Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas to move to New Leaf Plaza

UPDATED — The Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas is turning over a New Leaf, so to speak, and moving to the shopping center of the same name at 21st and Amidon.

“It is very accessible and very visible for the public,” says Keith Lawing, president and CEO of the agency that connects workers with employers.

“I really think it’s going to be a perfect location for their new home, although some would have liked for it to stay downtown, I suppose,” says City Council member Jeff Longwell.

“They are at least for a little bit going to keep some of the administration stuff down in the Garvey building,” he says.

The Workforce Alliance had been at the former Commerce Bank building at First and Main downtown and had to scramble to find new space along with other tenants there when building issues, such as a broken elevator and suspended gas service, forced them to go elsewhere.

A site a few blocks down from First and Washington is where the Workforce Alliance temporarily is until the new space is ready.

Lawing says parking had become an issue where the Workforce Alliance was at First and Main.

“We definitely looked downtown,” he says seeking new space. “If we could have found a place that would have been adjacent to a parking garage … it would have been great.”

He says no such place could be found.

Longwell says that initially the Workforce Alliance will take about 26,000 square feet at New Leaf, which is on the southwest corner of the intersection and is home to a Walmart Neighborhood Market.

He says it “is going to be a really nice space.”

“It’s a good location, easily accessible, on a bus route,” Longwell says. “I really like that whole area. It’s kind of coming back a little bit.”

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Planning commission once again votes against 21st and Oliver rezoning

WICHITA — The Metropolitan Area Planning Commission has once again voted against attorney Bob Kaplan’s rezoning request for 21st and Oliver even though he modified it.

Kaplan is requesting neighborhood office zoning to put a pharmacy drug store – likely CVS, though he won’t confirm that – and medical or other offices on the northwest corner. He says he can understand some neighbors in the area being against it, but not anyone else.

“From a professional perspective, 21st and Oliver … is a commercial location,” he says. “I don’t know anybody who would want to build a home on a property where 25,000 cars pass every day.”

Kaplan is representing the Mike Marks family, which owns the northwest corner property, and Rip Gooch, who owns the lot to the north.

He’s so confident that his position is the correct one, Kaplan is willing to put money on it.

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You don’t say: Our favorites from 2013

Some were newsy, some were shocking, but most were simply fun or funny. Here are some of our favorite “You don’t say” quotes from 2013.

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“I said, ‘You must know a lot of angry people.’ (They) said, ‘I work at Spirit.’”

Best of Times owner Nancy Robinson on a person who bought 10 Dammit Dolls, the soft dolls angry people can safely slam on any surface to blow off steam on bad days

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“My first place that I am not going to get married at is the Grand Chapel.”

– Sedgwick County Chairman Jim Skelton, whose upcoming marriage to Stacy Luke won’t take place at the facility he sued over his daughter’s wedding

“That’s correct, he’s not.”

– Grand Chapel owner Dennis Wilkie, who says Skelton is “a troublemaker, and I just don’t want to deal with troublemakers.”

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“Women pilots don’t land at the wrong airport. We ask for directions!”

– A tweet from Seattle-based pilot Karlene Petitt (‏@KarlenePetitt) about the Dreamlifter incident at Colonel James Jabara Airport

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“Be aware, Boeing, ‘this route has tolls.’ Bring some change.”

– An NPR story that acknowledged a stranded Dreamlifter likely couldn’t be towed from Colonel James Jabara Airport to McConnell Air Force Base but offered a Google map and driving directions anyway

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“I thought I’d get in line right behind him.”

– Outgoing Chamber chairwoman Debbie Gann, who “about choked” at the group’s annual dinner Tuesday when possible mayoral candidate Jeff Turner suggested she would make a great mayor

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“I’m going to drop off a baked bean can and a string tomorrow … so we can chat later in the day.”

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers co-owner Scott Redler teasing City Council member Pete Meitzner about his antiquated BlackBerry

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“With all the crying and whining in Washington, I’m feeling ready to be a new father come November.”

– Expectant father U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder speaking Friday at the 2013 Congressional Summit at the Hotel at Old Town

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“We know you’re a Democrat.”

– Park City administrator Jack Whitson, teasing the city’s chamber president, registered Republican Dean Frankenbery, about a misprint that said Rep. Mike Pompom, not Pompeo, would be the group’s next speaker

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“I know you are all wondering if that beautiful new red car parked over there is a door prize. It’s not. It’s the speaker’s gift.”

Delta Dental of Kansas vice president of human resources Kara Hunt, speaking at the Chamber’s Sunrise Scrambler about a car that Davis-Moore had at the event

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“I thought that Davis-Moore . . . has been hurting so bad that they needed a sale, so I thought I’d help them out.”

