Edwardsville plans Mayor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony tonight

Edwardsville is planning the annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Edwardsville City Hall, 690 S. 4th, Edwardsville.

The event will feature a performance of the Edwardsville Elementary School Choir.

Preceding the tree lighting will be the Ho Ho Express neighborhood parade.

After the tree lighting will be a visit from Santa Claus with cocoa, crafts and special gifts at the Edwardsville Community Center, 696 S. 3rd, Edwardsville.

See more at https://www.facebook.com/events/973134244074611/?acontext=%7B%22event_action_history%22%3A[]%7D.

Law enforcement agencies, DA to work together to review case files from Golubski

Showing a united effort to handle case review files from former detective Roger Golubski, on Monday the KCKPD chief, Wyandotte County district attorney and UG mayor announced a plan of working together.

Golubski is a retired detective from the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department who was indicted by the federal government with several felonies over the course of his career, from 1975 through 2010. After he retired from KCKPD in 2010, he went to work for the Edwardsville Police Department until 2016. There has been a demand from the community and beyond to review all the cases he worked on in his career.

District Attorney Mark Dupree went before the Unified Government Commission on Thursday night to request $1.7 million for software that will scan in about 4,000 boxes of old DA case files and make them searchable electronically. It will help the DA’s office find all the old cases Golubski handled, as that is not now indexed.

Dupree said he will return to the UG Commission for a special meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, to get the commission’s final approval for the $1.7 million software request.

Dual investigations will be going on in different departments.

KCK Police Chief Karl Oakman, in a news conference Monday, stressed that Roger Golubski does not represent the culture of the police department here, and that corruption will not be tolerated on the KCKPD. Officers who willfully violate policies will be held accountable by police and investigators for their actions.

Oakman, who came to the department from Kansas City, Missouri, was not employed here previously and does not have ties to the KCKPD before he was hired.

This recent change in leadership has led to the district attorney’s office being more able to work with police on investigations involving Golubski cases, according to Dupree.

Oakman said he had worked to institute several reforms since arriving here, becoming compliant with national initiatives to reduce excess violence, and bringing in outside training from the FBI to conduct color of law training.

Oakman said Golubski’s alleged actions occurred 20 to 25 years ago, but he wore the uniform and caused pain to the community and was a shame to the badge. His tenure and role were real and ethical failures, he said.

Golubski was involved in investigating 155 cases in his time as a detective in KCK, Oakman said. The KCKPD will establish a team of detectives and commanders to review all of his investigative cases, where they will look at policies and procedures following investigation, if techniques were used ethically and legally, and if they find any evidence to identify a suspect. If the review team discovers an issue with the three areas, the FBI and district attorney will be notified and the case will be assigned to a cold case unit for further investigation, he said.

Oakman said the KCKPD will conduct an internal review of Golubksi’s tenure to 2010 and use these findings to make sure that similar violations will never occur again in the department.

The process will not be quick, but it will be thorough, according to officials.

Dupree requested $1.7 million from the UG Commission last Thursday to have DA office files scanned in prior to 2007 that were stored away in boxes. Those files are not searchable electronically now.

Dupree said his office had begun since 2017 a long investigating process and that there had been found multiple concerns with Golubski’s work. Golubski was the detective who investigated the Lamonte McIntyre case. McIntyre was convicted. Decades later he was cleared by the Midwest Innocence Project, after he served for alleged crimes he did not commit, according to authorities.

The DA’s office reached out to the Department of Justice, FBI, KBI and the U.S. attorney for the state of Kansas, Dupree said. Because the FBI could not take those cases, the DA gave them to the director of KBI to review. At the time, the DA did not ask the KCKPD to review them because the police chief then was Golubski’s former partner, he said.

The DA’s office also worked with the U.S. attorney on this investigation of Golubski, he said. After investigation the FBI and U.S. attorney were able to indict Golubski, he said. It was not until 2021 when Oakman was chief that KCKPD was able to be brought into the investigation, he said. Once Oakman was chief, the investigation began to make progress as information was free-flowing, according to Dupree.

