Archive for February, 2017

Convenience store fire blamed on ice machine’s compressor motor unit

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital Journal – February 28, 2017

Three Topeka-area fire departments were called to a blaze early Tuesday at a business just north of the city, authorities said.

The fire was reported about 3:20 a.m. at a strip mall in the 4700 block of N.W. Hunters Ridge Circle.

Initial reports indicated smoke was showing at one of the businesses at the property.

There was heavy smoke throughout the building, though the blaze was contained to two rooms belonging to a convenience store, Soldier Township Fire Chief Karl McNorton said.

The fire started in an ice machine’s compressor motor unit, he said.

Soldier Township and Silver Lake fire departments were first to arrive at the scene. Additional manpower was summoned from the Topeka Fire Department.

Crews remained at the scene until past 5 a.m. No injuries were reported.

Damages are estimated in excess of $50,000, McNorton said.


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County fire departments busy last week

Madison News – February 2, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – February 28, 2017

County firefighters were kept busy last Friday and Saturday. According to Greenwood County Fire Chief Doug Williams, on Friday at 12:43 p.m., Greenwood County firefighters were dispatched to the report of a grass fire along US 54 at B Road.

“The fire was traveling quickly in the wind and had jumped the highway,” said Williams. Additional help was requested and the highway was closed. Fire crews were able to rapidly knock down the fire that had jumped the highway to the south and hold the fire from jumping the highway again while other crews put out the fire that extended approximately half mile to the northwest. Greenwood County Fire District Divisions from Central, Eureka Lake and Salem responded with assistance from Butler County Fire District 5 and Eureka Fire Department. The fire was believed to have started by arcing electrical lines from the wind.

On Saturday, just after 5:00 a.m., the Eureka Fire Department responded to 716 N. State St. on a report of an electrical fire. The homeowners advised they could smell smoke. Firefighters found fire in the attic of the home involving structural members and blown in insulation. In order to access and extinguish the fire, ceilings in the living room were removed. The home was owned by Judd Gulick. The fire was believed to have started from electrical.


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Fire crews kept busy last Monday

Eureka Herald – February 22, 2017
Submitted by Newz Group – February 28, 2017

On February 13, shortly after 3 p.m., the Neal, Central and Eureka Lake Divisions of Greenwood County Fire Department responded to US 54 and AA 50 Road on the report of a grass fire. According to Chief Doug Williams, crews found a grass fire involving hay bales, cedar trees and other items. Firefighters were on scene several hours extinguishing all of the burning hay. While extinguishing the fire, a farmer assisting the crews with a tractor and loader backed into a fire truck. Sheriff’s officer who was on scene, took a report. The property was owned by Charlie English and the cause was believed to be from an equipment malfunction.


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Halstead to offer Sedgwick EMS services

Newton Kansan – February 28, 2017

About a week ago the city of Sedgwick announced the end of EMS services, as the expense of maintaining a department and a lack of staff led the city council to relinquish the city’s EMS permit to the state, effective March 1.

After that announcement, county administration began meeting with other cities and Emergency Preparedness officials to try and find an solution.

Monday night, the Halstead City Council offered up on solution — albeit temporary.

By unanimous vote, the Halstead City Council agreed to extend a temporary offer to provide EMS services to the city of Sedgwick. The agreement will provide service to residents both in the city, as well as the surrounding rural areas, until June 30.

“The reality is that Halstead will most likely be responding to these calls anyways without an agreement in place, as those affected will still be able to call 911,” said Ethan Reimer, city administrator for Halstead. “Trying to ensure that people still receive some response in a timely manner is simply the right thing to do, but we also have a responsibility to our residents to ensure they are not paying for service to be provided to another city. This agreement allows us to help out our neighbors but ensures that Halstead residents will not be on the hook financially for responding to the Sedgwick area.”

Halstead is waiting to hear whether Sedgwick approves the agreement.

Halstead previously had entered into a temporary agreement to serve as back-up for Sedgwick EMS when Sedgwick experienced staffing troubles in 2015. Newton Fire/EMS served as a third option during that time. Throughout that agreement, Sedgwick was paying outside departments per initial primary response for which there was no acknowledgment or response from Sedgwick.

