Rumor Watch

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HOT TOPIC
 
SOUTH ATCHISON TRAIL CONTRACTORS:  Why isn't the City using local contractors on the South Atchison Trail project?
 
The South Atchison Trail project is being administered by KDOT due to the 1.17 million of Federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant funding that the project received. The project was competitively bid and KDOT selected the best and lowest bid from a qualified general contractor, that being Kansas Heavy Construction out of Tonganoxie, Kansas. Neither the City of Atchison nor KDOT determines which sub-contractors or suppliers are used throughout the duration of the project by the general contractor, although there are stringent quality control measures in place to ensure their work and products are of the highest quality.

 Updated:  August 9, 2017

 


ANNEXATION PUBLIC HEARING:   I have heard that the City will host a public hearing at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall on Monday, June 5th to discuss the annexation of the land from Pratt Road to Osage Road. Is this true?
 
This is simply not true. The City is not considering the annexation of the land from Pratt Road to Osage Road and, therefore, a public hearing will not take place on June 5th. If the City ever considers annexing your property, you will be contacted directly by the City. 
 
 Updated:  June 2, 2017
 
 
CSO FEE:  I have heard that City is charging a CSO Fee and isn’t making any progress on the corrections to the system.  Also, how can the city pay for quality life items like the dog park and the new trail with this liability?

Thanks for the question!

First, here is a quick video introduction to CSOs, or combined sewer overflows, from Evansville, Indiana: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_zjS87YObA

With the passage of the federal Clean Water Act in the early 1970's, CSOs became much more regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and in Kansas, by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). After the Clean Water Act was passed, federal grant and loan programs were offered to cities to help remediate their CSO issues. Some of those programs even offered 90% federal funding for sewer separation projects. Other CSO cities in Kansas, like Lawrence and Topeka, took advantage of federal funding through grant and loan programs to remediate their combined sewers decades ago. At the time, the City of Atchison, in addition to Kansas City, KS, and Kansas City, MO largely chose not to participate in those programs, fearing that the cost was too burdensome to residents and businesses.

Fast forward several decades to 2009. Atchison had not made much progress on the City's CSO issues. In September of 2009, KDHE issued an Administrative Order that would have required the City to solve its $140 million CSO issue in just 20 years.  There are no longer federal funding programs to assist cities in solving their CSO issues, so 100% of the funding must be local. Projections from City staff showed that the City would have to raise utility bills to over $500 per month to comply with the order.  The City filed a notice of appeal and entered into a two-year process to negotiate a consent order. 

In December of 2011, the City entered into a consent agreement with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to remediate the City’s combined sewer system (CSO).  In the end, the City entered into an agreement that would allow the City to raise rates over five years from roughly $1.5 million a year to 2% of median household income, or $3.1 million per year, which is still a difficult burden on the community, but is much better than the $8.5 million per year that would have been required under the original Administrative Order. Some have used the term "unfunded mandate" to describe the CSO issue that our community is facing. Thirty years ago, this was a partially funded mandate, although our community chose not to participate in those programs. Today, it absolutely is an unfunded mandate.

The consent order will allow the City to solve the CSO issue over the next 40-80 years with the revenue that the City is required to collect.  The consent order is designed to allow the City to make progress on the CSO issue and to still be able to afford items that are important to quality of life for our citizens. 

In April of 2015, the City started charging a CSO fee of $13.32 a month, and eliminated the City’s trash fee of $13.32 per month.   (The City is now paying for residential trash through the proceeds of the 1993 Sales Tax for solid waste and joint communications.) The proceeds from the CSO fee are put toward the City's Sewer Fund to assist with funding CSO remediation projects and long overdue upgrades to the City's Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Since signing the consent order the following projects have been completed:

4th Street Sewer Separation – 2012  $521,920

UltraViolet Light Treatment Process @ Waste Water Treatment Plant 2013  $1,128,139

Mechanical Bar Screen Installation @ Waste Water Treatment Plant 2015  $96,629

Grit Classifier, Pista Grit Pump, Conveyor System Replacement @ North Headworks Pump Station – 2015 $153,672

Secondary Clarifier Cover Installation – 2015  $60,000

Aeration Basin Blower Rehabilitations – 2015 $10,134

The following Project is underway:

Flood Gate Automation (Eliminates Dry Weather CSO Bypass) – 2016  $499,300 (Actual Cost)

