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ICC Certifies as a Great Place to Work

 

Independence Community College has been selected as a 2021-2022 “Great Place to Work”.

 

The certification process considers more than 60 elements of overall job experience across ICC faculty and staff. President Dr. Vincent Bowhay says this certification recognizes ICC's ongoing commitment to their employees and they are proud to invest in their well-being and promote their professional development as a part of the Pirate experience.

 

Employees completed a survey that covered a variety of workplace quality experiences. Survey results showed that 74% of employees believe that ICC is a great place to work, which is 15% higher than the national average. Over 80% of ICC employees feel their work is meaningful and isn't just a job.

Kansas to Receive $225 Million In Funding After USDOT Announcement

 

Kansas will receive funding from the government as the U.S. Department of Transportation has launched the historic Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, Protection, and Construction Program (Bridge Formula Program), made possible by President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

 

The program, to be administered by the Federal Highway Administration, represents the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system – providing $26.5 billion to states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico over five years and $825 million for Tribal transportation facilities. The total amount that will be available to states, D.C. and Puerto Rico in Fiscal Year 2022 is $5.3 billion along with $165 million for tribes.

 

Kansas will receive $225 million under the new program to address highway bridge needs. The funding will help improve the condition of about 1,321 bridges in poor condition and to preserve and improve about 10,320 bridges in fair condition in the state. The Bridge Formula Program is expected to help repair approximately 15,000 bridges nationwide.

400+ Kansans to Share Nearly $10 Million in Student Loan Relief

 

More than 400 Kansans will receive nearly $10 million in student loan relief as part of a nationwide settlement with one of the country’s largest student loan servicers.

 

According to Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, this is a settlement between Navient and a coalition of 39 attorneys general, including the District of Columbia that alleges the student loan servicer of collusion and fraud with for-profit colleges.

 

Under the terms of the settlement, Navient will cancel the remaining balance on more than $1.6 billion in subprime private student loan balances owed by approximately 62,000 borrowers nationwide. In Kansas, 435 borrowers will see $10.282 million in loan balances canceled.

 

The settlement also requires Navient to explain the benefits of income-driven repayment plans and to offer to estimate income-driven payment amounts before placing borrowers into optional forbearances.

 

Important Road Work Beginning on Maple Street in Indy

 

Construction work on an important Independence road project could begin as early as the end of January.

 

West Maple Street is due for several upgrades, including street widening, the addition of curb, gutters and storm sewers from 21st Street to 28th Street, and the milling and overlaying of the street from 17th to just west of the Whiskey Creek Bridge. Traffic control devices have already been set along the street, but actual construction could begin as soon as January 31.

 

The project was originally announced in July 2020 after the city was awarded nearly $1.6 million from the Kansas Department of Transportation to assist with improvements to a stretch of Maple Street ranging from 17th Street to west of Peter Pan Road. The street is highly traveled, with multiple heavy industries being located along the road. It is also the connector of south Independence with Walmart and Labette Health’s Independence Health Care Center. Improvements are thus needed to optimize safety and commercial operations.

 

The total cost of the project is estimated to cost about $2.6 million. In addition to the funds provided by KDOT, the city is expected to provide $1 million itself. Completion of the expansive project is anticipated in the third quarter of this year.

Recipes Needed for OK Cooking School Cookbook

 

The OK Cooking School is coming up this April in Bartlesville. Organizer Tina Romine says they are looking for recipes to put in their cookbook.

 

Romine says there are a few different ways you can send in your recipes.  Romine says new to the school this year is a culinary cake competition. Registration for the competition and any other information about the event can be found at okcookingschool.com.

 

Warmer Temperatures Coming Through This Weekend

 

If the current cold weather just doesn't do it for you, rest assured that warmer temperatures will arrive by the weekend.

 

According to the National Weather Service in Wichita, a warming trend should sweep through the southeast Kansas area starting on Friday, bringing temperatures in the mid 50s along with it. Saturday clouds will give way to sunny skies Sunday, leading to a idyllic situation after the end of the work week.

 

Temperatures will dip back down into the 30s by next Tuesday.

Two Top 10 Finishes for Coffeyville FFA Welding Teams

 

The Coffeyville FFA has two welding teams place in the top 10 in their most recent contest.

 

The two teams competed in the district welding competition against 23 other teams. Coffeyville welding Team A finished 10th with Team B finishing 6th. Emma Thompson, who was on Team B, finished 4th high overall.  

Potential Election Reform Legislation

 

A U.S. senator from Kansas spoke on the Senate floor regarding the attempt to eliminate the filibuster and partisan election reform legislation. Senator Jerry Moran says confidence in our elections is vital to self-governance and voting is a fundamental right.

