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School board revisits elementary school closings

Well, much of this was predictable, it seems, if we all consider how the school board (and certain members more than others) tend to view the voting and taxpaying public.

After Mr. Laurisen was lambasted and criticized for for his Merle Venable sports complex naming proposal and he stated publicly at a board meeting that he didn't know his proposal would cause so much angst and public outrage, he rams it through last month after many thought that the proposal was abandon. Now, Mr. Lauridsen, in his selfish and self-centered way, can re-live his own football fantasies while more deserving coaches, teachers and athletics from the past 100 years of Baldwin High School history are ignored. Let alone all the thousands of alumni who deserved the opportunity to nominated and vote for their own choices.

My own opinion was that the idea was terrible from the start. It never should have been considered. Now, as I predict, the community will argue, fight and maneuver over future facility namings. The whole idea is a venture into the insane.

This is the same Mr. Lauridsen who had to apologize several years ago at a school board meeting for a decision that wasted several hundred thousand dollars of taxpayer money.

Lest the school board forget, the rural taxpayers contribute slightly more than 55% of the total school district tax payments. I would argue that in a democracy this fact makes our rural friends great benefactors to our own children's education in the city facilities. They deserve to have their opinions considered if not their wishes granted.

It seems many of these issues that cause public anger and angst initiate from Superintendent Paul Dorathy. Sometimes I wonder what his agenda is overall.

Baldwin City is Baldwin City. It is not Johnson County.

We have ended up with brand new schools and the high taxes associated with these facilities and now suddenly it has become apparent that our retired and elderly citizens are being forced from their homes because of high property taxes. Did anyone think that far ahead?

The public gets who they deserve through their votes or by way of their involvement in school board meetings. And uninformed, uneducated voting public usually gets public officials who mirror themselves.

A smart, informed, involved voting public gets the representation they demand and require.

September 24, 2010 at 9:16 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

School board approves Merle Venable Complex

The Baldwin School Board should be embarrassed and ashamed for their action. I agree with “1776attorney”. Perhaps not so much for establishing a building naming procedure, but for the sneaky and self-serving way in which it was accomplished.

Although I believe the whole concept of naming school district buildings for any past or present school employees is wrong and narrow-minded, in the future it will also prove to be a disaster that will divide the community and cause in-fighting. And it’s completely unnecessary. It's a man-made disaster.

Mr. Westgate is right. Tradition and history reserves that school buildings should honor historical figures, veterans, fallen law enforcement, etc.

Since 1910, there have been at least 30 high school coaches worthy of this same honor. During Mr. Venable’s tenure alone there were state champions in basketball, cross-country, tennis, wrestling, golf and similar championships in girl’s sports. Mr. Venable’s accomplishments were identical, not singular, to other coaches during his tenure and certainly not when compared to all school district history.

While Mr. Venable’s accomplishments do deserve commendation and praise, he is not alone in representing the school district in achieving great athletic awards.

Every single era in Baldwin High School history had teachers and coaches equal to or better qualified in their achievements and performance when compared to Mr. Venable. In the 1950’s and 1960’s the school district had stellar coaches winning state championships.

The action of the School Board is nothing more than allowing Mr. Lauridsen an opportunity to ram through his favorite coach and re-live his high school glory days while ignoring thousands of other graduates and athletics whose voices, opinions or votes were never even solicited or considered. He represents his little group and not the whole district and all alumni as he should.

In no way is Mr. Venable to blame. It’s unfortunate the actions of the School Board have caused his name to be mentioned and discussed in an embarrassing way. But in order to discuss their actions, Mr. Venable must be included.

These actions may make a very small group happy, but a much larger community is not so approving.

August 20, 2010 at 10:12 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Baldwin City, county to share road work expenses

I appreciate your reply and very adequate explanation, Mr. Bayer. You make some valid points and this explains the situation in better detail.

As a side note, I think some of the long time residents of Baldwin City and the rural areas, many of whom were born and grew up here, and those that live within a 10-15 block area around downtown, feel neglected many times because so much work and money is spent in the new neighborhoods.

While everyone I speak with welcome the new neighbors and home development, it is a common perception that a lot of money and improvements are going to these newer, wealthier areas to the neglect and detriment of the older neighborhoods. There is a feeling that these newer residents are pushing the school district and the city to transform Baldwin City into the image (including the high property taxes and luxuries) of their previous neighborhoods of Johnson County and they are gaining the political sway to push their agenda.

While I am personally in favor of progress, development and modernization, I think care and consideration needs to be taken so that projects favor and positively effect all citizens or neighborhoods over time.

Property taxes for the city and school district are now a huge burden on our retired citizens. Baldwin City has always been a haven for retirement for our own citizens, retiring ministers, former Baker alumni , etc. But the tax situation has become a huge burden for these folks. Some elderly are now almost to the point of not being able to afford their home taxes and their only alternative is to sell their residences. Many of these elderly would never openly complain or speak about their situations in public.

