Gala to raise funds for KCKCC Endowment Association

by Kelly Rogge
With only a month to go before the Kansas City Kansas Community College Endowment Association’s first-ever 4.0 Gala, final preparations are being made to make sure it is an event to remember.

“Response for the 4.0 Gala has been great,” said Patrick McCartney, executive director of the KCKCC Endowment Association. “We decided to do the 4.0 Gala to create a major fundraising event for KCKCC. The 4.0 Gala will be our biggest fundraiser, and we hope to continue growing it each year.”

The 4.0 Gala is Oct. 25 at Lake Quivira. The evening begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and the program at 8 p.m. During the program, two awards will be given.

Former Unified Government Mayor Joe Reardon will receive the Wyandotte Countian of the Year, and Karen Orr, Chief Nursing Officer for Providence Medical Center will receive the KCKCC Distinguished Alumni Award. Individual tickets are $100, and the gala is black tie optional.

“We hope people will attend the 4.0 Gala for a couple reasons,” McCartney said. “First, and most importantly, the dollars raised from the gala will go to fund much needed scholarships for KCKCC students. Second, it will be a fun evening including a live and silent along with honoring former mayor Joe Reardon as the first Wyandotte Countian of the Year and Karen Orr, Chief Nursing Officer at Providence Medical Center, as the first KCKCC Distinguished Alumni.”

The purpose of the Wyandotte Countian of the Year Award is to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the Wyandotte community. To qualify for the Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award, nominees must have either attended or graduated from Kansas City Kansas Community College. Nominations were made earlier this year for both awards, and the honorees were selected by a committee.

AT&T has committed to be the presenting sponsor at the 4.0 Gala. In addition to AT&T, Capitol Federal and Bank of Blue Valley have signed on as major sponsors of the event. McCartney said the gala will serve as a “major fundraising effort” for the college. He said not only will the funds raised support the college, but will directly support students through scholarship opportunities.

“The 4.0 Gala will benefit KCKCC by raising funds for much needed scholarships for our students,” McCartney said. “Over 90 percent of KCKCC students require some form of financial aid, and our scholarships help a lot of non-traditional students who probably wouldn’t be able to attend KCKCC without the Endowment’s help.”

In addition to the program and dinner, there will be a live auction with the Nigro Brothers as hosts as well as a silent auction. Among the live auction items include dinner with Kansas City Royal Hall of Famer and current T-Bones coach Frank White; a Playa del Carmen, Mexico Condo Getaway, a Proformance Golf Package and many other unique items. Silent auction items include a variety of shopping, dining and spa packages.

For more information on sponsorships, contact McCartney at 913-288-7166. For information on purchasing tickets, contact Dawanna Fangohr at 913-288-7675.

Column: Business West reviews successful accomplishments

by Marisa Gray

Business West has had a busy and productive year. We have lived up to our motto “We Solve Problems.”

That was very apparent when Business West appeared before the Unified Government Commission as an advocate for small businesses. Let me cite two examples. Last December, when it appeared that Wyandotte County might lose its professional baseball team, the Kansas City T-Bones, Business West, along with other community organizations, were quick to come to the aid of one of its members, Adam Ehlert. He and his family own the baseball team. Business West urged the Unified Commissioners to purchase the ballpark. The commissioners passed the purchase agreement unanimously and Wyandotte County kept its ball team.

The other example was our support of Mirror Inc., a nonprofit organization that will provide counseling for those suffering from alcohol and drug addictions. Despite the objections of certain neighbors, Business West supported Mirror Inc. The service will soon be available at the Salvation Army site near 65th Street and State Avenue.

Property taxes are always a concern for small businesses. For the past seven years, Business West has visited all units of Wyandotte County local government, urging elected officials to hold the line on property taxes. Looking ahead to the coming year, Business West notes that the Unified Government and the Community College have kept the property tax rate the same for next year. The Kansas City, Kan., and Turner school districts have lowered their rates substantially.

Business West continues to call on State Avenue landowners to promote its proposed Community Improvement District. Once approval from 55 percent of the landowners, by acreage and assessed value, is obtained, the CID would have three core functions — appearance, security and marketing. The Unified Government has done an excellent job in repaving State Avenue and 78th Street. The medians, once ugly, are now attractively landscaped. Personnel from the CID would pick up debris in the right-of-way. Security personnel would cooperate with West Patrol, College and Community Police officers, serving as their “eyes and ears.” Business West sponsors the State Avenue Corridor Planning and Marketing Committee that meets monthly to address the concerns of area landowners and businesses.