“We have enjoyed a long history of working together with the City of Sedgwick on other issues that affect both our communities,” said Mayor Bill Ewert, “we would hope that Sedgwick would be willing to help us out if the situation were reversed.”

According to Halstead city officials, Halstead has already seen an uptick in calls that involve response to Sedgwick prior to Sedgwick relinquishing its license.

The agreement approved by the city of Halstead is not subject to renewal or extension beyond June 30.

The issue forced the Sedgwick city council to address the future of EMS services multiple times during the year and led to increases in on-call and per run pay for Sedgwick EMS staff. Sedgwick hired a full time director for EMS services in October of 2016, Jennifer Cisneros. She began the task of turning around the service. She was faced with staffing issues — namely a lack of volunteers.

Prior to that director taking over on Oct. 17, 2016, the city had 70-plus calls where outside agencies were responding. Between October and December of 2017, outside agencies responded to just three calls in Sedgwick.

However, the director left the department in February 2017.

This is not the first time Sedgwick has been without a dedicated EMS service. From 1981 to 1984 the city had no EMS service.

The county levies taxes for EMS services, and then distributes those to municipalities throughout the county. Because the county levies that tax, the county bears responsibility to ensure services are available.

However, according to county officials, what the responsibility is under state statute is unclear. In this case the county facilitiated discussions with other municipalities to try and make sure Sedgiwick residents had access to EMS services. The county is not responsible to create its own service or offer direct services to residents.

Harvey County recently sent a quarterly payment to Sedgwick for $8,973.69. Annually, the county sends more than $35,890.


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Fire destroys car early Tuesday in East Topeka

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital Journal – February 28, 2017


A car was destroyed by fire early Tuesday on the city’s east side, and authorities were investigating whether the burned-out vehicle may have been stolen.

The fire was called in around 7 a.m. in the 2600 block of S.E. Monroe, a block with fields on both its west and east sides.

First-arriving crews reported the vehicle was completely involved in flames as it sat facing north in the middle of the block.

Topeka firefighters were able to get the fire out quickly.

Police at the scene said the car was a Kia Soul.

No one was in the immediate area when fire crews arrived, authorities said.


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Butler reorganizes early college academies

