Energy and leadership
Other news from Friday’s meeting of the K-10 Association in Olathe:
• Members were asked to consider supporting efforts to create a National Center for Energy & Environment Technology Validation, likely at the site of the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in De Soto. The center would help convert research regarding alternative energy technologies into actual, viable manufacturing operations. The potential payoff? For the center’s assistance in such work, K-10 communities could retain “siting rights” for eventual manufacturing centers, said Terry Harris, a leader in the effort.
• Members elected Rob Heise, of Heise-Meyer, a commercial real estate firm, to serve as association president for the coming year; and Mike Amyx, a Lawrence city commissioner, as vice president.
Olathe Bob Johnson received a collective pat on the back for his persistent work on a project that isn’t finished yet, some two dozen years after government officials started seriously kicking around the idea of building a loop for traffic around southern Lawrence.
And members of the K-10 Association Inc. are confident their 2009 Service Award winner will keep driving for completion of his adopted task: construction of the South Lawrence Trafficway.
“When it opens, everybody will take credit for it,” said Rich Caplan, the association’s executive director. “But in the meantime, somebody has to keep it in front of all the people involved — the advocates and the people who have concerns, as well as state and federal officials. They need to continue hearing that the community continues to want the project. ...
“He’s kept the project alive.”
Officials presented the award during the association’s annual meeting Friday at Shadow Glen Golf Club in Olathe. About 60 people attended as representatives of member agencies, businesses and communities, including the cities of Lawrence, De Soto, Eudora, Lenexa, Olathe and Overland Park.
The association long has advocated for the trafficway’s completion, to connect U.S. Highway 59 south of Lawrence with Kansas Highway 10 at the southeastern edge of town, near Noria Road.
While the exact path remains a point of contention — an approved route that would cut through the Baker Wetlands remains the subject of a lawsuit field by environmental, Native American and other groups — the association maintains that it simply wants the highway finished, somewhere and somehow.
Johnson, who spent the previous eight years as a Douglas County commissioner, has served as the project’s leading public advocate. He’s worked to help convince federal officials to come up with initial money for the project, $1.5 million of which already is being used to finance expansion of the wetlands to prepare for the highway’s eventual construction.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts is seeking $5 million in more federal financing for the remainder of the trafficway, a project estimated to cost at least $144 million to build.
Mike Amyx, a Lawrence city commissioner, recalls discussing possibilities for the trafficway back in 1985, during his third year as a commissioner. Now — after going on to spend four years as a county commissioner and being re-elected to City Hall in 2005 and, again, in 2009 — Amyx is pleased that Johnson has been willing to push for the project and help move it toward completion.
“He’s worked to make this thing a reality,” said Amyx, elected Friday as vice president of the association. “And it will happen.”