These projects are scheduled for next year:

Trickling Filter Rehabilitation @ Waste Water Treatment Plant - 2017  $375,000 (Estimated)

Primary Clarifier Rehabilitation @ Waste Water Treatment Plant – 2017  $225,000 (Estimated)

These projects are scheduled in the next three years:

Dam 6 Overflow Pipe Separation - 2017-2018 $2,000,000 (Estimated)

11th and 14th Street CSO Separation or Store & Treat Project - 2018-2019 $4,000,000+ (Estimated)

Quality of Life Projects (Cost of Quality of Life Items from the Question)

Dog Park $22,735 (Actual Cost)

US-73 Trail Project $178,765 (Estimated Cost to City)

Updated July 15, 2016


Fire Truck at New Ambulance Station:   I heard that the City committed $100,000 for the new ambulance station to house a fire truck. Is this true?

Thanks for the question. The City Manager and Assistant City Manager had lunch with a now former County Commissioner, and talked about the future of EMS service in Atchison. During the course of the conversation, they were asked if there would ever be a need another fire station. The City officials responded that there was not currently a need and any need would be much further into the future. Asked where the future need might occur City staff responded it would be on the west side of town.

City officials never had any further conversations on the matter, and they were not asked to participate in any of the planning for the new facility. There was never any discussion of the City providing any financial support of a County EMS facility as the County was designing the facility.

Updated July 8, 2016


EMS Service:  I heard that the City only thought half of the county should have EMS service. Is this true?

This is not true. 

In the summer of 2015, Atchison County purchased a building at 10443 US 59 to house County EMS. City Officials were contacted by citizens that were concerned about increased EMS response times within the City of Atchison as a result of relocating of the facility from North 3rd Street to the far southwest corner of the City.

At the August 3rd City Commission meeting, City Commissioners reviewed computer generated response time modeling that showed a significant increase in response times for a majority of city residents. As a result, the Atchison City Commission voted unanimously (5-0) to adopt Resolution 2991, imploring Atchison County to reconsider the location of the EMS building due to the adverse affect on in-city response times.

On August 18, 2016, City Commissioners and staff met with the Atchison County Commission to discuss the proposed EMS facility. City Officials asked County Commissioners if they could put together a plan to provide a combined City/County EMS service and present it at an upcoming Joint City-County Commission meeting on September 21st.  County Commissioners agreed to the meeting, but wanted the presentation to occur two weeks earlier, on September 8, 2015.http://www.atchisoncountyks.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/1115?fileID=272

City staff worked quickly to meet the September 8, 2015 deadline and present the following presentation: https://prezi.com/1qqlsdv4bqih/improved-ems-service-delivery-in-atchison-county/.

Due to the limited time the City had to analyze the service options, the plan presented by City Officials included two service providers. The City of Atchison could provide EMS in the eastern district of the County for a relatively low cost of $125,000 per year.  However, the modeling done by the City showed that the cost to provide the same service in the western half of the County would quadruple.  Based on the City’s estimates, Tech, Inc could cover the western half of the County at a lower cost than the City.  The City firmly believes that all citizens should have quality EMS service and never suggested that the western half of the County should be without service. The City simply realized that they could not service the western half of the County at a lower cost than Tech, Inc could. The City was very clear that they would be willing to provide full coverage to the western half of the County if a private contractor was unable or unwilling to do so. 

Updated July 8, 2016


City/County Consolidation:  I heard that the City and County will consolidate if a certain candidate is elected?

No, this rumor is false.

There are a number of steps that would be involved in city-county consolidation, like the one that took place in Kansas City, Kansas. 

First, the creation of a commission to study and design how the merged organization would function and govern would be required. The commission must meet in public, and provide opportunities for all citizens to offer input.

Next, the Kansas Legislature would have to allow for an election to be held proposing the consolidation and considering the proposed consolidation plan.

Finally, the public would have to vote in an election and choose to become consolidated. The key aspect of this vote is that it must be approved by two groups, both the majority of the Atchison County citizens that live inside Atchison city limits and the majority of Atchison County citizens that live outside of the city limits.

So, what if a current City Commissioner runs for County Commission and wins? Can they serve on both the City and County Commission? No, a person cannot serve as both a City Commissioner and a County Commissioner at the same time. The current law on this is issue (K.S.A. 19-205), states, “no person holding any state, county, township or city office shall be eligible to the office of county commissioner in any county in this state.” In other words, any current Atchison City Commissioner would have to resign in order to be sworn in as an Atchison County Commissioner.

