Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Conflicting rulings on Obamacare subsidies put Kansas consumers in limbo

By Jim McLean, KHI News Service

TOPEKA — Conflicting federal court rulings are raising questions about whether consumers in Kansas and Missouri will continue to be eligible for subsidies when purchasing private health insurance through the Obamacare marketplace.

A three-member panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said Tuesday that only consumers purchasing coverage through state-operated marketplaces are eligible for federal tax credits.

If the 2-to-1 ruling stands, consumers in the 36 states – including Kansas and Missouri – that didn’t establish their own marketplaces would no longer be eligible for subsidies. On average, the subsidies have lowered the cost of premiums by 76 percent for those who purchased coverage in the federal marketplace.

However, a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., issued a ruling a few hours after the D.C. court upholding the Internal Revenue Service rule that permitted subsidies in the federal marketplace.

Obama administration officials took issue with the D.C. panel’s ruling and said they would seek to have it reviewed by all of the judges on the court.

Reception to recognize mental health leader

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- Wyandot, Inc. will host a special reception Wednesday, July 23, 4 to 7 p.m., for Pete Zevenbergen, who recently retired as the organization’s president and CEO.

During the program at 5:30 p.m., speakers will recognize Zevenbergen for his visionary leadership in the mental health field locally, across Kansas and the country.

The reception will be held at Savior Pastoral Center, 126th and Parallel, Kansas City, Kan.

Guest speakers will include Mayor Mark Holland, Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas; Mayor Jeff Harrington, Bonner Springs; and Mayor John McTaggart, Edwardsville. Rev. Ken Nettling, chairperson of the Wyandot, Inc.

Board of Directors, will welcome and introduce other guest speakers: Rita Hoag, chair, Western Wyandotte County Citizens’ Advisory Council; Denise Baynham, member, Wyandot Center Board of Directors; and Randy Callstrom, the new president/CEO of Wyandot, Inc. Staff will make special presentations to Zevenbergen.

Zevenbergen was named Wyandot Center executive director in 2000. In 2010, he restructured the organization to create separate entities under the umbrella of Wyandot, Inc. Today, these include Wyandot Center, serving adults with mental illness; PACES, addressing emotional and behavioral health concerns of children and adolescents, and their families; Kim Wilson Housing, developing innovative housing solutions; and RSI, providing crisis stabilization services.

“Over the past 14 years, Pete transformed Wyandot Center and created our Wyandot, Inc., a family of organizations to meet needs of persons with mental illness and those who are homeless,” Callstrom says. “Most importantly, Pete put our consumers at the center of all efforts, and fostered compassion and innovative services to respond to the Wyandotte County community’s needs.”

Zevenbergen grew the organization from:
  • A staff of 253 (full- and part-time) to 555 employees (full and part-time).
  • An annual budget of $6.4 million in 2000 to $31.2 million in 2014. 
  • Today, Wyandot, Inc. provides mental health services at six locations in Wyandotte County and offers housing programs across Kansas and into Missouri.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Candidate forum to be held at KCKCC

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Kansas City Kansas Community College will play host to a Candidate Forum later this month.

The forum will be from 6 to 9 p.m. July 30 in Room 2325 in Upper Jewell on the main KCKCC campus, 7250 State Ave.

Candidates who will be on the Primary Election ballot in August have been invited to attend.

Those who have been invited include Republicans, Sen. Pat Roberts, D.J. Smith, Milton Wolf and Alvin Zahnter and Democrats Chad Taylor and Patrick Wiesner, who are all vying for a U.S. Senate seat; Democrats Kelly Kultala and Reggie Marselus, U.S. Representative, Third District; Gov. Sam Brownback and Jennifer Winn, Republicans, Kansas Governor; Republicans Kris Kobach and Scott Morgan, Secretary of State; Republicans Beverly Gossage, David Powell, Ken Selzer, Clark Shultz and John Toplikar, Insurance Commissioner and Democrats Tim Dupree, Courtney Mikesic and Jim Yoakum,  29th District Judge, Position 11.

Each candidate will be allowed a three-minute opening statement and a two-minute closing statement. Moderators from various sponsoring organizations will ask candidates questions about relevant issues.

Sponsoring organizations include KCKCC, Business West, the Kansas City, Kansas Chamber of Commerce, The Central Avenue Betterment Association, the Historic Northeast Mid-town Association and Downtown Shareholders.

COMMENTARY: You can help make the Annual Back to School Fair a success

By Cathi Hahner, 
Director of Volunteer Services at the United Way of Wyandotte County

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- The 13th annual Wyandotte County Back to School Fair will be held on Saturday August 9, 2014 at two locations: Kansas City Kansas Community College and KCK Boys and Girls Club. The goal of the Fair is to help make every child school ready from day one.

Over 5,000 Wyandotte County students are provided basic school supplies to start the new school year as well as immunizations, sports physicals and an opportunity to learn about community programs and services.

The success of this project relies on contributions from the community. Donations of dollars to purchase items are needed as well as the contribution of your time. Volunteers are needed prior to the event to help sort supplies and to pack the bags for the various grade levels.

On the day of the event your help is needed with set-up, registration, distribution of the bags, library books, food and help keep the site neat and tidy; and then of course help with general clean-up after the event. Over a hundred volunteers are needed on the day of the event.

If you want to volunteer, register on-line at and click on
Back to School Fair.

If you would like to make a financial contribution, go to www.unitedway-wyco-org, click “Give” and check the Back to School Fair box.

Or mail payment to United Way of Wyandotte County, 434 Minnesota, Kansas City, KS   66117; be note Back to School Fair donation.

