More changes for K-18 in coming months

By Maura Wery

For those drivers who regularly use K-18, the next few months will feature some major changes. Some of those changes will require drivers to learn a new route.

KDOT representative Jerry Haug told the Riley County Commission Monday that KDOT’s major project now is pushing to complete the Scenic Drive intersection onto K-18 by mid-October. Haug said completion of the intersection will allow drivers to get onto both east and westbound lanes on K-18.

Haug said work crews are also pushing to complete the westbound lanes. Currently, K-18 has east and westbound traffic going head-to-head while the westbound lanes are being paved. Haug said that they hope to conclude work on the westbound lanes before the onset of winter.

“When the weather gets bad, that’s when we have to stop paving,” Haug said. He said once those westbound lanes are paved, they will take back the westbound traffic; eastbound traffic will remain on its original side until the end of winter, when that traffic, too, will be temporarily moved to the west-bound lanes.

Haug acknowledged there had been setbacks with the Miller Parkway interchange, but said officials hope to complete it by the fall of 2013. He said that once the westbound lanes are paved, Miller Parkway will become the priority.

Haug stressed that drivers need to be careful over the next few months.

“You need to drive it like you were going on vacation and have never driven it before.”

Watercraft ballot question

A question on the November ballot could give voters a bit of a headache. 

Appraiser Greg McHenry told the commission about the watercraft ballot question, which was placed on the ballot by the Kansas Legislature. McHenry and the commission   agree that the question, which takes up three-quarters of a page on a paper ballot and a complete   page on electronic voting machines, might confuse voters about what exactly they are voting on.

He said those in Kansas who own watercraft are currently taxed through their property tax. If approved by voters, this question would give the legislature the ability the ability to change that in the future.

“You aren’t voting yes or no to a specific (taxation) plan,” McHenry said. The voter is voting to “let the legislature figure it out later.”

The commission asked whether they could have an education program for the ballot question but County Counselor Clancy Holeman said that they would be advocating for an answer rather than educating.

RCPD social media

Riley County Police Department officers are trying a new way to get those in the public involved in their department by using social media. Capt. Tim Hegarty said the department is fully involved with Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest and have received positive feedback from the community, especially in response to the Twitter account.

Hegarty said recent ‘tweet-alongs’, where police officers tweet about the different calls they receive in a night, have been exceptionally popular.

“We get quite a few compliments from people who follow us,” Hegarty said. “That we aren’t as stiff or unfriendly as people think the police are.”

Hegarty said that they have more than 2,000 followers on their Twitter account which, percentage wise, has a higher following than either Wichita’s or Kansas City’s police force.


Crops update

After an extremely hot and dry summer the corn crop is doing better than expected.

“We are getting around 30 to 50 bushels an acre which is kind of low,” said extension agriculture agent Greg McClure. “We are usually looking for 30 to 100 bushels.”

McClure said that the corn crop isn’t a total loss here and that the counties to the north have fared better with their crop.

He said soybeans have also fared better than originally thought.

The last two of the fall crops, double-beans and alfalfa, are both still in their gestation periods and McClure said that their yields for next year will depend on whether the state receives a late frost.

“We are shooting for November,” McClure said.


Mental health panel

Commissioner Karen McCulloh invited the public to attend a mental health panel at the Manhattan Public Library on Oct. 8. The panel will feature members from Pawnee Mental Health, Mercy Regional Health Center and the Riley County Police Department and will discuss the problems with not having a holding facility in Riley County, other than the jail, for those with mental health problems.

The panel will also discuss the future for mental health patients in Riley County.

“The panel is to identify the issues and have a better sense of what to do in the community,” McCulloh said.

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