News and notes from around town:
• Fans of the authentic Mexican food served at Tortas Jalisco along West Sixth Street may soon have something else to look forward to. Owner Angel Alvarez confirmed to me that he’s in negotiations to open a new restaurant downtown. He didn’t tell me a specific location, but speculation is that the restaurant would be in the 700 block of Massachusetts. Alvarez said he definitely plans to keep the current Tortas Jalisco restaurant open at 534 Frontier Road. In fact, he said the new restaurant will have a different menu from Tortas Jalisco. The new restaurant certainly will feature Mexican cuisine from his native Jalisco region, but Alvarez said he wants to focus on different dishes so he is not competing with himself.
He’s working with the city to determine what type of kitchen equipment his proposed location can handle. If he can put in all the equipment he hopes, Alvarez said he will open a more upscale Mexican restaurant. If he’s limited on the equipment, he plans to open a truly authentic taco stand. He hopes to be in a position to formalize a deal in about a week. I’ll let you know what I hear.
• An evening stroll down parts of Massachusetts Street may have a slightly different look to it in the near future. The City Commission on Tuesday is scheduled to finalize plans to install 115 LED street lights in downtown. The approximately $170,000 project is using money the city received through an energy efficiency grant that was part of the federal stimulus. The new lights are expected to reduce energy consumption by about 40 percent to 50 percent.
The lights also will look different from the 1970s-era type of lights that line Mass. Street. Gone will be the square poles and they’ll be replaced with a rounder pole that has more of an old-time cast-iron look. Here's a picture of the new lights. I’m not sure how much different the actual beam of light itself will look. People tell me LED lighting is a bit softer of a light. There are some downtown today, so maybe you've noticed a difference. The lights are expected to arrive in about six weeks. City crews will do the installation.
• The numbers geek in me has taken a few days off, but here’s a quick-hitter. The Bureau of Labor Statistics this week released data showing how much personal income has grown across the country. For Kansas, it could have been better, could have been worse.
Personal income in Kansas grew by 2.7 percent in 2010. That was good news in the fact that in 2009 personal income actually declined. (It declined in every state in 2009, except Alaska.) But Kansas’ 2.7 percent increase was a bit below the 3 percent increase for the country as a whole.
In terms of how Kansas stacks up to other states in the Plains region, it was basically in the middle. North Dakota had the largest increase at 3.5 percent. South Dakota had the smallest at 1.5 percent.
Kansas, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, still has per capita income that is in the upper half of the country. Per capita income in Kansas was $39,737 in 2010. That ranked the state 21st in the country. Here’s a look at how we compare to other states in our region:
- Minnesota: $42,843, 13th
- North Dakota: $40,596, 18th
- Kansas: $39,737, 21st
- Nebraska, $39,557, 22nd
- South Dakota, $38,865, 25th
- Iowa, $38,281, 28th
- Missouri, $36,979, 32nd.
The national per capita average is $40,584. Connecticut has the highest per capita income at $56,001. Mississippi has the lowest at $31,186. Numbers for cities and counties haven’t been released yet.