Since its inception, Business West has had an excellent relationship with the Community College. Business West has supported the business solutions series that the college has offered small businesses. Business West is establishing an endowment arm that will raise funds for college scholarships.

Residential development has always been a concern of Business West. Last summer, Business West convened a meeting with Mayor Mark Holland and builder-developers to discuss concerns. The Kansas City Board of Public Utilities also supported this meeting.

Business West is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, serving on its Legislative and K-7 committees. It is also a member of the Congressional Forum. Business West also cooperates with the chamber and other neighborhood business associations in co-sponsoring candidate forums.

Business West recently held its annual membership meeting at a member’s home in the Piper community.

The officers for the coming year were elected. They are Marisa Gray, president; Jane Winkler Philbrook, president-elect; and Lesley Johnson, treasurer. Directors elected for a two-year term were DeeAnn Behrens., Melissa Bynum, Tim DeWitt, Joe Maderak, Rusty Roberts and Don Scaro. Chuck Stites will serve an unexpired one-year term; Murrel Bland will continue as executive director. Those directors continuing to serve the second year of their two-year terms are Sheryl Becker, Matt Browning and Pat Sedlock.

Nancy Winkler, who is retiring as the owner of Winkler’s Diamonds, received the first-ever Joe Maderak award for outstanding community service. She is a past-president of Business West and headed its retail committee.

Marisa Gray is president of Business West.

KCK chemical company ordered to pay $1.5 million fine in hazardous waste case

A chemical company with a plant in Kansas City, Kan., pleaded guilty and was sentenced Thursday to pay a $1.5 million fine for violating a federal law regulating the storage of hazardous waste, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said. The company will serve two years on federal probation.

Harcros Chemicals Inc., 5200 Speaker Road in Kansas City, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of storing hazardous waste without a permit.

Harcros manufactures industrial chemicals including surfactants, emulsifiers, antifoaming agents and custom organics. In addition to its manufacturing, the company operated eight laboratories for the development and testing of new chemical products.

In its plea, the company admitted that from at least May 5, 2006, through Jan. 30, 2009, the company stored waste chemicals including phosgene solution, ethylenediamine, 1,4-dioxane, butyl acrylate, acrylic acid and methacrylate at the facility. The company did not have a permit to store hazardous waste for more than 90 days as required by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

“EPA’s commitment to protect the environment includes bringing to justice those who, in the course of breaking the law, disregard the harm they pose to public health,” said Michael Burnett, special agent in charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Kansas. “The defendant’s illegal storage practices threatened groundwater supplies and put employees and the public at serious risk. Today’s plea demonstrates that those who knowingly engage in criminal activity must be willing to face the consequences in court.”

Grissom commended the Environmental Protection Agency – Criminal Investigation Division, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Jennifer A. Whitfield, senior trial attorney, Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resource Division, Environmental Crimes Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tris Hunt for their work on the case.

The Harcros company sent out this response:

Harcros Chemicals Inc. has entered into a formal agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas City, Kan., for a felony violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The charge involved the storage of seven older chemicals at the company’s Kansas City, Kan., plant. Six of the chemicals were stored for use in laboratories for testing and one was an unused chemical product, which had been stored safely for many years.

Harcros operates a research and development laboratory where chemists perform testing for new products and quality control checks. The chemicals at issue were retained in cabinets and storage areas for potential future use. Shortly after a 2008 regulatory inspection, the chemicals were properly disposed off-site. None of the chemicals at issue were released into the environment, nor were any employees at risk.

As a result of the agreement, the company will pay a $1.5 million fine and face a probationary period. The fine payments will not adversely impact the company’s financial position or its 100 percent employee stock ownership program.

“We have fully cooperated with the government during its investigation and we are pleased that this agreement resolves the matter raised several years ago,” said Kevin Mirner, president and chief executive officer, Harcros Chemicals Inc. “We can now move forward, continuing to safely provide our customers with the quality products they’ve come to expect.”