Thursday, July 31, 2008


Ive written a long piece about the trip from Kansas to East Tennessee. Its pretty long, so I put it somewhere else. you can see it here:

There are pictures there as well

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Across Missouri

Decided to head straight East and get through Missouri as quickly as possible. 166 to Joplin, then Highway 60 all the way to Kentucky. Didn't stop except for gas. Was hard to not stop and look at stuff, but I wanted to have a full day today to explore.

Im actually in Cape Girardeau, MO, just across the river from Illinois. Kentucky is just a few miles south.
Today I am going to explore some of the towns on the Mississippi and then head across Kentucky. Hope to get to East Tennessee by tonight, but it might be tomorrow.
We usually go down through Tulsa and go across Tennessee. Im always up for trying something new.
Was surprised at how good of time I made and how easy Highway 60 is to travel. Its 4 lane and 65 mph nearly all the way. Goes through the Ozarks a bit, so that was fun.
Went through an Amish area and saw some people driving buggies.One guy had a load of corn. Would have been a great picture, but I was trying to hurry and they dont like their picture taken anyway.

From what Ive read these towns along the Mississippi have great riverfront parks. Hint Hint to Ark City. Planning on exploring cape girardeau a bit, then down to Cairo, Ill, and Paducah, KY.

Gas was "down" to 350 a gallon in Missouri.
Lots of people are traveling. Lots of traffic but it was moving smoothly.
People say theres a recession, but people are out there having fun.

Was hard to find a hotel room, and I ended up staying in a pricier place than what I normally get. The cheaper places, even Motel 6 was sold out.
I usually stay in one of those dingy places run by "furriners" :).
Usually around $30. And you're lucky if it even has soap in the bathroom.
But if all you need is a place to sleep its fine.

This place has free internet and free breakfast. Ill try to post about Kentucky tomorrow.

Friday, July 25, 2008

headin' out

Hey everyone.
I'm heading out for a week or so. Ill be back Aug. 5.
Going on a road trip to East Tennessee to visit family.
I may check in a couple times from the road.
Ill have someone doing the moderating, so your posts will get posted.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ownership and responsibility

On yesterday's post there were a few comments about property rights.
It is an interesting question.
Do you really have a right to do whatever you want to your property?
I do believe in having as many rights as possible, but at the same time, the neighbors also have rights.
If what you do affects the community, or your neighbors, they have a right to tell you about it and to have their rights defended.
If they dont take care of their stuff and it affects property values, they are infringing on the rights of others. That isnt right is it?

My mom used to have a neighbor who had a terrible place. As it was, she was at the end of a subdivision. The next house was not in the subdivision and was in the county and not subject to ordinances. Half the house had burned down and they still lived in it. Soot blew from the house for about a year, and the smell was awful for a year or more.
It was really nasty.
So when she came to sell her house, it was a huge problem.
The neighbor actually lived there in squalor, and had two new cars in the yard, so he wasnt broke. He just didn't care and didn't mind telling you that either.
So she sold her house for about $30,000 less than what it would have brought at the other end of the subdivision.
How fair is that?

I mentioned too that I lived on Hilton Head Island where it was very controlled. People either love it or hate it there, and for the same reasons. It is beautiful, but controlled and you are limited as to what you can do.
Im not for that again, but there should be minimal standards.

Many states even have zoning in the county areas, outside city limits.
As I have said, I believe that if you wont take care of your property, you should be forced to do so.
Just minimal standards that do not create hardship for your neighbors, that shouldn't be too much should it?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

out the window

Just realized its been a week since I have posted.
Its hard to get into this sort of thing in the summer time.
There also doesn't seem to be many "hot" topics going around. Mark Twain allegedly said "everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it."
It's July, its Kansas, its supposed to be hot.