I don't have all the answers and I don't expect anyone else to know every single solution. You politely throw out your concerns and then scramble around to solve them by the best methods possible. It's difficult enough to keep from sounding hypocritical. It's not an exact science; it's a progressively learned, never perfected skill.

Thank you for your discussion of this issue. You're somewhat at a disadvantage because of the anonymity of the Comment Section. I understand that.

August 15, 2010 at 10:16 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Baldwin City, county to share road work expenses

In the spring of this year, the Baldwin City council voted by a narrow margin to not require new developments north of Highway 56 to install sidewalks, curbing and gutters and include these costs in their home prices.

At the time, I predicted that sooner or later, all Baldwin City citizens would eventually be forced to pay these costs when one of the wise wizards runnning our fine city decided these improvements would be pretty and nice for those neighbors, or they fulfilled some unspoken agreement with developers to eventually sneak in these neighborhood improvements.

Whether the $3.2 million is from Baldwin City or Douglas County coffers, the money represents taxes collected from all Baldwin City and Douglas County taxpayers being used to pretty-up the neighborhood of wealthy developers and homeowners who should have ponied up these costs themselves when their neighborhood and homes were built.

Meanwhile, the sidewalks, gutters and curbing surrounding the greater Baldwin City downtown area are literally in such disrepair as to be unusable or dangerous to pedestrians. These sidewalks would never meet the legal requirements of Federal Law protecting the rights of disabled people (including the elderly). There is not one single sidewalk that would accommodate a wheelchair for any more than 1 or 2 blocks, let alone ramped curbing for access.

The street curbing surrounding Baker University is an embarassment. The curbing is virtually crumbling into the street in some areas.

Sidewalks in the downtown surrounding residential areas are hazardous. Take a minute someday and just see how many people take walks "in the street" because the sidewalks are a disgrace and unusable or non-existent.

Some residents within a 10 block area around downtown have waited more than 50 years for gutters, curbing and sidwalks. And we still wait while $3.2 million of "our" tax dollars are spent once again to beautify and improve the new, wealthier neighborhoods that should have constructed these normal neighborhood enhancements at the time of construction and the costs absorbed by the home buyer.

Downtown Baldwin City is the focal point, main attraction and gathering place for our city residents and our visitors. People do not close their eyes and drive blind to get to downtown. They see the rotten and decayed (or non-existent) sidewalks, the total lack of curbing and guttering along with the muddy ditches. Downtown must seem like an oasis of paradise after traversing these poorly maintained neighborhoods.

I think our city leaders should be pressed to explain this situation since it is all of our tax dollars going to benefit a select few who should have paid for these improvements along with their beautiful, expensive homes.

August 13, 2010 at 9:59 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

‘Preserving the past’: Lumberyard Arts Center completes phase one of construction

Since the article fails to mention this, kudos to Carl Butell, who was president of the Baldwin State Bank at the time, and to all the shareholders of the bank. Let's not leave out their names for almost handing over the old lumberyard for the community's benefit.

May 4, 2010 at 2:09 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Electrical rates could be increasing 6 to 12 percent

"Comments" is a public service section to allow interested citizens an opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions on "issues" reported in news articles about current events.

"Comments" is not intended as a section for anonymous, hidden, secretive posters to attack other serious contributors personally who are focused on contributing to good public policy and democracy.

Had Torch bothered to read my complete Comment (which she proudly boasted she did not), she would understand (like all readers have) that my statement "as someone who's family has lived here for 90 years" is important to my "whole" comment and opinion as expressed later in my posting.

How about focusing on the purpose of the "Comments Section" and allow concerned and serious citizens the opportunity to express their public policy opinions without personal attacks?

This is also the repsonsibility of the Signal to moderate and keep the Comments Section focused on its purpose. Bitter personal attacks is one reason citizens do not participate in contributing here.

April 26, 2010 at 10:46 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Electrical rates could be increasing 6 to 12 percent

Thank you for helping to prove my point about the "name calling and bitterness", Torch.

Very well done, indeed.

April 24, 2010 at 11:31 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Electrical rates could be increasing 6 to 12 percent

I am sorry to see these comments degenerating somewhat into name calling and bitterness. I'll just offer my brief opinion as someone who's family has lived here for 90 years.

Part of the problem with the current governance in Baldwin City, at the city and school board level, is the fact that we have seen an influx of higher income and educated people move into the city in the past 10 years.

Somehow I think most of these new residents moved to Baldwin City because it IS Baldwin City. But some then forgot what our city is all about.

While these new residents are welcome and bring new friends, taxes and neighborhoods that enhance all of us, they have also brought attitudes of wanting Baldwin City to be a miniature wealthy Johnson County.

This causes friction between the old time Baldwin City families who like progress and modernization, but live on modest incomes and like to maintain affordable tax rates.

The city is in desparate need of improvements within the city proper itself- curbing, sewers, gutters, sidewalks. And yet, it seems a lot of taxpayer money is going to new developments on the outskirts of town while the downtown surrounding area is neglected.

Tax money is being spent on the new resident's needs while the old family neighborhoods are ignored. (How about that $300,000 walking and bike trail that runs through "new" developments?)

