hearings before rate changes. The bill would authorize the KCC to reduce rate increases, if it finds that the increases are not fair.

Sen. Haley said the bill would allow ratepayers who have questions to contact the Kansas Corporation Commission, a body that regulates private utilities now, for a review of their questions.

Municipal utilities are not included currently in KCC reviews because the assumption is that the board that is elected will handle residents’ concerns or queries, Sen. Haley said.

He said there are many persons in Wyandotte County, including himself, who feel as if legitimate questions or concerns about their electrical and water bills are not being handled by the BPU. Most of the people in Kansas, however, are able to contact the KCC about their utility concerns, he said, as they have a private utility service. He said a neutral arbiter is needed here.

Sen. Haley said too many times, he has heard people running for the BPU board say that they will reduce rates, without any results. Whenever people are elected to the BPU who say they understand its problems, they soon become part of the problem itself, Sen. Haley said.

When asked, Sen. Haley said he is not interested in running for the BPU or for office this year, although he will be interested in following the campaigns of other people who will seek office.

Sen. Haley said he sees the BPU bill as a “haves vs. have-nots” issue, and he is representing people who have trouble paying their utility bills. He said while the bill has a chance of being passed in the Senate, the chances of passage are not as good in the House.

BPU Board Chairman Norm Scott had not yet heard much about the bill when contacted, but said the BPU will oppose it.

State Sen. Pat Pettey, D-6th Dist., said she is not going to support this bill. She added she just heard about the bill on Saturday and now has read the bill. The bill came up at a Democratic breakfast on Saturday where Sen. Haley was answered by Mayor David Alvey, a former BPU member.

“I just don’t see this legislation being necessary, and it is very narrow, it is directed only at the BPU,” Sen. Pettey said.

Often, bills that are directed at only one entity do not get very far in the Legislature, she added.

“I think it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money,” Sen. Pettey said about the bill. It takes state funds to help draw up bills and to hold hearings on them.

She added there could be a privacy issue with one provision of the bill, as one section would allow an individual ratepayer to request the names and addresses of all BPU ratepayers.

Also, she said any ratepayer already has the option to appear at any BPU meeting and directly speak to the board about their issue, which is not the case for the KCC. The KCC is not elected, but is made up of persons who are appointed.

“We have management over it (BPU) because we have our own locally owned utility,” Sen. Pettey said. “Citizens made that decision a long time ago, to have their own utility, their own elected board responsive to people. We do have control.”

The BPU is still under federal and state regulations regarding many aspects of its operations, including emissions, she said.

Sen. Pettey said that while she is not happy to see her own water and electric bill increase, she does have some control over her usage and can take measures to reduce it.

State Sen. Kevin Braun, R-5th Dist., said the bill would give the opportunity for constituents and users of the service to be able to have an appeal if they felt something was inordinate with their rates.

“I think that’s a positive thing,” Sen. Braun said. “All of us like to know there’s a system in place so we can verify things are going correctly. I have a great deal of faith in that process and the higher level of appeal.”

Sen. Braun said he believes the BPU is trying to do the right thing, and he has heard a lot of concerns from his constituents with regard to the BPU. Within the BPU billing is a combination of items, where there is a PILOT tax (placed by the UG) and a number of other things on the bill, such as trash service.

Sen. Braun said this process with the KCC could clarify for the BPU that the rates are correct, or if it is found otherwise, they would have an opportunity to get them in line.

“Either way, the BPU comes out very good with the integrity they have,” he said. “I believe the people in there should welcome this type of bill because it will clear up any confusion about them (the rates).”

Sen. Braun said the constituents in his area that are under the BPU would appreciate the opportunity to have an entity to speak to in regard to an appeal.

Two other persons were contacted for this story, but have not yet responded.

Senate Bill 145 is online at http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/sb145/.

Blue Devil men snare home playoff berth with spectacular shooting by freshman

Cody Dortch (KCKCC photo)
Daiyon Taylor (KCKCC photo)

by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC

Fired by a spectacular shooting performance by freshman Cody Dortch, Kansas City Kansas Community College has earned a men’s first-round playoff game.

A pressure-packed 70-67 win at Fort Scott Saturday assured the Blue Devils of no worse than a fourth- place finish with two games to go – at Highland Wednesday night and home against Johnson County Saturday afternoon.

Should KCKCC finish fourth, the Blue Devils will play host to Fort Scott in a first-round playoff game Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Displaying the poise of a gunslinger, the Blue Devils squelched every Fort Scott challenge either with sensational 3-point shooting or near flawless free throwing. How good? Five straight 3-pointers without a miss to take control; no turnovers the final eight minutes; and seven of eight free throws in the final 50 seconds.

While neither started, Dortch and Daiyon Taylor led the Blue Devils with 18 points each.

A 6-2 freshman guard from Paragould, Arkansas, Dortch was a perfect 5-for-5 from 3-point while Taylor, a 6-6 freshman from Detroit, was 8-for-12 from the field, grabbed eight rebounds and hit the game-clinching free throws.

Arother Ratliff had nine points and four rebounds while Jalen Davis and Malcolm Tate added six points each, Tate on a pair of 3-pointers.

“Good composure and a total team effort,” KCKCC coach Kelley Newton said. “We got 47 points off the bench which was the key to the win – led by Cody and Daiyon.”

Dortch scored 15 points in the final nine minutes, pushing KCKCC to a 10-point second-half lead with four straight 3-point goals in a span of four minutes and then helping clinch the win with three free throws in the final 31 seconds.

Leading 63-58 with 46 seconds remaining, the Blue Devils made seven of eight free throws to hold off the Greyhounds. Calvin Slaughter made the first two and Dortch one of two before Fort Scott got within a single possession at 66-63.

It was one of two times the Greyhounds got within three points in the final 12 seconds but Dortch squelched the first with two charity tosses and Daiyon Taylor wrapped up the win with two more with 9.8 seconds remaining.

Trailing 27-25 at halftime, Fort Scott made a sizzling 15-of-25 second half shots for 60 percent but the Blue Devils were just as good, drilling 14-of-24 for 58.3 percent and 6-of-9 3-pointers.

KCKCC never trailed in the second half but led only 40-37 when Dortch began his 3-point assault with less than nine minutes remaining.

A Taylor basket and Dortch trey helped KCKCC open a 47-37 lead and set the stage for three straight Dortch 3-pointers and a 58-48 lead and Arother Ratliff boosted the margin to 61-50 with a three with 3:30 left – the Blue Devils’ fifth straight trey without a miss.

Netting 9-of-16 from 3-point (.563), the Blue Devils finished with 51 percent shooting (26-of-51) from the field to .469 for Fort Scott and had a 31-26 edge in rebounding. Fort Scott had one less turnover (11-10).