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Puppy love
Dog adoption project at Cico Park tries to find homes for shelter animals

Some people came to CiCo Park on Saturday morning knowing they weren’t leaving without a dog in their arms. Some carefully evaluated the dogs to see if they’d fit active lifestyles or more relaxed companion roles.

Others just wanted to come see the dogs.

Whatever their reasons, community members met and played with the mix of energetic puppies and experienced older dogs at the Home for Dogs Project Saturday in the park.

The event, which was sponsored by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Advisers, brought several area animal shelters and rescues to CiCo Park, as well as other pet service vendors.

Bria Taddiken-Williams, a partner at the company, said about 25 dogs were available for adoption at the event.

“It’s always great to see people come out here with their dogs,” Taddiken-Williams said. “It’s a great cause.”

Jasmine Hunter and her children adopted the first dog of the day. They had filled out an owner screening beforehand, and within a half hour of the event’s start, they found Kondo, a year-old lab mix.

“We’ve been due to have a pet in the house again,” Hunter said. The family lost their last dog to cancer.

Katie Whitlock and Caleb Carney, a couple from Fort Riley, browsed through the selection of dogs as well. They were looking for a energetic and playful dog but one that could also act calm and cuddly.

“I guess we want a dog that can do it all,” Whitlock said, laughing.

At the T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter booth, Hannah Shoemaker, volunteer coordinator, showed off Naveen, a 1-year-old lab mix who was trying to play with all of the passing people and dogs.

“There are always animals available in the shelter,” Shoemaker said. “We have more pets than we have homes, so we always encourage adoption because we have so many animals that need homes.”

Trish Halstead, a member of the board of directors at Clay County Animal Rescue, said that while the shelter attends several adoption events each year, it also constantly receives new pets. The shelter participated in Clear the Shelter — a national event where participating shelters hope to adopt all of their animals — last month. While the shelter did place all of its animals, the shelter was again full of surrendered pets within the week.

“I think people think that shelter dogs are all unwanted, sick or old dogs,” Halstead said.

“But really, they’re all just sweet, loving dogs.”

Would a roof over Aggieville make it a better live music venue?

He knows it might sound a little out there, but Dennis Cook wants officials to consider putting a roof over Aggieville.

More specifically, Cook, the Aggieville Business Association director, wants to put some kind of covering over the street on the two blocks of Moro Street between Manhattan Avenue and 11th Street. The hope is that it would allow Aggieville to have more live music events, with less concern about the volatile Kansas weather.

He said he was sitting on the task force the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce formed recently to look for ideas to recoup the loss from Country Stampede, which this year moved to Topeka. The task force was talking about music concerts and venues.

“The idea came back to me, ‘What if we just covered Aggieville?’” he said. “The idea’s not so crazy. You wouldn’t have to go out and buy land. Wouldn’t have to acquire anything. We’re going to do redevelopment anyhow.”

Cook said he could see Manhattan creating something like Fremont Street in Las Vegas, which made its former downtown into a pedestrian mall covered by a permanent four-block, barrel-vaulted canopy. A light show plays on the underside of the canopy.

Another attraction is the zip line that goes over the mall, which is a feature Cook thinks Aggieville could have, too.

Cook said he shared the idea at one of the task force meetings. “Everybody just said, ‘You know, that’s a game-changer.’”

He said the roof idea may have come up previously in the Aggieville Community Vision meetings, but it wasn’t something they thought would get traction, so it didn’t come up publicly. Now they’re looking at it again, Cook said.

The community vision plan is an ongoing initiative to update the Aggieville district. The city government in May authorized the design firm Olsson to begin creating designs for the streets near where the new public parking garage will be built south of Rally House and where the new hotel will be built at 12th Street and Bluemont Avenue.

The design will include sidewalk widening, lighting, seating, landscaping, and temporary and/or permanent plazas.

Right now the idea for the roof over Moro Street is just talk. Cook said he’s not a designer, so he doesn’t know what the covering would look like or cost. It could be rounded like Fremont Street’s, or it could be pitched like the roof of a house (though he prefers the dome-shaped option).

“It’s 60 feet from building front to building front on Moro Street,” he said. “So something that would span that width. My idea was mostly just as you go forward with this Aggieville vision, what better way to do that than guarantee you’re not going to be rained our or bake in the 100-degree sun. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be hot, but it would be considerably nicer underneath.”

Armbrust leaving for state Dept. of Commerce post

The Kansas Department of Commerce has tapped Trent Armbrust, director of economic development for the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, for a new role.

Armbrust will begin working as director of strategy for Bioscience and Technology effective Sept. 23, commerce secretary David Toland announced Friday.

