Mayor's Blog - 2006 Archive

This page contains the archive of the 2006 entries. If you are looking for the current updates go back to the HOME page and click on the most recent update.

Merry Christmas from the McNown family, Council, and Staff to you and your family. May the holidays and the New Year bring you and your family happiness, prosperity and good health!

December 22, 2006

As 2006 comes to a close, the business of your City is in full swing?

The active search is underway for a new Chief of Police. Councilmember Mike Houston (Ward 2) is chairing a task force of community members who are diligently examining 35 applications received from persons interested in becoming our next Chief. Councilmember Houston was heavily involved in the selection process of Chief Parks. I fell he is the ideal person to lead this task force.

Chief Parks will become Sedgwick County Commissioner Parks on January 5th, so this task force will be working very hard to narrow the pool of 35 to a select few who will be presented to the governing body and staff for final selection. A new chief will be selected and hired as quickly as the process will allow. It is important for us to find a law enforcement professional will fit well within our community. Being police chief of any city takes special qualifications. It is important that the person filling the job fit the needs and personality of the community.

Another very active task force working through the holidays is the Campus task force. This group, of 15, is being chaired by Councilmember Virginia Black (Ward 1). I am confident Councilmember Black?s energy and ability to coordinate large projects makes the success of this group a certainty. I was able to attend the first meeting of this task force and witnessed the members of the group pull together to visualize the possibilities of their goal. They are tasked with looking into all aspects of a facility that could house a new swimming pool, library, senior center, and wellness facility/recreation center. Amongst others, they will examine feasibility, needs, location, cost, funding options, etc.

A centralized facility has strong appeal when considering the cost of some of the required elements. An example is that the swimming pool committee received a preliminary estimate from the pool consultant that puts a price tag of $300,000 on a parking lot capable of handling 200 vehicles. I don?t need to tell you, this is a lot of money for just this one aspect of the facility! If we can make this element of the facility large enough to handle all of the functions of a Campus facility and use it for all, the money spent would be much better than to provide a separate parking lot at each of four separate locations. Also, building one large lot is cheaper than four smaller parking facilities. Another expensive element was the shower/restroom facility at a cost of well over $600,000. This is another element that might be able to be designed to service all groups utilizing the facility, such as is done at YMCA/YWCA facilities. Please remember these costs are preliminary estimates; however this does give us an idea of the magnitude of the financial obligation we are considering. There are other aspects of these facilities that could be shared as well. For this reason and others, the Campus concept makes a lot of sense. Can we afford such a facility? That is one of the questions this task force must investigate. You are going to be hearing more from me, in this blog, regarding the progress of this task force.

The railroad task force is one charged with an issue that impacts us all. That is in regard to the rail traffic through our city. Have you noticed the volume of rail traffic through town? You know what I mean. I have counted, and my very non-scientific estimate is we average three trains per hour, around the clock. Those who live closer to the tracks than I do will probably say my numbers are low. The railroad task force is examining options to improve this problem that most of us endure. The members of this task force will be talking to the community and trying to determine the most pressing issues that need to be addressed with the railroad. Mr. Andy Quandt volunteered to lead this group. Members of this group are involved with WAMPO, our Planning Commission and our Police Department along with other dedicated members of the community. The success of this group will most likely be measured in inches rather than miles. I applaud and encourage their willingness to tackle a very difficult issue.

The group that brought the idea of improving the look of our community is busy gearing up to implement the first part of their plan in 2007 with the funds authorized by Council. We will be seeing new signs coming into Valley Center as well as directional signs in town. These will lead visitors to some of the more heavily traveled areas. These include the swimming pool, library, various school buildings, city hall, public safety building, and more. This is just the first of a multi-phase project that will most likely span over two or three years.

City staff is working very hard to wrap up year-end activities and get ready for 2007. Council has authorized the expenditure of funds for some important infrastructure improvements and upgrades. These include sanitary sewer upgrades, water line upgrades as well as new lines. Once these are completed, most of these will be difficult to see as you drive by in your car. You may know they are going on, because of traffic flow interruptions and the inconvenience this tends to cause.

The sanitary treatment facility will begin a 3 million dollar upgrade that is mandated to meet clean water requirements. The sad part of this upgrade is that despite the high cost of the upgrade, very little, if any, capacity will be added. Increased capacity will come in future upgrades. This is not something Council had much choice in. If we were to retain our license for this activity, we had to upgrade the existing facility. Council took the steps necessary to secure a secondary source of water into Valley Center. The water will still be from Wichita, but will add a secondary main line from and serving the extreme southeast part of the city. This line will add insurance should and accident or something else happens to the single line now supplying water from Wichita.

In my November 22nd update to this blog, I listed the members of the various task forces. Please understand these people are giving you, the community, their free time. This interrupts that that would be otherwise spent with their families. They have volunteered to make this sacrifice in order to make our community a better place to live. Make a special effort to thank them for their service. It is not a small task they have volunteered for. They deserve your gratitude. The only payment they receive is your sincere thank you.

Other volunteer groups serving you include, but are not limited to the Planning Commission, Park & Tree Board, Swimming Pool Committee, Library Board and other smaller groups working on specific individual projects.

Have a VERY Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year. Next year promises to be a very busy year with some very important and exciting developments. Get involved and make a difference in your community.

To view the notes from the December 19th meeting, click here.

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Mike McNown, Mayor

December 5, 2006
Lack of Quorum delays meeting until Monday?

Due to illness and business commitments of two council members, a quorum (4 Councilmembers) was not present for the council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, December 5th. Council is prohibited from conducting business without a quorum of the voting members present.
As a result, I adjourned the meeting until Monday the 11th at 7:00 PM. I believe a quorum will be present on that date. If so, the meeting will reconvene and handle business from the posted December 5th agenda.

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Mike McNown, Mayor

December 3, 2006
Have you ever considered running for a seat on the Governing Body?

Elections for your Governing Body are quickly approaching. I want to encourage you to consider running for election and serving on the Governing Body. The Governing Body is comprised of two council members from each of the City?s wards plus the mayor. The decision of Council to divide Valley Center into four wards will cause the Governing Body to increase from its current seven members to nine in 2007. This expansion will allow for better representation of our community and more diverse viewpoints on the issues facing Valley Center.

You may be thinking this is early to be discussing an election in April, but quite the contrary. The filing deadline for candidates to state their desire to seek office is noon on January 23rd. So, you can see where it is important for individuals interested to give serious thought to the prospect of serving the community in this capacity.
From my perspective, the job of a council member requires a minimum of committing to set aside two evenings a month for meetings and several hours during the month reviewing the materials and studying issues that will be discussed during those meetings. A council member must also be willing to meet with those residents in their ward to learn of any individual or group issues that should be brought before the Governing Body. Council members are called upon to serve on various standing committees and task forces appointed by the mayor. If you should decide you would like to serve the community in this capacity, you are making a four year commitment that will be both rewarding and demanding. In the 2007 election, half of those elected to positions on the council will serve four year terms and half will serve two year terms. This is because all seats are up for election. In 2009, and thereafter, all positions will be four year terms.

The position of mayor has additional responsibilities that make the position different from that of council member. The mayor, in our form of government, does not have a vote on most issues. There are two exceptions to this statement. If the vote of Council on a particular issue ends in a tie, the mayor must cast the deciding vote. The mayor also has an original vote on Charter Ordinances. Otherwise, the mayor directs the meeting and is the only member of the Governing Body who can take official action outside of an official meeting of the Governing Body. The mayor is a signatory on official documents. The mayor, along with council members, represents the City to a variety of groups in meetings throughout the year. While council members are the primary contact for the residents in their area, the mayor represents the entire community and is the only member of the Governing Body elected at large and thereby represents the entire community.

If you have always wanted to learn how your City government runs, this is an ideal opportunity to get involved and serve your neighbors. Trust me; you are in for an eye opening, and rewarding, experience. As most of you know, I worked for the City of Wichita as a Police Officer / Detective for 23 years. I can honestly say it was not until I was elected to the Council in 2001 that I was able to see the whole picture and really understand the myriad of issues a Council faces. If you have the time and desire to serve your neighbors, I highly encourage you to consider this opportunity.

City staff has scheduled four ward meetings in January, prior to the filing deadline, for potential candidates to meet with staff and have their questions answered. Watch here for announcements of those ward meeting locations.

Not interested in a position on the Council, but willing to serve in other areas? Positions often come available for civic minded persons in our community. These include various task forces, standing committees, boards, and commissions. If you have an interest in a particular area, send me an e-mail and let me know how you would like to serve, or if you have a general interest to serve with no specific area in mind, let me know. I will keep your name on file and respect your desire to serve as positions come open. For example, you may like to serve on the Planning Commission, or with the Park Board. These are just two of the important roles filled by non-elected volunteers eager to work for the betterment of our community. Please let me know if you are interested.
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Mike McNown, Mayor

November 22, 2006
Three Task Forces Appointed

Last week I reported here that I would be appointing groups of citizens to address three areas. At Council meeting this past Tuesday, I nominated several civic minded individuals to serve on these Task Forces. Council approved those nominations.
Chief Search Task Force
Councilmember Mike Houston has accepted the task of chairing this Task Force. This task force will examine the qualifications of individuals interested in the position as our new Chief of Police. Councilmember Houston was involved in the selection process when Chief Parks was hired. Those individuals appointed to work on the Chief Search Task Force include the following:
  1. Joe Dessenberger
  2. Ed Pavey
  3. Jeannie Kellums
  4. Anne Carter-Hainlen
  5. A. J. Koster
  6. Rev. Bobby Massey
Railroad Task Force
Mr. Andy Quandt initiated contact with our City Administrator, Mr. Creech, volunteering to work on looking for solutions to some of the concerns regarding the increasing rail traffic through Valley Center. His committee will be collecting input from the community and talking with railroad officials to determine if some of these concerns can be addressed. Those who will be working on the Railroad Task Force with Mr. Quandt include the following:
  1. Adam Dunn (Planning Commission)
  2. Eldon Miller (Staff)
  3. Matt Vogt (Staff)
  4. Jim Cochran
  5. Scott Dunakey
  6. Larry Toerber