Updated July 7, 2016



Election Campaign Signs:  I heard the City can have campaign signs removed from properties. Is this true?

The City has no authority to order any campaign signs to be moved or removed, unless they are located on city property. Any right-of-way that adjoins private property is not considered city property. The only campaign sign regulations the city enforces are that they must stay off of city property and signs located on private property cannot obstruct any sight lines on roadways.

The Kansas Legislature passed a new state law in 2015 that makes it easier for political signs to show up in all areas across Kansas. According to K.S.A.  25-2711, “no city or county shall regulate or prohibit the placement of or the number of political signs on private property or the unpaved right-of-way for city streets or county roads on private property during the 45-day period prior to any election and the two-day period following any election. For safety reasons, cities and counties have the power to regulate the size and set-back distance of the placement of signs to avoid impeding sight lines or sight distance. “

Please get permission from private property owners before placing any campaign signs on their property.

Updated July 7, 2016



Northwest Pipe Purchase:  I heard a company was willing to purchase Northwest Pipe but the City would not issue tax credits to seal the deal; however, they had no problem issuing tax credits to the new hotel coming to town. Is this true?

No, this is NOT true. Here’s the low down:  To our knowledge, Northwest Pipe has not been approached with an offer for purchase. Neither a representative from Northwest Pipe nor a potential buyer for Northwest Pipe has approached the City requesting any information on incentives available to a potential business. We would be happy to sit down with any potential buyer and/or Northwest Pipe to discuss any business development that could transpire on that property, but to date, we have not been contacted.

The City does not have the ability to issue tax credits directly to a business, and the hotel is not receiving any tax credits from the City. The City did support the issuance of Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs) to finance the hotel development and they will receive a property tax exemption and sales tax exemption on building materials through those IRB's. In return for the City's support of the IRB issuance and property tax exemption, the City will receive a payment in lieu of taxes during the last 3 years of the 10-year IRB issue. The payments will be 25% of the total taxes abated in year 8, 50% in year 9, and 75% in year 10. The City is also receiving $100,000 over 6 years for the land to build the hotel on the 4th and Main parking lot.The City has unlimited authority to issue IRB's.

Curbside Recycling:  The City is throwing away my recycling.
 
It is not true that the City is throwing away your recycling. Since the City started curbside recycling in January 2015, both trash trucks and recycle trucks have been utilizing the Atchison County Transfer Station to dump their materials; however, they do stay separated until the recyclables are moved to the Material Recovery Facility, located in Kansas City, Kansas. The County contracts with Deffenbaugh Industries, Inc. to haul recyclables to the Material Recovery Facility, where the materials are sorted and later sold and reused. 
 
The City requested data from Atchison County regarding the amount of recyclable materials that are sent to Deffenbaugh. The data showed that from January 1, 2015 to November 18, 2015, the City recorded having collected 153 tons and the County collected 92.65 tons. 
 
Check out this link to see how materials are sorted and processed at Material Recovery Facilities:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CFE5tD1CCI
 
If you have any further questions, please email trash@cityofatchison.com
 
Updated:  November 20, 2015
 
 

 
Sales Tax:  I heard that Atchison has the highest sales tax around.
 
It is not true that Atchison has the highest sales tax around. Atchison's sales tax is 8.75%:  1% for City General Sales Tax; 1% for County Solid Waste/Joint Communication; .25% for County Sports Complex; 6.5% for the State of Kansas. Atchison's sales tax is lower than a lot of our surrounding areas:
 
Kansas:
Leavenworth......................9.50%
--Zeck Ford.......................10.25%
 
Lawrence..........................9.05%
 
Lenexa.............................9.1%
 
Topeka.............................9.15%
 
Overland Park....................8.85%
 
Olathe...............................9.225%
 
Legends Outlets..................9.725%
 
Schlitterbahn.....................11.125%
 
*Sales tax rates from the Kansas Department of Revenue
 
 
Missouri:
St. Joseph..........................8.45%
--East Hills Mall..................9.45%
--The Commons..................9.45%
 
Country Club Plaza..............8.85%
 
Zona Rosa.........................9.475%
 
*Sales tax rates from the Missouri Department of Revenue and the Mid-America Regional Council
 
Updated:  August 2015
 

 

Water Service Lines:  I recently received a letter from HomeServe USA Insurance Company saying that my water service line is not covered. Is this true?

