Daily Archives: Jan. 19, 2010

Historic broadcast highlights black history event at Eisenhower presidential library



In 1955, when Fred Bailey got called out of class at Abilene High School to participate in a television interview with African-American Nobel laureate Ralph Bunche, he really didn’t think much about it.

“It was a point in time I didn’t realize the significance of it,” he said. “I was just going through my senior year of high school and I knew everything,” he added, chuckling.



Now, the broadcast — hosted by legendary television and radio journalist Edward R. Murrow — will be the centerpiece of a Feb. 18 celebration of Black History Month at the Dwight Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene.

The broadcast featured Bunche, then Eisenhower’s United Nations undersecretary for special political affairs, discussing issues of the day with students from the high school.

Bunche won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for his efforts in mediating the Arab-Israeli conflict. He also was the first African-American to earn a doctorate at Harvard.

Bailey was one of two African-American students who participated in the broadcast, said Samantha Kenner, spokeswoman for the Eisenhower Library. Read More »

House Transportation discusses bill to ban texting while driving

TOPEKA – Sending a text message or e-mail while driving could cost people $100 if a bill discussed in the House Transportation Committee today becomes law.

The measure, House Bill 2439, would bar people from using a wireless device such as a cell phone to sent text based messages while driving after July 1. The measure would come with a $100 fine, but law enforcement would issue warning citations for the first year.

Three seconds before about 80 percent of accidents, the driver was distracted somehow, said Pete Bodyk, manager of traffic safety for Kansas Department of Transportation.

“It would take me a lot longer than three seconds to text one word,” he told the committee.

Nineteen states, the District of Columbia and Guam ban text messaging for all drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Kansas teens already are barred from using cell phones under the state’s graduated driver’s license bill, which took effect Jan. 1.

The new proposal would extend the texting ban to all drivers. It comes as text messaging’s popularity is increasing.

The number of text messages sent nationwide more than doubled from 48 billion in December 2007 to 110 billion a year later, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2010 shows.

A similar ban has been proposed in the Senate, but the measure has not yet had a hearing.

For more, read Wednesday’s Wichita Eagle.

Kansas rural communities win federal grants to improve water and sewer services

manhole 1

Eighteen small Kansas towns will split $6.9 million in federal money to extend water and sewer service, the state Commerce Department announced today.

Recipients of the Community Development Block Grants are the cities of Belleville, Burlingame, Elgin, Hill City, Little River, Marion, Matfield Green, Muscotah, Oakley, Olpe, Park, Parker, Scranton, Smolan and Woodston, as well as Osage, Lyon and Bourbon counties.

Community and state agencies will match the federal grants with about $14.5 million, department spokesman Joe Monaco said in a statement.

The grants are as follows:

– Belleville, sewer, $209,000 to repair collection lines. The city will provide $209,000.

– Bourbon County sewer, $500,000 to build a sewer system for Sewer District No. 1. The county and other sources will contribute $1,590,475.

– Burlingame, sewer, $500,000 to inspect lines and upgrade mains. The city and other sources will contribute $889,325.

– Elgin, water, $142,000 to construct a new well, abandon old cistern and install a chlorination system. Other sources will provide $88,190.

– Hill City, water, $421,125, to construct a municipal water well and transmission line to connect the new well. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment will provide $421,125 in matching funds.

– Little River, water, $499,779 to improve the water supply and distribution system. KDHE will provide $499,779 in matching funds.

– Lyon County, water, $500,000 to install a new booster station and replace water main under the Kansas Turnpike. Lyon County Rural Water District #1 will contribute $751,460.

– Marion, water, $102,703, to repair or replace water lines. The city will provide $115,000 of matching funds.

– Matfield Green, water, $150,000 to replace standpipe and make water line improvements. Other sources will provide $160,120.

– Muscotah, water, $444,000 to construct a 65,000-gallon elevated water storage tank and make other system improvements. Other sources will provide matching funds of $746,000.

– Oakley, sewer, $500,000 for lagoon improvements. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment will provide $2,409,070 to this project.

– Olpe, water, $500,000 to replace 23,130 linear feet of asbestos pipe. Other sources will provide $942,856 in financing.

– Osage County, water $490,000 to install water lines to serve 35 new customers of Rural Water District #6. Other sources and thel water district will match this grant with $497,690.

– Park, sewer, $320,000, for rehabilitation of the existing wastewater treatment lagoon and replacement of the main lift station. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment will provide $435,910.

– Parker, sewer, $390,487 for sealing or replacing manholes, TV lines and work on lagoons. Other sources will provide $390,487.

– Scranton, sewer, $500,000 to upgrade sewer line and repair 134 manholes. Other sources will provide $3,087,895 in matching funds.

– Smolan, sewer, $442,000 to construct a new lagoon system. The city and other sources will be providing $442,000 in matching funds to the project.

– Woodston, water, $344,000 to purchase water rights, construct an ion exchange nitrate removal system and make numerous other water improvements to the system. Other sources will provide $815,500 in matching funds.

Senate Judiciary begins discussion on abolishing death penalty

TOPEKA – The Senate Judiciary Committee starts three days of work discussing two proposals which would abolish Kansas’ death penalty.

The committee spent several days last session debating the proposal last session. The measure, Senate Bill 208, eventually went to the Senate floor but was sent back to committee for further study.

A new bill, Senate Bill 375, would create a new crime of aggravated murder – which would replace capital punishment in the state. The new punishment would apply to crimes committed on or after July 1.

Those currently on death row would remain there.

Kansas has had the death penalty since 1994. While people have been sentenced to death, no one has been executed in the state in about 40 years.

The hearings have just started and lawmakers are being briefed on what the two proposals would do.