Campus Task Force
Councilmember Virginia Black has agreed to chair a Task Force dedicated to examining the issue of the feasibility of a combined campus facility that could include a new public swimming facility, library, senior center, and wellness facility in one campus location. This task force will look into the many different aspects of such a project. This task force is the largest and has many issues to examine. Those working on this task force include:
  1. I.D. Creech (Staff ? City Administrator)
  2. Brad Edwards (Rec Commission)
  3. Jake Jackson (Planning Commission)
  4. Betty Dennett (Seniors)
  5. Daron Kasselman (Chamber of Commerce)
  6. Dr. Scott Springston (School District)
  7. Josh Collins (High School Junior)
  8. Rene Christenson (High School Junior)
  9. Virginia Boyd (Accountant ? Business Owner)
  10. Tom Harris (Attorney ? Business Owner)
  11. Linda Bailey (Pool Committee)
  12. Tony Snavely (Assembly of God Youth Director)
  13. Janice Sharp (Library)
You will notice that two Valley Center High School students are serving on this task force. This is the first time, since I have been on the governing body, where students have been involved at this level. I am very excited about their involvement and look forward to appointing more students to future Task Forces and Committees.
My thanks go out to all who have agreed to take time from their personal lives and serve on these task forces. Their involvement in the community is done to insure Valley Center continues to be the community we are proud to call home. If you have contact with any of these people, please join me by thanking them for their involvement and service to Valley Center.
To view the notes from the November 21st meeting, click here.
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Mike McNown, Mayor

November 15, 2006
Sales Tax discussion and committees
Sales Tax Discussion
Council met on Tuesday, November 14th to discuss the option of offering a local one percent sales tax question to the voters. After much discussion, Council directed Staff to draft possible questions for a 2007 vote. Staff will take the suggested drafts and further refine the language to develop a question that could be presented to the voters for consideration. Please remember, NO sales tax can be implemented by Council without voter approval. Council is working hard to decide how such a tax would be used and present the question to the voters.
As you no doubt have seen reported in the Ark Valley News, I have been busy looking for people to serve on various committees. The great news is it has not been a difficult task to find those willing to help. I have made every effort during my short tenure as mayor to involve community leaders and others in gathering information regarding important issues facing Valley Center. I believe the exchange of information and involvement of a large cross-section is vital to the health of our community. Along these lines, at the November 21st meeting of the governing body, I will be proposing names of several residents who have answered the call to work on these committees for us all.
We all know the issues with train traffic through our city. I have had a volunteer step forward and agree to lead a committee to look into the issue. I was pleased to see him willing to take on this important and complex issue. I will be asking Council to approve his appointment as well as a committee he would lead. This committee will look into complaints citizens have regarding the trains and will work in an attempt to negotiate with the railroad and bring some resolution to the issues.
Community Center
I have discussed several times the issues regarding the community swimming pool. To a lesser degree I have also talked about the cramped quarters in the public library. Both of these issues are equally important to Valley Center, and both require relatively expensive fixes. I have asked Councilmember Virginia Black to chair a committee to look into the feasibility of a community center that would combine a new Swimming Pool, Library, Senior Center and Wellness Center in one location. I believe the economy of scale would make this the most fiscally responsible solution for the needs of our community, but this committee will delve into this issue much further to determine the actual ramifications to staff, fund and maintain such a facility. This committee will be the largest and be comprised of several willing and capable individuals from the area. It will be a large committee, because their task is quite large. I will be reporting back to this blog on their progress.
Chief of Police Search
My congratulations go out to Chief Parks on his recent election to the Sedgwick County Commission. His victory leaves us with a vacancy in the position of Chief of Police. Commissioner Parks will take office on January 8th. I have been working to assemble a group to search for a qualified individual to fill this vacancy. This committee will be made up of law enforcement professionals and others from our community. The job of this committee is very important. I have asked Councilmember Mike Houston to chair this committee. Councilmember Houston was on the committee that worked on filling the vacancy that Chief Parks has so successfully filled for the past 17 years. This committee will review the applications from those interested and determine those most qualified. Council, working with Staff, will then narrow the committee?s selections to the person most qualified to serve Valley Center as Chief of Police in the coming years.
I will be reporting back here in the blog the names of those who have graciously volunteered to serve, following Council?s confirmation of my nominations next week.
My thanks go out to all who volunteer and come forward, no matter whether you are appointed to a committee or not. Those not appointed this time around will most likely be serving you on future committees. If you desire to be involved in your community, at this level, please let me know and I will keep your name and your area(s) of interest on file for consideration of future needs.
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Mike McNown, Mayor

November 7, 2006

Council resignation and new appointments

On October 18th, Councilmember James E. Gilson, Jr. submitted, to me, his resignation from the Council. Mr. Gilson expressed his deep regrets, but cited personal issues and dramatically increasing demands of his regular job as contributing factors to his inability to complete the term to which he was appointed on March 21, 2006. Although Mr. Gilson?s time on the Council was brief, his input and ideas were of lasting value. Mr. Gilson helped Council mold the 2007 budget and brought new ideas to discussions regarding difficult decisions Council has made during his tenure.

Mr. Gilson?s resignation was officially accepted, by Council, during the November 7th council meeting. Council approved my recommendation of Richard Yarnell to fill Mr. Gilson?s vacated seat in Ward 2. Mr. Yarnell is a long time member of the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals. I sincerely regret having to accept Mr. Gilson?s resignation, but am very enthusiastic about Councilmember Yarnell?s appointment.

As a result of Mr. Yarnell joining the Council, a vacancy was created on the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals. Council approved my recommendation of James Cruce, Jr. to fill Mr. Yarnell?s vacated position on the Commission. I am confident Mr. Cruce will be a valuable asset to the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals. Mr. Cruce?s appointment will expire October 2008. For a list of the current Planning Commission members click HERE.

Please join me in welcoming these two men as they serve the community with their time and talents.

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Mike McNown, Mayor

October 23, 2006

Sales Tax Committee Reports to Council

At the October 17th meeting of the governing body, Council received the report from the Sales Tax committee. As you may remember, this committee was formed in order to analyze the option of offering the question to the community of whether a one percent sales tax should be implemented in Valley Center. As you have read in previous editions of this blog, this tax as proposed would take effect as the Sedgwick County Downtown Arena tax expires. The committee voted 5-3 in favor of putting the question to a vote of the community.

There are many options that must be considered before such a vote takes place. Some of those include questions such as what projects would the money be used for or how long the tax should be in effect. Should this tax have a ?sunset? clause that would make it expire once a predetermined amount of money is raised or when a particular project is paid for? These are all things that Council must consider.

I have called for a special work session of the Council on November 14th at City Hall to discuss the sale tax issue. Even though the committee has recommended presenting the question to the voters, Council has not yet voted to take the next step and authorize a sales tax question on the ballot. The outcome of the work session and conversations with those of you in the community will determine the direction taken regarding this issue.

Council can not authorize the implementation of a local sales tax without approval of the voters. Council can only offer the question to the voters. I encourage you to attend the November 14th work session. If Council does authorize the placement of a question on the ballot, community meetings will be held to further explain the issues both pro and con. Armed with all the information you will make the determination of the direction this issue will take.

If Council does authorize a vote, the issue would most likely be presented to the voters during the April elections or in a direct mail ballot sent to all registered voters in the Valley Center city limits. Contact your elected representatives so they will know your preferences of the many different options.

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Mike McNown, Mayor

The notes for the October 17th City Council Meeting may be seen by clicking here.

August 16, 2006

Pool Evaluation Completed

Council held the regularly scheduled meeting on 8/15/06. The long awaited report on the pool evaluation from Burbach Aquatics was presented at the meeting. A representative of Burbach was present to answer questions from the Governing Body and public. The evaluation outlined repairs, upgrades, and regulatory compliance issues that must be addressed in order to renovate and keep the existing structure. This evaluation centered on the feasibility of keeping the existing structure and did not delve into replacement of the existing pool with an entirely new facility. The estimated cost, according to the evaluation, to bring the existing structure up to code and make the necessary repairs would be just over $3.2 million. Mr. Burbach estimated a new facility with the same water surface area would cost between $3.2 and $3.6 million, or more. Mr. Burbach?s projection of the cost of an entirely new facility is just an estimate, as this was not the purpose for which his company was hired. The cost of an entirely new facility would depend on the design, demolition, amenities, location, and the infrastructure needed to support such a facility. Receipt of this report allows Council, along with the Pool Committee, to take the next steps in determining a solution to the issue of the public swimming pool facility.

Funding of such a facility would require bonds to be issued. If it is determined that the cost will be added to the mil levy, a bond of the size suggested would cause a mil levy increase of at least 8.3 mils. To bring this home in a way easier to understand, 8.3 mils would cost the owners of a $150,000 home $143.18 per year for the next 20 years, or $2,863.50 over the life of the bond. I don?t have to tell you that this is a substantial amount of money; but to compound the issue Council has several other high cost issues which need funding. Council continues to investigate alternate funding sources in order to lessen the impact on property owners. In the end, we will cast our ballots to determine how, as a community, we wish to proceed.

The options, as I see them, include a local sales tax, property tax increase, abandonment of replacing the pool until a later date, or possibly a combination of all three. Depending on user fees as a funding source is not realistic. The rate that would have to be charged to pay the debt service on the bonds would render the facility to expensive to utilize and consequently the funds would not be raised to pay the debt. There may be other viable options of which I am not aware. If you have ideas, please contact your elected representatives or me. Council members and I are always eager to hear your ideas. Council understands the importance of the pool to the youth and adults of the community; the dilemma is how to pay for the project.

The sales tax committee continues to meet and discuss the feasibility of a local one percent sales tax. I am very anxious to hear their report. I believe that no matter what their report reveals, it will be well-researched. The committee is made up of people who are independent thinkers and who are being encouraged to bring their own views to the table. Councilmember Black is leading this diverse group who will give us a good idea of how to proceed. Even if the committee?s report advises a sales tax is a good idea, no action will be taken to implement such a measure without a vote of the community. I am hopeful that the funding, design, and construction details can be worked out so that we can proceed in some manner by the close of the 2007 season. I have been assured we can get three more years out of the current facility. Ideally, we will not have to wait that long.

At this time we have a facsimile transmitted copy of the report. The pool evaluation report will be available on-line for your viewing, but the current copy is of poor quality and does not scan suitably for posting here. Staff is working with Burbach to obtain a clean and legible copy, which will be made available on the city?s web site.

As always, I ask you to contact your elected representative to express your views, on this and other issues, as we struggle to hold the line on taxes, while at the same time provide the needed services. Please contact your representatives by e-mail or otherwise to offer your views.