Armbrust spent seven years in economic development for the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce.

This newly created role and Armbrust’s appointment come as Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly look to target the bioscience and technology sectors for growth in the state, they wrote in a release. Armbrust will develop a strategy to re-engage these key sectors, helping them achieve sustained success in Kansas.

“Creating an ecosystem that facilitates the growth of tech companies in Kansas is a priority for Gov. Kelly and the Department of Commerce,” Toland said. “We are thrilled to have Trent join the commerce team and lead the effort to re-engage the state as a partner in growing knowledge jobs in Kansas.”

Armbrust earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and his master’s degree in plant physiology from Kansas State University and is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma.

“It’s truly exciting to join the Kansas Department of Commerce as Governor Kelly and Secretary Toland build a new vision for Kansas as a preeminent state for business location and success,” Armbrust said.

Armbrust will serve as a member of the commerce leadership team and be responsible for rebuilding relationships with private- and public-sector partners as the state seeks to help advance new technologies, support innovative research, create jobs and advance Kansas’ leadership across bioscience sectors.

The Manhattan Chamber will have a farewell reception for Armbrust from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the K-State Foundation, 1800 Kimball Ave., Suite 200.

Staff photo by Doug Barrett  

People march through City Park Saturday during the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which was part of a national initiative to support research for the disease. The local event included more than 600 participants and raised $68,000 this year.

People’s Grocery Co-Op plans to dissolve next month

The People’s Grocery Co-Op will begin liquidating its assets with the intent to totally dissolve the company next month, the health food store’s owners voted Saturday.

Years of poor record-keeping and declining sales led the board of directors to pursue a dissolution of the company, acting president Christina Hauck told the group of community members and about 30 owners at the meeting. Under the co-operative ownership model, the store’s owners are community members who buy $75 shares of equity in the store.

The store has seen net losses for the past year, but the board had hoped to turn things around with new general manager Kimberly Foster. However, the board received notice of a tax lien in July, and after consulting with a bankruptcy lawyer, Hauck, who hesitantly took the presidency in June, said they were left with two options: raise more than $120,000 in capital to pay outstanding debts within the next month or start liquidating to pay off as much of that debt as possible before dissolving the company.

Additionally, since a previous manager had allowed the store’s liability insurance to lapse last year, the board of directors and store managers can be held liable for the store’s unpaid taxes, which are about $30,000. The group also voted to open a $2,000 legal defense fund for the board to help them avoid direct liability for any of the unpaid debt.

Members explored various options to keep the store open, including using online platforms like GoFundMe and KickStarter to raise the necessary money to pay the old debts. Board secretary Alex Smythe said the success of national health food chains shows that there is still interest in the business model, but anybody looking to take over the company would first have to settle the $120,000 in debt.

The store has about 1,200 owners registered, but Hauck said she was unsure how many of those members are still alive or even in town, as those records have been poorly maintained.

The store will remain open for the time being while a committee of owners liquidates the store’s existing inventory and other equipment, such as shelving. Another committee will update the membership registry so that the board can send written notification of the vote to dissolve in October.

“I’m so unhappy, and I’m so sad and stressed,” Hauck tearfully told the group. “It’s so awful, but when we incorporated back in 1976, we did so for a period of 50 years, which seemed so damned optimistic. But we almost made it. We almost made it 50 years.”

City to examine e-scooter rules

Manhattan city commissioners on Tuesday are looking at adopting the state’s updated Standard Traffic Ordinance.

The legislative session begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

This ordinance makes all traffic rules in each Kansas city the same, no matter if a person is in Manhattan, Salina or Goodland, said Ron Fehr, city manager.

The city adopts this document every year, according to city officials. However, commissioners can tailor the document locally within reason, Fehr said.

The ordinance is created by the League of Kansas Municipalities. One of the changes requires drivers to present a physical copy of their driver’s license to a police officer when pulled over, Fehr said.

Commissioners are also examining an ordinance pertaining to e-scooters and bicycles. Like with bikes, this proposed ordinance lays out language to prohibit a person from riding an e-scooter on sidewalks in downtown or Aggieville, Fehr said. This is because of high pedestrian traffic on sidewalks, Fehr said.

The commission will discuss other rules when it comes to e-scooters and bikes as city administrators are seeking feedback on the topic.

In regard to the Aggieville parking garage, the city will look at adding a construction manager at-risk to help make the process of building the garage more efficient, Fehr said.

If approved, one commissioner will be on the selection committee to pick an individual to fill that position.

Fehr said this position will help eliminate surprises that arise during the construction process.