Category Archives: State government

U.S. Postal Service signs lease that should enable DCF to move more quickly

WICHITA — It was around this time last year that the state was considering leasing Wichita broker Jeff Greenberg’s 100,000-square-foot building near East 47th Street South and South Oliver.

The Department for Children and Families, which wants to leave the Finney State Office Building downtown where it currently is, seriously looked at Greenberg’s space. The deal didn’t happen, though.

Now, another deal related to that has been signed.

No one is commenting yet, but sources say the U.S. Postal Service has signed a deal for a good percentage of Greenberg’s building.

The postal serivce has a remote encoding center at 2601 S. Oliver, which is where DCF now wants to locate.

As Have You Heard? reported last month, the postal service is winding down those operations – its lease expires in September 2015 – but now it’s planning a call center for the space.

The call center, which will be one of four the postal service has nationally, will answer customers’ inquiries via phone and e-mail.

The remote encoding center has been at the South Oliver space for two decades. At one time there were more than 1,000 employees there. Now, there are 251 career employees left, meaning employees who are guaranteed jobs.

It looks like the call center is what the postal service has planned for Greenberg’s space. It also appears that the postal service could move within the next few months, which would enable DCF to finalize the lease it wants and move in more quickly.

Look for more information on the deal in the coming weeks.

You don’t say

“They are not screwing around with this 48-hour thing. They’ve got it down to the minute.”

Jeremy Horn of Wichita Brewing Co. & Pizzeria, which can resume selling its own beer at 1:50 p.m. Thursday following a 48-hour suspension of its microbrewery license due to a clerical error the business made

U.S. Postal Service to open call center in space the state is negotiating for

UPDATED — There’s another twist on the possible Department for Children and Families lease at 2601 S. Oliver, which has been a remote encoding center for the U.S. Postal Service.

The postal service is winding down those operations – its lease expires in September 2015 – but now it’s planning a call center for the space.

“The U.S. Postal Service has completed its posting process and is now training the first group of hires for the new Customer Care Center that will go on line in Wichita, KS in July 2014,” postal spokesman Brian Sperry said in an e-mail statement.

The postal service is still in this building at 2601 S. Oliver, and the state is still negotiating to move in, but it’s unclear what will happen with the space.

The postal service is still in this building at 2601 S. Oliver, and the state is still negotiating to move in, but it’s unclear what will happen with the space.

The center, which will be one of four the postal service has nationally, will answer customers’ inquiries via phone and e-mail.

The remote encoding center has been at the space for two decades. At one time there were more than 1,000 employees there. Now, there are 251 career employees left, meaning employees who are guaranteed jobs.

“Through a memorandum of understanding with union representatives, 251 jobs were posted through a senior bidding process with all Remote Encoding Center employees eligible to submit for the available positions and no external recruitment was conducted,” Sperry wrote. “The newest Customer Care Center will operate out of the former Remote Encoding Center site.”

Sperry wouldn’t say if the postal service is trying to renegotiate for a longer lease or if it’s looking for a possible new site for the call center.

“The statement is all we have to report.”

Jan Manlove, the secretary and treasurer of the American Postal Workers Union Area Local 735, says the union’s “business agent had been working long and hard to get a call center.”

She says on the same day the postal service signed the call center agreement, it measured space at Hutchinson and Ponca City post offices to see if the call center could locate at either one.

“Our union, No. 1, wants to keep the jobs here in Wichita,” Manlove says.

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You don’t say

“I should have given you enough for at least a quote of the day. I’ll be very disappointed otherwise.”

– State Sen. Michael O’Donnell, who opened his remarks at Friday’s Pachyderm Club meeting by dissing print journalism then later explained that not “every reporter misinforms” and finally expressed his hopes to appear in the paper

You don’t say

“You would have to work pretty hard to convince me of that.”

– Rep. Mike Pompeo, who visited a Maize Elementary School third grade class Thursday and asked for ideas for new laws, which prompted one student to say, “No ice cream!”

Building committee meeting canceled, but not before DCF lease details get distributed

UPDATED — A meeting of the Joint Committee on State Building Construction was canceled at the last minute Tuesday, but not before a sheet detailing a Department for Children and Families move was distributed.

“This is appalling,” Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita and a committee member, says of the lease numbers he saw on the sheet.

Nine state agencies, including more than 700 employees, are leaving the city-owned Finney State Office Building. More than 550 of those employees are with the DCF.

In February, Have You Heard? reported that the DCF was close to signing a deal for space that the U.S. Postal Service is vacating at 2601 S. Oliver. A story last week detailed how the possible lease wasn’t as close to being finalized as some had thought.