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Mike McNown, Mayor

August 11, 2006

Community Survey Comments ? Part 2

In my June 22nd entry in this blog, I gave my views regarding some of the comments in the recent community survey. I wish to continue and share with you an observation from the surveys. One of the striking aspects of the survey was the lack of consistency with the vision we want of our community 10, 20 years and more, into the future.

Most expressed their appreciation of the quality of life and the value they place on Valley Center being a place with that ?community feel? we all enjoy. Many responding to the survey made comments regarding their desire to see no change for fear of harming that atmosphere our community embodies. Some expressed their desire that Council not expand and grow the community. The impression I received was some would like to see time freeze, similar to what you would see in a Norman Rockwell painting. I love the Rockwell paintings and wish our lives were that simple, but we all know this is a little unrealistic. Change does take place, whether we choose to participate or not.

At the other end of the spectrum, others answered the various questions and added comments regarding wanting more retail, more restaurants, and increased emphasis on residential development. Some added they want large chain restaurants and retail. Comments from both sides of the issue were numerous, and fairly well equal.

I believe we can all agree that some things are certain. One is that Valley Center will change and there is nothing any of us can do to halt that progression. We can opt to stick out head in the sand, but when we pull it out to look around we will see a community the same size as it was, with many changes. I fear very few of these changes, we would observe, would be for the better. In the distant future, I believe Sedgwick County will be a county of cities. Property remaining outside the corporate limits of a city will be rare. Do we want to be part of that growth, or do we want to sit on the sidelines and watch ourselves surrounded? Retail growth that some have requested will consider expansion into a community only when population size makes the investment profitable. Council and staff are seeking family friendly business to locate in Valley Center. A larger population also adds to the size of our share of revenues received from the County, thus reducing the tax burden on property owners.

If you were sitting on the Council, how would you react to the desires of the citizens as diverse at those I have outlined above? Do you believe it is possible to meet the goals of all? I feel that with planned growth, we as a community can grow and still not loose that charm we love regarding our hometown. Will it be easy and will we make everyone happy? I think not, but this should not deter us from doing what we believe is best for Valley Center. What do you think?

If you have ideas regarding this or other issues facing the Council and community, contact your elected representatives. I encourage you to e-mail or call your elected Council representatives with your comments. You are always welcome at the Council meetings at 7:00 PM on the first and third Tuesday of each month at City Hall.

Remember our slogan, Valley of Progress, Center of Pride. I believe it is possible for us to progress and still love the community we call home.
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Mike McNown, Mayor

August 2, 2006

Do you shop at home?

Do you shop Valley Center? There are many items you need in your everyday lives that you can purchase right here at home. Look around at the various businesses who call Valley Center home. If you can buy those things you need and want at home, I encourage you to do so. By the time you spend the gasoline and time to go to another community, you will most likely save money by shopping at home.

I often hear the comment that the selection is not adequate. Does the retailer not have what you want? Have you asked the owner/manager if they can order it in for you? Most retailers are happy to do so. If you want it, someone else probably does as well. I know Leekers has been eager to look into ordering items I have requested. I have been told by my neighbors they have done the same for them. My neighbor, Jim, had Leekers order some ?Jerk? sauce he learned about cooking chicken with on a visit to New Orleans. Management ordered the product, and Jim now tells everyone how good it is, along with the isle number and shelf it is stocked on at Leekers.

When you go to the large hardware stores, do you get the same type of service you are provided at Bartel?s? My experience is that there is a nice selection at the large stores, but if you want help, good luck finding someone. If and when you do find someone, they may know what you are talking about and they may not. The same trip to our hometown hardware store, Bartel?s, results in a very different experience. Everyone knows us guys don?t like asking for directions or help. The employees respect your right to search for what we want, but the minute you look up with that deer in the headlights look on your face, you will be greeted by an experienced and knowledgeable person who will show just what it is that you were looking for. Usually you don?t even have to display that look of desperation, they have a sixth sense to know it is time to bail you out. Seriously, Bartel?s customer service is unrivaled by the big retailers.

Go into Darla?s Flower and Coffee Market for a fragrant and fun stop. I really enjoy flowers, but don?t buy them as often as I should. If you don?t believe me, just ask Charla how often she gets flowers. I have gone into Darla?s to pick up items Charla has ordered. The quality of both product and experience has always been outstanding! This distinctive shop is a fun place to spend a little time to just browse the many unique items on display. In Marci Penner?s ?The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers?, Darla?s was featured as the place to visit while in Valley Center. I commented on this book in my May 21st entry into this blog. When Ms Penner autographed my copy of her book, she saw where I was from and specifically asked me how Darla?s shop was doing. Sometimes there are unique places to visit right under our own noses, but we overlook them due to taking these things for granted. I urge you to stop by and visit Darla?s. While you are there, do the community a favor and spend a couple of bucks. Our 30th wedding anniversary is the 14th of this month, so it is also probably in my best interests to make a visit to Darla?s before then. ?

I could go on and on with the excellent service at the local auto repair shops, restaurants, retail stores, professional service providers and others, but I just don?t have the time or space to talk about all of them. I have never received bad service from our local business owners and their employees. On the contrary, I often have gotten more than I have asked for. Valley Center has businesses that may not have the selection you find at the large retailers, but they have owners and employees dedicated to customer satisfaction, and are a huge part of what we love about Valley Center. Support these business owners and their employees by shopping Valley Center whenever possible. They are a big part of what you and I love about Valley Center.

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Mike McNown, Mayor

July 31, 2006

What is it worth and how do we pay?

As I have discussed here before, Council is looking for funding mechanisms to pay for some of the amenities wanted by the community. Council tries to do this while at the same time hold the line on taxes. I do believe we are all smart enough to understand that, barring the emergence of wealthy benefactors donating the money, the funds needed to pay for these items is going to come out of our own pockets. The question is how can the load be spread to make sure an undue burden is not placed on people who can afford to pay it the least.

Some of the more pressing ?wants? are a new pool, library and improved drainage of storm water. Yes, there are other ?wants? such as a senior center and wellness/fitness center. Some say a new pool is the most important of these ?wants? while others insist the library has been waiting the longest for expansion funds. Some argue the we can get our information from the Internet and do not need to fund the library while others will argue that we should not spend millions on a swimming pool that is only open a maximum of 80 days a year.

We all know that it would be nice to have a storm water drainage system to keep our streets free of standing water, but some say it is a minor inconvenience and the water does eventually subside and precious tax dollars should not be spent for drainage. There is no ?want? that all will agree is the main priority of the community. I personally feel ALL of these issues are important and we as a community can find an affordable funding mechanism.

No matter which issue is the most important to you, you can be assured that others have other priorities. I have appointed a committee to look into the feasibility of a local sales tax. This committee is comprised of a very diverse cross-section of citizens in our community. Council Member Black will head this committee and report their findings back to Council. A proposed sales tax is not the only option being explored for alternate funding sources. In earlier blog entries I mentioned some of these other options. Council is looking at several options and will narrow the field down to those that seem the most appropriate, if any at all.

You are going to be reading and hearing a lot about these discussions. I realize some will be opposed to any of the options explored, and that is perfectly understandable. I only ask that you have an open mind and reserve your final opinion, either pro or con, until after all facts have been gathered and you are fully informed. If you have ideas for viable alternate options for funding of the big ticket items desired, please either let your Council representative(s) know or attend a Council meeting and present your thoughts in person.
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Mike McNown, Mayor

July 19, 2006

Council Meeting ? July 18th

Council met at City Hall for it?s regularly scheduled meeting last night. Council voted to set the budget for 2007 for a public hearing scheduled for August 1st at 7:00 PM. By doing this, Council has committed to the maximum that can be assessed property owners. Council can reduce this amount, but cannot raise it without re-publication and another public hearing.

The budget, as proposed, will provide services at the same level as they have been in 2006, with personnel enhancements in Police, Fire, and Parks departments. One full time person will be added to the authorized strength of both Police and Parks while Fire will see the addition of one part-time person.

As stated last week, this budget also provides $25,000 for the first phase of a signage and beautification project. The Chamber of Commerce has committed to a financial match of 10% toward this effort.

There was a lot of discussion regarding the level at which Council wished to keep the mil levy. Even though the County Clerk sets the mil levy, it is possible for Staff to give a very close estimate to what the rate will be based on the preliminary valuations provided. Council working with Staff was able to keep the rate under 50 mils. The proposed budget will keep the mil rate very close to the 2006 level. While the increased valuation of most property will mean you will still pay more, even thought the mil rate does not increase, Council has made every effort to keep the impact on your tax bill at the lowest possible amount while still providing the services the citizens desire.

Mil Levy
The Sedgwick County Clerk sets the mil levy based on calculations regarding the budget submitted and the assessed value of property in Valley Center. In 2006 the mil levy was 49.666 mils. The proposed 2007 budget will require approximately 49.5 mils. The precise figure will be determined after the public hearing and upon final assessed values set by the County.

A mil is one dollar for each $1,000 of assessed valuation. In Kansas, your assessed value for residential property is 11.5% of the total appraisal amount. For example, if your home has a County appraised value of $100,000, the assessed value would be $11,500 (100,000 x 0.115 = 11,500). Therefore, on a $100,000 home you would pay $11.50 per year for each mil assessed.

If you do not know the appraised amount of your real property, Sedgwick County provides a lookup service on their web page. You can find your property by clicking HERE. Your city property tax is only one part of your tax bill. For your total, you need to add in the State, County and School Board along with any special additions. Some communities contract with the county to provide fire protection, so this is added to the tax bill. As you are well aware, we in Valley Center have our own fire department and do not have this added expense. For 2006, Valley Center?s portion of your tax bill was 35.87% of the total. USD262 required 42.28%, and the County, combined with the State, made up the remaining 21.85%.

Annexation ? Phase 6
Council voted to set for public hearing Phase 6 of the multi-phase annexation plan for planned and controlled growth of the corporate limits of our city. This hearing is set for August 1st at City Hall at 7:00 PM. Those property owners affected will receive notification of the hearing via registered mail.

Alternative Revenue Streams
Council is committed to examining alternative revenue streams and reducing the tax burden on property owners. Some of these options will likely include user fees, fines, licenses, building rentals, franchise fees, local sales tax, etc. As you hear discussion on these alternatives, please keep in mind Council is examining many options. It is your responsibility to inform your elected representatives of your opinion of the ideas being discussed. I know of nobody who enjoys paying taxes; the mission of your Council is to find the fairest method of spreading the load of funding the needs of the community.

