Residents in a west Derby community can expect to see fewer problems from heavy rains.
At its Sept. 24 meeting, the City Council approved a $241,489 contract for drainage improvements in the Woodland Valley Addition. That’s an area west of K-15 and south of Meadowlark Blvd., on the boundary line of the city.
The action is pleasing area residents.
“It will help,” said Derrick Schreiber, who lives in the 1100 block of North Wild Turkey Court, the heart of the area hit hard when it pours.
“This is a raging river,” he said, pointing to the drainage ditch just west of his house. He’s also done a lot of work around his property himself to ease conditions.
Schreiber said he likes the neighborhood but having flood control will make it even better. And while the water doesn’t come into his house, it’s a major inconvenience and danger when it floods over Wild Turkey, along with causing erosion issues.
Just to his north, neighbor Deborah Williams expects a big change to the community with the project, and said it’s the change they’ve needed.
She has a stone drainage channel by her property, but with heavy rain, it overflows it as the water can’t easily turn into the north-south drainage ditch.
“It’s hard for water to make a 90-degree turn, so it goes over the road,” said Ky Louanghaksaphone, assistant city engineer.
Schreiber has photos of road flooding, which he presented to officials. The flooding makes Wild Turkey impassable and puts some yards along the route underwater.
Louanghaksaphone, who made a presentation to the council on the issues, said it’s a much-needed job and one he plans to have done this fall.
Mayor Randy White said this is example of a situation where the community became proactive, contacting him and city staff about the problem, and the result is that it was added to the city’s project list.
“This happens to be an issue that the neighbors are concerned about,” White said.
In addition to the drainage benefit to the neighborhood, the project will reduce the city's maintenance efforts, Louanghaksaphone said.
City Manager Kathy Sexton termed the situation a “heavy rains kind of problem.”
Adding to the issue is that it’s close to the Arkansas River, so the drainage is inclined to go that way. With this project, the movement of stormwater to the river will be easier and smoother.
The close-knit community is kind of hidden from the rest of Derby.
A lot of people may think it’s an older area, but the houses are fairly new. The residents like it because it’s close to K-15 Highway, yet it’s quiet and secluded.
Other than residents, few go that way because it’s off the main streets.
There will be two phases to the work.
The first phase involves installing culverts under Wild Turkey Drive and creating a new channel directing runoff west, to reduce the amount of drainage flowing south in the existing ditches.
Construction designs for the first phase are complete and ready to go.
The work will be done by Pearson Construction, which has been taking on a number of other projects in the city.
City officials like to collect a variety of bids but, in this case, only Pearson was interested.
Louanghaksaphone said the primary reasons cited for not bidding the project were the complexity of the work in comparison to the value of the project, and too many existing projects and work backlog due to the area’s excessively wet conditions.
Since the contractors made it clear they would be unlikely to submit a bid if the project were re-bid, officials went with the solo bid of $241,489.
However, the bid is more than the $150,000 project budget and the engineer's estimate of $152,072 prepared by TranSystems, which also designed the work. An examination was made into ways to cut costs, and city officials and TranSystem worked to come up with $12,000 in savings.
Since that’s still past budget, money will be used from the stormwater utility fund. The Capital Improvement Plan includes $150,000 for construction of Phase 1 improvements in 2019.
In a related matter, street improvements have been delayed until spring to allow construction of the first phase drainage without damaging the proposed street upgrades. The residents petitioned for those street changes.
The second phase will redirect a portion of stormwater runoff around the subdivision but will require approval of BNSF Railroad and KDOT. That will take place in 2021.
Louanghaksaphone said a drainage easement is required to construct a portion of the drainage channel west of Wild Turkey, and city staff worked with the property owner to acquire the necessary easement.
Louanghaksaphone said the residents and city have been working together on this, including meeting at an open house.
“We’re pretty excited for the neighbors,” he said. “It will be a big improvement for them.”
After a student was asked to remove a Trump 2020 flag from a varsity football game last month, information began to spread that the Kansas State High School Athletics Association (KSHSAA) has a policy against such political activity.
Verification with KSHSAA has indicated this is not the case.
“The KSHSAA would expect to follow local host school policy in this regard,” said Bill Faflick, executive director for KSHSAA. “The KSHSAA does not have a policy forbidding a student from expressing support for a candidate or issue unless any such expression creates disturbance or dangerous environment.”
And in Derby’s case, that’s pretty much the district policy, too.