The City is not affiliated with HomeServe USA in any way. The City is responsible for the vast majority of water lines throughout the city. However, as a home owner, you are responsible for your service line from the meter to your home. For renters, land owners are responsible for the maintenance.

Before purchasing insurance, we recommend that you check with a local plumber to discuss the age and likelihood of failure of your existing line, as well as the cost to replace the line.

Updated:  July 2015

 

Aerial Fire Truck:  I heard we don’t need an aerial fire truck in Atchison.

The aerial fire truck is very important to our community because it provides protection of public safety. This is especially true for the industrial plants in town. These industrial plants, such as Bradken, Bartlett Grain Company and MGP and others, present a challenging environment for firefighters to operate in.

To ensure it receives the maximum life possible from its equipment, the Fire Department maintains an equipment replacement program which outlines replacement intervals for all apparatus and some of the department’s major equipment. Based on the age of the apparatus/equipment, hours of use, parts availability, and multiple other factors that affect the operation of the equipment, it was established that aerial trucks should be replaced between 30 and 35 years of service. Due to budget constraints, it has been necessary to delay replacement of department’s 1980 100’ Aerial ladder Platform Apparatus and it is now 34 years of age.

In addition, the city is rated by the Insurance Service Office (ISO), which assesses building codes, fire protection service and water supply in individual communities and ranks them based on how these communities enforce their building codes, provide fire service and provide availability of water. The ranking scale is between 1 and 10; 1 being the highest and 10 being the lowest. The ratings reflect the insurance rates. For example, the better the rating, the lower the insurance rate. The city was rated as a 4, whereas the portions of Atchison County are rated as a 10.

 

Also, I heard the city sold the old fire truck for almost nothing. Is this true?

It is true that the city sold the existing fire truck, but we did not sell it for nothing. The city utilized a national online website specializing in government purchases to sell the fire truck. The truck sold to a gentleman from the Houston Texas area after he saw the truck’s availability online. The truck is a highly specialized unit requiring an excessive amount of maintenance, and most fire departments don’t have a large enough garage to store a unit of this size. The truck was also getting to the point that parts were not readily available for the unit. So the department was forced with either trying to find a part from a scrapped vehicle or dealing with the expense of having a machinist produce a part. The fire department did a calculation of the scrap value of the fire truck and it was sold for a greater amount than it was worth. In the end, the fire truck sold for $6,200. In talking to the auction company, we believe the truck sold for a price that is consistent with the how much people pay for a truck its age.

Updtated:  May 27, 2015 


Drinking Water:  I heard that drinking Atchison's water causes cancer. Is this true? 

No, there are no cancer causing agents in the city’s water. We have good, compliant water that is safe to drink at all times; however, in about 50% of quarterly reports we do receive a violation for failing to remove enough TOC (total organic carbons) from the water. The natural presence of TOC in our water along with the introduction of chlorine, which is used to disinfect the water, can provide a medium for the formation of things called Trihalomethanes (TTHM) and Haloacetic Acids (HAA). Our water rarely goes out of compliance on either of these two items, but if someone were to drink extremely high volumes of water with high TTHM/HAA content, they could potentially face some health issues. TOC has no adverse health effects on its own, but it’s independently regulated because it can lead to the presence of TTHMs and HAAs.

The current construction at the water treatment plant is installing a new treatment process that will take care of this issue. The solution is a new disinfection method called Ozone.This method has seen success elsewhere in the world, but the chemistry is complicated and the construction is expensive. That project will wrap up later this year and after some adjustment time, we should see our Water Plant producing 100% compliant water 100% of the time about a year from now.

Updated:  May 28, 2015
 

 
 
Chain Restaurants: Why won’t the city let chain restaurants in?
 
The city does not decide which restaurants come to Atchison and which ones do not.  We have not turned down any requests from businesses. If a business wants to open, and the land is zoned for a commercial enterprise then they can open. The city does not have any restrictions on what types of restaurants can operate in Atchison; however, most restaurants have set their own criterion for the locations of their restaurants. For example, Panda Express requires the cities, in which their restaurants operate, to have a minimum population of 65,000 people and a minimum day time population of 30,000 people. Chain restaurants like Panda Express will not operate in smaller towns, like Atchison. As a result of the size of our town, many large chain restaurants are simply not interested in opening restaurants here. If someone is interested in opening a franchise in Atchison, please email EcoDevo@cityofatchison.com.