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Mike McNown, Mayor

July 12, 2006

Special Council Meeting ? July 10th / Sales Tax Committee Appointed

Council met to discuss the 2007 budget for the city. Each department was examined for alterations Council wanted to make to the City Administrator?s recommendation. Council took no official action to set the budget. That vote will take place at the regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, July 18th. At that time the maximum tax to be collected in 2007 will be set. Council will still have an opportunity to lower it, but no increases can be made once the July 18th vote is taken. Council did suggest a desire to make some preliminary alterations in the City Administrator?s proposal.

Funding for Entry and Directional Signs
The first is to provide partial funding of the previously presented plan to design and place entry signs into Valley Center and to place directional signs at strategic locations along the streets. These directional signs will direct visitors to places such as the Library, Pool, Schools, City Hall, etc. The Chamber of Commerce has pledged to make a 10% match to the funding provided by the City. The entire project presented by the group was a little over $65,000. Council has determined it is fiscally prudent to provide the funding for this in stages. The first will be for $25,000, which should purchase the entry and directional signs. Other areas of the proposal, which are to be considered for funding in subsequent years, include banners installed on poles along the streets in the downtown area, benches, etc.

Personnel Additions
The next area Council wished to make changes to was personnel. Council suggested adding a full time employee in Parks and Police, and a part time employee in Fire. The position in fire would be to assist in manning equipment during the times of the day when availability of volunteers is at the lowest. This person would also perform administrative functions as well as building inspections. The addition of another patrol officer would be the position for the full time employee in the Police department. Parks has experienced a growing amount of land to mow and otherwise care for, without the addition of any personnel to provide the necessary labor. This employee will allow the Parks department to better address their areas of responsibility. Council also discussed redundant services and areas where money could possibly be saved. Council took no official action regarding these discussions.

Sales Tax Committee
As promised at the July 6th meeting, I provided a list, which Council approved, of volunteers to serve on the Sales Tax Feasibility committee. Council Member Black has agreed to chair this committee that will report it?s findings to Council. The people serving on the committee will provide a very diverse background of experience and views. Given their experience, I know Council will receive a report that is well thought out and researched. Council has not mandated a completion date for the report; however, action must be taken rather quickly in order to get the information out to the voters and give time to hold the election on the question, if the committee decides to recommend that Council proceed with the issue.

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Mike McNown, Mayor

July 6, 2006

Council Meeting July 5th

Special Council Meeting ? Monday, July 10th at 7:00 PM

Council met yesterday on the 5th to conduct regular business. Topics of special interest included sanitary sewer rate adjustments, city sales tax, and Westar upgrades to power supply.

Sanitary Sewer
Communities are being mandated to implement clean water improvements. These mandates are being imposed without funding from State of Federal sources. Our sewage treatment facility is scheduled for an upgrade in 2007 to meet these unfunded mandates. The planned $2.9 upgrade will do little to increase capacity, but rather is for the treatment of water passing through the plant. Since this is an unfunded mandate, the funding rests on the shoulders of Valley Center residents. Funding for such a project is traditionally accomplished either through user fees or property tax assessments. The majority of Council feels the most appropriate funding, in this situation, is through user fees. This places the responsibility for funding on those connected to the system. Those recently annexed residents utilizing alternate sewage systems such as septic tanks and lagoons will not be paying for a system they are not connected to.

Funding is determined by a base rate, paid by all users, plus the average volume of water used by each residence. Council voted to raise the base charge from $13.40 to $15.07 per month. This is a raise of $1.67 per month, or just over $20 per year. Residents currently pay $2.40 per thousand gallons of water used for sanitary sewer treatment. This charge will increase 12 cents to $2.52 per thousand gallons. This rate structure provides a funding mechanism placing a greater burden on those residences and businesses who utilize the system most.

Sales Tax
Searching for alternative funding sources is something Council has been pursuing. A proposal for the investigation of the feasibility of a sales tax to replace the County?s Arena Tax was discussed. This tax, if approved by the voters, could be a replacement of the arena tax. As presented, the tax would be implemented immediately upon the sunset of the current arena tax, at the end of December 2007. I will be selecting individuals from a cross-section of our community to serve on a committee to conduct further research into the feasibility of such a funding source. This committee will report to the Council and me regarding their findings. Council will then decide if and how the question should be placed before the voters. No sales tax can be implemented without voter approval.

The State of Kansas is compiling the figures that will give us an idea of what level of revenue stream a one percent tax would generate. Records show that if a one percent sales tax had been in place for 2004, the city would have received $423,000. As I said before, the feasibility of such as tax is still being investigated, but the size of this possible revenue stream is too substantial to dismiss without further investigation. This is one topic you will be hearing more on as information becomes available.

Westar Upgrades
How many times has your electricity flickered or gone out? How many times did you say, ?That is just Valley Center?? I have good news regarding the future power supply to our community. Last night I was able to report to Council that Mr. Creech and I met with Westar officials on June 21st to discuss this problem. We were informed that three factors either have or currently do contribute to this persistent problem. The first has to do with the ground wires. I am not an electrician, but it was explained that the nature of the connections of the ground wires on the poles has caused the connections to work loose over time. Recent work on these ground wires has secured them directly to the poles to provide a more stable anchor and lessen the chance of them coming loose. This is the part of the solution that has been completed. The other two areas of concern are scheduled for correction by the middle of next year.

The first is to rebuild the supply line to the sub-station that supplies the majority of Valley Center. The materials for this project have been ordered and work will begin as materials become available. The target completion date for this is the end of December 2006. This date may be extended slightly, due to possible delays in receiving the materials needed to complete the line. The third and most significant phase of the solution is to rebuild the sub-station supplying the majority of our community. I am very optimistic these measures will help Westar to provide a better product to us. My thanks go out to Mr. Creech for his persistence and to the Westar officials for hearing our needs and acting on them.

Date of Special Council Meeting Moved
The Special meeting called for Tuesday, July 11th to discuss the budget has been rescheduled for Monday, July 10th. The meeting will be at City Hall at 7:00 PM. This is the phase when Council, having heard from all the city departments, will be considering each area of the budget for final adoption. It is important for you to attend so you can make your thoughts be known to Council. If you are unable to attend contact your Council representative(s) by phone or e-mail.

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Mike McNown, Mayor

July 1, 2006

Special Council Meeting and Ward 4 Meeting

Please make note in your calendar that due to the first Tuesday in July being a holiday, Council meeting will be the 5th.

Special Council Meeting ? Budget
Council continues to meet and discuss the budget. I have called special meetings in addition to our regular meetings in order to discuss the specifics of the budget. The most recent of these was this past Tuesday, June 27th. Setting of the budget is one of the most important duties of the Council. It is also one of the the most intensive and difficult jobs of the Council. Without a doubt, it is the most important job of the Council. The task of determining at what level to fund each need of the community while at the same time taking into consideration the load taxes place on all of us is a very important one. All of these meetings are open to the public and we welcome input from you. As I have said many times, we each have our own priorities and without your input we have to rely on what we believe to be the most important issues to address.

The community survey has been beneficial in helping us understand what you consider to be the important issues in the community. While the survey has been helpful, we cannot talk to the surveys and have a dialogue. For this reason, your attendance at meetings is important. We will continue to examine the budget in the coming weeks. Council is scheduled to meet every Tuesday through July 18th. The first and third Tuesday is when Council meets to conduct regular business. The other meetings are the special meetings that are set for the exclusive discussion of the budget.

Council heard from Chief Parks (Police), Chief Tormey (Fire), and Superintendent Owens (Parks) regarding the General Fund portion of the budget. Each of these department heads spoke of needs they foresee in 2007. Council took no official action with regard to these presentations, as this time was provided as an opportunity for the three men to explain to Council what they feel is important for their departments and why. A common theme was the need for additional personnel. Each asked for the addition of one full-time employee in each of their areas of service. Annexations have grown our area of responsibility, and the need for more people to maintain our current level of service is expected.

Our City Administrator, Mr. Creech, addressed the Council on those areas of the fund used for funding areas in the General Fund, which are not covered by Police, Fire and Parks. He also presented Council with ideas to consider for additional revenue sources. One was asking voters to consider approval of a one percent sales tax that would take the place of the current Sedgwick county arena tax. By law, the arena tax will expire in December of 2007. If approved by voters, a Valley Center sales tax could be designed to begin as the County tax expires. This would replace the current arena tax, and Valley Center residents would see no rise over the current level paid in sales tax. While the level of revenue derived from this source has not been determined, all indications are that it would be substantial and could be of assistance in funding some of the amenities requested by our citizens. Predictions of the level of revenue this would provide are being calculated by the County and will be provided at a later date. Other ideas for revenue streams are also being discussed. Council will examine all options presented and be discussing them in the very near future. Come to Council meetings to participate in the discussion and hear what is going on. The next Council meeting will be at 7:00 PM on July 5th.

Ward 4 Meeting
The meeting for Ward 4 was held this past Thursday at City Hall. The attendance was very good and the dialogue covered a broad range of topics. Council members in attendance were Bess Roberts (Ward 1), Virginia Black (Ward 1), Jim Gilson (Ward 2), and Cheryl Nordstedt (Ward 3).

Topics of discussion included library expansion, sales tax, swimming pool, budgeting of services to recently annexed neighborhoods, visions of councils, city beautification, participation of citizens in the governing process, etc. No single topic dominated the meeting.

Library Expansion
Concerns regarding overcrowding of the library were addressed. Mr. Jackson of the Library Board was present to answer questions. Library staff and the board are working on requirements needed in a new or expanded facility. Once these requirements are finalized, the Board can move forward to determine the cost of the facility along with sources of funding to pursue.

Sales Tax
I briefly spoke on the sales tax option that appeared this week in the Ark Valley News. The topic did not attract much discussion as I stated the option is in the very early stages of consideration and that a decision to pursue a local sales tax would be explained to and discussed with the community. The decision to implement such a tax would be made by the voters.

Services to New Areas
A question as to what is being done to make sure we can adequately provide services such as police, fire, and street maintenance was asked. I answered by stating that I have asked Staff to address the needs of these areas in the 2007 budget, which we are currently working on. Staff has answered my request by proposing additional employees in key areas so they can cover the expanded city limits.