Dupree said once cases are reviewed through its conviction and integrity unit, he will ask for funding for an additional attorney to assist and an additional advocate to begin meeting with victims. If they find further evidence, the DA’s office will reach out to the police chief to collaborate, he said. The police will do its own investigation while the DA’s office will also do an investigation.

Dupree said Golubski’s work at the Edwardsville Police Department also will be reviewed. He did not expect to have very many cases from that work.

Dupree said he had been asking the UG to give him funding for this work, and in 2018 asked for files to be digitized. Funds at that time were denied, according to Dupree.

He said everyone at this point is willing to do whatever it takes to bring about justice.

Mayor Tyrone Garner said he would continue to stand with all those victims who have been adversely impacted by the allegations of criminal misconduct. He would continue to support an thorough investigation into any allegations that regard any misconduct from any UG employee, he said. He welcomed investigations, and believes action should be taken from the results.

“We’re here because we care about people and their lives, and we’re doing everything we can about making a difference,” Garner said.

Work had already been started in all these efforts, Garner said. They are taking a unified approach to a challenging case.

Garner said he also has taken steps to promote community safety and justice. He has appointed the Rev. Rick Behrens to chair a local law enforcement advisory board to work with the community, and he has supported the reduction of fines and fees in municipal court systems.

“We’re here because we do care about Wyandotte County,” Garner said.

The community will need to come together to support local, state and federal law enforcement, he said.

Any individuals who may have evidence are asked to come forward and give evidence to federal and state authorities, according to law enforcement officials. They also can come to the KCK police department, the district attorney’s office, the FBI, or other authorities.

According to Dupree, it usually takes years to do a thorough investigation into old cases, so people should not expect immediate results.

See more information on the $1.7 million request at https://wyandottedaily.com/da-gets-commitment-for-1-7-million-for-digitizing-past-files-in-relation-to-review-of-golubski-cases/.

UG Commission wants Edwardsville, Bonner Springs to share in Wyandotte County ARPA funds

The UG Commission approved an opportunity for Bonner Springs and Edwardsville to get some ARPA funding from the Wyandotte County ARPA funds on Thursday night. (Information from UG agenda and meeting)

by Mary Rupert

It was Christmas of sorts for ARPA recipients at the Unified Government Commission meeting on Thursday night, and Bonner Springs and Edwardsville crept in at the last minute to pick up some $2.6 million of county ARPA dollars.

Unified Government commissioners decided Thursday to bring Bonner Springs and Edwardsville more funding from the Wyandotte County ARPA funds. There was almost a pause put on distributing any of the funding on Thursday night, before it was decided to move forward and release it to the charitable and nonprofits that have been approved.

Each of the two cities, Bonner Springs and Edwardsville, could receive an additional $1.3 million from county ARPA funding if their projects meet the guidelines.

At Thursday night’s meeting, the commission heard from the mayors of Edwardsville and Bonner Springs about their community needs, and how they had felt excluded from Wyandotte County ARPA funding.

But they have to qualify both through the UG application guidelines for ARPA funding, and also have to meet the federal guidelines for spending the money, according to commissioners. Their specific projects have to receive approval first from the ARPA subcommittee before they receive the funding.

Bonner Springs already has received $1.2 million and Edwardsville received $680,000 directly from the state from ARPA, and the funds were allocated at the state level. The city of Kansas City, Kansas, received $55.4 million, and Wyandotte County received $32.1 million from ARPA, allocated by the state.

Under the earlier CARES Act funding, the UG sent funding to Bonner and Edwardsville, but in ARPA, the state has already sent the funding directly to each city and county. Before American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, there was CARES Act funding.

Feeling left out

Edwardsville Mayor Carolyn Caiharr told the UG Commission that some Wyandotte County residents have felt unheard for decades. Years ago, Wyandotte County received $37 million in CARES Act funding, with $25 million set aside for direct aid to local municipalities, she said. Over $6 million was for public safety reimbursements, but no funds came to Edwardsville’s public safety, according to Caiharr. Less than $450,000 came to the city of Edwardsville to help run city hall, parks, municipal court, police and fire, she said.