Derby Public Schools leaves a bulk of conduct regulation up to administrators at each school. At DHS, the student handbook says “students are expected to maintain standards of behavior that are acceptable to school personnel at all school-sponsored activities, home and away.”
“Any unacceptable pattern of conduct (e.g., disrespect, defiance, disruptive behavior, harassment, inappropriate language, inappropriate displays of affection) will be dealt with by staff and/or school administration,” reads the policy under “General Rules of Conduct” on page 29.
There is no specific policy that deals with political flags, or any flags, within the district’s guidelines or the high school’s student handbook.
One policy in the board of education’s guidelines says that students are permitted to participate in “demonstrations” during non-operational hours on school property, as long as they are “conducted in an orderly, non-disruptive manner.”
While it is not clear if a single student waving a flag would qualify as a “demonstration,” the policy goes on to say that “demonstrations on school district property may be terminated at any time by building principals or the superintendent.”
Finally, in a list of behaviors that could result in suspension or expulsion in DHS’s student handbook, item No. 22 says students could face consequences for “wearing or [being] in possession of clothing or any item, or using verbal or written statements or derogatory insults/slurs that create racial unrest, promotes bigotry and prejudice, or is a source of disruption or a disturbance.”
Following the Trump flag incident, the school district said the official who requested the student remove their flag was acting in error. The district has denied to confirm whether the student was being disruptive or otherwise violating policy.
Dr. Patricia Dooley, a professor of communication law at Wichita State University, said it is probably outside of the school’s legal authority to make a policy that specific.
“I think that a [specific flag] rule would be problematic because of [Tinker vs. Des Moines (1969)],” Dooley said.
While schools are given more leeway in limiting free speech than the government, Dooley said she feels this specific action was outside the bounds of the district’s authority.
“I think the incident violated the student’s right to free expression,” Dooley said.
While she speculated there could be more specific case law from a lower court that pertains to the incident, she maintained that the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of symbolic expression at public schools in the landmark “Tinker” case is applicable.
“I Shepardized Tinker and there are many legal and scholarly sources that cite it,” Dooley said.
While Dooley is not an attorney, “Shepardizing” is a process by which legal officials identify other cases that have dealt with a particular issue. This allows them to determine if a certain court ruling is still good precedent.
Dooley said she is not aware of any Kansas law that would prevent people from campaigning at a sports event, but she said someone could make the argument the student was campaigning – considering the flag in question had an upcoming election year on it.
District staff were joined by representatives of McCown Gordon Construction and Schafer, Johnson, Cox and Frey Architecture to update the board on the progress of the soccer stadium.
Activities director Russell Baldwin and now former Operations Director Joe Dessenberger presented findings based on studies done to determine lighting placement on the west side of the field and how measurements came in shorter than expected.
The lighting company hired by the construction company moved the lights east that sit along Westview due to light spillage and effects on public property.
Due to that discovery, the playing area was defined as 192 feet wide (64 yards). The originally agreed-upon number in the bond was 200 feet wide. While 64 yards does meet KSHSAA standard, options were proposed at the Sept. 23 board meeting to discuss steps moving forward.
After discussing the updated situation with soccer coach Paul Burke, Baldwin suggested that the board consider moving the poles back eight feet to get back to a 200-foot field. The city of Derby would, however, be required to review photometrics to determine the light spillage and what increased lighting it would place on public property.
The pole relocation costs would be covered by construction and design contingency funds, while the district would pay for sod replacement/renewal.
“It gives us about three more yards. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it does play a factor into the game itself,” Baldwin added.
Other options that Dessenberger presented including moving the poles four feet to 196 feet or pushing it out to 210 feet. Like the preferred plan Baldwin presented on behalf of the district and soccer programs, costs of relocation in either plan would be covered by design and construction contingency with the district costs for sod replacement.
The option of leaving poles as they stand today does still exist, but that decision will be voted on at a later board meeting.
Board member Justin Kippenberger emphasized that he wants the project to proceed as originally planned in the voted bond.
“We’re spending taxpayer money on building a soccer stadium,” Kippenberger said. “Let’s do it right and the way we originally planned to do this. The light spillage can be worked through from what it sounds like.”
Regardless of decisions made due to lighting, Baldwin said the soonest the field would be available for games is Tuesday, October 22 for Senior Day for the boys’ roster. The possibility of the girls playing at the Derby Soccer Complex remains as any of these presented options would not take place until the end of the current school year.