Answers to other topics discussed have been addressed in earlier postings in this blog or in the following section.

Purpose and Future Plans for Ward Meetings
The purpose of these meetings has been to provide a relaxed atmosphere in which to discuss the issues facing our community. It was also my goal to spark your interest to become involved in the community by filing for election and running for a seat on the Council in April 2007. Unfortunately some of the meetings were dominated by one or two specific issues and a full range of topics were not explored. The conversations on those dominating topics were beneficial, but I regret that all did not have the opportunity to speak on their area of interest. It is my intent to continue this dialogue for as long as people are interested in the forum. In the coming weeks I will converse with Staff, Council, and you to determine the best way to continue. I will let you know the path chosen via this blog. You can help us by making your preferences known.

Some of the options discussed are to have one evening set aside at City Hall for such meetings. Another would be to set aside an hour before each Council meeting to talk informally about the issues. The Council meeting would still begin at 7:00, but I and/or Council members would be present at 6:00 to discuss the issues. This would be convenient, but would stifle conversation due to time limitations, as we might have to cut off an intriguing dialogue in order to prepare for the meeting at 7:00. Still another option is to hold the Ward meetings such as we have just completed every three to six months. No matter what option we select, it is my desire to continue the information exchange we have started.

Thank you to everyone who took the time out of their busy schedules to attend the meetings and participate in this new forum for the exchange of information in our community. I sincerely appreciate your interest in helping your Council and me understand those issues that are of importance to you. I look forward to future meetings and talking with you one-on-one.

Safe Holiday Celebrations
Safely enjoy our Independence Day holiday. Please be conscious of fire hazards and observe all safety precautions as you celebrate this important holiday. Take extra care to monitor the celebration activity of young children.

Special Thanks!
Please keep those members of our community serving in the armed forces in your thoughts and prayers. It is because of them, and those who came before, that we are able to celebrate this holiday! Our heartfelt thanks go out to the families who support their loved ones as they serve us under very demanding, unpleasant, and hazardous conditions. Thank you!

Mike McNown, Mayor

June 27, 2006

Questions and Rumor Control

Do you recall the last time you saw some activity in the City and wondered what was going on? On the other hand, when was the last time you heard something from a neighbor who heard it from a neighbor, and you were upset with the information? This is the nature of rumors and unfortunately they do circulate rapidly. Another unfortunate aspect of rumors is people accept them as fact. If you are curious to learn if what you heard is true, and if not, what the truth is, please call City Hall, ask your Council representatives, or ask me. I will gladly research the rumor and get you the answer. If you want a personal reply, I will be happy to provide that. If you want it answered here in the blog, I can use this forum to get the word out to everyone. If you heard a rumor, you can be fairly confident, you are not the only person to have heard it. Help me get the facts out and set the record straight.

Do you want to know how the mil levy is set, or would you like to know how much sand and salt was used on the city streets last winter? Do you want to know how the average water usage is calculated and when the average is calculated? Would you like to know the issues whereby Council may legally go into Executive Session? Are you interested in learning the process for filing for a seat on the Council? Have you ever heard that I, the Council or one of the committees or commissions has done something that you believe to not be in the best interest of the community? Let me know what you heard, and I will try to answer, with facts, the reasoning for the action, and precisely what action was taken. More likely than not the rumor mill has twisted the facts to make the story sound better as it is told and embellished by each person who has repeated it. The recent survey had a few comments that were obviously inspired because of non-factual rumors. Nothing positive comes from circulating rumors, allow me to assist you in getting to the truth, and answering your questions regarding the operation of your city government.

Get me your question by clicking on my name at the bottom of this blog entry. Give me as much detail as you can regarding your question. I will research the matter and then post the answer here and/or get back with you personally to let you know the facts regarding the rumor or question. You can always call City Hall and leave a message for me and we can make connection in that manner.

This blog is intended to facilitate communications throughout our community. I need your feedback as to what you would like to see addressed. Thanks to everyone who has given me all the positive feedback regarding the blog. It is nice to hear so many people are reading and keeping up-to-date with the issues of the community. Let me know your thoughts regarding the blog. What can I, or others, do to improve it?

Mike McNown, Mayor

June 23, 2006

Ward 3 Meeting

Last night was the third in the series of Ward meetings. The meeting was held at the community building and was the largest attended of the meetings we have held to date. The vast majority of those in attendance were concerned with the status of the swimming pool. Council Members Bess Roberts (Ward 1), Mike Houston (Ward 2), and Cheryl Nordstedt (Ward 3), along with representatives from the various City departments were also in attendance.

Pool Evaluation Nearing Completion
I was able to pass along word that we received information from the pool consultant that all data regarding the evaluation of our existing pool has been collected and entered into the database for analysis. Once the finished report, regarding the viability of the pool, is received Council will be better prepared to determine the next step(s) to take in order to insure the community has a swimming facility that will serve our needs.

Also discussed at the meeting was library expansion. The role the library plays in todays environment was discussed. Some of those in attendance were not aware of the total scope of the services offered and were not exactly sure what the needs of the library are. I suggested a trip to the library would enable those with questions to view first-hand the crowding and to be able to view the types of materials available.

Railroad Traffic
The frustration regarding the volume of railroad traffic and frequency of blocked crossings was expressed. Misconceptions regarding why train traffic has increased were explored. The price of oil coupled with the economy of rail transportation has led to the increase in train traffic nationwide and more importantly to us, through our community. One person expressed frustration with delays in excess of 20 minutes due to trains stopped on the tracks. While this is extremely frustrating to us all, Council has very little influence over the situation. It is rare when all intersections are blocked, but it does happen. This is not only an inconvenience to us all, it is an even more important issue for emergency responders. We continue to speak with railroad officials regarding issues related to train traffic through town, whether that be crossing maintenance, volume of traffic, speed of travel, or blockages.

Funding Sources and Population
The topic of funding for projects in our city was brought up. I explained the city receives funds from various sources. Some of those sources are directly related to our population. One such source is the Sedgwick County sales tax. The one percent tax that was implemented several years ago is divided throughout the county. One of the primary factors determing distribution is population.

This obviously led to the next question regarding population of Valley Center. By the end of this year it is estimated that over 6,300 will live in our city limits. At our current rate of growth, our projection is that this number will expand to around 8,100 by the year 2013.

Council Vision
Some asked about the vision of the Council for development. Councils throughout the years have had differing views regarding growth. My evaluation of the current council's vision can be best described as one of planned and controlled growth. Our commercial development interests involve building relationships with business that offer jobs compatible with the work force and other businesses currently located in our community. Attracting businesses that offer compensation compatible with the type of housing available is important. Our desire is that the people who earn their living here, also make Valley Center their home. I am encouraged that Staff and Council will continue to focus on working to maintain a balance in this area. My desire is for controlled growth while attempting to preserve the small town atmosphere we all enjoy.

The meeting for Ward 4 will be the last in this round of meetings. It is scheduled for 7:00 PM on Thursday, June 29th at City Hall. Please plan to attend.

Mike McNown, Mayor

June 22, 2006

Survey Comments - Part 1

I was reading some of the comments from the survey recently completed by citizens from our community. Several of the comments caused me to pause and ponder the person's point of view as they committed their thoughts to paper. In the coming weeks I will address some of the comments. Some comments were constructive while others were questioning why things are done the way they are. Since all of the forms were submitted anonymously, and it is impossible to answer the questions personally, I believe this blog is a good forum to address those comments.

Committees, Commissions, and Board Members
One such survey comment was regarding the motives of those who serve on the various commissions, committees, and boards. Just why does a person serve on a committee, commission, or board for our community? Serving in a voluntary capacity is a very important part of participation. If not for these volunteers, who graciously serve, we would either have to pay employees to do the job or do without the service they provide. We would also limit the diversity brought about by the various backgrounds of those who serve.

When we question why someone would want to serve, let's take for example, the Tree Board? Is it maybe because they have an interest in the beautification of our community through the development of a strong tree program? This is usually the reason. Now, on the other hand, if the person sells trees and is trying to influence the City to purchase his/her trees, THAT would be a conflict and would not be tolerated. I have never seen a conflict of interest, such as this, with any of those involved on our various boards, committees or commissions.

People serve the community for a variety of reasons, but it should be noted that almost all do it for no pay. Some may have a special project they want to see addressed. Others may simply have a desire to get involved and improve their neighborhood or the entire city. I urge all to consider volunteering and serving your community in some capacity.

Another comment on the survey asked how one runs for a Council position. If you wish to run for a Council position, or for the position of Mayor, I encourage you to do so. You do so by stating your intent and registering with the City Clerk.
Elections for City Council are held in April of odd numbered years (i.e. 2007, 2009, 2011, etc.). Due to the expansion from three Wards to four, all positions will be up for election. All terms of office will be four years except for the person receiving the next to the largest number of votes in the Ward races. Those positions will be elected for two years. In 2009 those elected to the two year terms will be up for election again, but this time to a four year term. The other four along with the Mayor will be serving the community until 2011. The position of Mayor is elected at-large. The Ward representatives must live in the Ward they represent.

Those who serve in other committees and commissions are appointed by Mayor and approved by Council. If you have a desire to serve on a committee or commission let your representative or myself know and you will be seriously considered for appointment, to a position in your area of interest, when vacancies occur.

When you see people on the street who serve in the various positions, take a few moments and thank them for their service to the community. We always want to hear your concerns, but it is also nice for these people to know you appreciate their service. Some of the positions available are on the Planning Commission, Park and Tree Boards, Library Board, etc.

While it is certain that we will not always agree on the issues, we can continue to work together and build a strong community where the values we cherish are appreciated. I do realize that everyone is busy and many just don't have the time to volunteer, as I have suggested. This lack of free time is understandable. Your support of those who do this important work is appreciated.

Mike McNown, Mayor

June 20, 2006

City Hall Addition/Remodel

The addition onto City Hall is nearing completion. This past Friday offices were moved either into the new addition or other areas to make room for the remodel phase of the City Hall project to proceed. The new frontage onto Meridian really does dress the building up. The comments we have received from the community have been very positive. The addition/remodel provides several improvements upon the previously existing facility.

First is the drive-up window that is open and operational. You are now able to conduct business from the comfort of your own car. While you are always welcome to come inside, this will no longer be required. A drop-off is available for your after hours transactions. I realize you had this ability in the past, the difference now is the materials are deposited inside, thereby providing better security.