“It’s our intention to move into the postal service building,” DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed says. “The plan’s not finalized, so as I mentioned before, we can’t discuss the details of the pending contract.”

She does say, though, that the DCF is negotiating to remain in the Finney building an extra nine months after its lease expires at the end of September.

“We’ve been very appreciative of the cooperation between our staff and the city of Wichita to make that happen,” Freed says.

Ward is not appreciative of any part of the deal.

“They totally ignored the people of Wichita,” he says of the “number of voices from Wichita that said this move doesn’t make any sense.”

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Possible DCF lease on South Oliver may not be ‘at the goal line’

The U.S. Postal Service is vacating this building at 2601 S. Oliver, but whether the state Department for Children and Families moves in isn't as certain as it once was.

The U.S. Postal Service is vacating this building at 2601 S. Oliver, but whether the state Department for Children and Families moves in isn’t as certain as it once was.

UPDATED — In February, a state official told Have You Heard? that the Department for Children and Families was “at the goal line” for signing a deal for space that the U.S. Postal Service is vacating at 2601 S. Oliver.

Apparently, though, someone has moved the goal line. The players in the lineup may have changed, too.

“We’re still exploring all of our options and haven’t made a final determination on that yet,” says Theresa Freed, a DCF spokeswoman. “That is one of the options that we’re considering.”

That sounds a lot less certain than when Mark McGivern, director of the Office of Facilities and Procurement Management within the state Department of Administration, used the goal line analogy.

Does that mean the postal deal is less likely than it had been?

“I wouldn’t say that it is any more or less likely,” Freed says. “As a department, we don’t discuss contracts until they are finalized.”

In June, Have You Heard? reported that nine state agencies, including more than 700 employees, will leave the Finney building when the state’s lease expires on Sept. 30. More than 550 of those employees are with DCF.

The city presented the state with what a state spokesman called “a very aggressive lease renewal offer” last summer, but the spokesman said DCF has needs the Finney building can’t fulfill.

State Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, has voiced concerns from the beginning regarding DCF and other agencies vacating the Finney building. He wonders what the holdup is now.

“That’s another concern in an ongoing series of concerns about how … good of a decision the move is in total,” he says.

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Businessmen Leon Moeder and Michael Carmody create new kind of welcome sign

UPDATED — With the speed of social media, businessman Leon Moeder is getting his wish.

On Saturday, Moeder expressed his frustration with a Kansas House bill, which the Senate then rejected, to allow businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples. On Facebook, he wrote: “I want a window sign that says, ‘WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO PROVIDE SERVICE TO EVERYONE.’”

Michael Carmody within seconds said . . . he would prepare something,” Moeder says of his tenant, who is co-owner of the Donut Whole.

“They’re at the printers right now,” Moeder says.

By this afternoon, he’ll have 500 at his real estate office at 122 S. Hydraulic.

“First off, it’s the right thing to do,” Moeder says. “I just have a problem with people being mean to other people.”

There’s a rally to end inequality in Topeka on Tuesday, and Moeder hopes someone can take his signs there.

“You know, Kansas was founded on progressive ideas,” he says.

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Two state agencies sign at Garvey Center

UPDATED — The state has completed two more leases for agencies that will be leaving the Finney State Office Building.

The Kansas Department of Health & Environment and the Kansas Human Rights Commission will be moving to the Garvey Center.

“We were just really impressed with the spaces we visited,” says Todd Fertig, a spokesman for the Department of Administration. “They fit a lot better with what these specific agencies needed.”

In June, Have You Heard? reported that nine state agencies, including more than 700 employees, will leave the Finney building when the state’s lease expires on Sept. 30.

KDHE will take the entire seventh floor of the R.H. Garvey Building at 300 W. Douglas. That’s 10,566 square feet.

The Human Rights Commission is taking 1,800 square feet on the second floor.

Fertig says the commission is a smaller agency with a limited budget.

“The Garvey Center was able to really work with them to … kind of retrofit the space so it was really what they needed at a very affordable rate.”

Larry Weber, who handled the deal for Builders Inc., says he’s “excited to have them here and remaining in downtown.”

Both spaces are areas that Harrington Health has been in or been using for storage, Weber says.

All but a couple of the agencies that either are in or have been in the Finney building have made or are close to making deals for new space.

The largest of those agencies and the one to spur the move, the Department for Children and Families, is close to finalizing a deal at 2601 S. Oliver where the U.S. Postal Service has had a remote encoding center.

You don’t say

“Am I Really No. 2 Or Did I Just Step In It?”

-Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, speaking to the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition and joking about the working title of a book he’s supposedly writing