She said the CARES Act distribution made Edwardsville feel it was less than the UG departments, less than the community college, private organizations and 501c3 organizations in the eyes of the county commission.

Mayor Caiharr said not one person representing Bonner Springs or Edwardsville was on the ARPA subcommittee that made the decisions on how to allocate the Wyandotte County ARPA funds. Only commissioners with KCK districts were on the ARPA subcommittee, she said.

The UG received $87.5 million in ARPA funding, with $55.4 million for the city of Kansas City, Kansas, and $32.1 million for Wyandotte County, she said. Edwardsville received around $678,000.

“I’m not asking any of the $55 million be spent outside of Kansas City, Kansas, but I am asking that the county funds be disbursed equitably in all parts of Wyandotte County,” she said. “Please consider the entire county when making the final decisions for countywide ARPA funds, ensuring that the money meant to benefit the entire county is not allocated to organizations accessible only to KCK residents.”

Charitable funding that benefits only KCK should come from the Kansas City, Kansas, ARPA funding, according to Caiharr.

While all parts of the county were affected negatively by COVID, the programs that serve them are not accessible to Bonner or Edwardsville, according to Caiharr.

Caiharr said Edwardsville and Bonner have several programs needing funding.

There was $2.6 million left in county ARPA funds, she said. She suggested taking $1.85 million for housing projects and funding it from KCK’s $55 million, take the remaining $2.6 million left over and split it between Edwardsville and Bonner projects. It would invest in all the county and keep the other programs covered, she said.

She said the way the recommendations were, the two small cities were beginning to lose hope.

“If this passes as recommended, the Unified Government has failed us again,” she said.

Bonner Springs Mayor Jeff Harrington said the same things were happening in Bonner as in Edwardsville. There were half a dozen applications made, with none addressed, he said.

After listening two and a half hours about fairness, about justice, about quality on the district attorney’s request Thursday, Harrington said by re-evaluating this it could be more equitable in the community.

Applications failed

The Edwardsville and Bonner Springs ARPA applications for Wyandotte County funding failed.

Commissioner Tom Burroughs said he had to appear before the cities’ councils to explain these processes as the two cities were not represented on the county ARPA advisory subcommittee, and their applications were denied. He asked to be part of the allocation process and was not allowed in the first allocation process.

“Had it happened to any of you in any of your particular districts, if there was not one organization funded in any of your districts, you would wanting to be having advocacy time for your constituents,” he said. “We are a Unified Government, … we work in unison, a city and a county. Just because they are a city … doesn’t mean we should deny the fact that they don’t have county responsibilities, and that we don’t have county responsibilities to them.”

Burroughs, a countywide-elected commissioner, said Bonner and Edwardsville were not represented at the table by himself or Commissioner Chuck Stites, and they have been trying to represent them now.

Commissioner Stites said ARPA funding was the top issue for the two cities when they met earlier. The mayors sent in ideas for redoing it, but got no response. Stites, on the Edwardsville city council when the CARES Act went through, said they asked to be on the county committee then but were told no. Then they were left out of representation again when the ARPA funding came through, he said. No money had been set aside to Bonner and Edwardsville in the original proposal that came before the UG Commission Thursday night.

Senior center van for transportation, youth activities, small business activities and assistance, expansion of small business program in KCK into Bonner Springs, drinking water plant funding assistance and expansion of the KCK fiber optic program for public assistance into Bonner Springs were among the items on the Bonner Springs wish list, according to Mayor Harrington.

They received no notification about their applications, and offered to provide presentations, but didn’t hear back, according to Harrington.

Commissioner Stites said he didn’t want to diminish the charities that have already been selected and didn’t want to take away any money from them, but there were also good charities in Bonner Springs and Edwardsville that were worthy of funding, and some of them were unaware that they could apply.

“Our outreach to them is terrible,” Stites said. “We’re a Unified Government, and we should be treated as such.”