 

Moran says federalizing elections would give a traditional state authority to the federal government and defer decisions on how citizens elect their Congressional representatives to Congress, which is less responsive and less accountable.

Pittsburg Ice Bowl Benefit Tournament

 

The Pittsburg Ice Bowl Benefit Tournament is coming up next month.

 

The Pittsburg Parks and Recreation Department and Pittsburg Disc Golf Club are teaming up to host the event on February 26 starting at 11:00 am at the Schlanger Park Disc Golf Course. Registration will take place from 10:00 – 10:30 am on the day of the event and the entry fee for the tournament is five nonperishable food items or a $10 cash donation, with all proceeds being donated to the Wesley House in Pittsburg. For additional information regarding the Ice Bowl Tournament, contact the Pittsburg Parks & Recreation Department at (620) 231-8310.


 

9th Annual Taste of Soup Event

 

The Coffeyville Public Library will be holding the 9th Annual Taste of Soup on Thursday, February 3rd between 11 am to 1 pm.

 

Coffeyville Chamber of Commerce Director Candi Westbrook says what soups and desserts will be served and where you can pick your order up.

 

Deliveries to businesses or organizations are also available with a $30 minimum or more purchase and will be delivered by 11 am on February 3rd. Pre-orders are due by January 24th and are paid for through the library. Call the Library at 620-251-1370 to place an order.

 

All soup proceeds go to the Coffeyville Public Library Foundation while all dessert proceeds go to the Coffeyville Imagination Library.

 

At-Home COVID-19 Tests Now Available To Order

 

The White House’s long-awaited website for ordering free Covid-19 rapid tests is finally live.

 

The new page arrives amid a shortage of rapid tests and a surge in Covid-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant. The USPS rapid test delivery service is part of President Joe Biden’s effort to make COVID-19 testing more accessible.

 

To get your free tests and for more COVID information, go to covidtests.gov, where you’ll find a link to enter your information and place your order. You can only place one order per household, but each order contains four rapid tests. Tests should ship within 7–12 days.

Elk County Searching for Wanted Female

 

The Elk County Sheriff's Office is looking for a person wanted on a warrant.

 

Brittany Kristine Michelle Carlson is wanted on charges for interference with a law enforcement officer, violation of a protection order and failure to appear. Carlson is 26-years-old, 5' 6”, with brown hair and blue eyes. A photo of her can be seen above. The sheriff's office says not to make contact or try to detain Carlson, but if you have any information to call (620)374-2108.

 

Three Free Meals Available Each Week in Independence

 

If money is a little tight and you're having a hard time finding a warm meal there are three opportunities for free meals in Independence. Chamber of Commerce Director Lisa Wilson says there are two churches who provide meals on Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

Wilson says on Thursday a group of churches alternate providing a meal each week.  Wilson says she encourages everyone to share this information with anyone you think could benefit. If you have any questions you can give the Chamber a call or you can call one of the churches.

Labette County to Purchase 30,000 Masks

 

Labette County Commissioners approve the purchase of more masks for the county. Emergency Management Director Charlie Morse says through this event they have purchased around 100,000 masks but now they are down to just two cases.

 

The commission unanimously approved the purchase of 30,000 masks from Fastenal in Parsons. The masks will be distributed to area schools that need them or any county department like the sheriff's office or for court.

Former CPD Employee Passes Away

 

A former Coffeyville Police Department employee passes away.

 

Sherry McGinnis served as a dispatcher from 1985 to 2002. She served the citizens of Coffeyville for 17 years, spending most of her career on the evening shift. Chief Kwin Bromley says he is truly saddened by McGinnis's passing. She was a fantastic dispatcher and a wonderful human being. He says she watched over all of us as if we were her children. CPD's flag has been lowered to half-staff in honor of her devoted service to the community.

Labette Commissioner to Host Listening Tour

 

The new Labette County commissioner is hosting a listening tour during the end of February and early March. District Two Commissioner Terry Weidert says he wants to hear what the issues are in the county.

 

Weidert says he knows that the wind turbines are a big issue in the county but there are other issues that need to be improved as well.  The first stop on the tour is in Edna on February 25th at 6:30pm at the Edna Senior Community Center followed by one in Altamont on February 28th, Mound Valley on March 3rd and Dennis on March 7th.

 

KDHE Announces Changes to COVID-19 Contact Tracing

 

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has announced that as of February 1st, COVID-19 contact outreach and monitoring, otherwise known as contact tracing, operations will be discontinued. County Local Health Departments have already begun to wind down contact tracing and K-12 schools who were participating in contact tracing as part of the Test to Stay program may temporarily suspend contact tracing as well. The decision to end contact outreach and monitoring was made due to the surge in the amount of positive COVID-19 cases and the public's willingness to participate has diminished since the beginning of the pandemic.

