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Archive for Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Two Lecompton City Council members resign

The fate of the old Lecompton High School is the center of a heated controversy that has led to the resignation of two Lecompton City Council members.

The fate of the old Lecompton High School is the center of a heated controversy that has led to the resignation of two Lecompton City Council members.

March 20, 2012

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A debate over an old high school has led to the resignation of two Lecompton City Council members.

Lecompton City Council members Jennifer Smith and Christy Mallonee both told fellow council members at a Monday evening meeting that they were resigning from the council immediately.

“I have been on the council for four years, and during that time I have had people physically threaten me, call me names, and I’m just tired of it,” said Smith, who works for the Douglas County Extension Service and also writes a gardening column for the Journal-World.

The acrimony, however, has intensified recently as community leaders have struggled to determine what should be done with the old Lecompton High School building.

Late last year, the old three-story building became vacant after the Northeast Kansas Educational Service Center, an educational cooperative serving area school districts, moved its offices out of the building.

Based on a previous agreement, the ownership of the building reverted back to the city of Lecompton after the building became vacant.

Community leaders have expressed optimism that the building, featuring lots of space, marble staircases and other amenities, can attract a business or other user who wants affordable office space.

But Lecompton Mayor Mark Tunstall said council members are struggling with exactly how to move forward. Some community leaders are advocating the city simply sell the building outright to a private developer. Others are advocating the city, which has a population of about 625, serve as a landlord for the property. Others still want to sell the building but place multiple restrictions on how the building could be redeveloped.

“We had a pretty passionate discussion, is what you would call it, I guess,” Tunstall said of Monday’s meeting.

During the middle of the meeting both Smith and Mallonee said they were stepping down from the council.

“I had a letter left at my house last week telling me how I wasn’t welcome in the community because I hadn’t lived there long enough,” said Smith, who was in her fourth year on the council. “That is how the conversation started to turn last night too.

“I have enjoyed being on the council because I felt like I was doing a service, and I felt like I was trying to improve the quality of life. But sometimes people get to you.”

An attempt to reach Mallonee wasn’t successful Tuesday.

Tunstall said the Lecompton City Council hasn’t formally accepted the resignations because when the two council members left the meeting, the group no longer had a quorum to conduct business. A special meeting has been scheduled for today during which the council will vote whether to accept the resignations.

Tunstall said he’s still holding out hope Smith and Mallonee change their minds about serving on the council before then. Smith, though, said she intends to remain off the council.

Both Smith and Mallonee are up for re-election in the April 3 city elections. Neither woman has any opposition on the ballot. Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said both of their names will remain on the ballot because the deadline to withdraw from a race has passed. But if elected — the ballot does include a spot for write-in candidates — the women can notify Shew that they will not serve their terms. At that point, Tunstall could appoint replacements.

As for the future of the old high school building, Tunstall said the council will keep working on the issue. The building currently is costing the city about $1,500 a month to maintain, Tunstall said.

“I would like to see a developer take it over,” Tunstall said. “If I had the money, I would convert it into apartments. But lots of people have lots of ideas about it.

“I think it does have potential. We’re right in between Lawrence and Topeka. We’re close to the interstate. But it is a small town. If you like peace and quiet, though, that’s the best place to be.”

Comments

MYOB 2 years ago

Thank you Jennifer and Christy for wanting to do the right thing and for trying to give someone a chance. Sorry that Lecompton is as backwoods as ever. http://lecompton.org/node/339

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BruceWayne 2 years ago

$1500.00 a month seems a bit much?

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tbaker 2 years ago

So the poor tax payers of Lecompton are getting stiffed $1500 a month because of “feelings” about a vacant building. Thank goodness we have elections.

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Alceste 2 years ago

"...this no-place, this bleak town on the prairie's edge, which now seems hardly more than an overnight encampment of ill-satisfied, overproud people so ignorant, that had they been examined closely along with their town--in truth, if they had stopped a moment and examined themselves, they would have found themselves to be a sad joke without substance..."

"...They spend the first sixty years of their lives in a place which had been stuck in the eternal mud and dust and wrapped all around so tightly with the earth of a continent that it takes several decades for a new idea to filter through to the people and several more decades for them to decide whether or not the new idea (which is old then) is sinful or not. They spend their lives working for a living and living that living in the future--and then they come back after six months from Miami or Long Beach saying: Well, it's just fine there, but home's best--after all..."

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booyalab 2 years ago

Sounds like the Neighborhood Watch Alliance from Hot Fuzz, "It's for the greater good!"

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classclown 2 years, 1 month ago

George_Braziller (anonymous) says…

Same population and the exact same attitude in my hometown in central Kansas. I left 30+ years ago to go to college and nothing has changed there either. You're a "new" resident until you've lived there at least a decade.

Any new idea is suspect and usually shot down because it isn't one of the same tired boring ones people have lived with for 100 years. Places like this have a small handful of people who call the shots and if you cross a certain line things degrade into junior high mentality.

I always tell people that my hometown is a great place to be "from." You couldn't pay me enough to live in a Peyton Place like that again.

March 20, 2012 at 3:47 p.m

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You do realize that you just described Lawrence, don't you?

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patkindle 2 years, 1 month ago

i was thinking homeless shelter would that be cool or what save lawrence alot of money

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Bassetlover 2 years, 1 month ago

Lecompton needs Jennifer Smith. Too bad they blew it. Their loss.

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BruceWayne 2 years, 1 month ago

Lecompton has a chance here to step up big time. Sell the building to Compton/ Werner and let them turn it into a 26 story hotel! Let Fritzel put down some fake grass and hunt some eggs. word.

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rukidingme 2 years, 1 month ago

City council member being threaten, where is the Sheriff department at. This is a crime. I know from my own experience it's tough being on a council no one else wants the job but everyone wants to tell you how to do the job and how bad of a job your doing.

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kernal 2 years, 1 month ago

It's like that everywhere, George. The more generations of a family who live in a town, the more gossip they provide for the other residents.

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Benjamin Roberts 2 years, 1 month ago

"'...I have had people physically threaten me, call me names, and I’m just tired of it,' said Smith"

"The acrimony, however, has intensified recently..."

"...If you like peace and quiet, though, that’s the best place to be.”

One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn't belong, Can you tell which thing is not like the others By the time I finish my song?

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George_Braziller 2 years, 1 month ago

Same population and the exact same attitude in my hometown in central Kansas. I left 30+ years ago to go to college and nothing has changed there either. You're a "new" resident until you've lived there at least a decade.

Any new idea is suspect and usually shot down because it isn't one of the same tired boring ones people have lived with for 100 years. Places like this have a small handful of people who call the shots and if you cross a certain line things degrade into junior high mentality.

I always tell people that my hometown is a great place to be "from." You couldn't pay me enough to live in a Peyton Place like that again.

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