He said he agreed that $1.85 million in housing assistance should come out of KCK’s ARPA dollars and not the county’s because the housing is not going to be near Bonner and Edwardsville. He also agreed with the mayors’ proposal for the $2.6 million.

“The optics of it are not fair when it comes to ARPA funding that should be shared countywide,” Burroughs said.

He said something is broken in the system, and Wyandotte County residents should be considered not as neighbors, but as partners.

Commissioner Angela Markley, who led the ARPA subcommittee effort, said she did not decide who was appointed to the committee. Former Mayor David Alvey picked the members, then Mayor Tyrone Garner made the appointment of Commissioner Andrew Davis to fill an empty spot, she said.

She did not choose how the state allocated funding to Bonner Springs and Edwardsville, she said. The population of Bonner Springs and Edwardsville combined is about one-half of one of the UG commission districts, Commissioner Markley said. She chaired the committee based on the orders from the commission, with health and wellness and housing items being the goals the full commission requested. They allocated it based on who ranked highest against the requirements.

Serving the most vulnerable

For the most part, the allocations are made to support the most vulnerable people and most vulnerable neighborhoods, Commissioner Markley said. Those allocations that were approved were already supported by a super majority of the commission, including those who are on a standing committee that went over them.

Delaying the vote would be delaying services to those in the community who need it the most, according to Markley. It was disrespectful to the majority of the commission who weathered a long process and to community members who needed the services the ARPA funds provide, she said.

She was fine with the commission haggling over the $2 or $3 million not yet allocated, but the applications already approved by the subcommittee should move forward, she said. They received many applications, many of which did not move forward. The committee worked hard on the project, she said.

Mayor Caiharr said not one person on the standing committee represented Bonner or Edwardsville. She is not advocating for taking one dollar away from the charitable organizations that received approval. But there was money left over in the KCK ARPA to fund the housing, and none of it will be coming to the southwest part of the county, she said.

“It’s just that we didn’t have a voice there,” she said about the process. The money is available and would not be taking away from the subcommittee’s work, she added.

“While we may be different cities, we’re still Wyandotte County residents, and there are people who are hurting in our parts of the county that cannot access the projects that are funded in downtown KCK,” Mayor Caiharr said. “Everybody’s hurting, but those especially most in need don’t have the extra money to drive 20 minutes to downtown and take off of work to access this program.”

Commissioner Melissa Bynum, elected countywide, said she represents all of Wyandotte County, and she had represented all of Wyandotte County on these committees.

She cited other funding from the CARES Act that was reimbursed to Edwardsville. They received around $450,000 from CARES Act to Wyandotte County, while KCK received much more for public safety, first responders.

According to Bynum, the current ARPA funding was allocated by a population method from the state of Kansas, with Bonner receiving $1.2 million and Edwardsville $678,000, in an under 50,000 population funding mechanism at the state level.

Part of the difficulty the KCK commissioners who sit on this ARPA subcommittee faced was all the restrictions that are in place for applicants required to qualify, Bynum said.

Not allowable

The UG’s ARPA consultant deemed the Edwardsville and Bonner applications not allowable under the guidelines, Commissioner Bynum said. The Bonner transit van was not allowable.

Mayor Harrington said they hadn’t received the information back, and their best information was that it was allowable.

The Bonner Springs water project was not allowable, and Edwardsville’s spray park proposal was not allowable, according to Bynum.

There were other applications that would have supported the expansion of economic development efforts to Bonner, she said. And the fiber optic project also may have been eligible.

Mayor Caiharr asked the commission to care about the need in southwest Wyandotte County.

Commissioner Bynum said she appreciates what is being said, but the applications were facility remediation, crime reduction and a spray park. Those were not the goal categories that the UG Commission had set for the local ARPA funding.

She said she was willing to figure out how to reallocate some money, but there was no other applicant out of the 172 received, not even within the UG departments, who had been given the podium Thursday night to speak about it. Both cities have been allocated ARPA monies directly from Topeka, and they made application from the same portal everyone else did, she added.