Updated:  May 26, 2015
 
_______________________________________________________________________
Rumors below this line were addressed prior to May 2015.
House Fire Response: Is it true that fighting a recent house fire was made more difficult because of a non-working fire hydrant? What assurances do I have that the hydrant across from my home is in working order?

It is true that the nearest hydrant to a recent house fire was not operational, but this in no way affected the Fire Department's ability to fight the fire. The Fire Department is notified when a hydrant is placed out of service. It is recorded in the maps carried on each apparatus and is also on a continuous computer display in the department. The on duty crew that responded to this fire was aware that the closest hydrant was out of service and adjusted accordingly and without incident.

We have 567 fire hydrants throughout the city of Atchison and only two were listed as out of service at the time of the fire. That particular hydrant was struck by a vehicle and plans for its repair were underway.

The Utilities Department tests every single hydrant in the city annually to ensure proper operation and adequate flow. We take citizen safety very seriously and are well prepared to effectively respond to fire emergencies throughout the city. We hope this information reassures you that your safety and security is our number one priority in providing emergency services.


 
10th & Main Intersection: What's up with the traffic signal at 10th & Main?

Thank you for your patience there. We really regret it's taken so long.

 

As you may know, the reason the lights are down is because a private motorist in a bucket truck collided with the light last fall. Because that intersection is also on a state highway, KDOT required us to do a 3-month traffic study to see whether we should replace them at all or revert it too to a 4-way stop. After material delays and a back-log of work at the state, the new parts are on their way and will be up shortly.

 

 
We realize 10th & Main has been a frustration for many. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

 
7th & Kansas Intersection:

Following long discussions among city leadership and input from citizens, the City Commission has adopted the recommendation of a Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) traffic study to remove the traffic signals at 7th & Kansas and replace them with a 4-way signed stop.


 

Why? Mainly, it's about traffic counts and the flow through the surrounding area. It doesn't warrant a signaled stop and with the aging traffic signals, it's a better scenario for the community.


 

Are we stepping backwards by removing traffic lights? Not at all. The old thought that a "one stop light" town was a measure of prosperity has really been transformed in recent decades as the field of traffic engineering has evolved and progressive communities have begun to embrace traffic calming devices.


 

How do you remove traffic lights? First, we place the signal on all red flash. Then we install the STOP signs with the 4-WAY supplemental plaques. We leave the signal on flashing red for a 90 day transition period to get motorists accustomed. During this time, we continue to monitor the intersection. Finally, if the intersection is operating as designed and the public has adapted, we remove the traffic signals completely.


 

What's next? The same KDOT traffic study recommended removing the 6th & Kansas traffic lights as well, which the City Commission is open to considering based on public feedback. We're going to see how the 7th & Kansas transition goes, then re-evaluate.

 


 

Is the City and County consolidating?

No, that's a big exaggeration on some of the cooperative projects we've been doing lately. Atchison County is our friend and partner. We often hear from the community that we should find more ways to work together to save costs, so we're trying to be responsive to that.
 

Because of the strengthened relationship between the City and County, we've been considering a handful of opportunities like going together on a VOIP phone system, repairing River Road's base cooperatively, and solid waste solutions.

 
It's also true that we're taking some "baby steps" to explore co-locating administration and justice services. The County courthouse has its challenges and the City has been exploring building and remodeling options to bring more security to City Hall and address the space needs of our Police Department.

 
If something works out, great. If not, no worries. What you're seeing is governments working together to try to bring greater value to your tax dollar. That's all.

 
US-59 Closure : Is the bridge closing again?

No. MoDOT has announced an eight-week detour on US-59 starting on March 19, 2015, but it will only be closed from south of St. Jo to north of "the Y" intersection located west of Atchison.

 
This has no affect on traffic to and from the Kansas City metro. The Amelia Earhart Bridge over the Missouri River remains open and Atchison is still accessible to the KC metro through US-73 (Leavenworth) and I-435N (via I-29 and MO-273/45) as usual. Atchison is open for business!
 
