Tonganoxie woman wants to live in ‘speed trap’ city
Debi Hatfield wouldn't mind if Tonganoxie became known as a speed trap among truckers traveling in northeastern Kansas.
That would be all the better for the safety of the community's citizens, particularly its young citizens.
For several months, Hatfield has quietly campaigned with elected and appointed city officials to enforce the speed limits along U.S. Highway 24-40 in Tonganoxie.
"I believe if we do this consistently across the board and we communicate to the truck population that drives through Tonganoxie every day, we'll get a reputation as a speed trap, and I don't believe that's bad reputation to have," said Hatfield, a 15-year resident of the city.
Her evening walks in her West First Street neighborhood give her ample opportunity to observe what's happening on the nearby highway.
"I hardly ever see a truck get stopped, when I am at home and in the evening and when they're stopping other vehicles," she said.
Tonganoxie's city administrator said he's talked with the police chief about Hatfield's concerns.
"We have agreed to pay more attention to that issue and begin enforcing our laws a little more stringently," said Chris Eppley, city administrator. "She has a valid point, and we have tried to address that point, given limitations of staff."
And Kenny Carpenter, police chief, said he believes his officers are doing a good job.
"We run radar on the highway quite a bit and write quite a few tickets," he said. "We don't ignore trucks if they're speeding."
The police department is planning for the effects of continued growth on traffic in the community. Of particular concern is next spring's anticipated opening of the Kansas Speedway, 12 miles east of Tonganoxie near Interstates 435 and 70.
"We're asking for more money in the budget for man hours," he said. "I'm figuring we'll probably need more officers on duty during certain events. I-70 will be a nightmare. There will be more traffic on 24-40."
And that's a concern for Hatfield.
"We might as well start reacting to this now," she said. "By next year, the track will be open and we'll be faced with that. I would much rather be proactive."