The windows ordinance will be coming up again shortly. The planning commission will try to have its meeting again and have a public hearing. From there they will send it back to the city.
I try to not take sides on issues, but this is one where I feel I have to.
The future of the city is at stake.
I do believe in property rights, but at the same time, the rights of everyone else are also important.
If you drive around to other small towns, you will see there are some that are worse and that is true. Also though, most are better, to be honest. You don't see boarded up windows in most of them, and certainly you don't see tin-covered windows very much. Where there are other types of coverings, they are done tastefully.
Owning a business, or building, in town is an investment, and it has a responsibility that comes with it. Even owning a house in town involves responsibility.
We are all residents of the town and we have a right to have certain expectations.

It is too bad that people have to be told how to take care of their property.
One anonymous poster wrote a while back, "it may be your building, but it is our town."
I think that is very true.

That's my window rant for the day.

I know its not a perfect ordinance and there may be some things that arent exactly fair. BUT, you have to start somewhere.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

music on the river ... like you dont expect :)

Tonights city commission meeting did get interesting.
KACY wants to have a rock and roll concert in August, a listener appreciation concert.
He hopes to bring in a national band - probably an 80s style band.
This is down on the river where I had my music festival last year, and plan to have it again.

The only twist is that the folks at KACY want to sell beer, to have a beer garden.
The precedent was set at arkalalah last year, so the city really cant turn him down.
But there are hoops to jump through and paper work to deal with, permits etc., so a lot will depend on timing.

The beer debate may start up again. Could be entertaining.

The more things we have down there the better.

Im working on my festival that is Oct. 4-5, Still need helpers.

response to comments

Some good comments yesterday.
On the cops with bikes thing. That works best in highly populated areas. Im not sure its such a good thing in a rural area such as ours.
It might be good to do that with arkalalah.
Maybe some patrols.
Maybe we sould put em on horseback? :)

One of the reasons that property values go down is that people dont take care of their property.
Im all for stronger enforcement of housing and building codes.

Dept. heads etc do get car allowances.
Probably costs less than paying them mileage?

I liked the post about attitudes.
i dont like the cut back mentality.
So much of the state of our economy is set by attitudes.
THats something we can control.
We need to think differently.
The world has changed a lot over the last 20 years or so, what worked then doesnt work now, and certainl what worked 50 years ago doesnt work now.

We dont have the workers to fill the industry jobs we have now, so why do we need more industry.
We need different kinds of businesses. and more people.

Monday, July 14, 2008

philosophical question

The city commission will be talking some about its budget tonight, and will "receive" it Tuesday at its regular meeting.
Ive written about what they have done so far, cutting here and there so as to avoid a tax increase.
The city's valuation went down about $1 million, so that had to be made up. Instead of raising taxes some, they cut services.
The museum will take the biggest hit at about $50,000. It will stay open but will not have money for any special programs. Commisioners hope it will become more self sufficient. The board of the museum could work toward raising money and so forth.
THe museum doesn't get a lot of visitors, according to their stats.
They will also be holding off on buynig some new vehicles, and will move some vehicles around.
Departments working together could also make the city more efficient.

This raises the question... Should the city try to avoid a tax increase by cutting, no matter what they have to cut. Or should the city do what it has to do to provide services?
Would you be willing to pay a little more in taxes to have more programs available at the museum? Just as an example.

Which should be a city priority?
Holding down spending or providing services?

Friday, July 11, 2008


Recently I was acquainted with someone who was here for a real short visit. He had never been to Cowley County.
He was in Winfield for about 30 minutes, and then in Arkansas City for about the same amount of time. This was on the same day.
Just a quick tour of both was all he had. So it was just a first impression type situation.
The next day he told me that Winfield seemed like the nicer town.
I could understand why he said that. Just the appearance makes that kind of difference.
What if this had been someone who wanted to open a business or make a large investment? That first impression could have made the difference.

Im sure this isn't much of a surprise to anyone. Still, it just got me to thinking and bothered me a bit.
This is something we could change isn't it?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

political games

The governor was in town yesterday to sign the Jodi's Law bill.
This is the law that strengthens anti-stalking laws, which came about after the murder of Jodi Sanderholm.
Democrats were falling all over themselves grabbing the spotlight and credit for this.
BUT it was Republican Kasha Kelley that instigated the bill and shepherded it through the House at Topeka.