Bynum said it was difficult to ask everyone to follow a set of guidelines, and they have been working on it a year. She also identified communication problems that need to be addressed.

Most of the Bonner and Edwardsville applications were not considered allowable under the federal guidelines, according to Bynum. However, Caiharr said they thought they were eligible.

Bynum advocated for voting Thursday night for the already approved applications, and said she would not stand in the way of county dollars for Bonner and Edwardsville. She also apologized for a lack of communication. Communication could have been better on both sides, she said.

They were trying not to divide the county ARPA dollars into city parts, and tried hard not to support something out of the county dollars for the cities of Edwardsville and Bonner, Bynum said.

The UG agenda’s timeline for this project showed that the UG had made presentations to Bonner Springs in June and to Edwardsville in August. There were public information sessions held on the process.

Commissioner Christian Ramirez said committee representation was set by the mayor and that perhaps the mayor should provide representation for Stites to sit on the committees.

On the Unified Government Commission, a combination of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, it’s still sort of a mystery to him whether something is a county or city function, Ramirez said.

He said the cities should work with the standing committees to make sure all eligibilities are met for the county funds. He also would hate to see any charitable organization funding affected.

Ramirez said he would like the allocations that were set to move forward, and look at the remaining funds for Bonner and Edwardsville. Organizations have already been notified of their awards, he said.

“I don’t want us to go back on those awards,” Ramirez said.

Mayor Caiharr said that brings that feeling back of fighting for the scraps, but they had tried to provide a solution. There was $17 million plus left over in KCK ARPA, and if they move over the housing part to KCK, it would provide some funding for their projects, she said.

Commissioner Brian McKiernan said if someone had asked to replace him on the subcommittee, he would have done it; it wasn’t something he particularly wanted to do. He has heard from two applicants that the process was not timely and complete, and that needs to be fixed, he said.

He advocated for moving forward all the applications already approved, take the $2.6 million remaining, divide it between Bonner and Edwardsville, and as long as all federal guidelines are met, Bonner and Edwardsville direct the disposition of it as long as requirements were followed.

Mayor Tyrone Garner said there would be no action taken Thursday night, as the agenda did not allow it.

Commissioner Davis said it was a conundrum where they had to stop everybody. He had advocated to separate UG departments from charities in competing, but that was not done. He said he was fine at looking at numbers, and getting applications through. However, he said they are in different situations now, given the populations and functions. He welcomed the two cities to join the next committee meeting.

Commissioner Burroughs complimented the work of the subcommittee, and said there was no commissioner who did not advocate for his specific district. It’s disheartening when monies aren’t spent equitably across the county, he said.

“We blew through multimillions of dollars before a lengthy timeline without putting some back for a rainy day,” Burroughs said. There are still two years left to go for the ARPA funding, he said.

“We blew through multimillions of dollars before a lengthy timeline without putting some back for a rainy day.”

UG Commissioner Tom Burroughs

UG Chief Counsel Misty Brown, in answer to a question from Burroughs, if they wanted to take action Thursday night they could suspend then amend a motion on procedure, then take action.

The UG consultant for the ARPA said they created a basis for all applications to be equitably evaluated. She also said a phone number and email was available to all applicants. Besides ARPA funding, it was an opportunity for the UG to find other vehicles to fund other projects, such as routing a funding request to the casino grant community fund, she added.

After making it possible to take action on the ARPA issue, Burroughs moved to approve the proposals as recommended by the subcommittee, using the remaining $2.6 million to go to Bonner and Edwardsville only.

Bynum said she could only support this if Bonner and Edwardsville bring forward applications that qualify under the UG ARPA subcommittee’s rules, not under their previous rules for 50,000 and under population.

Burroughs said he wanted to prevent these monies from being swept from Bonner Springs or Edwardsville at some time later. He supported making sure that they meet the criteria, with two years remaining to spend the money.

Bynum said the only caveat she was making was the expenditure has to be allowable.

Bonner and Edwardsville together have about 8 percent of the Wyandotte County population, according to Harrington.