To figure out how to get to and from St. Jo during the closure,check out MoDOT's detour map. By the way, the reason MoDOT is closing this stretch of US-59 is to fix bridges along the route,but it has nothing to do with the Amelia Earhart Bridge over the Missouri River whatsoever. Please help us spread the word.

 
For more info,contact MoDOT at 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (888-275-6636) or log onto www.modot.mo.gov/northwest/.
 
Trash Service: Is the city contracting out trash service?Why would you get rid of something that works great? Are the other companies still going to do special pick-ups, doorside service for the elderly, etc.?And if you're doing away with city trash, what about the city jobs?
Those are local people with families, you know. I'm just concerned because it feels like we customers haven't been given a chance to voice our opinions.

 
Great questions, here's the low down: There've been no changes to your residential trash service provided by the city and none are planned in the near future. (Commercial trash is currently open to private haulers, so you may be seeing those trucks as usual throughout town.)
 
What you might be hearing about is our project with the county to study countywide solid waste solutions ... The city's residential trash service is just one part of the conversation and our consultant began studying it at the end of November by seeing the operations first hand.

 
The project's just started and we have many months to go, but we promise that we'll continue to prioritize and consider: great customer service including elderly/disabled care, special pick-ups, curbside recycling, the 6+ city jobs this involves, and more.

 

If you have any feedback on city (residential) trash service, commercial trash service, county transfer station, recycling, customer service, etc., we'd like to hear from you. Send an email to webmaster@cityofatchison.com and follow us on Facebook for updates.


 
Senior Center: Why is the City making the senior center move?!
Nobody's making anybody move anywhere. The deal is: The City owns a lot of older, deteriorating buildings like City Hall, the Conference Center, and the Project Concern building. Some buildings are out of space while others have maybe too much.
Wanting to be good stewards of public facilities, the City Commission asked the City Manager to have an architect examine our use of these three buildings and make some recommendations for best use of space.
Realizing that it is possible that the patrons at Project Concern could be impacted (possible - not certain), the City Commission asked the City Manager to visit with Project Concern to keep them in the loop and get feedback on potential scenarios including leaving them right where they are, moving them into part of City Hall, or moving them to the Conference Center.
All plans would remodel the space to meet every need and be an improvement over the comfort and condition of the current building. Nonetheless, no one's advocating one idea over another yet-- we just want to have a conversation about it.
The good news is: Everyone's talking about it! We're hearing lots and lots of feedback about people's feelings on this. It's a good thing, talking about what we want is democracy at work ... it's community at work.Keep the opinions coming so that if and when anything is discussed or decided, it'll truly represent the best interest of all taxpayers.
 

The City of Atchison is committed to open and honest communication with residents, business owners, stakeholders, and staff. Truthful, reliable information is the foundation of this commitment.

We take rumors seriously. When spread unchecked, they chip away at the level of confidence that community members have in their local government and damage morale within the organization.

Submit a Rumor
Have you heard something that sounds too good to be true? Or does the word on the street make your blood boil? Send us what you've heard at rumorwatch@cityofatchison.com . We'll track down the truth and post it on this page. (Keep in mind, submissions will be screened and/or formatted prior to posting.)

And for the latest City of Atchison news straight from the source, check out our News & Notices .


AMELIA EARHART BRIDGE RUMORS
THE BRIDGE IS OPEN!Tell your friends and family - invite them to town for shopping, dining, and sight-seeing this season!

 

