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Archive for Thursday, November 24, 2011

Douglas County, Lawrence taxpayers get ‘unsung hero’ award for SRS action

November 24, 2011

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The Shelter Inc. is giving its annual “unsung hero” award to the taxpayers of Douglas County and Lawrence for saving the local office of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

“We are very grateful to the folks who made this possible,” said Judy Culley, executive director of The Shelter, a local organization that provides services for children in state custody and crisis prevention help.

As part of its fundraiser, the 25th annual Festival of Trees, Culley said The Shelter wanted to show its appreciation to everyone responsible for keeping the SRS office open.

In July, Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration announced it was closing nine SRS offices, including the one in Lawrence, which was by far the largest among the nine. The administration said the closures were necessary to save money.

But Lawrence and Douglas County officials protested, saying the closure would disrupt services to thousands of people and create havoc in the community.

After the public outcry, the city and county agreed to pay SRS $450,000 over two years to cover the cost of office rent and overhead. Four other cities approved similar agreements to keep their offices open. SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. has said he would request state funding of the offices in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Culley praised local officials for stepping up.

“From our point of view, all politics aside, our concern was for the clients, and because the people that we serve were not going to have those services available here in town, this was a very big issue for us. We are very grateful to the folks who made this possible for the clients that we serve,” Culley said.

The “unsung hero” award usually goes to an individual or group, Culley said. This is the first time it has been given to honor all taxpayers.

The Festival of Trees starts Monday at Liberty Hall, 644 Mass. Local groups and residents decorate trees that are later auctioned. Last year, The Shelter raised $49,318 from the festival.

The public can view the trees from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday; and 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. A $3 donation is requested for adults; children are admitted for free.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, the party and auction of trees and wreaths will take place. Tickets to the event are $35. At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, “unsung hero” plaques will be accepted by Lawrence Mayor Aron Cromwell and Douglas County Commission Chairman Jim Flory to honor the taxpayers.

Comments

number3of5 2 years, 8 months ago

If you needed services from the SRS, you know how important it was to keep the office in Lawrence open. For many in this day and age it is their hope and foundation for continuing. It is a stepping stone for self reliance. Also the work the Shelter Inc. does is an important part of the community. There are many, many children who need the love and support they receive there. They are given more than just a bed at the Shelter Inc. The Shelter staff are there to help these children in being able to sustain a stable life after leaving custody. There is structure, positive role modeling, love, and so much more available at the Shelter Inc. I know because I used to work there and wish I still could. The children need help to reduce the effects of the emotional, physical, and general stress in their lives.

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Kyle Chandler 2 years, 8 months ago

Just to let you know, this is the LJworld website, about things that happen in Lawrence and Douglas county? I too care about ALL the needy people of the state/country/WORLD....but lets try to start here at home first right? Would you be happier if the Lawrence offices stayed closed?

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JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 8 months ago

The real test will be whether the Brownback administration will fully fund the offices going forward. The state continues to collect more revenue than forecasted. Otherwise all counties and cities with offices should be expected to pay the same amount. Sounds like his school finance plan doesn't it?

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 8 months ago

Just remember, back when his minion was going to close our SRS office, according to his offical mouthpiece, our indignation over it was nothing more than a "partisan snit fit".

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kochmoney 2 years, 8 months ago

You missed the part where the state has a suplus of money, didn't you?

Ew, there's Fox talking point vomit all over the floor, now. Thanks a lot!

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deec 2 years, 8 months ago

Gas prices were higher summer 2008, you know, before the current administration got elected.

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Jana Rea 2 years, 8 months ago

SRS in Focus I have decided that the best party in town is indeed KU College Republicans if you are looking for conservative-minded, politically savvy conversation and connection. That is why after years of looking I find myself with college kids on the KU campus on any given Tuesday night. This week Rob Siedlecki, Jr. Secretary of SRS spoke to a couple dozen of us about what brought him from Florida to be part of Brownback’s team in Kansas. It was entertaining, inspiring but also informative. I for one wanted to hear for myself what progress his department has made in a year because as I suspected, I have read nothing of it in our local newspaper. The decision to close the Lawrence SRS office however did get lots of press. What did not however was a comparison to the previous governor’s record and approach to the same issue: Sibelius closed 64 SRS offices statewide with no appeal option, while Siedlecki proposed closing 9 and opened the process to appeals. Lawrence was one of 5 that entered negotiations that satisfied the twin objective of the State budget and the local need for the Lawrence office. I am just saying, context is important and in this town you don’t always know it unless you search it out yourself. Underreported also has been the success his department is having in the Anti-fraud Initiative. Within the first month, researchers found $2,000,000 paid out of our State treasury that will now stop because benefits to prisoners, dead people, and fleeing felons are being discovered and lead to apprehension. “These are all common sense changes that save Kansas money.” The money saved can go into other initiatives like the Adoption Initiative. “Over 900 Kansas kids are available for adoption, half of which have no family resources. “ Or, the Father Initiative, which effectively fosters responsible parenting between fathers and their children. Siedlecki said that while Brownback’s vision is to return the private sector work force and keep Kansas competitive with tax rates, it is no doubt that his real passion is the family and children. That is why Siedlecki said he feels blessed to be on board making vital changes in policy and lives. I heard and I report because Douglas County is one of two counties in Kansas that Brownback did not carry in the gubernatorial election of 2010. Consequently there is a vacuum of information when the findings are positive, presumably because of bias. But when bias against conservative Republicans is held sacrosanct over facts, it distorts reality and the public is not served. That has got to change if we want to tackle common problems. And I have never seen more in my lifetime.

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