The second feature, the meeting room, is the most prominent part of the addition. The old room offered seating for less than 20 people who wanted to attend the meeting. The new meeting area offers seating for over 95! This will make your attendance at the various meetings at City Hall much more comfortable.

The addition of a sound system was necessary because of citizen complaints of not being able to hear in the previous meeting room and due to the even larger space and greater number of people who could be in attendance.

As we become more and more immersed in our computer world, data presented via computer to the governing body is more common. Video projection facilities will make the presentation of this information more beneficial. Restroom facilities have also been dramatically improved, and are more accessible to those who experience difficulty with mobility.

The remodel phase will add a room which the governing body can utilize for executive sessions. In the past members of the public were asked to step outside the meeting room when an executive session was required. Once completed, the new facility will change this so that the public will not need to move, but rather Council will move to the adjacent room for the required discussions. This room will also be utilized for staff and other types of meetings.

The remodel will allow for improvement in office spaces and provide staff members offices wherein citizens can meet with staff and not be so cramped. Work areas, storage, and other important improvements have been included in order that staff can provide you the best service possible.

While the project is nearing completion, we are not yet finished. Please pardon the mess and the minor glitches while we fine tune the environment. A project of this size inevitably will have small details that must be ironed out.

This project was made possible by your forward thinking City Staff as well as past and current Councils. This addition/remodel was funded without the need to put our community further into debt. Excellent work on the part of Staff in developing a budget that allowed Council to set aside money over a few years, made this possible. The purpose for the money set aside for this project was designated in advance. Planning ahead resulted in the cost of this project being much less due to the elimination of interest that would have been paid on bonds.

Staff and Council are always looking for methods to provide the community the biggest bang for our tax dollars. Thank you for your support of your City Staff and Council.

Mike McNown, Mayor

June 9, 2006

Ward 1 Meeting

The first of the Ward meetings, held last night, was very informative. The meeting was casual with a variety of topics discussed. Also in attendance, from the Council, were Councilmembers Black and Roberts from the current Ward 1 and Councilmember Nordstedt from the current Ward 3. Staff representatives from Fire, Police, Parks, Public Works, Senior Services, Community Development, and Administration attended to answer questions from those present. Topics discussed included beautification of the city, swimming pool upgrade/replacement, park system development, the 2007 budget process, commercial business development, voting locations, drainage, and other various topics.

Swimming Pool
The swimming pool was a topic discussed at length. Discussion centered around the needs of the Valley Center Swim Team and the community. All agreed the importance of finding a pool solution that fits the community needs while at the same time being affordable for us, the taxpayers. The determination of exactly what those needs are and what level of burden will be placed on the taxpayers are the topics I am confident will continue to be discussed. As it stands now, we are waiting on the written evaluation of our community pool from the company hired to conduct that evaluation. Once received, Council will be able to review the evaluation and have a better idea of the options available. I will try to keep you up-to-date on the progress of those discussions and any decisions made, here in this blog.

Senior Services
Another topic of discussion was lack of participation of seniors in the programs provided. This is interesting to note, as interest in senior services ranked high on the, recently conducted, community survey. Ideas for services, activities, and programs of interest to seniors are important in order to provide a program that will receive maximum participation. If there is something you would like to see added to the services, please let your wishes be known.

Parks and the funding of future development was discussed for those two parks in the new Ward 1. There was also discussion regarding the proposed linear trail system. Ward 1 currently has two public parks. Those are Hidden Park and Arrowhead Park. Discussion of the parks involved a survey and return of Hidden park to the residents. This park is a green space in the Windmill Valley area and is virtually unutilized by the public. The steps to return this area to the residents, whose property backs up to the park, will be discussed by Council. Arrowhead park is located north of Goff Rd in the Valley Meadows addition. Land for this park was donated to the City by the developer. A pond area, used to detain runoff of rainwater is located in this park. Area residents have petitioned Council for development of the park with amenities such as irrigation, parking, and playground equipment. As previously stated, there was also discussion of the Linear Trail system. A grant proposal soliciting funds for development of this sidewalk tail system connecting all city parks was recently denied. Those in attendance were interested in the details of the proposed Linear Trail system. Mr. Ownes of the Park Department gave residents a description of the system as it is proposed.

As with most community meetings, drainage of storm runoff was a topic of discussion. The comprehensive drainage plan was discussed and residents were assured that the problem of drainage is being addressed as funds become available. Progress continues with a project currently under construction to address areas of drainage concerns in conjunction with a street upgrade in the Industrial Park.

Polling Locations/Dates
Residents were also concerned about past voting locations being funneled into one location this Fall. While Council and Staff share this concern, the decision to do this was made at the State level. Traditionally voting is on the first Tuesday following the first Monday of the month. With the condensed voting locations, voting this year will also be on the Thursday, Friday, and Monday before the traditional voting day. If you have questions regarding voting, visit the Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Web Page.

Next - Ward 2
The next Ward meeting is scheduled for 7:00 PM in the new Ward 2 on Thursday, June 15th at the Public Safety building. Please plan to attend one of the Ward meetings to let your representatives know what you consider important for our community. These meetings are also a great opportunity to meet your representatives and learn the issues facing our community.

My desire is to have these informal meetings two to four times a year. As long as the public is interested in attending, we will continue to have the meetings. The meetings are an excellent opportunity to keep informed of what is going on in Valley Center.

Mike McNown, Mayor

June 7, 2006

Council Meeting and Ward Meetings

Council Meeting ? June 6th
After several months of discussion on the topic of water supply, Council rejected, in a 5-1 vote, a contract offer from Chisholm Creek Utility Authority (CCUA) to purchase water from CCUA. The proposal would have allowed Valley Center to hook into a line that would have been built from the CCUA facility in Park City to the southern end of the southeast diagonal that is to be built in order to service customers in that part of the city and to provide a secondary water source. The cost of the project and the long term commitment along with considerations of maintaining our water rights and future development. While this does not solve water issues facing our community, it does leave options open. The proposed contract would have locked us into a 30-40 year commitment, thereby limiting options for Council to pursue. Water will continue to be a major concern as Council makes long range plans to accommodate our future needs.

An ordinance passed first reading, further expanding our city limits through Phase V of our current annexation plan. Annexation is seldom a welcome topic, but is necessary for our community to grow. Council struggles as it considers the individual wishes of property owners; and weighs those against what it believes are in the best interest of the future of Valley Center.

Council approved a waiver for the Chamber of Commerce to allow for a ?beer garden? at the Fall Festival. Valley Center ordinance prohibits sale/consumption of beer or other alcoholic beverages within a given proximity of a church or school. Council granted a waiver of the restriction, as it pertains to Cereal Malt Beverage (beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% or less) for Friday and Saturday of the Festival. The waiver is for the period between the hours of 4:00 PM and 10:00 PM on each of the two days.

Traffic Flow Changes
Council approved the change of traffic markings for Meridian. Currently, northbound traffic is split at Main street with the center lane turning left or proceeding north and with the curb lane being required to turn right and proceed east on Main Street. The change, when implemented, will make the center lane a left turn only lane and the curb lane will be able to proceed north on Meridian or turn right onto Main St. Council agreed with City Staff and City Engineers that this would make traffic flow uniform with other traffic control patterns.

Ward Meetings
Ward Meetings will begin tomorrow (June 8th) at Wheatland Elementary for Ward 1. The other Wards meetings will be on the following three consecutive Thursday evenings. All meetings begin at 7:00 PM. The purpose of these meetings is threefold. First it to communicate with citizens in the various Wards regarding issues specific to the Ward as well as the City as a whole. Secondly, we would like to provide a forum a little more relaxed than Council meetings where citizens, staff, and council representatives can talk about the current budget process and to provide an understanding of how the departments operate as they provide service to the community. The third goal of the meetings is to generate some interest amongst citizens to consider serving on committees or running for a seat on the Council in the April 2007 election. Plan to come join us and let us know what your priorities are as we prepare the budget for 2007. Spread the word to your friends and neighbors of the meetings. If you are unable to attend the meeting in your Ward you are welcome to attend any of the other meetings. (See May 17th entry in blog for dates and locations.)

Mike McNown, Mayor

June 6, 2006

Moonlight Madness

Congratulations to Mary Lou Rivers, executive director of the Valley Center Chamber of Commerce, and her committee(s) as they organized another very successful Moonlight Madness this past weekend. The car show was the highlight of the event and was a huge success! For those of you who missed it, antique and exotic cars lined up and down both sides of Main Street from Meridian to Ash. There were even cars in the center of the street! The number of entries in the show as well as the number of people walking by examining each car, was more than organizers had expected. Merchants and organizers did a wonderful job providing a festive atmosphere with food, drinks, music and a very nice selection of entries.

It was refreshing to see the merchants who participated by offering food, drinks, and door prizes; along with sponsorship of the awards presented to the car owners. I was honored to be allowed to present the ?Mayor?s Choice? award. I assure you, it was difficult to make the decision. Thanks to the Chamber of Commerce for allowing me this opportunity. Ms. Rivers has assured me that next year will be an even bigger show.

A highlight of the event was the presence of members of the Patriot Guard whose roots come from American Legion members. The Chamber of Commerce also asked them to select their choice of the cars on display, for an award. It is unfortunate we have zealots in Kansas who make a group such as the Patriot Guard necessary. Thankfully, members of the Guard have stepped up to the need as they help to ease the suffering and protect families of fallen soldiers from harassment, during their time of grief.

Several of our fire fighters were on hand to provide services, information, and display the new fire truck. It is great to have these dedicated members of the community willing to sacrifice as they stand by willing and ready to come to our aid. Thanks to all city employees for their service to our community!

As usual, the next car show will be an event of our Fall Festival in September. Thanks to all who allowed us to view their cars, and to those citizens who came to participate in the fun! Special thanks to the Chamber of Commerce for providing this opportunity for the community to enjoy that hometown atmosphere of Valley Center!

Mike McNown, Mayor

June 2, 2006

Budget and Other Council Concerns


Council is entering into the meat of the budget discussions. At our last meeting we heard from a group of business leaders who would like to see the community invest in signs, banners, etc. to dress up our streets and provide valuable directional information to those unfamiliar with the locations of various important community buildings and services. The concept of ?Branding? the community was also introduced. Amongst other options, branding could include the design of a logo/graphic to be placed on signs and other visible locations that would immediately identify the community. I personally feel the ideas presented by this group are long overdue. Dressing up our community improves the quality of life as well as makes us a more desirable location for business and residents to settle. Funding of the proposed ideas, while not overly expensive, may have to be addressed in stages in order to fit in with the other needs we are examining. It is my sincere desire to see Council move forward with support of this excellent promotion of the community.