By Levi Yager
Butler County Times Gazette – February 28, 2017

Starting in the fall 2017 semester, Butler Community College will be phasing out the Early College Public Safety Academy.
“That public safety academy … is here in El Dorado, but the enrollment is not strong in it, and we aren’t generating any additional interest for enrollment for this coming year. We think a lot of it has to do with the fact that for some of the – like the EMT, the EMS kinds of things – that those students have to be 18 before they can be certified and test for some of the things. We think a lot of the things that are happening nationally are impacting desire, maybe, to be involved in law enforcement types of jobs. The students that are involved now, we’re going to continue to teach those classes so that they can complete what they’re currently enrolled in. We’ll move those classes over to the fire science building. And instead, in conversation with our partner schools, there’s a lot of interest for a more blended pre-law/criminal justice track academy. Rose Hill has committed additional classroom space. There’s a lot of interest from Derby and Douglass and Mulvane and the schools down in that area. And so, we’ve decided that we’re going to go ahead and start to promote that and see, you know, see what kind of interest is generated. The deans right now are, once we know what the interest is, then the deans will be able to tell us how many sections we may need to add. But there’s a lot of interest in that area. There’s also a lot of interest in education – in an education academy. And so we’re going to move forward and start to share information with parents and counselors about the potential for also an early college education academy,” College President Kim Krull said.
Early College Academies at BCC introduce the college learning experience to high school juniors and seniors by allowing them to take college credit in high school. The academies are specific to certain programs at the college. Through these academies, high school students can graduate with their diploma and an associate degree simultaneously.
“We started our first [early college] academy in the fall of 2010. And that first academy was the health sciences academy, and we started with seven students. And that particular academy today has 114 students in it, so you can see in seven years how much it has grown – huge,” Lori Winningham, vice president of academics at BCC, said.
The Early College Public Safety Academy was started within the last two years.
“We originally designed that [public safety] academy to have several branches in the public service arena that students could go into. Their first year, they would all be together as one group, and then they would choose a track. They could choose fire science, criminal justice, we had planned to develop an emergency communications track and then EMT. And we started that academy also with only seven students, but the interest has not really developed …. We’re in our second year right now, and we have 12 students that started out. The thing that we’re finding is that in order to have those four tracks, we need a larger volume of students,” Winningham said.
The administration has therefore decided to restructure how the public safety academy functions.
“So, as we have looked at that particular academy, we have decided that … we’re going to go ahead and do the fire science component of it where high school students can get a one-year fire science curriculum and then finish their associate’s degree …. There’s a fire station that we share with the City of El Dorado, and we’ll continue to offer that option for students who want to go the fire science track. For the other tracks – the emergency communications track, we did not develop that because we had zero students indicate they wanted that track. And then, the EMT numbers have been very, very small as well. And so, we offer EMT courses. Students can take those now in a concurrent format. So, while it won’t be in an academy setting, students can still do that. For the criminal justice arena, we have kind of backed up and reconfigured curriculum, and we will open a strain of what we’re going to call pre-law track at our Rose Hill campus. And so, that’s kind of where some of the criminal justice flavor is going to be seen because some of those courses in that track come from our criminal justice curriculum. And that will be kind of a new academy, but it’s really a modified version of what we did before, starting in the fall of ’17,” Winningham said.
The college will also be restructuring its Early College I.T. Academy, which is another academy that had several tracks in it. It will be broken out into separate cyber security and 3D technologies academies for the next school year.
“Right now, we have 34 for students in that I.T. academy. And as we start our group next year, they’ll have to choose which side they want to go – 3D technologies or cyber security,” Winningham said.
There are currently seven total early college academies scheduled for next school year.
“The one that is kind of new on the horizon is education. She’s listing this as elementary ed right now – we may just make that education. But right now that’s another new one for fall that will be kind of sharing the space with the pre-law group at Rose Hill. And I don’t have any numbers in that because that’ll be a new one for fall,” Winningham said.
The cost for entire associate degree through an early college academy at BCC ranges from about $3,000 to $4,600. Ideally, high school students will start at an academy as juniors and can finish their associate degree by the time they graduate.
“These students that get selected to go into the academies, typically what they do is – we have morning groups and we have afternoon groups – they spend half of their school day in the academy, and then the other half they’re back in their high school. So, they really live in both worlds. It’s not like they are not available to participate in sports or drama and all the things that high school students are involved in. You know, they make a big commitment to being in college at the same time that they’re in high school, but they live in both worlds. And that’s an important piece that we wanted to preserve for these students because, you know, that’s an experience that many of them don’t want to just walk away from,” Winningham said.


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Local police & firefighters raise money for Special Olympics Kansas with the ‘Heroes Pull’

By Joel Nichols
KSHB – February 28, 2017

Click on photo to view full-size.

Click on photo to view full-size.


Call it Heroes Helping Heroes!

The Sixth Annual Heroes Pull for Special Olympics gets slowly rolling and then picks up speed on Sunday, March 12 at 2:30 p.m. in the parking lot of Splash Cove in Shawnee, right after the Shawnee St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

First, here are the necessary numbers: Teams pull two different vehicles separately – a Lenco bear and a fire truck – each weighing about 38,000 lbs.

The team with the fastest combined times wins the competition.

Each team’s combined weight limit must not exceed 1,500 lbs. A minimum pledge of $250 is required per team.

Last year, the Shawnee Fire Department won with a combined time of 23.86 seconds. Just one second separated the first and second place teams.

Anyone can enter. In addition to teams from law enforcement and firefighting, men and women from the armed services, school athletes or just about any team that meets the numbers can be part of the event.

Even those who don’t find a place on the rope can show support with a pledge and being there to cheer from the sidelines.

This year’s dollar goal is $10,000 which will support regional and state Special Olympics competitions. Things such as athlete meals, equipment, medals, insurance costs and so much more.

According to one of the founders and organizers, Merriam PD Detective Jeremiah Waters, the money is important and the competition is intense but the real reward is the look on the faces of the Special Olympians who inspire everyone around them.

This is truly one moment when we can all pull for each other!


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