– Car dealer Brandon Steven, joking about why he bought a Viper at his competitor’s dealership

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“I think it’s awesome that he bought himself a nice car.”

– Davis-Moore’s Dawson Grimsley, retorting with a teasing implication that Steven couldn’t find a nice car at his own lot

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“The @WichitaOrpheum could use a little Jesus after @RealTracyMorgan’s performance there. #itwaspurefilth”

— A tweet from comedian Ron Shively, aka @FunnyMrBiggs, after hearing City Life Church is going to rent the Orpheum Theatre every Sunday morning for services

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“Puppies and people all over town are sad today.”

—Accountant David Jabara on the death of Doggy Day Care owner Marilyn Walk

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You don’t say

“You’re going to get me killed by Lavonta.”

– Mayor Carl Brewer’s response when asked about his joke that the East 13th Street roadwork in City Council member Lavonta Williams’ district likely would be done before the Kellogg expansion

You don’t say

“I’m going to drop off a baked bean can and a string tomorrow … so we can chat later in the day.”

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers co-owner Scott Redler teasing City Council member Pete Meitzner about his antiquated BlackBerry

You don’t say

“Where’s Pete?”

City Council member James Clendenin’s question about fellow council member Pete Meitzner while touring the airport’s new terminal

“He only cares about trains.”

– City Council member Jeff Longwell’s response about Meitzner, who is a leading proponent of bringing Amtrak rail service to Wichita

You don’t say

“I have actually seen the blueprints.”

City Council member Jeff Longwell on how, despite what it may seem, plans for a new Sam’s Club at 29th and Maize Road are moving forward

You don’t say

“All I can hope for at this point is the fact that chicks dig scars.”

City Council member Jeff Longwell, who needed three stitches on his lips after getting headbutted in his regular Monday morning basketball game

Jeff and Susie Longwell mindful of appearances while adding new Ad Astra Print Resources division

WICHITA — Jeff and Susie Longwell have started a new division of their Ad Astra Print Resources, but it wasn’t without a lot of discussion first.

That’s because the new division is creating construction documents – what used to be known as blueprints – for engineers, architects and construction companies.

Those are the same business people who often appear before Jeff Longwell on the Wichita City Council.

“We just want to be very clear what the position is,” Jeff Longwell says.

He  says they currently don’t do work with the city and plan the same policy with the new division.

“We won’t bid on any city work – period.”

He adds, “All my customers require me to be competitive. That’s just the nature of the printing business.”

Still, the Longwells are concerned about appearances.

“The reality is we’re in the printing business,” Jeff Longwell says. “It’s nothing new.”

In fact, he’s been in the business since 1984 and owned Ad Astra for a few years.

“Here’s the thing, I guess, that people need to understand,” Longwell says. “We are a part-time council that gets paid part-time wages.”

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State gives city of Wichita notice that nine agencies and more than 700 employees are leaving the Finney State Office Building

WICHITA — The state of Kansas has notified the city of Wichita that its nine agencies that occupy the Finney State Office Building downtown won’t be renewing their leases after 20 years in the city-owned building.

“It raises a red flag,” says Rep. Jim Ward (D-Wichita). “I have a concern there is a history of the governor rewarding financial contributors with state contracts. I know he has contributors in Wichita that own (buildings) that fall into that category. … I don’t want that to be the reason we’re moving.”

Sherriene Jones-Sontag, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, says Ward’s fears are unfounded.

“For Representative Ward to say that, what he said was inaccurate,” she says.

There are more than 700 state employees in the building, more than 550 of whom are with the state Department for Children and Families, which formerly was known as SRS. The other eight agencies are the Department for Aging and Disability Services, the Department of Revenue, the Kansas Human Rights Commission, the Department of Health and Environment, the Department of Administration, the Kansas Corporation Commission, the Office of the State Bank Commissioner and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

“We consulted with our agency tenants,” says Chuck Knapp, a spokesman with the Department of Administration. “After visiting with those agencies, we just determined it would be in the best interest of those agencies and their clients to seek space elsewhere.”

Knapp says he can’t be more specific and that each agency will have to answer for itself.

A spokeswoman for the largest tenant couldn’t be reached for comment. A spokesman for another agency referred questions to Knapp.

“I would like them to be able to articulate why this is a good idea, and I haven’t heard any of that,” Ward says.

He says his other major concern is a move from the building will hurt the clients who use it.

Ward was a Wichita City Council member in 1991 when the city was investigating ways to stimulate economic development downtown and proposed a plan to help the state reduce expenses by consolidating numerous offices into the vacant building at 230 E. William, which previously was home to Macy’s. The following year, he was in the state Senate “where we in fact accepted the city’s offer to do that.”

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