Swimming Pool

I am pleased to have received two letters from fourth grade students regarding our community swimming pool in Lions Park. The students expressed their desire for a pool and some of the added amenities they would like to see. The swimming pool is also at the top of the list of priorities from the citizen survey recently conducted. The pool is also a major concern of the Council. While it not something we want to jump into without proper thought given to the issue, we must move as quickly as possible to decide on a course of action, if we are to maintain uninterrupted service to the customers of the pool. I assure you that Council is working to find the absolute best solution that is both taxpayer affordable and a facility that will serve the community well into the future. If it is decided that a new facility is the best option, a major expenditure on a new pool will be put to a vote of the community. Before spending millions on a new facility, Council wanted a professional outside evaluation of the structural condition and options available with the current pool. We are awaiting this evaluation report before we can proceed.


Water remains a priority. We can?t survive without a proper water supply. Presently, we have one line coming from Wichita. Valley Center has water rights that were not relinquished when we started purchasing water from Wichita. We sell our untreated raw water to Wichita at a contracted wholesale rate. This raw water is pumped west through a pipe extending over the river to eventually hooks into Wichita lines. Valley then purchases treated water from Wichita, which comes to us through the Meridian line. We cannot mix the raw untreated hard water in with the treated Wichita water. I have been assured that undesirable results occur if we were to do this.

Council has committed to build a water line to the south and east along Interurban to service residents in that area. This line will also be used to connect to a secondary source, thus reducing the hazard of loosing our water supply if a break occurs in the Meridian line. This line will be connected to one of two sources at it?s southern end. At this point Council is considering options as to what the best course of action would be. Another option is to treat the water we are selling to Wichita and use it in our system. All of these options have various pros and cons. Council will sort through the options and attempt to make the best decision in order that we maintain an affordable and reliable water source while at the same time protecting the water rights we currently own.


In the coming weeks, Council will be meeting to discuss regular business as well as holding extra meetings for the sole purpose of discussing the 2007 budget. We have meetings scheduled every Tuesday evening from June 6th through July 18th at City Hall. The only exception is the meeting on July 4th has been rescheduled to July 5th due to the holiday. We also have Ward meetings scheduled every Thursday beginning June 8th and extending through June 29th. See May 17th posting in this blog for locations of the Ward meetings. All Council and Ward meetings will begin at 7:00 PM.

I encourage you to attend these meetings to have your views heard on what you feel is important, and at the same time, you will stay abreast of the issues facing our community. While we are all individuals, we will most likely will have differing views on some of the issues. As a group I am confident our combined views will come together in the development of a plan that will be best for the future of the community.

Please let me know any questions you would like me to address, or comments you may have. Simply click on my name at the bottom of this entry and send me an e-mail.

Mike McNown, Mayor

May 21, 2006

Mayor?s Conference

I just returned from the Leadership Summit and Kansas Mayors Conference which was held in Hutchinson Friday the 19th and Saturday the 20th. The conference was well attended by mayors and council members from all across Kansas. The highlight of the conference was when Mayor DeHaven of Sedgwick was presented with the Mayor of the Year award, voted by the mayors. Mayor DeHaven is well deserving of this prestigious award.

The conference opened with a presentation by author Marci Penner as she gave a slide presentation of some of the unique locations in our state. She is the author of The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers. It was a very interesting chronology of her travels to the 627 incorporated cities in Kansas. The trek stretched across two years and covered 40,124 miles. The book features 500 cities of which Valley Center is one. Our state does have some very unique and interesting features.

The conference continued with workshops on Economic Development, Legal Issues Faced by Cities, The Role of Mayor, Managing Municipal Utilities, Legislative Updates and others. The conference concluded with a presentation given by Dave Ivan from the Michigan State University. He gave a presentation titled, ?Can Small Towns Be Cool?? The presentation was based on best practices taken from 250 communities in ten states, of which Kansas was one. All 250 communities surveyed had a population of 10,000 or fewer.

An interesting bit of trivia from the conference was that 72% of all communities in Kansas have a population of 1,500 or less. The conference was a great opportunity to compare notes with other mayors, council members and city officials from cities of various sizes. Whether large or small, all seem to face the same issues we in Valley Center face. I hope to be able to put some of the information gathered to use, as we continue working to make a great community like Valley Center an even better place to live and raise our families.

Mike McNown, Mayor

May 17, 2006

Ward Meetings in June

At the May 16th meeting, I asked for and Council authorized Ward meetings to be held in the newly formed Wards. These meetings are open to anyone in the public, but are specifically intended for the people living in the Ward where the meeting will be held. If you are unable to attend the meeting in your Ward, you are welcome at one of the other meetings. All meetings will begin at 7:00 PM. The dates and locations are as follows:

Ward 1 ? June 8th ? Wheatland Elementary
Ward 2 ? June 15th ? Public Safety building
Ward 3 ? June 22nd ? Community building
Ward 4 ? June 29th ? City Hall

During these meetings, Council members from the areas will be on hand to answer your questions and hear your concerns. It is my desire for people to attend the meetings and learn more about how city government works. City staff will also be on hand to discuss their areas of expertise and to answer your questions. We are in the middle of developing the 2007 budget. This is an opportunity for you to give your thoughts on where you would like to see Council focus the community?s financial resources. You will learn more about your City Council and be able to talk face to face with your representatives. It is my desire to spark interest in some of you to run for a seat on the Council during the April 2007 election. As I have stated earlier in this blog, all nine seats (8 ? Council, and Mayor) on the Council are up for election. Undoubtedly, some of the current members will run for re-election, but all seats will be voted on.

More information will be coming your way regarding the meetings. For a map showing the boundaries of the new Wards, CLICK HERE. Please plan to attend your Ward meeting and learn more about your city as well as giving Council and Staff feedback regarding your vision for our community.

Mike McNown, Mayor

May 10, 2006

Comprehensive Plan Meetings

On May 9th the City concluded a series of five meetings to discuss the future direction of Valley Center development. Discussion at some of the meetings was specific and at others, the discussion was of a general nature. For example, discussion at the meeting on the 9th centered around parks and green spaces in the community. Another of the meetings focused on downtown development.

I was able to attend three of the meetings. Out-of-town business travel prevented me from being able to make it to the second and third meeting. Various City Council members also attended so they could listen to, and participate in, the discussions. Those in attendance were able to have meaningful discussion with each other as well as the consultants.

In addition to what I have already mentioned, some of the other topics discussed involved library services, swimming pool, streets, drainage, senior services (including a senior center), growth of the community, quality of life issues, schools, etc. It was pointed out to those in attendance that we could have any of the improvements proposed as long as the city as a whole is willing to pay for those improvements. The question for the citizens and the Council is at what level we can fund the amenities we wish to see implemented. Mr. Creech pointed out that funding for the City Hall expansion and remodel was due to the efforts of Staff and Council setting aside money each year to fund the project. This would be the ideal method to fund future projects such as this, but oftentimes this is not possible or practical.

As was very evident from the discussion, each person has his/her own individual priorities. What is important to one is not to another, or not to the same degree. These are the issues that Council must wrestle with its effort of determining to what level each initiative can be funded. If 20 people were asked what the most important project for the city is, I am confident there would be 20 different answers, all of which would be good answers.

When was the last time you attended a Council meeting? Is the answer, ?it has been so long I don?t remember?, or worse yet?.?never?? If either of these is the case, please get involved and attend. At these meetings, you are able to let your opinion on the issues be known. Council does not know what is important to you unless you make your desires known to your representatives. When controversy rears up, we see crowds at the meetings. This is typical and understandable, but don?t wait for a controversial issue to visit your Valley Center Council Meetings. Remember they are held on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM at City Hall.

Speaking of Council meetings, the current construction schedule places the first Council meeting in the new expansion on June 6th. As the date approaches, I will give an update. Please join us as we move into a much more comfortable meeting area. Those in attendance will not be crowded into the room as has been the case with our present location. Construction on the parking lot will get underway when the rain stops and the ground dries up a little.

As always, I welcome your suggestions or comments regarding this blog or anything concerning Valley Center. Click on my name below to send me an e-mail.

Remember, if you have not already signed up to be notified of updates to this blog, you can do so by clicking on the following link:

Mike McNown, Mayor

May 3, 2006

2006 Comprehensive Plan

There are still two (2) public input meetings left for the initial stage of the 2006 Comprehensive Plan development ? Monday, May 8th and Tuesday May 9th both at the High School Cafeteria beginning at 7:00 pm. This is your chance to let your wishes be heard on the development of our community.

2006 Budget Development

The City has started the development of the 2007 Budget with the first round of information provided at the May 2nd Council Meeting. The May 16th City Council Meeting will be held at the Public Works Building, 545 W. Clay. The public is most welcome to attend and also to tour the facility and speak with City employees concerning their resources and plans for the future. Again, this is an opportunity for you to provide input into the process of governing our community.

Ash Street Construction

The contractor has started the work on the Ash Street Project and should be moving to close the roadway soon. Weather has delayed some of the work ? but, some utility re-locates have been accomplished.

Meridian Street Sidewalk Construction

The sidewalk location has been laid out and work will proceed. Some minor problems were discovered in this phase ? but, adjustments have been made to complete the project in a rapid manner.

ID Creech, City Administrator

April 14, 2006

Notification of Updates

If you wish to receive notification of updates to this blog, or some of the other pages on this website, you can go to the home page and simply click on the link at the bottom left hand column labeled Valley Center E-News Sign up, or, you can click on this link
to sign up for notices of updates. An e-mail will be sent to your address notifying you when the pages you sign up for are updated.

Keep up to date and know what is on the agenda for the council meetings. You can view the upcoming agenda from the home page. Go to the upper right corner where you see "Calendar." Click on the link and view the agenda of the next meeting. The agenda is what council plans on discussing at the regular meeting, but is always subject to change. Often times changes are made to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting when items come to our attention after the publication of the proposed agenda. Once it is prepared, you will also find a link at the bottom of the agenda that will lead you to a PDF file of the packet Council members receive. This file contains the bulk of the information Council will be discussing at the meeting.
If there is something you would like to see on the web page, let us know. We will evaluate and, if possible, try to implement those changes.

