“Low income housing, childcare, availability, and mental health, which is a little tangential to what the city does, but it’s still involved. And then of course, transportation. I’m on the ATA Bus board. We need to do some things to make that more efficient,” she said.
All this week we are taking a look back at some of the top news events in the Manhattan area for 2023. Today we take a look back at the fourth quarter of the year from October through December with KMAN News Director Brandon Peoples….
1229-KMAN YIR 4th QTR
The final quarter of the year brought about a lot of change. For residents in northern Riley County ambulance response times improved significantly with the opening of the new north county EMS station in Leonardville.
Commissioner Greg McKinley, who campaigned on the issue in 2020, recalled a turning point at a February 2022 community meeting where north county residents packed the Leonardville Community Building, urging county officials to do something.
And even when I ran people said, well, you can’t promise it because it’s not gonna happen. But when people work together, things can get done. It’s been rewarding to see that thing come together,” he said.
EMS Director David Adams says average response times improved by about 15 minutes from what north county residents previously had experienced.
“That covers all of the area of northern Valley County from about two miles south of Riley to the northern county line, east and west as well,” he said.
Local elections took place in November and saw a lot of change happen on the Manhattan City Commission. Incumbent commissioner Linda Morse decided to retire at the end of this year. With Usha Reddi’s term also needing to be filled, a rare four of the five seats were up for grabs this year on the city commission. Three new faces were elected to the commission, swinging the pendulum from a conservative majority to a liberal majority. Susan Adamchak was the top vote getter and shared her thoughts on the city’s top concerns heading into the new year.
“I think we have issues with affordable housing in Manhattan. I think we need to be looking at our growth to the east of the city and I think we need to be concerned with support for social service agencies in Manhattan,” she said.
Rejoining the commission is former commissioner Karen McCulloh, who mentioned some of her priorities.
Peter Oppelt won a two year term on the commission.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do when it comes to figuring out our identity and what we want the city to look like. We have a lot of tough decisions to make about budget priorities and how to make all of those things or as many of those things possible happen.
John Matta was the lone incumbent to be re-elected.
“I want to keep taxes down. I think with the new configuration of the commission, that probably is going to be a lot more difficult because we don’t have those fiscal conservatives on there. Hopefully we’ll keep the economic growth going which again, will play into making this much more customer service friendly when it comes to dealing with both our local businesses and outside businesses,” he said.
Mark Hatesohl, who served as mayor this year and raised the most funds of any candidate was not retained by voters ending his second stint on the commission.
Meanwhile the USD 383 school board welcomed some old and some new faces. Kristin Brighton and Curt Herrman both were retained, with Herrman defeating challenger Frank Beer by just 33 votes.
“I’m thrilled to be back on the board. I’m particularly really happy that I get to serve with Kristen Brighton another term, but it’s definitely a nerve wracking event if you’ve ever been in a close election,” he said.
Newcomers elected included Katie Allen and former Manhattan High School Principal Greg Hoyt.
Meanwhile in Pottawatomie County, for the second straight year, voters rejected a proposed quarter percent sales tax to help fund some of its needed road and bridge projects. Commission Vice Chair Dee McKee.
“I think the hardest thing for all three of us is the process doesn’t allow us to go out and actually campaign for it directly after we make the decision. and that turns into a hard sell. That simply doesn’t sell without us speaking about why we did it,” he said.
Commissioner Greg Riat has floated the idea of benefit districts in the Green Valley area to fund some of the needed infrastructure improvements.
“As I see it, that’s a growing community they have needs over there and there are resources they want, that sometimes seem like maybe it’s above what the rest of the county would need. It seems like if we could provide some kind of a benefit district for those folks, to get them more of the services that they wish would be a good idea, one to make it more fair for everybody in the county and two so they can have a way to realize some of the things that they would like to have,” he said.
Elsewhere Kansas State University officials broke ground on the new Animal Sciences Arena earlier in December and city officials approved a development agreement and an amended tax increment financing plan for the Midtown Aggieville project.
Other notable news items from the fourth quarter included several retirement announcements, including Manhattan City Manager Ron Fehr, Geary County Sheriff Dan Jackson, K-State Provost Chuck Taber, Pawnee Mental Health CEO Robbin Cole and Riley County Community Corrections Director Shelly Williams.