Column: Top stories of the year in Wyandotte County


Opinion column

by Mary Rupert

The top story of the year 2022 in Wyandotte County was the arrest of former Detective Roger Golubski for several felonies.

The story about the former KCK police detective seemed to continue in the headlines all year long, going national at times. The former detective was arrested on charges of deprivation of civil rights relating to sexual assaults.

This story was related to other stories this year, including a $12.5 million civil settlement the Unified Government made with Lamonte McIntyre, who was wrongfully convicted in a case that was handled by Golubski.

Another related story was a request by the district attorney for $1.7 million to digitize old case files in order to review Golubski’s past cases.

In addition, another story during the year concerned activists calling for justice and review of the police department in the Golubski case, with national attention brought to the issue by rapper Jay-Z.

In another top story, friction between Mayor Tyrone Garner and the Unified Government Commission continued during 2022. It ended in December with the commission limiting the mayor’s exclusive ability to set the agenda, and expanding the commission’s ability to set agenda items.

Meanwhile, a grassroots community group formed to pressure the Board of Public Utilities into stopping utility cutoffs. It also called for more utility assistance for the needy, for more consideration of not cutting off customers who depend on electrical medical devices, .and for the closing of the Nearman coal plant. The group frequently mentioned a large salary increase for the executive director, and asked the board to vote no on the budget.

The BPU board responded by freeing up an additional $250,000 in the budget for assistance to the needy, stopping utility cutoffs until the end of the year, which might give residents time to apply for the assistance at area agencies.

Yes, there was also a trickle-down effect from national and international events.

A conservative U.S. Supreme Court ruling threw out the Roe v. Wade decision in 2022, which resulted in more women candidates running for public office. At the same time, Planned Parenthood opened a new clinic in Wyandotte County, which was protested by some area churches.

The election in Wyandotte County saw the retirement of some long-time legislators, with some new faces for the upcoming session.

The war in Ukraine continued to have effects on inflation here, especially as oil prices rose throughout the world. Gasoline prices rose during the year.

The federal government continued to provide state and local grants in the Covid recovery period. Local governments spent considerable time in 2022 in deciding how to spend American Rescue Plan Act and Esser funds.

This was also the year that sports wagering started in Kansas. While it didn’t make as much money yet as the state thought it would, it did have some positive effects. Recent reports said it brought in more people to the Hollywood Casino, which helped overall gaming revenues there.

To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email

Column: My holiday gift guide


Opinion column

by Mary Rupert

What will you be getting for the holidays this year?

I’m sharing part of my Christmas list as a gift guide today. Ordering early is important when you are basically stuck at home because of health reasons.

This year, one of the best gifts out there is Michelle Obama’s new book, “The Light We Carry.”

Obama is well known for her statement, “When they go low, we go high.” She writes in her new book that they’re still supposed to go high. “We need to keep trying to go high,” she writes. “We must commit and recommit ourselves to the idea. Operating with integrity matters. It will matter forever.”

It’s something you do, not merely feel, she adds.

For her, it’s all about taking an abstract feeling and working to convert it into an actionable plan, she writes.

On another gift idea, who doesn’t need a new pair of jeans? Steve always orders the jeans from Union House at

We were paging through Time magazine while waiting at a medical appointment one day. I was impressed by an ad from the Kansas City Steak Company and decided to order a box of steaks for my brother and sister. One box went to KCK while the other went to another state. They both arrived safe and secure, packed in dry ice. I got a little concerned when I thought about how two neighbors let their dogs run loose in my brother’s KCK suburban neighborhood, but he solved that potential problem by making an appointment with the delivery service. I will get a report from them later on how good the steaks were.

Homemade gifts are always great. Of all the various knitted projects I started this year, one turned out pretty well, a shawl. I hinted to my daughter that it might be a good present for her, but she hinted back that it would probably be more appropriate for me.

You can give yourself the gift of reading by getting a library card and signing up for the library’s programs to get books delivered on Kindle or on your computer or tablet, or to check the book out of the library. If you can afford to buy a book, please do once in a while and help the author.

Next year, if in the same situation, I will just go back to having relatives pick up presents at local stores.

To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email

Community needs are great in Wyandotte County now

Guest column

by Susila Jones, executive director, Cross-Lines Community Outreach

In 2020, our world changed. In addition to the health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic caused economic hardship for so many people throughout our community.

Although the health crisis began to wane in 2022, the economic hardships faced by our community have significantly increased. Inflation has caused the price of grocery and household items to skyrocket. The extreme increase in housing costs has made it difficult for individuals and families to stay in safe and stable housing. This has also led to an increase in people experiencing homelessness in Wyandotte County. The increase in complex mental health needs in our community intensifies concerns around hunger and housing.

A shocking number of children in our community are going to school hungry each day. A simple trip to the grocery store is now more costly for everyone. However, people with lower incomes are disproportionality impacted by higher food costs. Families that have previously been able to stretch their budget to make ends meet can no longer afford adequate food for their families. Nonprofits like Cross-Lines Community Outreach are seeing new faces each day, people that have never needed to ask for food assistance.

In July 2021, Cross-Lines transformed its food pantry into a Community Market. The Community Market is an innovative approach to providing struggling families in Wyandotte County with healthy, fresh groceries to help fight hunger in our community. The Community Market is a deliberate shift away from a traditional food pantry to a more inclusive, respectful program where clients are shoppers who choose the items they need most. Shoppers can come once a month and use points based on their household size. The points allow shoppers to get enough food for approximately 10 meals. Since the Market opened in 2021, Cross-Lines has seen a 300% increase in the number of people seeking food assistance. This November, over 1,200 Wyandotte County households received food from the Community Market.

Food insecurity is not the only urgent issue facing Wyandotte County; rising rents and housing costs are putting more families at risk for homelessness. COVID-related responses for rent and mortgage assistance from state and federal programs, such as KERA, have all but run out. As funding from nonprofits is depleted, there are fewer resources for individuals and families at risk of eviction. Additionally, if someone does become homeless, the lack of safe and affordable housing in Wyandotte County makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to move someone from homelessness back into housing.

As the number of individuals experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity increases, immediate solutions are needed, such as funding for rent assistance, reducing utility bills, targeted homeless street outreach, and the Emergency Cold Weather Shelter. However, long-term solutions that address the lack of affordable housing are needed. This needs to be a collaborative approach that addresses the full spectrum of housing needs including increased housing stock for all income levels and landlord risk mitigation strategies to increase housing voucher utilization.

Nonprofit agencies, public and private entities, groups of faith, and community members are working together to tackle our community’s housing needs and at the same time must address how systemic racism has led to and continues to limit access to housing for people of color. By working together, our community can increase access to affordable housing and end homelessness in Wyandotte County.

For nearly 60 years, Cross-Lines Community Outreach has provided services and supports to people experiencing poverty throughout Wyandotte County. To learn more about Cross-Lines, visit

Susila Jones is the executive director of Cross-Lines Community Outreach in Kansas City, Kansas.