Wyandotte County students receive graduation honors at K-State

Several Wyandotte County students have earned graduation honors with their May 2015 degrees at Kansas State University, Manhattan.

The top graduation honor was summa cum laude, awarded to students who have averages of 3.95 or higher. Magna cum laude was awarded to students whose academic average was 3.85 to 3.949. Cum laude was awarded to students who academic average was 3.75 to 3.848.

Wyandotte County students receiving graduation honors:

From Bonner Springs: Xavier Capalla, cum laude.

From Kansas City, Kan.: Taran Carlisle, magna cum laude; Khiana Harris, cum laude; Jennifer Smisek, magna cum laude; and Joseph Valenti, cum laude.

KCK Chamber names interim executive director

Jon Stephens
Jon Stephens

The Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has named Jon Stephens as interim executive director.

The position was held previously by Greg Kindle, who served as interim executive director while also serving as president of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council.

According to a news release, Stephens will guide the vision of the organization and will lead the hiring of staff, including a new full-time executive director.

“Having Jon join as our interim Executive Director is exactly the type of leadership we need to move the chamber, and all of KCK, forward,” Board Chair Greg Cotton said in the news release. “His vision, commitment to the entire KC region, and experience in growing successful organizations makes him an ideal choice to head our organization at this time.”

“Jon brings business savvy, entrepreneurship, and civic development to KCK,” Cotton said. “We knew he had been looking at Interim Executive Jobs so we really wanted to offer him this position. We are confident that he will not only lead us through our transition, but help us define the next generation for our organization.”

“I am honored to lead an organization like the KCK Chamber,” Stephens said. “The quality of the work from the staff and Board has been exceptional, at is time to position the chamber for the future so that we may continue to represent the businesses of KCK in the world-class manner that they deserve. As the third largest city in Kansas, and one of the fastest growing areas in the KC region, KCK is vital to the future of our metro. I look forward to bringing more awareness to all that KCK offers.”

Stephens was previously the interim president and CEO of Visit KC, a convention and visitors’ organization in Kansas City, Mo., where he guided the primary regional tourism organization through repositioning, growth, and hiring of a full-time CEO.

Additionally, he helped lead the bi-state bid for the 2016 Republican National Convention. Stephens is president of Rockhill Strategic, a marketing, advertising and business consulting firm in Kansas City, Mo., and serves on many nonprofit boards, including the board of the Hickman Mills Educational Foundation.

He has bachelor’s degrees from the University of Missouri at Columbia in interdisciplinary studies including journalism, history and political science.

He plans to continue with his firm while serving as the chamber’s interim executive director, according to a spokesman.

Stephens also is a past president of the Kansas City Power and Light District, a past director of marketing and public relations with the Cordish Co., and handled accounts at two Kansas City advertising firms.

He also is a past coordinator of alumni programs at the University of Missouri Alumni Association.

Kansas receives bonus for reduced SNAP error rate

by KHI News Service

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded Kansas more than $620,000 for improvements in its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payment error rate.

Phyllis Gilmore, secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, said the state had been in danger of being penalized for its food assistance program error rate but now ranks among the nation’s leaders.

“We once averaged 30 days to provide someone an eligibility determination,” she said Monday in a news release announcing the bonus. “A client now knows if he/she is approved for food assistance within eight to 10 days.”

SNAP, also known as food stamps, offers nutrition assistance to low-income people throughout the country.

The USDA said the Kansas SNAP payment error rate improved from 3.99 percent in fiscal year 2013 to 0.75 percent in fiscal year 2014. The national average is 3.66 percent.

The payment error rate consists of two components: the overpayment rate and the underpayment rate. Overpayments reflect benefits issued over the amount that a household is entitled to receive, while underpayments reflect benefits that a household is entitled to but did not receive. Kansas overpayment rate is 0.60 percent, while the underpayment rate is 0.14 percent.

The state’s $621,501 SNAP high-performance bonus will be placed in a special fund for SNAP-related activities.

The USDA also said Kansas ranks eighth in the country for another performance award category: best and most improved case and procedural error rate, at 11.27 percent, compared to the national average of 26.3 percent. The top four states will receive bonus funds.

“We are doing more to protect the integrity of this program so that only those who are truly eligible for assistance receive it,” Gilmore said.

DCF currently serves 278,263 food assistance clients. The average benefit per person is $113.26 per month.

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