  • I heard construction on the new bridge has been delayed, true? 'Fraid so. Originally slated to open in September 2011, it now looks likely that it will be September 2012 before traffic is allowed on the new bridge. Until then,the old bridge is still open and safe for travel. Come to Atchison!
  • Why the delay? The bridge project is a Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) project, and what they've shared with us is that it was a conflict with a subcontractor on the specifications of a very important part of the bridge's structure. KDOT has since worked out an agreement with the sub and work continues,so it's on track to open in September 2012.... But we'd rather have a good bridge than a fast bridge, right? In the meantime, the old bridge is still open and we're eager to see you here in town.
  • What was the problem? The snag was four giant 4'x6' steel boxes - called "knuckles" - that tie in the bridge's arch to its base. KDOT and the fabricator had to work out some measurement issues, but it's important that they took the time to get it right because precision is critical to the integrity of the bridge's structure. KDOT is committed to making it right so we can make it last.
  • Did the flooding during the summer of 2011 create further delays on the new bridge? Not really, with the delays in the fabrication issue, the river situation didn't impact the construction schedule.
  • With the delay, is the old bridge safe to travel on? Yes. KDOT engineers have assured us that the old bridge will do just fine for the duration.
  • With the old bridge's sentimental/historic value to the community, did KDOT ever find a buyer for it as promised? KDOT's commitment was to try to locate an interested party to buy the old bridge and relocate it so that it could "live on" somewhere else. KDOT put out a request for proposal, but there were no takers. We appreciate KDOT's willingness to try to ease our concerns about a community landmark that has a lot of personal value to us. The old bridge has served us well for many, many years.
  • Are they going to blow up the old bridge? No. There will be some underwater demolition and excavation but the rest of the bridge will be deconstructed by KDOT's demo contractor after the new bridge is operational. Some of the materials may be reclaimed (re-used in other projects) by the demolition contractor, so in a way our bridge will still live on.The demo team is also required to remove the pylons down to 20' below the mud line (base of the river). Interesting, no?
  • Will the new bridge be a two-lane or four-lane? The bridge was built as a four-lane, but for now will be striped as a two-lane with very generous shoulders. In the future, if Missouri restores its funding for a four lane tie-in, KDOT can re-stripe the bridge.
  • I heard that since Missouri pulled its funding, the new bridge will only have lights on the Kansas half, true? No. KDOT confirms that the bridge will have lights all the way to the end of the arch on the far side of the river. If you'd like Missouri to pony up money to light the approach and make it a four lane tie-in, you should let MoDOT and Buchanan County know about it.
  • I heard that the new bridge is secretly planned to be a toll bridge. Is that true? No. Someone is pullin's your leg. KDOT has no interest in making it a toll bridge. The hassle it would cause, the traffic congestion it would create, and the unreasonable burden on the community ... no.Someone out there is celebrating April Fools a little early.

Check out the bridge's progress at our bridge cam.


RUMORS AT RANDOM
Rumor: I recently sent you an anonymous complaint about a person connected to the city and absolutely nothing was done about my concerns. If I don't see some improvements soon, I'm going to send a letter to the editor to let the whole town know the city knew about this and did nothing! And this time I'm going to sign my name!

 

Fact: Good, we encourage you to. The reality is - unless it's an anonymous tip to the police department about criminal activity - we cannot act on anonymous personnel complaints. They're simply not actionable. Without a way to follow-up with you, we don't have all the information we need to take action, if necessary.

 
Public services belong to us all and everyone is encouraged to give feedback. Follow us on Facebook , email us, call us, or write us a good old fashioned letter. Your complaint will be treated in confidence, if that's your wish. Just help us help you and let us know who's expressing the concern.
 

 
Rumor: Why'd the city shut-down the only cab company in town?! I relied on them to get me to my doctor appointments!

 


Fact
: Despite stories to the contrary, it's not true that the city "shut down the cab company."

After becoming aware of some real-life incidences of concern, the city passed an ordinance (a local law) that said any cab company that wants to operate in this community has to 1) have adequate insurance to cover its business liabilities and 2) background-check employees to ensure sex offenders aren't hired as drivers.

 

Instead of meeting these basic requirements, the cab company in service when the ordinance was passed chose to shut down operations. It's an unfortunate outcome for the time being, but we're aware of a local individual who is currently working to open up a transportation service that will meet these minimum protections for its customers.

 
If you're interested in opening a cab company - or any other business venture in town - get in touch with our Community Development Director Stephanie Leif at (913) 367-5560. She's got some valuable information on joining our business community and she can point you towards great resources for entrepreneurs.
 

 
Rumor: I called City Hall to complain about my utility bill. I admit I got pretty heated, but the employee hung up the phone! I got out of line, but still -- is that any way to treat a customer?

 
Fact: Each day our mission is to provide excellent customer service focused on finding solutions guided by City policies.However, providing good customer service does not mean listening to verbal abuse such as swearing, name-calling, shouting, or threats.
If a call spirals out of control, it's unlikely that together we'll be able to reach a successful resolution at that time. Our customer service staff have been trained in conflict resolution skills, but the employee is allowed to end the call courteously and ask you to call back when you've calmed down.
If you have a complaint about the customer service you received, it's appropriate to contact the department director or City Manager to discuss it.

Send us what you've heard at rumorwatch@cityofatchison.com .

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