Category Archives: Sunflower Community Action

Sunflower, George Kolb and a courtroom

It’s been months since Sunflower Community Action members protested with residents at City Manager George Kolb’s house. They were trying to force the city to clean up a chronically trash-packed yard at 10th and Volutsia. Now the yard has been cleaned. But the story continues. Sunflower will have a press conference Thursday afternoon to say that the city has spent an exceptionally large amount of money and energy to prosecute a brief protest at the doorstep of Kolb’s home (as seen in the video below). Then, on Friday, three Sunflower members and a woman who lives next door to the now-cleaner property at 10th and Volutsia will be in court facing criminal trespass and illegal dumping charges for being on Kolb’s property and leaving their protest signs behind.

Sunflower’s media conference is at 2 p.m. The trial starts Friday at 9 a.m., but Sunflower members will be outside City Hall at 8 a.m. trying to gather support. (Read more about the case in previous Hall Monitor posts.)

10th and Volutsia clean-up cost the city $12,000

The dump of a yard at 10th and Volutsia was probably the strangest and most controversial clean-up in the city’s history. It wasn’t cheap either.

It cost the city $12,000 to clean up the mess. (Watch Sunflower’s video of the clean up at this link.)

Here’s what Environmental Services Director Kay Johnson had to say about it, according to the District 1 Advisory Board minutes: “Basically, we could not go behind the fence and the property suffered years of neglect, which was an issue. Turn over in staff was another issue. Municipal Court had no jurisdiction to enforce the law and it was not until the District Court intervened those things changed. It cost the City $12,000 to clean up that property.” (See it all in this PDF of the minutes)

Fight against blight gains unlikely "partners"

The City of Wichita and Sunflower Community Action’s working relationship is improving after the nonprofit group’s meeting with city officials to discuss run-down properties.

The city agreed to provide updates to Sunflower in April and May after Sunflower revealed its “Dirty 20″ list of properties to City Spokesman Van Williams and the city’s Office of Central Inspections and Environmental Services department leaders. Both sides considered the meeting a success – the city was pleased with Sunflower’s grassroots efforts to clean up blight in Central-Northeast Wichita and Sunflower was pleased the city started cases on several of the properties.

“We got to talk to each other, and not through the media or other groups,” Williams said, “and the communication benefited from that.”

Still, four Sunflower members are going to trial on misdemeanor charges the city pressed against them for illegal dumping and trespassing during a protest at City Manager George Kolb’s house in December. The group hoped to pressure Kolb to clean up dumping at a house at 10th and Volutsia.