Mike McNown, Mayor

April 7, 2006

Construction: City Hall, Sidewalks and Swimming Pool

As you drive by on Main street, you will see that construction of the expansion phase at City Hall is progressing rapidly. Once the expansion phase is completed, the remodel of the existing structure will begin. We are anxious to have the extra room to comfortably seat more people in the meeting chamber room. The expansion will allow seating for approximately 94 people in the council meeting room. The audiovisual amenities will also allow Council and Planning Commission members, as well as citizens attending the meetings, to see the information presented much easier. The drive-up window is something for which several people have expressed their approval. Everyone is anxiously awaiting the completion of the project.

In the very near future you will be seeing some construction along the west side of Meridian. A long needed sidewalk will be under construction. It will begin at Main Street and extend south across the railroad tracks providing a hard surface walkway all the way to Leekers. This is something that has been in the planning stages for quite some time, and has been a request heard by Council on several occasions. It is nice to see that it will finally become a reality. The project is scheduled to be completed by June 1, 2006. The contract for this work was awarded to Kansas Paving.

Council has entered into a contract with Burbach Aquatics of Platteville, Wisconsin to evaluate our existing swimming pool and determine the feasibility of renovating the pool. If renovation is not cost effective, construction of a new pool will be explored. All council members understand the importance of a swimming pool to our community. The dilemma we face is how to deliver the best solution for the dollars spent. At a time of increasing costs and limited resources the Council must try to make every dollar stretch as far as possible.

If you have thoughts regarding the swimming pool, or anything else, let your representatives on the Council know so that they may bring that information to the Council. If you would like to speak to the Council, you may do so during the Public Forum. The Public Form is a regular agenda item during each Council meeting. Council meets at 7:00 PM the first and third Tuesday of each month.

Mike McNown, Mayor

April 5, 2006

New Council Member in Ward 3

I again have the pleasure to announce the appointment of a new member to the City Council. At the April 4th meeting of the Council, Cheryl K. Nordstedt was appointed to fill the vacant seat from Ward 3. This position was left vacant when Councilmember Bennie Lee resigned his position on March 21st. Since Ms. Nordstedt?s return to the community, she has lived at 7 Oaks Ct. in Ward 3.

Up until her appointment to the Council, Ms. Nordstedt served the community on the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals. She has also served on the committee charged with development of the Comprehensive Plan. In total, she has lived in Valley Center over 23 years. Following an extended absence, she returned to our community, in 2003.

Ms. Nordstedt has an extensive background with budgets, which should benefit the Council during the upcoming task of setting the budget for 2007. She volunteers with AARP, and the Lord?s Diner. Activities with her church, the United Methodist Church of Valley Center are important aspects of her life.

She has served on advisory committees for a number of convention and hotel facilities. These committees typically worked with the cities or companies in determining feasibility of new projects and consulted with architects in the size, layout, design, and functional capabilities of the buildings.

Ms. Nordstedt upon accepting the appointment to the Council will leave a vacancy on the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals. Mr. Richard Yarnell will fill the vacancy on the Planning Commission created as a result of Ms. Nordstedt?s appointment to the Council. Mr. Yarnell has served on the Planning Commission previously. His willingness to serve again on this important committee is appreciated.

Please extend your thanks to these two individuals, as well as Mr. Gilson from the previous meeting, who have stepped forward to offer their time and talents to make our community a better place to live and raise our families.

Both Ms. Nordstedt and Mr. Gilson assumed their roles as members of the Council during the April 4th meeting.

Mike McNown, Mayor

March 22, 2006

New Councilmember in Ward 2 and resignation in Ward 3

It is my pleasure to announce that at the March 21st meeting of the Council James E. Gilson, Jr. was selected to fill the unexpired term left as a result of the resignation of Mayor Robinson. Mr. Gilson is an 18 year resident of Valley Center. He has lived at 105 Goff Rd in Ward 2, with his wife of 35 years, since moving to Valley Center.

Mr. Gilson has previous Council experience in Blissfield, Michigan where he was elected to the City Council in 1986. While serving on the Blissfield Council, Mr. Gilson oversaw the building of a state-of-the-art sewer treatment facility. This was the first wastewater treatment facility in the state of Michigan to use ultraviolet technology for wastewater treatment.

Mr. Gilson is a welcome addition to the Council, as we enter into the process of working with staff to set the budget for 2007. Mr. Gilson will work with Mike Houston as together they represent the citizens in Ward 2.

Also at the March 21st meeting, the resignation of Councilmember Bennie Lee was tendered and accepted. Mr. Lee has served the community well as a representative of Ward 3 since his election to the position in 2003. His input and dedication while serving on the Council will be missed.

As a result of Councilmember Lee?s resignation, a position is now open in Ward 3. Any eligible person from Ward 3 who wishes to be considered to fill the vacancy should submit their resume listing their qualifications and desires to myself at or if you prefer, you can mail it to or drop it by City Hall. That address is:

City Hall
Attn. Mayor
116 S. Park
P.O. Box 188
Valley Center, KS 67147

This position will expire in April of 2007 at which time the successful candidate from the April election will fill the seat. A selection of who will fill the unexpired term will be made and announced at the April 4th Council meeting.

Mike McNown, Mayor

March 16, 2006

SCAC Meeting and Harvey County recycling

I attended a recent (3/11/06) meeting of the Sedgwick County Association of Cities in Sedgwick.

Senator Carolyn McGinn was present to give a legislative update. She outlined some of the top legislative priorities. They included the ?Fair Fares? program, which has been successful in providing affordable air transportation out of Wichita, along with education funding concerns. Funding of education is one of the issues receiving a lot of needed attention from the legislature and courts. It remains at the forefront of items of importance to our legislators. Also getting the attention of legislators is legislation regarding funeral protests in Kansas.

Harvey County Administrator Craig Simons discussed trash recycling in Harvey County. He explained how the Harvey County Commission came to implement recycling and the response from the communities and citizens to the mandatory residential recycling. He said the sale of the recyclables averages around the break-even point of cost associated with contracting the labor to provide this service. He said it does not pay for the building that the County had to provide for the ?tipping station? where the trucks unload nor the equipment the County provides to the operation. Even though it is not profitable, he was very supportive of the initiative. The average cost of trash service in Harvey County, which includes recycling, is $10. As a side note, Harvey County does not require businesses to recycle.

With regards to recycling, the Valley Center City Council has been approached in the past about implementing mandatory or voluntary recycling. To this point, no action has been taken. I personally see the most attractive aspect of recycling as the dramatic reduction of trash going into landfills. What would you like to see implemented in Valley Center? Recycling, like most topics, has good and bad aspects. On one hand we conserve natural resources and reduce the amount of trash in the landfill, but on the other hand we must all take the time to sort recyclables. This is an issue we will have to face one way or the other. Let your elected representatives know how you feel on all the issues important to you.

Sedgwick County Undersheriff John Green reported on a recent upgrade to the Sedgwick County Emergency Communications (911) system. Some of the upgrade will help those of us in Valley Center and some of the upgrade will have little benefit for us. What the upgrade consists of is that emergency response vehicles, dispatched by Sedgwick County Emergency Communications (911), will be equipped with GPS vehicle locators. Individual government entities will be responsible for the expense of equipping their own vehicles, but once equipped, 911 dispatchers will be aware of the precise location of those emergency response vehicles. This will enable them to send the closest unit rather than the unit assigned responsibility for the area in which an emergency response is required. My understanding is that vehicles to be equipped with these locators include Police, Sheriff, EMS and Fire units. Since Valley Center maintains a proprietary dispatch system, we will not receive the benefit of our police officers being dispatched utilizing this enhancement; however, we will receive the benefit in regards to Emergency Medical Services (Ambulance) since this service is dispatched by the County 911 dispatchers. This new enhancement will undoubtedly save lives with faster responses when time is of the essence. Remember to call 755-7300 for response from Valley Center Police & Fire. If reporting a medical emergency dial 911. Not to worry, if you forget and dial 911 for Police & Fire the call will be transferred by the 911 dispatchers back to our own dispatchers who will in turn send the appropriate police and/or fire assistance.

At this meeting I was able to meet several mayors from the surrounding area and start to build rapport with them. The meeting was well attended. The next meeting will be at City Hall in Wichita.

Mike McNown, Mayor

March 9, 2006

About your Mayor

I have not met many of you. Because of that, I want to take some time and space to introduce myself to you. In 1980, my wife Charla and I moved from Wichita to Valley Center looking for a place to raise our family. Our son Brian was one year old at the time. Our second child, Wendy, was born in 1983. Both children graduated from Valley Center High school. Brian was active on the varsity tennis team all four years while in high school and Wendy was a cheerleader from the 7th grade through graduation. Both now work and live in the Kansas City area.

Charla and I grew up in Towanda, located approximately 25 miles east of Valley Center. We were married in the Towanda Methodist Church in August of 1976. In 1977, I joined the Wichita Police Department. In the Fall of 2000, I retired with 23 years of service at the rank of Detective to take a position with the Boeing Company as a Computing Security Specialist. When Boeing sold the commercial division in Wichita to Onex, I transferred over to the new company formed because of the purchase, Spirit AeroSystems. I still work as a Computing Security Specialist, but now for Spirit AeroSystems.

I graduated from Circle High school in 1973. Butler County Community College was where I received my Associate Degree. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Friends University. My Masters degree is also from Friends University. It is a management degree in the Information Systems field.

My time serving the community began in 2001 when I ran for and won a Council seat in Ward 2. I was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2005. Every two years the Council elects a President of the Council from amongst its members. In 2005, the Council honored me by electing me President of the Council. In that capacity, one serves as acting Mayor in the absence of the Mayor. Mayor Robinson resigned his position this past month (Feb. 2006) due to personal commitments. As President of the Council, I assumed the position of Mayor until the next election in April of 2007. In 2007, the Council will undergo some changes. I will talk about those changes and how they will affect the community in future updates.

My hobbies include SCUBA, computers, sailing, and firearms marksmanship. SCUBA is a wonderful sport where one is introduced to the underwater world. This is a world full of amazing discovery. I also enjoy going out on a lake and sailing across with only the sounds of the wind and waves.

I am looking forward to working with the Council, City Staff, and most importantly the citizens of the community as the new Mayor of Valley Center. I see some very exciting developments on the horizon for our community and look forward to sharing those with you, here, in the coming months.

Mike McNown, Mayor