News releases sent out by the Gov., the Dem. party as well as Greta Goodwin, all said the gov would be here, as well as Goodwin and Ed Trimmer. They said they had supported it all along and did all but take credit for it, and never once mentioned Kelley.

Of course she was at the signing yesterday and got her due.
But I remember a year or so ago, the Dems were trashing it as something that was not necessary. Now that its passed, they want to take credit for it.

Just politics as usual. But it is a shame that they would play political games with something like this.
But people do have elections to win I suppose.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

ark city film

Follow the link below.
There are three short films to choose from, one is about Arkansas City
the winner gets to be on PBS tv.

vote early and often :)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th, city

Forgot to post anything else about the meeting yesterday. You can read about it in today's paper, or in the online edition.
They are trimming what they can. A couple good ideas came up, such as consolidating the mowing ... instead of every department having mowers and mowing and having to wait on each other, they may just have a summer mowing dept. That should save some money.
It was stuff like that for 3 hours. Or using trucks longer, or replacing 1 ton trucks with half-ton trucks etc.

The museum is likely to feel the pinch.
They are cutting 50,000 from their budget. At least thats the plan now, it could change.
They want the museum to be more self supportive.

With that cut the museum can stay open and the director will still be full time, but thats about it.
Anything else - such as special exhibits or programs - will have to be self funded.
They want the museum board to get more active as well.
Thats going to create some controversy i would imagine.

What do you all think about the museum. Do you ever go out there?
I really dont think we take advantage enough of our history.

Happy Fourth of July everyone.

Ill be gone until tuesday or so, maybe wednesday.
In the meantime, you can still post, "someone" will be putting your posts up even more quickly than I do.

If anyone wants to start a topic, or a question, send me an email. Ill want to know who you are, but if we start the question or topic on here, ill negotiate with you about your identity :)


Thursday, July 3, 2008

More budget

Ill be going to the city's budget meeting at noon. ill try to post something after its over.
No idea how long it will last. These things can get very tedious as they talk about things like how many miles police cars have on them and whether its a good idea to trade them in after two or three years.
They are trying to trim it down to avoid any tax increase.

We are doing two papers today, as though it were a friday. Youll get a weekend paper tomorrow, which will be a friday-saturday paper.

Im taking off for a few days. Ill be back on Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Budget in hard times

The city is working on its budget. They start with a proposed budget put together by the city manager. From that they will arrive at a finished product. They have special budget meetings set up for Thursday and July 9, both at noon at city hall.
Looks like there might be a very slight tax increase. The alternative is to cut some things, like aid to the museum, and reorganizing the senior center a bit, and other smaller things.

an aside - They did talk about foregoing their own pay. I didnt realize how little that is. They each get just less than $1,000 per year. That's $75 a meeting, or $4,900 for the year for all five.
That probably doesnt even cover the cost of their campaign and gas to the meetings.

The budget crunch is caused in part because the valuation of the city has gone down about a million dollars. That has been cased by the state having given tax exemptions on business machinery and equipment.
That tax break from the state - for existing businesses - has taken that much money from the city.

The question becomes, do you go ahead and raise taxes a little to cover that, or do you cut whatever you have to cut.
The commission's attitude seems to be one of making the necessary cuts in order to get there.

They also reorganized some positions that became open as a result of retirements. Leslie Shook was promoted to city clerk from assistant city clerk.
Here we have more people being promoted from within ... is anyone going to object the way they did to Archer being promoted?

We also had a very minor version of the dog and pony show last night. Frazee is making progress on his place, so the city is letting up on its pursuit of the matter.
But the attorney was there and tried to make some more arguments about zoning issues.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Where two are gathered ....

According to the city attorney, two city commissioners may now meet together and talk about city business without it being a violation of the open meetings act.
Of course, three, or a quorum, would still be a violation.
The state league of cities has worked out an agreement with the state press association to further define the law to make this compromise.

The commissioners had wanted to change the city code to allow themselves to do this earlier, but didn't. There was some public outcry against it then.

They still cant vote or make any official decisions, so it's not that big of a deal really.