While we should appreciate the service of council and school board members, those who are new Baldwin City residents in government service should be reminded that they represent ALL citizens and neighborhoods within the city limits. Some members have forgotten this, it seems. And forgetting the historic value of Baldwin City proper and it's residents will only lead to increased friction and infighting in this fine city. This serves no one well.

April 24, 2010 at 6:46 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

City council gives nod to new regulations

As a Baldwin resident for more than 50 years (my whole life), who's family was once a pillar of the "old guard" of the city (humblely stated), I would like to make a few observations regarding these sub-divisions and developers.

I have no problem or complaint with upper income housing popping up around the Baldwin City area. In fact, I would encourage it. Many retired Baker alumni and KC area people are very welcome. These people bring new friends, neighbors and cultural opportunities to all of us.

Progress and nice neighborhoods are good.

My family has owned a nice, 100 year old home for 90 years within a 4 block area of downtown. We have waited for nice sewage, sidewalks, curbing and streets for more than 100 years. How about some street curbing around the older, most promenent areas circlulating the downtown areas? These are the neighborhoods visitors see. These are the "old classic Baldwin" areas.

How about some enforcement of city codes regarding "trashy and junkyard" residences? Junk RVs parked in mud lawns? Groups of illegal aliens habitating for summer work in the USA. How about polite, not rude, nasty city employees afraid to enforce city codes against certain ethnic groups? How about the fact that this residence is viewable to downtown visitors?

I am completely baffled by city plans to fund bike and walk trails in new developments while ignoring the needs of Baldwin City proper as a whole. What about improvements to the downtown surrounding areas- the real Baldwin City.

Regarding the sidewalk, curbing, sewage and street requirements in new developments. I'm not sure why this requires extensive thought on the behalf of our elected officials. All new developments across the country require sidewalks, curbling, sewage and street imporvements--- otherwise, 5 years into the future all residents of Baldwin City will be asked to foot the cost of these new improvements.

Developers in most cities always provide these add ons. There's no "yes or no" option. The cost becomes a part of the home price, as it should. The beneficiaries of sidewalks, curbing, sewage and streets are these very homebuyers. A family that lives across town is not.

Future upgrades and maintanance do become a city responsibility.

Passing on this obligation for new sidewalks, sewage, curbing and street improvements passes the buck in the future to all Baldwin taxpayers and takes money away from sidewalk and street improvements in the old Baldwin neighborhoods. Homebuyers get a handout.

This also smacks of favoritism and developer's "buying off" city representatives.

There is no legitimate reason to not require these basic impovements. It makes no sense what-so-ever to not require these normal neighborhood requirements.

(Trying to stay unbiased and focused on what is best for the most.)

April 8, 2010 at 3:55 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

School board holds off on naming facility policy

Consider the fact that it is possible a silent majority of residents could be against this proposal (regardless of the namee). No one knows for sure at this time. No one has asked.

Where does the naming stop? How about the hundreds of teachers and coaches who provided stellar learning and coaching for the past 100 years in Baldwin. Let’s name the tennis courts, the basketball court, the drama and debating classrooms. Do we let the class of 1942, 1933, or 1995 name buildings for their favorite, trophy winning coach? What class of 1987 member knows of the superior teacher or coach loved by the class of 1942? Why is Coach X from 1995 any more deserving than Coach Y from 1942?

No disrespect is intended to Mr. Venable what-so-ever. This comment is not about him personally. This comment is solely regarding the process, the public appeal or community benefit of this proposal. I like Merle.

Mr. Venable, however, is not the only BHS coach to win a state sports championship. There were many from the past 100 years. More than 10 coachs, including cross country, basketball, wrestling and tennis before, after, and during Mr. Venable's tenure.

I find it ironic that at the past board meeting Board Member Ruth Barkley was most concerned about how to REJECT suggested nominees from the graduates and community. This attitude isn't about inclusion and genuine recognition, it's about favoritism, community division and a small group selecting their own favored coaches or teachers. In fairness, perhaps Ms. Barkley might rethink and clarify her comment.

A better approach is for the School Board, Mr. Lauridsen and his small group to privately raise $10,000 and ask the School Board to allocate a small area of space at a sports-related location on school property and have a monument built to highlight and reward ALL deserving and championship coaches.

It's not the responsibility for all Baldwin City taxpayers to pay for naming sports fields that a small, overzealous group decides is their dream coach from their own glory days of high school.

You get unbiased,non-agenda representatives from all BHS graduating classes or eras and make your coach selections or criteria representing the total scope of 100 years of high school experiences.

The school district can then agree to maintain the monument after it has been privately funded and installed and it highlights all of our high school coach experiences in all sports.

More than 50% of Baldwin City's population did not even live in town during Mr. Venable's tenure. They don't even know him or the other previous coaches.

Put up a privately funded monument to all BHS championship coaches or stellar teachers and let people learn about ALL of these people who we should all be proud and appreciative of.

March 11, 2010 at 5:42 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

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