Bynum said the cities will have to work with the UG’s ARPA consultant on these plans.

The nonprofit and UG amount ARPA funds approved unanimously Thursday night were $13.9 million, plus the $2.6 million for Bonner and Edwardsville.

Mayor Garner said the people of Bonner and Edwardsville should receive equitable representation from the UG.

The Bonner and Edwardsville mayors appeared at the meeting at the request of UG Commissioners Burroughs and Stites.

UG documents showed various recommended projects and descriptions. (UG information)

Who gets the money?

The bulk of the $13.9 million approved by the commission Thursday night was listed in a UG agenda chart as 32 percent for housing, identified as the top priority after community meetings. Health and wellness received 30 percent; education, 14 percent; administration, 7 percent; workforce development, 6 percent; infrastructure, 4 percent; facility remediation, 4 percent; and recreation, 3 percent.

There were 29 awards getting a total $13.9 million, according to UG information. The 172 applications requested $84.3 million.

Topping the awards list was The Family Conservancy’s Start Young Program child care at $2 million. According to the UG agenda, the Start Young Program will create an approach to early childhood education to improve access and quality of child care in Wyandotte County. Under-resourced families will be able to enroll children in a quality early education setting to increase the child’s chances of entering kindergarten prepared to succeed, according to the program description in the agenda.

Among the other awards:
• KUMC – Project Eagle early childhood education, $1.5 million;
• Avenue of Life, housing Recovery Response, Impact KCK Capacity building, $1,225,438.22;
• Local Workforce Investment Area III, Skill Up WyCo, a short-term skills training and support project, $1.1 million;
• Our Spot KC, youth housing, $1 million;
• Mt. Carmel Redevelopment Corp, critical housing, health and human services in northeast Wyandotte County, $1 million;
• Unified Government, ARPA consultants, $725,000;
• Hillcrest Ministries of MidAmerica Inc, mental health, mitigation of homelessness, $645,000;
• Young Women on the Move, resource center for thriving youth and families, recreation, $618,900;
• El Centro, housing economic empowerment, $500,000;
• Community Housing of Wyandotte County, facility remediation, affordable apartments at Boulevard Lofts and Garden, $400,000;
• Friends of Yates, Della Gill-Joyce H. Williams Center housing, $390,449.50;
• The Salvation Army, KCK, Harbor of Hope housing, $336,071;
• The Village Initiative, Houses of Hope, housing, $325,000;
• Unified Government WyCo-KCK Transit, northeast microtransit pilot, infrastructure, $318,417;
• Cross-Lines Community Outreach, housing, housing stabilization, $387,500;
• Cross-Lines Community Outreach, food insecurity, Cross-Lines Community Market, $250,000;
• Unified Government, ARPA coordinator, administration, $240,386.59;
• Kansas City Metropolitan Lutheran Ministry, emergent needs for homeless and at-risk households, $200,000;
• UG Parks and Recreation, Klamm Park and Quindaro tennis courts, infrastructure, $160,000;
• Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department, facility remediation, Real Time Crime Center, $157,333.09;
• UG Parks and Recreation, Parkwood Pool improvements, infrastructure, $150,000;
• Argentine Betterment Corp., housing, affordable community housing, $110,000;
• UG Wyco-KCK transit, bus shelter improvements, facility remediation, $100,000;
• Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, housing, Shalom House homeless transition program, $41,000;
• Wyandotte County Sheriff, air quality filtration equipment, health and wellness, $40,500;
• Mission Adelante, citizenship class, education, $35,635;
• The Toolbox Small Business Resource Center, workforce development, KCK construction incubator, $22,360;
• UG Knowledge Department, infrastructure, parks facilities increased public safety, $9,100.08.

In addition, a lot of the other ARPA funding had already been distributed previously through actions by the UG to various needs that came up during the past year, including the UG health department.

UG Information from the Thursday night meeting showed how much has already been spent from ARPA funding here, earlier this year and last year. (UG information)

To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email maryr@g3f.1db.myftpupload.com.

See more details of this meeting at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jJIjr8I_Qw