You can also contact Cathi at the Volunteer Center of the United Way of Wyandotte County, 913-371-3674 or at

This is a wonderful opportunity for groups looking for a service project.

For more information on how you can GIVE, ADVOCATE and VOLUNTEER please contact Cathi Hahner, Director of Volunteer Services, at 913-371-3674 or at

You can find volunteer opportunities by checking out our website, and click on Volunteer.

T-Bones welcome 3 millionth fan


KANSAS CITY, Kan. – With temperatures in the mid-90s, it may have been the hottest night of the year but that didn't stop Craig Swisher from taking his son and daughter to watch the Kansas City T-Bones at CommunityAmerica Ballpark on Monday night.

Little did Swisher know he would be welcomed with open arms by the T-Bones staff, as he was the 3 millionth fan to see a T-Bones game at CommunityAmerica Ballpark — a feat that took only 12 years to accomplish.

“I was stunned; I knew it was significant but I didn’t realize how significant it was at the time,” said Swisher, of Gladstone, Mo., who says he attends two to three games each year.

Even with a major-league franchise like the Kansas City Royals across the state line, the T-Bones continue to post astonishing attendance numbers. The club is on pace in 2014 to draw more than 260,000 fans for the fifth consecutive season.

“Congratulations to the T-Bones on this remarkable milestone,” said Mayor Mark Holland. “The short timeframe that it took to reach this attendance number is a testimony to the quality product and fan experience the T-Bones constantly deliver. It's a fun, family friendly event that everyone can enjoy!”

Going into Monday night, the T-Bones had an American Association best 173,401 fans in 2014, with the next closest being Winnipeg with 146,488. For Kansas City that averages to 5,419 fans each game, which is second-best in the league. (Winnipeg has averaged 5,425 in 2014.)

Swisher will be rewarded for achieving Kansas City's monumental milestone with a prize pack that includes four T-Bones season tickets for life; an autographed, game-used base from CommunityAmerica Ballpark; a baseball autographed by T-Bones coach and Royals Hall of Fame player Frank White; $300 toward a savings account from CommunityAmerica Credit Union; a $100 gift card from Cabela’s; a gift certificate from Danny’s Bar & Grill; a phone from Verizon; a night’s stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kansas City, Kan.; among other prizes.

“It's incredible,” Swisher said, “and I'm so appreciative.”

AirHogs best T-Bones in slugfest


KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Two big innings sank the T-Bones Monday night as Kansas City fell 10-7 to Grand Prairie at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

The AirHogs jumped all over Kansas City starter Kyle DeVore (3-3) in what would turn out to be a wild first inning, opening the frame with five consecutive singles before recording an out. Already leading 2-0, Frazier Hall lined a double down the right field line with the bases-loaded that scored three more and gave Grand Prairie an early 5-0 lead. 

Kansas City would roar back in its half of the first. T.J. Mittelstaedt led off with a home run, his ninth of the season. Danny Richar later singled, stole second base and came around to score on a Bryan Sabatella single, cutting the AirHogs’ lead to 5-2. Vladimir Frias then put an exclamation point on the inning, launching a two-run home run that brought the T-Bones to within one

The first inning in its entirety lasted 37 minutes, saw 73 pitches and nine runs scored between the two clubs.

DeVore would settle down over the game’s next four innings but once again fell victim to the big inning in the sixth. Hall continued his big night at the plate to lead off the inning, hitting a home run to center field. Eric Baker and Jimmy Mojica later singled, ending DeVore’s night.

Alex Nunez then laced an RBI single into center field off reliever Hamilton Bennett, scoring Baker. Brian Myrow later doubled, scoring Mojica and Nunez and extending the Grand Prairie advantage to 9-4.

Kansas City mounted a rally in the eighth, scoring three runs off RBI singles by Ray Sadler and Bryan Sabatella. It wouldn’t be enough, however, as Kansas City lost its third consecutive game.

DeVore struck out a season-high 10 batters, including a stretch where he struck out seven in a row, but allowed eight runs on 12 hits over his 5 2/3 innings in the loss. Ryan Searle (4-5) picked up the win for Grand Prairie. Dakota Watts tallied his 14th save of the season.

Kansas City continues its three game series with Grand Prairie Tuesday night at 7:05. Tickets are available by calling the Providence Medical Center Box Office at CommunityAmerica Ballpark at 913-328-5618.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Local Foster Children Receive Thousands of New Toys from Toy Industry Foundation with Court Appointed Special Advocates

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- More than 500 Kansas City area foster children were gifted with brand new toys and games on Saturday, July 19th, during a fun-filled event hosted by the Toy Industry Foundation to benefit the National CASA Association,  Jackson County CASA and CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties.

An additional 4,500 children in Greater Kansas City will receive new playthings on special occasions and holidays throughout the year thanks to a generous donation from the Toy Industry Foundation.

Kids living at the Niles Home for Children and nearby foster homes enjoyed face-painting, a photo booth, balloon artists, carnival games and other fun activities, before they each picked out a brand new plaything to keep, choosing from an assortment of educational toys, bubble blowers, scooters, puzzles, dolls, and other items that were donated by big-hearted toy manufacturers and retailers to The Toy Bank, the Toy Industry Foundation’s signature giving program.

“The resilient children living in foster care face such grown-up problems at a very young age. It is our hope that the toys and games will give them a reason to smile … and will show them that there are many people out there who care about them,” said Jean Butler, Executive Director of the Toy Industry Foundation. “We are grateful to our generous toy industry donors who continue to make important events like this one possible.”