 

Individuals who are positive for COVID-19 will now be responsible for letting their close contacts know about their potential exposure. Additionally, if the individual with COVID-19 exposed others at high-risk settings such as schools, correctional facilities, long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, daycares, and churches, KDHE or the local health department will notify the setting.

 

KDHE still encourages people to get vaccinated and boosted, wear a mask, get tested, stay home if exposed or sick, practice social distancing and practice good hand hygiene.

AG Schmidt Talks Vaccine Mandates

 

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said it was a mixed bag of results as the U.S. Supreme Court issued rulings on the challenge of two vaccine mandates that were issued by President Joe Biden last year. Schmidt says that the first ruling was the striking down of the OSHA mandate.

 

However, the second ruling upheld the CMS mandate which applies to many healthcare services, support or suppliers that are regulated under CMS standards, including hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation clinics, and many other facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funds. Schmidt said that allowing this mandate is difficult for a state like Kansas.

 

Schmidt said it is unclear what effect the rulings will have on separate legal challenges to two other Biden mandates. The federal contractor mandate, which applies to entities that receive federal contracts such as research universities and defense contractors, is currently blocked by a federal court injunction. So is the separate mandate that applies to Head Start childcare programs.

USD 446 Updates Safe Return to School Policy

 

USD 446 provides an update for their Safe Return to School Policy.  The change is due to what they currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. The plan utilizes recommendations from the county and state health departments, the CDC and the state school board.

 

Any positive test must complete a five-day isolation period. On the sixth day, they can return to school if symptoms are gone or resolving, fever-free for 24 hours and must wear a mask for five days. Free COVID testing is available at the IHS North Athletic parking lot from 7:30am to 8:15am. KDHE has suspended quarantine and contact tracing requirements within schools for 30 days beginning today. A mask mandate is in place for anyone on campus. Superintendent Rusty Arnold says their goal is to keep students safe and in school, where he knows they learn best.

Community Shows Support to CFA in Honor of Betty White

 

The community shows up in support of the Coffeyville animal shelter in honor of the late Betty White.

 

Coffeyville Friends of Animals joined other animal shelters across the nation in honoring White on what would have been her 100th birthday. CFA received $1,700 and 1,200 pounds of pet food and treats through donations yesterday. In a Facebook post, CFA says they can’t quite express how amazed they are by what happened at the shelter in just 3 hours. Coffeyville locals and others from surrounding communities poured into their building with donations in memory of Betty White. They are blown away.

Fatality Crash in Montgomery County

 

 

A man was fatally injured during a crash in Montgomery County.

 

67-year-old Allen Chism was westbound on U166 highway west of County Road 5900 driving a semi-truck when for an unknown reason Chism left the roadway on the north side and entered the north ditch. Chism continued westbound and crossed over a driveway entrance. After crossing the driveway, the trailer tipped over causing the power unit to tip over onto its right side. Chism was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle and killed upon impact.

CFA Open Today in Honor of Betty White

 

Coffeyville Friends of Animals is joining many animal shelters across the nation in honoring Betty White. CFA's Becky Barnhart says normally they are closed on Mondays but they will be open today from 2:00pm to 5:00pm.

 

Barnhart says they have other events coming up as well including a date night with the dogs, a photographer for Valentine's Day and a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. More information about these events can be found on the CFA Facebook page.

Man Arrested After Leading Police on Chase

 

A Pittsburg man has been arrested after leading police on a chase in and out of Pittsburg.

 

According to officials, two officers went to a home in northeast Pittsburg to serve multiple county warrants on 27-year-old Sage Spragg. As officers arrived at the residence, Spragg got into a car and sped off. Spragg led multiple law enforcement agencies on a chase in and out of town damaging yard decorations and wrecking a Crawford County deputy vehicle. Deputies and officers continued chasing Spragg back to the residence he left from and was arrested.

 

In addition to the warrants out of Pittsburg, Crawford, Butler, and Greenwood counties, Spragg now faces six new charges including fleeing, interference with law enforcement, and aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer. Spragg is being held a $35,000 bond.

Winter Great Time to Plan a Garden

 

It may feel like it is too cold outside to be thinking about your spring or summer garden, but K-State Horticulture Agent Dennis Patton says the winter is a good time to plan those gardens.

 

Patton says the winter is a good time to research new varieties and see what is available. Patton says he encourages all gardeners to have a copy of the Kansas Garden Guide, which is available online and free from the K-State Research and Extension bookstore. You can also reach out to your local extension office for help.

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